Linking Indirectly, No Content Shared (LINCS)

On POSSE by Manuel Moreale (Manuel Moreale)

The point of putting content out there is to connect, to interact with others, to exchange ideas, and to grow.

POSSE is just link sharing.

On POSSE by Manuel Moreale (Manuel Moreale)

The point of putting content out there is to connect, to interact with others, to exchange ideas, and to grow.

I think there may be a trend in some spaces on the web to make moral judgments about how the web is used. Or maybe not. Maybe I’m just reading into it. A recent blog entry by Manuel Moreale about how chooses to allow readers to interact with his "content"1 got me thinking about how I chose to engage via the OpenWeb.

My content lives here, on my site. Everything in here is under my control and it’s then distributed through three distribution channels.

The first—and most obvious—is the web itself. My content is distributed to you via the Internet. You can ask your browser to get this page you’re reading right now and get access to my content.

The second is RSS. You can tell your RSS reader to fetch the content available on my website and you can then consume my content inside your app of choice.

The final one is email. I send my posts via email because some people prefer to stay up to date that way and who am I to prevent that from happening?

While I am sure that some readers have added my blog’s RSS (Rich Site Summary) feed to their reader applications or RSS aggregators, the vast majority of the visitors to my website are people who found me via random Google searches. My SEO-foo must be quite good. 🙂

It used to be that automated Twitter and Facebook link-sharing sent me the most traffic. But after Facebook shut down API access to the personal timeline (April 30, 2015) and Twitter did the same via its pricing model, I was prevented from auto-sharing links to those platforms. Manually sharing links has become a chore.

During the pandemic (maybe even before that), I rarely shared links or interacted on those platforms. In 2019 I created a Mastodon account and started auto-sharing there via the ActivityPub and interact more on that social platform than any other. Maybe over time, Mastodon link referrals will replace Twitter link referrals.

After random Google referrals, the next largest segment of web visitors comes in via WordPress Reader. WordPress Reader is an RSS aggregator for WordPress.com but one can add any RSS feed to it. With the JetPack app, I can read the latest posts from blogs I follow, interact via the comments (if enabled), and discover new blogs or topics to follow. You don’t need to blog on WordPress.com to use it but you do need a free WordPress.com account. In many ways, Reader is a social RSS reader. If it supported webmention it would be (even more) awesome!!

For me, email is tied to work. Corporate America generates a lot of it. After a day of sending and responding to emails, I have no patience for personal emails. My personal email spam filter can barely keep up with the amount of spam sent to my account. I don’t want to invite people to send me emails to discuss my blog posts. Nope. Not happening. Plus, none of those emails will have any historical connection to the original blog post.

I share links to other people’s web posts on social platforms. This brings attention to the topic of their post and fosters discussion. Perhaps an alternative acronym to POSSE (Publish (on your) Own Site, Syndicate Elsewhere) that highlights the fact that only a link is shared could be LINCS - "Linking Indirectly, No Content Shared".

Given that we agree that "The point of putting content out there is to connect, to interact with others, to exchange ideas, and to grow.", what’s wrong with sharing links to my blog post and enabling my website to allow the interaction to occur via the comments or on the social platform where the link is shared and leveraging technology, aka webmention, to bring those comments back to my website?


  1. I am trying to avoid using the word content but it seems unavoidable. I am not a marketing, media, entertainment, or social media worker. I am just me. ?

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 "rel=me" linking and most blogs do not support webmention.

My posts are syndicated (POSSE) 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.

Fediverse Unlocked

Embracing the Fediverse with ActivityPub.

I was excited when Automattic, the parent company of WordPress.com, announced that they had acquired the popular WordPress plugin ActivityPub.

Although I had enabled the ActivityPub plugin in 2019, I hadn’t committed to using it and soon disabled it. Matthias Pfefferle’s later announcement that Automattic had enabled ActovityPub across all of WordPress.com filled me with confidence to re-enable the plug-in and commit to the fediverse.

The ActivityPub plugin for WordPress is a tool that extends the functionality of a WordPress website to make it compatible with the ActivityPub protocol. ActivityPub is a decentralised social networking protocol that allows different social media platforms to communicate and share content in a standardised way.

My WordPress site can interact with other ActivityPub-compatible platforms such as Mastodon. This means I can follow and be followed by users on other ActivityPub-compatible social networks like Mastodon, Pleroma, or Pixelfed. I can share my posts, articles, and updates from my WordPress site directly to subscribers on other platforms that support ActivityPub.

ActivityPub enables interactions such as liking (favouriting), sharing (boosting), and commenting (replies) on my WordPress posts from other ActivityPub users. The plugin allows me to control the visibility of my posts, making it possible to share them publicly or restrict it to specific audiences.

Once a person follows the @khurtwilliams@islandinthenet.com profile, any blog post I publish publicly will land in their Home feed on Mastodon. I receive notifications for interactions with my blog, such as when someone likes, shares, or comments on my posts from those external platforms.

The ActivityPub plugin enhances my WordPress website's connectivity, enabling it to become a part of the larger decentralised social web. It fosters a more open and interconnected online social experience, where users on various platforms can engage with my website seamlessly.