Full RSS feeds for Mastodon Instances with OpenRSS

I’ve wanted full RSS feeds for several Mastodon instances for ages.

They can be particularly useful for small instances (aka communities) with slow posting velocity—you know, that instance you wanted to join for the local camaraderie, but having/maintaining/maintaining yet another Mastodon account wasn’t worth it, the hashtag discovery wasn’t going to cut it, and trying to follow all the people in the local community individually is irksome. Well OpenRSS.org might be able to cover you.

As an example, I wanted to follow what’s happening at toolsforthought.rocks/public/local so I added that slightly trimmed local timeline URL onto https://openrss.org/ and put it into my feed reader. After they wire things together for you a bit (presuming it’s one they’ve not seen/done before), voilà your RSS feed just starts working!  Now I’m following ToolsForThought at: https://openrss.org/toolsforthought.rocks/public/local.

Since my personal website works with Mastodon and the Fediverse, this last part of more easily following groups of people in my social reader helps me complete the circle of reading, following, and responding in a more IndieWeb way. (Of course I wish that Mastodon 4.0 had not gone full js;dr, which would have allowed following them using Microformats mark up with much better fidelity. le sigh)

For this week, I’m recommending a feed reader—a different sort of feed reader: https://fraidyc.at/. Kicks Condor has designed an interface that you can sort by frequency/time as well as tag. It also encourages you to read content on the person’s site directly, so you get the web experience they chose rather than a more vanilla interface.
In addition to following people on Mastodon in your feed reader via , you can also follow hashtags which appear there. For example, to follow try: https://mastodon.social/tags/indieweb.rss. #FeedReaderFriday 

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.

Replied to Microblogging with Mastodon: Posting Automatically to My WordPress Site by Dr. Scott SchopierayDr. Scott Schopieray (schopie1.commons.msu.edu)
When the Humanities Commons team started to spin up hcommons.social I started to wonder if this platform would be a way to conduct my microblogging activities in a space that might have a better distribution network, allowing my work to be more visible.
OMG! There is so much to love here about these processes and to see people in the wild experimenting with them and figuring them out.

Scott (@schopie1), you are not alone! There are lots of us out here doing these things, not only with WordPress but a huge variety of other platforms. There are many ways to syndicate your content depending on where it starts its life.

In addition to Jim Groom and a huge group of others’ work within A Domain of One’s Own, there’s also a broader coalition of designers, developers, professionals, hobbyists, and people of all stripes working on these problems under the name of IndieWeb.

For some of their specific work you might appreciate the following:

Incidentally, I wrote this for our friend Kathleen Fitzpatrick last week and I can’t wait to see what she’s come up with over the weekend and in the coming weeks. Within the IndieWeb community you’ll find people like Ben Werdmuller who founded both WithKnown (aka Known) and Elgg and Aram Zucker-Scharff who helped to create PressForward.

I’m thrilled to see the work and huge strides that Humanities Commons is making to ensure some of these practices come to fruition.

If you’re game, perhaps we ought to plan an upcoming education-related popup event as an IndieWebCamp event to invite more people into this broader conversation?

If you have questions or need any help in these areas, I’m around, but so are hundreds of friends in the IndieWeb chat: https://chat.indieweb.org.

I hope we can bring more of these technologies to the masses in better and easier-to-use manners to lower the technical hurdles.

#FeedReaderFriday Wonder what I’m reading? Here’s my own following list:

A central list I control with associated RSS feeds & OPML files makes it portable for use in various kinds of feed/social readers.

Replied to grahamsz (@grahamsz@indieweb.social) (Indieweb.Social)
Anyone got any ideas for a small project that might be useful for a small group. I have a super open-ended coding assignment for a class, and could probably stand up something usable in that time if i could find a niche that isn't super full of better-supported projects.
@grahamsz@indieweb.social It could be transformational for many to have a micropub client/service such that a person could log into it and either authenticate to a variety of services APIs (or as a failsafe plug in an RSS feed from services) and then have all of their siloed content automatically copied over to their personal website as it was posted. Essentially PESOS as a service.

#FeedReaderFriday: A Suggestion for Changing our Social Media Patterns

In the recent Twitter Migration, in addition to trying out Mastodon, I’ve been seeing some people go back to blogs or platforms like Micro.blog, WordPress, Tumblr, WriteFreely (like Mastodon it’s a part of the Fediverse, but built for blogging instead of short posts) and variety of others. They’re looking for a place where they can truly own and share their content, often in healthier and more humane ways. Many are extolling the virtues of posting on their own website so that they own their content to protect against the sort of platform problems many are now seeing and experiencing on the rapidly dying birdsite. I’ve seen a growing number of people in/on several platforms reviving the early Twitter practice of to help people discover new and interesting people to follow.

As a result, while everyone is exploring new platforms and new online spaces for maintaining their identities and communicating, I’m going to suggest something else interesting to shift our online social patterns: Instead of spending time on Twitter, Mastodon, Instagram, or other major social platforms, start practicing by carving out some time to find and follow people’s websites directly with a feed reader or social reader. Then engage with them directly on their own websites. 

I already spend a reasonable amount of time in a variety of readers looking at both longform articles as well as social media posts (status updates, notes, bookmarks, and photos), but starting this Friday, I’m going to practice . Instead of opening up Twitter or Mastodon, I’ll actively and exclusively reach for one of my feed readers to read people’s content and respond to them directly.

As part of the effort, I’ll share people’s sites I follow and enjoy. I’ll also suggest some feed readers to try out along with other related resources. I’ll use the tag/hashtag to encourage the website to website conversation. If you’re interested in the experiment, do come and join me and help to spread the word. 

Currently I’m relying on readers like Inoreader, Micro.blog, and Monocle, but there are a huge variety of feed readers and a nice selection of even more fully featured social readers available.

Just as many people are doing the sometimes difficult but always rewarding emotional labor of helping people migrate from the toxicity of Twitter and its algorithmic feeds, perhaps those of us who have websites and use social readers could help our friends and family either set up their own spaces or onboard them to social readers in this effort? Mastodon’s decentralized nature is an improvement and provides a reasonable replacement for Twitter, but eventually people will realize some of the subtle issues of relying on someone else’s platform just as they’ve seen issues with Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, or the now defunct Google+. 

Feel like you’ll miss people’s content on traditional social media? There are definitely a variety of ways to follow them in a variety of feed and social readers. Not sure what RSS is? Feel free to ask. Know of some interesting tricks and tools you use to make discovering and subscribing to others’ blogs easier? Share them! Have fantastic resources for discovering or keeping up with others’ websites? Share those too. Not quite sure where to begin? Ask for some help to better own your online identity and presence. 

It may be a slow start, but I think with some care, help, and patience, we can help to shift both our own as well as others’ online social reading and correspondence habits to be kinder, smarter, and more intentional. 

What will you read on ? Who will you recommend following?

Featured photo by Dulcey Lima on Unsplash

Replied to Thinking about Planets and Challenges by David ShanskeDavid Shanske (david.shanske.com)
Earlier today, at the special Transatlantic Bonus Homebrew Website Club, we continued a discussion on trying a community challenge to create content, similar to some of what micro.blog does with their photo challenges.  One of the stumbling blocks was discovery on this, being distributed, how you can...
GWG, Some random thoughts:
Your challenge question is tough, not just for the mere discovery portion, but for the multiple other functions involved, particularly a “submit/reply” portion and a separate “I want to subscribe to something for future updates”.
I can’t think of any sites that do both of these functionalities at the same time. They’re almost always a two step process, and quite often, after the submission part, few people ever revisit the original challenge to see further updates and follow along. The lack of an easy subscribe function is the downfall of the second part. A system that allowed one to do both a cross-site submit/subscribe simultaneously would be ideal UI, but that seems a harder problem, especially as subscribe isn’t well implemented in IndieWeb spaces with a one click and done set up.
Silo based spaces where you’re subscribed to the people who might also participate might drip feed you some responses, but I don’t think that even micro.blog has something that you could use to follow the daily photo challenges by does it?

Other examples

https://daily.ds106.us/ is a good example of a sort of /planet that does regular challenges and has a back end that aggregates responses (usually from Twitter). I imagine that people are subscribed to the main feed of the daily challenges, but I don’t imagine that many are subscribed to the comments feed (is there even one?)
Maxwell’s Sith Lord Challenge is one of the few I’ve seen in the personal site space that has aggregated responses. I don’t think it has an easy way to subscribe to the responses though an h-feed of responses on the page might work in a reader? Maybe he’s got some thoughts about how this worked out?
Ongoing challenges, like a 30 day photography challenge for example, are even harder because they’re an ongoing one that either requires a central repository to collect, curate, and display them (indieweb.xyz, or a similar planet) or require something that can collect one or more of a variety of submitted feeds and then display them or allow a feed(s) of them. I’ve seen something like this before with http://connectedcourses.net/ in the education space using RSS, but it took some time to not only set it up but to get people’s sites to work with it. (It was manual and it definitely hurt as I recall.)
I don’t think of it as a challenge, but I often submit to the IndieWeb sub on indieweb.xyz and I’m also subscribed to its output as well. In this case it works as an example since this is one of its primary functions. It’s not framed as a challenge, though it certainly could be. Here one could suggest that participants tag their posts with a particular hashtag for tracking, but in IndieWeb space they’d be “tagging” their posts with the planet’s particular post URL and either manually or automatically pinging the Webmention endpoint.
Another option that could help implement some fun in the system is to salmention all the prior submissions on each submission as an update mechanism, but one would need to have a way to unsubscribe to this as it could be(come) a spam vector.

