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Tiny Tiny RSS: don’t support Nazi sympathisers

XKCD #1357 — Free Speech

After complaining about the lack of cache hits from feed readers, and figuring out why NewsBlur (that was doing the right thing), and then again fixing the problem, I started looking at what other readers kept being unfixed. It turned out that about a dozen people used to read my blog using Tiny Tiny RSS, a PHP-based personal feed reader for the web. I say “used to” because, as of 2017-08-17, TT-RSS is banned from accessing anything from my blog via ModSecurity rule.

The reason why I went to this extent is not merely technical, which is why you get the title of this blog the way it is. But it all started with me filing requests to support modern HTTP features for feeds, particularly regarding the semantics of permanent redirects, but also about the lack of If-Modified-Since, which allows significant reduction on the bandwidth usage of a blog¹. Now, the first response I got about the permanent redirect request was disappointing but it was a technical answer, so I provided more information. After that?

After that the responses stopped being focused on the technical issues, but rather appear to be – and that’s not terribly surprising in FLOSS of course – “not my problem”. Except, the answers also came from someone with a Pepe the Frog avatar.² And this is August of 2017, when America shown having a real Nazi problem, and willingly associating themselves to alt-right is effectively being Nazi sympathizers. The tone of the further answers also show that it is no mistake or misunderstanding.

You can read the two bugs here: and . Trigger warning: extreme right and ableist views ahead.

While I try to not spend too much time on political activism on my blog, there is a difference from debating whether universal basic income (or even universal health care) is a right nor not, and arguing for ethnic cleansing and the death of part of a population. So no, no way I’ll refrain from commenting or throwing a light on this kind of toxic behaviour from developers in the Free Software community. Particularly when they are not even holding these beliefs for themselves but effectively boasting them by using a loaded avatar on their official support forum.

So what you can do about this? If you get to read this post, and have subscribed to my blog through TT-RSS, you now know why you don’t get any updates from it. I would suggest you look for a new feed reader. I will as usual suggest NewsBlur, since its implementation is the best one out there. You can set it up by yourself, since it’s open source. Not only you will be cutting your support to Nazi sympathisers, but you also will save bandwidth for the web as a whole, by using a reader that actually implements the protocol correctly.

Update (2017-08-06): as pointed out in the comments by candrewswpi, FreshRSS is another option if you don’t want to set up NewsBlur (which admittedly may be a bit heavy). It uses PHP so it should be easier to migrate given the same or similar stack. It supports at least proper caching, but I’m not sure about the permanent redirects, it needs testing.

You could of course, as the developers said on those bugs, change the User-Agent string that TT-RSS reports, and keep using it to read my blog. But in that case, you’d be supporting Nazi sympathisers. If you don’t mind doing that, I may ask you a favour and stop reading my blog altogether. And maybe reconsider your life choices.

I’ll repeat here that the reason why I’m going to this extent is that there is a huge difference between the political opinions and debates that we can all have, and supporting Nazis. You don’t have to agree with my political point of view to read my blog, you don’t have to agree with me to talk with me or being my friend. But if you are a Nazi sympathiser, you can get lost.

¹ you could try to argue that in this day and age there is no point in worrying about bandwidth, but then you don’t get to ever complain about the existence of CDNs, or the fact that AMP and similar tools are “undemocratizing” the web.

² Update (2017-08-03): as many people have asked: no it’s not just any frog or any Pepe that automatically makes you a Nazi sympathisers. But the avatar was not one of the original illustrations, and the attitude of the commenter made it very clear what their “alignment” was. I mean, if they were fans of the original character, they would probably have the funeral scene as their avatar instead.

Comments 22
  1. When I did web design… I recall “the standard” that we were held to was a page had to load within 30 seconds on a 28.8kbps modem.This was when the browser wars were in full swing and it was a duopoly of Netscape and Internet Explorer. IE6 wouldn’t hit users’ desktops for another year. The only way you could do multimedia was through proprietary plug-ins like Macromedia Flash, mouse-over effects needed JavaScript, vector graphics weren’t supported and Microsoft had given us XMLHttpRequest.Given we now have SVG (ridding the need of graphics at different resolutions), browsers can play audio and video without third-party software (no downloading applets needed), XMLHttpRequest is now a W3C standard supported by most current browsers, and loads of other enhancements, I’m astounded as to how bloated websites today are.JavaScript now needs to be “compiled” … and in some cases, it takes tens of minutes. The reason? Well we’ve all got broadband haven’t we? It’s the gas principle, we’ve expanded to fill the available space, and the expectation now is to just put up, and shut up about the ever growing volume of data needed to view a page on a website. Page taking too long to load? Admire our pretty spinner while you wait!Given this, while it is highly disappointing, I am not surprised by the attitude shown by TT-RSS (neo-nazi-ism aside)… it is just a reflection of what I’ve observed elsewhere.The Nazi sympathiser attitude is just icing on the cake from where I sit, no I don’t agree with those views either. These are thankfully (hopefully?) minority views, but this wouldn’t be the only open-source software author to hold such views.I wouldn’t like to speculate on how much widely used software has significant contributions from those who hold unpopular views such as this. The only way to completely avoid that is to do it all yourself, and that isn’t practical for most of us.

