Removing IndieWeb Plugins (Again)

While IndieWeb tools aim to improve data portability, the varying standards and protocols can sometimes result in interoperability issues, making seamless data exchange between different systems challenging.

Despite the promise of increased interactivity and web integration, the IndieWeb plugins have limited adoption, compatibility issues with WordPress themes, and social platform sharing. After removing all the IndieWeb plugins in 2020, over the last few years I found myself reinstating several and exploring new ones to enhance my WordPress website's IndieWeb capabilities. I re-installed almost all the IndieWeb plugins: IndieAuth, Webmention, Post Kinds, and Syndication Links. Although, it’s not a great-looking theme because I want full compatibility with the IndieWeb plugins I am using a Microformats 2-compliant child theme for Twenty Sixteen.

I hope my statements don't suggest a dislike for the IndieWeb community's efforts. I’ll borrow words from Daniel Goldsmith who wrote:

To begin, and before I get into anything else, I need to state this loudly and clearly: I like the Indieweb movement. I like the aspirational statements which underpin the movement. I like the people involved, I've interacted with more than a few of them and have found them to be, almost without exception, among the most earnest, polite and encouraging people I've ever met online.

I removed all the plugins except Webmention and Syndication Links. There are several reasons.

IndieAuth works by allowing me to use my website URL as the identity for authentication and authorization on websites that support it. Here's a simplified overview of how it operates:

  1. User Identification: When I want to log in to a website, I enter my website URL, `https://islandinthenet.com/`.
  2. Discovery of Authorization Endpoint: The website connects to my WordPress websites and looks for an authorization endpoint. This endpoint is configured in the HTML or HTTP headers of my WordPress website.
  3. Authentication Request: The website redirects me to their discovered authorisation endpoint with a request to authenticate.
  4. User Authorization: At the authorization endpoint, I prove ownership of my URL, usually by logging in to the service that hosts the endpoint.
  5. Redirection and Token Verification: After successful authentication, the authorization endpoint redirects me back to the original website with an authentication token.
  6. Confirmation: The original website verifies the token with the authorization endpoint to confirm my identity and then grants access.

But I rarely come across websites that use IndieAuth. The only website that I know supports IndieAuth is the IndieWeb Wiki.

Post Kinds is a concept within the IndieWeb community that categorises various types of content a person might want to publish on their website. These types, or "kinds," include articles, notes (similar to toots), photos, videos, replies, likes, reposts, and more. The Post Kinds WordPress Plugin adds support to the Classic Editor to implement this concept by enabling me to classify my website content into these different kinds.

But except for "replies" the Post Kinds plug-in isn’t useful to me and I rarely. Even when I’ve used the reply post kind feature I found that very few websites supported Webmention which is required to make use of many of the post kinds.

I don’t do microblogging on my website so I’ve never had use for the Simple Location plug-in.

Screenshot of JetPack Social

Webmention and Syndication Links offer the most potential for engagement. Webmention is a simple, standardized protocol for my website to notify another when it links to it. For example, some post something on their website. I write a response on my website and include a link to their post. My website sends a Webmention to their site, informing their website of the link. Their site verifies the Webmention by checking my post to confirm it indeed links to their post. Once verified, their site can display my response as a comment, like, share, etc., depending on the context.

Syndication Links are a way to indicate that a piece of content published on my site is also available via a link on another site. For example, if I write a blog post on my website and also share it on Twitter, I can use a syndication link on my blog post to point to Twitter.

Webmention and Syndication Links work together to create a more interconnected and rich web of content. Let’s say someone publishes a post on their website and shares it on Twitter, adding a syndication link on their original post pointing to the tweet. I see the tweet, write a response on my website, and my website sends a webmention to the original post. The originating website receives the webmention, verifies it, and then shows my response as a comment. The syndication link to the tweet is also displayed.

