Menu

Colin Devroe

Reverse Engineer. Blogger.

Colin Walker: “Should replies be posts?”

Colin Walker, in a post on whether or not replies to other posts (or, comments) should be their own posts:

There has to be a line, a point where a comment is just that and not a reply. It’s a question of semantics but not everyone’s answer to “what is a comment and where does it belong?” will be the same.

I struggle with this a lot.

It is likely the point I should have made in my post regarding Micro.blog becoming a commenting service (and the fact that I don’t like that). I don’t want to reply on my blog to every reply to my posts on M.b because then I would have dozens and dozens of posts on my blog that would be very tough for readers to follow contextually. I believe the commenting mechanism that has been around for decades, even un-threaded, is far more useful than dozens of desperate posts stitched together loosely with a link that says “in reply to”.

Webmention attempts to bridge that gap between post and reply but that also is tough to follow along if the thread gets unwieldy.

However, I also don’t want to reply to every reply on my posts directly on M.b either (though, I do from time-to-time) as that isn’t much better than using any other silo like Twitter or Facebook. Should M.b go away, all of those conversations would be lost.

This isn’t a new issue nor is it exclusive to M.b. If I replied on my own blog to other people’s posts on their own blogs (like I am in this post to Colin Walker’s blog) then one side of the conversation could disappear at any time. I can only control my side of the equation. But at least if I have my own blog I have control of that one side.

I think it is good that these topics are being discussed again. The same debates have been swirling since blogging began, they swelled again when the indieweb movement began to take shape, and I think they are happening again as a result of M.b’s growing community. I do not believe there is one single answer to many them. You have to do what is right and sustainable for you.

For now, here are my personal rules for replying to posts. These will most definitely change over time.

  • If I want to say a quick “congrats” or “excellent post” or something of that nature I will leave a reply directly on their blog. If they do not have commenting turned on I will attempt to email. If they do not have email publicly available I’ll say nothing at all.
  • If I have something substantive to add to the conversation, or if I would like my “followers” to see the post I will quote the post on my blog with my additions to the conversation. Like this post.
  • If I simply want to direct people to the content I will use my new repost tag that I’ve been experimenting with. I’ve seen others use the “a post I liked” type post. That could work too.
  • If people reply using M.b, Twitter, or Facebook I will not reply on those services*. But I may reply on my own blog.
  • If I would like to keep my reply private I will attempt to email.

As an aside: I know some of you do not want to leave a public comment. I love getting reader emails. I get a fair number of them. And some of them have been excellent conversations. So please don’t hesitate.

* I no longer have a Twitter or Facebook account. I do have a M.b account but I’m beginning to wonder if I need one as I have my own fully functional weblog. If I didn’t and I wanted a microblog and didn’t want to use Twitter, I could see having an account. If I wanted a more fully featured blog I still believe WordPress is the best tool for that. Also, I’m sure as the M.b community grows it could mean that my content would be discovered by more people. I think M.b may end up being a thriving, well run, community and service. It is why I backed Manton’s efforts via Kickstarter. But, if I have my own blog, and if I really don’t care much about my content being discovered, then I see little reason to syndicate to it. For the time being I’m still going to as I want to see how the service matures.

Ron Chester on Webmentions

Ron Chester:

I have only one reservation about the development of this IndieWeb stuff. While it is in progress, most of these websites have disabled regular comments, if they ever had them. Often there is also no contact information given, or it takes a lot of hunting on their websites to find it. So if one doesn’t have webmentions working on one’s own website, there is no obvious way of communicating with these folks about things they post. I have found that if they’re also on the Microblog website, one can post a message there, addressed to them. But that seems pretty round about, when an old school place to post a comment on their original post would be very easy to leave.

Please go to his site and read his entire post.

I read Ron’s post before making my decision to turn comments back on. Also, my email address is available on every page of my site. So if anyone would like to comment on anything on my site they should be able to do so both publicly and privately with ease.

Side note: One of the reasons we all turned off comments, aside from the benefits of disabling comments like more traffic to your site (I wrote this post 10 years ago!), is that people claimed that moderating comments is too much work. I no longer think that is an issue. Even if my blog became a popular place to comment I think I’d be able to keep up with it with the tools we have available now.

Replies from Micro.blog and oh hai, comments

If you visit my site at all you may have noticed many of the recent posts have replies showing up on them from Micro.blog. Here is one example post. That is because webmention works pretty well on Micro.blog.

However, this is causing me a bit of frustration because it feels as though the conversation about a post is happening on Micro.blog rather than on people’s own blogs. Even if those people have their own blogs they are using Micro.blog to reply*. It is an interesting thing to see. Effectively, Micro.blog is feeling a lot like Twitter – replies to my posts are on there so I have to go there to reply to those replies.

To that end I’ve decided I’ll start turning comments on some posts (like this one). I’d much prefer people reply to my blog posts on their own blog or – starting today – on my blog. Even though I like Micro.blog better than Twitter or Facebook doesn’t mean I want to have to navigate to that web site each time I want to reply to comments on my posts.

* I’m unsure if that is what the M.b team wants to happen. But that is what is happening right now. Also, M.b is supposed to be a host for blogs if people want it to be. But, again, even people with their own blogs are using M.b’s reply feature to reply to posts.

I saw one of my photos appear on Micro.blog’s Discover page. Thanks for that @manton.

Webmention on Micro.blog

Manton Reece:

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.

Kudos to Manton as Webmentions seems to work beautifully is Micro.blog. The improvements show and the value is starting to show too. So I guess I just need to stop complaining. I’ve been harping on webmention for a little while. I feel terribly about it. Because I want it to work so badly and I’ve just been frustrated that is seems so inconsistent! So I plan to shut up now and sit down and get it working properly. I’ll likely do that within the next few weeks.

To see Micro.blog’s webmentions in action you can see a few on my posts there and here on my blog. I’m looking forward to their presentation being much more valuable on my blog. My email inbox is open for suggestions.

 

Intro to Micro.blog

Noah Read:

Micro.blog is a social timeline, similar to Twitter, where you can post short snippets of text with links and photos, and converse with others. The biggest difference from most other social networks is where these short posts come from. They come from people’s own websites, where they control the content and can do whatever they like. Micro.blog aggregates its feeds from each member’s personal site and gives people chances to reply and favorite content on the the service.

“people’s own websites” can be their own site powered by whatever they want (WordPress, Squarespace, etc.) But, they can be powered by Micro.blog too as Micro.blog has a blog hosting option built-in.

My status posts are automatically syndicated to Micro.blog for free.

@manton How does one get on Micro.blog’s Discover page?

Titleless posts

Dave Winer re: NetNewsWire adding support for titleless items in a RSS or JSON Feed:

I got an email from NetNewsWire user Frank Leahy, requesting that I add titles to my feed for items that don’t have titles.

This is an issue that is going to continue to grow. With services like Micro.blog and post formats like my status updates… these are tweet-like posts that do not have titles. Just like SMS messages that are emails without a subject line. We’re going to see this more and more. Rather than apps or services asking publishers to add titles, the apps and services should just get ahead of the curve on this and add support for titleless posts.

Dreamhost supports Micro.blog

Jonathan LaCour, SVP, Product & Technology at Dreamhost:

We’d like to make it as easy as possible to launch a WordPress-powered microblog on DreamHost that integrates well with Manton’s upcoming Micro.blog service. In order to support that mission, DreamHost is kicking in a $5,000 pledge to the Kickstarter.

Nice move Dreamhost.

The Micro.blog stretch goal

Manton Reece has added a thoughtful stretch goal to Micro.blog’s Kickstarter campaign:

If the Kickstarter reaches $80,000, I will use some of the money to make my very first part-time hire for Micro.blog: a community manager. The community manager will help set the tone for the service, work on documentation and best practices, and be responsible for curation when Safe Replies fails to automatically catch emerging problems.

Safe Replies sounds like something Twitter should have had a long time ago. Run over there and help Manton reach this new goal.

Micro.blog’s iPhone app

Manton Reece recently published an update to Micro.blog’s Kickstarter showing a video demonstration of the iPhone app he’s creating for the service. He mentions a really important point that I think many are missing (as I mentioned just a few moments ago). He says (at 53 seconds into the video):

Now, you can have Micro.blog host a microblog for you. That’s what the paid plan is about that is mentioned in some of the reward tiers on Kickstarter. It is super easy to get started that way. But you can also bring an existing blog. My personal blog, for example, uses WordPress. And so, when I use Micro.blog the iPhone app for the first time it asks me where my WordPress blog is and then I can post directly to my own site.

I’ve been following along with this project since Manton first mentioned it nearly two years ago so I’ve been aware of what he was building. I just don’t think the information on the site or on the Kickstarter has made that clear for people that don’t totally understand the underpinnings of the web. (Though, Micro.blog is arguably be built for those that do.)

The iPhone app looks very nice. Especially for a first public release.

App.net shutting down

Dalton Caldwell:

We envisioned a pool of differentiated, fast-growing third-party applications would sustain the numbers needed to make the business work. Our initial developer adoption exceeded expectations, but that initial excitement didn’t ultimately translate into a big enough pool of customers for those developers.

I’ve been a paying subscriber to App.net for the entire life of the platform (that is, until they cancelled my subscription this week).

When App.net launched many were drawing a line of comparison between it and Twitter. And since this announcement I’m seeing many drawing a line of comparison between App.net and Micro.blog. This isn’t an apples-to-apples comparison.

If you read Dalton’s vision above, it doesn’t read anything at all like Twitter or Micro.blog.

App.net was an API for application developers to build on top of. Yes, something Twitter-like could be build on top of it. But so could so many other things. It had a data storage service, a push notification service, and even a crowd-funding feature called Backer that would, presumably, allow developers to pre-charge for new features for apps.

App.net was a very ambitious platform that, I believe, got pigeon-holed into a Twitter comparison because they created Alpha – a Twitter-like microblogging platform – as a demonstration of their own API. I think this muddied their messaging to the point where most people would describe App.net as a Twitter alternative.

Manton Reece’s forthcoming Micro.blog is not anything at all like App.net. Though, many are confused about Micro.blog similar to how many were confused about App.net. (I’ve had at least three conversations about Micro.blog where people have no idea what it will do.) They are comparing it to Twitter even though Manton doesn’t usually draw that line himself. And I think he will have to find a way to communicate its decentralization and the fact that it will work with your existing blogging platform so it too doesn’t get packaged and framed as simply a Twitter replacement.

Independent microblogging

Manton Reece re: Medium’s recent announcement that they are laying off 1/3rd of their team:

The message is clear. The only web site that you can trust to last and have your interests at heart is the web site with your name on it.

He’s right of course. He has said it a million times. So have I. Like right here. And so have many others.

Manton, by the way, is currently Kickstarting a book and service about independent microblogging. I told you about the service already. Go back his project even though it is very well funded already. This is important stuff.

micro.blog

Manton Reece regarding the forthcoming micro.blog:

Renaming a product before its official launch may not seem like a big deal, but in this case it gives the app a new importance. Just by renaming it, the app feels more ambitious. It forces me to devote more attention to it, which means saying goodbye to some of my other web apps that I can no longer focus on.

I’m glad Manton has found the right name and direction for this service he’s been working on for some time. I’m anxious to see it get out into the public.