WordPress to Fe-di…verse…?

This is another post in the series about WordPress discoverability for the people wanting to not put all their eggs in one basket by handing over all their content creations to walled gardens such as Google+, Facebook, Twitter, etc.

The problem about discoverability is one of the toughest challenges to overcome; with walled gardens, everyone has an account that can follow and be followed.
On a blog, you can get followers but you’re going to have to look into other data points than followers, because there aren’t clear cut numbers to look at. Instead of follower count you’d most likely have a look at visitors and page count as part of your website analytics package.

But, if one of the core problems to solve is discoverability, then what can you do to increase it?

Well, it depends. There are a multitude of paid services that can help you boost your messages to different networks, but what if you don’t want to spend d money on shady businesses and want to have more control of your communication? A connection to the “Fediverse” is one potential path to take.

The Fediverse is a collection/ensemble of different servers used for e.g. social networking, micro/macroblogging, file hosting and the likes. These servers communicate with other servers using a standardised protocol, making them compatible with eachother. A couple notable places being part of the Fediverse are Diaspora, Hubxilla and Mastodon.

Now, things aren’t super clear cut on what level these services coincidence. On the Wikipedia page linked above you’ll see in more detail what network has what integration available.

What you as a WordPress owner can do is to attempt to reach out within these servers on the Fediverse, e.g. by installing a plugin (or developing a solution of your own, but expect it to take significant effort) and having that do the heavy lifting.

I have tested two different plugins

I’ve been on the fence which one to use longer term, because both of them are considered to be beta in their current state. I’ve opted for Pterotype for now, as the developer is super responsive on Mastodon, and seem very ambitious about wanting this plugin to get a much needed rework.

It’s fairly straightforward to set Pterotype up, but be aware that to test this fully, you also need a Mastodon profile;

  1. Install the plugin using your method of choice
  2. Find the Pterotype settings in the administration panel and click it
  3. Make modifications to your liking
  4. If you haven’t already, create a Mastodon profile. mastodon.social is a popular place.
  5. On Mastodon, search for (include @-signs, but replace the [text] with your website): @blog@[yourwebsiteaddress]
  6. You should see a profile pop up that you can now follow on Mastodon
  7. All done, you’re now discoverable on (a part of) the Fediverse

This isn’t without limits, though.

The general idea is that your blog should have a two way communication with the Fediverse. E.g; you make a post from WordPress and it shows up on the Fediverse. Or you get a comment on the Fediverse on a post that you made in WordPress, you should be able to manage the comment like a regular comment on your post.

The first part is in place, however with the caveat that someone needs to follow it for the posts to automatically show up. What I did was to use my Mastodon profile, searched for my blog as described above, and the followed it. That way, it’s hooked up and “publishing” through your account.

The other part, about having bi-directional communication, is unfortunately not working right now. You, for the time being, have a one directional path into the Fediverse, but you’re not getting the comments sent back to WordPress. I’ll keep an eye on the progress of the plugin to see if there’s any news later on.

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