Did you know you could use your own domain for your mastodon username without hosting your own instance? It can be done with a single Netlify redirect rule.

Mastodon client showing @phil@hawksworx.com resolving to @philhawksworth@indeweb.social

One of the nice things of Mastodon is that you can move from one instance to another if you ever feel the need. Your username is a combination of your handle and the name of your instance. I'm currently on the indieweb.social instance and very happy there. But perhaps one day I'll want to move to a different instance. If I do, it would be nice to have control of a consistent username. And to have it associated with the domain name that I control would be lovely.

As it happens this is can be simple to achieve. We can use webfinger to associate an address on a domain we control, with a username on any Mastodon instance.

So instead of sharing my username as @philhawksworth@indieweb.social, I could use @phil@hawksworx.com

Phil Nash gave a good explanation of this on his own website.

As Phil explains:

Implementing WebFinger requires your domain to respond to a request to /.well-known/webfinger with a JSON representation of the associated accounts. If you have a Mastodon account you can check out what your WebFinger JSON looks like by making a request to https://#{instance}/.well-known/webfinger?resource=acct:#{username}@#{instance}.

His solution is nice and simple, but got me thinking that we could simplify even further and achieve this with a single redirect rule, which can be achieved very simply with Netlify, where I happen to host this site.

All we need is to add a rewrite rule. This in the netlify.toml will do the trick:

from = "/.well-known/webfinger"
to = "https://INSTANCE_NAME/.well-known/webfinger?resource=acct:USER_HANDLE@INSTANCE_NAME"
status = 200

I did that for this site:

from = "/.well-known/webfinger"
to = "https://indieweb.social/.well-known/webfinger?resource=acct:philhawksworth@indieweb.social"
status = 200

Now, requests to hawksworx.com/.well-known/webfinger will return the user data held by indieweb.social, and anyone searching for me by the username @phil@hawksworx.com will find me. If I ever decide to move to a new instance, I can keep the same address by simply updating this one rule.