DLTJ Now Uses Webmention and Bridgy to Aggregate Social Media Commentary

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When I converted this blog from WordPress to a static site generated with Jekyll in 2018, I lost the ability for readers to make comments. At the time, I thought that one day I would set up an installation of Discourse for comments like Boing Boing did in 2013. But I never found the time to do that. Alternatively, I could do what NPR has done—abandon comments on its site in favor of encouraging people to use Twitter and Facebook—but that means blog readers don’t see where the conversation is happening. This article talks about IndieWeb—a blog-to-blog communication method—and the pieces needed to make it work on both a static website and for social-media-to-blog commentary.

The IndieWeb is a combination of HTML markup and an HTTP protocol for capturing discussions between blogs. To participate in the IndieWeb ecosystem, a blog needs to support the “h-card” and “h-entry” microformats. These microformats are ways to add HTML markup to a site to be read and recognized by machines. If you follow the instructions at IndieWebify.me, the “Level 2” steps will check your site’s webpages for the appropriate markup. The Jekyll theme I use here, minimal-mistakes, didn’t include the microformat markup, so I made a pull request to add it.

With the markup in place, dltj.org uses the Webmention protocol to notify others when I link to their content and receive notifications from others. If you’re setting this up for yourself, hopefully someone has already gone through the effort of adding the necessary Webmention communication bits to your blog software. Since DLTJ is a static website, I’m using the Webmention.IO service to send and receive Webmention information on behalf of dltj.org and a Jekyll plugin called jekyll-webmention_io to integrate Webmention data into my blog’s content. The plugin gets that data from webmention.io, caches it locally, and builds into each article the list of webmentions and pingbacks (another kind of blog-to-blog communication protocol) received.

Webmention.IO and jekyll-webmention_io will capture some commentary. To get comments from Twitter, Mastodon, Facebook, and elsewhere, I added the Bridgy service to the mix. From their About page : “Bridgy periodically checks social networks for responses to your posts and links to your web site and sends them back to your site as webmentions.” So all of that commentary gets fed back into the blog post as well.

I’ve just started using this Webmention/Bridgy setup, so I may have some pieces misconfigured. I’ll be watching over the next several blog posts to make sure everything is working. If you notice something that isn’t working, please reach out to me via one of the mechanisms listed in the sidebar of this site.