TrackBack Discussion

Posted June 14, 2003 by Matt Mullenweg. Filed under Development.

While writing a critique of John Gruber’s misunderstanding of TrackBacks I stumbled across an article which said everything I was going to and decided to point you there instead.

Gruber’s current system has many flaws, including the fact that it’s arbitrarily ordered by popularity (why?) and every referrer that isn’t a permalink is going to be useless, if not tomorrow or next week then next month. For plain referrer tracking TrackBack isn’t the best, and that’s why WordPress also implements the PingBack specification, which can be thought of referrers on steroids for weblog communication, but is not widely supported at this time.

The best system I have seen so far was whatever Mark Pilgrim used when he was doing his accessibility series. It would, if I remember correctly, follow referrer links to check that the site was actually linking back, grab the context of the link (usually about a paragraph) and then find the permalink for that blog entry if one existed and link back to that. If someone were to create such a hack for WordPress I would certainly consider incorporating it with a release.

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  1. I agree and disagree. Depending on what you what to achieve as a final outcome. For me, simply seeing where my visitors come from is more important to me that knowing they were further commenting on a post that maybe I was commenting on (ad nauseum) as was the original concept that Ben Trott devised when formulating Trackbacks. That process has become too messy and convoluted to be implemented by general bloggers – more often left to the wise few.

    Most plebs (read newbies/bloggies) would simply apppreciate knowing that someone reached their site/article via another after they had clicked a link in an article (keh?) . Maybe I’m presuming that my surfing habits are not too dissimilar to many others when writing this, but If you are considering a referrer/trackback system then my money is on a referrer type…

    RSS is for the techno adicts and news-readers – not for the masses (is this a masses app?). Sigh – I have said too much.

    Comment from Mike on June 15, 2003

  2. The pingback code I implemented for MyPHPBlog does link verification and attempts to getn an excerpt. Right now, it will fail to get certain exerpts from WordPress pings, because WordPress will re-encode URLs that contain ampersands, which will cause my matching to fail. But it will be simple to rework the code to handle that.

    I’m already planning to do some serious refactoring of the WP *back code anyhow.

    Comment from Dougal Campbell on June 16, 2003

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