Writing blog posts for ActivityPub

Should ActivityPub posts be written differently from blog posts? That is the question I’m asking myself since posting to the Fediverse with WordPress.

For wee.press I started with the regular settings of the ActivityPub plugin. Turns out that by default the full content is posted, minus some formatting.

Post in Mastodon starting with: This WordPress site uses the ActivityPub plugin …

A couple of things stood out to me:

  • The title of the post wasn’t included. Blog posts have titles, but Mastodon posts don’t. So that makes some kind of sense.
  • People will read posts in an app. Saying “This WordPress site” makes little sense, when it appears on someone’s timeline. Spelling out the site name makes it more clear in other contexts.
  • Full posts are uncommon on Mastodon and similar ActivityPub services.

Luckily, you can customise the output for ActivityPub. I changed it to include the title and a link to the article. Most people will be used to seeing short posts. Personally, I prefer not to see the long posts inside the timeline, because it disrupts the reading flow when scrolling. Also long texts differ too much from typical posts.

ActivityPub settings for: Post-Content, Number of images, Activity-Object-Type, Supported post types

I also added hash tags and hash categories, because this way it can be easier found on Mastodon. I have to admit that it took me a couple of seconds to realise what “hashcats” stands for 😸 The hash tags are plain text, so they support the native functionality in apps. The plugin has the ability to link to the WordPress tag page, but I doubt I will ever use that.

The default for attached images is 3, but I changed that to 1. My posts focus mostly on writing about WordPress and less showing lots of photos or screenshots.

Pages are not that interesting in timelines, so I only enabled posts to get listed.

I still have to look into how WordPress post formats work. In the past this wasn’t very useful to me, so I never used them. But with ActivityPub this functionality might make more sense. I guess I have to read up on how Activity-Object-Types are intended to be used.

It would be nice to have the ability to select the output for each post individually. If I post photos from an event, I probably would want to post all photos. Or occasionally add an extra link or a handle, not just the article URL. How I would like to post, will likely evolve over time, as I get more experienced using ActivityPub.