I’ve been using the Post Kinds plugin for a few years on this WordPress site. It allows you to easily style a specific type of posting (a like, bookmark, reply, rsvp, read, check-in etc), it automatically pulls in the relevant information form the posting you’re reacting to, and adds the right machine readable micro-formats so that if you ping the source website that site can see if it is a direct reply, a like, a regular mention etc.

David Shanske deserves a lot of credit for creating and maintaining this valuable WP plugin, and for his contributions to the IndieWeb community over the years. Yet I always kept some reservations even while I’ve been depending on the Post Kinds plugin. One thing was the ability to shape how these post kinds look, meanwhile addressed. One is it prevents me from adopting Gutenberg in WordPress, even while others (of the few) plugins I use are moving to a Gutenberg only stance, meaning conflict and/or hard choices lie in the near future of this blog.

Most of all however I balk at how information around a post kind gets stored. To me the thing I am reacting to is an inherent and equal part of my posting. Because pointing to the thing I’m reacting to is nothing other than a hyperlink, the core feature of the web itself. That in the case of a post kind such a hyperlink is more fancily handled and presented does not change that. However the thing I am reacting to gets lifted outside the posting and is stored differently in the WordPress database by Post Kinds. This has as a consequence that should I switch off Post Kinds the connection between my postings and what it is reacting to is severed, even if it is still in the database. It changes “Reply to hyperlink.tld: That’s a great idea” to “That’s a great idea”, which is a serious loss of meaning. In that way Post Kinds becomes a lock-in and a potential single point of failure that breaks the web, at least my part of the web that this blog forms. The two images below demonstrate the effect:

A ‘like’ posting with Post Kinds enabled

The same posting without Post Kinds, which means a serious loss of information because the actual hyperlink to the thing discussed disappears

So I want to break out of that lock-in, and find a work around. This means all relevant info about the thing I am reacting to should be in the actual posting. My current idea is that I will create simple templates for the post kinds I actually have used until now, and put them behind a keyboard shortcut. That way I can ensure the right micro-formats are used for others to interpret. Over time I can replace the existing Post Kinds dependent postings (about 900 in this blog) in the same way, clearing the way for switching it off entirely. This should increase the autonomy of keeping this blog, and decrease dependencies.

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14 reactions on “Working Around Post Kinds Plugin Lock-In

  1. @ton That’s an interesting point. In Micro.blog, we always put everything — reply URL, photo reference, block quote, etc. — in the post Markdown or HTML, which isn’t as rich as Post Kinds from a metadata perspective, but means it’s portable anywhere. Wonder if Post Kinds should have a special export that “flattens” everything into the post content.

  2. What I do—I’ve probably said this before, but I’m going to repeat it anyway—is, I have a couple code snippets in my functions.php that filter Micropub requests before they’re saved to the database, and these add all the hidden metadata to the actual post content, nicely microformatted and all.
    Then on the desktop, or rather, within WordPress’s admin interface, I either type things out by hand or use a “text expander.” And then I also have a bit of code that allows me to use “Press This” to create correctly formatted bookmark or read posts.

    • If you ever wanted to rework existing posts, I’d write a script—not even a plugin, but something you run from a terminal—that looks for all of these custom fields and prepends them to the post content by means of precisely the type of template you’re thinking of. Might not for every single post, but that’d be the easiest way, I think.

    • Hi Jan, yes text expansion is what I plan to do as well. I basically create all my postings through the back-end anyway.

  3. Ton, I think that this is something I have been in denial about for a while. I like what Post Kinds provides me, but I have often wondered about what would happen if I decided to walk away from the Post Kinds Plugin or WordPress. I like Manton’s idea of a special export. Definitely left me thinking and realising the limits to my skills.

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