Keep in mind that the output of these feeds will be instance specific, and the tag feed will only get mentions from your instance and instances yours can “see” (or gets by follows with federation). So if you use a different instance, you may see more or less in your feeds. Because of its size and depth of federation, this makes mastodon.social a good bet for these sorts of subscriptions, but your experience may vary depending on your needs.
I wonder if anyone is documenting the amount of course material that disappears and dies in LMSs the way that some track the loss of data and content when social media silos disappear? Our institutions need to do more to help us here.
Kathleen Fitzgerald recently asked about crossposting to Mastodon from her WordPress site and getting replies back. She’s documented some parts recently, and I’ve outlined a few pieces preliminarily including ways you can make your WordPress site look like it’s a Mastodon instance with a few plugins. I suspect Kathleen will have some further thoughts soon after she spends some time tinkering. If you had previously set up to syndicate to Twitter and get responses by via the Brid.gy service, that same sort of workflow will definitely work with Mastodon if you like. (Though it bears mentioning that some of the updates to Mastodon 4.0 this past week or so have introduced some bugs depending on which instance you’re on. I’m sure they’ll be sorted shortly.)
If you’ve not puzzled it out yet, the adding of the requisite
rel="me" class to your Mastodon URL link on your website (in the header, footer, via plugin, via menu item, other) is broadly described here (including some details for the classic editor): https://g13g.blog/2022/11/09/how-to-verify-your-wordpress-site-on-mastodon/. I’m personally using the IndieWeb Plugin to accomplish this and have added the URL for my mastodon instance into a field which gets added to my WordPress Profile at
/wp-admin/profile.php. I’m happy to help if you need other ideas about how to do it as there are maybe too many potential options—it was all the different options and ways of doing it that confused me when I did it.
In addition to the broader Domain of One’s Own ideas that the “Twitter migration” is spurring, I’m always glad to see more people exploring ways we can have “A Twitter of our Own“.
Also in reply to syndicated copy at:
On the deadnaming and related issues, it would be interesting to create a webmention mechanism for the h-card portions so that users might update these across networks. To some extent Automattic’s Gravatar system does this in a centralized manner, but it would be interesting to see it separately. Certainly not as big an issue as deadnaming, but there’s a similar problem on some platforms like Twitter where people will change their display name regularly for either holidays, or lately because they’re indicating they’d rather be found on Mastodon or other websites.
The webmention spec does contain details for both editing/deleting content and resending webmentions to edit and/or remove the original. Ideally this would be more broadly adopted and used in the future to eliminate the need for making these choices by leaving the choice up to the original publisher.
Beyond this, often on platforms that don’t have character limits (Reddit for example), I’ll post at the bottom of my syndicated copy of content that it was originally published on my site (along with the permalink) and explicitly state that I aggregate the replies from various locations which also helps to let people know that they might find addition context or conversation at the original post should they be interested. Doing this on Twitter, Mastodon, et al. is much harder due to space requirements obviously.
While most responses I send would fall under fair use for copying, I also have a Creative Commons license on my text in an effort to help others feel more comfortable with having copies of my content on their sites.
Another ethical layer to this is interactions between sites which both have webmentions enabled. To some extent this creates an implicit bi-directional relationship which says, I’m aware that this sort of communication exists and approve of your parsing and displaying my responses.
The public norms and ethics in this area will undoubtedly evolve over time, so it’s also worth revisiting and re-evaluating the issue over time.
- Maggie Appleton (feed) for her thoughtful blends of design, thinking, and anthropology
- Manton Reece (feed) for his spectacular work in bringing humanity to the web through Micro.blog
- Kathleen Fitzpatrick (feed) for her publishing experiments and generous thinking
And all three for their kindness and thoughtfulness in technology spaces.
There are some well built and not overly complicated pathways that allow syndicating from your WordPress website to a Mastodon instance and getting responses back from them, just as I think you’ve done with Twitter in the past. Most of these can be done with plugins like Syndication Links or Mastodon Autopost or a handful of other similar plugins in conjunction with Brid.gy (which does the work for bringing back responses). Personally, I prefer Syndication Links for this and it particularly dovetails well with other IndieWeb infrastructure like Micropub clients.