  2. The technical problem is something we can discuss separately but not the topic at hand. I think the short version is that lack of technical excellence is still a good reason to stop certain software from working.But the more important part is that while I’m sure there are other Nazi sympathisers in free software, and in any other industry, there is a difference between being one and being proud of being one. Yes I’ll be happily boycotting software written by people who will boast their Nazi affiliation, and call it for others to do the same.

  3. (this is all about the xkcd bit, not about the rest of your post, for which the below doesn’t apply)I think that XKCD will age badly. At least if the Internet continues its current trend. It’s essentially the same argument used by gun enthusiasts who justify the right to own surface to air rocket launchers (specific example from Scalia); “some guys in the 1700’s thought long and hard about this and decided this over 100 years before powered flight, and even before unpowered human flight, let alone the capacity of weapons to take down airliners”.To take someone’s “free speech” argument and straw man it to be a purely cold local jurisdiction technical judicial question is missing the point at best, and disingenuous at worst. It’s twisting a value argument into a fact argument purely in order to win it.”Free speech” is not equal to the first amendment to the US constitution. Free speech as a concept (much like privacy) is not the same in 2017 as it was in 1776. That should not be controversial. It’s not just that your town has only one newspaper, it’s that the whole world has only one newspaper.There are other jurisdictions with “free speech”, where you can say whatever you want as long as it’s not against the government. Those who want to play a semantics game are in bad company, in my opinion.They are also often in bad company in that they are often surrounded by people who say things like “I don’t particularly care about freedom of speech [at all in any context]”, said in the context of someone being religiously offended. I’d hope that their friends would say “Wait, what?”, but they don’t because they are at the moment on their side.People (certainly not me) are making the argument that Google & Facebook should be nationalised:…Now, you and I don’t have to agree with the conclusion, but what if it did happen? What is fundamentally different if the government *did* own Google/Facebook? Everything from a user’s perspective is the same, except suddenly free speech is protected? Why? What is morally (as opposed to legally) different, from a user’s perspective?This is not what this video says, but worth watching:

  4. I agree. The discussion has to be nuanced, because as you noted there are too many situations where the extreme conclusion is, well, extreme. And I don’t like extremes.In this particular instance, I wanted to make sure the XKCD was there in response to those who think I should be neutral on my own site and allow software written by Nazi sympathisers on “free speech” argument. I have in the past banned HTTP clients based on technical misbehaviour. In this case I went for banning the HTTP client on horribleness of the humans behind it.

  5. Yes. I don’t know where expectations of free speech protections should be on this scale, but your blog is clearly on the side of this that correctly entitles you to do what you want.But the XKCD will not age well wrt Facebook and friends.

  6. He seems like a troll (intentional use of offensive terms for mental illnesses as insults), but I don’t see where he’s acting right-wing or like a Nazi? Keep in mind that Pepe is a 4chan meme and only recently started to be used by the alt-right.For the example, the Anti-Defamation League says:> However, because so many Pepe the Frog memes are not bigoted in nature, it is important to examine use of the meme only in context. The mere fact of posting a Pepe meme does not mean that someone is racist or white supremacist.(Although the fact that the frog guy decided to resort to personal attacks in his first response to your bug report makes it definitely not worth your effort to work with these guys, and I agree with your decision to block them instead)

  7. See this is where I draw a different line. The frog has been used by “alt-right” (read: Nazis) for well over a year now, and while I would not judge someone using it *before this year* as being clearly affiliated with Nazis, someone *insisting on using it* is now clearly beyond the simple trolling and well into the support.Also “just a troll” is not good enough of a defence nowadays. 4chan’s “trolls” have been supporting white supremacists and Nazis for long enough that if they still haven’t decided it’s time to cut their ties to that group, they are indeed supporters. I’m not saying that they are all Nazis, just that they are all Nazi *supporters* by still acting that way.

  8. I sort-of agree with your second paragraph, but it seems like “you use pepe the frog as an avatar” -> “you are a nazi supporter” involves way too many levels of assumptions. Are we really going for the rule that “if a bad person appropriates your symbol, you must immediately stop using it or you support them”? It seems like double-punishing of victims: You get your symbol stolen, and we’ll also shame you for continuing to use the symbol that was stolen from you.

  9. Believe me, I do feel for the original innocent fans. (*eyes the collection of hats at home, he can no longer use*)But when we get to the point that the **author** himself decided that it was too late to try salvaging the character (… I think we can safely assume that continuous use is intentional.

  10. Sorry, but you are wrong about Nazis part. Judging by avatar (on technical site!)? Really?”Pepe” is a meme not originally connected with Nazis. If someone (alt-rights haters?) use it in such context, this is a problem of this guys.This “fox” guy has home page in his profile. Looks like his is russian-speaking. “Pepe” is a popular meme in Russia and not associated with Nazis in any way.People in Russia can use Pepe as an avatar or post images with him, etc and don’t even know that in some country (USA?) this “symbol” has bad meaning.Even if someone put swastika on avatar, you can’t say he is nazi or not.(But usually using swastika means that author wants to insult people who hates nazis so much, or he just want to filter out people that judge him by avatar)I’m not a red-eyed anime cat-girl btw. :)I agree with you that this guy is talking very unprofessionally. Like he is on 4chan or something, there is no excuse for that in technical discussion (except maybe holy Linus Torvalds, he can say “interface nazis” to Gnome project and you will not ban Linux systems by User-Agent, don’t you?)Maybe this guy is asshole, but I don’t think he is nazi in any way.Don’t be fooled by political games, this Trumps-Clintons just use popular symbols from internet to gain popularity.

  11. First, I never called them Nazi, but Nazi sympathisers. Why? Because I can’t judge what their *exact* ideology is, but by drinking their koolaid and acting as a shield for the literal Nazis they are by definition sympathisers.Second, wanting to “insult people who hates nazis” is almost a dictionary definition of being a Nazi sympathiser! If you think that there is such a thing as a “harmless trolling” in this context, I’d rather you stop reading my blog and stay the heck away from me, because you’re toxic.Third, I made it very clear that the issue is with using such an avatar in the current world context. Linux’s old quote, while really tone deaf, was made in a completely different historical context. If he made the same context *now*, yes I’d be fighting for switching everybody to FreeBSD, I would hardly be the only one.To take something similar that actually involved me directly. Ciaran and his friends photoshopped my face onto Nazi pictures, once upon a time (12/13 years ago). Much as that whole thing was insulting, I wouldn’t have called them Nazi sympathisers, and still wouldn’t call them now for what happened *then*. If they were to do that *now*, then yes I would call them such.But you seem to be sorely disconnected from *actual harm to people* that these “trolls” are causing, and just for that you would probably deserve a plonkfile. Do all of us a favour and stop reading my blog.

  12. Goodbye. You think you fighting nazis or something, but actually you just fighting with readers of your blog (who use tt-rss) and call people toxic because they trying to explain you differences in cultures and things that USA is not a whole Internet.– Gentoo user, reader of your blog for many years, Nao

  13. This is so retarded I just unsubscribed from your blog after being a 10+ years reader. Apparently working for Google has done something to your head. And as someone that is originally not an American, how can you post that comic that is meaningless out of the US?

  14. This is quite surprising to read this kind of thing here. I had trouble finding out if it was a parody at first.I use tt-rss to follow this blog so I guess this is goodbye. I mean I could alter the user agent anyway but if it’s to read things like this… I’m not sure I want to. Though the worst to happen to your blog has been switching to Disqus comments, to be honest.

  15. NewsBlur seems to be quite a nightmare to install and maintain when self hosting.For those who currently use ttrss, I strongly recommend taking a look at FreshRSS – it’s the same stack (PHP) and therefore it’s super easy to perform the migration. I moved from ttrss to FreshRSS with less than an hour of effort.

  16. Sorry but you are the real bigot and hater at this point, not a guy with Pepe avatar.

  17. I was wondering about the behaviour of the admin of their forum, and googled it. It lead me here, I’m quite sad of seeing my impressions being confirmed >_>I’ll change of reader, thanks for the alternatives !

  18. fox (I assume that’s who you’re talking) is not just the admin of the forum. He started the whole project, and is also the main contributor. And honestly, he is often a dismissive asshole on the forum. As are quite a lot of people in FOSS. Doesn’t make him a nazi sympathizer though, and neither does his stupid avatar. It’s not like he had a swastika there or something similar. That stupid frog was used by 4chan trolls for a while (again, “assholes” != “nazi sympathizers”).I also don’t quite get the leap from “you are using a software made by a guy with possibly questionable views” to “you are supporting nazi sympathizers”. That is rather a stretch in my opinion.

  19. well – i would disagree that the frog alone makes it a nazi sympathisant or something like that. Just because the occupied that its been quite popular before.
    So i dont get what your problem may be from that point of view..
    Also from his behaviour i could – as far as i saw – see nothing like that

    But – and thats a big but…
    I just had one of those – wtf – moments.
    Is there really a subforum called Gas chamber? “this is where worst threads come to die. Hidden from frontpage.”

    So guess after this wtf moment i am with you – definitly seems to be something wrong with that.
    I don’t know about other countries for sure – but although beeing from central europe and knowing little about chambers beeing used for death penalties in other places at some point in time – i am pretty confident that no one in a right state of mind on this very planet uses this term without the context of ww2 in mind. If its suppossed to be funny only certain people would laugh about that.

    My list of alternatives – that can be self hosted:


  20. lol 2023 and all these comments by other people aged badly. Yes, people using Pepe frog is dog whistling as Nazi sympathizer. This is true now as it was back in 2017. Maybe if you’re not in the US its an excuse but to say otherwise for people in the US is just playing ignorant to what was (and is) going on here.
    Also, the response from the admin/devs was just extremely hostile and unwarranted. Even if they’re not alt-right, they’re still terrible people. You did the right thing here.

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