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Bringing Blogging to the Fediverse (write.as)
105 points by exolymph 7 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 32 comments

I'd really like to see distributed comments across self-hosted sites and blogs, but I haven't come across a decent way to prevent spam.

I used to embed Disqus in my site, but wasn't really happy with its centralised nature (plus it was far slower and bloated than anything else I had; generally a few KB of static HTML with "motherfucking-website" aesthetics).

Does that mean you didn't find Disqus to be spammy? Maybe varies from blog to blog? I've seen blogs with maybe 20 Disqus spam comments and 2 real comments, ... I flagged the spammy ones (which were like: "Love this blog post, it helped me so much. Btw here's my site: ..." — i.e. copy-paste generic Thanks + a spam link), nothing happened (Disqus didn't delete them). And the spammers have many accounts and have upvoted their comments, so spam comments were the topmost ones.

I didn't see any spam on disqus; but I only received a few comments here and there anyway. Otherwise I'd have more qualms removing it.

I've been messing with RSS again... almost a decade ago I implemented activitystrea.ms while it was still RSS based (now JSON) (still on my GitHub).

I like the idea of clients subscribing to feeds, and syndicating comments with parent URIs, into an aggregated view; and there being discovery services, all convention, like XMPP. This is all very 1998 like LiveJournal.

I imagine that the answer to that may well end up being the same as it is for email. When a comment arrives, check a few centralised reputation systems (like DNSBL), and then perform a statistical analysis of the comment against some corpus (like SpamAssassin et all) before allowing it or not. We could even introduce greylisting too.

I setup a service to do just that:


DNSBL — I'm wondering those solutions are never going to work totally well? When even Facebook gets rather many spammers, don't they. It'll be a tech race and the clever spammers can continue spamming?

I'm thinking the only? way to deal with clever spammers, that's really going to work, is to manually review the first N comments by each new commenter, and only approve the comments, if they add value to the blog post. Once someone has been able to add value to the blog post 3? 5? times (e.g. provided more useful info or thoughts, or asked on-topic questions whose answers = good for others to know too) — then the likelihood that that person is a spammer is maybe 0.01%, ok to auto approve his/her comments hereafter. I actually built such blog commenting software, link in my profile.

That still requires a centralized reputation system to be the clearing house. Unless people frequently comment on the same blogs. And in that case the activity would be more centralized again.

So far, using webmentions hasn't created spam on my micro.blog instance or WordPress instance. I'm sure to a degree that's because spammers haven't found webmention yet, but it's worth noting.


(I also find it fascinating but a little concerning that the "IndieWeb" movement and the community around ActivityPub seem to be inventing very similar wheels, either without being aware of one another's work or without much apparent interest in working together.)

I've been keeping an eye on indieweb stuff; but held off from dynamic things like webmention for now. I agree that the divergent efforts are a little frustrating. A few years ago I had a go at implementing Salmon/MagicEnvelopes/etc. that seem like the precursor to ActivityPub. Many years ago I played around with XMPP pubsub. Hopefully W3C validation will go some way towards actual adoption this time?

Reminds me of pingbacks

Have to looked into Webmentions? I use those my blog, with backfeed from Twitter. So I end up with few pleasant surprise Webmentions too :)

So far I haven't yet (hope that didn't change) needed to do any manual spam cleanup. If I ever need to, I hope that it's as simple as deleting such mentions from WebMention.io.

This is neat. The Fediverse is a really exciting development in the re-decentralization of the web. Is there any intent to also expose published articles as, say, IPFS blobs or Dat archives? It'd be cool to see some of these services starting to expand into those realms too.

This is already possible with the XMPP protocol for many years now :) The good thing is that it simply relies on XMPP Pubsub and the widely deployed Atom standard.

You only need an XMPP account with a quite recent server (pas few years) and a client that supports that, such as Movim (https://movim.eu/) or Salut à Toi (https://salut-a-toi.org/).

And here is an example of a Blog handled with XMPP https://nl.movim.eu/?blog/edhelas@movim.eu. It is also possible to have feeds handled by several users at the same time (called Communities on Movim) https://nl.movim.eu/?node/pubsub.movim.eu/Movim.

What advantage does bringing ActivityPub to this blogging platform have over just subscribing via an RSS reader?

Interaction. Comments (toots) and likes (boosts) are built in the platform. And you don't need to log in anywhere to comment, you're using your one ActivityPub identity. While commenting you can add additional people to the thread, recommending the post to your friends.

It would be nice if there were a federated way to accept "likes" from users (not just friends) across all compatible sites, but I don't think there's a good way to stop a site from Sybil-attacking posts with arbitrary numbers of illegitimate likes.

My instinct is that there needs to be a second layer reputation system for recording which sites can be trusted not to inflate their like numbers. This becomes similar to the problem of which mail servers can be trusted not to send spam, but perhaps if posts and likes are public (unlike emails) then more useful reputation systems are possible.

OStatus (the original Fediverse protocol) literally already had this, it just didn't have the developer excitement to keep the ball rolling.

Yep, you can see this type of commenting in action already on Plume [0], an AP-enabled blogging platform in development.

[0] https://baptiste.gelez.xyz/~/PlumeDevelopment/this-month-in-...

I'm new to this landscape, how do I have one activitypub identity? I have a Mastodon account, but that's about it

I mean you can use that account to comment on any ActivityPub enabled blog, no need to register there or for any comments system they support.

One identity may refer also to running your own server, then you're safe from any extinction events :)

I'd say it's that it takes care of the the complaint that RSS is not "social."

I think it's a cool idea. If you really want to break the power of FB, you need a way to easily see what people are reading, recommending, talking about etc. and that includes following a whole website, whether written by an individual or a corporation.

And then you can grab the RSS feed for people whose comments you want to follow. At least, I assume all Fediverse-supporting software generates user RSS like Mastodon.

Pleroma does for sure (it even follows the exact same url scheme and feed format) but not sure about others.

I use Diaspora* as a blog platform

Haven't heard about that way of using D*. It'd be interesting to have a look at your Diaspora blog? If you'd like to post a link?

Here you are


then, with a script executed periodically, I convert the Diaspora* Atom feed into a static page:


Looks aesthetically nice I think with D* as a blog. B.t.w. Taxi Driver is a great movie :- ) (I recognized the avatar image) & Another World, I played it too all the way to the end.

I couldn't post a comment about eating vegan food, compared to meat (I'm a pescetarian b.t.w.), at: https://pod.storel.li/p/164706 — I was a bit confused about this: "meat requires much more fossil fuel to produce than vegetables and grains". Fossil fuel to produce food got me confused (my first thought was: "But humans and cows don't eat oil?") ... and apparently that's for transporting the food and maybe preparing it in food factories or maybe keeping it cold, etc. (?)

... Apparently one needs a D* account oneself, to post comments (?), https://wiki.diasporafoundation.org/FAQ_for_users#Who_can_co...

Thanks for your remarks! Good catch for Taxi Driver!

To add comments, indeed you need a D* account. The network is federated, go register at one of the pods listed here [0] or start hosting a pod yourself (which I do).

As for the article about bicycling vs car, it's a comparison of global contributions. It's not only about fossil fuel burned in motors, it also about methane from cow's farts for example [1]. The conclusion is that being a vegan bicyclist is the best option with regards to greenhouse gas emissions.

In the end, if the script to generate the static page is of any interest to you, tell me and I'll put it somewhere on Github.

[0] https://the-federation.info/diaspora [1] https://thinkprogress.org/methane-emissions-are-spiking-but-...

Ok thanks for the reply & details about emissions (e.g. cows & methane). Actually I have a blog and it's static pages already :- ) (+ blog comments)

Just curious, would you share the link?

https://www.kajmagnus.blog/new-embedded-comments (that's the only blog post this far. I'd like to write about society & people later on in the future) — and here is the software for the blog comments, in case you're interested: https://www.talkyard.io (a tiny one person startup)

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