trackback integration?


Tom Coates expresses frustration with the role and nature of trackback technology, and says that he's designed his site to incorporate trackbacks into the content. I have no idea what he means, so I'm pinging his post to see what happens. :-)

If the ping works, and he ends up here, I have some suggestions for him...

First, add a more explicit permalink to the entries. Blogging UI convention is that the comments link brings up just the comments, not the full post--so it took me quite a while to figure out how to link directly to the post in question.

Second, be aware that the value of trackback is that you don't need to already know that someone's talking about you--if someone whose blog you don't regularly read references you, the backlinking is automatic. If someone references this post, I don't want to have to (a) hope that I'll stumble across the link by poring over referrer logs, or (b) go in manually and add a link back to the person who referenced me. I want that all to happen in the background--I want to be notified when someone links to me, and I want my readers to be able to follow those links, all with no effort on my part.

Automatically bidirectional links are a really powerful technology--one that elevates links between blogs in the same way that listservs elevated the concept of a list of e-mail addresses. Like listservs, trackback automates a process that was labor-intensive and error-prone.


I think this is one of those occasions where blog conventions have been set by initial template designers rather than by common consensus - and so I'm pretty comfortable bucking that trend. Movable Type comes with these templates that componentise all the technology - or use the componentisation of technology as a justification for a parallel componentisation of design. Of course that's totally reasonable - after all they want to communicate what each kind of functionality does to new users of Movable Type - but that's a very different audience from the people who come to the sites that those users build. We should start to address that.

The worst bastardisation I've seen so far is when people link through to an individual entry archive page format with a weird hybrid link that looks like: permalink/comments(2)/trackbacks(5) It's only one link but it should be three. And where they should start isn't clear at all. I don't really approve of pop-ups except for novelty content - they confuse navigation - so I can't take the standard approach that comes with the templates...

Basically - yeah you're right, but I think the other versions pretty much stink too! I'll continue to work on it and see if either I can persuade everyone to do it my way or come up with another way that I don't think is so terrible...

I think your way of integrating trackback info into the entry itself works fine. I'd just suggest two changes:

1) editing the text for the link (not the link itself) at the bottom, so that instead of saying "Comments (n)", it reads more like "Permalink (n Comments)"

2) editing the archive template so that the trackback info that you're showing on the main page also shows up on the individual entry page.

(Tried to post this in your comments, but got an error when I tried; might want to check that.)

I only wish that trackback happened across different blogging software - I mean, I *love* that MoveableType does it automatically, but I *hate* that I'm probably going to stop using my beloved Tinderbox and start using MoveableType simply because of trackbacks... Well, because MoveableType has built in comments too. And it's kind of cool. But Tinderbox has all these OTHER cool things. Hm.

Sooner or later I guess we MUST have non-proprietory trackback.

(Yeah, I know, with enough skills I could just build my own...)

Trackback is non-proprietry. The Eastgate guys could use the spec to integrate their own implementation today, if they wanted to.

I suspect though that they'd be waiting for a few things to get sorted as trackback-enabled pages have got serious problems with validation, things that will get sorted eventually so it pays to wait for them.

People are already thinking about where to take things from here:

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