The Internet

I asked Substack to add Webmention support

The IndieWeb has had some success in asking nicely for platforms to support web standards — Tumblr recently incorporated microformats into their standard template — so I figured it couldn’t hurt to ask Substack to add Webmention support. I don’t expect them to say yes, but it would be great to have native support instead of manually reposting (POSSEing) in the comments there. And each place that adds support makes it easier to convince another.

Here’s what I posted as a comment, hopefully I conveyed how Webmention works accurately 😂:

Has Substack ever considered adding support for Webmentions? They are recommended by the W3C as a component of an interoperable web, so Substackers could connect with the greater internet community of writers and creators. Adding support for Webmentions could build an even richer conversation between writers across the web. When a Substack newsletter linked to a blog post, the writer of the blog would get notified, so they could join in the conversation. If a blogger linked or replied to a Substack article from their blog, the author could see that along with other comments made directly on Substack. Likewise if a Substack newsletter linked to someone else’s Substack article, their article could be displayed with the original, so it would be easy for readers of the linked article to hear about and discover a new Substack newsletter.

I am concerned that with all the features Substack is adding — chat, podcasting, internal mentions, internal recommendations — they are becoming more and more of an insulated silo. An open web benefits all users, but it doesn’t necessarily benefit silo owners who want to keep all traffic internal. However, because Substack’s revenue is based on subscriptions rather than advertising, I’m hopeful they’d be receptive to the opportunity for discovery and engagement that Webmentions could foster.

There are also plenty of bloggers who also write newsletters, so it could be good PR for Substack among bloggers after the negative press from last spring (IIRC) of funding support voices of hate.

By Tracy Durnell

Writer and designer in the Seattle area. Freelance sustainability consultant. Reach me at She/her.

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