Replied to a thread by Mia (not her best work) and Zach Leatherman (Twitter)
I always circle back to the Lost Infrastructure chart here https://indieweb.org/lost_infrastructure and wonder:

  • in which boxes can the technology requirements be simplified for publishers and maintainers of individual websites but still allow for the broadest inter-operation?
  • which axes are missing?
  • which boxes need to be expanded with technology for better plurality?
Replied to Sharing to micro.blog by Samuel ClaySamuel Clay (The NewsBlur Forum)
Sure, I’d love to support it. What’s the URL you want NewsBlur to share to? I can have it auto-fill in the title and url. Also, for bonus credit, what’s the url of the favicon?
There’s two different discussions happening here, one seemingly about posting to micro.blog and the other about posting to any website that has a micropub endpoint. Since micro.blog accounts all have micropub endpoints the second method subsumes the first.

In general most micropub clients authenticate using an IndieAuth mechanism which micro.blog also supports and this allows apps (Newsblur in this case) to send formatted data (an article’s title, URL, and a person’s reply, for example) to be published on third party websites. Developers interested in the pieces might inquire in the IndieWeb chat about the quickest and easiest method for implementing or to see some other examples and find open sourced clients/servers that already do most of the heavy lifting: https://chat.indieweb.org/dev. It would be great to see Newsblur added to the growing list of clients that can publish to independent third party websites.

Unless and until Newsblur were to support this, I notice that it does have IFTTT support, so one might be able to carefully write some recipes that allows some functionality to dovetail with any website that has a micropub endpoint. I’ve documented some similar work I did using IFTTT to get the Inoreader feed reader to post reads, bookmarks, and replies to others’ sites to my WordPress website using micropub. I would abandon Inoreader for a reader with good Micropub support.

h/t to Jeremy Cherfas’ post for bringing this to my attention.

IndieWeb as a Service (IaaS) Idea: PESOS from all the Silos with Feeds using Micropub

IndieWeb as a Service idea:

Imagine a Micropub client that could accept any form of feed (RSS/Atom/JSON/h-entry/etc.) as an input and publish the content to your personal website.

Then any silo service (Soundcloud, Goodreads, Flickr, etc.) with such feeds could be used to syndicate all of one’s content to their own personal website with reasonable fidelity.

I’d love to see services like IFTTT, Integromat, Zapier, etc. provide this sort of service. Using the individual APIs they’ve already got, they could provide higher fidelity of content mapping (eg. tags which many feed types don’t support) to people with their own websites

Social media services that have widgets that people can embed into their websites should pivot to this sort of model for publishing their users’ data. They could still serve as discovery clearinghouses/hubs and serve ads. This would help make them less dependent on the major corporate social platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for ancillary distribution and engagement. 


Replied to a tweet (Twitter)
Shhh! Don’t tell anyone.


Read Podcasting, RSS, Openness, and Choice by Michael MignanoMichael Mignano (Medium)
In the coming months and years, we’ll be working to further enable choice for creators, including giving them the power to choose not only how someone wants to create or monetize audio, but also where specific content is able to be consumed, ensuring creators have an opportunity to decide if they are aligned with the platforms distributing their content.

The open RSS standard has provided immense value to the growth of the podcasting ecosystem over the past few decades. 

Why do I get the sinking feeling that the remainder of this article will be maniacally saying, “and all of that ends today!”
Annotated on April 19, 2021 at 09:34AM

We also believe that in order to democratize audio and achieve Spotify’s mission of enabling a million creators to live off of their art, we must work to enable greater choice for creators. This choice becomes increasingly important as audio becomes even easier to create and share. 

Dear Anchor/Spotify, please remember that “democratize” DOES NOT equal surveillance capitalism. In fact, Facebook and others have shown that doing what you’re probably currently planning for the podcasting space will most likely work against democracy.
Annotated on April 19, 2021 at 09:13AM

In the coming months and years, we’ll be working to further enable choice for creators, including giving them the power to choose not only how someone wants to create or monetize audio, but also where specific content is able to be consumed, ensuring creators have an opportunity to decide if they are aligned with the platforms distributing their content. 

So this means you’re going to use simple, open standards and tooling so that not only Anchor and Spotify will benefit?

Or are you going to build closed systems that require the use of proprietary software and thus force subscriptions?

Are you going to Balkanize the audio space to force consumers into your product and only your product? Or will producers be able to have a broad selection of platforms to which they could easily export and distribute their content?
Annotated on April 19, 2021 at 08:57AM

Thus, the creative freedom of creators is limited. 

And thus draconian methods for making the distribution unnecessarily complicated, siloed, surveillance capitalized, and over-monitized beyond all comprehension are beyond the reach of one or two for profit companies who want to own the entire market like monopolistic giants are similarly limited. (But let’s just stick with the creators we’re pretending to champion, shall we?)
Annotated on April 19, 2021 at 09:07AM

tl;dr: Anchor: We’re doing this not so much because creators say they want it, but because we really, really want it. P.S.: We don’t care at all what our listeners think, and so have nothing to say about their freedom.