A hashtag functionality hiding with the ActivityPub for WordPress Plugin

I discovered yesterday that when I added a # (or hash, pound sign, octothorpe, et al.) in front of any word on my site, it created a native version of something akin to Twitter’s functionality, but it was working on my own website. The primary difference was that the hashed word on the page was, upon publishing the post, automatically wrapped with a URL for that tag on my own website, and it was also automatically added to the list of tags for the post. (As an illustrative example, I’m doing the same thing with the word hashtag earlier in this paragraph.)

I had previously considered adding this type of functionality myself to make syndicating posts (via POSSE) from my own website to sites like Twitter or Mastodon easier. There are a small handful of plugins in the WordPress repository that will add that type of functionality already, but I had eschewed them generally, not wanting yet-another-plugin.

I spent some time trying to track down the plugin that was effecting this change. I couldn’t remember having installed something that would have done this sort of functionality, and I had noticed it only by complete happenstance. I eventually gave up my search halfway through only to later get a message from Matthias Pfefferle that his ActivityPub plugin was the likely culprit. I probably should have guessed as I had literally spent part of that very day looking at the code in his IndieWeb News plugin on GitHub which had code that essentially did the exact same thing, but for a narrower set of results.

The upside of the entire process is that the functionality is now built into a plugin which I’d be using otherwise. As of today’s update, there’s now also a setting for the plugin that will allow one to turn the functionality on or off–I, for one, am definitely keeping it. Of course if you’re looking for the functionality without the extra overhead of the ActivityPub code, I believe you can use Matthias’ WordPress hashtags plugin which does only this.

I’ve never quite liked that Twitter uses @names highlighted within posts. All the additional cruft in Twitter like the “@” and “#” prefixes, while adding useful functionality, have always dramatically decreased the readability and enjoyment of their interface for me. So why not just get rid of them?!

Of course I also remember myself railing against the addition of the symbols @ and # in general text not too long ago, so I’m also now brainstorming and contemplating how one might more quickly (and even in a DRY manner) do this sort of tagging using some other (probably easily accessed, but infrequently used) symbol which could be hidden visually, but which would allow one to add these sorts of tags and the appropriate microformats markup. I suspect there may be some sort of clever CSS I may be able to use too, though it would be better not so that it works easily via syndication and in feed readers with different styling. The goal should be that it would work as plain text from a Micropub client too. With any good luck someone may have thought of it already, otherwise I may be able to hack something simple together to do roughly what I want. The upside would be that simply by writing your post, you could simultaneously be tagging it as well and not need to bother going in and separately adding additional tags!

Update to the Syndication Links plugin for WordPress for Custom Endpoints

David Shanske has recently updated the Syndication Links plugin for WordPress that now allows users to add custom syndication endpoints to their websites so they can actually syndicate their content to external sites. 

In particular, this now includes syndication endpoints like IndieWeb News and indieweb.xyz subs. Configuring the plugin with a syndication name, UID, and the appropriate URL will create additional endpoint checkboxes in the “Syndicate To” metabox. (The UID is simply a unique identifier that the plugin uses in conjunction with Micropub clients, and the URL is the appropriate full URL to the appropriate syndication target.)

If one wishes to test syndication out, I might suggest using the test endpoint provided by indieweb.xyz. The appropriate entries in the custom provider section at /wp-admin/admin.php?page=syndication_links would be:

  • Name: xyz hottubs
  • UID: xyz-hottubs
  • URL:  https://indieweb.xyz/en/hottubs/
Settings for configuring custom syndication endpoints in the Syndication Links plugin

For convenience, the settings page also allows the user to disable (via checkbox) endpoints they don’t use or don’t want to appear in their administrative meta boxes.

An example of the meta box that appears in the administrative interface when creating new posts. To syndicate your content to the desired sites using Webmention, just click the appropriate boxes.

Use with Micropub Clients

The update to the Syndication Links plugin also means that Micropub clients with appropriate support (like Quill, for example) will know about which syndication endpoints your site supports and will be able to include them in its checkbox list for auto-syndicating via Micropub.

Example Quill micropub interface with syndication endpoints configured within Syndication Links plugin

Naturally, people using these methods should be very careful about how they’re using them so that they aren’t abusing or spamming these channels. Those abusing these channels will certainly find their sites blocked from posting. Keep in mind that some of the syndication endpoints shown here are examples and that other endpoints exist or can be created on sites like indieweb.xyz. 

Bridgy for WordPress

I’ll also note in passing that the syndication functionality to Twitter, Flickr, and GitHub that the Bridgy for WordPress Plugin provides is now also available within the Syndication Links plugin, so those who already have Brid.gy set up with their websites can easily and safely deactivate and uninstall that plugin. Doing this will prevent the duplication of meta boxes in one’s admin UI. Given the migration of some of its functionality, it is certainly possible in the future that this plugin may be deprecated or the Brid.gy set up portion of its functionality may be merged into another plugin like the IndieWeb plugin.

👤  Chris McLeodJoe Jennett, and Khürt Williams may appreciate this the most for use with indieweb.xyz. It may be a minute too late for Brad Enslen however.

Improve instructions for use

Filed an Issue Automatically send mentions to IndieNews. (GitHub)
Contribute to pfefferle/wordpress-indienews development by creating an account on GitHub.

Some who come across the plugin who are relatively IndieWeb-aware don’t know how to use the plugin:
eg: https://islandinthenet.com/saturday-16-february-2019-1017am/ which has resulted in some unintended spam in the IndieNews feed.

