The Carnival of Brass

[UPDATE: See the update to this FAQ that explains how to further customize the feed, including showing fewer items]

Yesterday I alluded to creating a "real-time" carnival, which you can already see in action on my right sidebar. This Carnival of Brass differs from traditional carnivals (like the Carnival of Islam in the West or Nomad Fatwas, both excellent in their own right) in two important ways. First, to submit a link, you don't send an email with the URL, but rather you simply "tag" it. Second, to read the links, you don't visit the host website, but you actually have a sidebar on your own blog. This means that the Carnival is actually a "news feed" that is continually updated and always fresh and current. You can subscribe to it not just in a sidebar, but also from an RSS reader like the ones built-into your email client or on the web (Bloglines being one example).

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) for the Carnival of Brass:

1. What is the feed address for the Carnival?

There are two feeds, and you can choose either or both as you see fit. The first one is titled @brass_crescent, and its address is:


This feed is for blog posts by muslim bloggers and other blogs in the Brass Crescent (aka the Islamsphere). In defining the Islamsphere, we are not relying solely on adherence to the faith, but an affinity for parts of the diverse cultural fabric that Islam embraces and is embraced by worldwide.

The second feed address is here:


This feed is for articles and news items from the mass media, of particular interest to the Islamsphere. Blog posts that comment on these articles belong in the other feed, this is more "news" whereas the other feed is more "opinion".

2. How do I read the Carnival?

The feeds are RSS v2.0 and so should work with any feed-reader software, Bloglines, or your email program if it supports RSS feeds.

3. How do I embed the Carnival on my blog?

The easiest way is to put either or both of the following javascript blocks in your sidebar:

<script type="text/javascript" src="http://del.icio.us/feeds/js/azizhp/%40brass_crescent?extended;title=The%20Carnival%20of%20Brass;icon=rss">
</script><noscript><a href="http://del.icio.us/azizhp/%40brass_crescent">The Carnival of Brass</a></noscript>

(for the @brass_crescent feed)

<script type="text/javascript" src="http://del.icio.us/feeds/js/azizhp/%40cob?extended;title=The%20BrassFeed;icon=rss"></script>
<noscript><a href="http://del.icio.us/azizhp/%40cob">The BrassFeed</a></noscript>

(for the @COB feed)

Remember that @brass_crescent is the analysis and opinion, ie mostly blog posts. @COB is the news and articles, mostly from mass media.

Also keep in mind that the HTML for the above feeds can be custom styled using CSS to match your blog layout and design. Here is a reference for what styles are used.

Your blog host may not allow javascript in your template. If that is the case, then you should try to add the feed directly. For example, Wordpress.com-hosted blogs allow RSS widgets, so you can add the feed addresses directly. I am sure that Typepad has a similar feature.

BTW, hosted services like Typepad and Wordpress.com may have some lag time, so your sidebar may not update immediately after a new link is approved. Be patient, it will get there.

4. What if I don't use a feedreader, know nothing about RSS, and I don't have a blog?

You can visit any blog (like City of Brass or Eteraz) that has the sidebar for the Carnival and read the links from there. We also will have a dedicated website for the Carnival as well - stay tuned.

5. How do I submit a URL to the Carnival?

First, you must register for an account on del.icio.us and add the host of the Carnival, Aziz Poonawalla, to your "network". The steps to do this are:

  1. Go to del.icio.us and register for a new account if you have not yet done so already.
  2. Install the del.icio.us extensions for Firefox or for Internet Explorer, depending on which browser you use to surf the web.
  3. Add user azizhp to your network by clicking here.

The above steps only need to be done once, and I encourage everyone to do so.

To actually submit a link, follow these steps:

  1. Go to the URL of the item you wish to submit.
  2. click the "TAG" button on your browser toolbar (which was installed by the browser extension).
  3. Fill out the pop-up form using the following conventions:
    the actual URL of the post or item. This may already be prefilled out for you.
    The headline or title of the post.
    A brief description or comment on the item. To identify yourself as the submitter, append your initials as follows: -ap
    Use either the @brass_crescent tag (if the link is a blog posting) or the @COB tag (if the link is an article from the mass media). Do not forget the @ sign. Do NOT use both tags, only one or the other.

If these steps are followed, then your submission will be made visible to the host automatically. The host will choose the best links as they come in.

6. How many links can I submit?

Please limit yourself to one link a day.

7. I submitted a link, why didn't it show up?

Please note that not all links submitted can necessarily be approved, especially if many people submit links. The process by which a link is approved is admittedly subjective; I am asking for your trust that I will try and keep the content fresh and diverse.

8. Why not show all the links from everyone who submits?

Since there is a limited number of links we can display at a given time, if we attempt to show all submissions, then nothing will remain visible for very long. By being more selective and lower frequency, we can take our time to savor the content that flows past.

9. Isn't all this harder than the traditional method?

After setting up your del.icio.us account, you will see that submitting links is in fact incredibly easy to do. Plus, it requires significantly less effort on the part of the host to maintain. The advantages are there - try it out and you'll see!

10. This FAQ didn't answer my question. Now what?

Please leave a comment to this post or to apoonawa dash bohra at yahoo dot com.

That's it! Please try it out and let's see whether this experiment can succeed.

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