WordPress, Fediverse and Caching

Quick tip on a rather specific situation I found myself in though I believe it could come up for a lot of people using WordPress trying to integrate with ActivityPub networks. If you are:

  • Running WordPress
  • Using a page caching solution like Cloudflare APO or manually configured
  • Running an ActivityPub plugin and/or webfinger

Then you will likely run into an issue with your site not being reliably discoverable when searched for. Using Matthias Pfefferle‘s ActivityPub, Webfinger and Nodeinfo plugins to get your WordPress site exposed as an ActivityPub server will add a few routes to your site. One of the routes is the author pages of WordPress which exist at /author/<author username>. However, this path when hit with a browser will return HTML. ActivityPub instances on the other hand will be looking for a different content type called application/activity+json. Unfortunately, many caching layers will not provide a Vary on Accept which you will need in order to return different data depending on what type of content the requester is looking for.

To resolve this on my site, which uses Cloudflare for CDN, I added a page rule that disallows caching for my author page. This works because I am the only author on the site. A full “proper” solution would be to set a Vary on the Accept header for that path, which Cloudflare does not support.

You may want to be very specific about what Vary headers are used, on what paths and what you actually accept a Vary header on and so on. Allowing for a wide or unlimited range of values can result in people easily breaking cache at the CDN sending requests to your origin servers.

2 comments

  1. My understanding is there is an endpoint that webfinger provides /author//activitypub that can get you around dealing with the content-type issues that cloudflare introduces by sending the response back in html and not activity+json as it should be.

  2. For other readers who may land here, it is important to note that this is not unique to Cloudflare but is inherent to any caching system that caches pages and does not pay attention to Vary: Accept

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