Trackbacks 2

My trackback education got sidetracked as I considered Technorati as a trackback tool. According to the Technorati FAQ: “If you are a blogger, Technorati can tell you which other bloggers are linking to you, and what people are saying about you and your blog.” This is the idea behind the trackback. With Technorati, you enter the permalink to your post and find out if anyone else is linking to it. I added a Technorati link to my Trackback 1 post.

The problem with the Technorati method of trackback is that I would have to generate the links manually for each post or start searching for an automated system to do it for me. (Since Tim Bray at Ongoing seems to use this Technorati system, I’m sure there is a way.)

I tracked back my Trackback 1 post to A Beginner’s Guide to Trackback and it already has appeared at the bottom of the page. This was via my Haloscan account. It is labor intensive with several text boxes to type or paste to. I read the Haloscan help documentation and they have a link to their forum where there is some autodiscovery text that you can paste to your blog template. Then I found this post by Phil Ringnalda that argues against autodiscovery.

You see autodiscovery, goes through your blog post to see if there is a trackback url for each and every external link and then does the trackback ping if it finds one. Ringnalda thinks that this defeats the purpose of the trackback which is supposed to be an intentional linking to someone’s post because I think the reader of the original post should read my post too. My Jara post qualifies (but Tim Bray doesn’t enable any trackbacks). So does my first Trackbacks post. But I won’t trackback to Ringnalda from this post as I’m just repeating what he said and if you made it to his post you probably won’t be too interested in my ramblings on the trackback system. (Ringnalda could use Technorati to find my link to his blog however.)

Ringnalda says that autodiscovery for pingbacks makes sense. “Pingback is a method for Web authors to request notification when somebody links to one of their documents. This enables authors to keep track of who is linking to, or referring to their articles.” (Wikipedia)

I like the philosophy here. So for now, I’ll trackback with intention and consider whether the trackback is necessary. (If I simply refer the reader to the original blog post off my site, does it make sense to trackback? I don’t think so. The reader would read the original, trackback to my blog, then see only that I refer them back. I would only track back if I added original content.)

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