Backfeed is the process of syndicating interactions on your POSSE copies back (AKA reverse syndicating) to your original posts.
We POSSE to make it easier for our friends and others to read our posts.
The point of implementing backfeed is to similarly make it easy for those same people to interact with those POSSE copies in a way that makes it back to the original, thus make it easier for you, the author of those original posts on your indieweb site to read their comments, and view other interactions.
You should implement backfeed to:
- Read more comments on your posts: all in one place, indieweb comments, and comments on your POSSE copies.
- See likes & reposts of your posts. Again, by aggregating indieweb likes with likes/favorites of POSSE copies into one place, you can more quickly get an overview of all those reactions.
- Better save comments, likes, reposts. In short: greater longevity of interactions. By copying those interactions to your own post permalink, you save them from numerous silo-content-loss scenarios from malevolent censorship to eventual site-death.
- Have higher quality discussions: get better signal to noise than what some silos allow. E.g. Twitter has no mechanism to delete (or disassociate) comments (@-replies) on your posts (tweets). They only have mute and half-implemented block which hides them from you, however everyone else still sees any abusive or noisy @-replies. You can moderate those as you see fit on your own site, thus improving the comments overall on your posts as compared to what silos allow for.
There are two general approaches to implementing backfeed from silos.
Use a silo API
You can use silo APIs to either be notified about interactions (via webhooks), or poll your POSSE copies for interactions, and incorporate them into your posts. Some APIs have better functionality for this than others.
Specific "how to backfeed" documentation per silo API:
Twitter APIs to use for getting @-replies etc. on Twitter to your Twitter POSSE copies:
- Search for
DOMAIN filter:links with
result_type=recent. See example code here (and continued here). Only returns recent results, but otherwise works ok.
- There's no official way to get replies to a given tweet. If it's not too old, though, you can search for @-mentions of the original tweet's author, then look through the results for any whose
in-reply-to field points to the original tweet. See example code here.
- Otherwise, there's the unreliable, undocumented, unofficial 'related_results' endpoint.
Facebook has a lot of APIs.
- FQL makes this surprisingly easy. For example, here's a query to get all comments on the posts from a given user with links in them:
SELECT post_fbid, time, fromid, username, object_id, text FROM comment
WHERE object_id IN (SELECT link_id FROM link WHERE owner = USER_ID)
ORDER BY time DESC
- And here's the follow-up query to get the URLs of those links (where LINK_IDS is a comma-separated list of the object_ids from the above query):
SELECT link_id, url FROM link WHERE link_id IN (LINK_IDS)
- See example code here. There's also this example code that fetches and processes comments from the posts found by those queries.
- Also the OBJECT_ID/likes and OBJECT_ID/comments connections
- API is sometimes slow. Most backfeed solutions will/should poll in offline processes though, so they won't usually block end user requests.
- Returns extremely unclear failed results for API calls to posts by under-18s
- This is bloody annoying for us minors. It's more "bothersome" than "protecting" -- barnabywalters
- How best to represent external users?
- Facebook URI (not preferable)
- Can we grab their personal URI from their profile?
- Detect comments from originating user?
Flickr has direct APIs for this:
Use a backfeed proxy
Alternatively, you can support receiving webmentions, and then use a proxy that calls silo APIs for you, and sends you webmentions for each silo interaction. E.g.
singpolyma syndicates posts out to Twitter and runs a cronjob that polls the replies/mentions (authenticated) API endpoint to pull in responses. (since ????-??-??)
Ryan uses Bridgy (see below) to backfeed comments, likes, and reposts from the silos to his own site. E.g. see Facebook and Twitter comments here:
brid.gy is a service that sends webmentions for comments/replies, likes, and reposts on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and Instagram posts. It uses original post discovery to find target links for the webmentions. GitHub repo here.
salmon-unofficial is an older, unmaintained alternative to Bridgy that uses the Salmon protocol instead of webmention. It discovers original source sites via LRDD, WebFinger, and XRD, as specified by Salmon. GitHub repo here.
Jetpack Publicize is great, but doesn't yet implement backfeed.
Do these responses belong on your indie page, at the original source of the content? There are storage, legal, data ownership, UX, and other questions.
- Gives people a choice about where to author their replies
- Enhanced UX (debatable depending on service used)
- Ease of use, low barrier of entry. Peter Shaw describes this well, notably the value and intuition of replying at the location source post, which is especially compelling for users who are less technical or willing to spend extra time and effort.
- Meets the majority of users who aren't technical or don't feel strongly where they currently are: in the silos.
- +1 barnabywalters
- +1 Ryan
- Generic, open systems such as pingback are preferable to backfeed from closed silos (although open response systems are another discussion entirely).
- Responders didn't choose to publish at the original source. In rare cases, this could cause legal problems.
- Imposes more overhead.
- May antagonize silos. They often try to prevent this kind of outward syndication of their data. One example (of many).
Also, many silos support private and semi-private posts: Twitter protected accounts, Instagram private accounts, Google+ circles, Facebook posts to just your friends. Replies to those posts are usually limited to the same audience, which means they generally should not be backfed to any publicly visible web page.
These (semi-)private replies could be backfed to a private post that's only visible to the same audience. Private posts aren't very widespread yet, though, especially not POSSEd to the same private audience, so we haven't really seen that in practice yet.
- 2010-02-03 backfeed first described online as a concept in conceptualizing #DiSo 2.0 but called "reverse syndication":
#8 reverse syndication of comments+tags+notes from said specific sites.
- 2010-10-06 POSSE+backfeed conceptual architecture (predating the terms)
Note the arrows to/from the "Personal site" in the middle. Arrows outward are conceptually illustrating POSSE, while those returning, backfeed.