What exactly are the triggers for syndicating to IndieWeb News and Indieweb.xyz? Is it just having a tag indienews, indieweb, or even indie* where * is a wildcard? Are there others I may be missing?

Can one target other subs within indieweb.xyz (examples: /en/longreads or /en/games/) or just the /language/indieweb/ sub with the plugin? How is differentiating them done from the user’s perspective? I do see a reference to the /hottubs/ sub in the code, but I’m not following all the logic there.

I suspect it would also be nice to have some details about the dashboard widget and news feeds as well as listing a requirement for the Webmention plugin which some might not know about.

I’m happy to modify the readme’s with better instructions if I can be a bit more clear on some of what the code is doing with regard to the above.

Replied to a post by Khürt WilliamsKhürt Williams (islandinthenet.com)
I have just installed the IndieNews plugin but … I don’t understand how to use it.

Syndicating Your Posts

The IndieNews plugin allows you to automatically syndicate your posts to the IndieNews and IndieWeb.xyz sites using webmention. You’ll notice on your posts that in your tags, in addition to the indieweb tag you’ve added, the plugin has automatically added additional tags  which include #indienews and /en/indieweb which–instead of being wrapped with links to those tags on your website–are wrapped with links pointing to those websites along with the appropriate syndication markup. As a result, when you publish your posts and send webmentions, both of those services are posting to those services on your behalf.

I’d recommend care in syndicating to them using this plugin as this morning it might appear to some that you’re spamming those channels. I tag lots of things on my site as “IndieWeb” mostly for my own use, so I specifically don’t use the plugin for concern of overwhelming those other sites. Instead I typically cross-post to both services manually using their respective instructions: IndieWeb News and IndieWeb.xyz.

IndieNews Dashboard Widget

The other feature that the plugin does is add a small widget to your main /wp-admin/ dashboard page that also displays a feed of what appears on the IndieNews website for your convenience.

Example of what IndieNews widget looks like in your WordPress dashboard.

I’ll admit that the GitHub repo for the plugin doesn’t do as good a job of describing how to use it as it might. Perhaps we ought to file an issue to improve that?

🎙 The IndieWeb and Academic Research and Publishing

The IndieWeb and Academic Research and Publishing

Running time: 0h 12m 59s | Download (13.9 MB) | Subscribe by RSS | Huffduff

Overview Workflow


Researcher posts research work to their own website (as bookmarks, reads, likes, favorites, annotations, etc.), they can post their data for others to review, they can post their ultimate publication to their own website.​​​​​​​​

Discovery/Subscription methods

The researcher’s post can webmention an aggregating website similar to the way they would pre-print their research on a server like arXiv.org. The aggregating website can then parse the original and display the title, author(s), publication date, revision date(s), abstract, and even the full paper itself. This aggregator can act as a subscription hub (with WebSub technology) to which other researchers can use to find, discover, and read the original research.


Readers of the original research can then write about, highlight, annotate, and even reply to it on their own websites to effectuate peer-review which then gets sent to the original by way of Webmention technology as well. The work of the peer-reviewers stands in the public as potential work which could be used for possible evaluation for promotion and tenure.

Feedback mechanisms

Readers of original research can post metadata relating to it on their own website including bookmarks, reads, likes, replies, annotations, etc. and send webmentions not only to the original but to the aggregation sites which could aggregate these responses which could also be given point values based on interaction/engagement levels (i.e. bookmarking something as “want to read” is 1 point where as indicating one has read something is 2 points, or that one has replied to something is 4 points  and other publications which officially cite it provide 5 points. Such a scoring system could be used to provide a better citation measure of the overall value of of a research article in a networked world. In general, Webmention could be used to provide a two way audit-able  trail for citations in general and the citation trail can be used in combination with something like the Vouch protocol to prevent gaming the system with spam.


Government institutions (like Library of Congress), universities, academic institutions, libraries, and non-profits (like the Internet Archive) can also create and maintain an archival copy of digital and/or printed copies of research for future generations. This would be necessary to guard against the death of researchers and their sites disappearing from the internet so as to provide better longevity.

Show notes

Resources mentioned in the microcast

IndieWeb for Education
IndieWeb for Journalism
Academic samizdat
arXiv.org (an example pre-print server)
A Domain of One’s Own
Article on A List Apart: Webmentions: Enabling Better Communication on the Internet

Synidicating to Discovery sites

Examples of similar currently operating sites:
IndieNews (sorts posts by language)
IndieWeb.xyz (sorts posts by category or tag)

❤️ Just pushed some updates to IndieNews!

Liked Just pushed some updates to IndieNews! by Aaron PareckiAaron Parecki (aaronparecki.com)
Just pushed some updates to IndieNews! Notes like this one, (posts with no name) will now be displayed better, hopefully encouraging people to post more short stuff instead of just blog posts. There is also a calendar view for posts, similar to the calendar on indieweb.org/2017-12-indieweb-challenge Thanks to @sknebel for the idea! I didn't link to the calendar permalinks from the UI yet, but you can browse to them with URLs like this: news.indieweb.org/en/2017/12 I also fixed an issue where the content and name of posts was not being truncated, which caused a minor IRC flood this morning due to a Microformats implied name containing an entire blog post being sent to IRC.

A WordPress plugin for posting to IndieNews

Bookmarked WordPress IndieNews by Matthias Pfefferle (github.com)
Automatically send webmentions to IndieNews

I just noticed that Matthias Pfefferle has kindly created a little WordPress plugin for posting to IndieNews.