Working through displaying Webmentions

Now that this site supports Webmentions, I’ve been having some fun digging into how I’d like them to be presented.

The theme I’m using is very bare-bones. I created it using Underscores a couple years ago when I decided I had lost touch with the code I was using and for some reason wanted to get back in touch? I don’t know, but I like it.

I created a plugin specifically for my adjustments to the IndieWeb, Webmention, and Semantic Linkbacks plugins. There are a couple scripts and styles I decided I didn’t need as well as a custom comment walker I decided to remove.

At the same time, I created another plugin specifically for adjustments to WordPress. I removed all default emoji handling to see if things would display better in feed readers and adjusted some of the markup output by default—sorry, Windows Live Writer.

Back to comments.

Before I started, the theme’s comment template output everything stored in the comments table as if it was a comment. This makes sense because WordPress doesn’t have a complete idea of “custom comment types”, so it treats them all the same.

The first thing I did was break the query for all comments into comment types so that I could display them in separate sections. WordPress has a function that should do this, separate_comments(), but it is hard coded to support only comment, trackback, pingback, and pings. I have my eye on proposing a filter there, but I’m guessing there are wider concerns with comment types that need to be addressed at the same time.

I’ll revisit that code in the near future. I was just winging it today and never actually went back to review some of those decisions. 🙂

I’m starting with a section for “Likes”, a section for “Mentions”, and a section for “Replies”. Once I get more familiar with other actions and how I see them being used, I’ll likely mix things up a little more.

For Likes and Mentions, I decided to keep things simple and display the avatar, name, action, and date. This displays a bit more than a facepile, but less than a full comment.

It’s been interesting seeing what data actually comes along with a Like or a Mention—sometimes it’s the full post—and it’d be fun to figure out the right way to display that in the future. I could see manually editing some mentions and displaying them differently so that the context is displayed. I envision something like the first 100 characters before and after the actual mention itself.

I removed support for comment navigation, as it’s something I don’t want to deal with right now and I have the option to paginate comments turned off in WordPress.

I was low-key annoyed that wp_list_comments() only supported a style of ol or li, but then went further to the comment walker and saw div was also a supported option. I created a new trac ticket for that and tagged it as a good first bug for anyone who may want to contribute.

My next annoyance is that comment author names are wrapped with <b> and so here I am deciding that of course I should add a custom walker. Exciting!

Of course now I’ve screwed this all up somehow and the reply links aren’t working.

Ahhh, I see! I tried to shrink the amount of markup used around each comment, but the default reply script used in WordPress expects a bit more structure. Added that back for now.

I’ve temporarily adjusted the “Reply” text below each comment to “Reply to {comment author name}”. I think I’d like to adjust this even more so that on nested comments, it includes everyone’s name. Something like “Reply to Jeremy Felt, Alice, and Bob” on a thread in which all have participated would be cool. Part of me wants to shorten that to first names only, though that starts to make assumptions.

One quirk now that I have this all in place is that I’ve replied to “mentions” in the past, which are now displayed in their own area of the page. These replies are now displayed outside of that context. I’m guessing this won’t be an issue in the future, though if I ever do want to reply to a mention, it’d be cool if there was a way to convert the mention into a reply for purposes of display. I’ll think some more on that.

Almost there. Time for another bad decision.

It looks like some multi-paragraph Webmentions are coming in or being stored without paragraph tags. Rather than dive into really testing that, I took the lazy way out and replaced single line breaks with double line breaks so that wpautop() can add paragraphs as intended. This seems to have worked, but I’m sure I’ll run into an edge case at some point.

Okay! Theme deployed. Deployments setup for the new plugins. All is right.

Version 0.0.2 of a new vibe for Webmentions is live on the site. 🕺🏻

Reactions on “Working through displaying Webmentions”

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I am really enjoying your working out loud Jeremy. It has me thinking about what some of the changes I could make to my site. In particular, I would rather show the name of the post for a mention, rather than which site the post in question was mentioned on.

Thanks, Aaron! I'm finding it's helping me think through where I want to go next. I like the idea of showing the name of the post. I _think_ that's similar to how WordPress has shown pingbacks in the past. Which reminds me to look into whether I can take over pingbacks entirely and treat them as webmentions.

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