Naming things is hard - DNS for the Federated Web

How should I design my personal DNS for all the cool new Federated Services and IndieWeb protocols?

Way back in the early 2000s, I started this website - A few years later, I added a blog. I could have used the main domain, or created a subdomain like In the end, I chose a subdirectory of

I don't know if that was the right choice back then, but it is looking like the wrong choice now.

I want to be a "first class" citizen of the Fediverse. I want a dozen different apps installed on my little slice of the Internet. I want a fairly consistent online identity. What's the best way to do that?

Buy a new domain for every app!

No. This is impractical for two reasons.

  1. It's expensive.
  2. Nothing ties together to


I currently have /blog. Should I also have /mastodon and /pixelfed and /yet_another_cool_service and...

Maybe? The problem is, most of these new services assume that they're going to be on their own domain. Usernames are based on domains - so I guess I'd end up with and That just looks ugly.


Adding sub-domains is free and easy. and - done!

But there are a couple of issues.

  1. Do I want to name them after the app, or something more generic in case I switch later? Perhaps and
  2. Do users understand that they need to follow for my Foursquare-style check-ins and for my beer reviews?

One Domain To Rule Them All

Perhaps I'll just have everything on my main domain? That also comes with a few problems! I'll need to install the apps somewhere and then work out how to redirect users to the correct app based on... what? And it still doesn't resolve the username issue.

Just treat everything as a single ActivityPub feed

I think this is where I'm heading.

I've written before about my perfect social network.

  • I post items tagged work, tech, sport, politics, etc.
  • You decide which of those channels you want to subscribe to.

If you only want to read my sport punditry, subscribe to that channel. If you want everything except my political views, ignore that specific channel.

I could publish everything on a single feed. It is then up to you or your client to work out how to filter that.

I'm still not sure how that would work! Perhaps clients will be smart enough to ignore statuses which don't fit their model? Perhaps users will manually choose what to follow?

That's sort of how Aaron Parecki's unified view works.

What would you do?

If you've done this successfully - or have particularly strong opinions - please let me know!

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5 thoughts on “Naming things is hard - DNS for the Federated Web”

  1. says:

    In case you haven't already seen it; Cory Doctorow has been talking about related topics on his various channels recently. is where I saw it, reposted from his Mastodon... although as said discussion was about his plurality of channels, take your pick really. 🙂

  2. said on

    @Edent Personally, I think a single feed is the best way. Clients should be able to filter based on the IndieWeb microformat or AP Object type.Users shouldn't have to run a different service for every content type they want to post. The fediverse needs more giant, single feeds to push the implementations to work on better filtering.

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  3. I know with Mastodon you can use WEB_DOMAIN and LOCAL_DOMAIN so you could be but have the Mastodon interface on if you wanted

    Why that subdomain? Well, Mastodon is currently the major Activity Pub Microblogging software so it's reasonably generic for reuse: just remember that Mastodon alternatives are not necessarily 100% compatible (and vice versa: some now support quote posts but Mastodon doesn't so the UI is a bit different)

    I've got no idea how well the user handles and webfinger will work with Pixelfed etc: but as Look Around You taught us "A scientist conducted an experiment..." 🙂

  4. To follow on with what Richard said about using different domains on Mastodon, that’s what I ended up doing:

    I’m then able to be @nick on Mastodon/ActivityPub (which feels right for that), but using WebFinger to redirect to the right place.

    I wasn’t sure at all about using mastodon. as my subdomain, but as that’s mostly for me, switching to an alternative in the future is fine as I end up getting the name right.


What are your reckons?

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