There are a small handful of methods for “mirroring” your WordPress site so that it will look like its own (single or multi-user depending on your configuration) instance within the Fediverse running ActivityPub, meaning that those on Mastodon or other related platforms could follow your site directly. Most of them are configured as publishing only, so you won’t have a built in reader interface and would have to rely on other (available) infrastructure for those portions.
(More technical, and with a few less features) Brid.gyFed, which has options to do the syndication to a separate instance mentioned above, as well as making it look like your website appear to support ActivityPub.
More details on this here: https://indieweb.org/Bridgy_Fed
Our friend Matthias Pfefferle, a genius engineer and longtime opensource advocate and WordPress developer who has also written significant pieces of other IndieWeb code you’re already using on WordPress, has written a handful of plugins which will make it appear as if your WordPress site supports ActivityPub out of the box. You’ll broadly want the following plugins: ActivityPub plugin, WebFinger plugin, NodeInfo(2) plugin.
They don’t have very many configurable options though some may be hiding a bit, so try:
/wp-admin/options-general.php?page=activitypubwill give you options for how your posts appear;
/wp-admin/users.php?page=activitypub-followers-listwill show you who is following your site so you can more easily subscribe back via a reader if you like;
/wp-admin/profile.phpand look under “Fediverse” where your profile identifier will be found. It is based on your username within WordPress.
The documentation for these plugins are scant and I’ve got the intention to write up something explaining the subtleties and a few quirks, but it will have to wait until the holidays I’m afraid. In the interim, they’re not as complete as they could be, but the following two blogposts have some useful details and hints, though its obvious to me that they’re much newer in the space:
There are one or two quirks still pending for how things display if you’re using the IndieWeb-based Post Kinds Plugin, but the developers are generally aware of most of them and will hopefully get them ironed our shortly.
As a result, mostly of these plugins, WordPress is already the fifth largest number of instances in the Fediverse with an (under-)estimated 878 as of this morning.
Help & Questions
This is a lot to consume and potentially implement, so, as ever, I’m happy to help guide and lay out the sub-branching options or even hop on a call to walk through bits with folks who have questions. David Shanske and I have been thinking about doing some group sessions and some training videos to walk people through some of this within the next few weeks. There’s also the IndieWeb chat which welcomes questions and conversation which is sure to give you some additional perspective: https://chat.indieweb.org/wordpress/.
For the social reader portions I briefly mentioned, I outline some of those options last year at OERxDomains in A Twitter of Our Own.
Separately, congratulations to HCommons having stood up a Mastodon server so quickly!
It looks like it’s running Hometown, which has local only (unfederated) posting, though I’m not sure how many are aware of that useful feature (hiding on the link in the posting interface) which is sadly missing from most Mastodon instances, particularly for smaller communities. It might be something useful to add to the welcome email? I think this could be a great feature for Universities to allow more private class-based social networking while providing some safer spaces that don’t reach the broader internet and which might comply with FERPA. Obviously it would need some testing and some of the barriers for standing up and maintaining these servers to come down a bit.
There’s a lot of messaging and potential education to be had to roll it out well, but it could be interesting to see the WordPress offerings from hcommons.org include some of these IndieWeb and Fediverse tools as well.
If you really want native ActivityPub mirroring of your site on Mastodon, you might try @pfefferle’s ActivityPub plugin (along with his NodeInfo and Webfinger plugins). I still need to tinker with my own set up for better formatting, but you could follow my WordPress site @chrisaldrich
A while back I did set up a system that uses IFTTT to target my micropub endpoint for syndicating some content from silos that don’t have good/easy APIs or methods into my website. Generally I do this as private posts so I have the data and selectively post it as necessary. These days I primarily do this with my Hypothes.is annotations to my site, though only a tiny fraction of the 12,000+ is publicly available: https://boffosocko.com/kind/annotation/. Currently only about 1/3 of my 45,000+ posts are publicly viewable on my site.
Eventually someone might build Micropub as a Service so you can sign up and give it social silo accounts to have the service PESOS copies of your content to your website.
The Heat’s Around the Corner
Given the seismic shifts in the social media space these past weeks since Elon Musk took over at Twitter, it looks like some people will wish they had their proverbial Twitter go bags ready.
After reports of an ultimatum and mass exodus tonight at Twitter Headquarters and Musk posting some not so funny remarks, some people are preparing for Twitter’s addition to the IndieWeb wiki’s Site Deaths page.
How do you make a small fortune in social media?
