I’m still so excited about WordPress turning on the fediverse, and it inspires me to blog regularly again. Why? Well, I see my blog’s readership growing back to what I had when I first begun, I see genuine engagements with my site, I see real people traffic, not bots and fake SEO scams, and I hope you guys don’t prove me wrong! I’m spreading the word, urging every person I know to bring their blog to the fediverse. This post is a quick one to point out a few things I’ve learned after installing the ActivityPub Plugin. Perhaps it will be of help to another blogger. And if you have any tips, please leave a comment so others can know about it!
And, if you are reading this somewhere in the fediverse, do give it a boost so others can find it, and so my blog can federate with your server. It’s a every personal blog, every article is about my life, or my works, or my adventures. Read it for the point of view of an African artist, who lives and works in Uganda, but well, read it for entertainment. There’s a lot of humor, travel tales, and behind the scenes of my artworks. You won’t regret if you #follow it!
I’ll start with a problem I encountered after installation, though I mentioned it in the previous post, which was an #introduction to the fediverse, as it might save someone from pain. After installing the ActivityPub for WordPress Plugin, I could not follow my blog. I went over to my account @dilmandila to test and got a message saying ‘follow requested’ yet I couldn’t find anywhere in the WordPress dashboard to accept this request. After a lot of searching, I found an article that described the issue, something to do with modsec, so I contacted my webhost, BlueHost (this isn’t marketing them. They are horrible. I want to move) and they fixed the id rule on server end. After that, my blog can now be followed so let me put here these hashtags #followerpower #followme #follow #followfriday
On the Free, Personal and Premium WordPress sites, installation was straight forward with no issues. Simply go to Settings, Discussion, and enable “Enter the fediverse.” Make note of your fediverse name, which is something ike @firstname.lastname@example.org. This profile can then be shared with others so they can follow it on Mastodon and other platforms. It’s a bit of a mouthful, though. Perhaps they should find a way to make shorter profile names.
When I made my first post, I inserted a lot of links, and then I realized I should not have. On the Mastodon App, and on the website, the links appear fine, just as I intended them to. But on Tusky, and I presume other apps, the links will break up your sentences every time they appear. It might make for hard reading, for (link) it (link) will (link) be (link) something (link) like this. They say it is for security reasons, to show the reader the link won’t lead to a harmful website. Fair enough. So now when writing blog posts, I’ll use links sparingly. Perhaps I’ll continue making lists the way I used to, curating articles in my blog that you might enjoy; Want a good laugh? Then eat A love story about a homemade birthday cake; Enjoy great travel tales? Then experience The Fun of Backpacking in Nigeria; Want to know a bit about the story behind my stories? Take a look at The Darkness Behind My Book
The other downside of this ActivityPub for WordPress Plugin is that photos and images don’t appear in the fediverse. You’ll see the featured image, alright, but you won’t see any images embedded in the article. This I think is the only downside, for some articles need images to tell the story. Photobloggers, or artists sharing their artworks on their blogs, will find this plugin useless. I hope at some point they fix this.
Now, a good way to get followers on the fediverse is to get listed on the Fedi.Directory, and I easily got my blog onto it after sending a DM to FediFollows. You can find how to do that, and more of it, in this link. However, getting listed on Trunk was a little bit trickier, because they treat blogs as not-personal-accounts. Fediverse.info asked for a server name and I used @email@example.com but this failed. I had to use the url to my author page, https://www.dilmandila.com/author/dilman and then it was accepted. This url failed on Trunk, though, since it isn’t a recognizable server.
I talked to one of the Admins at Trunk, and perhaps in future they will fix this, because there’s a new plugin that can turn your WordPress blog into something like an instance of its own. The plugin is called Friends and with it you use your website to send friend requests or respond to received friend requests from the fediverse. Basically, you can use your website to interact in the fediverse, without having to sign up on any server, or without using any app. Isn’t that cool? This plugin won’t work with free sites since it requires an install, but it’s sure going to make it easier for a lot more people to join the fediverse!
One final note, once you start getting followers, be aware that the count may display differently in different servers. At my instance, mograph.social, it showed me that I had only one follower (myself!) for over a week, but on mastodon.social, where I created a dummy account just to check, it showed that I had eight followers. My wordpress dashboard currently shows thirty followers, yet it still counts 12 on mograph.social and 17 on mastodon.social. I guess that’s just how the fediverse works, and not a complaint, but just so you know and don’t pull your hair wondering why no one is following you. Check the wordpress dashboard!
Of course, use hashtags! It’s the best way to increase your blogs reach in the fediverse. Whatever hashtag you use will end up as a ‘tag’ and anything you put as a tag will end up a hashtag in the fediverse. I’ve now learned to first check what popular hashtag is there, related to the particular blog post, before filling in the tags. Remember, it’s not cool to use random hashtags just because they are trending, as is common in other social media, for this will lead to your blog being ignored.
Finally, if you are not on the fediverse, I’ll encourage you to join. The easiest entry point is mastodon.social though it’s a large server and it may not give you a proper feel of the fediverse. Once you get familiar with the rules and what goes on, then you can move to a smaller server. But to get the most out of this plugin, you need to be an active user of the fediverse.
That’s it for now. By the way, I make short science fiction films, and I fund them through crowdfunding, so if you have a dollar to spare, do consider becoming a patron at patreon.com/dilstories or you can also buy me ko-fi.