All 3 entries tagged Trackbacks

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August 28, 2005

Trackbacks: A tragedy in three acts

Writing about web page

It's by now a well-rehearsed argument both here and elsewhere, but this is the funniest restatement of the problem with trackbacks that I've come across. It begins:-

BEN: Honey pie?

MENA: Yes, sugar bear?

BEN: Do you ever get the feeling that itís too much trouble to leave a comment with a link if you want to tell someone that you wrote about their post?

MENA: Not really, sweetums.

BEN: Hm. Well, I do. It sure would be nice if there was some way my blog could just tell the other blog that I wrote about it automatically…

And the conclusions? The one that rings the biggest bell around here is:-

Systems that donít think about security up front end up paying for it down the road.

Hey ho.

April 29, 2005

More on trackbacks

Follow-up to Are trackbacks any good? from Autology: John Dale's blog

A while ago I wrote about John Gruber's blog entry from a couple of years ago explaining why he doesn't use trackbacks on his blog. I wondered then whether there were, or would be, more current instances of, er, a trackback-backlash. Now I see that Tom Coates, author of the Plastic Bag blog, has decided to abandon trackbacks, as has Ben Hammersley. Tom writes:-

In a way it should have been predictable from the beginning – we should probably all have spotted that functionality that allows individuals to place links on other people's sites could be exploited by spammers. … We're engaged in an arms race with the worst kind of people, an arms race that has raged across other communications media and which we show no sign of winning. For me, the negative experience of dealing with trackbacks has long-since overwhelmed the benefits it brings. For these reasons, I'm turning off all incoming Trackbacks on from this moment on.

and perceptively, I think, he wonders:-

A question I think we should be asking is how could we build services that let you decide precisely which groups of people should be able to see, link to, 'trackback' or comment on the work you do in a decentralised, disaggregated way?

March 31, 2005

Are trackbacks any good?

Writing about web page

We've been saying for a while now that we really should implement trackback support in WB. But my eye was caught by this article from John Gruber, a guy who in my experience normally talks sense. He asserts that trackbacks are, broadly, a waste of time, for two reasons, one of which might apply to us, the other which probably doesn't:-

  1. They're too restrictive; sure, you want to tell people if you've written about something they've posted, or hear about it if someone writes about your stuff, but why restrict yourself to just the sub-set of people writing about your stuff who happen to be trackback-enabled?

  2. It's hard to set up, since you need to run your own server, and it doesn't work well unless you build your web pages dynamically.

(He makes both these arguments more eloquently and in more detail than my crude summary, of course.)

His suggestion instead of trackbacks is to display referrers. Instead of trackbacks, John's articles display a list of all the referrers to his articles going back 45 days. He suggests that this is better than trackbacks, for two reasons: (1) it catches everyone, (2) the person doing the referring doesnt need to do anything except link to John's site, which is easy.

His article was written in June 2003, so it's almost two years old. I wonder if he feels the same way today? I don't see referrer lists any more on his recent articles, but then I don't see any trackbacks either.

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