Skip to content

Old comments

The title is slightly misleading – it should read Comments made on this website before I implemented a Github-powered commenting system.

Anyway, here’s every comment made up until that point:

  • Alex on

    Thank you for stating this plainly and clearly.

  • Alice on

    I miss eating at St Lawrence’s, they do good cakes.

    Have you read The Golden Notebook? While I hated the main character because she was so self-absorbed and unsisterly, the quote reminded me of her and her fellow communists. The bits of the book I actually liked were the ones where she was interacting with/talking about other communists and her own relationship with communism, and dealing with the correspondence at a communist publishers’ :)

  • Alice on

    Fixing the accessibility issues with PDFs that were originally intended for print so we don’t break the law is the bane of my life. And now I’m the ‘expert’ (have just done it too many times), everyone asks me for help :(

  • Anna on

    I like initiatives like Stackbit, although I haven’t used it myself (yet). It let’s one create a working JAMstack website with just a few clicks. You basically choose a theme, your SSG and hosting of choice and BAM! It seems like a good step towards making all this more accessible to more people.

  • Anna on

    This should be read by all aspiring designers. I see so many elaborate “UI designs” on Dribbble (and even in production sites!) which, while full of the latest trendy effects, present text in a way that’s almost painful to read!

  • Anna on

    It surprises and infuriates me that so many professionals make this obvious mistake. I wonder, do they never attempt to read the text in their designs?

  • Anna on

    Wow, I wonder if they make candidates take an IQ test 🙄

  • Anna on


    Fairly difficult indeed! If you’ve written about how you implemented comments and search on this site, could you point me to the relevant articles?

    I’m thinking about writing online too and was considering third-party solutions for comments.

  • Anna on

    I bought a smartphone with a monochrome E-Ink screen a couple of years ago. It made me even more aware of how bad visual accessibility on most websites is.

    Link color so similar to the body color that they’re indistinguishable on a monochrome display; text-background contact so low that you can barely tell there’s any text at all; JS-“enhanced” scrolling that looks like serious lag. The list goes on…

  • Brett Coulstock on

    I’m going through your articles and links and enjoying the reading. Thank you.

    You ask: Who Uses HTML?

    I use HTML the way people use markdown: as an open, easy to read, easy to write, plain text format for taking notes, writing articles, etc.

    I find this quite intuitive and easy – partly because I’m an old-school web-developer from days of yore and I have HTML deeply internalised; partly because I use the abbreviated version of HTML noted above; and partly because I use a VIM plugin called Emmet which allows you to construct complex HTML fragments with a basic shorthand.

    The reason why I use HTML instead of markdown is threefold.

    • The first is that simple HTML, written with a little care, is readable as-is, and requires no transformation to see it looking pretty (just open in a browser). Markdown requires pandoc to turn it into something else.
    • The second is that it is a semantically rich language, full of useful tags for expressing document structure and context for words and sentences. I find Markdown really confining.
    • The third reason is that, if I take the care to fill in the basic author/keyword/desc meta-tags I can run scripts over my directories looking for and indexing things. Who cares Search Engines don’t use those tags anymore. I do.

    Possibly they’re not entirely compelling reasons for anyone else to adopt HTML over markdown, but they work for me.

  • Brett Coulstock on

    Linked article no longer exists. However, snagged a copy:

  • Colin Walker on

    According to their CEO in this video they envisage charging business for corporate use (like Slack, Notion, etc. Presumably there will be a lot of collaboration functionality) and possibly a marketplace for ‘boosts’ — where people can create what are effectively plugins which have specific functionality or improve things.

    He says they will never sell user data and the browser will be free to individuals.

  • Colin Walker on

    I hear what you’re saying. And yeah, the coffee cup was annoying XD

    I’ve had Arc for a couple of weeks but only really started using it in the past couple of days. It’s actually pretty good. It’s based on Chromium, so no shocks or surprises there, but it’s what they’re building around it that makes it stand out. Once you get your head around how it works it’s nice to organise be able to organise tabs into spaces. My favourite feature is “Easel” where you can put clips from pages and files into a scrapbook type thing, mark it up, and even have those clips as live content.

    Whether the novelty will wear off I can’t say but it’s fun at the moment.

  • Gary on

    You’ve got me thinking of / remembering Dean Allen’s Textpattern from back in the day – a time before smartphones. It was, I think, only self-hosted. And it’s still going strong – Textpattern.

  • Gary on

    Maybe Metalsmith?

  • Jochen on

    Ich habe Feedbin getestet und es macht einen guten Eindruck. Doch es ist sehr langsam, die Uhr dreht sich endlos. Schade, denn das Geld hätte ich gerne bezahlt. Denn die Filter machen eine gute Arbeit.

  • John on

    I don’t really agree with what you are saying - I find sending an e-mail a really easy way of publishing something. The published article shows up immediately in your hey app and it is a simple matter to edit and save/re-publish any changes.

    Of course, you don’t have to write the article in the hey app - you can write it in any text editor with Markdown capabilities.

  • Keith on

    FromScratch rocks as a true scratchpad - you don’t even have to save the file!

    Notepad++ is solid and a good, free, more capable replacement of Windows Notepad.

    Typora: I agree; the best Markdown editor I have found. Sublime Text is still sublime for HTML, CSS, JS, PHP and pretty much anything else. Word is infuriating but necessary - because everyone else uses it! (Creating custom templates and styles is frustrating and often thoroughly unintuitive, requiring you to do things you would never work out for yourself… thank heavens for internet search.)

  • Leon on


    Thanks for the recommendations. I hadn’t even heard of riseup; looks interesting.

    Yes, I have occasionally considered hosting this site myself (and would be interested in a jointly owned, kind of co-op setup), but email – never!

  • Leon on

    Alternatively: roll webmention comments into site comments. Might be possible: Liquid is pretty forgiving when you splice arrays.

  • Leon on

    OK, this is essntially a logical problem. So many moving parts…

    If I creat a link, the RSS feed outputs the linked-to URL in the `` child, not the post URL on my website. Therefore, won’t have any data to work with as it (presumably) looks to the link to grab the linked-to URL and webmention-specific markup.

    Possible solutions to this particular problem:

    • Link back to my site (but that means readers can only reach links via my site – bit longwinded)
    • Implement a separate replies section (doable, but they’d sit in a separate, possibly unlooked-at part of the site. I think it should be possible to make a normal note or post a like/reply etc.)
    • Implement a separate feed for likes and replies (doable, but yet another feed – concatenate posts, links and notes which have a webmention piece of YAML)
  • Leon on


    Thanks. I used Kirby many years ago and it was great then – there’s also a ton of new stuff, I see.

    I really should grasp the nettle and move to a system that does all this stuff out of the box, rather than force a static site to do things it’s not designed to do. I might then start writing about other things than getting a blog to behave like a blog.

  • Leon on

    Well, I’ve been using Jekyll for 10 years. Back in 2013, speed really was a problem if you were using WordPress on shared hosting, as was having your website hacked to sell viagra or whatever. But yeah, I doubt it’s a problem with a flat file CMS in 2023.

    The other strength is the ease of creating custom data types and fields and outputting them to the front end (on this site, that’ll be notes and links and the associated meta data). You can just add something like link-url: to a Markdown file and it’s available as in a template. But like you say, you can do that in Kirby too, and just keep everything in text files.

  • Leon on

    Morning @Colin,

    Thanks for pointing me to that.

    I dunno. It’s a slick bit of marketing, very “hey dudes, this is cool” but I instintively mistrust tech CEOs in hoodies doing the whole we’re so different thing. We have been here many, many times before.

    So that sounds like, “we’ve got our funding, now we’re figuring out how we’ll make money, but we don’t know”. That’s an interesting approach to starting a business. Consider my eyebrow raised at making money from plugins, and I don’t see companies paying for browsers. Slack facilitates collaboration and communication – I don’t see how browsers do. This is all “hey, just trust us!”

    We may not sell your data, but what happens if Arc is acquired? That seems the most obvious way anyone’s going to make money in lieu of not selling user data.

    To me, Arc is all buzz at the moment; there’s a Tesla feel to it (check out the video comments).

    Are you using it? Is it actually any good?

    Oh yeah, could he not place his coffee cup somewhere else?

  • Leon on

    Morning @Poorchop,

    As I’m sure Manu would agree, you don’t need all the webmentions stuff, but RSS is a must. Jekyll handles all that really well as you just loop through collections and output text that you have full control over.

    Yes, we’ve mentioned this before, I think. HTML with includes would be great. Having said that, it’d be pretty simple to come up with a PHP (or whatever langauge) system that stitched together header, content and footer files, and even handled a few variables.

    Kirby does look very good, though. I like the fact you get a choice of just dealing in text files or in a CMS. For a start, that would make migrating over a process I could do in stages. And I could presumably just integrate my current text files for comments, posts and whatever.

  • Leon on

    Although this note as a response is probably a good argument for why it’d make sense to post and reply in one place…

  • Leon on

    OK, so this is how nuts webmentions can get…

    The above post was sent as a webmention… to Matthias Ott’s website. Not Jessica’s site. This is despite me linking to Jessica’s post before Matthias’ and it being marked up with the correct class u-in-reply-to.

