msgWP piqued public interest this week with a demo of its new microblogging product that allows users to publish text messages and photos to WordPress sites using Telegram. Although the plugin hasn’t officially launched yet, a live demo on the website allows people to anonymously publish a post to msgWP’s demo blog from their own Telegram accounts by launching a Telegram bot.
The plugin’s creator, Róbert Mészáros, said he plans to launch it in late summer or early fall, after collecting more feedback from beta testers and polishing the website. Mészáros is a developer who mainly works on a contract or freelance basis. Although msgWP isn’t is first WordPress plugin, it is the first one he has created as a product to promote.
“It’s highly unlikely that I’ll make msgWP available on the WordPress.org Plugin Directory, but it’s going to be GPL licensed,” Mészáros said.
“Support, automatic updates, and restricted content will be available only for those who buy a plan. Since I’m using msgWP myself and I plan to donate a part of profit back to the community, to the WordPress Foundation.”
Most of the plugins available that integrate Telegram with WordPress either broadcast to a channel or display the feed of a public channel in a widget. This is the first plugin that sends Telegram user-generated content into WordPress.
I tested the demo last night and successfully posted a text to the demo blog. Images do not yet appear to be working on the demo or may be disabled for now. Mészáros said the demo implementation unhooks some of the checks that are enabled by default on the plugin.
When the msgWP plugin is used on a site, administrators need to allow a Telegram account to create posts explicitly. This setting is available in the admin screen where you can enter the username of a Telegram account. Adding multiple usernames to the whitelist opens up some interesting possibilities for group blogging.
“Since every Telegram message contains information about the Telegram account, we can filter out those who are not whitelisted,” Mészáros said.
“Also, the fact that users are explicitly whitelisted opens up the way to have user level settings. For example, you can set a specific category for a Telegram account or only give them the option to create draft posts.
“If you whitelist yourself you have a microblog; if you whitelist 20 users with various settings, you can cover a live event with Telegram and msgWP.”
The msgWP plugin also checks the IP of the request. If it falls outside a particular IP range, msgWP can recognize that it’s not from Telegram and block it.
Mészáros’ inspiration for the plugin came from his principles regarding centralized social media. While he maintains a private blog where his friends follow him, Mészáros’ doesn’t use platforms like Twitter and Facebook.
“I feel strongly about blogging and microblogging,” he said. “It’s not all rainbows – if you have one, you know that it takes a certain kind of commitment and effort.”
Mészáros said he was also inspired “by an almost forgotten history of WordPress,” wherein many took advantage of its support for XML-RPC to blog from desktop blog editors, like MarsEdit, BlogJet, and BlogDesk, without ever logging into the admin. He contends that third-party tools like this demonstrate that WordPress is more than the editor.
Since msgWP is already integrated into the messaging workflow for Telegram users, it may inspire some to blog more often. Posting is faster than using Twitter, Facebook, or even the WordPress mobile apps, albeit with far fewer features.
“Paradoxically we want to encourage people to use WordPress by not reminding them that they run their sites/microblogs on WordPress,” Mészáros said. “A messaging app has some informality to it, and that will help a lot. All you need is to write and press send. After all, you are sending texts, and not publishing structured articles on your blog after too many glasses of wine. For this reason, we don’t see msgWP with Telegram as a replacement for the WP Mobile Apps.”
Despite the convenience promised through various apps, the concept of microblogging on one’s own website does not seem to have taken off yet. Services like micro.blog, which integrate with existing WordPress blogs, are still used by a fervent few and have not yet gained mainstream adoption. Even the “Press This” feature that was included in WordPress core prior to 2017, was retired in favor of a canonical plugin, with discontinued support for the bookmarklet feature. It hasn’t been updated for two years and is only installed on approximately 10,000 sites.
Postcard, a social sharing and microblogging app that integrated with WordPress, is another tool that was aimed at fundamentally changing how people use social networks. It was discontinued due to the development burden of supporting multiple apps.
There are many different solutions that have popped up over the years for enabling quick posts or microblogging, all with vastly different approaches. msgWP has an advantage in that Mészáros can leverage the power and speed of Telegram, along with all of its mobile and desktop clients, without having to maintain that aspect of the publishing interface. Even if it doesn’t spark a wildfire of microblogging across the web, it may offer users a convenient alternative to posting content inside social media silos, especially for niche use cases like group microblogging for live events.