Reply to Facepile for webmention does not link to source

Replied to Facepile for webmention does not link to source · Issue #208 · pfefferle/wordpress-semantic-linkbacks (GitHub)
For testing purposes I created a new post that links to another of my own posts. This creates a new comment, through webmention I guess. When I approve it, it only shows the / my icon in a facepile...

Here’s a good example:
There’s a mention from in the comments, but it’s incredibly difficult to find that mention or what it contains, because there isn’t a linked URL on the avatar that goes to’s (Brad Enslen’s) content. In this particular case, it’s probably the most important piece of content on the page because the post itself is about a theoretical idea or “blue sky”, while the mention itself actually puts the theoretical idea into actual use and provides a great example. Sadly as it stands this value is completely hidden because of the UI. In some sense hiding the mention is also potentially contributing to unnecessary context collapse within hierofalco’s post’s comments and lessens the value of the mention itself.

While I appreciate the UX/UI desire to limit the amount of data displayed in one’s comment section since it is rarely, if ever, used, there’s a lot of value in the bi-directionality of webmentions and how they’re displayed. I’ve suggested before that newspapers, magazines and journalism sites (not to mention academics, researchers, and government sites) might benefit from the verifiable/audit-able links from their material to the reads, likes, favorites, and even listens (in the case of podcasts). If the comments sections simply have an avatar and a homepage link to the original, some of this (admittedly) marginal value is then lost. What about when Webmention is more common? Sites could simply display avatars and homepage links without actually linking to the original location of the webmention. They might do this to imply an endorsement(s) when none exists and the viewer is left with the difficult task of attempting manual verification.

I do love the fact that one can facepile these reactions, but why not simply have the facepile of avatars with URLs that direct to the original reaction? To me these should ideally have a title attribute that is the sending account’s name wrapped with the URL of the original webmention URL itself. While these are seemingly “throwaways” for likes/favorites, I often personally post “reads” and “listens” that also have notes or commentary that I use for my own purpose and thus don’t send them as explicit replies. If the facepiles for reads & listens are avatars that link back to the original then the site’s admin as well as others can choose (or not) to click through to the original. Perhaps the site administrator prefers to display those as replies, then they have the option in the interface to change the semantic linkback type from the simple response to a more “featured” response. (I’ve documented an example of this before.)

The issue becomes even more apparent in the case of “mentions” which are currently simply avatars with a homepage. There’s a much higher likelihood that there’s some valuable content (compared to a like certainly) behind this mention (though it still isn’t a specific reply). Readers of comment sections are much more likely to be interested in them and the potential conversation hiding behind them. As things stand currently, it’s a difficult and very manual thing to attempt to track down. In these cases, one should ideally be able to individually toggle facepile/not facepile for each mention depending on the content. If shown as a comment, then, yes, having the ability to show the whole thing, or an excerpted version, could be useful/desirable. If the mention is facepiled, it should be done as the others with an avatar and a wrapped URL to the mentioning content and an appropriate title (either the Identity/name of the sending site, the article title, or both if available).

For facepiled posts (and especially mentions) I’d much rather see something along the lines of:
<a title="Brad Enslen" href=""><img src=";r=pg&amp;d=mm" width="100" height="100"/></a>
(with the appropriate microformats markup, of course.)

As an example, what happens in the future when a New York Times article has webmentions that get hundreds or thousands of webmentions? Having everything be facepiled would be incredibly useful for quick display, but being able to individually go follow the conversations in situ would be wildly valuable as well. The newspaper could also then choose to show/hide specific replies or mentions in a much more moderated fashion to better encourage civil discourse. In the case where a bad actor/publisher attempts to “game” the system by simply showing thousands of likes/favorites/reads, what is to prevent them from cheating by showing as many as they like as “social proof” of their popularity when the only backtrack record is an avatar and a homepage without the actual verification of a thing on a site if someone chooses to audit the trail?

Perhaps even a step further in interesting UI for these semi-hidden mentions would be to do a full page preview (or hovercards) in a similar method for how WordPress handles hovercards for Gravatars or they way the hover functionality works for links at /wp-admin/edit-comments.php?

Going even farther from a reader’s perspective, I could also see a case that while the site admin wants to slim down on the UI of all the different types of interactions for easy readability, perhaps the reader of a comments section might want to see all the raw mentions and details for each one and scroll through them? Perhaps it would be nice to add that option in the future? As things stand if a site facepiles even dozens of mentions, it’s incredibly painful and undesirable to track their associated commentary down. What if there was UI for the reader to unpack all these (especially per reaction category as it’s more likely one would want to do it for mentions, but not likes)?

Replied to user-secret.svg replacing default avatar? · Issue #178 · pfefferle/wordpress-semantic-linkbacks (GitHub)
While I don't mind that this plugin offers its own avatar for unassigned gravatar photos, I wish it would present me the option to choose it on wp-admin/options-discussion.php under Default Avatar. With the latest update, all my default avatars are being overridden with user-secret.svg.

