Mastodon, WordPress, and Verification

With the seemingly impending collapse of Twitter, many have started checking out Mastodon as an alternative for keeping in touch with the same people. And, while federation can make that a little different, I’d say it’s overall been going well.

That said, one item that is very different is the concept of verification. With Twitter, verification was a means of indicating which public person/corporation was the “real” one (until new management changed that concept slightly). Mastodon takes a very different approach. There is no central authority to state who is the real you. However, what they can do is prove that you are capable of controlling the content at the site that you link to in your profile.

This link-based verification means that Mastodon doesn’t care that I’m the “original” Tindra. It cares that I’m able to change settings on this website. Which, if you think about it, is good enough for entities that have an obviously official website.

This works by using a specially crafted URL that has a “rel=me” attribute. Which, when you’re editing HTML, is easy-peasy! The challenge is with systems like WordPress where it’s very difficult to actually edit the HTML. Depending on where you are trying to place this link it may not even be possible – things may break. And copy/pasting the special link into a URL window doesn’t work because it wants just the link – there’s no place for the extra attributes.

So, how do we make this work?

First, depending on what theme you have installed, it may not be possible. (Yes, anything is possible if you’re willing to modify the theme, but this gets back to the odds of breaking things) In general, it seems like themes that use “blocks” are more likely to have the required feature.

So, you’re now using a theme that uses blocks. Now what?

Let’s start with a Social Icons Block. This doesn’t add the icons by themselves – you’re going to have to add each social network individually.

Screenshot of Social Icons block

Within the Social Icons Block, you can now add blocks for each of your social networks. This will, as it says on the tin, add an icon for each social network. We are, unsurprisingly, going to add the Mastodon block.

Screenshot of Mastodon block

Note: expand out the Advanced part of the menu to display the LINK REL attribute. In this window, type “me” (no quotes).

That’s it!

You may need to re-add your website to your Mastodon profile to nudge it into conducting the verification check, but that’s essentially what it takes to get Mastodon to recognize that you own a website that’s running WordPress.

And you now have some snazzy icons on your home page.

Mastodon and Twitter social media icons (round)





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