    On another note, if you do go to Matthias’ site, you’ll see I’m mentioned in there… through other people replying to something I must have posted on Mastodon a while back. I even appear to be Shauny at one point 😂

    All I can guess is that the Netlify plugin I’m using looks for the first link in the element with the e-content class 🤷‍♂️. And that webmention implementations are the wild west.

  • Leon on

    Hey Alice!

    I haven’t, but I should.

    I guess another irony could be the dullness and bureacracy of actually being a communist – the endless meetings, as Gornick puts it.

    Yes, there are a few things I miss about Ipswich town centre.

    Cheers for the comment :-)


  • Leon on

    Bane of my life at the moment. They look nice, so people understandably enough want them.

    Are you converting them to HTML? Noble if quite dull work I’d imagine.

  • Leon on

    Hey Poorchop,

    Thanks for leaving a comment too!

    Having a static site makes it hard to go indieweb and move all conversations to your website – no inbuilt, fully featured commenting system (with email updates when you get a reply, for example) and you even have to hack your way around webmentions.

    I’ve really treated this site as a hobby where I try new things rather than a properly featured place where you can have conversations easily.

    I could improve things, though. So I put the comment form back on every page. I could also look at automatically rebuilding the site whenever I get a comment so the commenter doesn’t have to wait for me to approve it. I could also fire a build whenever I get a webmention.

    If I was starting out again I’d probably just use WordPress :-)

    I’m not sure if you’re on That’s a pretty nice social media network that plays well with a website-first approach too. I wrote some bits and pieces on all this, if you’re interested.



  • Leon on

    Thanks, it’s kind of working OK. I pushed another change this morning as I wasn’t handling webmention likes very well. And we’ve managed to have a conversation through various means :-)

    After you use Twitter et al you realise how easy they make it to respond to stuff. Pushing everything through websites is clunky. But having said that it looks like at least one person is subscribing to my RSS feed :-)

    I’m finding is a good place to get discussion going around this sort of stuff, and it’s opening up a bit more.

    Anyway, subscribing to your feed 👍


  • Leon on


    The webmention stuff is pretty good, although back in the day when we were all running WordPress our sites handled trackbacks with no problems at all. It’s quite funny that I’ve had to rebuild all that basic stuff manually – but you’re right, it’s quite satisfying.

  • Leon on

    Great to hear from you, Richard! I think we must have first encountered each other on back in 1934 or whenever – things go full circle.

    If I was starting out I’d probably use self-hosted WordPress – it does all that “homebrew” stuff out of the box really well. I moved to Jekyll (which gives you the Markdown) back in 2015 (again, the horror!), which is great for sites where you just publish essays but leave all the social stuff on Twitter etc. It’s not made for anything more dynamic.

    I wrote about the hobbyist aspect of the indie web “community” – I couldn’t agree more. I’m comfortable in a techie world, but I’d imagine it’s a huge turnoff for most people.

    If I had the time/money/expertise I’d look to develop a blogging system that did self-hosted comments, trackbacks, webmentions etc. while letting you write in Markdown or a simple rich text editor and publish to your own site. One of the things I really dislike about WordPress is the writing experience, and the fusiness of its themes. I’d like something that outputted blogs like Basecamp’s (ahem)

    As for Trump, I assume he’s trying to get webmentions to work on his site as we speak.

  • Leon on

    Yes Leon, it is. There is a per-page parameter you can add to the endpoint query.

  • Leon on

    I do remember Textpattern, and I guess Textile was a pre-cursor of Markdown. The website still has the same white, yellow and black colour scheme.

    Yes, a simpler version of these “traditional” CMSs is probably what I have in mind – Kirby, for example.

    Incidentally, really like your art work and want the Elvis wall in my house. Also hard to disagree with the cheap lager part of the manifesto :-)

  • Leon on

    I suspect this would have been more of a problem back when I wrote this in 2008(!) when screens generally had lot lower DPIs.

    Having said that, you still see Georgia used a lot, Times New Roman hardly at all. The design of Georgia makes it more readable – thicker strokes, bigger x height and its general roundness make it more legible on any screen. It was specifically designed for screens, whereas Times is a print typeface.

  • Leon on

    Yes, it is a shame. It’s obvious why social media took over conversations, even on the indieweb – it’s longwinded posting anything to a website compared to tapping a like or retweet/share icon. And of course, everyone’s already on Twitter and Facebook, or even It would take a monumental effort to wean people off these services (and indieweb is quite upfront about moving to where conversations already are).

    I recently posted some stuff on what a new blogging system might look like, and that ended up going down a rabbit hole of replicating what you posted on Twitter – replies and all – on your site, and vice versa. If I was rewriting the post I’d ditch that idea and simplify things, making it easy to send a like or repost from your site and stopping there.

    I used a lot for a few weeks, and it is just another social media service at the end of the day, with its own unwritten rules and social nuances. In a way, I prefer Twitter, as there’s more variety and humour there, and mb conversations are often about a fairly limited set of subjects (Apple tech, pens and what software you’re using, for the most part). I’m happy enough in that world, but I do miss Twitter’s edge.

    In fact, my objection to Twitter wasn’t the political content per se, more the fact that it encourages addictive behaviour and “shocking”, far right content while flogging all that sensitive data you merrily hand over.

    This has basically got me thinking about the why of posting anything to the internet at all. Fuel for another post, I guess.

  • Leon on

    Well, I have at least managed to POSSE and it’s worked out OK – I get a weird sense of satisfaction of writing every online thing through this website.

    I wanted to get away from Twitter in lockdown as I was in a goldfish bowl of being stuck at home and scrolling through my timeline every 5 minutes. It was nuts. Of course, there’s nothing stopping me doing that with

    (Incidentally, POSSE isn’t that common on, which mildly surprised me. There are a few interesting folk doing it, though.)

    I do feel there’s an important ethical reason for not using Twitter, Facebook etc. (a problem which POSSE doesn’t solve if you’re still pushing as-is updates from your website). But like you say, most of the world is still on Twitter, and will probably remain so 🤷🏻‍♂️, regardless of how easy it is to set up a website.

    (Yes, WordPress would need to adopt webmention in its core. Would probably be a smart move?)

    I came across this post on how we rather than social media broke the web, which I thought was pretty relevant:

    I’d argue that it’s easier than ever to make a personal website. The amount of resources out there are staggering. And yet, people are not spending an afternoon setting up a personal site. They sign up to the next social platform instead.


    As a result of that, you have to be proactive if you want people to see your content. You have to interact with other communities out there, you have to reach out to people, and all this takes time and effort.

    When I say the why of writing I don’t quite mean what’s the point? For me, it’s enjoyable, makes me think and is a form of therapy – I’d do it with no readers (and probably often do). It’s more about what’s our motive when we’re trying to get read, and your comment It’s not possible to write honestly without running the risk of facing some serious consequences struck me as very true. Not in the sense that I’m some sort of right wing nutjob (quite the opposite), but that I have a job to hold down.

    This is good on the weird online selves we create, and what we try to achieve through them. Could be interesting to explore when what you’re writing is a little read blog.

    Anyway, apologies for rambling. I find this stuff interesting. Comments are another form of writing.

  • Leon on

    Yes, there was an apparent golden age of print advertising:

    !1960S ad for a mustang car

    (Although the nostalgia may add to our appreciation of these.)

    Ads work better in print for the reasons you state, and I’d like to explore them in a post. There’s something about intrusion, control and even etiquette – inserting an ad into a web page is just plain rude (especially on a mobile), but is generally OK in a newspaper.

    There have been online attempts to make less rude, “tasteful” advertising, but these have failed. The Deck was a kind of artisinal advertising network for trendy sites.

    Jeremy’s idea for contextual advertising is more ethical than surveillance advertising (and is basically how Google search ads work, I think), but you still have the problem of inserting ads somewhere on a web page without annoying the reader, or misleading them by not displaying them as adverts. I know Google makes zillions of dollars a year from search ads, but I’m not really convinced they actually work that well.

    Maybe in an ideal world the only online advertising we’d have is the up front, classified site such as Craigslist. But I think that only really works when you have a very specific requirement (I need to find a plumber, a second hand sofa etc.) You wouldn’t get Nike advertising on Craigslist.

    In a way, the web itself is one huge advertising network…

    So how would Nike advertise its trainers online? I guess advertising could have moved from the product supplier to the user, via review sites, blogs and social media, or to high profile users. Get someone like Ronaldo to do something on Instagram. (My idea for a post begins to breakdown here 😃).

  • Leon on

    I guess I need to become a writer in order to start using Obsidian :-)

    I like the idea of notes taking on a life of their own.

  • Leon on

    @poorchop or perhaps I need to go back to university in order to use Obsidian. I’d be happy with that.

    Yeah, all depends on what you’re writing, and your way of thinking. I do have a propensity to scoot over those bits of a blog post that require a bit more explanation or thought – concentrating on the structure makes that harder.

