To PESOS or to POSSE?

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.

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!

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