IndieWeb and Webmentions plugin for WordPress FTW!

I don’t think I’d used it before or really seen it happening in the wild, but Khurt Williams used his website to reply to one of my posts via Webmention. I was then able to write my reply directly within the comments section of my original post and automatically Webmention his original back in return! Gone are the days of manually cutting and pasting replies so that they appear to thread correctly within WordPress!

Without all the jargon, we’re actually using our own websites to carry on a back and forth threaded conversation in a way that completely makes sense.

In fact, other than that our conversation is way over the 280 character limit imposed by Twitter, the interaction was as easy and simple from a UI perspective as it it is on Twitter or even Facebook. Hallelujah!

This is how the internet was meant to work!

A hearty thanks to those who’ve made this possible! It portends a sea-change in how social media works.

Three cheers for the #IndieWeb!!!

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Author: Chris Aldrich

I'm a biomedical and electrical engineer with interests in information theory, complexity, evolution, genetics, signal processing, theoretical mathematics, and big history. I'm also a talent manager-producer-publisher in the entertainment industry with expertise in representation, distribution, finance, production, content delivery, and new media.

40 thoughts on “”

  1. Caught wind of WordPressers federating comments via Twitter and of course I had to join in. Not impressed with Twitter’s character limit, or its new threading feature, and don’t like Facebook either. Looking forward to the day when participating on the indieweb becomes as easy as participating in silos.

    1. Amanda, I’m writing this as a reply to you within the admin UI of my WordPress comments dashboard (at /wp-admin/edit-comments.php). I’ve tried this out a couple of times and it seems to work incredibly well so far. I’ve written up more of the details on my site here: Threaded Replies and Comments with Webmentions in WordPress (http://boffosocko.com/2017/12/15/threaded-replies-with-webmentions-in-wordpress/). Hopefully you like it and find it as incredibly useful as I do.

      1. @chris and @Khürt,

        I’m replying to both of these posts from the comments section of the one I posted on the topic of federating comments between WordPress sites. I think Khürt has a point though in that journalists, let alone other people, aren’t going to adopt this unless there’s a pretty UI to go along with it, for all kinds of posts. One of the things silos got really, really right is simple posting interfaces. Ideally they would make it easier to retrieve comment back out, and there would be an easy way to post to multiple accounts/silos at once, or choose on a particular basis, ETC. I use Bridgy on this site because I like the fact that I can essentially type 280 characters into the content edit box in the back end of my WordPress installation, and have the post look like it originated on Twitter when it syndicates there. I also understand that Bridgy was never intended to be a publishing tool, but a tool for retrieving reactions from silos. However, I have two Twitter accounts, and some statuses are appropriate for one and not the other. And yet I’d like to keep a record of the status posts from both accounts on my personal blog along with all their associated reactions. I’ve come to the conclusion that my professional site doesn’t have a place for status messages as a post kind. I tried SNAP Pro, but while I could get it working with Twitter, I couldn’t get it working with Facebook. This was mostly Facebook’s fault, because of their permissions UI being a nightmare if you use screen readers, getting the appropriate permissions, and then going back to SNAP Pro and entering in all the details. One thing I found with SNAP Pro is that you can’t delete accounts without going into the database to delete the tables. This is a problem especially when it comes to Facebook, because if you need to finish the setup, you can’t edit the account, you have to delete it and start over and hope you can get Facebook to authorize. So I’ve switched back to Bridgy and am working on possibly exporting my Twitter archive from my work account, combing it for status posts and not retweets or mentions, and manually posting each status and then collecting each one’s link from Twitter and dropping those into the syndication links section of the edit-post screen in order to retrieve mentions. Same with my Facebook archive.

        I, personally, don’t mind doing all this work, because having an archive of my data in a useable format is something I think is worthwhile, and I already have archives from my original Twitter account of arush that still need to be parced into individual status posts. The only reason I have those archives by the way is because, at the time I had the account, I was automatically creating digest posts of all the posts as a longer post on my personal site each day. If it hadn’t been for that, I would have lost those archives when I deleted the original account.

        All of this is time-consuming though, and I can see where people would just say “Who cares,” and continue posting to silos and who cares if they lose the content. We either need to figure out how to convince people that owning your content is worth it at almost all costs, (which is something I don’t think we’ll ever be able to do), create an extremely easy way for people to take a downloaded archive from one of the silos and parce that into individual posts, (none exists yet that I’ve been able to find), or create an interface for posting that is not only as good as, but better than, what you get with Facebook, Twitter, and the like, which we can then use to entice people to switch to their own platform.

        None of this is saying I’m giving up on the indieweb or that I’m going to quit trying to convince other people to join, of course. I can see the pain points though, and for anyone who’s not a technical person or who doesn’t have a lot of time or patience with this kind of thing, the pain really isn’t worth what you get in the end. Hopefully we can solve this one day.

        Wow, that probably should have been its own post and not a comment.

        1. Amanda, thanks for the well thought out reply! Oddly, your comment didn’t send a webmention to my site, so I only caught your reply by manually reading your post. I forced my site to pick it up manually though, so I could keep the response and reply. (Perhaps it’s the markup in your comments that prevented sending? I’m doing some tweaking to my own to work out some bugs.)

          A lot of what you’re saying is all too true, but I also think the community is making some significant headway towards making things continually better and easier from a UI perspective. Things are night and day compared to what they even a year ago, much less three. I had dinner earlier this week with Aaron Parecki, who was in LA coming back from IndieWebCamp Austin, and Jonathan LaCour from Dreamhost. We spent a bit of time discussing how to make it easier to import old content from places like Twitter and Facebook into platforms like WordPress to make owning all your content easier.