  • Leon on

    Absolutely. View page source is a link between “real”, proper HTML and the reader.

    I didn’t realise Safari had the option at all. Unsurprising I guess as it seems to want to hide absolutely every bit of UI from the user.

  • Leon on


    Thanks for your comment. Stackbit looks very interesting – if I was building a site for someone I like the idea of them being able to edit the page itself rather than use forms in a back end. This kind of relates to my post on how WordPress’s Gutenberg approaches editing.

    I could build in the webmention and replies stuff, although (as you can probably tell), static sites (Jekyll, in my case) and comments are fairly difficult to get working together particularly fluently.

  • Leon on

    Oh, I do like them a lot! It is very cool being able to write a full-fledged response to a post and see it show up on that very post.

    (Although I have found I have to truncate inbound replies as the full post can look odd, especially when you strip it of HTML.)

    I did find a conversation conducted in this way was (charmingly, in a way) difficult, but I suppose that’s a feature, not a bug – it’s a bit more considered. This is the point Manu et al were making in the original post.

    I’ve seen a few indieweb sites with Replies pages, and not really got it, but your likening of them to self-hosted bookmarks makes a lot of sense, so I may add one. I already have a Links page, which is a sort of likes.

    Cheers for the comment as ever!

  • Leon on


    Unfortunately, I haven’t, mainly because it would take me days to write :-)

    The basic set up is:

    • I’m hosted on Netlify, so use the forms feature for that (I think you get 100 free submissions a month)
    • When a form is submitted I get an automated email
    • Netlify works with Zapier, which can listen for a form submission
    • Zapier sends the form submitter an email saying it’s been received
    • Zapier then adds the form entry to an [Airtable][] table
    • I use the jekyll-get-json plugin to read comments from my Airtable table’s API
    • Whenever the site is built the new comments are added
    • There’s some code that makes sure comments are assigned to the right post

    It’s pretty complicated, but I fancied the challenge and don’t want to use a third party like Disqus.

    If I was starting out I’d probably go back to WordPress. It does all this stuff out of the box.

    You should definitely start blogging, though, comments or not!

  • Leon on


    I hadn’t considered that, to be honest.

    In my experience, webp shaves a lot off image sizes, especially jpgs. If a webp image wasn’t smaller and/or had lost too much quality, I wouldn’t use it 🤷🏻‍♂️

    Yes, it is true you can’t edit webp much in MacOS’s Preview, for example. Is that due to Preview or the format, though?

    I’ve also noticed it coming up a lot more in image searches. I guess that’s due increased adoption. In this case, is it problematic that Google came up with the format? It’s not proprietary in any sense, is it?

  • Leon on

    Yes. I do get the attraction of the retro-feel of these sites, and that’s all OK on Neocities. In a way it demonstrates how web design has matured – it has a history and an ironic way of interpreting that history.

    But as you say, the reasons for why things looked like that back then – immature CSS, undeveloped typography, a more wild west feel – have either passed or are laughable for an organisation such as Yale to wear. And for an expensive agency to be able to peddle this nonsense – well, what a racket.

  • Leon on

    Yes, I think the article I link to overstates the problem, and pinpointing a quarter where the knowledge was lost is odd.

    However, I do think there’s something in it. I have two teenage children, and they really don’t bother with the whole concept of folders and files except when they have to. They do work on Word documents, PowerPoint presentations etc., but they’ll either save them on the desktop or straight into their Onedrive folder. To find them, they’ll simply open Word or, if they’re starting from the Office 365 website, use the “Recent documents” list.

    I’m a bit wary of coming across as a grumpy old man. This could just be the new way of things. I edited my post to reflect the fact that suggestions are actually very good sometimes.

  • Leon on


    As long as you can make connections across folders then it doesn’t really matter, and if the folders help you organise your notes then that’s all to the good. I guess your own structure sits on top of whatever work Obsidian does.

    I’m not a great folder organiser, as my work colleagues would probably attest. I have a few sub-folders in my Mac’s Documents folder, but generally I just search.

    The only email folders I have are inbox, deleted and archive. I use flags to indicate I need to do something with an email and then just try and get it out of the inbox.

    I don’t really have a great need for any folders, to be honest.

  • Leon on


    The web needs a big, visible, independent, not-for-profit browser, and it’s almost impossible to imagine a new one emerging – Firefox’s roots go way back, I think, to Netscape Navigator. (As an aside, I can remember using Phoenix v 0.4, which might well have been in the last millenium!)

    It’s depressing enough that its market share continues to plummet. I actually really like it as a browser and, like you say, seeing the web without uBlock Origin is terrifying. I even like Pocket (although I get your point about it being foisted on users).

    What’ll happen to Firefox? This article is great on what Mozilla is and its future:

    In the end it’s possible and perhaps most likely that the Mozilla Corporation will continue down its present path, trying a variety of new business opportunities without any of them being a runaway success, drawing upon a steadily declining revenue stream, and slowly contracting the organization over time. In ten years it’s possible that the Mozilla Corporation may be just a memory, with the Mozilla Foundation surviving as a modestly-funded advocacy organization.

    In other words, those corporate mega salaries will no longer be affordable.

  • Leon on

    I think I’ll keep comments whatever 😃 like I say, just an urge I get every now and again.

  • Leon on

    Nah, Jennifer’s a great song for me; Faust doing their part-sunshine pop, part experimental thing at the same time. Like you say, the bass fantastic.

    I just cannot get a copy of the 1971-74 box set :-(

  • Leon on

    Hey Sveinbjorn,

    Thanks for your comment.

    That’s interesting. So as well as speed and comfort we also need to think about accessibility. My feeling is that wide lines make reading more difficult in several ways.

    Can I ask a question? At the time of writing I’m using a really large font size. Although there are only 10-12 words per line, it’s 760 pixels wide. Does this make “whole line parsing” diffcult? Would using a smaller font size make my site easier to read?


  • Leon on


    Yes, it depends what you’re reading/writing, I think.

    For example, if we’re writing a page about how to sign up for a library card at work, that really should be chunked up (to use a fairly ugly phrase) as the reader just wants to know how to do something. We broadly follow a tabloid style of one sentence/short idea per paragraph.

    If I’m writing an article about how wide lines should be on a screen, that’ll be different, although I might bear in mind more casual readers who will just scan to get a sense of what I’m writing about. It can depend on how confident I am that the subject’s of interest.

    Whatever style I’m writing I’m erring toward shorter lines at the moment (not shorter paragraphs). But if I was going to experiment with longer lines, it would be with more “academic” texts.

  • Leon on

    Ah, well, I don’t need [[WikiLinks]] – one of the reasons I like Typora is because it gets the balance of features and “minimalism” right.

    Would you use it to write a book, out of interest?

  • Leon on


    Yes. Actually I hadn’t thought about an official, properly barebones theme, but that is a good idea.

    I find the Genesis framework the best for child themes, and I’m toying with Underscores at the moment for this site as it is as configurable as you can get, I think. (It’s not really a parent theme – you’re meant to hack at it.)

    There’s a disconnect between the quality of UI and how pretty/feature-filled WP themes are. This is most evident in navigation where virtually every theme handles navigation on a mobile by hiding it behind a hamburger. The problem with that is i) on 95% of sites you can easily display full navigation menus on a narrow screen ii) it’s not the best way to deal with more complex navigation in a limited space anyway. And when you have a hamburger you need javascript and markup that the javascript toggles, which is a pain to manage in a child theme.

    As for the block editor, I install a plugin to turn it off. To me, it’s only useful on sites where you’re building pages with various components, not text-based blogs. There’s a fork of WordPress which doesn’t use it.

  • Leon on


    I think the main reason for WordPress’s popularity is plugins. Even on a simple “indieweb” blog that could be important – there’s a webmention plugin, for example. The insecurity comes from its popularity, perhaps, rather than anything inherent?

    Like you say, it’s also a good web citizen, with its extensive range of RSS feeds (by category, tag and pretty much any other archive page) and comments.

    Quite a few better (IMO) CMSs out there, though. We use Statamic at work, and I’ve used Kirby, which is elegant. WordPress feels opaque and obtuse in comparison.

    RSS alive and well round here :-)

  • Leon on

    Ha! Now this is the way to do social gaming :-)

    Shame it’s about to come to an end…

  • Leon on


    I guess the problem with abstractions is twofold. Firstly, without knowlededge of the underlying language, grammar etc. you become tied into whichever abstraction you choose.

    In my case, I think it’s fairly low key and low stakes (jQuery, Markdown, Tachyons, Jekyll and – by extension – SASS), but then again, all I’m building is a blog (with next to zero javascript), and my knowledge of HTML and CSS is OK.

    If Jekyll and Markdown disappeared I could just handcraft these pages and, if I was staring from scratch, I’d not use Tachyons or SASS, partly because CSS itself has developed with custom properties.

    (Linked to this is the ability to evaluate and learn new abstractions; if you know the underlying language you can make those judgements a lot more confidently, I think).

