I usually think not a wit about SEO and web stats/traffic with respect to my personal website, but a recent WordPress notification about an unusual spike in traffic got me thinking.
In the past, I’ve very often posted some social bookmark-type posts of what I read, watch, and listen to online. They’re usually of a very small microblog or linkblog sort of nature and have very little intrinsic value other than to people who may want to closely follow this sort of minutiae to see what I’ve been interested in lately.
Recently I noticed that there’s been a 4-5 fold increase in web traffic to my site, so I thought I’d take a look and it turns out that I’m getting some larger than usual numbers of visitors to my site for an article I bookmarked as having read three years ago.
Here’s a list of the top ten most highly trafficked pages on my website over the past year.
The top post with almost 18,000 views in the last year is essentially a link to an article I read about gaslighting in 2018 which includes a brief reply context (reminder) of what the original post is about. The next two are slightly differently named links to my homepage for a total of 6,500 views followed by an article I wrote about TiddlyWiki (1,500 views). Articles I wrote about commonplace books, my furniture hobby, and my about page are also among my native content in the top ten.
However a watch post about How to Buy a Velomobile (1,310 views), and read posts about configuring an iPhone (I don’t even own one) (654 views) and an article about opinions and fact checking in the Houston Press (619) round out the bottom of the list.
I don’t know what to really think about these short bookmark posts accounting for so many views or that my site ranks so highly in terms of SEO for some of these oddball topics (look at the mnemonics and commonplace aficionado calling the kettle black).
I’m wondering if I should look at my little widget that recommends content and begin to narrow it down to more of my own native content? Should I tamp down on content I was tangentially interested in at some point but don’t really care about or want to rank on? Gaslighting and fact checking are interesting broad topics to me, but velomobiles and iPhones really aren’t. Of the tens of thousands of things I’ve linked to, why should these stick out in particular? I get that there’s probably only a limited number of people writing about velomobiles, but the others?!?
It does make me wonder if other IndieWeb site owners have experienced the same sort of quirky behavior? What implications might this have on SEO if more of the wider web was taken over by personal sites instead of corporately controlled silos like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram? I’m sure there are other great questions to be asked here. Brainstorming of ideas, answers, and implications are encouraged below.
It’s been a long time since I’ve made any listen posts. In part, the biggest blocker has been finding time without a commute during the pandemic to listen to much. Another has been the depressing nature of the news. But I find that I miss a lot of the podcasts and shows I used to listen to. They help to make them happy, so I’m going to try to spend more time to get back to them. I particularly miss On the Media and Eat This Podcast. The nice part is that there’s lots of good stuff to catch up on.
I wonder about this too! I mean, webmentions tell me who wants to really engage with my posts or whatnot, but not who dropped by to read. And yet I don't really want to deploy something as invasive as GA.
https://indieweb.org/read Indiebookclub.biz is a micropub client that publishes this.
The Post Kinds plugin displays the posts created by it and allows the creation of posts with the read-of proper...
I seem to recall @gRegorLove having some reservations about having implemented the read-status indicators. Since there are proposals for watch-of and listen-of and potentially other similar future verbs which may have a variety of “tenses” or a sense of progress across time, I wonder if it may be more advisable to have a completely separate progress/tense related microformat? This would provide the broader benefit of allowing it to be reused in those other cases rather than being specific to the read case only.
Perhaps a grow-able spectrum of statuses like: p-want-to, p-currently, and p-finished? (These are placeholder suggestions as we may do better with some thought on naming). These could be used in combination with the other proposed read, watch, and listen related microformats (or other potential future classes of verbs). The “want” status is reasonably well attested for activities like want to read, want to watch, want to listen, want to buy (or acquire), etc. Most of these are often finished in relatively short (or very long) time frames such that on-going statuses like watching, listening, or owning may not be posted frequently the way that an ongoing “reading” progress-like status might be used over the days, weeks, months that books are being read. I could see myself using ongoing statuses like these being used with to-do list items or project management related functionality as well. Longer term checkins at on-going events (conferences, festivals, vacations, etc.) might benefit from these statuses as well.
Separating the progress (tense) from the verb/action may also make it easier to create collections of posts around the related content. (An example may be the collection of all the posts about a particular book: the want post, the progress posts, notes, annotations, etc.)
On a separate note, I’ll mention that @swentel’s Indigenous for Android has added publishing support for both p-read-of and p-read-status (as well as all the proposed values) in the past few months.
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Downloaded a copy of this to my Android Phone to test out the functionality. Not much hope for using it as a daily driver, but I’m curious how they handle sharing URLs and if it could be used in creating listen posts.
Reminds me that I should throw a few podcast feeds into Indigenous for Android to see how it might work as a podcatcher and whether it would make a good Listen post micropub client.
As I was reading through some of the subscriptions in Aaron Davis’well-curated blogroll which I’m subscribed to via OPML Subscription in Inoreader, I was reminded that I should be following my own Huffduffer Collective. This is a feed of audio that comes from all of the accounts I’m following on Jeremy Keith’s awesome Huffduffer audio service. For those looking for a great method for discovering new and interesting audio content and podcasts, this is by far the best discovery service I know.
While finding content which others have bookmarked is an excellent discovery mechanism, I think that finding it by means of things they’ve actually listened to would be even more powerful. By saying you’ve listened to something, it means you’ve put some skin in the game and spent some of your own valuable time actually consuming the content and then separately posting about it. I wonder how Huffduffer might incorporate this sort of “listen” functionality in addition to their bookmarking functionality? I can’t help but thinking that more audio applications should have Micropub functionality for posting listens.
Here I’ll remind people that my website provides just such a feed of my own listens, so if you want to hear exactly what I’ve been listening to, you can have your own feed of it, which I call my faux-cast and you should be able to subscribe to it in most podcatchers. I do roughly the same thing for all the things I read online and off as well. I may bookmark something as interesting, but you know it was even more valuable to me when I’ve spent the time to actually listen to or read it from start to finish.
Do you have a listen feed I could subscribe to? Perhaps a Huffduffer account I should follow? How do you discover audio content online? How could this be used in the education technology space?
Since this #oextend is in the curator series, I’ll turn it on it’s ear to recommend my own faux cast. It’s a self-curated list of all the podcasts and audio that I’ve actually listened to and frequently comment on. Here’s the feed for it if you want to subscribe.
Many people recommend podcasts to me, but I suspect that the majority of the time, they’re just parroting back what’s popular or they’ve heard about recently. Listening to podcasts is often work and takes some effort in investing one’s time. As a result, just knowing what podcasts people have actually listened to is very valuable. If it wasn’t good, interesting, or entertaining, they’d have switched the channel. If they listened and actively chose to share it, it must be even better.
If anyone is interesting in building and sharing their own faux-cast, I’m happy to help them do something similar on their own website.
Of course if you want the more “traditional” answer, there are lots of awesome podcasts about which I think, “Everyone should listen to this!” John Biewen’s Seeing White is one of my favorites.
The Weekly Top 30 (WT30) is the weekly ranking of the thirty most streamed tracks of the week by Michael L. Douglas, MD, MBA. It represents an active hobby by its creator and is subject to augmentation, suspension, or cancelation at any time.
At the top of the show Adam mentions wanting to ask the question of his students “What are you subscribed to?” as a means of getting to know them and their viewpoints on the world. I find this an interesting question in general, but I suspect many people would fib about what they’re actually watching and listening to. Media is an externally important thing in expressing one’s identity that way. It makes me wonder how much “faux” signaling people are doing when they talk about the media that they consume?
I’m sure they don’t, as very few people do, but I’m curious what Adam and Ralph’s watch and listen posts would look like on an expanded version of social media. I think it would be an interesting supplement to their podcast if they did. I do wish more people would keep feeds of these things for better discovery the way I do: watch posts, listen posts.
Ralph Beliveau discusses a trip to a pop culture conference, which sounds like a fun thing to do, it also makes me think that this sort of area (and perhaps podcast) in which Kimberly Hirsh would have some interest.
There was also a mention of the show John from Cincinnati as being an exemplar of the surf noir genre. I’ll have to take a look at it. It also reminds me that I need to go back and finish reading Kem Nunn’s Tapping the Source. I wonder if there are exemplars of this genre that precede this?
It’s always nice if you can provide real-time active tracking and posting on your own website, but is it really necessary? Is it always worthwhile? What value does it provide to you? to others?
The other day I read Eddie Hinkle’s article Passive Tracking > Active Tracking in which he details how he either actively or passively tracks on his own website things he’s listening to or watching. I thought I’d take a moment to scribble out some of my thoughts and process for how and why I do what I’m doing on my own site.
I too track a lot of things relatively passively. Most of it I do for my own “diary” or commonplace book. Typically I’ll start out using silo services that have either RSS feeds or that work with services like IFTTT.com or Zapier. If those don’t exist, I’ll just use the ubiquitous “share” functionality of nearly all web pages and mobile platforms to share the content or page via email which I can use to post to my website as well. The primary minimal data points I’m looking for are the title of the specific thing I’m capturing (the movie, tv show/episode title, book title, article title, podcast title) and the date/time stamp at which the activity was done.
I’ll use these to take input data and transfer it to my own website, typically in draft form. In many cases, these methods collect all the data I want and put it into a format for immediate sharing. Other times I’ll clean up some bits of the data (almost always context related, so things like images, summaries, the source of the data, etc.) a bit before sharing. Then I optionally decide to post it either publicly or privately on my site.
Some of the sources I use for pulling in data (especially for context) to my website include: Watches: IMDb.com, Letterboxd, TheTVDB.com, themoviedb.org, direct websites for shows/movies themselves Listens: typically using share functionality via email from my podcatcher; Spotify, Last.fm, Reads: reading.am, Pocket, Hypothes.is, GoodReads, Bookmarks: diigo, Hypothes.is, Twitter, Pocket
Often, going the route of least resistance for doing this sort of tracking is a useful thing to find out if doing so is ultimately useful or valuable to you. If it’s not, then building some massive edifice and code base for doing so may be additional sunk cost to find out that you don’t find it valuable or fulfilling somehow. This is primary value of the idea “manual until it hurts.”
I will note that though I do have the ability to do quick posting to my site using bookmarklets in conjunction with the Post Kinds Plugin for WordPress, more often than not, I find that interrupting my personal life and those around me to post this way seems a bit rude. For things like listen posts, logging them actively could a be a life threatening endeavor because I most often listen while driving. Thus I prefer to take a moment or two to more subtly mark what I want to post and then handle the rest at a more quiet and convenient time. I’ll use down time while passively watching television or listening to music to do this sort of clean up. Often, particularly for bookmarks and annotations, this also forces me to have a second bite at the proverbial apple to either follow up on the bookmarked idea or think about and reflect on the thing I’ve saved. In some sense this follow up is way more valuable to me than having actively posted it and then simply moving on. It also becomes a way for what might otherwise be considered “digital exhaust” to give me some additional value.
Eventually having better active ways to track and post these things in real time would be nice, but the marginal additional value just hasn’t seemed to be there for me. If it were, there are also larger hurdles of doing these posts quickly and in a way that pulls in the context portions I’d like to present. Adding context also generally means having solid pre-existing data bases of information from which to poll from, and often these can be difficult to come by or require API access to something. As a result services like Swarm and OwnYourSwarm are useful as they can not only speed up the process of logging data, but they are underpinned with relatively solid databases. As an example, I frequently can’t use IMDB.com to log in television shows like Meet the Press or Face the Nation because entries and data for those particular episodes often don’t exist even when I’m watching them several hours after they’ve aired. And even in these cases the websites for these shows often don’t yet have photos, synopses, video, or transcripts posted when I’m watching them. Thus posting for these in real-time the way I’d like becomes a much more difficult nightmare and requires a lot more manual effort.
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Marco, your post about supporting rel=”payment” for Overcast made me start thinking about other potential solve-able problems in the podcast space. Now that you’ve solved a piece of the support/payment problem, perhaps you can solve for a big part of the “who actually listened to my podcast” problem?
In a recent article on the topic of Webmention for A List Apart, I covered the topic of listen posts and sending webmentions for them. In addition to people being able to post on their own website that they’ve listened to a particular episode, the hosting podcast site can receive these mentions and display them as social proof that the episode was actually listened to. In addition to individual websites being able to do this, it would be awesome if podcast players/apps could send webmentions on behalf of their users (either with user specific data like Name, website, avatar, etc. if it’s stored, without it, or anonymized by the player itself) so that the canonical page for the podcast could collect (and potentially display) them.
In addition to aggregate numbers of downloads a podcast is receiving, they could also begin to have direct data about actual listens. Naturally the app/player would have to set (or allow a configuration) some percentage threshold of how much was played before sending such a notification to the receiving site. Perhaps the webmention spec for listens could also include the data for the percentage listened and send that number in the payload?
The toughest part may be collecting the rel=”canonical” URL for the podcast’s post (to send the webmention there) rather than the audio file’s URL, though I suspect that the feed for the podcast may have this depending on the feed’s source.
