Tag Archives: domains

Micro.blog to Medium

Micro.blog has always supported cross-posting to Twitter. Write a post on your own blog, and Micro.blog will send it to Twitter with a bunch of great default logic like attaching photos, appending inline links, and smart truncation so that tweets look great.

Today we’re adding Medium as a supported cross-posting destination. At first I had resisted adding Medium because Medium might be someone’s primary blog, so it made more sense for you to post directly to Medium yourself and then add the RSS feed to Micro.blog, so that posts show up in the Micro.blog timeline.

But recently Medium discontinued support for custom domain names. And if you can’t even have a domain name for your blog, it’s clear that Medium is much less a true blogging platform and really just a social network for long-form content. It’s a very poor solution for anyone who wants to own their content, but it’s now a natural choice to cross-post your blog posts and reach Medium’s audience.

When you enable Micro.blog cross-posting to Medium, Micro.blog takes the HTML of your post and sends it to Medium. It supports titled essays or short microblog posts without a title. If your blog is hosted on Micro.blog, cross-posting is included for free. For external blogs like WordPress, it’s $2/month for cross-posting to Twitter and Medium.

I’m looking forward to hearing how people use Medium with their microblog and what improvements we can make. Thanks for your support! (Here’s how this post looks on Medium.)

IndieWeb generation 4 and hosted domains

Naturally because of the goals of Micro.blog, I see a lot of discussion about “owning your content”. It’s an important part of the mission for Micro.blog to take control back from closed, ad-supported social networks and instead embrace posting on our own blogs again.

But what does it mean to own our content? Do we have to install WordPress or some home-grown blogging system for it to be considered true content ownership, where we have the source code and direct SFTP access to the server? No. If that’s our definition, then content ownership will be permanently reserved for programmers and technical folks who have hours to spend on server configuration.

IndieWebCamp has a generations chart to illustrate the path from early adopters to mainstream users. Eli Mellen highlighted it in a recent post about the need to bridge the gap between the technical aspects of IndieWeb tools and more approachable platforms. With Micro.blog specifically, the goal is “generation 4”, and I think we’re on track to get there.

I want blogging to be as easy as tweeting. Anything short of that isn’t good enough for Micro.blog. You’ll notice when you use Twitter that they never ask you to SFTP into twitter.com to configure your account. They don’t ask you to install anything.

More powerful software that you can endlessly customize will always have its place. It’s good to have a range of options, including open source to tinker with. That’s often where some of the best ideas start. But too often I see people get lost in the weeds of plugins and themes, lured in by the myth that you have to self-host with WordPress to be part of the IndieWeb.

Owning your content isn’t about portable software. It’s about portable URLs and data. It’s about domain names.

When you write and post photos at your own domain name, your content can outlive any one blogging platform. This month marked the 16th anniversary of blogging at manton.org, and in that time I’ve switched blogging platforms and hosting providers a few times. The posts and URLs can all be preserved through those changes because it’s my own domain name.

I was disappointed when Medium announced they were discontinuing support for custom domain names. I’m linking to the Internet Archive copy because Medium’s help page about this is no longer available. If “no custom domains” is still their policy, it’s a setback for the open web, and dooms Medium to the same dead-end as twitter.com/username URLs.

If you can’t use your own domain name, you can’t own it. Your content will be forever stuck at those silo URLs, beholden to the whims of the algorithmic timeline and shifting priorities of the executive team.

For hosted blogs on Micro.blog, we encourage everyone to map a custom domain to their content, and we throw in free SSL and preserve redirects for old posts on imported WordPress content. There’s more we can do.

I’m working on the next version of the macOS app for Micro.blog now, which features multiple accounts and even multiple blogs under the same account. Here’s a screenshot of the settings screen:

Mac screenshot

The goal with Micro.blog is not to be a stop-gap hosting provider, with truly “serious” users eventually moving on to something else (although we make that easy). We want Micro.blog hosting to be the best platform for owning your content and participating in the Micro.blog and IndieWeb communities.

SSL for hosted Micro.blog sites

Micro.blog’s business model is pretty simple. If you want Micro.blog to host a new microblog for you, or use the Twitter cross-posting with an existing site, there’s a small monthly subscription. We want Micro.blog to be the easiest way to start a blog.

