What is a federated WordPress blog and how to build one

Updated 03/18/23. Following Automattic’s purchase of the ActivityPub plugin, WordPress.com version blogs are ready to federate.

This article gives the guidelines for creating a federated WordPress blog.

The Fediverso is a set of networks and websites that use the ActivityPub protocol to connect and share content. By connecting a WordPress website to Fediverso, you can allow published content to be shared with other sites on Fediverso. In addition, you can interact with content published on other Fediverso sites from your WordPress website.

This can help increase the visibility of your website and attract new users and visitors. It can also encourage user engagement and create a larger, more connected community around your website. If you are interested in connecting your WordPress website to Fediverso, in this post we help you understand how to do it.

What it is and how to create a WordPress blog connected to Fediverso

A federated WordPress blog is a blog that is connected to other blogging platforms through a network called “Fediverso”. This means that the content of the blog can be shared and viewed on other Fediverso platforms, such as Mastodon, Pleroma or even another WordPress blog.

To build a federated WordPress blog, you will first need to have an account on a Fediverse platform (eg Mastodon) and a WordPress installation on your own server. Then you can use the WordPress plugin called Activity Pub to connect your WordPress blog to your Fediverso account.

Once you have installed and activated the plugin, you will need to configure it with your Fediverso username and password. You can also customize some additional options, such as the type of data that will be published on the Fediverso network (posts, pages, etc.)

Steps to follow to create a federated blog

Let’s see, in a little more detail, the steps to follow to build a federated WordPress blog.

1. Create an account on a Fediverso platform and a WordPress installation on your own web server

To sign up for Mastodon (if you choose that Fediverse platform), follow the keys given in our Quick Start Guide to Mastodon for WordPress Users.

To install WordPress on your own web server, I recommend following this checklist (in spanich) or, if you need more depth, this guide (in spanish).

The blog social.blogpocket.com is a real example of a federated WordPress blog and was created from the “social” subdomain of blogpocket.com, within the GreenGeeks web hosting service (in spanish). The Twenty Twenty-Three block theme was used. It was configured, following the aforementioned checklist, with the aim of achieving a website optimized for performance, security and SEO, in addition to complying with the GDPR, being accessible and sustainable.

Blogpocket.com is also a federated blog and you can follow the user @acambronero@www.blogpocket.com from Mastodon and other Fediverse platforms. At social.blogpocket.com we publish, in English, a selection of blogpocket.com articles.

2. Install and activate the Activity Pub plugin

The plugin Activity Pub It will allow you to connect your WordPress blog to Fediverso. The immediate consequence is that it can be followed from any account on a Fediverso platform, such as Mastodon.

In the example, it will be necessary to follow the user @antonio@social.blogpocket.com. Note that the URL is the one corresponding to the WordPress author file: https://social.blogpocket.com/author/antonio.

3. Configure the plugin with your Fediverso username and password, and customize additional options as needed.

To get the Activity Pub plugin up and running and configure it, follow these instructions: Your WordPress blog as an instance of Mastodon (fediverse) (in spanish).

Now, every time you publish an article or a page on your WordPress blog, a toot will be published on Mastodon that will be seen by all the followers of the account, @antonio (continuing with the example). But, remember that when searching for the user, you must do so using the URL https://social.blogpocket.com/author/antonio.

4. Turn your WordPress into a Fediverse node with the Friends plugin

Friends is a WordPress plugin that allows you to turn your website into a kind of instance of the Fediverse. You will be able to publish statuses and share content with those users who also have the plugin installed on their website.

With the plugin Webmention installed you will also be able to receive and send post warning notifications.

Steps to follow to create a federated WordPress.com blog

ActivityPub automatically allows anyone in a federated network to follow your blog posts, which will appear in your main feed. One of the federated networks is Mastodon, but -as you know- there are others like Pleroma, Peertube, etc.

Responses on those platforms appear in the comments of your WordPress post, allowing you to directly engage with readers across the Fediverse, optimizing engagement and creating a more cohesive online presence.

Additionally, by using ActivityPub for WordPress, you are supporting the open source movement, promoting transparency and collaboration, and empowering users to take control of their online experience and contribute to a more diverse and inclusive Internet landscape.

WordPress.com

Follow the steps below to install ActivityPub on WordPress.com:

  1. From the menu on the left side of your dashboard, navigate to the plugin marketplace and search for “ActivityPub” (a whole word). Alternatively, you can click here and go directly to the plugin page.
  2. Click “Install and Activate.”
  3. Once activated, you can click on “Manage plugin”, which allows you to choose the type of content that will be displayed in the Fediverso feeds. If you’re not ready for that yet, you can always access it later in “Settings.” → “Pub Activity”.

OpenPress

OpenPress is a concept project that could turn a WordPress site into a fully functional Fediverse node for creating, sharing, and consuming content from a network of community members.

Conclusions

While OpenPress is not a reality, at the moment only the ActivityPub plugin gives us the possibility that our website can be followed in the Fediverso (Mastodon, for example), as if it were one more instance. The plugin is under development, so one may miss many features. However, it’s great if you only want your posts to be seen by your community on Mastodon and don’t want to create an account on Mastodon.

Another way is to turn your WordPress into a Fediverse node with the Friends plugin. This requires that your followers also have the Friends plugin installed.

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