          Another piece that the silos have also done better is in creating “feed readers”. Sites like Facebook and Twitter are really 95% well-optimized readers and only 5% posting interface. Most people spend far more time on those platforms reading than they do creating. Even most of the creating is really just reposting and liking, so we’re already way ahead on that front.

          We’ve obviously still got a ways to go. The best part though is that we’re making steady progress.

          Lastly, while your comment might have been a post of its own and not a comment, I actually like the fact that it was a comment. It means that it fits into a larger whole where all of the context of the conversation isn’t necessarily lost. Perhaps it lost some readership as the result of the post type, but that’s a problem to be solved separately. If anything it’s the first time I’ve ever actually contemplated subscribing to someone’s RSS comments feed!

  2. Replied Finally! Simple Blog to Blog conversations in WordPress. by Chris Aldrich (Chris Aldrich | BoffoSocko)

    IndieWeb and Webmentions plugin for WordPress FTW!
    I don’t think I’d used it before or really seen it happening in the wild, but Khurt Williams used his website to reply to one of my posts via Webmention. I was then able to write my reply directly within the comments section of my original post…

    I was wondering how I was meant to facilitate a threaded comment. Wondering Chris, is that with the Threaded Comment plugin? I remember seeing it listed as ‘optional’. Can’t remember if I installed it.
    I still want to know how to bake more code into my responses/posts etc. Is it something that you handcraft or put into the theme?
    I remember when I thought I had my head around WordPress and blogging. Then I found the IndieWeb and realised I had sold myself a lie.

    1. Aaron, it is in fact with the Threaded Comment plugin (though it’s a GitHub repo and not in the main repository). A few people have asked me about it in the last couple of days, so instead of writing it out multiple times, I’ve done it once. Here are the details: Threaded Replies and Comments with Webmentions in WordPress. I’d had it ages ago and disabled it because I couldn’t quite get it to work (or it didn’t do what I expected), and didn’t really have instructions, so sadly I gave up. Now that I know what it was meant for and how to use it, I don’t know how I lived without it before.

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  3. Thank you Chris for explaining the process behind it. I know that you mention the hope that the process and plugin will improve, I wondering if you have any thoughts or advice for making this workflow smoother as it currently exists? Do you just a text file with random chunks of code that you regularly use or do you use a template? I think that this is my next step in regards to webmentions, adding more content to my links.

    1. Aaron, I’ve heard a few mention that the plugin works for them without including either a link or a u-in-reply-to class at all, so it apparently should work exactly as one would want. I suspect that somehow the microformats mark up in my comments template is a bit “off” and thus it’s not working as expected for me. I’m worried this may also be the case for others as well, but this is the eternal theme issue that we’re all always dealing with at the moment.

      Typically I’m typing out the reply and then simply adding a URL link and adding the class=”u-in-reply-to” manually, which is something I had done in the “old days” before I was using the Post Kinds plugin for all the other post types (bookmarks, likes, etc.) This seems to work for me in most cases despite my theme markup, though I notice it doesn’t seem to be sending my avatar/photo properly.

      If things are as smooth as I’ve heard, the only future improvement is encouraging this sub-plugin to be merged into the primary webmentions plugin. From a programmatic viewpoint though, I’m not sure how easy/difficult that may be.

      I’m not quite sure if I’ve answered all of your question as I don’t think I’m getting what you mean by “I think that this is my next step in regards to webmentions, adding more content to my links.”

  4. Sorry for the confusion Chris. What I meant about ‘adding contentu’ is in regards to h-cards. I tried using your invisible code – #8203 – to bake in categories into my post. I also like the idea of adding a h-summary to each post on my main blog.
    I am assuming that some of this is best done through the theme, that is what I am unsure about.
    For example, when you comment it includes things like syndicated links. Is that the theme or something you do manually?
    Hope that makes sense.
    P.S. Your comment did not come through in the thread. My webmentions playing up once again …

    1. It could easily have been my fault for the comment not pushing through. I’m still working out some issues, but I’m trying my best; sometimes it’s guesswork if people are moderating contents in which case I can’t quite tell if things went through. I can manually syndicate, just to make sure; you’ll just have to excuse/delete the duplicates.

      I think a lot of the things you’re talking about are often best baked directly into your theme or at worst perhaps using a plugin and/or widget if they’re easier. I know the IndieWeb Plugin has an h-card widget, but I wanted some more control, so I made my own by hand and dumped the code into the widget that appears on my homepage. I just used the typical WordPress widget system and dumped it into the sidebar area for my homepage.

      As for summaries, you typically add them as sub-microformats to things like h-entry. Thus you’d want to add something like p-summary instead of the older entry-summary or e-summary. I think that some of this was being worked on in Independent Publisher already, but haven’t noticed if it’s being actively used in the current version. Often many themes will use the WordPress “Excerpt” field in the admin UI to add a summary which would have this microformat on it for use elsewhere whether it’s displayed or hidden within the page source for open graph data which is used by Twitter or Facebook. The p-summary would typically be added by the theme itself depending on where it’s used.

      I could have sworn that the Independent Publisher Theme used and displayed WordPress’s built in categories and tags details for posts, so that should cover your needs there hopefully.

      The syndication links on comments are a hidden bit of functionality and aren’t documented well (or at all?). I recall stumbling across the functionality myself. The syndication links plugin definitely adds the functionality, and depending on how the comment is received, it can sometimes display them automatically. Generally however, I’m often syndicating things I write in comments manually to Twitter (often using it as a notifications system for those without webmention support). Then I’ll go to the particular comment I syndicated and “edit” it, either by using the admin UI directly at /edit-comments.php or by clicking on the “edit” button on the public facing comment on the particular page. Then scrolling down that page you’ll find the Syndication Links meta box which will allow you to manually add the link! Eventually plugins like Bridgy Publish might automate some of this better, but for now, that’s where it’s hiding.

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