Before we start, do you know what Mastodon is? It’s sort of like email, where you can send an email from gmail.com to a yahoo.com account, except it looks very like Twitter. This pcmag article is a good introduction to it. Jeff Jarvis wrote a good post too, and Time Magazine interviewed Eugen Rochko, the founder of Mastodon that you should read.
This weekend, a probably sizeable chunk of #IrishTwitter migrated to Mastodon. We’re not the only ones. Twitter has been getting more hateful and acting as an echo chamber for lots of horrible people over the years. The sale of Twitter to Elon Musk, the firing of half the staff, his pronouncements of “free speech” all point towards the site being less regulated, less maintained and less moderated. You can’t deal with complaints if there’s nobody there listening to complaints of harassment or hate.
I don’t doubt that many of us will continue to visit and contribute to whatever Twitter becomes. Over the last few years, most of my interactions there have been publicising my blog posts. All I could see on there was angry tweets from different people, or people who were broadcasting their top ten ways of doing X, Y or Z. Hardly any actual conversation.
So, Mastodon. I woke up early on Saturday morning and discovered there was a #TwitterMigraton to Mastodon. I already had an account on mastodon.social but Irish Twitter was moving to mastodon.ie, and that’s where I went too, creating @email@example.com.
Judging from what I’ve read elsewhere, all mastodon instances are experiencing a HUGE surge in user registrations as people look for an alternative to the
stinking sinking ship that is Twitter.
On Saturday, the admins of mastodon.ie ran into performance difficulties as they dealt with the influx of new users. The site slowed down and people couldn’t upload images. Over 6,000 people are on that instance now.
The admins increased their hosting plan, eventually maxing out at the top tier. To pay for hosting they asked for donations. Right now they have raised over €4100!
How do I add my WordPress blog to Mastodon?
It’s mostly straight forward. Install these two plugins:
The installation instructions are unfortunately not great. After you install both plugins, go to your Profile page (Users->Profile) and scroll right to the end. Down there you will find your profile identifier. It will look like @firstname.lastname@example.org. For this blog that is @email@example.com, and I have my photoblog at @donncha. Search for those on Mastodon and you will find my two blogs. Please feel free to follow!
When a post is made and shared on Mastodon, it allows others to reply. Those replies to the toot on Mastodon will be sent to your WordPress blog as a comment! That blew my mind when I discovered that!
I discovered that running the plugins on a multi-site WordPress install will cause problems. Instead of activating it on the root install, you need to activate it on each one. I presume that’s maybe because the rewrite rules are added on plugin activation, but that’s just a guess.
If you have caching you might want to turn it off, or at the very least disable caching in /.well-known/ as that’s where Mastodon and other services will query your server for updated information.
It can take 10 to 15 minutes before a new post is seen. Be patient!
There’s one reason you might not want to do this. Your blog will be on a Fediverse instance by itself. Your blog posts will only show if someone is following it, or you boost the toots on Mastodon, or in the Federated feed. They won’t show in the Local Feed of your Mastodon instance. The best way around this is by careful use of relevant hashtags, but please don’t spam them, or you’ll be blocked.
You can hook your WordPress blog to your account too. I haven’t used them, but I saw two people use these plugins. Those posts will appear in the Local Feed of your Mastodon instance, which is a plus for discoverability.
You can also use IFTTT if your site can’t run plugins, and you have an RSS feed. Some details in this blog post. Thanks Sandy for that link!
I’m very excited about this. Is it too early to say that there’s enough momentum to sustain a #IrishMastodon community? I hope it succeeds.
Edit: George has a guide on his blog explaining how to do the same thing but points out that you need the WebMention plugin to receive replies as comments. I saw replies to my toots appear here as comments, but only if they were direct replies. If I replied to someone who replied to my blog that reply wouldn’t show as a comment, and I just tested that again and WebMention doesn’t change that, unfortunately.
