The future of WordPress is federated

On November 22, 2022, almost freshly landed on Mastodon, and reading the notes from fedi.tips, related to WordPress, I realized the importance of the fediverse.

And it wasn’t just decentralization, or open source, or the feeling of fresh air in the air. It was, above all, the wonderful possibility of not even having to open an account in one of the instances of Mastodon (or another of the fediverse platforms). It was not necessary either create your own instance [in Spanish], hosting it on one of the existing services (such as Masto-host). What was really striking was that you could participate in the decentralized fediverso, and outside the commercial maelstrom, in an absolutely independent way; plain and simple with your blog.

For this reason, right away and as soon as I started at Mastodon, I installed ActivityPub, the plugin that at that time had developed Mattias Pfefferle. and that’s how my blog became a kind of instance of the fediverso.

With the english version of my blog I gave one more twist, using the plugin Friends, achieving the typical functions of a social network (follow, like, boost, etc.). However, your friends must also have the Friends plugin installed. ActivityPub is a little more restricted in terms of functionality but it supports, for the moment and with a very simple configuration, the two basic operations to interact in the fediverse:

  • Follow the federated blog from a fediverse platform (eg Mastodon)
  • Reply to messages. In this case, the responses are displayed in the comments section of the blog.

It’s no surprise, therefore, that Automattic – the company behind WordPress – has come on board as the plugin’s author, alongside Mattias Pfefferle and other developers. I have no doubt that this union will generate notable improvements in the plugin and, consequently, in the WordPress blog federation.

Before that, and although Automattic has not made any official announcement, its CEO, Matt Mullenweg, promised that Tumblr will soon have ActivityPub enabled for interconnection [it is Spanish]. Tumblr is also owned by Automattic and is a very interesting microblogging social network. The ability for both Tumblr and WordPress to communicate with the fediverse is simply exciting.

For that reason, and other reasons, I think that blogging is back.

Another forgotten issue, due to the interest of the centralized platforms in which we have lived abducted for a long time, is that a blog is the place where you can control everything. Hence, the important concept of POSSE (Publish -on your- Own Site, Syndicate Elsewhere) which is the basis of the Indieweb [in Spanish]. When you post to a centralized platform (Medium, Blogger, Substack, LinkedIn, Twitter, or whatever) you relinquish that control and the algorithm dominates you.

Indieweb is an alternative to fediverso and with some WordPress plugins we can also achieve a federated blog. A communication protocol between the fediverso and Indieweb would be great news.

I recommend that you take a look at the plugins developed by David Shanske, an Indieweb enthusiast.

On the other hand, the WordPress community has been very interested -from the first moment- in the fediverso. In a way, the reason is that the WordPress community is -to a large extent- a Twitter community. With everything that has happened around the little bird house, many of us wonder what will happen to the network of WordPress colleagues, experts, developers, designers and vendors that has formed over the 20 years of WordPress.

In that sense, Daniel Auener believe a CSV list (which can be imported into your Mastodon following list) with all accounts, related to the WordPress community, where the account owner has at least one community badge on their WordPress.org profile page. And, recently, he promoted -together with the administrators of four other instances of Mastodon- the survey Toot The Word. This survey is intended to help improve instances of Mastodon related to WordPress and Mastodon as a meeting place for the WordPress community at large. As well as helping the Mastodon WordPress community to understand the needs and challenges of its members.

And finally, I must not end this article without citing the conceptual project OpenPress, sponsored by Mike McAlister of Ollie. OpenPress is a design concept intended to use WordPress as a place to create, share, and consume content for a network of community members.

OpenPress is the future I envision for WordPress, a federated future where you don’t need to “leave” your blog or website to socialize on a decentralized, open, and non-commercial platform.

However, OpenPress is just an idea. And in that initial concept of OpenPress, I deliberately didn’t introduce any specific technology – to make OpenPress work – because there are a dozen different ways to achieve it within WordPress (React, REST API, RSS, ActivityPub, the block editor, etc.). But ideally it would communicate with the fediverso and, if possible, also with Indieweb.

The recent move by Automattic, in favor of the ActivityPub plugin, clears up the main doubt: the interest in the fediverso, on the part of one of the most important agents in the world of WordPress.

It’s time to federate [in Spanish], but with everything described here, I have no doubt that -specifically- the future of WordPress is federated and it won’t be for a long time.


This article was first published, in Spanish, on Blogpocket.com: El futuro de WordPress es federado.

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