Included in all Micro.blog-hosted microblogs is support for custom domain names, so that you can map yourname.com to your blog. While we’ve always supported SSL for the default yourname.micro.blog hostnames, custom domains need their own SSL certificate. Managing SSL certificates is a hassle, and until recently, also expensive.

I’m happy to announce that we are now rolling out free SSL hosting for custom domains, powered by Let’s Encrypt. While it’s not fully automated yet, we’ve already started enabling these for customers as requested. If you have a Micro.blog-hosted blog with a custom domain, email help@micro.blog and we’ll enable SSL on your site.

There are more features coming for hosted blogs leading up to the public launch of Micro.blog. Don’t forget to sign up on the launch announce list.

Twitter and .blog

Dave Winer has a good comment for anyone questioning the web:

So when they tell you they know for sure that the web is dead, or that everyone wants to host their blogs in locked-up silos, or that you can’t build a great open social net on RSS, you might want to lower your glasses down your nose and look out over the top and ask Reallly? Are you sure?? ;-)

Nothing is certain in business. For every success, there are many “sure thing” failures.

I posed a question on this week’s Core Intuition as we were talking about Automattic’s upcoming .blog domain name registration. The gist of it was: what is more likely to survive for the next 50 years, Twitter or .blog? Twitter is huge, dominating the news and seemingly unstoppable, but social networks don’t have a great track record. I’d put my money on a new top-level domain, both because of the vision of empowering users to control their own content and also because domains were designed to last.

Companies aren’t exactly designed to fail. But that is their default outcome.

Domain names can always redirect

Just noticed this blog post from Fabian Steeg on the value of personal domain names:

So the mere decision to use a custom domain for my blog many years ago made it independent of the actual hosting location (wordpress.com or self-hosted) and publishing system (wordpress or my own software). In a way I’ve been referencing a system for years that I only now created. Your own domain and URLs really give you a lot of control over your content, even if that content is actually stored elsewhere for years.

Strongly agree with this. Having your own domain will future-proof everything you publish.

Waiting out trademarks

Not long after I launched Tweetmarks in 2011, I realized that there was a trademark for that name, and an existing .com domain. I started worrying about the conflict so much that I couldn’t get any real work done. I talked to friends about it, tried to get other perspectives, and then finally renamed it to Tweet Marker. Whew, I had made a decision and moved on, free from ever worrying about it again.

I had to fix the tweetmarks.net redirect recently and checked around on some of the old stuff. That domain name I had been so worried about, which I literally lost sleep over? It’s gone.

I’m not going to tell you that trademarks don’t matter. Nothing I write on this blog should ever be considered legal advice. But it’s another reminder that there’s enough real stuff to focus on without wasting time on imaginary problems.

Register a domain name

I like this idea from Dan Gillmor, encouraging each of his students to register a domain name:

“Of course, the students and most of their parents have a presence on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Google+, Tumblr, Flickr and all sorts of other places. The value of conversation and sharing in general is enormous, and these services offer great convenience. But to cede our online presences – in a way, our very identities – to these entities strikes me as a mistake.”

Using Facebook or Twitter or LinkedIn exclusively for your content is like an artist who picks their own colors but still stays within the lines of a paint-by-numbers kit. A domain name is your own canvas. The simple act of saying “I own this” makes all the difference for the scope of what you can create.

WiiTransfer.com

After I “blogged last month”:http://www.manton.org/2007/01/i_hate_domains.html about the very small number of domain names I own, I got some good feedback from people I respect. They basically said: “You’re an idiot. Domain names are cheap.”

And the more I thought about it, the more they were right. So last week I made an offer to buy the wiitransfer.com domain from its current owner, and after just about 48 hours I had the domain and was updating Wii Transfer to use it. Now all registered users can use the simpler bookmark URL wiitransfer.com/username to point to their shared music.

I’m also finally rolling out a bug fix update tonight (version 2.2.1, “available here”:http://www.riverfold.com/software/wiitransfer/). The most important change is that some MP3s that would not play will now work. Some customers never saw this, but for some people a large percentage of their music library was unusable. It turned out to be that certain kinds of embedded cover album artwork in the MP3 would break the Flash player on the Wii. The work-around I used is to load the MP3 into memory and clear all its ID3 tags before sending it over the wire.

It feels good to be working on Wii Transfer again. The next version is already underway and should make a lot of people happy.