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So whats so cool about Trackback?

I am sorry for not taking the time to explain about Trackback in my previous posting. Fernando has already raised the question – “explain to me a good use of the trackback feature?”

TrackBack (manual) enables weblogs to ping each-other, so if I am writing about something that Mike has already posted about – I can add his trackback url and his posting will be pinged, and I will be listed among the “Trackbacks”. Its a great way to keep track of weblogs posting about the same topic, and adds another layer to the “conversation”, at least IMHO.


Here is what MovableType writes about trackback:

Movable Type’s TrackBack system allows peer-to-peer communication and conversations between weblogs. Imagine that you write about a movie you just saw in an entry on your Movable Type-powered weblog. Another MT weblogger reads your entry, and wants to write an entry referencing your original post. He could just comment on your weblog, but he’d like to keep the post in his own database and host it on his site.

Using TrackBack, the other weblogger can automatically send a ping to your weblog, indicating that he has written an entry referencing your original post. This accomplishes two things:

On your site, you can automatically list all sites that have referenced a particular post, allowing visitors to your site to read the response on the other user’s weblog.

It provides a firm, explicit link between his entry and yours, as opposed to an implicit link (like a referrer log) that depends upon outside action (someone clicking on the link to your entry).

All in all a very cool feature. My blog is configures so that MT will go out and look for Trackback configurations on the pages I link up, and then automatically ping them (Its called TrackBack auto-discovery) – and is a feature that can be turned on and off. It still has its quicks, it won’t look at the URLs you add to ping and the auto-discovery urls – so if you add URLs manually and are running auto-discovery at the same time, you risk pinging other blogs twice. Hopefully something that will be fixed in later implementations.

[Update]: Thanks to Trackback, I discovered this link: What is trackback about? which goes into more detail about all the cool things you can do with Trackback. Thanks JabbyPanda :-)

10 Responses to So whats so cool about Trackback?

  1. hollowcube.com - talk February 26, 2003 at 10:55 am #

    update: trackback, mySQL, search – all working!

    It took a little bit of effort, but I upgraded to Movable Type 2.51. The good news is that it is faster, the database is mySQL (rather than Berkely DB), and I have enabled TrackBack!! There’s also a nifty little search engine built right in so you can …

  2. michael e. gunn February 26, 2003 at 10:59 am #

    Okay, I just pinged this entry, and my system told me that there was an error pinging your site… so I did it again.

    Trackback displays (0) on this comments page, but clicking on it brings up both of my pings :-/

    I’m relatively new to the whole trackback system. It does seem to have a few bugs, but overall it’s a great idea.

    Does MT email you when you get a new ‘trackback’ entry?

    somebody PING ME! ;-)

  3. michael e. gunn February 26, 2003 at 11:01 am #

    Well whaddya know! My comments here forces the comments page to be rebuilt, which then queries the trackback counter and updates that here as well (so now it shows both of my pings).

    Too bad it didn’t automatically rebuild w/out being forced to by commenting…

  4. Jarle February 26, 2003 at 11:37 am #

    You are absolutely right. The problem is in how MovableType decides to update pages. A lot of pages are built by MT when needed, the problem is that they haven’t included those pages into a build whenever a Trackback is recived, hopefully another little “bug” they’ll fix soon.

  5. JABBy Panda (just another blog by Panda) February 26, 2003 at 11:46 am #

    It seems everybody had started to care about MovableType Trackback these days :)

    I visited today jdb cyberspace webblog, nice collections of MovableType related links (templates, plug-ins and of course Trackback related information)… Hollowcube seems also to follow the pace… Well do we have more time for blogging and trackbacki…

  6. Fernando February 26, 2003 at 6:04 pm #

    Thanks for the explanation :)

    I thought the that bug was fixed on the 2.6 release. The problem happened with the comments too. MT only rebuilds a page if it notices some file size changes.

    This may help fixing that bug:

    http://www.movabletype.org/downloads/digest-md5.tar.gz

    1) Download it and unpack it.

    2) Upload the “Digest” folder inside to your webserver, in ASCII mode, into your extlib directory.

    weird… i thought ver. 2.6 included it. Let me check.

  7. Jarle February 26, 2003 at 6:27 pm #

    It is not in the upgrade version I used. Maybe a oversight? Could you check if the distribution includes it?

  8. Fernando February 26, 2003 at 8:39 pm #

    Actually the bug of the comment count dont updating was fixed but i cant find if the digest was included inside the package. Install it anyway if you like. Im using it and doesnt give me problems at all. Now im not sure it will fix the trackback count bug though. =/

  9. michael e. gunn February 26, 2003 at 10:01 pm #

    I’m using 2.62, and it automatically updates the trackback count on my entries. In fact, for some reason the templates I was using didn’t have the trackback(0) numbering built in on the page, so I put it there myself. And it seems to work fine…

    However, I pinged a page over at http://www.klynch.com/archives/000032.html and kevin lynch’s page didn’t update until i commented.

    I’m not sure what version he’s running.

  10. Fernando February 26, 2003 at 11:42 pm #

    Hes using version 2.51.