I think it’s very cool. Yet, its effectiveness is limited. Most social platforms I use, barring micro.blog, don't support it and most blogs do not support webmention.

My posts are syndicated across various social platforms and managed through Automattic's JetPack Social and ActivityPub plugins. Comments on these platforms, however, only merge back into my blog with additional tools like Brid.gy, which only partially solves the problem.

The engagement on my blog primarily comes through native comments, WordPress Reader, micro.blog, and the photog.social Mastodon instance. Interaction from platforms like BlueSky is minimal, with limitations in displaying 'likes' and backfeeding comments.

Preparing a blog post to handle comments "backfed" by "Brid.gy" from platforms like BlueSky and photog.social requires manual effort, such as adding specific syndication links post-publication. Interactions via micro.blog requires manual HTML formatting to include microformat2 classes.

Screenshot of Backfeed Comments

Reflecting on insights from the Incoming criticism section on the IndieWeb challenges page, I can see that I am not alone in how I feel about this.

As Kev Quirk notes in "Will the IndieWeb Ever Become Mainstream?":

Unless something drastic changes with the fundamental makeup of the IndieWeb, I don't think it will ever gain anything close to mass adoption. Maybe if WordPress picked it up and rolled into the system by default, then it would have a chance; but short of that, I don't see it happening.

I felt excitement when Kev speculated about the potential impact of Automattic integrating IndieWeb features into WordPress.

I am wondering if continued use of the Syndication Links plugin is worthwhile. The Syndication Links plugin is supposed to automatically add syndication links on each blog post, so I don't need to do it manually. However, the Syndication Links plugin is not integrated with any JetPacks social sharing services - Instagram, Facebook, NextDoor, Mastodon, Tumblr, and LinkedIn. So when JetPack shares my content to Instagram, Facebook, NextDoor, Mastodon, Tumblr, or LinkedIn, the Syndication Links plugin is unaware and does not set a u-syndication link. I had been visiting each social platform, copying the shared link, opening the original blog post for editing, and manually setting the link. It's tedious.

Given that Brid.gy was forced to abandon Instagram, X, and Facebook, and does not support NextDoor, Tumblr, and LinkedIn, the Syndication Links plugin is not useful for helping Brid.gy "backfeed" comments and reactions from those platforms. The time and effort involved in backfeeding comments from social platforms have led me to question the practicality of continuing the use of most of the IndieWeb plugins.

While IndieWeb tools aim to improve data portability, the varying standards and protocols often result in interoperability issues, making seamless data exchange between different systems challenging. As of today, I've turned off all IndieWeb plugins except Webmention and Syndication Links.

Incidental Photography

Despite some limitations compared to more advanced cameras, due to its versatility and portability, a smartphone can be ideal for capturing spontaneous images.

Maybe you're like me. You might have a standard interchangeable lens camera (ILC), but it's not always practical to take it everywhere. It doesn't fit in your pocket. My pocket camera, my iPhone 11 Pro, is always with me, whether exploring a new brewery, walking around the city, hiking, or visiting a small town. Like me, you might find that most everyday photos are taken without much planning.

Incidental photography is about capturing images spontaneously because you're in the right place at the right time. This isn't about going out with a specific photo in mind. It's more relaxed and natural, often capturing candid moments. This kind of photography is common in daily life, travel, street scenes, and other activities where photography isn't the main focus.

I think the iPhone is perfect for this type of photography. Let's say you're out for dinner in New York City or Philadelphia. Would you bring your big camera with several lenses and a tripod? Probably not! Sometimes, I bring my Fuji X-T3 and XF27mmF2.8 R WR lens in a camera sling, but only if I plan specific shots.

I've put together a table with the specs of the iPhone 11 Pro's cameras. I got this information from the Halide app. Each column is a different camera on the iPhone, and the rows show what each camera can do. The iPhone 11 Pro has three lenses, each with a different focal length. You can adjust the shutter speed, ISO, and white balance, which are important for getting the right exposure. The apertures on iPhones are fixed, so you can't change them like on other cameras. There are no settings for f/22, f/8, or f/4. But understanding this helps me use the iPhone to its full potential.

