Yesterday I shared that I uninstalled the Facebook application from my phone. My friend Simon Surtees was quick to text me: "I for one am pleased you have left Facebook. Less Cayman Island pictures!". Not too fast Simon. I never said that I left Facebook or that I'd stop posting on Facebook. Plus, I'll have more Cayman Islands pictures to share soon. :)

As a majority of my friends and family communicate on Facebook and Twitter, I still want to share updates on social media. However, I believe I can do it in a more thoughtful manner that allows me to take back control over my own data. There are a couple of ways I could go about that:

  • I could share my status updates and photos on a service like Facebook or Twitter and then automatically download and publish them to my website.
  • I could publish my status updates and photos on my website first, and then programmatically share them on Facebook, Twitter, etc.

The IndieWeb movement has provided two clever names for these models:

  1. PESOS or Publish Elsewhere, Syndicate (to your) Own Site is a model where publishing begins on third party services, such as Facebook, and then copies can be syndicated to your own site.
  2. POSSE or Publish (on your) Own Site, Syndicate Elsewhere is a publishing model that begins with posting content on your own site first, then syndicating out copies to third party services.


Pesos vs posse

Here is the potential impact of each approach:

PESOS POSSE
Dependence A 3rd party is a required intermediary within the PESOS approach. When the 3rd party platform is down or disappears completely, publishers lose their ability to post new content or retrieve old content. No dependence, as the 3rd party service is an optional endpoint, not a required intermediary.
Canonical Non-canonical: the data on the 3rd party is the original and copies on your domain may have to cite 3rd party URLs. Canonical: you have full control over URLs and host the original data. The 3rd party could cite the original URL.
Quality Pulling data from 3rd parties services could reduce its quality. For example, images could be degraded or downsized. Full control over the quality of assets on your own site.
Ease of use, implementation and maintenance 3rd party platforms make it really easy for users to publish content and you can still benefit from that. For example, you can easily upload images from your phone. The complexity inherent to the PESOS approach includes developing an infrastructure to curate archival copies to your own domain. The POSSE strategy can be significantly more work for the site owner, especially if you want comparable ease of use to 3rd party platforms. A higher level of technical expertise and time investment is likely required.

The goal of this analysis was to understand the pros and cons of how I can own my own content on https://dri.es. While PESOS would be much easier to implement, I decided to go with POSSE. My next step is to figure out my "POSSE plan"; how to quickly and easily share status updates on my Drupal site, how to syndicate them to 3rd party services, how to re-organize my mailing list and my RSS feed, and more. If you have any experience with implementing POSSE, feel free to share your takeaways in the comments.

Comments

Josef / dasjo (not verified):

You mentioned facebook, twitter & instagram as potential services you would like to share to. My immediate reaction was to think about how you would do things like mentioning users, engaging with other conversations from within your site. This might become more difficult which I think you describe under "easy of use" in the last metric. Apart from the implementation details, I was wondering if you had a set of scenarios in mind that you would like to achieve? That might help narrow down the conversation for me

Dries:

Are you familiar with Webmention? It's a web standard for tracking comments, likes, reposts, and other rich interactions across the web. It's sort of a modern Technorati and Pingback. There are a few hosted services, like https://webmention.io or https://brid.gy, that make this relatively easy to adopt.

Once I figured out my "POSSE plan", I could write it up and share it on my blog. Per your suggestion, that could create a more focused conversation and better recommendations.

Chris ODonnell (not verified):

I only use FB and Twitter, and like you I've been scaling way back on FB. However, it takes 10 seconds to copy and paste a URL from my blog to the FB and Twitter, so I haven't bothered trying to automate anything.

One thing I've noticed is that engagement goes way down when you do this. Photos uploaded to FB may get 20 comments, the same photos in an open source photo app on my blog with the URL added to FB as a status update may get 3 or 4 comments. I'm fine with that. It tells me something about the real depth of relationships conducted primarily on FB that 80% of my "friends" can't be bothered to click through to my blog. I mean, my mom always always clicks though. :)

Cash Williams (not verified):

I was going to make a comment about engagement as well. However I don't think it has to do with the real depth of relationships as you say.

