webmention-implementation-details

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Webmention

Main article: Webmention.

Implementation Details

There are some interesting implementation details regarding receiving webmentions. E.g. when to follow redirects and when not to.

endpoint discovery

In step 4 in the protocol summary, when performing webmention endpoint discovery, implementations MUST check for the webmention and SHOULD check for http://webmention.org/ (for backward compatiblity) as rel values which may be present among a space separated set of rel values inside a rel attribute.

Also note that endpoints may be advertised in both <link> and <a> elements. Supporting <a> is important for sites like WordPress.com that don't allow link elements at all.

must follow redirects

In steps 7 and 8 in the protocol summary, implementations MUST follow redirects of the target and source URLs.

checking target validity

In step 7 in the protocol summary, when the webmention receiver checks the target URL for validity, follow any HTTP redirects and use the resulting URL when checking for validity.

For example, if your posts visibly show permashortlinks for others to copy/cite/link to and someone sends a webmention to a shortlink, be sure to resolve any redirects before checking if it’s on your site, or matching it up to a post on your site.

The webmention receiver should then check if the target is valid and supported. A valid target is one that is recognized by the receiver.

In simple cases, this is just a check that the target URL exists on the receiver's domain. The meaning of "valid" can be extended to also include:

  • mentions of pages that don't exist on your site (in case you want to track possible lost URLs)
  • mentions of POSSE URLs

use cases

  • Webmention proxy servers such as webmention.io and webmention.herokuapp.com are able to accept webmentions for other people's sites
  • Enables indieweb-friendly silos to send backfeed webmentions for comments and responses to the original post of a POSSE copy on that silo.
    • i.e. if you POSSE to a silo, you should accept webmentions where the target is your POSSE copy
    • This requires indieweb-friendly silos send webmentions to the original site's webmention endpoint, so the silo will need to know that one of its posts is a POSSE copy


You should also support receiving webmentions where the target is one of your POSSE copies.

verifying source links to target

In step 8 in the protocol summary, as the webmention receiver, to verify the source URL:

  • retrieve it following redirects,
  • when checking the resultant HTML, look for the target URL as literally provided in the webmention request (i.e. NOT redirects from target)

For example, if you get a webmention with source=http://short.me/t100 target=http://example.com/notes/5:

sync or async response status code

Webmention receivers can choose to verify the webmention synchronously (process immediately) or asynchronously (add it to a queue for processing later). High level difference:

Synchronously:

  • upon successful verification the receiver MUST return a HTTP 200 Success response

Asynchronously:

  • receiver MUST return HTTP 202 Accepted.

See the brainstorming section for some additional thinking on this.

types of mentions

In addition to just a link (mention) there are several special types of mentions, each which have markup for detection and specific implementation recommendations:

accessing endpoints in the browser

Some implementations now display a page that briefly explains webmentions when the webmention endpoint is accessed in a browser.

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