syndication formats

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Content hosted under your domain should be presented as semantically marked up HTML+microformats. If you have not yet done this, go do it now!

Here's an example of a densely marked-up note:


and here's it's code:

<article class="note hentry h-entry">
 <p class="author h-card">
  <img class="u-logo u-photo" alt="Barnaby Walters" src="/img/photos/meRaglan100.jpg" />
  <a class="p-name" href="">Barnaby Walters</a>
  <a class="u-url" href=""></a>
 <div class="entry-content p-name p-entry-content p-entry-summary">
   <a class="h-card" rel="acquaintence met" href="">Jeremy Keith</a> might be an idea to update <a class="auto-link" href=""></a>, Safari no longer uses <kbd>alt</kbd> for accesskeys
 <small class="muted"><time class="published updated dt-published dt-updated" datetime="2012-09-22 18:42:16">22<sup>nd</sup> of September 2012 at 18:42:16</time></small>

Once you have well-marked-up data under your domain, you should make it available as a feed, and you'll probably want to syndicate it out to 3rd party services.

3rd party services will inevitably require your data to be of lower quality than it is under your domain (length limit, no microformats, no markup). For example, here's a representation of the above example as it appeared on twitter:


No microformats on the web version, a truncated link, network-specific user references and no <kbd> markup on the alt.

Formatting Content for Syndication


When you're syndicating content using feeds (atom,, preferably use the same/very similar markup to you do on the web. This has the following advantages:

  • Dumb feed readers still get lots of useful links, images as tags, working youtube embeds etc.
  • Smart feed readers get a vast amount of useful data, e.g.


When syndicating content to Twitter, bear the following in mind:

  • Not only the 280 char limit, but you may want to allow for the extra characters added when retweeting
  • No HTML is displayed, but most clients will auto-parse image links into images, video links into players
  • #tags will be parsed into twitter-specific tag URLs
  • @names will be parsed into twitter-specific user references

Implementation Details

  • I write my notes using tweet microsyntax, send the raw copy to twitter and turn the microsyntax into more useful formats (e.g. @name -> .h-card, #tag to rel="tag" url) 12:26, 22 September 2012 (PDT)

Truncation and Backlinks

The exact formatting of backlinks (see POSSE) is varied in nature. The user should immediately be able to discern whether or not there’s any extra content to be seen if they click through (clicking through to find content repeated, not amplified is a known usability issue.

Syndicating Notes (AKA tweets)

If the content has to be truncated for syndication, add an ellipsis and the URL for the rest of the content, e.g:

Dear #ireality #ireality2012 speakers, what to do about those trying to revert to the past? eg undo teaching ...

If adding the permalink doesn’t cause the content be to be truncated, put it in parentheses, e.g:

Built and released today: ~ THE TRUNCENATOR ~ #indieweb (

A variation of this is to use Whistle-like short URLs and separate the domain from the path by a space, e.g:

If Twitter is for posting updates, why do "Updates from Twitter" use email? #philosoraptor ( t4LA1)

The advantage of this is that Twitter does not wrap it in a URL, leaving it easier for people to retrieve if when goes down. Also, it’s 14 characters long, leaving 6 more than you would have with a 20-char URL (which is only likely to go up)

Syndicating Blog Posts

There are a whole load of different methods in use to indicate a blog post. The commonest is the Title-colon-link pattern, e.g:

I dream of BBSes:

People Formatting Back–links Like This


  • ~ THE TRUNCENATOR ~ (PHP) is a highly-configurable function for nicely squishing content and a back–link into a given character limit