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Union communicators and RSS – please join the 21st century

Written By: - Date published: 2:23 pm, March 11th, 2014 - 27 comments
Categories: admin, internet, interweb, the praiseworthy and the pitiful, The Standard, Unions - Tags:

Dolphin Over World 2010Just at present I’m particularly interested in adding union sites with RSS feeds to our feeds. But it is somewhat irritating. Many of the sites don’t have a RSS feed. They should have one.

RSS (Rich Site Summary); originally RDF Site Summary; often dubbed Really Simple Syndication, uses a family of standard web feed formats[2] to publish frequently updated information: blog entries, news headlines, audio, video. An RSS document (called “feed”, “web feed”,[3]or “channel”) includes full or summarized text, and metadata, like publishing date and author’s name.

RSS feeds enable publishers to syndicate data automatically. A standard XML file format ensures compatibility with many different machines/programs. RSS feeds also benefit users who want to receive timely updates from favourite websites or to aggregate data from many sites.

Which is why I want to add it to this site, and it is pretty damn irritating to me as a programmer that many unions have neglected this crucial communications channel.

Unions are an inherent part of the labour movement that we like to think that we’re helping and a part of*.  It’d be nice if they did their bit to help us help them.

For a starter, does anyone know why the CTU doesn’t have a RSS feed? Surely it isn’t that hard to drop a RSS feeder into Drupal. The biggest hassle I remember was convincing it to turn off. And if the Labour party can do it, then I’m sure that CTU should be able to do so. Neither the SFWU nor Unite have a RSS either. But all is not lost – the EPMU and PPTA both have have RSS. 

By this point in my search last night I was rather despairing of our unions public facing IT and gave up. So could all of you good unionists out there have a look at your favourite union sites and check their sites out. 

To check if a site has RSS, the simplest way is to right-click and “View Page Source”. Don’t look at the HTML code. just do a Ctrl+F and search for RSS. If it isn’t on the front page then start cursing. The problem is that often custom written sites have their RSS feed hidden in some awful page away from the front of their site. So you have to start hacking around 

If you can’t find a RSS feed, then feel free to complain to your favourite union that they really need to join the 21st century and could they please get off their arse and add one. It makes it feasible for other sites to highlight their words and they don’t need to be as muffled by media.

If they do have one, then give me a page URL and I’ll dig it out.


After cleaning up the issues with multiple servers and cron jobs on the weekend, I’ve now turned the feed back on for the sites that were turned off. Frankly Speaking and No Minister are back on the feeder. For some reason these two blogger sites kept getting duplicates jamming up our feed. Hopefully they won’t resume their discordant replicator habits. Someone tell Frank and Psycho if you see them.

The mana party feed is also online. It had some problems with something in the feed a while ago and kept failing. But it is now clean again.

While I’m on the subject of the feeds from political parties, those feeds from Labour and the Greens are starting to clog up the listing. It will only get worse. I’m thinking that I should tab them like I did with The Daily Blog and Scoop to make sure there is room for the slower posting sites. Ideas?

Does anyone else have other sites that they’d like feeds from. I’m uninterested in right wing and conspiracy sites. But the front feed is there to provide visual space for smaller slow posting sites so they don’t get overlooked. Suggestions?

Also on my list of things to do is to tell your browsers to remember which tab you last had open and to reload pages on that tab.  This may help those people who have complained that tabbing The Daily Blog feed is annoying. Apparently they come here because it is easier to read the site from the feeder.

Of course I’m not exactly a sterling example of a unionist. After all I’ve never been in a union because there never has been one for programmers. And when I was a manager (before I became an enlightened coder) – well there was no way that I was going to join National. But I feel that they are a crucial part of our economy, if only to stop all productivity gains dropping into the pockets of capital. And as parents and sister say (they were/are all managers), it is usually damn sight easier to argue with a few single union negotiators than it is to deal with scores of individual contracts.