    Markdown is useful, but not quite as much as I thought it would be. For me writing this blog, yes; no matter how much your text editor helps, I’d be surprised if it was as easy as using ##, ** etc. But at work the website editors just use the WYSIWYG editor the CMS provides, even though they have the option of using Markdown.

    Is the other main problem fragility? I think my set up is fairly simple and robust, but then I look at Jekyll’s dependencies and that list of technologies above… I dread to think how stressful some build chains must be when based on, say, NPM.

    I have a different perspective on apps versus web. I suspect my only lasting contribution to the technological world will be this library self-service system, a progressive web app (built on React). From a cost and maintenance point of view choosing to develop a website is great – one codebase, device and OS agnosticism – and it’s possible to create good UI with HTML and CSS.

    Is the problem here with moving the heavy data lifting and manipulation to the browser from the server; i.e. reaching beyond the browser’s original prupose of simply displaying the HTML it’s been sent? I guess this is what Hotwire is trying to solve. I have to admit, I don’t build technical enough things to make a proper judgement – presumably, there are good, solid reasons for creating complex apps in the browser.

    Your final comment put me in mind of this article on creating a computer that will last 50 years. Publishing a blog like this should be possible on the set up I had back in 2004.

  • Leon on

    Thanks @richard. Raindrop looks pretty good.

    It’s a shame, though, as I’ve been using Pocket for years and really like it. Their reader mode looks a bit better than Raindrop’s too.

  • Leon on


    You mentioning Wallabag inspired me to get it installed. I bought a URL and £4.99/month shared hosting, and it appears to work. It bumpily imported 800-odd Pocket bookmarks successfully, and I’ve got it working on my iPhone and via a Firefox extension. It’s great (so far, it’s cheap hosting…) so thanks for that 👍

  • Leon on

    Guten Morgen, @Jochen.

    It’s definitely been slow this week, although generally it’s been quick. Hopefully, it’s just a temporary problem.

  • Leon on


    Yeah, the Markdown block(?) is useful as it breaks out of all the other ultra-regimented groups, layouts and blocks and whatever.

    My problem is that a visual editor should make it easy to, erm, visually edit pages, but it’s really awkward and frustrating to even select things accurately.

    Like you say, having dozens of different options doesn’t help.

  • Leon on

    I do love the idea of Twitter taking someone to court for using the blockquote element.

  • Leon on

    Yes, although if Samsung thinks I’d be into GB News it’s misreading my politics. I expect (hope?) the channel has simply bought the advertising slot on the TV.

    I was reading somewhere recently just how impossible it is to buy a “dumb” TV that didn’t require a login. Even if you could, I guess you can’t use Netflix et al without the internet, so even if the manufacturer isn’t collecting data, the various services will be 🤷🏻‍♂️

    Don’t they end up bricking your device if you don’t get it updated?

    I have a fairly strict no IoT devices policy; even when I was given a free Google Home device (or whatever it’s called) when I bought a phone a few years back I gave it away.

    There may be a relatively woodsman approach here in the UK which involved buying a dumb TV and just using the BBC’s iPlayer…

  • Leon on

    Thanks @poorchop,

    Yes, it’s difficult. I ended up reinstalling Macos and got Jekyll working again, so the immediate problem is fixed.

    I feel Jekyll itself is stable enough to be relied on, although it’s possible 4.2.2 will be the last version. The risk then is that its own dependencies start failing.

    There would have been a time when moving to a new CMS would have been an exciting challenge. Now I really can’t be bothered with the effort it’ll involve. I’ve just started a new job, which will take a lot of my energy.

    For that reason I am erring to WordPress. I don’t like it a huge amount, but it’ll do everything I need it to and I can get posts into it by using a plugin. The other options – including those you helpfully suggested – probably involve too much work.

    Props for rolling your own comments system :-)

  • Leon on

    (Also @poorchop, thanks for pointing me to SDF – it looks interesting.)

  • Leon on

    Thanks @Gary,

    Looks good, but I think I want to get away from worrying about dependencies to build the core system – NPM in this instance.

  • Leon on


    Thanks. I have looked at Blot. I really like the idea of these folder/file to website services (and toyed with DropPages many years ago); having Git integration makes it even better.

    Blot’s templating seems easy and flexible. In a lot of ways it’s ideal. I guess a concern would be it’s tied to the Blot service remaining up and running; there’s no self-hosted version as far as I’m aware.

  • Leon on


    We do actually have Notepad++ at work, but I don’t get to do any coding. I don’t even get to install anything on my work laptop :-(

  • Leon on


    Yes, and even work “web” writing is rarely one sentence a paragraph; more one idea, or simply splitting longer threads into shorter chunks.

    I think it can be quite an interesting form, especially paired with imagery – as it is in the Robin Rendle post I link to (and he uses the odd two sentence paragraph).

    Enjoyed the single word paragraph at the end of your Godin review.

  • Leon on
    1. Use text sparingly. Are card blurbs read at all? Is an image link pattern sufficient?
  • Leon on


    That’s great if my post helped. It’s not quite as straightforward as I make it seem; you’d need to look through the Github code and figure some stuff out, but yours is looking good:

    Richard’s feed 📡

  • Leon on


    Thanks for the comment, as ever. I doubt the royal family in any sense pays for itself, and it’d be easy to envisage a European style, lightweight monarchy that still brought the dollars and yen into Buckingham palace. Or even no monarchy at all: Versailles pulls in the punters.

    That doesn’t really bother me, though. It’s more we have to perform these mendacious, deferential rituals to prop up an aristocracy that is very modern in its moneymaking, at a time when the UK just doesn’t work any more. This should be a time of radicalism, not conservatism.

    Still, yes, I hadn’t considered that ER’s death simply represented change and the passing of time. We never thought Mark would die either :-)

  • Leon on

    @poorchop Thanks! I’ll take a look at this as I was fond of my Wallabag set-up. I use the Libra 2 (recommended, BTW) and that has Pocket built into it. I’m a bit wary of sideloading, and the Wallabag app seemed a bit hot and miss.

  • Leon on

    Well, you’ve got one reader :-)

    I guess a lot of this depends on what you’re interested in when you build your site: rolling your own comments, handcrafting HTML etc. versus some vague notion of minimalism.

    I think I’ve reached a state where this site is as minimal as possible while remaining readable and (hopefully) easy to use. In a sense, it’s a demonstration of what I think decent blog/web design is.

    But I have had this notion of chickenshit minimalism on my mind for a while and your comment has also got me thinking: why not go the other way and, while I don’t think I’m quite capable of Japanese maximalism, design something really information dense? I’ve got around 600 posts, links and notes here, so there’s enough content. While keeping it scannable and readable…

    It’ll take a bit of work, but I’ve got a couple of weeks leave coming up…

  • Leon on


    Thanks for the comment.

    Interesting point about internalising HTML. I think I’m the same, especially when it comes to writing it the “verbose” way – I still find it difficult not to close ps, for example.

    I agree with your points. For anything beyond simple paragraphs, lists and headings, I’ll normally just use HTML, and with stuff like blockquote I’ll end up adding a cite as there’s no Markdown equivalent.

    But I think Markdown took off because it is so easy to train yourself to use ##, _ and > reflexively, and hitting return twice beats typing a p tag for me. It’s like typing a formatted text file.

    I’m using templates, so adding meta data’s easy, and I do like the idea of using meta and storing usable data in your HTML instead of using, say, YAML. (Incidentally, description is useful for search engines.)

    As for @Poorchop’s point, I would probably handcode HTML if it had includes, especially if you could pass variables through them. Variables and HTML meta data would be awesome. Because he’s right: keeping tooling up-to-date can be a PITA. But the thought of not being able to update repeated HTML in one place fills me with horror 😁, although I guess it’s possible through some command line wizardry.

  • Leon on


    Yes, that’s a good point. The problem is that by just inverting colours in dark mode we assume we can retain the same comfortable contrast as light mode (if indeed that is comfortable).

    At the moment in light mode I have a white background which inverts to black (#000), and a dark grey foreground (#333 which inverts to #ccc), so I’m light grey on black rather than white on black.

    This feels OK to me, but harsher than what I had before when I was setting dark mode colours rather than simply inverting them. I guess the solution is to tone down the background colour in light mode as well.

  • Leon on

    This is testing whether the confirmation email arrives and then whether the email address is truncated.

  • Leon on

    The tradition around these parts is to test whatever comments system we’ve rigged up by replying to this post.

  • Leon on

    A quick test.

  • Leon on


    It’s pretty rare. Partly because setting this stuff up is still a pain: I’m still not sure whether I’m sending webmentions properly, although I know I can receive them.

    Still, if you forget the technology, I think there’s some life in the asynchronous online conversation yet: I do get the odd BTL comment, and I occasionally stumble across a post with lots of responses. I even get the occasional email. If someone replies on their own site there’s a decent chance you’ll find out, however indirectly.

    Twitter dying a death may well breath some life into the comment. I don’t think people will simply replace it with, say, Mastodon.

  • Leon on


    Yes, it’s a tricky one. I think it’s true to say that once you publish something online you probably have to accept that you’re not going to retain control of it.

