Replying to people on the social web used to be “simple” before #socialMedia, when we used blogs. You would either write:

1. a short reply — directly on someone’s blog post comment form, OR

2. a longer reply — on your own blog, in-reply-to & linking to the other post and send a Pingback, expecting at least the other post’s author to see your reply, or you would also write a short comment in their blog post comment form with a brief summary & link to your longer reply post

Aside: web forums¹ at the time were proto-silos², and replies/threads were generally self-contained therein.

Then social media exploded and eventually everybody was replying everywhere all at once.

This was so burdensome that some even hired social media managers to perform the labor of how (and if) to reply on each silo, and attempt to keep up with every new silo that popped up.

After a few years of this mid-to-late-2000s social web chaos, in the early 2010s many of us went back to option 2. above from the pre-social-media era, and as part of owning our data³, started posting our replies in general on our own #IndieWeb sites:

1. Regardless of brevity or length, we resumed posting peer-to-peer replies on our personal sites (now sent site-to-site with Webmentions), watched destinations retrieve & display our comments, and were pleased that our peer-to-peer comments looked like any other comments (except with permalinks back to our originals).

2. We also started posting replies to tweets, GitHub issues, etc. on our own sites, and automatically POSSE-threading them into their sites of origin.

3. When we wrote site-to-site replies where the original post had itself been syndicated to social media, we did both 1 & 2. This let readers follow the conversation in either place, providing an #IndieWeb record for if/when the social media thread was taken down, or disappeared along with another silo shutdown.

Following this 1,2,3 approach helped conceptually simplify replying on the social web, and worked well except for a couple of interesting ongoing challenges:

* What is the most efficient user interface path from viewing someone else’s post to writing a reply from your own site?

* How should you @-mention someone you are replying to? (and how can our tools write or pre-fill that for us?)

Regarding the latter, on day 14 I wrote a bit about how should we @-mention in general https://tantek.com/2023/014/t4/domain-first-federated-atmention though that was more of a general @-mention exploration.

As a follow-up to day 14, it’s worth looking into @-reply mentions in particular, specifically for each of the above 1,2,3 contexts, analyzing examples of each, and looking for patterns of @-reply mentions best practices that we can document & recommend.

This is day 16 of #100DaysOfIndieWeb #100Days, except I didn’t finish writing it (mostly) til the morning after, and editing later that afternoon.

← Day 15: https://tantek.com/2023/015/t1/publish-indieweb-decide-distribute
→ Day 17: https://tantek.com/2023/018/t1/elevate-indieweb-above-silo

¹ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Internet_forum
² https://indieweb.org/silo
³ https://indieweb.org/own_your_data

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