An Alphabet of IndieWeb Building Blocks: Article to Z

on (ttk.me b/4ce1) using BBEdit

Alphabet building blocks ABCDEFG on INDIEWEB

Rather than stake any claim to being the Alphabet, I decided it would be more useful to document an alphabet of the IndieWeb, choosing a primary IndieWeb building block for each letter A-Z, with perhaps a few secondary and additional useful terms.

  1. article posts are what built the blogosphere and a classic indieweb post type. audio posts like podcasts are another post type. Most sites have an archive UI. The authorship algorithm is used by consuming sites and readers.
  2. backfeed is how you reverse syndicate responses on your posts's silo copies back to originals, perhaps using Bridgy, the awesome backfeed as a service proxy. Many indieweb sites publish bookmark posts.
  3. checkin, collection, and comics are indieweb post types. You should have a create UI and a contact page for personal communication. This post uses a custom post style. IndieWebCamp is a commons with a code-of-conduct.
  4. design in the IndieWeb is more important than the plumbing of protocols & formats. The delete protocol uses webmentions and HTTP 410 Gone for decentralized deletions. Consider the disclosure UI pattern.
  5. event, exercise, and edit, are all very useful types of IndieWeb posts for decentralized calendaring, personal quantified self (QS) tracking, and peer-to-peer collaboration.
  6. food posts are also useful for QS. Follow posts can notify an IndieWeb site of a new reader. Use fragmentions to link to particular text in a post or page. Both the facepile UI pattern and file-storage are popular on the IndieWeb.
  7. generations are a model of different successive populations of indieweb users, each helping the next with ever more user-friendly IndieWeb tools & services to broaden adoption, activism, and advocacy.
  8. homepage — everyone should have one on their personal domain, that serves valid HTML, preferably using HTTPS. Come to a Homebrew Website Club meetup (every other Wednesday) and get help setting up your own!
  9. IndieAuth is a key IndieWeb building block, for signing-into the IndieWebCamp wiki & micropub clients. IndieMark & indiewebify.me measure indieweb support. Use invitation posts to invite people to events, and indie-config for webactions.
  10. jam posts are for posting a specific song that you’re currently into, jamming to, listening to repeatedly, etc. The term “jam” was inspired by thisismyjam.com, a site for posting jams, and listening to jams of those you follow.
  11. Known is perhaps the most popular IndieWeb-supporting-by-default content posting/management system (CMS) available both as open source to self-host, and as the Withknown.com hosted service.
  12. like posts can be used to “like” anything on the web, not just posts in silos. Longevity is a key IndieWeb motivator and principle, since silos shutdown for many reasons, breaking permalinks and often deleting your content.
  13. microformats are a simple standard for representing posts, authors, responses etc. to federate content across sites. Micropub is a standard API for posting to the IndieWeb. Marginalia are peer-to-peer responses to parts of posts.
  14. note posts are the simplest and most fundamental IndieWeb post type, you should implement them on your site and own your tweets. Notifications are a stream of mentions of and responses to you and your posts.
  15. ownyourdata is a key indieweb incentive, motivation, rallying cry, and hashtag. The excellent OwnYourGram service can automatically PESOS your Instagram photos to photo posts on your own site via micropub.
  16. posts have permalinks. Use person-tags to tag people in Photos. Use POSSE to reach your friends on silos. PESOS only when you must. Use PubSubHubbub for realtime publishing. IndieWeb principles encourage a plurality of projects.
  17. quotation posts are excerpts of the contents of other posts. The open source Quill posting client guides you through adding micropub support to your site, step-by-step.
  18. reply is perhaps the second most common type of indieweb post, often with the reply-context UI pattern. Use a repost to share the entirety of another post. An integrated reader feature on your site can replace your silo stream reading.
  19. stream posts on your homepage, like notes, photos, and articles, perhaps even your scrobble & sleep posts. Selfdogfood your ideas, design, UX, code before asking others to do so. Support salmentions to help pass SWAT0.
  20. text-first design is a great way to start working on any post type. Use tags to categorize posts, and a tag-reply to tag others’ posts. Use travel posts to record your travel. The timeline page records the evolution of key IndieWeb ideas.
  21. UX is short for user experience, a primary focus of the IndieWeb, and part of our principle of user-centric design before protocols & formats. Good UI (short for user interface) patterns and URL design are part of UX.
  22. video posts are often a challenge to support due to different devices & browsers requiring different video formats. The Vouch extension to Webmention can be used to reduce or even prevent spam.
  23. Webmentions notify sites of responses from other sites. Webactions allow users to respond to posts using their own site. If you use WordPress, install IndieWeb plugins. Woodwind is a nice reader. We encourage wikifying.
  24. XFN is the (increasingly ironically named) XHTML Friends Network, a spec in wide use for identity and authentication with rel=me, and less frequently for other values like contact, acquaintance, friend, etc.
  25. YAGNI is short for "You Aren't Gonna Need It" and one of the best ways the IndieWeb community has found to both simplify, and/or debunk & fight off more complex proposals (often from academics or enterprise architects).
  26. Z time (or Zulu time) is at a zero offset from UTC. Using and storing times in “Z” is a common technique used by indieweb servers and projects to minimize and avoid problems with timezones.


The idea for an A-Z or alphabet of indieweb stuff came to me when I curated the alphabetically ordered lists of IndieWeb in review 2014: Technologies, etc. from the raw list of new non-redirect pages created in 2014.

I realized I was getting pretty close to a whole alphabet of building blocks. In particular the list of Community Resources has 16 of 26 letters all by itself!

Rather than try to figure out how to expand any of those into the whole alphabet, I decided to keep them focused on key things in 2014, and promptly forgot any thoughts of an alphabet.

Monday, since the topic of conversation in nearly every channel was Google renaming itself to “Alphabet”, I figured why not make an actually useful “alphabet” instead, and braindumped the best IndieWeb term or terms that came to mind for each letter A-Z on the IndieWebCamp wiki.

Subsequently I decided the list would look better if the first letters of each of the words served stylistically as list item indicators, wrote a custom post stylesheet to do so, and rewrote the content accordingly. The colors are from my CSS3 trick for a pride rainbow background, with yellow changed to #ffba03 for readability.

Incidentally, this is the first time I've combined the :nth-child(an+b) and ::first-letter selectors to achieve a particular effect: nth-child with a=6 b=1…6 for the colors, and first-letter for the drop-cap, highlighted in that color. View source to see the scoped style element and CSS rules.

Since I wrote up the initial IndieWeb alphabet on the IndieWebCamp wiki which is CC0, this post (and its custom post styling) is also licensed CC0 to allow the same re-usability.

Thanks in particular to Kartik Prabhu for reviewing, providing some better suggestions, and noting a few absences, as well as feedback from Aaron Parecki, Ben Roberts, and Kevin Marks.