It’s always cool to see Webmention comments on real sites across the web. It’s not just a W3C spec. Like many ideas from the IndieWeb, this is a simple web technology that actually works today.
We’ve been improving Micro.blog’s support for Webmention. When you reply to a post on Micro.blog, from the web or iOS app, it will ping the site you’re replying to, giving that site a chance to include the comment. You can see these replies show up under recent posts from Aaron Parecki and Jonathan LaCour.
Drew McLellan had a good overview of implementing Webmention, including using services like Bridgy to bring in tweet replies:
The end result is that by being notified of the external reaction, the publisher is able to aggregate those reactions and collect them together with the original content.
Colin Walker highlighted Webmention when writing about Micro.blog:
It looks like a basic Twitter-style network but that is only scratching the surface; its simplicity belies its power.
Micro.blog also has limited support for receiving Webmention requests for people replying to a Micro.blog-hosted blog from their own site. As this support improves, both in Micro.blog and as more people enable Webmention on their WordPress sites, the distributed nature of the web as a broad social network will really start to shine.
I was very excited to see this post from Brandon Kraft, about the potential for an expanded role for WordPress in the IndieWeb movement:
The dream isn’t to return to the past before social media, but help make social media part of the web in an organic way. For this post, you can like it or comment it on via this site, WordPress.com, Twitter, or Facebook, but all of the comments will appear here using Webmentions. The closed gardens will still exist, but it’ll make it easier for people to reach out between them.
People always ask me how Micro.blog is going. There are many answers to that: from the business side, or how the community is growing, or the technical bits of scaling the backend. But one simple answer is how Micro.blog’s success can be judged in posts like Brandon’s.
I still believe strongly in the dual nature of success that I posted about earlier this year:
Key for Micro.blog: it’s a success if more people blog. To provide value it doesn’t need to replace Twitter. But also, it can.
Of course, “if more people blog” is a simplification that leaves out what naturally happens next: the spread of more web standards and better tools for microblogging. If Micro.blog has played even a small part in encouraging IndieWeb standards within WordPress itself, that is great progress. I’ll be happy to raise the bar for what success looks like.
Twitter has lost some of what made it special for communities 5 years ago. I’ve noticed a few trends:
- Twitter’s 140-character limit and easy retweeting encourage and amplify negative tweets. Sincerity is less common. Everything is an opportunity for a joke.
- Widely followed, long-time Twitter users don’t find the joy they used to when interacting with followers. Some have retreated to private Slack channels, at the cost of public discussion and approachability.
- Developers have never completely forgiven Twitter for crippling the API. This doesn’t directly impact most users anymore, but it’s a backdrop that gives every new Twitter feature a tone of distrust. Progress is slow.
Meanwhile, blog comments have slowly been killed off over that same period. The rise of social networks, combined with the technical problems of fighting blog comment spam, pushed most bloggers to prefer answering questions on Twitter.
Becky Hansmeyer writes about the intersection of these problems — that some Twitter users avoid public discussion, but most blogs no longer have comments to fall back on — by pointing to a post from Belle Beth Cooper:
“Belle’s post really resonated with me because it reminded me of something I think about a lot: when an ever-increasing number of blogs and media outlets are disabling comment sections, where do decent, thoughtful people bring their discussions? I only offer readers one way to contact me on this site, and it’s via Twitter. But what if, like Belle, you no longer use Twitter (or never did in the first place)?”
We didn’t realized how much we lost when we turned our backs on blog comments years ago. Just look at one of Daniel Jalkut’s blog posts from 10 years ago, which he and I discuss on an upcoming episode of Core Intuition. 53 comments! And they’re all preserved along with the original content. That’s difficult to do when comments are spread across Twitter and easily lost.
It’s time to take what we’ve since learned from social networks and apply it the openness of cross-site replies. That’s why I want to support Webmention. As Becky mentions, Civil Comments look great too. I think we can encourage both in parallel: distributed comments like Webmention for sites that can support it and better centralized comments like Civil.
There’s new activity at the W3C around independent blogging, with new proposals recently posted as working drafts. Helped by a push from the IndieWebCamp, two of the highlights include:
- Micropub: Simple format for adding content to your site from native apps.
- Webmention: Modern replacement for Pingback/Trackback, for handling cross-site replies.
I want to support these in my new web app. At launch, I hope to allow Micropub POSTs alongside the classic XML-RPC Blogger API (and my own native JSON API).
And of course the IndieWebCamp is also known for POSSE: publish on your own site, syndicate elsewhere. That strategy has helped me refine my own cross-posting.
I don’t think it’s my imagination that more and more people are blogging again. Now’s the time to resume your blog, start a microblog, and take back the future of the web from silos. If we can roll some of these new standards into what we’re building and writing about, the open web will be on the right track.