    But that’s quite passive if you’re the person wresting control of the comment from its author: my intent may be different from, say, the person screenshotting a tweet, but I’m still taking it without explicit permission.

    I’m quite attached to webmentons on this website, not so much because of the social signalling (I get at most a handful), but because I managed to implement the damn things. But that’s not a reason in and of itself to keep them.

  • Leon on


    Thanks. I could look at setting up a webmention endpoint, but like you say that’s a fair bit of work and something else to manage.

    I did have quite a lot of joy with Welcomments, the third party post-comments-to-your-repo servic, but that suddenly stopped working, which just gave me another reason to go for something a bit more established. There are quite a few headless forms services out there, but again, another dependency and API to wrangle (and cost).

    Yeah, that’s my main WordPress concern, even for a low-traffic site. I’ve used Fused in the past, and they were very solid and did, on the one occasion a client site got hacked (not my fault, incidentally), sort out any problems I had. But $30/month is a lot.

  • Leon A Paternoster on

    Test comment at 22:53

  • Manu on

    What you’re after can easily be achieved with which is what I use to power my personal site for example.

    Doesn’t rely on 3rd party services (unless you count hosting and domain as a service) and can be used as a headless cms if you want to go down that way.

    But it also has a very simple admin interface you can use if you want to use it to write markdown.

    Or you can just create folders and .md files and keep everything in sync with auto deploy through github.

    That’s up to you.

  • Manu on

    It has improved a lot in the past few years. A lot more flexible and powerful.

    Also, I don’t personally see the appeal of a static site generator when you have to go through a 3rd party middle man of some sorts.

    Unless you have a setup that lets you publish directly on a server you own, I don’t really see the benefits.

    Some say speed but honestly, my current setup so a filed based cms with cache on an inexpensive VPS running nginx loads in 950ms with a server located in NYC and tested from Australia. So that’s the absolute worst case.

    And most of that time is just light running through cables across the globe.

    Kirby also very recently (a few days ago) released a new cache plugin that generates essentially static pages of your site.

    So defintiely give it a try if you’re in the market for a replacement cms. I speak just as a happy user of the product. It powers my site, it powers my side projects and I used it for almost 50 client sites at this point and I personally couldn’t be happier.

  • Mitch on

    What about something like Blot or Kirby seems like an interesting choice without the heaviness of full-on WordPress.

  • Mr L A Paternoster on

    Test comment at 22:31

  • Nils on

    Yay RSS!

  • Poorchop on

    I have heard good things about Snott’s recommendation (Migadu) and Migadu’s 20 out/day limit for the lowest tier seems a bit rough though.

    Riseup provides a good service and they’re supported by donations so they don’t rely on selling user data. They’re kind of political though.

    I’d love to self-host but it looks like a nightmare to set up. I don’t understand why e-mail of all things is one of the hardest things to self-host and maintain.

  • Poorchop on

    Situations like this are why I elected to just write plain HTML. Eventually, developers will pull the plug on your authoring tools or even the static site generator itself. For those who can’t bear the sight of an HTML tag, there are tools like Pandoc that afford us the option of writing in Markdown or working in a variety of other file formats. If Pandoc were to suddenly disappear, you can still fall back to plain HTML without suffering too much of a hiccup in your authoring process.

    That being said, working in HTML or manually managing most of your site can be quite a pain if you want all the fancy bells and whistles to make your site “indieweb compatible.” The build process in static site generators seems extremely convenient for managing full text RSS feeds and automating several tasks that I have to do manually, like sending mentions.

  • Poorchop on

    I think it’s fair to have comments disabled for certain posts—I just couldn’t find them on any of your posts although I probably didn’t dig hard enough. I’m not big into commenting but I’ve been trying to do it more recently to let people know that they have readers out there, and sometimes I do enjoy a good discussion. I’m not on any social media so I like having a more accessible way of communicating, and sometimes it’s preferable to e-mail. Maybe you’re right though. I’m likely in the minority and most actual discussion does happen on social media.

  • Poorchop on

    You have a pretty good thing going here I think. Most sites with commenting enabled seem to require moderator approval—that’s expected due to spam. Same for Webmention. Automatically updating the site with every new comment and mention seems risky. These things are definitely tougher with a static site but it’s more rewarding when you get these features working. I’m slowly trying to find ways around these limitations myself.

    I have heard about It seems cool but I don’t think that it’s for me, at least not at the moment. I have been enjoying sending mentions so thanks for inadvertently getting me to start working on a system for sending them.

  • Poorchop on

    Even the biggest websites in the world consist predominantly of lurkers with commenters constituting only a small portion of the user base. Even if people aren’t commenting, they might still be reading. I kind of regret commenting on the blogs that I have been finding over the past several months but I just wanted to let people know that they had at least one reader out there, and having the option of leaving a comment is great even if the feature goes unused. I miss when people hosted their own content and I didn’t want to see people give up and go back to centralized social media. I’m glad that we were able to exchange ideas though and I have been having some fun with the different avenues of conversation, especially Webmention since the novelty hasn’t worn off yet.

  • Poorchop on

    Is this still applicable or was this a discrepancy noticeable on lower DPI monitors? I don’t remember Times New Roman ever looking that bad.

  • Poorchop on

    I kind of had this post in the back of my mind while I was setting up mentions. Hopping around various indieweb sites, it became clear that webmentions were serving solely as a means for mirroring social media interactions. It’s kind of a downer to see likes and replies on a post only to find out that they all link back to Twitter, Facebook, or some other social media site.

    Webmention provides the ability to be social without relying on social media, but it doesn’t look like it’s ever going to be used in that capacity. While sites/projects like Mastodon and are neat, they just seem like Twitter with more tech-oriented users who are equally as political and opinionated. I still like the concept of webmentions but I think that your fears have already been fully realized—the indieweb really is just a very niche corner of the web and it seems to be heavily intertwined with the services that it sought to avoid.

  • Poorchop on

    In addition to the ownership problem that you had mentioned, the other issue with POSSE is the reality of it: it’s more like publish on social media, follow up on social media, and mirror social media to your website. There are a bunch of people posting on their personal sites before syndicating elsewhere to be fair, but social media is the dominant force overall.

    When I read your post initially, I didn’t think that we should feel inclined to make things as easy and as simple as social media. If you wanted an online presence in the early days of the web, you had to take time to understand HTML at the very least. The web seemed better off for it because it took at least a little effort and people willing to put in that effort generally had interesting things to day. It’s a stark contrast from Twitter users who just want to snap some candid shots in order to feel the rush of being flooded with thousands of likes, replies, and so forth.

    Then again, not accommodating that sort of person is a surefire way to ensure that things like Webmention never see much use. Additionally, even those people who were taking the time to learn HTML 20+ years ago seemed to have fully embraced social media with no intention of going back. I actually think that Webmention’s best chance for more widespread adoption at this point is default integration into WordPress since I think that this is why pingbacks/trackbacks ever saw any use. That’s probably never going to happen though and I could be wrong about that changing anything anyway.

    This has basically got me thinking about the why of posting anything to the internet at all. Fuel for another post, I guess.

    I think about this from time to time and I’m not sure why I bother doing it. I initially enjoyed writing about certain issues that were important to me at those moments and I thought that publishing my thoughts where they are visible to the world would keep me honest and my writing clear. The opposite holds true however. It’s not possible to write honestly without running the risk of facing some serious consequences. However, I also kind of just like to document things for myself and collecting things in a place where the notes might potentially benefit others down the line seems like a good idea. Aside from writing, I have enjoyed messing around with HTML, CSS, and the backend itself.

  • Poorchop on

    I once came across a good post about how ads used to not be so disagreeable, although I can’t remember where I read it or if I have it bookmarked. The author had mentioned almost taking pleasure in seeing some of the more creative ads in newspapers and in magazines. They didn’t try to disguise themselves and they were easily avoided—he could simply not look at them or just flip to the next page. No flashing lights, no popups, no tracking or data mining. The ads might have been competing for his attention but they weren’t inhibiting him from reading the main content of the periodical.

    Before the web, some ads actually seemed useful. They might have increased awareness of an actually useful product that you wouldn’t have otherwise discovered. There’s no going back though. If there’s an opportunity to increase sales even if it means exploiting people, someone somewhere will cease it.

  • Poorchop on

    I’ve thought about using Obsidian in the past but I settled on DokuWiki for the time being. I’m not a writer but being old and getting back into academia meant needing to employ a lot of different tools to keep up with the younger people running circles around me. Easy hyperlinks and backlinks became essential for memorizing and consolidating mountains of information.

    Sometimes it’s useful to dump your thoughts onto the page before trying to structure them better, sometimes you might want to start with a scaffold. You can switch between the scaffold and your draft at any time.

    I have never been into the idea of creating outlines before writing an essay but I sometimes take this approach. After jumping into a topic, I might get a few good ideas and I’ll make some bullet points below the last paragraph and then reorder them or scrap them altogether. I have recently tried to create outlines for articles that I’ve written for fun and oddly enough, the writing ended up being sloppier and worse compared to stuff where I just dove straight in.

