How is the community supposed to work?

Hi folks, I’m new to WriteFreely and am stuck on how the community (and Fediverse integration is supposed to work.)

From what I see:

  • There is no way to comment on a blog post
  • While I can see WriteFreely posts in Mastodon, replies made in Mastodon are not visible in WriteFreely.
  • While you can mention WriteFreely users in WriteFreely, they don’t get notified.

I love the concept, but I’m really struggling on how you would get a conversation going in WF. I suspect I’m missing a key concept somewhere - can someone help me out?

I’ve had a blog for a veeeery long time (currently on WordPress) and appreciate the ability for passers-by to join the conversation. I think there’s a lot of potential there with ActivityPub integration but I can’t work out how it’s supposed to work from the WF side.

Hey @jgoerzen, happy to answer these questions.

First, I think it’s key to understand that overall, the fediverse integration is primarily a method of distribution. WriteFreely is built more as a focused publishing platform than a social platform, so we deliberately left some features out to start. Then, we defer to the rest of the web to handle the social aspects, from comments to connecting with friends and followers.

Now to answer your points:

We’ve decided to take a different tack with comments, and will be building them into a separate add-on / feature called (see discussion here – I’d love to have your input!). This won’t feature on-the-page “comments” in the classical blog sense, but will instead allow interconnected commenting via blog posts and ActivityPub / Webmentions.

Right now, all interaction is meant to happen on more “social” platforms like Mastodon. So to start conversations, you might mention your Mastodon account from your WriteFreely blog post, as I’ve done at the end of this post, and then get notified and carry on the conversation there.

I know this isn’t a very smooth process or very conventional, but we’re trying to be very deliberate about adding social features, so the product stays focused on its core purpose as a writing and publishing platform.

This is something we hope to address with – it’ll notify you of any replies or mentions.

Let me know if I can help clarify anything else. While we’re doing this in a bit of an opinionated way, we’re continually open to feedback and changing our assumptions based on how people plan to actually use WriteFreely. So please feel free to share if you have any thoughts or criticism!

Hi @matt and thank you for the reply!

Just a bit of background: I currently use Wordpress, but have had a blog since before Wordpress existed. There is a lot that WriteFreely attracts me with - the clean and simple interface, rather than all the heaviness of WP. And of course, federation built in; there are plugins for Wordpress but it is not a fantastic experience there.

So I have always valued comments on blogs, and have persisted with keeping mine open to immediate drive-by comments despie comment spam issues over the years. I have had some good conversations with people in blog comments, both on my blog and others. Most of my readers will have not heard of Mastodon and requiring them to create an account there and figure it out would be quite the hurdle, and I’d get no comments at all.

Your feature list looks very nice.

I will say that the Medium approach - clean, simple, discussion facilitated - had its appeal to me, although the social aspects of Medium did not. (I briefly wrote some articles to post there, and found that to get any meaningful interaction, one has to put a lot of effort into gaining attention. I have no interest in doing that, so I left the platform.) Something Medium-ish but open and federated sounds great.

In my ideal world, WriteFreely posts would show comments on the post page, along with relevant boxes for people to write their own. If someone follows my WF account from Mastodon, they would see my posts, and attached to any given post they would see all the comments - including the drive-by ones - and could reply/comment from Mastodon (and indeed those replies would be shown to non-Mastodon web visitors too). Bifurcating discussions is particularly annoying to me (I wouldn’t want one conversation on WF and another on Mastodon) and is one of my current gripes about my WP setup (I have some limited ability to bring Mastodon comments into WP, but not the reverse).

That would be the Holy Grail of blog comments for me anyhow.

Thanks for what you’re doing!

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