IndieWeb Syndication Sketchnotes: POSSE >> PESOS >> PASTA >> PESETAS >> POOSNOW
A sketchnotes diagram of IndieWeb Syndication practices featuring in decreasing order of desirability: POSSE, PESOS, PASTA, PESETAS, POOSNOW

I’ve been reading about sketchnotes for a bit this past week. As a first experiment I created some sketchnotes for a short talk on syndication in social media I prepared a while back. Here’s to hoping that no one ends up taking the actual spiral down to POOSNOW with their own social media presence.

Bookmarked Webmention and Twitter by Manton ReeceManton Reece (manton.org)
After the Webmention session last weekend, I was inspired to revisit a quirk of Micro.blog’s Webmention implementation. Bridgy is an IndieWeb-friendly service commonly used to forward tweet replies via Webmention. If you were using Bridgy to connect your blog to Twitter, Micro.blog had been essent...

Automating syndication of reply contexts in Twitter Cards using OGP metacrap and plugins in WordPress

A Metacrap Problem

It’s metacrap–I know, I know–but I’ve been thinking about easy ways to use Open Graph Protocol meta data to add contextual Twitter cards to some of my content when syndicating posts to Twitter. My goal is to leverage the speed and ease-of-use of Micropub clients while doing as little as possible manually, but achieving as much parity between posts on multiple sites. 

I’m particularly keen to do this to syndicate/share more of the articles I read and post about on my site without adding additional manual work on my own part.

Outline of Some Resources

The Post Kinds plugin for WordPress parses URLs for me and pulls in data to create reply contexts for a variety of posts like bookmarks, reads, watches, listens, etc. Since Post Kinds doesn’t display featured images (yet), I’ve also been using the External Featured Image plugin to display the featured images from the original to add to the reply context of my posts as well. 

In addition to all these I’ve been using the All in One SEO plugin to easily add an SEO layer to posts without having to do much thinking about it. AIOSEO recently upgraded their UI and features in the last year, and yesterday I upgraded to the newest v4.0+. One of the new features it’s got is the ability to add default fields or pull in pre-existing custom fields to output OGP meta data. 

Start of a Solution

So I got the idea that since Post Kinds and External Featured Image plugins are pulling in and displaying the sort of data I’d like to show in Twitter cards, I figured why not use them? While metacrap is a DRY violation, the fact that it’s automated for me and is based on data I’m actually showing visually on my website makes it feel much less dirty. It also has the benefit that it helps make some of my syndicated content look and feel on Twitter, more like it does on my website. This is also a problem since Twitter hampers how much data I can syndicate in a single post.

I’ve still got some issues about how to deal with the Post Kinds data, but after a bit of digging around, I discovered the image URL for External Featured Image plugin is hiding in the _dcms_eufi_img field. So I can make the default Twitter settings in AIOSEO pull the external image by setting Default Post Image Source to Image from Custom Field and set the Post Custom Field Name to _dcms_eufi_img

Since a lot of my posts are reads, bookmarks, etc., this works well, but I can easily override the settings for articles or other custom posts which I make less frequently. 

Hopefully I can figure out the settings for Post Kinds to get the rest of the default fields to map across. I’m happy to hear ideas on what field names I’d need to use to get the Post Kinds Name and Summary/Quote fields to map over for the og:title and og:description respectively. Ideally I can manage to get it done without needing to get a subscription to the pro version of AIOSEO which also has support for custom taxonomies which is how Post Kinds works.

Since my theme has relatively solid microformats support, and I have plugin infrastructure to allow easy syndication from my website to Twitter through micropub clients, this last bit for creating Twitter reply contexts helps close some of the loop for me in my syndication workflow while keeping as much context across platforms.

Example

Here’s a visual example of a native post on my site and the corresponding syndicated copy on Twitter. There are some differences, mostly because I don’t have as much control of the appearance on Twitter as I do on my own site, but they’re about as close as I can get them with minimal work.

screen capture of a tweet with my thought at the top and a Twitter card underneath it including the reply context of the article I'm responding to

screencapture of a read post on my website for a Slate article with a reply context at the top and my response to it just below

Bookmarked Italic Type (italictype.com)
Italic Type is the simplest way to track your books, get trusted recommendations, and share the joy of reading with friends.
An interesting new competitor to Goodreads and Library Thing on the scene. The functionality is very limited in scope at present, but it’s rather pretty looking. Not nearly as fine grained as Goodreads in terms of data, but a good start.

I’ll have to look into the ease/value of starting into yet-another book silo though. I’d only really use it if I can get it to dovetail with posting to my own website as a syndication target (POSSE), or if I can use it to syndicate to my own site (PESOS).

 

Read More than 280 characters by Gary Pendergast (Gary Pendergast)
It’s hard to be nuanced in 280 characters. The Twitter character limit is a major factor of what can make it so much fun to use: you can read, publish, and interact, in extremely short, digestible chunks. But, it doesn’t fit every topic, ever time. Sometimes you want to talk about complex topics...
Nice mention of the influence of IndieWeb ideas of POSSE and Tweetstorm here.
Replied to Jetpack 9.0 to Introduce New Feature for Publishing WordPress Posts to Twitter as Threads by Sarah Gooding (WordPress Tavern)
Jetpack 9.0, coming on October 6, will debut a new feature that allows users to share blog posts as Twitter threads in multiples tweets. A recent version of Jetpack introduced the ability to import and unroll tweetstorms for publishing inside a post. The 9.0 release will run it back the other way so the content originates in WordPress, yet still reaps all the same benefits of circulation on Twitter as a thread.
It’s awesome to see this feature added and that it expands the ability to do do this sort of workflow directly from one’s website instead of relying on posting to Twitter and relying on ThreadReaderApp to unroll a thread and post it to a WordPress site using the flexible Micropub specification. I’d love to see more POSSE (Post to your Own Site, Syndicate Elsewhere) syndication set ups within WordPress.

I’m hoping that future versions of this provide the Twitter permalinks for the syndicated copies there to be returned to my WordPress site for storage. In my case, I’m using the simple Syndication Links plugin which has storage and/or finds the storage location in WordPress to allow for the display of those permalinks in my post to indicate where I’ve syndicated the copies. This does two things: it’s a reminder of where my content lives elsewhere on the web (especially if I later want to go back and delete them, or to delete them if I’m deleting or making the original post private/unpublished) and it allows services like Brid.gy to find my original post and backfeed replies to the Twitter versions back into the comments section of my post using the Webmention spec (via the Webmention plugin and the Semantic Linkbacks plugin).

Read Jetpack 8.9: New ways to grow subscribers and collect donations by Jeremy Herve (Jetpack — Essential Security & Performance for WordPress)
This month, start engaging your site visitors with two exciting new tools! The Newsletter Sign-up form and Donations Block will help you grow your subscriber and supporter base. Jetpack 8.9 is also proud to support v2.0 of the official AMP plugin for WordPress. Convert visitors into subscribers wit...
They’ve added social reviews to allow one to preview how posts will appear on Facebook, Twitter, and Google search results before you publish them.
Replied to a tweet by @fourierfiend (Twitter)
Hello fellow mathematician!

There are lots of ways to syndicate content, some dependent on which platform(s) you’re using and where you’re syndicating to/from. Your best bet is to swing by the IndieWeb Dev chat and ask that very question.

Theorem: Syndication is easy.

Proof: “It’s easy to show” (I’m waving my hands here) that there are a lot of assumptions and baggage that go with the word “easiest.”   ∎

I’ve personally found there’s generally an inverse relationship between ease/simplicity of syndication and control over exact display for most platforms. You could go low-fi and pipe your feed into something like IFTTT/Zapier  for cross-posting all the way up to customized integration with available APIs for each platform. Many take a middle-of-the-road approach that I notice Jeremy recommended as I’m writing this.

The cross-posting wiki page will give you some useful terminology and definitions which may help you decide on how to syndicate what/where. Based on the context of the URL in your Twitter profile, the IndieWeb wiki pages for static site generator and syndication will give you some ideas and options to think about and explore. 

Some of the pages about specific static site generators will give you some code and ideas for how to implement syndication. For example Max Böck has an article Indieweb pt1: Syndicating Content to Twitter, which is Eleventy and Twitter specific, but which could likely be modified for your purposes. SSGs may have some specific peculiarities for syndication that I’m not as familiar with coming from the more dynamic side of the fence.

Since you indicate a language preference for your current site, there’s also a page for Flask with a few users noted there. You might ask Fluffy (usually around in chat) for some advice as I know she syndicates to a few platforms and may have some ideas or even tools/code to share from the Flask perspective.

Q.E.D., right!?

(p.s.: Great Twitter handle!)

Replied to a tweet (Twitter)
For out-of-the-box, maybe micro.blog, though it’s not opensource. Beyond that the two that come to mind are WordPress+plugins or @withknown+plugins for syndication.
Replied to a tweet by Martha BurtisMartha Burtis (Twitter)
I want it all too! If you’d like to join us at IndieWebCamp this weekend (free online), let’s have a session there to brainstorm how we can have our cakes and eat them too.

I think some of the POSSE (Post on your Own Site, Syndicate Elsewhere) model may work to smooth some of this over. For example, I can write my response to everyone on my own WordPress site and fairly easily syndicate it to Twitter to have the best of both worlds.

If this weekend isn’t convenient, let’s host a pop-up session or mini-conference in a bit to discuss it and see what we can hack together.

 

Replied to a post by Brett KosinskiBrett Kosinski (The “B” Ark)
Taking back control of my content, I’m pulling my (modest) book reviews from Goodreads back to my blog. An underrated favourite of mine is Last Chance to See by the astounding Douglas Adams. #ownyourdata

Congrats! I love the increasing number of people I’ve seen even in the last few days working on this! Are you using IndieBookClub.biz to post to your website?

I’m waiting for people to start documenting examples of owning their knitting on their websites and syndicating to/from Ravelry. #​IndieWebKnittingChallenge 

Courtesy of the fantastic web magic of Ryan Barrett‘s Brid.gy and the hard work of Jamie Tanna to create the integration, I can now post my RSVPs for Meetup.com events directly on my WordPress website and syndicate (POSSE) my response to Meetup!

Hooray for open web standards and the IndieWeb! 🎉

Replied to tweets by Bill Seitz and chronology samhjao mereko (Twitter)
#​TeamPESOS or #​TeamPOSSE?

As long as you’re not #​TeamPOOSNOW. #​OwnYourData

Manual Backfeed in the Blogosphere

Forcing webmentions for conversations on websites that don’t support Webmention

Within the IndieWeb community there is a process called backfeed which is the process of syndicating interactions on your syndicated (POSSE) copies back (AKA reverse syndicating) to your original posts. As it’s commonly practiced, often with the ever helpful Brid.gy service, it is almost exclusively done with social media silos like Twitter, Instagram, Flickr, Github, and Mastodon. This is what allows replies to my content that I’ve syndicated to Twitter, for example, to come back and live here on my website.

Why not practice this with other personal websites? This may become increasingly important in an ever growing and revitalizing blogosphere as people increasingly eschew corporate social sites and their dark patterns of tracking, manipulative algorithmic feeds, and surveillance capitalism. It’s also useful for sites whose owners may not have the inclination, time, effort, energy or expertise to support the requisite technology.

I’ve done the following general reply pattern using what one might call manual backfeed quite a few times now (and I’m sure a few others likely have too), but I don’t think I’ve seen it documented anywhere as a common IndieWeb practice. As a point of fact, my method outlined below is really only half-manual because I’m cleverly leveraging incoming webmentions to reduce some of the work.

Manually syndicating my replies

Sometimes when using my own website to reply to another that doesn’t support the W3C’s Webmention spec, I’ll manually syndicate (a fancy way of saying cut-and-paste) my response to the website I’m responding to. In these cases I’ll either put the URL of my response into the body of my reply, or in sites like WordPress that ask for my website URL, I’ll use that field instead. Either way, my response appears on their site with my reply URL in it (sometimes I may have to wait for my comment to be moderated if the receiving site does that).

Here’s the important part: Because my URL appears on the receiving site (sometimes wrapped as a link on either my name or the date/time stamp depending on the site’s user interface choices), I can now use it to force future replies on that site back to my original via webmention! My site will look for a URL pointing back to it to verify an incoming webmention on my site.

Replies from a site that doesn’t support sending Webmentions

Once my comment appears on the receiving site, and anyone responds to it, I can take the URL (with fragment) for those responses, and manually input them into my original post’s URL reply box. This will allow me to manually force a webmention to my post that will show up at minimum as a vanilla mention on my website. 

The manual webmention box and button that appear on all my posts.

(Note, if your site doesn’t have a native box like this for forcing manual webmentions, you might try external tools like Aaron Parecki’s Telegraph or Kevin Mark’s Mention.Tech, which are almost as easy. For those who are more technical, cURL is an option as well.)

Depending on the microformats mark up of the external site, the mention may or may not have an appropriate portion for the response and/or an avatar/name. I can then massage those on my own site (one of the many benefits of ownership!) so that the appropriate data shows, and I can change the response type from a “mention” to a “reply” (or other sub-types as appropriate). Et voilà, with minimal effort, I’ve got a native looking reply back on my site from a site that does not support Webmention! This is one of the beautiful things of even the smallest building-blocks within the independent web or as a refrain some may wish to sing–“small pieces, loosely joined”!

This method works incredibly well with WordPress websites in particular. In almost all cases the comments on them will have permalink URLs (with fragments) to target the individual pieces, often they’ve got reasonable microformats for specifying the correct h-card details, and, best of all, they have functionality that will send me an email notification when others reply to my portion of the conversation, so I’m actually reminded to force the webmentions manually.

An Illustrative Example

As an example, I posted on my website that I’d read an article on Matt Maldre’s site along with a short comment. Since Matt (currently) doesn’t support either incoming or outgoing webmentions, I manually cut-and-pasted my reply to the comment section on his post. I did the same thing again later with an additional comment on my site to his (after all, why start a new separate conversation thread when I can send webmentions from my comments section and keep the context?).

Matt later approved my comments and posted his replies on his own website. Because his site is built on WordPresss, I got email notifications about his replies, and I was able to use the following URLs with the appropriate fragments of his comments in my manual webmention box:

https://www.spudart.org/blog/xeroxing-your-face/#comment-43843
https://www.spudart.org/blog/xeroxing-your-face/#comment-43844

After a quick “massage” to change them from “mentions” into “replies” and add his gravatar, they now live on my site where I expect them and in just the way I’d expect them to look if he had Webmention support on his website.

I’ll mention that, all of this could be done in a very manual cut-and-paste manner–even for two sites, neither of which have webmention support.  But having support for incoming webmentions on one’s site cuts back significantly on that manual pain.

For those who’d like to give it a spin, I’ll also mention that I’ve similarly used the incredibly old refbacks concept in the past as a means of notification from other websites (this can take a while) and then forced manual webmentions to get better data out of them than the refback method allows.