The whole problem POSSE and why I think it doesn't work is the Facebook algorithm chooses native content over remote content. Displaying an external link is literally asking users to leave Facebook and go somewhere else, which isn't in Facebooks best interest. So with POSSE you are basically cross posting your content into a black hole.

Matt Glaman (not verified):

Interesting! I am considering this, as well. I've removed the Facebook app from my phone several times, only to end up installing it when at a conference to share photos (and the fact it's bloatware shipped on my phone that I cannot delete.)

I've started working on some code which will automatically Buffer my posts once the Scheduler module publishes it. Looks like I have some motivation to push that through and discuss some of my own POSSE concepts!

Roy (not verified):

I'm using Zapier (similar to ifttt.com) to trigger posting things to Twitter based on new items in my blog feed.

For me the friction in POSSE is in having to use the Drupal UI for creating the original content, it's more fiddly there than in those optimised native apps.

A long long time ago swentel made https://github.com/swentel/Drupoid, an android app for posting/publishing images to a Drupal content type. Would make for a nice React prototype :)

Dries:

I couldn't agree more. I actually wrote about this 3 years ago in Winning back the Open Web: "The biggest reason the Walled Gardens are winning is because they have a superior user experience, fueled by data and technical capabilities not easily available to their competitors (including the Open Web).".

I post on Facebook and Twitter because it is so easy. I can go from taking a photo to posting it on Facebook in 30 seconds. Removing friction is really important. Once I put the basic scaffolding in place to take back control over my data, I'd love to focus on being able to post status updates in 30 seconds or less.

Dries:

Thanks for the suggestion, Matt! GNU Social looks like an interesting project, but I prefer to keep all content on my own blog, and I think I can achieve my goals relatively easily with a bit of Drupal Magic ™ and IndieWeb Glue ™.

Dave Winer (not verified):

Hi Dries -- I use Facebook and Twitter, and have no plans to stop either, but the primary place I write is my blog. I tried to make cross-posting work, for years, and finally realized it can't work, unless each of the silos want it to, and of course none of them do.

I also included Medium in my attempt to set up a cross-posting system.

I wrote this blog post when I gave up --

http://scripting.com/2016/09/04/endingAnExperiment.html

I do however mirror my linkblog to both Twitter and Facebook, and the Links panel on my blog, and its own RSS feed. I guess that's a POSSE approach. I use my own linkblogging software, http://radio3.io/.

That's about as good as you can get. Cross-posting blog posts imho doesn't and can't work.

Dries:

Thanks for sharing your learnings, Dave.

It's true that more people would read my full posts on Facebook, rather than click a link to read it on my blog. This was also pointed out by Chris and Cash.

You know this better than anyone else (Dave is a pioneer of blogging, RSS, podcasting and more), but the number of readers is not the primary success factor for many bloggers, including myself.

I write for myself first. Writing, in many ways, pushes me to think; writing is my process to flesh out ideas.

I write for the conversations second. I use this blog to think out loud in a public space, and to start conversations with people thinking about the same topics. The fact that we're having this conversation with you, Tantek and other talented people is much more rewarding than having my blog posts read by more people.

My goal is to automate the cross-posting so it's not a burden. When you minimize the work involved through automation, the upside seems bigger than the downside. A few silos want to support cross-posting now; Medium supports canonical URLs, for example, so when you cross-post to Medium, your blog can remain the authoritative source of content which is good for SEO.

Hans Gerwitz (not verified):

Do you worry about Googlebot? While popularity is not important, visibility can be valuable. After all, Tantek and Dave Winer aren't going to respond to anything I just put in my feed. ;-)

I have elected to PESOS, and use rel="canonical" to avoid being punished for duplication, but that wouldn't scale to multiple cross-post destination silos.

Ted Serbinsi (not verified):

Great overview! In 2017 I ditched most of social media too. In 2018, I'm committing to blogging frequently too. I am taking the POSSE approach too with Linkedin and Medium being the most relevant syndication, with a sprinkle of Twitter and Facebook.

I look forward to what you share next on the topic!

Tantek (not verified):

Great post @Dries! #openweb #indieweb

Go for it. POSSEing to Twitter^1 and Facebook^2 works quite well.

Whether notes^3 / status updates (since 2010), or photos^4 (since 2015), it’s totally doable, and brings incredible peace of mind and a greater sense of ownership & control over your content.

You may also want to look into POSSEing replies^5, owning your comments as it were.

This comment for example, was originally posted on tantek.com as a single post, a multi-reply^6, automatically POSSEd to Twitter where it was auto-ellipsed & threaded^7 with your tweet, and only manually cross-posted on your original post.

Lots more on the IndieWeb wiki, and plenty of friendly folks ready and willing to share cross-platform/language development experience implementing all this stuff in the #indieweb-dev channel:
* https://chat.indieweb.org/dev

Drop by and say hi anytime!

Tantek

1^ https://indieweb.org/Twitter#POSSE_to_Twitter
2^ https://indieweb.org/POSSE_to_Facebook
3^ https://indieweb.org/note
4^ https://indieweb.org/photo
5^ https://indieweb.org/reply
6^ https://indieweb.org/multiple-reply
7^ https://indieweb.org/Twitter#original_has_POSSE_tweet

Original post: http://tantek.com/2018/037/t1/posse-indieweb-twitter-facebook

Dries:

Thanks for being a long-term inspiration, Tantek (and for coining the term POSSE). I'll make sure to check out the links you provided and will incorporate some or all of it into my POSSE plan. Stay tuned!

I like that you first posted your comment on your own site. Hopefully at some point, the manual crosspost to https://dri.es will be automated.

Dries:

Thanks, Ben. I'll stick with Drupal, but I'll check out your components to see if I can re-use any!

Jaswinder Singh (not verified):

Drupal needs some plugins. Just for comparison, in WordPress achieving POSSE is very easy. Just install Jetpack and enable Publicize (and connect the required social media accounts). Rest is automatic.

Dries:

I'm not very familiar with Jetpack, but I'll check it out. Happy to learn from WordPress.

Chris Aldrich (not verified):

What a fantastic breakdown of the concepts of POSSE vs. PESOS, though to be sure there are also additional variations for syndicating, cross-posting, or moving content around to reach various audiences.

One thing that I think you've only briefly touched upon is the ability to also have likes, replies/comments, etc. also come back to your site as native content via webmentions. I've been able to get rid of five apps and their incessant notifications and trim it all back to just using my own site to handle everything instead. Using something I choose to use instead of something I'm forced to, while also owning my data, is really very liberating.

Like you, I too have always wanted to own my own content on the web, and there are some easier and some harder methods. Not being as strong a developer as many, I've taken a more hybrid approach to things which is still evolving. To some extent I began at the easy end with some PESOS based workflows and relying on simple tools like IFTTT.com to at least begin owning all my content. For many content management systems, this is nearly dead easy, and could even be done with something as simple and flexible as Tumblr without much, if any, coding experience.

Over time, as I've been able, I've  moved to a more direct POSSE method as either I or, more often, others have managed to master making the simple posting interfaces easier and easier. I think in the end, POSSE is the strongest of the methods, so that has always been my ultimate goal.

From a Drupal-centric approach, you might be able to gain an interesting perspective on the multitude of ways POSSE/PESOS can be done by looking at the various ways that are available in WordPress ecosystem. It's probably easy to discern that some are far easier than others based on one's facility with coding. In general, I've noticed that the more freedom and flexibility a particular method or plugin has, the longer it takes to code and/or configure. The less flexibility a plugin offers, the easier. (So one could compare something like SNAP at the more comprehensive/difficult end to something simpler like JetPack for POSSE.) The difficulty is in the administrative tax of keeping up with the panoply of social media platform APIs to keep things working smoothly over time, particularly when you want your posts to be able to leverage the broad arrays of posting options and display outputs platforms like Facebook and Twitter offer. The other difficult questions can sometimes be: am I just replacing one or two social platforms, or am I trying to replace 20? and am I doing them with one plugin or with 20? and finally, how DRY is that process? Sometimes manually cutting and pasting is just as good.

