From Following Posts and Blogrolls (Following Pages) with OPML to Microsub Servers and Readers

I’m still tinkering away at pathways for following people (and websites) on the open web (in my case within WordPress). I’m doing it with an eye toward making some of the UI and infrastructure easier in light of the current fleet of Microsub servers and readers that will enable easier social reading without the centralized reliance on services like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, Medium, LinkedIn, et al.

If you haven’t been following along, here are some relevant pieces for background:

Generally I’ve been adding data into my Following Page (aka blogroll on steroids) using the old WordPress Links Manager pseudo-manually. (There’s also a way to bulk import to it via OPML, using the WordPress Tools Menu or via /wp-admin/import.php?import=opml). The old Links Manager functionality in WordPress had a bookmarklet to add links to it quickly, though it currently only seems to add a minimal set–typically just the URL and the page title. Perhaps someone with stronger JavaScript skills than I possess could improve on it or integrate/leverage some of David Shanske’s Parse This work into such a bookmark to pull more data out of pages (via Microformats, Schema.org, Open Graph Protocol, or Dublin Core meta) to pre-fill the Links Manager with more metadata including page feeds, which I now understand Parse This does in the past month or so. (If more than one feed is found, they could be added in comma separated form to the “Notes” section and the user could cut/paste the appropriate one into the feed section.) Since I spent some significant time trying to find/dig up that old bookmarklet, I’ll mention that it can be found in the Restore Lost Functionality plugin (along with many other goodies) and a related version also exists in the Link Library plugin, though on a small test I found it only pulled in the URL.

Since it wasn’t completely intuitive to find, I’ll include the JavaScript snippet for the Links Manager bookmarklet below, though note that the URL hard coded into it is for example.com, so change that part if you’re modifying for your own use. (I haven’t tested it, but it may require the Press This plugin which replaces some of the functionality that was taken out of WordPress core in version 4.9. It will certainly require one to enable using the Links Manager either via code or via plugin.)

javascript:void(linkmanpopup=window.open('https://exanple.com/wp-admin/link-add.php?action=popup&linkurl='+escape(location.href)+'&name='+escape(document.title),'LinkManager','scrollbars=yes,width=750,height=550,left=15,top=15,status=yes,resizable=yes'));linkmanpopup.focus();window.focus();linkmanpopup.focus();

Since I’ve been digging around a bit, I’ll note that Yannick Lefebvre’s Link Library plugin seems to have a similar sort of functionality to Links Manager and adds in the ability to add a variety of additional data fields including tags, which Ton Zijlstra mentions he would like (and I wouldn’t mind either). Unfortunately I’m not seeing any OPML functionality in the plugin, so it wins at doing display (with a huge variety of settings) for a stand-alone blogroll, but it may fail at the data portability for doing the additional OPML portion we’ve been looking at. Of course I’m happy to be corrected, but I don’t see anything in the documentation or a cursory glance at the code.

In the most ideal world, I’d love to be able to use the Post Kinds Plugin to create follow posts (see my examples). This plugin is already able to generally use bookmarklet functionality to pull in a variety of meta data using the Parse This code which is also built into Post Kinds.

It would be nice if these follow posts would also copy their data into the Links Manager (to keep things DRY), so that the blogroll and the OPML files are automatically updated all at once. (Barring Post Kinds transferring the data, it would be nice to have an improved bookmarklet for pulling data into the Links Manager piece directly.)

Naturally having the ability for these OPML files be readable/usable by Jack Jamieson’s forthcoming Yarns Microsub Server for WordPress (for use with social readers) would be phenomenal. (I believe there are already one or two OPML to h-feed converters for Microsub in the wild.) All of this would be a nice end -to-end solution for quickly and easily following people (or sites) with a variety of feeds and feed types (RSS, Atom, JSONfeed, h-feed).

An additional refinement of the blogroll display portion would be to have that page display as an h-feed of h-entries each including properly marked up h-cards with appropriate microformats and discoverable RSS feeds to make it easier for other sites to find and use that data. (This may be a more IndieWeb-based method of displaying such a page compared with the OPML spec.) I’ll also note that the Links Manager uses v1 of the OPML spec and it would potentially be nice to have an update on that as well for newer discovery tools/methods like Dave Winer’s Share Your OPML Subscription list, which I’m noting seems to be down/not functioning at the moment.

