Ghost In The Fedify Machine: Making Fediverse Adoption Easier Again

Fedify icon

Image: Fedify Icon

If you have not subscribed to Ghost's hilarious adventures of activating ActivityPub upon their open-source blogging platform, you are missing out on some much-needed (geek‽) humor.

In their latest update, Ghost explained their latest strategy in integrating ActivityPub within their blogging platform. Instead of building ActivityPub within the core software (easier said than done), they are embracing the idea of creating a separate app with the help of Fedify.

When we first built Ghost we made it so you could publish to the web and run a blog. A few years later, we added the ability to deliver those same posts as email newsletters. Same content, new format. [...]

So, Ghost itself doesn't send email newsletters. Instead, it relies on an external service called Mailgun. Ghost offloads the newsletter content to Mailgun along with a list of intended recipients and then says “Seeya later sucker, I'm off for lunch.” Mailgun then goes through the process of carefully delivering each message, recording analytics, errors, and any replies.

When it comes to our ActivityPub service, we're essentially looking to build the same sort of thing. An external piece of software which Ghost can offload content and a list of recipients to, and then say “Seeya later sucker, it's time for my massage.” The ActivityPub service will then carefully handle sending, receiving and storing everything needed to communicate with the wider fediverse. [...]

As we touched on very briefly last week: The very first newsletter subscriber to suggest building ActivityPub as a service was Hong Minhee, the maintainer of an open source project called Fedify.

Fedify is a framework specifically designed for building ActivityPub services. You could think of it as a bit like Rails or Laravel, but specifically for fediverse apps. It's what we've decided to use to build Ghost's ActivityPub service. (Ghost ActivityPub Blog)

While integrating ActivityPub at the core is desirable, it is not always feasible, especially for platforms with thousands of databases & not enough resources to troubleshoot every issue that arises when adding a new feature.

Creating a separate application to handle Fediverse communication & integration will be easier for the Ghost team, as it would allow them to activate ActivityPub faster without breaking their code, bank accounts & brains in an attempt to Federate their platform.

Ghost Icon

Image: Ghost Icon

Both WordPress (via the WordPress ActivityPub Plugin by @pfefferle@mastodon.social) & Drupal (via the Drupal Module by @swentel@realize.be) have adopted a similar strategy, & hopefully other blogging platforms who viewed adopting ActivityPub as too daunting will consider this option as well.

Side Note: This is one of the reasons why Meta decided to create a separate Fediverse app called Threads, as @zuck@threads.net explained previously that integrating ActivityPub support for Instagram & Facebook was too complicated. Instead, they will allow users to auto-post from Facebook & Instagram to Threads.

Currently, there are five significant blogging platforms that have embraced the Fediverse (WordPress, Drupal, Micro.blog, WriteFreely & Minds), as well as a few upcoming challengers such as Loforo (a potential Tumblr alternative), & Goblin (created by @javi@goblin.band, a former Tumblr employee).

I do wish more blogging platforms would consider adopting ActivityPub support, as it would help them remain relevant in the social space, as well as avoid the fate of Post News.

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