As you do, I write first and foremost for myself and then a distant second for reaction and conversation with others. Thus I think of my personal site as just that: personal. To some extent it's a modern day version of a commonplace book where I collect a variety of thoughts in a variety of means, while still trying somewhat to keep it in an outer facing form to look what people might expect a site to look like. This means that I have a good number more than the traditional types of posts most social media sites have. I try to own all my own bookmarks and even post what I'm reading both online and in physical form. I keep highlights and annotations of things I find interesting. I naturally keep longer posts, status updates, and photos like many. I even log scrobbles of music and podcasts I listen to as well as film and television I watch. Interestingly there's a tremendous amount I only publish privately to myself or a small circle of others that's hidden on my site's back end. Depending on how far and deep you want your experience to go you might want to consider how all these will look or be represented on your site. To  a great extent, I think that WordPress's attempt to copy Tumblr (text, photo, quote, link, chat, audio, video) with their Post Formats was interesting, it just didn't go far enough. Naturally, this may take a different form for you depending on whether you're building just for yourself or if you're planning something more modular for the larger Drupal community to leverage.

The best part of all this is that I've not done any of it alone. While I try to maintain a list of some of my experiments to help others (you'll probably appreciate the ones on mobile posting and RSS based on your outline), there's also a wealth of other examples on the IndieWeb wiki and a terrifically stellar group of people around almost 24-7 in the IndieWeb chat to help spur me along. I'll echo Tantek's welcome to what I think is a more thoughtful and vibrant open web.

I hope others also find these resources so they're not fumbling around in the dark as I was for so long. Since you're obviously building in Drupal, I can recommend you take a look at some of the examples provided by the WordPress and the Known communities which Ben referenced. Since they're all .php based and open-source, you may get further faster in addition to being able to iterate upon and improve their work. Many of the developers are frequently in the IndieWeb chat and I'm sure would be happy to help with ideas and pitfalls they came across along the way.

Like others, I'm posting my reply with additional links first on my own website (http://boffosocko.com/2018/02/07/reply-to-to-pesos-or-to-posse-by-dries…), and manually cross-posting it to yours (manually until you support Webmention--perhaps via the Vinculum plugin?) as well as automatically to Twitter and others.

​​​

Matthias (not verified):

I ditched the Facebook app back in 2014 maybe even 2013. And just last year I installed FB Eradicator (https://www.netsensei.be/2017/05/26/facebook-eradicator/) and I found my FB usage dropped to almost zero while my happiness level increased significantly.

I've been x-posting to FB from my blog for as long as I can remember. WordPress makes it as easy as authenticating once and then ticking the checkmark (or not) before hitting "publish". Before that time there was probably a plugin I used. And then there's still Instagram and Twitter. Turns out I've been POSSE quite a while. I just never used that particular term.

Before you start hooking up services, I think it's well worth the time to consider why exactly you're doing this. I stand firmly behind the idea to write for yourself first, and for the conversation second. It's a great principle to avoid holding yourself back in what you write and think. To me, with POSSE you avoid that the platform hijacks the format in a way that turns the message into something that detracts from the original intent.

In POSSE, social media act like a megaphone. Great to amplify your message, not always that effective if you want to reach specific audiences. That's where you're confronted with a trade off whether or not spend time tweaking your setup. I think that if you write for yourself first, then it matters less to what platforms and when you crosspost. Medium could be a possibility, but you don't have to. And if you care less about who joins the conversation on your blog, then you'd just crosspost indiscriminately to Facebook and Twitter.

I see crossposts as copies of the original message who go on to live their own lives. If your aim is to get your voice heard by as many people as possible, then hooking up to many platforms and posting away is the way to go. Part of the discussion - FB comments, Medium,... - stays on those platforms though, and it's a challenge to find a way to compete (or collaborate) with those platforms and shift the control back to the content owner. The findings of Dave Winer demonstrate that it's a tough battle to fight. Maybe the key factor isn't just ease-of-use of these services, but even more so the quality of those discussions? I'd presume that a blog with quality content invites quality discussions. If anything, that's what social media are struggling with these days. Your blog, your party, right? And I think that's where authenticity to yourself makes all the difference.

Chris McIntosh (not verified):

Thanks for the idea for this Dries, it is something I have often thought about myself, but with the current landscape of API modules for Drupal it is hard to create a consistent method of syndication across sites. Im starting work on an API that is focusing on Syndication and Aggregation of Comments. I feel that while allowing you to push content out it is also important to not become blind to the feedback received on the target sites.

To that end im creating an API module with two core functions, that will allow the implementation of plugins that will handle communication to the various Third-Party sites, goal being that the user will enable the modules and enter in the API details and after a bit of UI based configuration be able to have a POSSE setup in Drupal.

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