Blog Reverser
July 28, 2009 9:04 AM   Subscribe

Blog Reverser
Enter the blog reverser. It does what it says on the box, though only for blogspot blogs currently. I can't say how many times I've come across a new blog and wished there were some easy way to read it from beginning to end rather than in Memento-vision. Every time this happened, I would turn to google, thinking "surely other people feel the same way, surely there's a web-app for this." Eventually I just decided, screw it, and wrote my own.

Two points and a question:

1. Obviously, this same task can be done rather simply in an RSS reader, but hopefully it is obvious that there is some value in having it as a web app that doesn't require you to have any software installed. Also, not every blog has an RSS feed.

2. This was harder to do than you think it was. Harder than it would have been if blogspot forced minimally reasonably CSS upon its users.

3. Am I creating any legal trouble for myself by offering this service? By its very nature, I am re-serving content that I have no publication rights to and doing so without permission (the app does however keep all links and ads intact). I'm sort of assuming that this is allowed to a certain degree on the internet, based on other flagrant examples (Google cache,, babelfish), but maybe there's some loophole I don't understand. If it is kosher, I presume the knot would get markedly more Gordian if I wanted to serve ads of my own?

Anyway, hope at least someone out there finds this useful.
posted by 256 (8 comments total) 11 users marked this as a favorite

Great idea. Well executed, this is fantastically useful. Seemed to do some funky stuff to the fonts when I crawled the archive of my blog as a test but stripping formatting fixes that.

I'm not a lawyer, but I don't see what legal trouble you could get into with what you're doing now, though stripping formatting did strip the ads. Serving ads of your own instead of my ads would be an issue, putting an ad in the corner of your frame I don't think would be a problem. Although as a feature request it would be nice to have an option to remove your frame and get the screen real estate back one you've done all the hard work of presenting what I want to read in the format in which I want to read it.
posted by IanMorr at 10:08 AM on July 28, 2009

I love this! It worked awesomely for my cousin's blog, which means now I can send the reversed URL to my gran instead of trying to help her navigate back to the beginning.
posted by donnagirl at 11:16 AM on July 28, 2009

Do you have any quick list of coding mishaps that lead to blogs being poorly re-arranged with this? Then bloggers who wish to use this can make sure things run smoothly, even if things seem to work for their current layouts.
posted by filthy light thief at 1:25 PM on July 31, 2009

If you're truly concerned about point 3, you could instead release the whole thing as a Greasemonkey script. I say this because I once wrote a Greasemonkey script that did this (it added a link to the top of the page that reversed all the posts showing on that page), but it broke a few weeks later thanks to, as you say, Blogspot's failure to force minimally reasonable CSS.

Obviously it would involve releasing the code and losing the chance to serve your own ads, but it would also be very handy and avoid any legality issues as well as the strain on your server.
posted by Partial Law at 11:16 AM on August 1, 2009

hey all,

thanks for the great feedback and ideas. and my apologies for being so rude as to post a project and then disappear; real life has kept me largely away from my favorite internets for the past week.

filthy light thief: your blog is a bit of a strange cookie. the problem is that the reverser is interpreting both your archive and your tag list as posts, which obviously plays hell with the formatting when it tries to reassemble the page. the reverser has several tiers of algorithms for breaking up pages, in descending level of confidence and increasing level of abstraction. When one algorithm fails to find a good match, it goes on to the next one. Your blog is failing all the way down to the final, desperate, "look for <h[1-5]> html elements tier. And for some reason it isn't recognizing that the h3 elements that head your posts indicate a different type of content than the h2 elements that head your archive and labels, despite the fact that it makes that distinction just fine on other blogs.

Anyway, long story short, I've saved your blog code and I'm looking into it. To answer your more direct question: "yes, you can leapfrog right to the top tier parsing algorithm by inserting the no-op code <!--newpost--> right before each post (or rather, as the last thing before a post in the template).

Maybe I should put that somewhere on the FAQ. Of course, I'm not happy with this solution, because if the blog reverser requires any sort of effort on the part of the blog maintainer, then it's pretty much dead in the water.
posted by 256 at 8:24 AM on August 3, 2009

Thanks for your reply! I wouldn't look at it as requiring this additional code, but a quick way to ensure (or at least increase the chances that) blogs work with this tool. I'll add that bit in my posts tonight, and see if that fixes stuff.
posted by filthy light thief at 9:40 AM on August 3, 2009

Thank you thank you thank you! I've gnashed my teeth about this since I first started my now long-abandoned blogspot blog back in my early teens!
posted by MoreForMad at 3:41 PM on August 10, 2009

No! It only works for blogspot. I'm reading a long blog that goes back to 2007, and it's a .com website! Oh well, I will just do it the old fashioned way.
posted by lhude sing cuccu at 2:38 PM on August 21, 2009

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