Matthew Thomas has created a remote follow tool called apfollow, with source available. This creates a page where you can follow a Mastodon account by entering your own details in a box and it redirects you to your home server to do the follow. Here’s a link to follow my Mastodon.ie account. It fails for me, but maybe that’s something to do with mastodon.ie settings. I’ll fill out a bug report but it looks promising.
29 thoughts on “How to add your blog to Mastodon”
@firstname.lastname@example.org @Edent – this is my post about it. 🙂
@email@example.com Just remembered I added a script somewhere that linked hashtags back to tags on my blog, but Mastodon still picked up #WordPress as a hashtag, thankfully.
@donncha thanks for all the info, is it possible to follow new posts with #irishtwitter hashtag?
@firstname.lastname@example.org For future self, the only toots that get sent to my blog as comments are those where people reply directly to the blog post.I wonder if that means the blog address has to be the first one, or if it has to be the only one.Perhaps a good way of cutting down on spam, but I didn't expect it to work that way.
@donncha Thanks for this. I wrote something similar a while ago but didn't realize that WebFinger was needed. From what I'm reading that makes it easier to search for your blog account on Mastodon, is that right?
There is a certain irony that more freedom is driving people off Twitter.
Although anything that takes depletes big social media is a good thing imo
This Article was mentioned on markwaters.eu
@donncha Thank you.Very useful.
This Article was mentioned on boffosocko.com
That a WordPress site can became a Fediverse entity is awesome! We seriously do need more non-Mastodon things in Fediverse, or it will completely turn into Mastodoniverse, defying half of its reason to be (the other half being the federation part).
I also feel the urge to mention Bridgy Fed that enables any webmention-capable website (not necessarily a WordPress one) to connect to Fediverse?—?yet another option one might consider.
This Article was mentioned on evgenykuznetsov.org
This Article was mentioned on boffosocko.com
Is the WebFinger plugin necessary to enable your blog on Mastodon? I enabled ActivityPub, but not WebFinger, on my blog and it seems to work fine
Andreas – some people have been able to get on the Fediverse without the WebFinger plugin but my blog didn’t respond at all when I searched for the address until I installed it.
I installed the ActivityPub plugin as well as WebFinger and Node(Info(2) I can find my blog from my other Mastodon account, but it shows “Withdraw Follow Request”. I can’t figure out how to “approve” the follow request. Any thoughts?
This Article was mentioned on odd.blog
This Article was mentioned on tomfinley.co
You write “The best way around this is by careful use of relevant hashtags, “
Because people follow tags and thus see the post? Even though they don’t follow me? Or what do you mean with that?
Yeah, people follow tags. If someone on your instance follows the person who used the tag and you follow it, then it’ll appear in your home feed.
I follow the WordPress tag and see interesting things show up there from time to time.
Right, but the instance is my website without other users.
So I post a blog post, which goes ‘into’ activity pub.
If people following hashtags (post tags?) follow a tag I used in the post and my post shows up for them then that helps with discoverability. Otherwise I’m just posting/sharing into oblivion without anyone ever seeing it through activitypub.
You’ll have to follow your website and encourage others to follow it using your “ordinary” human account. You might have seen people in the early weeks of December pleading with others to “boost this toot to make my new instance more discoverable”. I remember a couple of people were doing that.
Unfortunately, your blog can’t boost or like or follow other accounts, which makes it harder for other people to find it. That’s a problem if your site isn’t already extremely popular. You have to boost your blog posts yourself.
Once people do start following it, then using hashtags will make those posts discoverable. If you look for the #cork hashtag you’ll hopefully see my photoblog there. You’ll also see the exact same content shared by my own Mastodon account, and that usually gets more engagement as I have lots more followers.
Hah that makes sense. Perhaps you should point that out a bit more clearly in your article 🙂 Most articles skip over these ‘usage details’.
Thanks for the information and replies.
After having added these two plugins to one of my blogs and a self-follow to text it, I notice pages upon pages of entries in my 404 logs, from all kinds of Mastodon servers which try to access some URL in the form of /api/v1/something. Do you have any idea if this can be resolved?