Replied to My Human Readable OPML Blogroll by Ton ZijlstraTon Zijlstra (zylstra.org)
After my recent posting where I asked people which RSS feeds they read, I received several responses. One of them is Peter’s. Like me he was publishing an OPML file of his feeds already. OPML is a machine readable format that most RSS readers will be able to import, so you can subscribe to blogs I...

Ton, this is great! Though perhaps you’re reinventing the wheel a bit more than you may have needed to?

I’ll see you your blogroll and add in images and descriptions as well! https://boffosocko.com/about/following/

A while back I did something similar to what you and Peter have done, I just did it with the old built in Link Manager feature of WordPress. The primary difference is that I’ve got some meta data about what the site/feed is about in addition to an image. I left out the feed in the human readable version as it’s less likely to be used, while it’s more valuable to the computer readable version. I’ve also figured out the a URL query parameter for breaking my blogroll up by category, so that folks can copy smaller subsections of it.

Another added bonus is that I’m using Inoreader which supports OPML subscriptions so that any time I update my OPML file, my feed reader auto-updates for me without needing to manually upload the new OPML file! This means I just add the follow in one place and everything else follows without any additional work.

Here are the details for how I did most of it:

Perhaps what we really need is to give some love to that Link Manager in core to update it to OPML v2 and add in the rel attributes from XFN microformats to the links? 

When you have a moment, be sure to add your example to the OPML and blogroll pages on the IndieWeb wiki, where you may find some additional inspiration.

Thanks for experimenting to bring back the blogroll! (And thanks for sharing, there are a few of your feeds I see that I ought to be following and I also recognize those we have in common of many educators I already do follow.)

👓 My Human Readable OPML Blogroll | Interdependent Thoughts

Read My Human Readable OPML Blogroll by Ton Zijlstra (zylstra.org)
After my recent posting where I asked people which RSS feeds they read, I received several responses. One of them is Peter’s. Like me he was publishing an OPML file of his feeds already. OPML is a machine readable format that most RSS readers will be able to import, so you can subscribe to blogs I...
Replied to a tweet by Dr LJ Dr LJ (Twitter)

I like that old school Blogroll you’ve got! I wish I could have kept mine small enough for a sidebar:
https://boffosocko.com/2017/11/10/a-following-page/

Reply to Damian Yerrick about leaving Tumblr and recommendation engines

Replied to a tweet by Damian YerrickDamian Yerrick (Twitter)

Because of the decentralized nature of the IndieWeb, it’s most likely that more centralized services in the vein of Indie Map or perhaps a Microsub client might build in this sort of recommendation engine functionality. But this doesn’t mean that all is lost! Until more sophisticated tools exist, bootstrapping on smaller individually published sorts of recommendations like follow posts or things like my Following Page (fka blogroll) with OPML support are more likely to be of interest and immediately fill the gap. Several feed readers like Feedly and Inoreader also have recommendation engines built in as well.

Of course going the direction of old school blogs and following those who comment on your own site has historically been a quick way to build a network. I’m also reminded of Colin Walker’s directory which creates a blogroll of sorts by making a list of websites that have webmentioned his own. Webrings are also an interesting possibility for topic-related community building.

Since Tumblr is unlikely to shut down immediately, those effected could easily add their personal websites to their bios to help transition their followerships to feed readers or other methods for following and reading.

Of course the important thing in the near term is to spend a moment downloading and backing up one’s content just in case.

 

Reply to Brad Enslen about The Future of Blog Snoop

Replied to Memo: Announcement: The Future of Blog Snoop Blog Directory by Brad EnslenBrad Enslen (Brad Enslen)
I’m hitting a fork in the road with this site and the experiment of using a blog as a directory of blogs.  The problem here is me: I’m running out of time.  I’m duplicating a lot … Source: Announcement: The Future of Blog Snoop – Blog Snoop Weblog Directory We’ll see what happens.  It...

Brad, much like Kicks Condor, I think you’re making a laudable effort, and one of the ways our work grows is to both keep up with it and experiment around.

If I recall, programming wasn’t necessarily your strong suit, but like many in the IndieWeb will say: “Manual until it hurts!” By doing things manually, you’ll more easily figure out what might work and what might not, and then when you’ve found the thing that does, then you spend some time programming it to automate the whole thing to make it easier. It’s quite similar to designing a college campus: let the students walk around naturally for a bit then pave the natural walkways that they’ve created. This means you won’t have both the nicely grided and unused sidewalks in addition to the ugly grass-less beaten paths. It’s also the broader generalization of paving the cow paths.

