Your Site As a Central Hub

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Before the golden age of social media, it was common for your website to be the central location of your presence, and I've always been bothered by the fact that social media apps did everything they could to draw you away from your site, and instead interact directly through their platform instead.

I've found myself often wishing that I could post everything through my website, and have it automatically published to my social spaces. When something happens on my personal site, I want it to be reflected on my social media. I mean, how could would that be, right? WordPress has long since supported post formats, and any of these formats could be detected on-save and pushed to the platform automatically. Technically speaking, it's possible.

This has been conceptualized, and people have tried to implement it a number of times, however, it never really stuck. Mostly because the APIs for popular social media apps like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter are all at least moderately difficult to implement. I mean, why would they want you to be able to do this? By doing so, you're spending less time on their app, which means less money for them.

Based on the trajectory of social media, I had largely resigned to this fate, but thankfully not everyone else did.

Enter the Fediverse

With the advent of the W3C ActivityPub spec, and a flurry of open source social media platforms that can talk to each other. These platforms can replace everything from Twitter to YouTube, all without ads, a single owned entity, and any motivation to force you to choose their platform. This is the missing piece to this puzzle, and I am so excited about it.

Through these platforms, people have been talking a bit about some of these lamentations, and have coined a phrase - POSSE (Publish on site, syndicate everywhere). There's even a few plugins that support this idea now, such as WP Crosspost, as well as the very cool ActivityPub plugin, which doesn't cross-post, but literally makes your site readable as-if its is a social media platform.

As a result, my mind has been buzzing with the possibilities. I recently read a fascinating take by Mike McAlister called Finding a new home for the WordPress community. In that post he really hits the nail on the head with this quote:

All of this has me thinking: If we’re going to make a big migration to something new, how can we better future-proof our community from apps that may come and go over time? And how can we get back to owning our content by default, and renting it out to social media platforms we align with, instead of the other way around?

Mike McAlister, Finding a new Home for the WordPress Community

And I think his sentiment is shared by others, myself included. He then goes on to discuss this fascinating idea of turning your personal site into a social media feed, but each person on the feed is using whatever federated social media app they choose. Essentially, this turns WordPress into your own private social media platform, and tool. I think this is an amazing idea, especially if it can find a way to gain support in the form of Android and iOS devices. In-short, I'm freaking here. for. this.

You can also find examples of such things in other places, too, like the Friends plugin, which just opened a PR to integrate directly with ActivityPub a couple days ago. In-short, a lot is going on to fulfill the vision of POSSE.

Half the Story

If you ask me, this is only half of the story, though. Yes, publishing on your site first, and pushing out when possible is preferred, but on all of these platforms, they are treated as a one-way direction. I don't think this is a good idea for a number of reasons:

  1. It's easier to publish on social platforms right now.
  2. Different apps are optimized for different experiences based on their approach (Pixelfed and PeerTube both serve videos, but handle it very differently)
  3. Some media formats are simply not going to work well at-scale on a WordPress website. (Most WP sites will crash if they tried to host a video that gets a lot of concurrent views, for example). PeerTube gets around this by turning the viewers into a mini peer-to-peer network to get some of the load off the server.
  4. Some things simply don't belong on your blog first. What about github pull requests? GitHub discussions? These are things that should stick to a repository, but wouldn't it be nice if that was still referenced on your website?
  5. Sometimes you don't have control over the publish of the content. Podcast interviews, or maybe you are featured on a WordPress TV video
  6. Sometimes the original home for your content isn't on your own website. Maybe you're a guest blog, or something like that.

To be clear - I think POSSE idea is still a great idea, I just think that assuming that it absolutely always has to start from your website is a mistake.

Writing The Other Half

In most of these circumstances, I think the opposite approach is more-appropriate. This is called PESOS, and everything I've seen online seems to suggest that these two ideas, POSSE and PESOS cannot exist in the same space.

I'm here to challenge that notion.

Take a second and imagine what it would be like if you could publish content on any platform, and that content automatically appears on your website. Every time you make a GitHub pull request, a link to that request gets copied to your site. Each time you publish a new release of an open-source project, that content makes it back to your site. When publishing a blog post as a guest blogger on another site, it automatically gets added to your site, and backlinks to the original content.

Now, take that step, and consider that this could still automatically be cross-posted using the POSSE approach. Not only can you syndicate the ingested content, but you can also continue to use your site to publish and syndicate elsewhere when-possible.

In case you haven't heard lately, I've been working on a project that I think can be the "other half" of this equation. It's called Adiungo, and the goal is for it to become a WordPress plugin that will grab the content you publish, wherever you publish it, and save a copy of it in your WordPress database.

When you have both POSSE and PESOS on your site, you create the most-holistic view of yourself on your website possible, and allow people to ingest your content in a holistic manner, as well. Imagine these scenarios:

  1. Someone could follow an RSS that only contains content I publish online about my full-time digital nomad lifestyle. This could be anything from content published on Casual Weirdness, to toots published about #RVLife.
  2. You could monitor every time I publish content about WordPress. Again, this could be holistic - capturing everything from WordPress TV videos, to contributions to core, to blog posts written by me as a guest blogger, such as this post on CSSTricks.
  3. You could subscribe to a list of all blog posts related to AdiungoPerhaps you could even subscribe to anything that is published across any platform about Adiungo, including pull requests, discussions, blog posts, podcast interviews, livestreams, whatever.

If you ask me, this is the goal. both POSSE and PESOS, not one or the other.