  • Poorchop on

    I agree with everything that you wrote here. I use this feature constantly, which means that Mozilla will probably remove it from Firefox soon enough. I think that trying to view a page’s source in Safari opens up the dev tools, and it’s just not the same.

    I’m generally pretty particular about how I format my HTML and I write it under the assumption that someone might some day actually look at the source. I like using this feature to look at the source of other pages for all of the reasons that you mentioned. It’s also really nice to have a context menu option that opens a new tab where I can quickly do a ctrl+F for rss, xml, atom, or feed in order to locate the RSS feed address since more often than not, people don’t include the link anywhere on the page and web browser developers took the liberty of removing the feed discovery icon from browsers years ago.

  • Poorchop on

    I guess that I’m in the minority but I really like the idea of Webmention replies. Being able to essentially comment on another person’s note or blog post from your own site is such a novel and neat concept. The other replies to your posts also highlight one of the most important benefits yielded from this system — building a network that allows other people visiting your site to discover other interesting people. The WordPress guys were truly onto something when they implemented Pingbacks.

    I’d like to think that likes and bookmarks also have more meaning than a like or a retweet on social media. It takes more effort for me to send a like notification so in my mind, they have more weight behind them. It also complements Webmention replies as a public bookmarking system akin to Shaarli or Pinboard. Unlike Pinboard, you can also inject your personality into your personal collection of Webmention replies by styling and displaying them as you please.

  • Poorchop on

    A while back, I got nostalgic for old web design (or lack thereof) until I removed the rose-colored glasses and realized that it wasn’t always that great. It worked during the time that mostly everyone had small monitors and 800x600 or 1024x768 resolutions, but long lines of text demarcated only by sporadic horizontal rules don’t work well on wider screens. What I really missed was the personality oozing out of those sites, but we don’t need to re-implement some of the more jarring aspects in order to distinguish ourselves.

    I think that a lot of these sorts of sites, especially the ones you see on Neocities, are made by younger people who never actually lived through this era of the web. Maybe they caught the tail end of it but throwing together a table-based layout and putting hundreds of animated gifs everywhere doesn’t automatically make the page any more authentic than ones that take advantage of tools made to address the hacky workarounds of the old days.

  • Poorchop on

    WEBP doesn’t seem to offer substantial benefits over existing file formats. There’s a good post by a blogger demonstrating that lossless WEBP sometimes ended up increasing the file size when compared to lossless PNG. In my personal experience, the compression introduced by lossy WEBP ends up making images look even worse than highly compressed JPEGs, and I don’t remember file sizes being reduced substantially if at all.

    To me, it’s just another one of Google’s layers of complexity that demonstrates how easily they can influence the direction of the web and force everyone else to comply. It’s really unfortunate when I’m doing an image search and I end up with WEBPs, which don’t work with any other piece of software that I use.

  • Poorchop on

    Good writeup. I had similar concerns with respect to what people were giving up when they went from owning files to paying a subscription to temporarily access those files.

    I still have a hard time believing that college students don’t understand the concept of files and folders. That paradigm continued to exist even as their digital lives moved to “the cloud.” All of the popular online storage providers use this model. I would imagine that even kids growing up exclusively on tablets and smartphones would understand this concept but apparently that’s not the case.

  • Poorchop on

    Suggestions are a welcome feature for sure but sometimes they are downright heinous. There’s arguably some logic behind the Gang of Four recommendation but I can imagine that you’ve had worse. I also think that we briefly had the best of both worlds when scrobbling was still popular. I never really got into it but it seemed like there was a system in place for recommendations, and you didn’t have to give up ownership of your music files.

    I’m a bit wary of coming across as a grumpy old man. It’s the circle of life. It will be funny to see what future generations complain about if I’m around long enough.

  • Poorchop on

    You were right on the money seven years ago. At the time, I was still trying to look past Mozilla’s poor decisions and I was hopeful about Firefox OS. My first smartphone ran Firefox OS and the existence of an open alternative to iOS and Android is what finally got me to stop clinging to feature phones. I kept trying to look for workarounds and alternative solutions as they chipped away at Firefox, removing useful features while adding ones that nobody wanted but there’s no good reason to defend Mozilla’s actions at this point.

    I had never read the Mozilla Manifesto previously but you’re right that principle 9 pretty much undermines all of the others. It’s almost as laughable as their CEO claiming that not having a multi-million dollar income is unfair to her family while hundreds of skilled engineers are fired.

    Yet – what’s the realistic alternative to using Firefox?

    This is why I’ll begrudgingly continue to use it but Firefox 93 is finally making me more receptive to Gopher as a first-class publishing platform. Browsers like Otter, surf, Dillo, Lynx, and Nyxt are good for certain use cases but not all of them will work with banking or e-commerce sites for example. Moreover, the web has become nearly unusable without uBlock Origin. The fact that it’s nearly impossible for new players to enter the game highlights the broader issues with the Web in general, which goes beyond Mozilla’s terrible decisions.

  • Poorchop on

    They will be missed but it was fun while it lasted.

  • Poorchop on

    Apparently this opinion makes one a chump but I was pretty amazed by Jennifer when I first heard it. The tremolo effect on the bass really stood out to me since I don’t know of any songs that used that trick previously. A simple thing but it still stands out. I could do without the remaster however since it almost completely buries the reverb-drenched guitar, which perfectly complemented the bass.

  • Poorchop on

    Before I wrote my own comments system, I seriously considered migrating to WordPress but the perceived complexity of theming was one of the factors that kept me from doing so. I also took a hard stance against using any JavaScript for my personal page and I wasn’t sure how feasible it would be to try and completely remove all of the script tags from a WordPress installation.

    I additionally considered switching to an alternative CMS like Banshee since the cybersecurity community gave me the impression that WordPress isn’t particularly secure. The more I looked into alternatives, the more I wondered why they never get any attention since there are some great ones out there but I’m still thankful all the same that WordPress powers so many sites since it has RSS enabled by default. If not for that, then RSS would truly be as dead as people like to pretend it is.

  • Poorchop on

    Wordle 227 4/6

    🟨⬛⬛🟨🟩 ⬛⬛⬛⬛🟩 🟨🟩🟩🟨⬛ 🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩

  • Poorchop on

    It was quite a surprise because I thought that the author explicitly said that he had just wanted to release something simple without the intention of monetizing it. The startup types on HN were absolutely incredulous that someone would create and share something for the joy of the act itself.

  • Poorchop on

    The two paragraphs at the end highlight some of my biggest issues with modern web and software development. I don’t have any major qualms with markdown but it’s not a substitute for HTML even though people like to treat it as such. I prefer writing HTML directly instead of relying on abstractions but it seems that most people are vehemently opposed to writing HTML. This is in spite of the fact that even ancient editors can be configured to make the experience even less confusing than writing markdown.

    I don’t think poorly of TypeScript or earlier abstractions like CoffeeScript but keeping up with them is quite cumbersome. Then there’s Less, Sass, and a million different CSS frameworks. Is writing vanilla CSS really that much of a problem?

    I also miss when user resources weren’t completely mismanaged by extremely inefficient websites and by frameworks like Electron. Multi-million dollar companies with the resources to maintain native applications opt instead to manipulate document renderers into performing complex tasks as the expense of users. Hardware from 15+ years ago would still hold up well if not for resource-hungry web technologies constantly demanding more of users.

    I suppose it’s no longer fair to think of web browsers as document renderers however. They have become as complex as operating systems. Nonetheless, I do feel that there should have been some sort of division of labor instead of trying to cram everything into web browsers. Web applications could have used a different protocol and a different technology stack. Those of us who just want to create, share, and read documents while taking advantage of the synergy between hyperlinks and a networking component could have stuck with the same technology that worked 30 years ago.

  • Poorchop on

    I hadn’t heard of Raindrop before but it looks nice. I had Wallabag set up on a home server previously and I have been meaning to set it up again, but I think that it’s a fantastic alternative to Pocket. Laziness aside, I was hesitant to start using it again because I would end up bookmarking a lot of articles to read later only to forget about them and never end up reading them.

    Regarding RSS data mining—I’m surprised that the corporate web moved away from RSS in light of the points that you made. The classic RSS-powered home pages that sites like Yahoo used to offer should have represented a lucrative opportunity to sell user data, but that web paradigm is long gone.

  • Poorchop on

    Awesome, glad that you got it working. They have a pretty comprehensive ecosystem set up as you already discovered and it integrates with every self-hosted RSS reader that I have tried so far. It was quite a shock when Mozilla decided to ignore Wallabag in favor of Pocket.

  • Poorchop on

    When I first started using my local library’s e-book service, I thought that it was so absurd that I had to place a hold for books that were “checked out.” Trying to enforce an artificial scarcity on a digital commodity is nonsensical. The record industry had to adapt when physical media was mostly replaced by digital downloads. Nobody would stand for not being able to stream a song at a particular moment because someone else happened to be listening to it at that time. I think that publishers will have to eventually reconsider their current business model, although I hope that borrowing books doesn’t turn into yet another subscription-based service with each publisher keeping books exclusive to their own stores.

  • Poorchop on

    I had the bright idea of getting a Roku a few months ago and just this past week, I finally set up a proper firewall. I was unsettled to see how frequently it was phoning home. I can only hope that I took the necessary steps in order to mitigate this and that it isn’t bypassing the restrictions that I have put in place.

    This is only the tip of the iceberg however. It seems like it’s becoming harder to buy new appliances that don’t have some built-in networking component. While my set-top box broadcasts my watching habits, my fridge will sharing my eating habits with advertisers, my doorbell will be recording me and anyone who happens to pass by, my thermostat will be sharing my usage data, and so forth.

  • Poorchop on

    I had given this quite a bit of thought over the years. My first experience with a static site generators was with Jekyll several years ago when I gave GitHub pages a try. I kept running into issues with keeping the theme up to date and I felt that having control over the finer details would’ve involved an investment that I wasn’t willing to make. I was also always concerned that these tools might be abandoned or replaced by an entirely different system some day, so I didn’t want my site to be tethered to something that I would eventually have to maintain myself after spending an inordinate amount of time trying to understand code written by other people.

    There are a lot of other appealing CMSs out there although I haven’t tried out any of them, so I can’t quite vouch for them. FlatPress is another flat file CMS that supports comments. Banshee was written by a security-minded guy and it would probably be my first choice for a CMS. I believe that Grav is another flat file CMS that has generated quite a bit of interest. There are some cool projects out there that have flown under the radar, like this blog engine written entirely in C, although that seems to rely on Apache.

    Since I wanted to have control over my site down to the very tags that appear on each page, I did the crazy thing and decided to write in plain HTML. I wrote a few Perl scripts to automate updating the site with new content, and I use some command line tools as well. I wanted to open source my comment system so that it could easily be dropped into any site but I never managed to finish the admin interface before selling my soul to my current employer and it isn’t polished enough for public release in its present state.

    Pandoc might be of some use in converting your Markdown files to HTML but I don’t think that it’s going to fit your needs overall. As far as hosting, you’re very conscientious of efficiently delivering content so your site would be a good candidate for hosting on something like SDF or one of the tildes.

  • Poorchop on

    I never checked the figures myself but I had read that the royal family generates a lot revenue through tourism and I figured that it must be paying for itself. Dissolving the royal family and redistributing the wealth doesn’t seem like it would do much to address poverty.

    Nevertheless, people making a big stink about celebrity deaths always rubbed me the wrong way. There are plenty of great men and women dying every day—people who did a tremendous amount for their local communities and no doubt improved a lot of lives—so I agree that it’s hard to really care about someone whom you never knew. In this case however, I think that people are lamenting the end of an era and the connection to the past that she represented. She served in WWII and the number of people who can make that claim these days are few and far between. Her death probably just represents a sobering reminder for a lot of people that time marches on and that large paradigm shifts are underway with new people at the helm.

  • Poorchop on

    I use KOReader on my device and it works with Wallabag from what I understand. I haven’t used the default Kobo software but I’ve used the Nook software and the Pocketbook stuff, and KOReader very much outdoes them.

  • Poorchop on

    The modern web must have really lowered my expectations because a website’s design is sort of immaterial to me as long as it doesn’t have popups, cookie consent banners, needlessly paginated content, and fake chat boxes urging me to chat with customer service. Reader mode seems to work well enough that it’s generally available in the event that I come across a blog that’s difficult to read whether it be due to the font, the font size, or blindingly bright colors at 2 AM.

    Sometimes sites are fun to look at even if they’re ill-suited towards reading the author’s content. I think that my only real major annoyance is sites not offering an RSS feed. My own page is a garbled mess because I was making it up as I went along. I have been tempted to revamp it from top to bottom many times but that would require an astronomical amount of work since I type out most of the HTML manually. I would hope that anyone coming across it would just use reader view, use a text-based browser, or disable CSS altogether, but I also don’t ever expect anyone to be reading it except for me.

    Strangely, I kind of like busier site designs although that can lead to compromised functionality. I initially wanted to fill my site with tons of text and information but I quickly realized that I had no content and nothing to say. There’s something oddly pleasing about the information density and maximalism that’s commonplace on Japanese websites.

  • Poorchop on

    I agree with your points and I write HTML directly as well. I hopped on the GitHub Pages and Jekyll bandwagon several years ago but aside from issues with keeping the theme up to date, I realized that I wouldn’t be able to maintain the tooling system if the project were to end up abandoned. It dawned on me that it would be easier and more future-proof to just write the HTML myself.

    That introduced some new challenges, namely that it would be too much work to overhaul the site’s layout at this point, but I agree that HTML files are quite readable and modern text editors/plugins make it extremely easy to write. I sometimes find it annoying to insert hyperlinks or images and also to reorganize my writing when it is already enclosed in paragraph tags, but Markdown wouldn’t really solve those issues since those are just a product of writing for the web.

  • Poorchop on

    The problem with this is that it can result in high contrast, which is almost as hard on the eyes as a light theme for me personally. White on black results in text getting burned into the eyes, which is immediately clear if you stare at text for a few seconds and then close your eyes.

  • Poorchop on

    I have come to find that you were 100% correct. Nobody out there is sending webmentions from their site to another. Website owners use webmentions to relay replies, likes, and reposts from social media sites. Nobody is going to leave a comment on a blog but if you syndicate a blog post to a site like Twitter, people are more likely to add their two cents exclusively through tweeting.

    I guess the guys behind this technology have always acknowledged this truth.

  • Poorchop on

    I have been mulling this over but the discussion on the other site to which you linked has me wondering who has the burden of responsibility. Maybe we need to remember that with great power comes great responsibility. The Internet gives us a platform that many of us would not have otherwise had. This can and has worked against many people but maybe that’s why we need to choose our words more carefully. We shouldn’t expect that our comments are being disseminated and archived beyond the confines of the platform on which we are posting, but we need to consider that it is happening regardless.

    I have seen a number of screenshots of deleted tweets and no one ever questioned the ethics of taking a screenshot, but the controversial tweets remained subject to scrutiny. All in all, this is a pretty nuanced issue but ultimately when one engages in public discourse, maybe he forgoes his right to be forgotten. I say this as someone who wishes that he could erase his digital paper trail from time to time.

  • Poorchop on

    If I had a social media account, I would probably do the same regarding Webmentions. It’s a cool idea and like I mentioned before, it’s pretty much the only utility that any of us are going to get out of it since it isn’t implemented anywhere and it’s tedious to use manually. When I see a blog with mentions, they are from social media almost 100% of the time.

    I think that there’s also something to be said about “owning” those reactions and replies. If Facebook were to shut down or if the Fediverse were to suddenly implode, you still a copy of the responses to a piece that you wrote. I am likely getting too tangential however as I know that a big part of the discussion at hand is mirroring comments to a personal site without the express permission of the social media users. Things that I said on IRC a really long time ago are probably logged on hundreds, maybe even thousands of hard drives somewhere and that is kind of disconcerting, but at least most people knew that by using IRC, you were inadvertently agreeing the possibility of that happening.

  • Poorchop on

    I think that you might be able to continue using Jekyll and get everything you want.

    If you self-host a Webmention endpoint, you can probably set up a convenient system for automatically sending them when building the site. You also won’t have to worry if an existing service goes down. I have been meaning to rig up something like this with my own endpoint.

    There must also be a self-hostable comments system with an API that allows you to output comments to static files at build time. You could also go the dynamic route and use PHP includes or server-side includes in your Jekyll templates in order to retrieve comments from either a local or remote endpoint so that you can avoid JavaScript. Of course that would depend on managing your own VPS/server or your provider offering PHP or SSI support.

    A tried and true CMS would probably be the least of a headache until you decide to migrate away again. Also, seeing how relentlessly bots hit my website looking for WordPress exploits despite the fact that my site is completely unknown to all but like two people, I would be worried about keeping the backend up to date. I wonder if providers that offer WordPress hosting automatically handles updates, which would alleviate that concern.

  • Richard on

    Agreed. More clients are asking for this. It’s not good.

  • Richard Carter on

    I’ve been thinking (and acting) quite a lot lately along the lines of what you refer to as Indieweb.

    Back in the good old days, I developed my own PHP content management system for running my assorted websites. This was a major leap forward for my previously hand-coded, pure HTML/CSS sites. My CMS slowly evolved into something pretty sophisticated for its time, with RSS feeds and comments and stuff like that. But then self-hosted WordPress became more mainstream, and I took the plunge and migrated everything over. I wrote about one final element of the migration exercise on the Friends of Charles Darwin blog. I now discover to my horror this was almost 9 years ago. I have, of course, since then, continued to tinker, adding various bits of non-standard, handy functionality to WordPress.

    If I were starting over from scratch, I’d almost certainly use one of the readily available Markdown-based content management systems. I draft everything in Markdown these days, so it would make putting my stuff out there even easier. But I’m not (yet) prepared to commit to migrating my existing stuff over from WordPress to one of these systems. What I have meets my needs at the moment. And it’s self-hosted, so I remain in control.

