I first noticed webmentions in the wild on Hidde de Vries’ blog about two years ago. Last week it finally happened, I added webmention support to my blog too! Well, partial support at least. I'm now receiving and displaying webmentions. Sending them out is a project for another day.
Webmention is a web standard for mentions and conversations across the web, a powerful building block that is used for a growing federated network of comments, likes, reposts, and other rich interactions across the decentralized social web.
Webmentions are a protocol for websites to communicate across each other. What makes the webmention standard interesting is that it's not tied to a single service — it's a protocol. Webmentions can be aggregated from a range of different services from Twitter, to other blogs or even direct comments.
I highly recommend Chris Aldrich's article on A List Apart if you want to dive deeper in the theory about the standards recommendation.
I'm mostly interested in receiving webmentions from Twitter since that's my main source of traffic.
Twitter doesn't send any webmentions themselves. Fortunately there's a service that solves this problem: Bridgy. Whenever a link to my blog is posted on Twitter, Bridgy polls for replies, retweets, and likes to send them as webmentions.
That's just half of the story: the mentions need to be received too. When a webmention is sent, the sender will scan for a specific
link tag on the mentioned page.
<link rel="webmention" href="...">
If it finds one, it will post the mention to the configured URL.
I set up my to receive webmentions on another third party service: Webmention.io.
<link rel="webmention" href="https://webmention.io/sebastiandedeyne.com/webmention" />
Webmention.io stores webmentions on their servers, so I can retrieve them to display on my blog. It also acts as a spam filter. Fake mentions from bots will be filtered out so they won't appear under my posts.
To summarize the flow:
- Someone tweets a link to one of my posts, or interacts with a tweet that contains a links to one of my posts
- Bridgy polls Twitter, and discovers the interaction
- Bridgy posts a webmention to my website
- The webmention is routed to Webmention.io and stored
Displaying webmentions on post pages
Webmentions stored on Webmention.io can be retrieved with a simple API call. For example, to receive mentions for this post:
That's all there is to it! Most of the mentions I'm receiving are from Twitter, but anyone can add comments with a service like comment parade too. Try it out by mentioning this post!