Replied to I’m done with syndication. Let’s help people be themselves on the web. by Ben WerdmüllerBen Werdmüller (Ben Werdmüller)

The IndieWeb has long promoted the idea of POSSE: Publish on your Own Site, Syndicate Elsewhere. In the wake of the Cambridge Analytica scandal, lots of platforms are re-evaluating their API policies.
This is kind of rearranging the deck chairs on the privacy Titanic, because the problem was that all this data was collected in one place, not that there was an API that allowed third party apps to publish on a user’s behalf. (To be fair, the publish API possibly enabled algorithmic propaganda / marketing campaigns to operate more efficiently.)
Still, here we are. I think this is a good opportunity to reconsider how the independent social web thinks of itself. I’ve long stopped syndicating posts to Twitter, and instead just post there directly. But I do try and post anything of substance on my blog.

Speaking as a citizen of the indieweb and not one of its architects, it seems to me that POSSE is so heavily promoted because platforms like Twitter and Facebook are more often than not the only significant exposure most people have to the web, and therefore in order to help most people transition from those closed platforms to the open web, there’s some weaning that has to happen. POSSE is, I think, that weaning process. Of course the hope is that all of us will eventually go full indieweb, and I think those of us who are indieweb evangelists need to come up with a method of helping people easily transition. With regard to posting on social media, I think we also have a situation where we’ve been trained not to value our content unless that content serves some sort of business or self-promotional purpose, and we’ve also been trained to believe that short content has no value because it doesn’t have a title and it’s not thousands of well-thought-out words. As a consequence, the content we post to social media is seen as throw-away content, and who cares if the content is scraped for marketing or manipulation purposes, and if we care at all about whether or not our content is used without our explicit consent, we hope that it’s someone we like doing the scraping and only object when it’s someone we don’t like doing the scraping and analyzing. So we need to find a way to communicate that content, even short content or content with no words at all, is valuable to the individual simply because the individual took the time to create it. Not sure how we do that.

For the most part, my reposts happen on the closed platforms directly, simply because it’s easier to retweet from a Twitter client or share from the Facebook mobile site than it is to repost and syndicate from my own site. Facebook, for example, doesn’t support reposts, so if you want to share someone’s post you came across on that network, you’re forced to do so from within Facebook. Twitter is a bit more permissive I think, but those days are numbered.

To add to all this, for me, social media, (with the exception of Mastodon and, has, to put it charitably, lost its luster. It’s become a chore, both personally and professionally, and the bad has finally gotten to the point where it outweighs the good for me. On a professional level, publishing criteria are getting so strict that publishing content, (especially when you’re scheduling it so as to not spend all your time staring at a social media client), has become fairly difficult, both because of the publishing rules themselves and because of the inaccessibility of scheduling services and their apps. This is most of the reason why I’m pulling the trigger and going full indieweb later this month. How the closed platforms treat their third-party developers also has some influence on my decision to pull the trigger.

Also posted on IndieNews


  • Amanda, I agree, the social platform experiment has become tiring for me. My use of Facebook and Twitter have fallen off dramatically while my use of RSS feeds continues unabated. Even the act of POSSEing my content to social media is a chore. I have almost stopped doing it. And because of concerns about GDPR I no longer back feed comments and like from social silos. I disabled syndication to Facebook and Flickr and only occasionally syndicate to Twitter.
    Avoiding syndication to social platforms has made discovery more challenging but I am hoping as the IndieWeb grows, this problem will be solved. We’ll find each other the old-fashioned “Web” way. For example, I discovered your post and your website via Chris Aldrich’s website.


Leave a Reply

Write a Comment


Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *