TidBITS Arrives on Mastodon, Continues (Reluctantly) on Twitter and Facebook

Originally published at: TidBITS Arrives on Mastodon, Continues (Reluctantly) on Twitter and Facebook - TidBITS

After Twitter put a $42,000-per-month API fee for enterprises into effect, the WordPress Jetpack service dropped its Twitter connections, ending automatic posting of TidBITS articles on Twitter. Curious if he could sort out a free replacement, Adam Engst dug around and pieced one together.


I had a similar issue with an organization I help out.

I volunteer for our local eruv. In Jewish law, on our Sabbath, one cannot carry between a private domain and a public one. That mainly means you cannot carry, say a book from your house to the synagogue on the Sabbath.

To get around this issue, large Jewish communities create an eruv that demarcates a boundary around the entire community as a private domain. The boundary is physically marked by wires, walls, utility lines, etc. If the boundary is down, the eruv is down, and you cannot carry.

The question is how do you know whether the eruv is up or not. I setup a fairly complex tech system. The rabbi, after determining whether the eruv was up or not, would tweet the status to our Twitter account. Zapier picks up the Tweet, posts it to Facebook, and creates an RSS feed. Groups.io, our email list picks up RSS feed and emails it out to all of our email subscribers. Meanwhile, our website, SquareSpace displays the Tweet. Finally, we use Twilio to read the Tweet to whomever calls our hotline.

Basically, one tweet per week, and Zapier wanted $20 per month and Twitter wants $100 per month.

We switched to Mastodon, but won’t work with third parties to build plugins.

However, I discovered that Mastodon automatically creates an RSS feed of all your posts. And everyone uses RSS. That means we can use Zapier and Groups.io and I found an RSS plug-in for SquareSpace. We still need to update Twilio, but the built in RSS feed saved us from a lot of trouble.


I didn’t even know TidBits was on Twitter.

Have you considered Spoutible as well as Mastadon? Not much content there yet but I think the whole Twitter alternative universe is trying to sort itself out and it wouldn’t hurt being on several options.

Once upon a time, more than a decade ago, twitter supported RSS feeds. At the time, I thought that discontinuing RSS was a clear marker that the character of the company had changed in a very negative way.


I bailed on Twitter last year (no confirmation all my account data was removed, thanks Elon /s).
I was curious about Mastodon but the confusing multiple servers to choose from (am I tech or just hobbiest?) and such, I never followed up. Then I was looking at Bluesky but waiting for an invite is like…well…like the meme of that Simpson’s kid, Ralph Wiggum, on the bus, alone. Crazy how you just want to have a social info presence and now its tower of blab-all.

Very helpful commentary. I’m trying to revive a regional writers organization and I like your discussion of social media strategy. Ours has been somewhat haphazard, so your experience was helpful.

Everyone? I used RSS for a news feed but it quickly became overwhelming and I hadn’t checked it in more than a year. I can understand using it as an email interface, but am I missing a much more wider usage? Or did I just sign up for too many RSS feeds?

Everyone means all the other third party services. I had Zapier watching my Twitter feed and propagating it to Facebook and other services. If I wanted to continue using Twitter, I would have to pay Zapier $20 per month.

Zapier can’t watch my Mastodon feed, but Zapier can watch the RSS feed Mastodon generates and propagate that to other services.

This is probably the issue. I’ve used RSS since the early 2000s as pretty much my only source of news and following things on the internet. I only subscribe to things I’m interested in, and have different approaches to feeds depending on the source. But it’s generally not an issue to stay on top of them all and it allows me to keep up with what I’m interested in and be done. And I don’t end up clicking around randomly wasting my life on things that are pointless or corrosive.

When automatically posting to Mastodon can it post hashtags?

The organization I help with has used Dlvr.it for many years.

Glad you are on Mastodon! I just followed the account!

Thank you David. I found your explanation of Jewish practice most informative and interesting. I’m one who’s twitter only comes from the songbirds in our NC backyard lol. But I really appreciated what you were saying and how technology helps to keep an important religious tradition through adaptation!

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I hadn’t even heard of Spoutible before this. Someone else mentioned Bluesky, but I don’t like the private clubbiness feel to what I read right now. I approve of the open nature of Mastodon, even if I’m unlikely to ever be a heavy user.

Not easily. I could add one to all the channels as part of the template, but per-channel templates are a paid feature, and I’m not willing to put money into the maw of social media. I’ve never seen any real utility to hashtags either, probably due to hating social media.

Supposedly, Bluesky is meant to be just one implementation that uses an open, decentralized protocol they’re also developing. Both are in beta stages. The “AT protocol” would be an alternative to ActivityPub, the protocol that Mastodon and everything else in the Fediverse uses between servers. The supply of Bluesky invites is outpaced by the demand so that likely contributes to the feel.

Because Mastodon doesn’t have full-text search, hashtags are more important for discovery there. And when other users “boost” one of your messages, they can’t add hashtags themselves (the lack of an equivalent to “quote tweets” is intentional but controversial). It’s probably still not worth paying to include them just on those messages.

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Another great example for how creativity truly flourishes when creators have to deal with constraints — and have a goal that’s valuable to them. What a great story, David. Thank you for sharing!

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I just found you there and am now following.

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A post was split to a new topic: TidBITS on Threads?

Very simple, sign up on http://mastodon.social. About 90% of all Mastodon accounts are on it. Many servers are very niche and have a few dozen accounts on them. One thing about Mastodon.social is that other Mastodon servers aren’t going to block it, and it’s run very professionally. It also gets all the security updates.

Each Mastodon server can have its own policies. For example, a Mastodon server can decide not to take post from other Mastodon servers, or allow certain posts.

That might be important to some people (If you’re a bark friendly LBGTQ+ Furry, there’s a special server for you!) However, for most people who are following companies, main stream artists, and news organizations, Mastodon Social is where you should sign up.