In this day and age, proving you are who you say you are on social media feels like an uphill battle. Particularly if you don’t have $1,000 to do so.
That’s why I’m happy to report that you can verify1 yourself on Mastodon for the low, low price of FREE. Let’s see how!
I want to thank Eric Meyer for his lovely walkthrough which was my gateway into this, and to the commenters from that article who added more context. Please go read his writeup first, then come back for some additional pointers.
Set up on Mastodon
Following Eric’s breakdown, you’ll have located where to add your links to the Profile metadata in your Profile settings, and found the Verification section showing an example code snippet to use on your site. You can copy the code in that example, but the main pieces you really need are:
- Your profile URL
Set up on your website
<a rel="me" href="https://your-mastodon-url-here"/>Mastodon</a>
If you use the code provided from Mastodon, it can be placed anywhere on your site that a normal text link would appear: header, footer, navigation menu, content, etc. You can replace the “Mastodon” text with other text, or even an image or icon (though for accessibility I recommend including alt text or visually hidden text to describe what the link is for). Eric does this by including alt text on the image inside his link.
However, you aren’t actually limited to sticking a visible link somewhere on your page. If you’d prefer a more invisible one, you can add the following code into the
<head> of your page/site, and it functions just the same for verification! It also means a screen reader user/keyboard user doesn’t have to interact with an additional link that may only be there for verification purposes.
<link rel="me" href="https://your-mastodon-url-here"/>
Multiple verified users
Something that isn’t clear on first glance in Eric’s article is that you can add multiple links on a site to verify more than one person. If you include multiple
<link>‘s in your site head, each person represented can be verified for that site/page on Mastodon.
<link rel="me" href="https://mastodon-user-1-profile-url"/>
<link rel="me" href="https://mastodon-user-2-profile-url"/>
<link rel="me" href="https://mastodon-user-3-profile-url"/>
For instance, you could:
- Link everyone on your site’s homepage, so they can be verified for the main domain
- Link only the website owner(s) on the homepage, and link authors on individual articles/archives
- Link staff via an About/Teams page
In Eric’s article, he mentions that verifying with Github requires a bit of a workaround, as there was only 1 available URL field for profiles. As of that writing, Github has added 4 more fields for “Social Accounts”, which all include the
rel="me" attribute when saved (Twitter announcement). This allows you to have the best of both worlds, showcasing a main portfolio (or any other link prominently), along with linking to Mastodon and being verified.
One issue I ran into initially is if I had already entered a URL in my profile metadata before adding the link to my website, Mastodon wouldn’t update to show the verification. It’s likely due to results being cached on save, but it might confuse first time users. The quickest way to get around this is to simply remove the URL in Mastodon, save your profile, and then add it back in and save again. This seems to force Mastodon to run the test again, and should now show the coveted green checkmark!
If anyone is interested, I’m tossing around the idea of a tutorial on how to add Mastodon links to WordPress profile pages and output them for author archives.
1Verify here means creating a link between your social profile and an external site you control to prove that it is, indeed, your account.