The Indieweb Is Difficult

If you use a static site generator, that is.

May 29, 2022

3 minute read

Bryce Wray writes,

The webmentions implementation I had, as is true for most of the others I’ve seen out there, depended on the continued existence of both webmention.io and Bridgy. In order to circumvent that, I’d have needed to employ a lot more effort at not just accessing the webmentions’ constituent parts but also saving them to my repo just in case Bad Stuff Were To Happen.

The IndieWeb experiment ends

He also makes some great points on privacy and how he doesn’t post every post to social media anymore, because he is posting new articles more often.

This is true for me too, I don’t post everything to social media, so webmentions would be even more useless than they already are. I consider them (mostly) useless because it’s far easier to interact with interactions on their respective platforms, rather than writing small posts to reply, “own your content” notwithstanding. I’ll get to blog post replies later in this post.

I would like to clarify something – when I say the Indieweb is difficult, I mean it’s difficult for static site generator users like myself. And by Indieweb, I mean the flagship interconnected sites features, Webmentions and ActivityPub.

There are easier parts of the Indieweb to implement though, specifically the markup, and I plan on adding that in the future. The interconnectivity features need a server though, and that involves either using a third-party service, or spinning up your own VPS, which means added cost, and you’ll probably have to do that at some point anyway if you choose the third-party option at first.

This starts a “how important is this” dilemma for me – webmentions aren’t important to me, but they are cool, so why not use a third-party service? If they’re not important, who cares if the third-party service goes down in the future? Something for me to think about.

There is one thing I think webmentions are good for, and that is as a modern replacement for pingbacks. Say I write an article in reply to or quoting another article, just like this one. If we both have webmentions enabled (sending on mine and receiving on yours), you would get a link to this post underneath your post, which I think is cool. However, both are still susceptible to spam, as Wouter Groeneveld has experienced.

Also, this could easily be accomplished by sending an email to the author you’re replying to, although it’s not automatic nor as cool. I’d love to see right away when people reply to my posts but are too shy to send an email, because otherwise I might catch it months later in Ahrefs, or maybe not at all.

I’ve come to the conclusion that webmentions have too much overhead, both in time spent and financially, for me right now. When I look at adding them again in the future, I’d like to see some anti-spam implementations (maybe integration with Akismet), and serverless functions.


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