I’ve been part of the IndieWeb community for a while, mostly via online meetups and a community chat group but I was excited to finally meet people in person when San Diego was chosen as a location for an IndieWebCamp at the end of 2023.

The IndieWeb is a community of personal websites based on a few key principles and connected by a collection of technical standards. Part of the appeal is that people come with different values and ideas for how they want to use their websites but come together to make things work well together. So IndieWebCamps are an opportunity to brainstorm and build those ideas; get to know people and see what they are doing.

I wasn’t sure what to expect but I was looking forward to meeting people I’ve communicated with for 2 and a half years. From our online coordination, I knew it would be a small group. I was happy to see we had about a dozen people attend in person plus several attending remotely. The attendees ranged from longtime community members to people new to the community. I even convinced one of my IRL friends to attend.

I appreciated the laid-back 2-day BarCamp format for the event. On day one, we started with introductions and suggesting topics before breaking up into smaller sessions. Even though it was very informal, I felt like we had some productive discussions. I wish I could have joined the session about reviews but couldn’t with the schedule. I was glad to be able to participate in both of the sessions I was most interested in.

IndieWeb For Newbies R&D Project

The first session, called IndieNewbies, was an important one to me. The goal was to figure out how to make the IndieWeb more beginner-friendly. It was fascinating to hear people’s individual experiences about what drew them into the community.

A common refrain was that the IndieWeb appears to be mainly a community of developers even if that is not what defines the IndieWeb. I think the IndieWeb could be a really great space for independent writers and creators. In many ways, control over our content is more central to the movement than the technology. That ability to define how my content is shared, avoiding the platform lock-in and excessive advertisements, was a significant part of what motivated me to be more involved in the community. However, there is a big barrier to helping less technical people leverage the technology to truly have that control without technical skill. Hopefully, that will be less true over time as platforms like micro.blog and others incorporate the technology and provide a more user-friendly way to incorporate IndieWeb principles.

Most of the discussion in our session revolved around making the IndieWeb website more welcoming to newcomers and a better representation of who the community is. Making those decisions as a group is hard but I thought there were some good suggestions. Personally, I’d like to do more to help the wiki pages more useful and easy to understand. We also talked about how in the past, people have made websites to help introduce concepts, but those often get lost, either because of obscurity or because they fall out of date. There was a consensus that the homepage could use some updates and that we avoid too much developer language in general IndieWeb discussions.

Open Graph Publishing

The session I was most interested in was the Open Graph Publishing session about how to use common HTML meta tags like the OpenGraph Protocol for things like link previews. This is an important interoperability issue because even though the IndieWeb community recommends using the microformats2 standard for marking parts of the page like title, photos, and authors, many websites don’t use microformats. Most social media sites use meta tags to determine what to show in link previews when someone shares a link. Many IndieWeb tools already incorporate these same meta tags as a fallback if Microformats are not used. However, standardizing this process could allow different tools to work consistently, and even incorporate the logic into core libraries.

There is an existing draft standard called “metaformats” that I’ve been playing around with and discussing that could fit this bill. But it will likely need some adjustments to be more functional and widely adopted.

For people publishing sites, there was also interest in creating a tool to know how meta tags will be used in link previews across the web. Sites like Facebook, Twitter, or even iMessage may have their own unique rules for showing link previews, but there are lots of similarities between them. The IndieWeb community generally discourages additional copies of content in markup like meta tags. However many online code examples recommend extra tags that aren’t needed at all. One action item that came from the session was to create a page on the IndieWebify.me site to check what a link preview might look like. It could also incorporate an earlier idea to recommend simpler markup.

Workshop Day

Day two of the event was a time to work on an IndieWeb-related project. Some people planned on writing blog posts. Others worked on IndieWeb software projects. We all hung out around at the coffee shop working on our projects and having side chats. It was nice to have in-person conversations that normally happened via online chat threads. Since everyone was working at the same time, we could also ask questions or collaborate if people needed help.

At the end of the day, we demoed what we’d accomplished. Someone showed how they made a way to post content they had written on paper with a typewriter. Some people showed off new web pages they had made or new software.

I took on a too-ambitious project to generate statistics on meta tags to inform choices for metaformats. I was glad to finally have some time scheduled to work on something I had planned to do. But I probably would have been better off with a smaller goal. I haven’t finished the project but still hope to.


I’m really glad I was able to attend this IndieWebCamp. I feel like I have a fuller picture of how the community operates and some fresh ideas for how to participate. It was great to finally meet people I’d known in person and it was especially nice to get to know the community members around San Diego. I hope that this leads to some more local events and I look forward to attending in the future.