Semantic Linkbacks

From IndieWeb
This plugin was deprecated on April 4, 2023. See WordPress Webmention Plugin instead.

Semantic Linkbacks was a WordPress plugin that upgraded the presentation of linkback notifications; this plugin was deprecated 2023-04-04 and the functionality is now part of the WordPress Webmention Plugin.

Semantic Linkbacks upgraded the presentation of linkback notifications (like Trackback, Pingback, or Webmention*) from the ugly default pingback presentation of "[…] random text excerpt […]" to a much more meaningful and user-friendly display as comments, reposts, likes, and favorites, detected using microformats2 markup from the source of the linkback.

For explicit in-reply-to interactions, the plugin also changes the WordPress comment type from "webmention" to "comment". Otherwise, it creates human readable whole sentences like "Alice liked this article on" with hyperlinks to the source author and permalink.

Comment Type Indicator

For in-reply-to interactions, the plugin adds a "type" indicator in the comment metadata for the specific type of interaction:

This "type" indicator enables further interaction-specific presentation customization, such as showing likes/favorites and/or reposts as a facepile.


  • Automatically embed facepiles (may not work on all themes)
  • Initial number of faces for facepile


If you want to write your own parser for additional markup(such RDFa or you have to hook up the `semantic_linkbacks_commentdata` filter and update the array-fields.

The comment-array is a WordPress Comment with some extra-fields.

All fields beginning with _ like:

  • `$commentdata['_canonical']` for the canonical source url
  • `$commentdata['_type']` for the comment type. The plugin currently supports the following types: `mention`(default), `reply`, `repost`, `like`, `favorite`, 'tag', 'watch', 'read', 'listen', rsvp:yes, rsvp:no, rsvp:maybe, invited, rsvp:tracking.
  • `$commentdata['_avatar']` for the author avatar

...are saved as comment metadata.

Replacement Brainstorming

Discussion between the author,  Matthias Pfefferle and a contributor, David Shanske have indicated that the best long term move is to look at the changes in Indieweb, WordPress, and Microformats conventions since the plugin was developed and explore what a more sustainable replacement might be.

One of the considered possibilities was switching from storing types of mentions from metadata to custom comment types. As WordPress does not officially support these(But also doesn't not support them), this would require more planning.

The plugin also does not store metadata in mf2_ prefixed Microformats, which is a convention that post dates it.

There is a separate thought that since multiple plugins parse Microformats 2 using the php mf2 library, but maintain separate code to turn this into a simplified structure for storage and display, that there might be a time saving benefit to using a common library developed outside the plugins for this. David Shanske developed Parse This for Post Kinds and the developing Yarns Microsub Endpoint. However dependency management in WordPress is problematic.

Related Plugins

Webmention Plugin

*WordPress supports Pingback and Trackback by default; for Webmention support, you must install the separate Webmention Plugin which is very nicely complementary to the Semantic Linkbacks plugin.

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Primary Plugins Indieweb Plugin • Webmention • Semantic Linkbacks • Micropub • IndieAuth • Post Kinds • Syndication Links • WebSub plugins
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