Fediverse Moving over the Face of the Waters

by Jay Cuthrell
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This is an early edition of Fudge Sunday where we we take a look at moving a newsletter from Substack to Buttondown and from Twitter to Mastodon.

Music: *Moby - “God Moving over the Face of the Waters” (1995)*

Getting Informed

*Record scratch* *Freeze frame*

Yup, that’s my newsletter arriving a full day early. You’re probably wondering how we ended up in this situation.

Subscriber asks: *Why is this newsletter moving? Again?*

Subscriber asks: *Wait, Twitter? Didn’t you* *stop using it in 2017**?*

That’s right. To explain, I’m going to play back a recent thread from my new Mastodon account on my new self-hosted Mastodon single-user instance.

Migration and Consolidation of Newsletter and Blog

Last month I learned that my cutover from Revue to Substack came at a cost.[1]

*Today I learned the default sharing link for Substack app does not use my cu$tom domain.😳*

*sunday.fudge.org* *swaps to* *open.substack.com/pub/fudge* *instead.🤔*

*This design choice is enough to make me reconsider my migration to Substack…. just 6 months after leaving Revue (Twitter).😂*

*Maybe I need to try and roll my own?🤷‍♂️*

*Or, do I test Buttondown first?🤷‍♂️*

*Thank you for attending my 500 char TED talk.🤓*

Over several days I would find out Substack URL handling actually was going to involve more time to migrate away from than I understood 6 months ago. Eventually, I made a decision that involved consolidation and investment.[2]

*I think I’m going to punt… on a couple fronts and simplify this.*

*Punt: Netlify blog (**fudge.org**)*

*Punt: Substack newsletter (**sunday.fudge.org**)*

*Plan: Move everything to Buttondown as the new simplified* *fudge.org*

*Migrate: My blog posts (mdx but mostly markdown)*

*Migrate: My newsletter posts to see how awful the export/import turns out to be getting off of Substack or prior archives from Revue, wget, curl, etc…*

So, if you are reading this… the migration was a success.

To get my newsletter migrated and able to post this update I performed the following steps:

  • Go to Substack -> Dashboard -> Settings -> Exports -> Create new export
  • Wait for Substack confirmation email to arrive indicating the export completed
  • Download Substack export (zip file)
  • Go to Buttondown Settings Importing to upload the Substack export (I ended up sending a support ticket, YMMV)
  • Confirmed successful import
  • Completed a Stripe purchase for Buttondown Standard for up to 5000 subscribers 🤓
  • Did lots of DNS updates for my cu$tom domain and updated Buttondown Fancy Stuff and wait for propagation (in my case Cloudflare)
  • Customized Buttondown Newsletter
  • Go to Buttondown Settings Importing to upload the Substack subscriber export
  • Wait for Buttondown approvals of the subscriber import
  • Played around with drafts, formatting, customizations, etc.

Leaving The Bird for The Mastodon

I’ve avoided active use of Twitter for at least 5 years. So, while my account(s) are still up there is no content associated with them.

As I’ve written previously[3] on the topic of Twitter, this wasn’t like I was giving up anything to stop using Twitter. In fact, I missed what Twitter was back in 2007… a bit more civil and a bit less of that old Yogi Berra platitude due to the insufferable bot crowding.

Since I haven’t operated cuthrell.com as an active web property, it seemed like the best vanity domain to host a single-user instance of Mastodon. Plus, I already had a Linode VPS that was available and up to the task.

To get on the Fediverse I performed the following steps:

  • Followed the basic Linode community recipe with personal choices along the way (naming conventions)
  • Added back my .well\_known directory of files for Keybase proofs, etc… to the html root for nginx
  • Added my new Mastodon handle to my Twitter profile
  • Used Glitch hosted Fedifinder to poll my Twitter Lists, Followers, and export folks
  • Used my Mastodon import function from the Fedifinder export
  • Waited for others to follow me back or appear over the next 24-48 hours appearing in my timeline
  • While I waited it got me thinking about migrating my newsletter away from Substack

COUNTA of Mastodon Instances.png

And here we are with a few broken links, redirects to be done, and a lot of fun along the way! 🤓

What breaks next in my quest for a Markdown + Email + Blog + ActivityPub?

Until then… Place your bets!



I am linking to my disclosure.

  1. At the time I wasn’t planning to attempt this migration before the next issue of Fudge Sunday but here we are. ↩︎

  2. Actually, Gatsby Cloud not Netlify, but I digress. ↩︎

  3. But that’s for another post once I take down sunday.fudge.org once and for all as a site that only performs HTTP 301 until I see traffic fall off completely. ↩︎


✍️ 🤓 Edit on Github 🐙 ✍️

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