27 comments on “Union communicators and RSS – please join the 21st century”

  1. karol 1

    I like having the Tabs with TDB and Scoop on them. How many Tabs can TS have? I’d quite like a Union Tab – maybe including Left Parties in the same Tab?

    • lprent 1.1

      I do as well.

      It is unlimited. However, the restrictions are screen real estate and bandwidth.

      It limits on the current page width at 4 tabs. I like having the tabs being easy to click. Of course there are still 2 tab space in the upper area as well. I think I’d like having “Parties” (ie Labour, Green and Mana). I don’t think that the numbers of posts are that high across all of the unions. Easiest way is to look and see.

      The bandwidth is slightly more problematic. On each page load it sends the text for each of those tabs. I decided against lazy jQuery/Ajax it for the simplicity and cacheability of the site. But if it keeps growing then I might have to look at it to keep the page load time down.

  2. I tried to get the anti TPP side to have one too. Even offered to do it for them as it is a wordpress side. Nope. People don’t get what it can do for their exposure 😕

    • lprent 2.1

      Huh? On wordpress it is just a couple of checkbox clicks and is on by default. Which site is it?

      It will often actually be active on the site, then just haven’t put in the graphic links.

      • travellerev 2.1.1

        Update: It seems they now have an RSS feed. I can’t believe the lack of bloody communication skills of Kiwi’s sometimes. Could have made it a news item or could have said hey thanks for pointing it out to us.

        It was: It’s our future. http://www.itsourfuture.org.nz/

        Here is what I got in response to my request the put ot an RSS feed and when I asked what platform they were using:

        Campbell MacDuff xxxxxxx
        Add to contacts
        [Keep this message at the top of your inbox]
        To: xxxxxx
        Picture of Campbell MacDuff
        We’re on WordPress and there’s probably a plugin but we’ve just not had time to deal with the IT side in much depth.
        I’ll have a hunt this evening.

        I gave them a link to some WordPress plugins and never heard back from them.

  3. ropata 3

    Rebuilding Christchurch blog by James Dann, running for Labour Chch Central candidacy.

  4. Bethany 4


    I went homepage > campaigns & publications, and it was the first item on that page.

  5. ropata 5

    watchblog aotearoa (formerly GATT watchdog), associated with CAFCA (campaign against foreign control of aotearoa)

    on a similar theme: new zealand not for sale

  6. lprent 6

    Ummm damnit.

    Frankly Speaking is feeding me duplicates again. Now I’m 100% sure it is his side. I’ll have a talk to the RSS code and see if I can make it be better at getting rid of duplicates and send that to the plugin author.

  7. lprent 7

    Hey Stephanie, I tell a lie. The RSS is broken at the EPMU

    The RSS feed button goes to this page http://www.epmu.org.nz/epmu-news/rss, which reports

    Page not found

    Sorry, it seems you were trying to access a page that doesn’t exist.
    Please check the spelling of the URL you were trying to access and try again.

  8. lprent 8

    PPTA – well you have to go through hoops. There are three items 1 week, 2 years and 6 years old.
    TEU (Lyn’s union) – they have it right

  9. lprent 9

    MUNZ – they’re easy to get at and reasonably up to date.

  10. whoar.co.nz

    phillip ure..

  11. Asher 11

    PSA RSS feed is available clearly at the top of the Media Releases page – http://www.psa.org.nz/Newsroom/MediaReleases.rss.ashx

  12. In defense of unions, it’s not so much a question of choosing to be in the 21st century or not, as choosing to focus resources on their most important communication platforms. For all unions their most effective communication is face-to-face, one person at a time. So it’s understandable that most unions invest what resources they have in that (skilled inspiring organisers, delegate education, worksite meetings etc) rather in online communication. And by resources I don’t mean money but people. In an ideal world unions would have both, but that’s not always easy when, in some cases, their income comes from people on very low wages.

  13. Kahukowhai 13

    Didn’t Finsec claim jurisdiction for IT sector?

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