In addition to my Following page I’ve also been doing some experimenting with following posts using the Post Kinds Plugin. It is definitely a lot more manual than I’d like it to be. It does help to have made a bookmarklet to more quickly create follow posts, but until I’ve got it to a place that I really want it, it’s not (yet) worth automating taking the data from those follow posts to dump them into my Follow page for output there as well. Of course the fact that my follow posts have h-entry and h-feed mark up means that someone might also decide to build a parser that will extract my posts into a feed which could then be plugged into something else like a microsub-based reader so that I could make a follow post on my own site and the source is automatically added to my subscription list in my reader automatically.

In addition to Kicks Condor, I’me seeing others start to kick the tires of these things as well. David Shanske recently wrote Brainstorming on Implementing Vouch, Following, and Blogrolls, but I think he’s got a lot more going on in his thinking than he’s indicated in his post which barely scratches the surface.

I also still often think back to a post from Dave Winer in 2016: Are you ready to share your OPML? This too has some experimental discovery features that only scratch the surface of the adjacent possible.

And of course just yesterday, Kevin Marks (previously of Technorati) reminded us about rel=”directory” which could have some interesting implications for discovery and following. Think for a bit of how one might build a decentralized Technorati or something along the lines of Ryan Barrett’s indie map.

As things continue to grow, I’m seeing some of all of our decisions and experiments begin to effect others as these are all functionality and discovery mechanisms that we’ll all need in the very near future. I hope you’ll continue to experiment and make cow paths that can eventually be paved.

Featured Image: Cows on the path flickr photo by Reading Tom shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license

👓 Announcement: The Future of Blog Snoop | Blog Snoop Weblog Directory

Read Announcement: The Future of Blog Snoop by Brad Enslen (Blog Snoop Weblog Directory)
I’m hitting a fork in the road with this site and the experiment of using a blog as a directory of blogs.  The problem here is me: I’m running out of time.  I’m duplicating a lot …

👓 The Future of Blog Snoop | Kicks Condor

Read The Future of Blog Snoop by Kicks CondorKicks Condor (kickscondor.com)
I think the idea behind Blog Snoop is solid—I mean you’re just talking about trying to define the edges of a certain community. I’m sufficiently convinced now (between Reddit wikis and ‘awesome lists’) that directories still serve this purpose. Find The Others. I guess part of the problem ...

Response to Brad and Kicks forthcoming…

👓 Memo: Announcement: The Future of Blog Snoop Blog Directory | Brad Enslen

Read Memo: Announcement: The Future of Blog Snoop Blog Directory by Brad EnslenBrad Enslen (Brad Enslen)
I’m hitting a fork in the road with this site and the experiment of using a blog as a directory of blogs.  The problem here is me: I’m running out of time.  I’m duplicating a lot … Source: Announcement: The Future of Blog Snoop – Blog Snoop Weblog Directory We’ll see what happens.  It...

Reply to Tony Zijlstra on Mapping the IndieWeb

Replied to Mapping the IndieWeb a Webmention at a Time by Ton ZijlstraTon Zijlstra (Interdependent Thoughts)

When I link to another blog or site that has enabled webmention, my server log should record that it received a 20* response when trying to reach a webmention end point.

Assuming this is indeed in my server log, then it should be possible to have a script that pulls the successful webmentions from the server log. From that a growing list of IndieWeb sites can grow. Especially if you’d share that list, and others do too, so you can compare and detect new additions to the list. An incremental way of mapping the IndieWeb. Might even become a new, indie Technorati of sorts. At the very least it’s a discovery vehicle to find others interested in the distributed web and outside the silos and media sites.

Or does something like that already exist?

I like this idea…

Somewhat in the same vein, Colin Walker has built a Webmention Directory on his site that lists all the people (selectively) who have mentioned him in the past. It’s not too different from the purpose of a blogroll.

Similarly Ryan Barrett has built the IndieMap which has a much larger data sample behind it. He unveiled it almost a year ago at IndieWeb Summit 2017.

Maybe we could get the old Technorati alumni in IndieWeb to build something out of this?