In version 3.8.1 it currently appears that comments from WordPress and (both of which have Gravatar as a commonality) appear to be automatically using the default mystery person avatar even though there is a separate avatar defined within the Avatar fields for Semantic Linkbacks Data.

If I add my my email address within the comment editing interface, then the appropriate Gravatar is pulled and displayed as expected. This leads me to believe that somehow SL either isn’t finding/pulling the Gravatar URL that it’s storing, or the code is potentially skipping looking for it within its logic structure.

I’ve noticed this also seems to be the case for other WP sites which I have reason to suspect are running this same version as well.

Webmentions from other non-Gravatar related sites don’t seem to be affected by this and they’re displaying the proper avatar images as defined within their h-cards.

Syndicated copies to:

Facepiles no longer working for RSVPs

Filed an Issue pfefferle/wordpress-semantic-linkbacks (GitHub)
More meaningfull linkbacks

They’d previously been working, but for some reason, with the setting set to facepile all the RSVP types in settings, none of the RSVPs are facepiling like they’re supposed to now.

Syndicated copies to:

Editing comments causes author avatar to disappear

Filed an Issue pfefferle/wordpress-semantic-linkbacks (GitHub)
wordpress-semantic-linkbacks - More meaningfull linkbacks

On the /wp-admin/comment.php admin page when manually editing a comment to change any of the common fields (author, email, the comment itself) and saving, everything saves as expected except for the avatar within the Semantic Linkbacks portion. If the avatar was changed (or one was added) things are saved properly, but when updating other fields and not changing the avatar itself, the avatar field data seems to be deleted on saving, thus making the author images disappear.

Syndicated copies to:

Errors on update to 3.8.0

Filed an Issue dshanske/syndication-links (GitHub)
Add and Display Syndication Links

After updating to the most recent version 3.8.0 of Semantic Linkbacks I’m getting the following error in the Comments sections of both posts and pages:

Warning: in_array() expects parameter 2 to be array, string given in htdocs/blog/wp-content/plugins/semantic-linkbacks/includes/class-linkbacks-walker-comment.php on line 25

It seems to be throwing the error the same number of times that there are comments on the post. Additionally the comments section is showing both the raw mentions and facepiled versions. I’ll have to test some additional posts, but it also seems to have changed some mentions that were previously moderated out to now be showing.

Syndicated copies to:

Facepiles not displaying avatars

Filed an Issue pfefferle/wordpress-semantic-linkbacks (GitHub)
More meaningful linkbacks

Apparently the v3.7.7 update seems to break the display of avatar images in facepiles for likes, bookmarks, etc. Instead of showing the expected avatar image, it’s showing the author’s name wrapped with an href for the originating site.

It’s not just my site either as I notice that the facepiles at (using Sempress) are also displaying the same way.

I’d simultaneously updated the Webmention plugin and tried uninstalling and reinstalling both plugins as well as checking a variety of settings (including the discussion setting for showing Avatars) and uninstalling a variety of potential conflicting plugins, but to no avail.

I know there were recent changes for privacy related pieces, perhaps this is the cause?

Syndicated copies to:

Read doesn’t have an option to facepile in discussion settings

Filed an Issue pfefferle/wordpress-semantic-linkbacks (GitHub)
More meaningful linkbacks

It looks like the new “read” functionality for mentions automatically facepiles them anyway, but I’ve noticed that the settings at /wp-admin/options-discussion.php#semantic_linkbacks doesn’t include a checkbox for reads.

This really isn’t an issue (at least for me), but you may want to be aware of it or tweak it for parity’s sake.

Syndicated copies to:

Reads, Listens, Watches, and Editable Webmention Types and Avatars in the IndieWeb WordPress Suite

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:

User Interface example of how listen posts on David Shanske’s podcast appear on his site

What’s happening

Listen (or scrobble) posts can send webmentions (or notifications) to the original content potentially with the experimental listen-of microformat. 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.

Similarly read posts with the read-of microformat and watches with watch-of will be accepted and show up within the comments section. Like the previous types, they can be set to display as facepiles within the user interface.

From the Discussion options settings page (typically at: /wp-admin/options-discussion.php#semantic_linkbacks) one can choose the mention types one wants to have appear as facepiles within their comments section.

Knowing that this read functionality would be available, this week I helped set up their site to be able to accept and display reads of their articles. Here’s an example from their site:

The display of a read post on

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

Webmention Types

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.

Samantic Linkbacks Data metabox within the comment editing interface on WordPress. One can use the dropbox to change the webmention type as well as manually update the commenter’s avatar.

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.

Likes and Reposts concatenated on my site now after converting them into facepiles. They still give the social “proof” and indicate the interaction, but don’t interfere in the conversation now–especially when there are hundreds of them.

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.​​​​​​​​​

Syndicated copies to: