Disbanding the POSSE

For the past several years I’ve been POSSE-ing. In Indieweb terms that means to publish content on my own site and syndicate it to other platforms. I’ve decided I’m going to discontinue using automation in favor of manually writing posts for each of the platforms I want to post to.

I’m doing this for 3 primary reasons.

  1. POSSE-ing to other platforms is a messy business. And I’m persnickety.
  2. Most communities on these platforms would prefer you do not cross post.
  3. I believe I can better engage if I do this manually.

Thanks to Micro.blog, syndicating my posts from my blog to Micro.blog, Mastodon, and Tumblr has been very easy. Micro.blog also supports syndicating to Twitter, Medium, LinkedIn, and Flickr. Of any service I’ve tested, Micro.blog is by far the most thoughtful and well considered way to POSSE.

However, it isn’t perfect. Many of my notes have multiple links in them. Like this one. Micro.blog supports multiple inline links but syndicating to Mastodon does not. So I lose a link! I do not know if this is a limitation of Mastodon’s API or of Micro.blog’s implementation — but regardless, I cannot lose a link!

That is but one of likely a few dozen idiosyncratic niggles that I have with how POSSE-ing works and that is just for one platform. I’d like to syndicate to more platforms and each of those have their own look, feel, and community driven norms. As just one more example, hashtags. Micro.blog does not support hashtags whereas on Mastodon and Twitter they are first class citizens. By POSSE-ing via this method I lose out on all of that. And #believeinfilm is becoming a community I interact with often.

Please know that I’m not picking on Micro.blog. I don’t think it is possible to build and maintain a syndication service that works exactly how I would prefer it to work. I’ve tried several different solutions over the last nearly 10 years to get this right. None of them will satisfy my neurosis. If it wasn’t for Micro.blog I would have given up trying long ago.

As the great Twitter exodus of 2022 was happening, and some people were flocking to Mastodon, the community there made it clear that they do not appreciate cross posting. Specifically, they discouraged people from setting up a Twitter to Mastodon cross posting service – but I believe they discourage cross posting all the same. And the more I think about it the more I get it. As I’ve written in the past, my mental model for each of these platforms are bars or cafes. If I ran down the street shouting into bars and cafes, people would think me weird. Perhaps I’m stretching the analogy too far but I understand why people would prefer direct engagement on the platform.

Photographers are all too aware of the need to tailor content for each use. Let’s say I took a photo of a cat. If a magazine editor wanted to use the image for the cover or for an article within, that photo would have to be manipulated to their specifications for each of those uses. If I share a photo on my blog, Flickr, or Instagram – I create a different file for each of those because they require different specifications. It is why you see so many bounding boxes on photographer’s Instagrams. They want to crop the photo to their liking not based on Instagram’s constraints.

This leads me to believe that I should do the same for my text. I’ve been inspired by how Sara Soueidan constructs her posts for Twitter and Mastodon. Each post seems thoughtfully composed for each platform she publishes to. I would prefer to model after that.

This isn’t to say that one couldn’t spend time to get POSSE working mostly right. Or, that I couldn’t build my own solution that might adjust my main quibbles with how Micro.blog syndicates content. Jeremy Keith is a great example of this. His posts are thoughtfully shared to each platform even if they are done so by a robot of his creation. He recently added Mastodon. I’m simply unwilling to take on the task of building and maintaining a robot to post to each platform based on their own particular set of requirements.

For the time being, I’ll be syndicating to Micro.blog via Manton‘s very well built robot RSS feed eater, but for all other platforms I’ll be taking the time to share each post that I consider worthy of the time.

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