From IndieWeb

A silo or web content hosting silo (AKA walled garden), in the context of the IndieWeb, is a centralized web site (like most social media) typically owned by a for-profit corporation that stakes some claim to content contributed to it and restricts access in some way (has walls).

Silos are characterized by the following:

  • require you to create an account specific to that site to use it (silo identity)
  • allow you to interact on the site only with others with accounts on the site (silo contacts / social network)
  • allows you to post some type of content (text, hypertext, images, video)
  • and typically one or more of the following:
    • an access wall that prevents indexing of (at least some of the) content you contribute
    • a restrictive terms of service (TOS)
    • claims some ownership or license to any content you create within the silo
    • restricts your ability to import/export your content, or content about your content (e.g. comments, tags)

XKCD comic 1150 about putting stuff in Chad's garage for free then being outraged when he sells it.

In contrast, see: commons.


What are the silos? Control. The silos are computer-generated dream worlds built to keep us under control in order to change a human being into this.
[holds up chart showing clicks on ad units]
(with apologies to [1])



Main article: History

For a brief history of the rise and fall of various silos, see the History page for launch, acquisition, death, and zombification years/dates. See site-deaths for upcoming and past silo deaths in particular.

Popular Silos


These silos are both popular, and used by a number of indiewebcamp community members (often via POSSE) to stay in touch with their friends.

If you have friends that are active on a popular silo, feel free to add it to this list.

Historical Popular Silos

Many popular silos have ceased functioning or otherwise shut down, debunking "too big to fail" assumptions.

  • Google+
  • MySpace (~2002-2009?) - so much control over the HTML and CSS of your profile page that many compared it to GeoCities, and not in a flattering way.

See site-deaths for more.

Specialized Silos

Add any silo to this list that you're an active user of and especially if you can document how to export data from it.

Silo Flexibility

A few silos have given users tremendous flexibility in the look and feel of their experience and the content they post, and sometimes even allow using your own domain, for an extra fee:


  • Blogger - quite a bit of control via templates
  • Tumblr - also lots of control via templates
  • - some choice of free templates, and more choices as a paid option. Of all these, has some of the best import/export support, very low walls as it were for a walled-garden

Silo Innovations

Silos have innovated UX since 2003 far more than the blogging/RSS/Atom "communities" (as much as there was such a thing).

Here are some examples of UX innovations that silos either created, popularized, or refined to be much more usable, in rough temporal order.

User Innovations Inside

Despite silos typically exerting tight control over their look, feel, and overall user experience, users have found ways of innovating inside silos, which silos have often adopted and integrated into their UX.

  • reply permalinks - Twitter - reply posts on their own permalinks instead of just fragment links on a post.
    • Specifically, @-replies, were previously "only" in comments (e.g. comments in MySpace and Flickr used @-name conventions to indicate who they were responding to in a thread). When Twitter users started using @-reply syntax[5][6] in tweets to intentionally direct their tweets at particular people, Twitter adopted this in multiple ways:
      • auto-link @-mentions to profile pages (was in response to user-behavior)
      • show @-reply tweets only to those who followed both the replier and the user being replied to.[7]
      • auto-fill "Reply" textarea underneath a tweet with @-mention of the tweet author
      • auto-fill "Reply" textarea also with @-mentions of anyone else mentioned in the tweet.
  • hashtags - as proposed by Chris Messina[8] on Twitter, then adopted by users, then eventually auto-linked by Twitter to search results for mentions of that hashtag.
  • retweets - the "RT @-name:" syntax (originally ReTweet:) was purely a user innovation to indicate that they were passing along text/content from another user. Twitter both:
    • codified "RT" into a one-click button (so easy to use as to cause million+ retweeted posts)
    • showed the original author of the tweet, when presenting the retweet in others' reading views.
  • 🍞 for like - Ello users in Germany adopted a convention of typing ":bread:" to generate a bread emoji (🍞) in a comment as a simple indicator of "liking" a post, since Ello lacks an explicit like/favorite feature.
  • ... add more user innovation inside silos with attribution to user(s) if known, and inside which silo.


See why for more common issues with silos in contrast to having your own website.


Many silos wrap any links posted on them with their own domains or link-wrapping domains, sometimes in an attempt to make links shorter, sometimes to provide a bottleneck which they can use to mass disable spam/phishing links.


  • Breaks link referrals (you just see the silo wrapper, not the actual post that linked to your domain)
  • Fragile for all the usual link-shorteners by a site other than the owner are fragile problem. As well as their typical use of database ids.


Artificially Slow UI

  • 2016-07-06 The UX Secret That Will Ruin Apps For You

    Facebook actually slows down its interface to make users feel safe, a Facebook spokesperson confirmed in an email.

    ... various services on the web including travel sites, mortgage engines, and security checks are all making a conscious effort to slow down their omnipotent minds because our puny human brains expect things to take longer.

    ... companies introduce what Kowitz calls an "artificial waiting" pattern into their interfaces. These are status bars, maybe a few update messages, to construct a facade of slow, hard, thoughtful work, even though the computer is done calculating your query.

Another good reason to use your own tools (if it's faster than expected, you feel accomplished, not distrusting), or at least re-use indieweb software etc. that others are eating what they cook because you know they won't be (or there's at least less chance of them) deliberately slowing it down.

Perverse Incentives on Content

While it seems like platforms today are more interested in investing in the users responsible for their success via grants and creators programs aplenty, the reality is that the platform still dictates the terms. They’re not only the point of access to your audience; they’re also the ones deciding what metrics to use, and what counts as a success—and all of that is subject to change over any given quarter

On Instagram, the idea that accounts should make use of all the features the platform promotes in order to be successful lies somewhere between an open secret and industry-accepted theory. (This is at least partly why your chef influencer friend keeps posting Reels…)

If you create content on someone else’s platform, they can force you to make your content using a certain style or method by ranking you based on their own performance metrics.

Silo Quitting

A number of individuals, prominent and otherwise, have publicly "quit" various silos

Vaporware Silos

From time to time, silo projects are announced without shipping, and often never ship. As this list grows we can consider creating a separate vaporware-silos page.

  • Cybe appears to be a splash screen and silo at with a ton of rhetoric ("manifesto", "vision", etc.) but no product. Their Twitter hasn't been updated in over a year.
  • ... add other silos that have been announced but not shipped, preferably with a citation to the announcement, preferably date-stamped.

Articles and Talks

See Also