👓 A Blogroll Solution | Brad Enslen

Read A Blogroll Solution by Brad EnslenBrad Enslen (Brad Enslen)
After much discussion I came up with a new blogroll. Ta da! Not perfect but a bit easier to maintain.  I used the Links Shortcode plugin to resurrect the “Links” function in WordPress and let me put the links on a Page rather than a Widget.  I still have not fully figured out the formatting fo...

An Indieweb Podcast: Episode 8 Interflux

Episode 8: Interflux


Running time: 1h 23m 35s | Download (26.2 MB) | Subscribe by RSS

Summary: David Shanske and I recap the recent IndieWeb Summit 2018 in Portland Oregon including recent developments like microsub, readers, Vouch, and even the comeback of webrings!

Huffduff this Episode

Shownotes

Recap of IndieWeb Summit 2018

Vouch(🎧 00:7:13)

The Year of the Reader (🎧 00:38:32)

Webrings (🎧 00:59:03)

Aaron Parecki posts (🎧 1:12:10)

👓 Let Me Link to You | Kicks Condor

Read Let Me Link to You by Kicks Condor (kickscondor.com)
So wait. Where are you? I guess I’m caught in my filter bubble again. After , maybe you went back to your bicycle and your Polaroid camera. But maybe you’re out there still...

I love some of the growing ideas about links, discovery, and serendipity that I’m seeing bubble up in my feed reader lately. I bookmarked this one quickly while skimming on my birthday and finally got to revisit it. Can’t wait to see where Kicks Condor takes the exercise.

Reply to Brad Enslen about Blogrolls in WordPress

Replied to No Good WordPress Blogroll Plugins by Brad EnslenBrad Enslen (Brad Enslen)

Feh. Apparently there are no good blogroll plugins for WordPress.   I did look extensively through the WP plugins directory but didn’t find anything interesting. Most plugins were way out of date for my version of WP.

Might be an opportunity there for the Indieweb movement to aid discovery.

Apologies Brad. I just saw your follow up post and had meant to reply to your earlier one when I saw it last week, I just didn’t have the time to write a quick response. I had hoped you might have found something even better than what I’ve put together previously or perhaps started building a newer and shinier edifice.

There is actually an excellent and solid “plugin” for creating a blogroll, but it’s actually been hiding in WordPress core for ages: the original Link Manager. Use of it declined so much it was programatically “removed”, but all the code is still in core, it still works wonderfully, and it only requires a single line of code (or the simplest plugin ever written) to re-enable it.

It was very solid and didn’t need much iteration, so it should work fine with current versions of WordPress–it certainly does on mine.

I’ve written up a bunch of details on how and what I did (as well as why), so hopefully it’ll give you a solid start including some custom code snippets and reasonably explicit directions to make some small improvements for those that may be a bit code-averse. Hint: I changed it from being a sidebar widget to making it a full page. Let us know if you need help making some of the small code related changes to get yourself sorted.

Even if you just want a plug and play plugin, there are details for that in the post as well, you’ll just be stuck with putting the blogroll into a traditional sidebar position. (With conditional statements in the sidebar widget, you  could restrict the blogroll widget to only displaying on a “Following” page, for example.)

I do think there is still a more IndieWeb way of doing this, potentially by making follow posts with mark up that could be parsed by microsub readers perhaps? Certainly dovetailing something with microsub seems to be a laudable goal. I would like to eventually dive into the Link Manager code and add some additional microformats as well as update the OPML to v2, but there’s enough back compatibility that the older version is fine for most use cases I’ve run across. I know David Shanske has some ideas about some changes he’d like to see in the future as well. You could always also go super low tech the way Greg did and have a blogroll post that you update over time, though perhaps a page is a better way to go? Updating things to be more automated is certainly a reasonable goal though.

Give it a spin and see what you think. Here’s my Following page (aka blogroll) with details at the very bottom for subcategories of OPML subscription. I’ll try to update the IndieWeb blogroll page with some of these details to make them more imminently findable as well.

👓 Any Good Blogroll Plugins for WordPress? | Brad Enslen

Read Any Good Blogroll Plugins for WordPress? by Brad EnslerBrad Ensler (Brad Enslen)
Does anyone have a recommendation for a good blogroll plugin for WordPress? I’ve looked at Indieweb blogroll solutions and there are some really good implementations.  I really like Colin Walker’s directory of people who have commented via webmention.  It would be great to aid blog discovery a...