All entries for Saturday 30 April 2005

April 30, 2005

Blogs and Trackbacks

In a recent post, Tom Coates of plasticbag.org questioned the utility of blog trackbacks, saying:

I think it's time we faced the fact that Trackback is dead. We should state up front – the aspirations behind Trackback were admirable. We should reassert that we understand that there is a very real need to find mechanisms to knit together the world of webloggers and to allow conversations across multiple weblogs to operate effectively. We must recognise that Trackback was one of the first and most important attempts to work in that area. But Nevertheless, we have to face the fact – Trackback is dead.

Bryan of Smart Mobs on the other hand says,

Personally, I've seen living and dead trackback. My research blog gets very useful, clean trackbacks. But a couple of others I've posted on have suffered from pornspambacks.

I donít know the mechanisms surrounding trackback spam (e.g. how specific blogs are targeted, the effectiveness of preventative measures, etc.) but they still remain a useful tool for tracking the spread of conversations. Following trackbacks allows one to sample a greater range of responses as well as highlighting blogs on similar issues which may otherwise escape notice. The only real alternative at the current time is to search for URLs manually via the likes of Blogpulse, Pubsub and Technorati. It's tedious and not a surefire way of ensuring everyone who references a link (and wants others to know) is highlighted.

Many of the blogs I read donít seem to have a problem. Perhaps itís limited to those which see particularly heavy traffic. Or maybe the blogs which appear Ďcleaní are so because the authors are religiously deleting spam. In any case, time is sure to provide an innovative solution to the problem, or weíll simply learn to live with it; just like email.


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