pb’s TrackBack genius

When I saw back in July that pb added TrackBack to onfocus.com’s comment system, I just thought that it was an interesting reuse of existing code. It wasn’t until I went back just now, while gathering links for a post on third-party TrackBack, that the other shoe dropped, and I realized just what an elegant, subtle, and positively brilliant statement on the real nature of TrackBack it was. From the perspective of the post doing the pinging, a TrackBack ping can be several different things, but from the perspective of the post being pinged, it’s a remote comment, and the only reasonable place to display it is inline with the comments, using the blog name as the commenter’s name, linked to the blog url, with the post permalink functioning as a [more] link after the post excerpt.

Not only does it seem like the only reasonable place to display a ping once you’ve seen it in action, it also helps you decide whether or not it’s reasonable for you to send a TrackBack ping to someone else’s entry. While people are sorting out in their heads what TrackBack really is, all the testing pings and meaningless pings are perfectly understandable, but eventually we’ll need to settle down to just pinging entries where we think that a reader of that entry would also be interested in reading our entry. Thinking of a TrackBack ping as a remote comment would help curb the tendancy to ping an entry when all we are doing is linking to that entry. A reader of Joe’s Blog who likes a post about meercats doesn’t have any reason to read a post on Fred’s Blog saying “Joe posted about meercats”, and if Fred thinks of TrackBack as remote commenting, he’ll realize that he wouldn’t post a comment on Joe’s Blog saying “you posted about meercats”, so there’s no reason to send a TrackBack ping.

Now if only my lame Perl skillz were up to creating a MTCommentsNPings container tag that would intermingle local and remote comments…


Comment by Phil Ulrich #
2002-08-25 05:56:01

Heheheh….is that a challenge, Ringnalda? ;)

Comment by Phil Ringnalda #
2002-08-25 09:14:11

You bet. You know Brad Choate was by here yesterday after I posted this, and there’s a fair chance that Adam Kalsey was as well. I don’t know Timothy Appnel or Kevin Shay, so I’d guess they aren’t working on MTCommentsNPings, but for the rest of you, the clock is ticking…

Comment by robert #
2002-08-25 14:03:55

Now, the problem with MT bookmarklet (in my version, at least) is that I don’t get to choose whether I should ping the entry or not. I’ve tried posting from this page and it just took the trackback entry and no way of turning it off…

Comment by Phil Ringnalda #
2002-08-25 18:17:32

Ah, thanks for the reminder – I noticed that a while back (if there’s only one bit of TrackBack RDF, as there is on individual archives, then you don’t have the choice of not pinging from the bookmarklet), but then forgot to ask Ben for a fix/work up a hack (which should be pretty easy, just edit the template file for the bookmarklet to add a checkbox for the ping url).

Comment by Phil Ringnalda #
2002-08-25 18:46:53

Patch/hack is in the MT support forum.

Trackback by tima thinking outloud. #
2002-09-23 13:00:26

Enhancing Comments with TrackBack.

There has been some interesting discussion over at Sam Ruby’s weblog about how to track and enhance comment threads. Sam has now TrackBack enabled his weblog to further the discussion.


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