What is the Federated Social Web, though?

I was talking to a friend about the federated social web recently, and I realized that my descriptions of it were really vague. After thinking about it, I think I’ve come up with a pretty good, concrete definition: a website or service is part of the federated social web if it’s open-source and provides an RSS or Atom feed that’s relatively easy to find.

Of course this isn’t what most people mean by it; most people for whom ‘federated social web’ means anything at all, would probably think of XMPP or pubsubbub or podservers or freedom boxes or what-have-you. Those are all technologies that might make up the federated social web in the future. But for right now, I reckon any service that doesn’t provide an RSS or Atom feed is either very immature, or else doesn’t really want to be federated.

The nice thing about this definition is that it’s easy to say what websites are part of the federated social web. WordPress, Livejournal, Dreamwidth, and Identi.ca / StatusNet are. Facebook definitely isn’t, Twitter pretends to be, a little bit, sometimes, but isn’t really. Tumblr lets you have RSS feeds which is nice, but the fact that it’s closed-source means you live in fear that those feeds may one day be taken away without warning, which is what happened with Twitter.

By this definition, Buddycloud isn’t on the federated social web yet, although they’ve done some good work in laying the groundwork. Diaspora passes the test, although the atom feeds are not exactly easy to find. Feed addresses look something like this: https://joindiaspora.com/public/my-username.atom.


Thumbs up – better icons for WordPress/Polldaddy Nero Ratings

We unfortunately live in a world where light-beige skin is often treated as being the “default”, and this can be seen in everything from band-aids to “natural” toned make-up, to people being surprised that Rue from Hunger Games is Black. So I was a little annoyed when I turned on the free Nero Rating widget from PollDaddy and found that you don’t get any choice about the image used – it’s a light-beige thumb icon. This isn’t the biggest problem facing the world today, but it’s annoying.


Apart from anything else, it’s just not a very nice-looking icon.

After some fiddling around I worked out that you can add your own image, but there’s a trick to it. First off, you can choose whether the icon width should be 16px, 20px, or 24px. I chose 24px since that’s still pretty tiny. The trick is that the image you need to upload is actually four icons stuck together like this:

Bottom left: thumbs-up
Bottom right: thumbs-down
Top left: thumbs-up hover
Top right: thumbs-down hover

So the total image is 48px by 48px. I had some fun and made a bunch of them. All are made from images I found at clker.com, and all are Public Domain, so you can use them any way you like, without restriction.

Thumbs up thumbs down icon lighter

Thumbs up thumbs down icon darker

Thumbs up thumbs down icon

Green red thumbs up thumbs down icon

Yellow plus minus icon

Red green plus minus icon

Grey plus minus icon

Blue plus minus icon

Purple happy face sad face icon

Pink happy face sad face icon

Blue happy face sad face icon

Yellow happy face sad face icon

Red green arrows icon

Once you’ve got your image, you go to your WordPress dashboard and click Ratings -> Advanced settings (you have to have Ratings turned on for this link to appear), under ‘Rating type’ choose ‘Nero rating’, then go to ‘Rating Style’ -> ‘Custom image’, and paste in the URL for your image.