Feature Back Telephoto Ultra Wide Front
Exposure 171000 s - 1s 145000 s - 1s 145000 s - 1 sec 148000 s - 1s
ISO 32 - 3072 21 - 2016 21 - 2016 23 - 2208
Focal Length (35mm FOV) 26mm 51mm 13mm 24mm
Aperture ƒ/1.8 ƒ/2.0 ƒ/2.4 ƒ/2.2

When it comes to the iPhone 11 Pro, the 51mm-e1 is not the best for wildlife photography unless you're okay with getting close to teeth and claws. I use the 51mm-e the most because it gives a view similar to what I see with my own eyes. It's not perfect, but it's close enough.

I don't often use the 13mm-e and 26mm-e lenses, but they're excellent for taking photos of landscapes, cities, or groups. I think the 24mm lens on the front, the "selfie" camera, is too wide for flattering portraits. I don't like how it makes faces look long, like a horse’s head.

Brian Matiash, a photographer, writes a lot about using mobile phones for photography, especially iPhones. You can check out his thoughts and tips on iPhone photography. He also has some good videos about his equipment and how he works. One of his posts, Can the iPhone Replace Your Camera?, made me think about whether an iPhone can replace an interchange-lens-camera camera. I think it depends on the situation.

Day Moon · 2 January 2024 · Apple iPhone 11 Pro · iPhone 11 Pro back camera 6mm f/2

The answer is "yes" if I stick to certain types of photography. I usually take group photos, landscapes, and street scenes when I travel. For these, the iPhone works great. It's handy and perfect for capturing these moments.

But when it comes to wildlife photography, especially birds, it's a different story. That's when the answer becomes "no"2. In his video, Brian talks about challenges that I've faced too while using an iPhone for photography. He's also found a workaround that I've been using. Adobe added a helpful feature to Lightroom Classic, and it's made a big difference.

...having true access to full exposure control, including a variable aperture, would be fantastic.

Being able to separate my subject from the background using a wide aperture is a critical compositional technique. However, iPhone photos tend to look sharp and flat throughout the entire image.
...
Fortunately, we can further simulate a shallow depth of field using Lightroom's Lens Blur tool. Still, I do miss being able to control my exposure settings fully.

Brian's iPhone photography gear is quite high-end. He uses a "Really Right Stuff" travel tripod, different CPL and ND filters, and a LightChaser 15 grip with a Bluetooth shutter by PolarPro. In contrast, my approach is simpler. I don't have these advanced tools. I do see their worth for intentional photography3, but I prefer to keep things uncomplicated. When I need a steady shot in an unexpected moment, I rely on my compact Joby GripTight™ ONE GP Stand and Glif iPhone mount. They're easy to use and really functional.

While it's great to see my entire composition on the iPhone's large display, it can be difficult to frame things up when the sun is blaring or when you want to position the camera at an odd angle.

This morning, I faced this challenge while taking photos for this blog post. To get it right, I needed a bit of patience and the willingness to try different things. It's all about experimenting until I find what works best.

Other limitations:

With my Sony camera, I can rifle off huge bursts of full-resolution uncompressed RAW files, and they'll be written to my SD card almost instantly. With the iPhone, despite its ridiculously powerful processor, it may sometimes require a few seconds before you can take another photo. It really depends on how many you just took.

The time it takes from pressing the shutter button to when the image is saved in the Photos app doesn't bother me too much. I use my iPhone 11 Pro mainly for incidental photography. My approach is simple: if I capture the moment, great; if not, that's okay too. This iPhone feature might be a bit annoying for those who do more planned photography.

