Last Week in Fediverse – ep 65


Welcome to another busy news week. I’ve spend a bit more focus on NodeBB and Discourse federating with each other, as it is an interesting new way of putting federation in practice. Other news, such as around Ghost and PodcastAP show how expansive the fediverse is getting. Lets dive in:

Forum federation

NodeBB and Discourse are now federating with each other. Both forum softwares are working on their implementation of ActivityPub, and this week’s milestone marks a new step in federation that has not really been seen in the fediverse before. The implementation allows forum categories to follow each other. This means that a forum category on Discourse can now take in and show all posts on a specific forum category on NodeBB. An example of this can be seen here, this category on the Social Hub (which runs Discourse) follows a category of a NodeBB forum, and as such the posts made on NodeBB now show up on Discourse. To make it even more interesting, the NodeBB posts also federate with microblogging platforms like Mastodon, and as such comments made with a Mastodon account also show up.

This new version of federation might be a bit difficult to wrap your head around, so a quick explainer how this differs from how link-aggregator platforms like Lemmy and Kbin federate with each other. on there you can follow categories/communities that are on different instances/platforms, but the communities themselves cannot interact with each other. As an example: If you have an account on kbin.social you can follow both !fediverse@lemmy.world and !fediverse@lemmy.ml, but these communities stay separate. This often leads to duplicate posts, and splintered communities. What NodeBB and Discourse have done is equivalent to if !fediverse@lemmy.world and !fediverse@lemmy.ml could follow each other, so a post in one of the communities would show up in the other community.

The News

Ghost, the open-source platform for newsletters, has long had the request to add ActivityPub support. This week, Ghost founder John O’Nolan posted that the “idea has been at the top of the list for a long time, so this week we’re starting work to look into the possibility of adding ActivityPub support to Ghost.” Ghost posted a survey asking for input. The responses by the community show that there is a great interest in this feature: Mastodon CTO Renaud Chaput reached out offering help (which O’Nolan gladly accepted), The Verge’s Editor In Chief Nilay Patel said that The Verge would be interested in knowing how Ghost approaches federation for paid newsletters, as The Verge wants to do this too, as well people sharing their survey responses. For more information, check out TechCrunch.

Upcoming fediverse platform Emissary has shown another preview how it can be used to build a federated Bandcamp alternative. In a short video developer Ben Pate walks through the current state, showing of a band page that is fully customisable, and has space for hosting (as well as linking to) music, and shows. For more information, check out this week’s article by WeDistribute.

Pixelfed developer Dansup has launched PubKit in closed beta. PubKit is a toolset for ActivityPub, that helps developers with testing and debugging their software. Dansup is considering options on how to/whether to open-source the code being PubKit while also making sure that his efforts are fairly compensated.

Mobilizon has transferred ownership from Framasoft to Kaihuri. Kaihuri is a small French organisation that has been maintaining the French Mobilizon instance Keskonfai for a long time, and got funding from NLnet to improve and maintain Mobilizon. Kaihuri showed a demo this week (recording here) of their work on the new features, with Calendars, Groups, a more customisable front page, and multi-day events all coming to the new update, which will be released soon. I’ll go into more detail once the update releases.

There has been some reshuffling in the different Misskey forks (‘Forkeys’). Sharkey is steadily cruising along. Firefish has passed on to new owner naskya, who is in the process of getting complete control and starting up the project again after a pause of a few months. Development on Catodon, a Firefish fork, is currently paused due to other obligations for the current lead developer. Iceshrimp, originally a fork of Firefish, is in a feature-freeze as the entire project (frontend and backend) is being rewritten in .net/C#. Iceshrimp announced this week that work on the backend is mostly finished.

Trump’s social network Truth.social is based on Mastodon, which is licensed under AGPL. In short means that the source code has to be made available to everyone who interacts with it. Truth.social has not done so for more than a year, and Evan Boehs decided to try to get Truth.social to comply with the AGPL license. To his surprise, they did, and send them the source code. Write-up of the situation here, source code here, analysis of the code by @Jasmin here.

Mastodon has gotten funding to implement quote posts. The feature is planned for update 4.4. The ability to opt-out of quote posts is also currently planned, which makes it that Mastodon’s implementation will not be compatible with other fediverse implementations of quote posting.

PodcastAP is new tool that allows you to easily follow every podcast with your fediverse, as it is integrated with podcastindex.org. With their latest update podcasts that already live on the fediverse (if they use Castopod or PeerTube to host their podcast), it can now follow the ActivityPub version of the podcast, as well as the ‘bridge’ version.

Liaizon Wakest pointed out that blogging platform Loforo.com has been fully federating with ActivityPub for a while. I cannot find any announcements by Loforo that they started with federation, and it seems like it has been active for a while. This in itself makes it intriguing; my assumption has always been so far that if platforms join the fediverse, that they will make it into a news story, and Loforo seems to prove that assumption wrong.

The Links

  • WeDistribute’s Sean Tilley writes about A Content-Fallback Mechanism for the Fediverse.
  • WeDistribute is also expanding and looking for contributors.
  • Jon Pincus writes about ‘Eight tips about consent for fediverse developers’.
  • A Mastodon plushie is coming soon.
  • Stefan Bohacek proposes that fediverse admins disable images on World Sight Day so that only alt-text shows up.
  • Martin Holland has been keeping track of media accounts on the fediverse. This data set has now been expanded to include media accounts on Threads that have federation enabled.
  • Castopod’s latest feature allows you to display the podcasts’ transcript directly on the episode page.
  • EchoFeed is an interesting blend of RSS and the fediverse, allowing you to easily republish RSS/Atom feeds on to the fediverse and other places.
  • The weekly overview of all fediverse server and client updates.
  • Evan Prodromou tries out TikTok Notes, and writes about how it should integrate with ActivityPub.
  • PeerTube has started a newsletter, and the first edition can be found here.

That’s all for this week. If you want more, you can subscribe to my fediverse account or to the mailing list below: