This doc is meant for folks who want to crack open the power of their WordPress or site and turn it into a hub account, from which they can publish their own content and interact with other sites and social media accounts from the comfort of their own blog.

First, some disambiguation

WordPress and are two different, although related, entities. This naturally causes a lot of confusion. Here’s the difference.

WordPress is the software. It’s a free, open source blogging and website content management system (CMS) that anybody can download and install in a webspace of their own and use it to build blogs and websites.

Originally developed but not owned by Matt Mullenweg, who established the company Automattic around it, the WordPress CMS has been around for over 20 years and has developed enormous array of design themes, plugins to provide it with all sorts of additional functionality, a volunteer-led help and support forum at and more. But because nobody owns WordPress, this means you have to do your own research to learn which add-ons are safe, and which ones are old, broken, poorly designed or even malicious.

WordPress also is not set up to be very secure by default, so you need to do your own research to understand how to take basic security measures to keep your blog safe from hackers and malware. WordPress is the content management system for over ⅓ of all websites, so it’s a favorite target of cybercrime.

The good news is, because it’s so popular, it’s very easy to find articles that will lay out helpful tricks and information for you! is a website that sells blog space, owned by the Automattic company. It offers a free subscription tier so that you can create your own blog at no cost, but this has some locked down functionality. You can unlock more capabilities at higher paid subscription tiers. doesn’t own WordPress the software. But it does own the webspace it’s letting you use and the support services it offers. This means that blogs usually are set up with a bit more security built in, so you don’t have to do it all yourself. But it also restricts the plugins and blog themes you have access to.

One benefit of’s setup is that blogs on can easily subscribe to each other and interact easily, almost like a social media network. If you host your own WordPress blog somewhere else, you’ll have to do a bit of work to be able to interact as easily as they can.

I’m writing as the owner of my own self-installed WordPress blog. So sometimes not everything here will be possible to do—or might not work exactly the same way—if you have a blog on But I’ll try to note where I can

Next: What’s federation? 

A lot more people know about federation than they used to, but I won’t assume you’re psychic. So federation is where websites and social media platforms can talk to each other across boundaries.

Much has been made of Mastodon. It isn’t a single monolithic centrally-owned platform like Twitter (RIP). Mastodon is actually a whole bunch of smaller Mastodon-themed social media platforms. Each of these—a ‘Mastodon instance’–can have a bunch of users, but it’s its own little website with its own community. And then, each server can reach out and connect with other servers so that users on one Mastodon platform can interact with users on another Mastodon platform. You can tell the difference because different Mastodon servers have different names: vs. and are the instances, both built on Mastodon software so they know how to talk to each other.

Another example of federation is email. There’s and There’s also the email from your university or job, which might have their own—e.g. or

The reason those names are all different is because each one represents a whole email system of its own. And you,, can send messages and files to or, because they all run on email software, which knows how to talk to other email communities, and can find you by looking first for the community name (e.g. and then for the individual user in that community (e.g. xxxthunderthighs).

Note the format of the addresses for email and Mastodon servers are incredibly similar—because fundamentally they both work the same for how users belong to a community, but then slap an address on some content to mail it across the web to a friend living in a different community.

And the Fediverse also extends beyond Mastodon. Other federated platforms are less well known, there are also ones like Pleroma (which hosts blogs) and Peertube (which hosts Youtube-style accounts). There’s a Fediverse platform called Nextcloud with similar functionality to Dropbox and GoogleDocs. All these know how to talk to each other across platforms because they’re built on a shared language. You can follow Peertube accounts from your Mastodon, and they can follow you.

Essentially, what if you could hang out on Youtube, and follow and talk with your friends on their Twitter or Facebook or Tumblr accounts? That’s the idea of the Fediverse—although it’s mostly homegrown, so it’s kind of messy.

Anyway, WordPress predates all this. But with the right plugins, you can set up your WordPress blog so that it can participate. More on these below.

So what’s the IndieWeb?

This is one of those terms that means different, related things depending on the conversation.

First and most broadly: the indie web is the part of the internet that’s owned and operated by individuals and small businesses. In this sense, the indie web has been around longer than social media!

Second, as a concept, the indieweb is the concept that the internet is meant to be decentralized. That it’s bad for the internet to be mostly made up of gigantic walled gardens like Facebook. Instead, users should be able to own our own stuff and play in our own sandboxes and interact without selling our souls to the corporate web.

Third, as a movement, the IndieWeb refers to the idea—and the groups and the work to make it happen—that the internet should be designed to be centered on our identities, which we own and control. It states that we should also be able to own and keep our own data.

Imagine if each one of us had a little online shoebox full of all our important online documentation—what name we want to be known by, our preferred avatar, maybe articles we’ve written or art we’ve made that we want to be able to own but put in different places. And then for each website where we go and create an account, it has to reach back and ask us for permission to access that stuff so that it can say, “Ah yes, this is Bast2000 present and accounted for on Etsy.”

This provides anonymity in the sense that it doesn’t force you to be connected to your real-life identity, but it also lets you maintain control of your online identity(s). You’ll sometimes see this referred to as POSSE (Publish on your Own Site, Syndicate Everywhere). In this sense, the IndieWeb is close related to the Fediverse. Both are expressing the desire to decentralize the web and restore control of it back to users.

Let’s face it. We had the independent web and we let it go, because it was hard. If you didn’t know how to code, then you got out of your depth pretty fast. Even if you did know how to code, maybe you didn’t want to have to troubleshoot every single decision you made. So now there are a lot of people working to build the infrastructure to make this possible, and the plugins

I’ll talk about below are tools that let you implement a version of this with your own WordPress site.

Some of the tools involved:

  • RSS: a longstanding independent web feature, which predates Facebook (in fact Facebook helped fuck it up). RSS lets people subscribe to your feed so they can follow your posts from a central location. All WordPress blogs produce an RSS feed by default. Tumblr blogs also produce RSS feeds. Dreamwidth not only produces RSS feeds but lets you add them to your reading page so you can follow anybody on WordPress or Tumblr.
    • Microformats: This is a coding thing, which basically standardizes certain types of posts and activities (such as a post like!) so that one website can pass this information to another and have it be understood.
    • Micropub: This is a coding thing that offers a standardized, clean way for a site to handle posting, editing and deleting. It also provides handling for things like comments, bookmarks, accepting event invites and more—which is why it’s important for IndieWeb, because having this protocol shared between websites means they can interact!
    • Webmention: This is a coding thing that manages cross-site communication. With this enabled, you’ll know if somebody linked to one of your posts (some folks might know this as ‘trackback’ or ‘pingback’). It also supports cross-site replies/conversation—so that if you’re subscribed to Erin’s RSS feed and following it on your blog, you can comment from your blog. She’ll see it on hers, and can reply to you, and you’ll get the reply.
  • IndieAuth – IndieAuth is an open source login capability. With this, you could use your blog username and password to log into another account that uses the same protocol—what IndieAuth does is inform that system of how to check back with yours to recognize you. With IndieAuth, a visitor can log into their account on your blog to leave a comment or interact, so you know who they are without them having to hand you their personal information. And you can do the same on other sites!

Okay! Now the How-To!

You have a WordPress blog. You want it to be able to talk to other blogs and social media accounts. The following plugins will let you federate your blog so that people in the Fediverse can subscribe and follow you from their own accounts.

ActivityPub Plugin


Available both for WordPress blogs and now for This is usually an easy install. Find and select the plugin for installation.

Once it’s added, you may need to go into Settings>Discussion to activate. There’s a toggle labeled ‘Enter the fediverse.’

You do need to have your author pages enabled. By default on WordPress, each author has a profile page—the plugin uses this to identify the user. Some people disable these because it’s better for blog security and privacy. This is something the plugin developer is looking into.

Once it’s installed, within about 15 minutes, you should be able to find and follow your blog from federated accounts. You’ll be at yourusername@yourwebsitedomain.whatever. My blog was tricky and added the www to the front.

Webfinger Plugin


This plugin is used specifically to help ActivityPub talk to Mastodon. You shouldn’t need to do anything but select and install.

Once you have Webfinger installed, you can look up your username at to see if your profile is there—and what information is attached to it.

IndieWeb Plugin


This plugin is really a kit of interrelated plugins that provides you with most of the functionality to be a fully interactive member of the independent web. Unfortunately it looks like it might require a paid tier to access it if you’re on

The plugin will also coach you through adding the following additional plugins: IndieAuth, Webmention, Micropub, Post Kinds, and Syndication Links.

IndieAuth Plugin

This one makes your blog a representative of your online identity. You’ll be able to use the account you use on your blog to log in on other people’s webpages to interact with them, access friends-locked content (if they put your name on the access list), leave logged-in comments and more—and it won’t mean making a thousand user accounts or handing people your login information.

From your perspective as a blog owner, it also lets you manage comments and interactions to cut down on spam and moderation, easily recognize and interact with friends and maintain those relationships, and if you host events such as livestreams, it becomes easier to have people register to get headcounts, keep them updated, and so on.

Webmention Plugin

With IndieAuth installed, you can install Webmentions. This plugin is the one that starts turning your blog into a social media account. Webmention enables interactions to happen across different websites, so that websites with webmentions enabled can pass information back and forth to each other.

For example, you can RSVP to an event being hosted on a different blog, “like” a post, see when people bookmark your posts, and more. You can also get pingbacks and trackbacks, meaning that if somebody else links to your post, it will add a comment to your post showing where it happened—and someone else with Webmention enabled can see if you do these things for their posts.

Micropub Plugin

This one will allow you to publish and manage posts through other interfaces. So you can pick an app you like to use as your WordPress dashboard, or perhaps even post to WordPress from your Instagram!

Post Kinds Plugin

This plugin builds on Webmention and adds support for interacting with content on other websites or platforms, enabling capabilities like replies. If another blog has Webmention installed, then you can create a post and set it as a reply to a post they made, and they’ll

Syndication Links Plugin

If somebody shares your post, you’ll get a notification about it in your post comments.

Tumblr Crosspostr Plugin

If you can’t quite quit Tumblr, this plugin allows you to crosspost from your blog to Tumblr, and automatically copies your reblogs from Tumblr to your blog. This can turn your blog into a safe backup of your Tumblr and lets you interact with Tumblr without being on Tumblr.

RSS feed aggregator plugins

So with all this, it makes an RSS feed aggregator super useful. WordPress blogs, and some others such as Tumblr, Dreamwidth and Cohost, put out feeds of the posts that you can use to collect them into a reader.

To do this, you’ll use the RSS aggregator plugin of your choice. Add the URLs of RSS feeds you want to follow into it, and then you can create a page in your WordPress site where you can add a code snippet that will call the entries of your followed blogs and display them for you. This way you can create your very own reading dashboard. If you choose, you can make this page public and other people who visit your site can get a preview of your favorite content creators.

Note that the RSS feed will only pull content you have access to. If someone posted a private or friends-locked entry, you won’t be able to see it. But with the IndieAuth plugin above, you and your friends can set things up so that they can add you to their list of friends-locked readers and then if you’re logged in, you’ll have access.

There are a variety of RSS feed aggregator plugins available for WordPress, depending on just what functionality and display options you want. WP RSS Aggregator seems to routinely lead the pack for recommendations, but some of its advanced functionality is paywalled. I’m currently testing Feedzy, which doesn’t charge to import post excerpts and image thumbnails.

WP RSS Aggregator:

WordPress: (requires a paid plan):

Most ‘best of’ lists will put this plugin at the top for WordPress RSS aggregators. Use this to build a reading dash of other blogs and accounts you want to follow and interact with, right from your blog.


WordPress: (requires a paid plan):

The one I’m using on my site as of March 2024. I wanted to create a ‘my followed blogs’ reading page that would show image thumbnails and post excerpts, so that I could look at it and see what things were. WP RSS Aggregator paywalls this as a subscription add-on, so I’m trying Feedzy instead and it’s working well so far.

One thought on “Setting up your WordPress Blog for Federation & IndieWeb”
  1. Yesssss nice! Love this post. Though hilariously I have been feeling somewhat like wordpress is more car than I need to be driving and have gone back to… well, not HTML, I finally learned to use a static site generator. So I will be doing none of this 😛

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