Waterfall · 2 January 2024 · Apple iPhone 11 Pro · iPhone 11 Pro back camera 6mm f/2

Brian ends his blog post with a promise:

If you make the effort to find a compelling subject with interesting light, it really doesn't matter which camera you're holding. You'll be able to do some amazing things, I promise.

As someone who often takes photos on the spur of the moment, I like using the iPhone. It's great for quickly capturing those unexpected shots. The iPhone is handy and easy to carry around, perfect for this kind of photography. Sure, it doesn't have everything a dedicated, interchangeable camera does, but it's good enough for those spontaneous moments.


  1. The "-e" indicates the full-frame equivalent focal length. I am borrowing this trick from The Online Photographer website. 
  2. The 120mm-eq telephoto lens on the iPhone 15 Pro is not long enough. I typically use the 400-600mm focal range of my Fujinon XF150-600mmF5.6-8 R LM OIS WR lens for bird and wildlife photography. 
  3. Intentional photography is being purposeful or deliberate in one's vision, goals, and actions as a photographer. 

Sunday Paper - Brid.gy, ActivityPub and AT

"...there’s a 95% chance it was started by someone who was all to ready to be triggered by anything and everything so they could start some shit on the internet at that moment."

I recently discovered J.L. Gatewood writing but his last blog posts about the GitHub kerfuffle over connecting two social media platforms has been spot on with my thinking about the subject.

The pre-able to On The Subject Of Connecting Federate Social Media Networks sets up the rest of his post:

The past few days on the Fediverse have served to remind me a few things:
1.The internet is as smart and as ignorant (and everything in between) as the macrocosm known as “human civilization” reflects upon it.
2. Sometimes the victims will become the victimizers in any given situation, usually without them being aware of it.
3. Upon pointing it out to said type above, instead of working to acknowledge and understand, they will double-down under the guise of righteousness, again unwittingly using the exact playbook that they had been persecuted under at some point in the past.
4. As usual, any attempt by a rational third party to diffuse whatever situation breaking out on the internet will lead to a wider conflict/argument/brigade session where everyone winds up digging their heels in and missing entirely the point.
5. And finally, as usual, there’s a 95% chance it was started by someone who was all to ready to be triggered by anything and everything so they could start some shit on the internet at that moment.

Read Ryan’s reflection on the experience:

The scope of the fediverse has been hotly debated recently. Are we a big fedi? Or a small fedi? Are instances just nodes? Or networked communities? Which Camp of Mastodon are we in? How far should our replies travel? How about our blog posts and Bluesky skeets? Should we welcome Threads? Or block them?

Should we open the fediverse to everyone, let them exercise freedom of association, embrace the inevitable Eternal September, and get good at managing the problems? Or should we learn from Twitter that a “global town square” has big downsides, try to prevent those harms from the beginning, and only expand online communities once we have their consent?

Should there be one internet? Or multiple, sometimes separate internets?

What is an oligarch and why has the USA become one? What happened to "...government of the people, by the people, for the people"? In part 7 of his series, former Secretary of Labor Robert Reich writes about how concentrated wealth and power are undermining US democracy.

The “OLIGARCHY” comes from the Greek word oligarkhes, meaning “few to rule or command.” It refers to a government of and by a few exceedingly rich people or families who control the major institutions of society, and therefore have the most power over other people’s lives. - How America’s oligarchy has paved the road to fascism (Why American capitalism is so rotten, Part 7)

Writer James Shelly asks a very important question: "What’s the fun in writing on the internet anymore?"

You could copy and paste this article into ChatGPT and say, “Please rewrite and paraphrase this blog post in such a way as to keep its main points and observations, but substantively reconfigure the text to make the original version undetectable.” And then, just like that, you have content for your own blog. So easy.

Or you could just copy the contents of this page and paste it into a site like plagiarism-remover.com so you could, as advertised, “Easily Convert Your Plagiarism article Into Plagiarism Free article.” Or you could use Spinbot. Or Jasper. Or QuillBot. Or Paraphraser. And so on.