A fiber crafts blog and JAMstack comments

I don’t know about you, but I’ve reached a point of exhaustion with screens amidst this pandemic, and have realized that my analog creative outlets give me the most joy in the Era of Video Chats. Being able to make things with my hands and observe real, tangible progress is just more exhilarating these days.

As I’m exploring more in knitting, sewing, and weaving, I wanted a cohesive place to record what I’m making and how my skills are growing. To that end, I’ve put together a fiber crafts blog where I’m documenting my projects:

The blog home page, showing a couple recent project posts, and a list of current/upcoming projects

The three geometric blocks in the header represent knitting, sewing, and weaving, and each post has a flag according to which craft it’s been filed under.

A footer with a personal bio and very bright, geometric pattern of vector quilt-block shapes done up in red, yellow, and blue.

A return to ridiculous footers.

The home page rendered with a very dark navy page background, and purplish-blue tiles for the blog post links instead of a blush color

Dark mode!

I won’t stick to a specific schedule, instead only posting when I have something to share. You can get a sense of the slow-and-steady pace of these fiber projects based on the number of posts that are on the blog now. 😊 Even though the fiber communities I want to participate in are largely on a couple social media platforms at the moment, I’m choosing to invest more in the blogging community—I don’t love these social platforms’ business models, and I hope more people return to owning their own content.

JAMstack comments

Speaking of communities and owning one’s own content, I wanted to be able to support comments on the fiber blog. I’m pretty much all-in on Eleventy + Netlify for most side projects at this point, and I hadn’t really explored the commenting solutions available for a site running on an SSG (static site generator) until now.

My requirements were that such a system be:

  • Accessible
  • Performant
  • Privacy-preserving
  • No more than ~$5/mo
  • Appropriate for people who aren’t familiar with Github or Webmentions

I have long ruled out Disqus due to its loading a hefty weight of JavaScript, much of it in service to user tracking behaviors.

The first solution I looked at was this comments engine, and at first blush it seemed a little overcomplicated to me: perhaps a bit funny to re-generate the site each time I moderate a comment. After looking into some other options that perhaps you might be interested in, I ended up returning to that initial comments engine. I liked that it already integrated really well with my setup (Eleventy and Netlify), and I wouldn’t really have to pull in any new dependencies to get comments working.

That being said, I did simplify a couple things. That JAMstack comments engine uses two separate Netlify forms: one to collect submissions, and another to host moderated comments. Submission notifications are sent to Slack, where the site owner can approve/deny the given comment, pushing it to the second form, which subsequently triggers a build. That doesn’t integrate very well with my workflow. My day job mostly operates out of Microsoft Teams these days, so I do a poor job of paying attention to Slack. I also don’t expect to get very many comments on this site at all. So I skipped all this business with multiple forms and Lambda functions and made the workflow slightly less automated/intelligent. Whenever a comment is submitted through the form, I get an email notification. I can review these as a batch (if there is a batch!) and trigger a build when I’m happy with the moderation.

Depending on one form like this does leave you somewhat open to accidentally pushing a build-triggering change before comments have been fully moderated. Given the rate of comments I expect to receive and the rate of changes I expect to push, I don’t really anticipate this being an issue. But I might revisit this at some point because if you can believe it, human errors do happen! All of the time!

That is probably sufficient rambling on JAMstack comments solutions, so check out the blog if fiber crafts are your idea of fun!

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