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[liberationtech] Content liberation on the command line

Erik Moeller eloquence at gmail.com
Sun Jan 28 14:53:06 PST 2018


https://freeyourstuff.cc/ is a Chromium/Chrome browser extension that lets
you download your contributions to supported sites, which typically don't
provide any facility to do so. This includes IMDB reviews and ratings, Yelp
reviews, Quora answers, and more. The extension can also publish datasets
to the website (provided users release them under a free license), which is
mirrored by volunteers. It's most popular with Quora users; tens of
thousands of Quora answers have been "liberated" in this manner.

Now there's a command-line version as well, which you can check out here:

https://github.com/eloquence/freeyourstuff.cc/blob/master/cli/INSTALL.md

It works by controlling a headless Chromium browser and running the same
plugin code that the extension does. Once set up, you should be able to use
it, for example, to run a daily cronjob for backing up your Yelp reviews or
Quora answers.

You can't publish via the command line yet, but if there's interest, I'll
work on that for sure:
https://github.com/eloquence/freeyourstuff.cc/issues/87

Why do we need a headless browser to do this? Well, the web is no longer
what it used to be -- many sites don't work at all without JavaScript, or
important features are broken. And JavaScript is complex and hard to
reliably execute without a full browser environment. The nice thing about
using headless Chromium is that it really behaves exactly as you would
browsing the site, so we can observe DOM changes, anticipate AJAX requests,
and so on, which is necessary on many sites.

This is still pretty experimental. If you can't get it to work, check out
the troubleshooting section in the install guide, and file an issue if that
doesn't do the trick :-). And of course, I'd love to see more folks
contribute plugins to other sites -- docs for that here:

https://freeyourstuff.cc/plugins

Towards universal content liberation,

Erik
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