Build your own website and they will (not) come

Create your own website, own your data and display the things you’re into under your domain. When online, be a creator, not a consumer.

I’m all in for this mantra, but this realization stops short of a painful, cold truth; your content is probably going to be ignored. It sucks to keep sharing your content and having no one contribute and add their own opinions / takes to yours. I know because I’ve been doing this for a decade now, ah!

A lonesome tree in the snowy, cold, isolated landscape.
The loneliness of the innovative web creator. Photo by Tania Malréchauffé on Unsplash.

I posed this problem to Sophie Koonin at the closing get-together at Beyond Tellerrand conference in Düsseldorf, and she was kind enough to share some of her ideas on this. She mentioned POSSEing your content (ie, posting it on your own website and then sharing it on all the platforms), mentioned webrings and, but also agreed none of this will guarantee that a continued, healthy conversation will keep happening at your own personal website. Your amazingly quirky content and your exciting ideas are prone to be forever ignored by the wider web.

I’ll link to yours if you link to mine

Lots of the attendees at #BTConf are interested, on top of interesting. Lots of them have personal websites, and are kind enough to link to each other’s websites, given the chance and the right push. So I decided to stir the exchanges a bit, and posted a request for URLs:

A post on the Fediverse client Mastodon by me, stating:"We finished #btconf last night talking about the discoverability of personal websites with @sophie and @nickautomatic.It turns out it's hard to be read, even if you have captivating and original content.Reply to this post with your personal url and I'll link you on my website, Bonus points if you have an RSS feed link.Let's start a @btconf webring!#indieweb"


And with this, personal sites started pinging. And I started listing them on this page. Send me your personal URL (RSS feed included, if you have it), my touch points are here. Or by simply commenting on this post.

Proposal for a man-machine powered protocol

Tantek Çelik was kind enough to hop on the previous Mastodon post and lay out some indie web approaches and technologies that can help discoverability of your content. But this ultimately is a human problem as well, recommendations need to come with social validation lest they effectively be taken into account. Ie, I am much more likely to read / follow / comment someone’s content if I have met this person or if someone recommended them to me. People belonging to a MAFIA will float up much quicker than a new kid on the block trying to get noticed. This happens across industries, because all industries are operated and run by humans.

We need an approach that not only relies on Web Mentions, ActivityPub, POSSIE, etc, but also stems from veterans and well-known (linked) people on the web linking newcomers, or simply someone who hasn’t been able to establish an online presence yet. I am not sure how this would work in practice — this is a call for discussion — but already have a name for it: AIFAM. It’s MAFIA mirrored, meaning it should work as an anti-MAFIA, a selfless and democratizing sharing of influence online. It’s pronounced “Hey, Fam! 👋”.


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