Jahed Ahmed

Are Webmentions the Future?

I've been keeping track of the IndieWeb initiative for over a year now and I think it's starting to get traction. One of the "protocols" they encourage is Webmention, which is like a Pingback but much simpler. Pingbacks requires sending XML-RPC, which I haven't even bothered to figure out. Another option is ActivityPub which has a lot more going on, so much that I don't want the complexity for a statically generated website. In comparison, Webmention just requires a POST with a target and source. It makes no assumptions about how these POSTs are handled other than some recommendations to avoid spam and impersonation.

Over recent months, I've landed on more and more websites that use Webmentions for comments and interactions. That might just be because it's popular among a certain group on Hacker News, but it's reason enough to give it a shot. So I've added the meta tag for it.

There's no visible Webmention interactions on this website as I'm worried about spam and handling user-generated content (copyright, GDPR, etc.); same reason I don't allow comments. But if I do get some mentions, it'll be logged so I can at least see if anyone's using it and what they're saying. Maybe I'll even share some interesting mentions with a link back.

Wouldn't it be nice if the web worked like that? Just websites talking to websites? That was kind of what the web was about over a decade ago, but private interests worked against that to consolidate everything. And pingbacks were flooded with spam. What a shame. Webmentions may have a similar fate, but at least with my approach, there's no incentive to spam. No automated link backs or anything. Just a rate-limited log line on some server.

I'll be trying to post more often on my website instead of posting comments on other closed platforms. There are some usability issues to sort out but I can see it working.

Thanks for reading.