If you want to go a step further, you could add Micropub support to Overcast, so that when people are done listening to episodes, the app could send a micropub request to their registered website (perhaps via authentication using IndieAuth?). This would allow people to automatically make “listen posts” to their websites using Overcast and thereby help those following them to discover new and interesting podcasts. (Naturally, you might need a setting for sites that support both micropub and webmention, so that the app doesn’t send a webmention when it does a micropub post for a site that will then send a second webmention as well.)
One could also have podcast players with Micropub support that would allow text entry for commenting on particular portions of podcasts (perhaps using media fragments)? Suddenly we’re closer to commenting on individual portions of audio content in a way that’s not too dissimilar to SoundCloud’s commenting interface, but done in a more open web way.
I’ve been meaning to write regular updates to highlight some of the useful changes in the functionality of the IndieWeb suite of WordPress plugins, but never gotten around to it. There’s been a few really interesting ones lately, so I thought I’d start. Observant watchers who read through either the code or even the scant change logs before they update their code may catch some of these features, but sometimes interesting tidbits can slip by the most vigilant. Here are some interesting recent ones:
Display of Reads, Listens, and Watches in comments sections
David Shanske’s excellent Post Kinds Plugin allows one to post what they’re reading, listening to, or watching in simple IndieWeb fashion. (Examples of these on my site: read posts, listen posts, watch posts.) These posts types automatically include the appropriate microformats classes so the user doesn’t need to bother doing them manually. For a long time when replying to another’s site, bookmarking it, or even mentioning it when also using the Webmentions plugin would send the site a Webmention that would generally cause it to show up as a native comment, bookmark or mention. With an update late last year, from within the Discussion settings in WordPress, one could set toggles so that many of these webmentions could be displayed as facepiles. Other broadly unsupported post types would typically default to a simple mention.
Recently David Shanske and I started a podcast, and he thought it would be useful if his site could accept listen posts and show them visually within his comments section just like these replies, bookmarks, and mentions. Thus over the past month he’s added code to the Semantic Linkbacks Plugin to add the functionality for these types of posts to properly render showing facepiles for listens, reads, and watches.
This is what webmentions of listen posts look like on his site in his comments section:
Listen (or scrobble) posts can send webmentions (or notifications) to the original content potentially with the experimental listen-ofmicroformat. In the case of scrobbles of podcasts, these webmentions could be displayed as “Listens” which would provide the canonical copy of the podcast some indicator of its popularity and actual audience. It is tremendously difficult to obtain data on the actual number of listens within most of the podcast community and typically a fraction of the number of downloads must be used as an indicator of the actual reach. Being able to display listens could potentially be a boon to the podcasting market, particularly with respect to advertising as this type of open social web functionality spreads.
I haven’t yet seen one for watches in the wild yet, but maybe you’ll be either the first to send or receive one?
The microformats on these posts is generally considered to be experimental, but with the ~500+ users of this suite of tools as well as others who are already using them on other sites, they’ve now taken a dramatic step into the open internet and more widespread use and potential official adoption.
Editable Webmention Types and Avatars
Just yesterday, I spent a few minutes in the IndieWeb chat helping someone to laboriously delve into their mySQL databaset and find a particular snippet of data so they could manually change a received webmention from being a simple mention to being a reply so that it would display as a native comment on their website. I’ve often done this to take what sometimes seem like simple mentions and change them to replies to reveal the richer content they often contain for the broader conversation. Sadly the process is boring, laborious, and fraught with potential ways to mess things up.
As of this weekend, this process is no longer necessary. One can now go to the admin interface for their comments and webmentions (found at the path /wp-admin/edit-comments.php), click on edit for the particular comment they’re changing and then scroll down to reveal a droplist interface to be able to manually change the webmention type.
As another example of a use for this functionality, perhaps you’ve received a listen mention on one of your podcast episodes that has a lot of useful notes or commentary germane to your episode? Instead of hiding it as a simple listen, why not change the type to reply to allow a richer conversation around your content? After all, with a reasonable reply it will be implicit that the commenter actually listened to the episode, right?
Because there is currently no functionality in WordPress for saving or caching the avatars of commenters via webmention, when users change their profile images on siloed services like Facebook, Twitter, et al. the link to their old avatars quits working and they were displaying blank spaces. This is an unfortunate form of linkrot, but one that can become more visually apparent over time.
As one can see in the image for the commenting edit box above, the field for the Avatar is now editable. This means one can update out-of-date or blank avatars. One now also has the ability to moderate/edit or easily remove/switch avatars if users are sending inappropriate photos for one’s site’s audience.