Start out with a large one.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) November 18, 2022
But after sharecropping content for them for up to 16 years and creating networks of friends on the platform, how can your retain as much value from the dying site as possible? What would you put in your go bag and how can you do it quickly?
Obviously, doing a full data export would be a wise move, but recent reports are that it is taking three or more days for those to process and get sent out. (What if it doesn’t last that long?) Worse, it’s not always the sort of usable data you’d want to have when moving somewhere else. What can you do to save as much usable data as quickly as possible?
Below are some quick and dirty tools for stocking your go bag:
https://listfollowers.com/ will access the Twitter API to pull out your followers, followees, and mutuals (people you’re following who follow you back). You can save these as a .csv or .json files for use or import to other tools.
https://opml.glitch.me/ will query Twitter and provide you with the web pages and feeds of your friends so that you can follow them in a feed reader. It also provides you with an .opml file which many feed readers can import so that you can automatically follow all your friends by other methods.
https://fedifinder.glitch.me/ is a tool for tracking where your friends have decamped within the Fediverse. It will allow you to extract the Fediverse handles (where available) of your Twitter followings or list members and import them into Mastodon to follow them all at once. If this is your exit strategy, be sure to add your own Mastodon address to your Twitter profile or bio to help others find you as you all orderly file to the exit while the building burns down behind you.
https://pruvisto.org/debirdify/ is another tool for moving some of your Twitter data over to Mastodon or other parts of the Fediverse.
https://twitodon.com/ is yet another tool to help you find your Twitter friends on Mastodon.
One Last Heist
Of course if things continue to devolve, but you have some extra time for one last go, consider carefully your exit strategy and why and what you hope to get out of the experience.
Many have left to go to Mastodon. I’ve been collecting some rough notes under the tag “Twitter Migration” which may be helpful here. While Mastodon represents a step up in terms of choice, freedom and flexibility over Twitter, I know we can still do better for both user interface as well as a more humane social media experience.
My personal suggestion for a quick and dirty escape is to go IndieWeb and have and use your own domain name and website to become your personal home on the web. If you’ve got the technical chops, our friends at IndieWebCamp have some help and pointers waiting for you. If you’re stuck and have some means, Micro.blog is a great way to go IndieWeb and own all your content while still being able to interact with a large number of other IndieWeb sites as well as Twitter and Mastodon if you choose. Plans there are $5 a month and are an exceptional deal.
Other options are to move to other blogging platforms like Tumblr, which has shown interest in adding IndieWeb building blocks, WordPress.com, and Blogger.
What export options have I missed? (Keep in mind that we all know there are lots of command line options that dovetail with APIs and require advanced knowledge of programming. We’re specifically looking for quick and dirty options that are immediately usable by the masses, preferably with directions or suggests as to what can be done with the outputs.)
What other options are there for easy migration that still allow people to stay connected with their friends and family? Hopefully it’s obvious that suggestions for moving to other corporate social silos that practice surveillance capitalism where this viscous cycle will happen again within a decade are now moot.
Because of the base level design, I can post on my site and syndicate content almost anywhere while often times getting replies and responses back from a number of platforms. Because it’s all built on open specs it means that people on WordPress can communicate directly with those on Drupal, Craft, Hugo, Kirby, Django, a variety of static site generators, Twitter, Mastodon, and almost any platform that chooses to support the broad standards. (Matt Mullenweg has already started down the road to having Tumblr support these building blocks.)
WordPress already has support for all of the major building blocks and works with a variety of social readers which make reading content and replying to it pretty simple and straightforward. Of course this doesn’t mean that there still isn’t work left to perfect it, smooth the corners, and lower the technical bars, and the costs for a wider diversity of people. For those that don’t want to deal with the hassle and maintenance, there are also several services that support most of the specs out of the box. Micro.blog in particular has a great user interface and does all the heavy lifting for $5/month. Without any cost, you can create an account and join that community using your own WordPress site today.
If you’re into the idea, stop by the IndieWeb chat, ask questions, and join the party. I’ve got a collection of posts with a variety of resources, descriptions, how-tos, and videos if you need them: https://boffosocko.com/research/indieweb/
Here’s a short preview of what some of it looks like in practice:
Aside: David Shanske, perhaps we ought to run one of our WordPress IndieWeb install fests one one of these coming weekends to help onboard people?