Update: as of sometime 2023 I decided to go with Bridgy Fed! Hooray!
I stopped looking at Twitter some time ago. I miss being able to follow some folks there, but it is also toxic hellsite and getting worse and etc.
Mastodon / ActivityPub are kind of like Twitter-but-federated. Lots of folks are once again jumping ship. More importantly, I know some people in real life who post there and I follow them via their Atom feed and I would actually like to reply.
There are lots of ways I could do this but none that I can find today quite line up with how my site works! Research below. But first, let's dare to dreeeaaaammm.
What I think I want
My existing setup does a lot for me! Here's what I think is missing.
Let fediverse folks follow me
I need a (mastodon-compatible) activitypub profile. This can be a mix of static hacking but also kind of needs an inbox implementation so folks can send follow requests and I can agree.
When I make a new post, send that to followers.
- i have websub so this theoretical service could get notified right away when my posts update
- my posts microformats2 feed has a lot of good stuff. translating mf2 -> activitystreams could be a lot of work _or_ i could knock off great work like granary. (or both could be true)
My inbox also needs to accept unfollows and account deletions and whatever. And handle instances that disappear, and etc.
Let me reply to fediverse posts
My main posts feed includes replies as mf2 in-reply-to. If there is some way to "detect" that a given in-reply-to (or, heck, just a mention in a comment) is to a mastodon instance or some other fediverse instance (there must be, right?), then we can trigger sending here.
Let fediverse folks respond to me!
Inbox should take incoming activitypub stuff and bridge it to webmention. A shame to implement this for myself because this is what brid.gy does! I mean... maybe I can crib from it...
(Also: deletes if people delete a response!)
Let me follow fediverse folks
This is where I think the fun kicks in?? I need to be able to do the fediverse/activitypub/mastodon follow/approval dance so that their instances will send me new posts.
Then! I need to be able to map those subscriptions onto one (or more??) microsub channels in Aperture. That will push them to my reader.
If all of the above is working (and I haven't missed anything), then:
- i can follow someone on fediverse, even if their profile is private
- i can see their posts in my indie reader right away in the channel(s) of my choosing
- i can like / reshare / reply right in my indie reader and (as soon as my site rebuilds and sends websub ping) they'll get notified right away.
Anyway. That's a dream. Let's document what I've been looking at.
Research into existing stuff
I have schmarty.micro.blog as a free account that uses my posts JSON Feed (https://martymcgui.re/posts/feed.json ... and i don't seem to advertise this via a
I set up email@example.com, hooray!
But JSON Feed doesn't have any support for in-reply-to, and it doesn't seem like micro.blog supports that for any incoming format. So, unless I am posting directly to micro.blog I can't actually use this to create replies. Instead: replies are weird posts aimed at no one, haha.
I guess this is live so I hope no one follows it ...
This is the most plausible, but there are several things that give me pause (pausible).
Works and is great:
- i already use granary to make an Atom feed from mf2 that should work well
- i have a feed of all my posts and replies that should work
- i can pretty easily set up the necessary redirects
- fed.brid.gy supports several post types, i believe!
- it also converts back AP replies etc to webmentions back to my site
- it sends when you trigger a webmention to fed.brid.gy. might site already sends webmentions on all new and updated posts, so I could do this in a few ways:
- just always do it. put an empty link in the post template.
- do it a bit more thoughtfully by setting up a real syndication target.
- i'd need to remember to actually _do_ this on micropub clients that support them
- and update things like my Shortcuts (
mp-syndicate-toworks for form-encoded micropub thankfully)
hardcoded username @firstname.lastname@example.org is customizable!
- fed.brid.gy owns the signing keys, so if i wanted to switch to my own software i think... i cannot?
- ah, snarfed will send them to you if you ask, haha!
- doesn't let me follow people. for folks with public profiles i can sub to their Atom feed. can't follow people who don't have public feeds.
Honestly this is a really cool piece of software. A single-user AP instance that is also super IndieWeb-compatible. Sends and receives webmentions. You can use it as an IndieAuth provider. It does it all*! (* well there are some things unimplemented, like it has Micropub support (!) but only for making new Notes, no replies or media or etc).
But I don't need it to do it all! I just want it to do the ActivityPub parts.
Anyway, it's rad and probably I could learn a lot studying it.
- source: https://sr.ht/~tsileo/microblog.pub/
- (an older activitypub integration from the same author tsileo https://github.com/tsileo/little-boxes)
run my own mastodon
Seems to be a wave of folks doing this for example paying for masto.host ($6/mo) to have a single-user instance.
Bonus you can do some forwarding and config similar to fed.brid.gy and have @email@example.com.
- Simon Willison did some great writeups.
- refs from that piece:
pros: this is a whole-ass mastodon and all the mastodon works.
- i can follow people! (as long as I am willing to log into my mastodon instance)
- i can reply just on the fediverse w/o needing to post it to my own site!
- this is a whole-ass mastodon and requires the admintax works. (i'm sure masto.host takes care of a lot of this)
- getting content in is a whole thing. it has APIs and folks have tools that post from feeds or whatever. maybe even regular brid.gy can do it?
- getting content out. like backfeeding comments to my posts which is a major part of the point. another job for brid.gy!
- can't really follow in my own reader.
I'm not sure I want to run a whole Mastodon at all, though. I have screwed it up twice before on a just-for-me instance that was a whole other identity.
Roll my own integrations
- Gargron post on getting started w/ basic profile info and sending a reply. Definitely then throws you off into "read the spec" land. This is also 4 years old.
- aaronpk's Nautilus starts kind of where I want: reads your website and handles the AP-related stuff. It's currently missing a lot of functionality, though, and I don't know what the roadmap really looks like. Some ideas I agree with in there like handling following and being able to push received posts into Microsub channels.
Close the tabs to exorcise the brain worm.