On a site, I use Zapier to automate a specific set of tasks. Every day, the website sets up a show/character of the day (I think you know what site this is…) and it posts that show/character to Twitter, Tumblr, Facebook and …. Mastodon.

Or at least it does now.


Caveat! I pay for this service. The webhooks used are in the starter package at $19.99/month annually.

There’s a service, Zapier, that allows you to make incredibly complex if/then/else checks and performs an action. It’s not cheap, but at $250 a year it’s not expensive for my needs. Way back when, I picked it because I needed something that would let me actually script, and I recognized that running pushes like that all from my own server was a lot more work than it should be, what with all the libraries and so on.

Seeing as that wasn’t driven by a post or any action except time, it had its own quirks. But then one day in May we all woke up and saw how dumb Twitter was. They priced and Automattic out of their own API!

But not Zapier.

Note: Automattic made the right choice here. With the API cost starting at $42,000 a month (yes, a month, and I can remember when I made that a year and thought I was hot shit), knowing how inexpensive Jetpack Pro/Premium/Whatever is, there was no way they could justify it.

Zapier’s business model has a large chunk invested in pushing things to social (among all sorts of cool things, like calendar integration). So when I had to revisit how I posted new articles to Twitter anyway, I figured I’d wrangle Mastodon as well.

The Zap Flow

Overall, my flow looks like this:

Screenshot of the Zapier flow, which shows: 1 - new item in RSS, 2 Post in Webhooks, 3 Create Tweet

But what goes in each?

The first one is a built in and easy trigger. It follows the RSS for the site and, when there’s a new article, off it goes.

The third one is the tweet, which is about as straightforward as you might expect.

The second one is Mastodon. That’s where we’re going to concentrate today.

Add an App

To do this, you need to create an ‘app’ for your Mastodon account. Log in to your instance (mine here is and edit your profile. On that page, on the menu to the left, is an item called Development.

On that page you’ll see a list of Applications, if you have any, and a button to create a New Application. That’s what we want to do today. Click on that button and you’ll get the basic data:

New Application setup on Mastodon, asking for name and website.

I put in “Zapier” and “” as my

Scroll further down and there are a bunch of options. You only need to have these two checked:

  • read:accounts
  • write:statuses 

The read will let us know things worked, and write … I really hope that one is obvious for you, but you have to be able to write to post.

Click create and you will be redirected to the Application page where it will now list your app to Zapier. Click on that and you’ll be show a page with the set up info, but now it has a Client Key and a Client secret.

Example of the client keys and tokens.

I clicked regenerate right after I took this screenshot.

You’ll be able to get at this whenever you want, so don’t panic.

Back to Zapier

Over on Zapier, pop open your Zap. In my case, I had a pre-built one for Twitter, so I added this in by telling it I wanted to add an Action. Since I pay for Zapier, I have access to their premium webhook to post:

Pretty clear I think. I need “Webhooks by Zapier” and the Event is POST. That’s telling Zapier what to do with the hook.

The next part of the step is the Action and that has a lot of stuff. The first two are the URL and the Payload:

The URL is going to be[YourToken] — What’s your token? Remember that as the third item shown on the edit page for your Application over on your instance? Yep! Paste that in.

I picked JSON for my payload since I’d been using it elsewhere. For the next part, I have to dig out the data. For Mastodon, you want your data ‘type’ to be status since that is literally telling it “I wanna make a status post!” and the content I made the description and the link.

Example of STATUS and content.

If you click on that box where I have description etc, it’ll pop up with more options!

Example of other data you could insert.

Pretty nifty! I left the rest as default:

  • Wrap Request In Array – no
  • File – empty
  • Unflatten – yes
  • Basic Auth – empty
  • Headers – empty

Click on continue and you can test.


That’s it! Now your RSS feeds will auto post to Mastodon.

I’m sure someone’s wondering “Why aren’t you using ActivityPub, Mika!?!” And the answer is… It doesn’t actually work on all hosts. ActivityPub requires you to be able to write to your .well_known/ folder and, currently, you cannot do that on DreamHost because it’s managed at the server level.

This is not a wrong choice by either party! DreamHost (especially on DreamPress, the managed WP solution) wants to prevent you from breaking your SSL. Now, thanks to @diziara, there is a workaround if you can edit the .htaccess file in your .well_known folder:

# Permit access to the challenge files but nothing else
Order allow,deny
Allow from all

RewriteCond %{REQUEST_URI} ^/[.]well-known/webfinger+$
RewriteRule .* /wp-json/activitypub/1.0/webfinger [L]

RewriteCond %{REQUEST_URI} ^/[.]well-known/acme-challenge/[a-zA-Z0-9_-]+$
RewriteRule .* - [L]

RewriteRule .* - [F]

Assuming your install is in root (mine is) you put that into the .htaccess and it works! I was surprised that it also let me edit on DreamPress, but I’m not sure if that will last. I’ll keep my support-thread updated though.

And the other thing… I don’t want people to ‘follow’ my blog like that. I mean, you could, but also people follow me as me, and if I auto-post to ‘me’ then it works. Telling people to follow my blog and me is tricky since people are lazy (seriously we all are). But if that’s your thing, then yes, you absolutely can follow and get all my articles.

I’m still going to use a combination, since while I do want people to follow my blog, I suspect more will follow me instead. Also it’s easier to follow up on engagements (questions etc) if I’m watching ‘me’ and not two places. The other problem is it’s letting you follow ME at my blog. My other site has many more authors, and this isn’t quite right for that.

The nice thing, though, is that there isn’t a single perfect answer for everyone’s use case. For most people, ActivityPub will work and they can be made discoverable. For the others, though, hold on until end of June. My friends at Automattic are planning to have post-to-mastodon support in their next iteration.

I’ll still need my zaps since I post things that aren’t blog posts, but I’m looking forward to one less.




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