    But, as I say, I’ve been thinking a lot about ‘Indieweb’-type stuff. I fully endorse many of the principles, such as making your own websites your primary publication platforms, and trying to relegate mainstream social media to something more akin to RSS feeds. And I’m going to continue to encourage others to do the same. But I’m less sold on the ‘homebrew’ software ethos of Indieweb. Yes, as someone (reasonably) technically competent, who loves to dabble, I can see the fun. But I think placing too much emphasis on home-grown solutions is going to put an awful lot of ordinary people off—and it’s the ordinary (non-techie) users who need to be encouraged on board.

    As an amusing side-note, I was doing a spot of Obsidian brainstorming this morning on the topic of ‘Your stuff belongs on your own website’ (assorted posts, no doubt, to follow). Then a news headline caught my attention:

    BBC: Trump launches new ‘communications’ platform

    Even Trump gets it!

  • Richard Carter on

    I think you’re right not to use Obsidian for composing long articles. It’s not really intended for that purpose.

    Obsidian’s strength is in making interrelated ‘atomic’ notes. I’ve only been using it for a few months, and am totally besotted. My notes recently seem to have reached a critical mass and atomicness, and started to join up in unexpected ways, giving me interesting new ideas for the book I’m working on. But I’m using Ulysses for writing the actual book.

    That said, I’ve recently found a small number of my atomic notes in Obsidian have started to evolve into draft blog posts. I’m not sure whether to encourage or discourage this development, but I’m monitoring it with interest.

  • Richard Carter on

    There’s ongoing polite but opinionated debate in the Obsidian forums about whether you should use different folders to store different notes, or whether every note should go in the same folder.

    Being an old fart, I’m a big believer in filing stuff in different folders. The chief argument against this (according to those who disagree) is that I’m constraining my notes by pigeon-holing them in folders. The argument is, put all your notes in the same folder, and there’s no assumed hierarchy suggesting how you should or shouldn’t link between them.

    I understand the argument, but I genuinely don’t accept filing stuff in folders makes me blinkered in any way. I file stuff in folders primarily to make ad hoc filtering obvious groups of notes easier. I accept I could use tags to do this, but many of my notes are project-based, and filing stuff by project just seems right to me—not least for backup and archiving purposes. Besides, my Obsidian vault contains plenty of links between notes in different folders, so I can’t be being that blinkered.

  • Richard Carter on

    I think there’s much to be said for making writing slower to read. By which, I don’t mean making it more difficult to read, but more difficult to skim-read.

    Present me with a long paragraph full of long sentences, and I’ll automatically start skimming. Breaking the text into smaller chunks makes it easier to read, but harder to skim (due to all the breaks).

    But you can take…

    That sort of thing…

    Too far.

  • Richard Carter on

    I’ve also very much enjoyed using Typora recently. The only missing feature I really need: [[WikiLinks]]. Since becoming an Obsidian-head, I consider any Markdown app without this feature is severely lacking—even though wikilinks aren’t proper markdown.

  • Richard Carter on

    I agree about Typora’s getting the minimalism right (except that it needs WikiLinks, dammit). One of the few things I’m not besotted about with Obsidian is the editor: it’s just not editor-ish enough. They recently introduced an alternative, Typora-type, editor in beta, which I definitely won’t be using, although many of the other users seem to love it.

    Re. writing books, I currently use the following:

    Obsidian for research and chapter outlines (sometimes using Typora as an external editor, but the lack of WikiLinks discourages this).

    Ulysses for writing the actual book.

    Word (eventually) for presenting it in a format acceptable to potential publishers.

    Many people both research and write in Obsidian. I have thought long and hard about this, and think it’s important to keep my research separate from my actual book.

  • Richard Carter on

    Agree wholeheartedly. There’s just one requirement I’d add (although you might have taken it as a given): I would like a decent officially supported barebones parent theme.

    The problem with the official WordPress yearly themes is they keep trying to outdo the previous year’s theme. I have created child themes from most of them, and they’re always way too complex. I just want a plain theme I can mess around with, but one which understands all the fancy new block editor functionality that is way too much hassle for me to maintain on my own.

    I quite liked the official 2021 theme, but had to expend a lot of effort undoing fancy functionality I simply didn’t want. And I still can’t get the menu to do what I want (hamburger all the time).

    I previously developed a child theme based on the barebones Underscores theme, but that was before the block editor came along to complicate matters.

  • Richard Carter on

    I migrated all my Pocket bookmarks to several months ago. Pocket is a nicer reading experience, but I needed something to make compiling sets of links for my newsletters easier. Raindrop works pretty well for this, although it’s sometimes a bit slow posting to it using the iOS Share Sheet, and it sometimes won’t delete bookmarks when I ask it to on mobile devices.

  • Richard Carter on

    I tend to write most of my new posts in Markdown in my editor of choice, then cut and paste it directly into WordPress: the WordPress editor usually converts it automatically just fine.

    For more complex formats like my newsletters (which contain images in tables), I use a combination of HTML and Markdown (using standard templates I developed), then cut and paste across. But the tables/images usually need a little bit of tweaking for alignment in the WordPress editor.

    I was dead against the block editor at first. It turned out better than I expected. But they seem hell-bent of continuing to add way too many features, and it’s completely over the top.

  • Richard Carter on

    Writing for the web is certainly different to writing for a book. But I really dislike posts in which every sentence is presented as a single paragraph: it reads as if the writer doesn’t understand what a paragraph is for, coming across as totally disjointed.

    The BBC has started doing this a lot. I always used to joke these articles read as if they were written by an A.I. Nowadays, I suspect they actually are!

    In my recent review of Seth Godwin’s ‘The Practice’, I complained the book read like a bunch of bullet points with the bullets removed. Most of my long-form writing starts life as a bullet-point outline, but there’s a lot more to the process than simply dropping the bullets.

    To me, the fundamental unit of writing is not the sentence but the paragraph.

  • Richard Carter on

    Thanks, Leon. I spotted your reader-friendly RSS feed about 6 months back and wasted an entire day trying, but failing, to do the same with WordPress on my own site.

    After reading this post the other week, I decided to give it another go. The solution I came up with is ridiculously complicated, but somehow works. It did mean I had to change the canonical URL of my feed, although the old, ugly one is still honoured. The new one is at:

    I’m now looking forward to messing around with my XSL file to add some more info for those who’ve never heard of RSS.

    As I say at the bottom of my feed, It’s official… RSS rox.

  • Richard Carter on

    @Leon, your feed came in extremely handy when I was trying to debug my own attempt. It turned out some of my original RSS XML wasn’t 100% XML compliant, so I scrapped it and copied yours. But the real headache (which I didn’t crack until I realised that, when viewing page source in the browser, the context-sensitive colours on your feed were different to mine) was that my XML feed needed a content type of application/xhtml+xml in order for the browser to honour/recognise the specified XSL file. I had experimented with various content types, but that was the one I needed.

  • Richard Carter on

    I devised my own (flat text file) commenting system many years ago to complement my own (flat text file) CMS (complete with RSS feeds). Both worked prettY well. That they worked at all frankly astonished me. What eventually prompted me to take the plunge and migrate to WordPress was not having an easy way to have Categories/Tags. I’m still glad I took the plunge, but having a simple, flat text file CMS did have certain advantages—not least, I had complete control over my HTML.

  • Sveinbjorn Palsson on

    This is at odds with my experience.

    My adhd helps me gague such things. Super-wide text is an absolute hindrance. Since it takes less for me to drop out of the text, i.e. remember what I’ve just read, line length is crucial. Your typical five column newsprint is optional. Ebooks on iphone tend to hew to this line length, the only books I’ve managed to finish reading have been on iphone, just because of fewer flow disruptions. But she also omits something pretty big: whole-line parsing. Where your eyes barely move, and through the narrow field-of-view, you take in the whole line, or most of it, in one go. Obviously our brains and senses differ. I’m sure Dyson doesn’t have these problems. Maybe her text subjects don’t either, maybe her testing environment is undistracting enough for the subjects to “stay in the room”. But ADHD is an extreme version of the normal mind. So with added distractions, these needs become increasingly important. For something that would take high concentration, maybe scholarly text, its less of a consideration. For things within casual browsing, where keeping the reader on the page - and away from that back button - is more important, column width is more important. And it can be measured with a/b tests, on sites with large enough readerships.

    Personally, the idea of popularising longer lines of text fills me with considerable unease.

  • mikael on

    WebP seems to have about 10% better compression compared to libjpeg in most cases, except with 1500px images where the compression is about equal.[1]

    Not worth it IMO. Just use mozjpeg.


  • valen on

    Hi, I’m new to Mastodon and the Fediverse, and have been trying to understand it better. My current understanding is that the Federated Timeline has a list of all the posts of users on other mastodon servers that your instance knows about. Since you’ve only followed the admins of the biggest 15 servers, your Federated Timeline will only show post from those users, not everyone on their servers.

    Think about it, the amount of data for every single post on is huge. Having that replicated to every instance would use up so much bandwidth. So instances only get posts from people that that instance’s users have followed.

    Hope this helps.

@leonp at @leonp at email