Whoah, when did TrackBack get added to posts? July 19, 2002 12:13 PM   Subscribe

Whoah, when did TrackBack get added to posts?
Have any threads benefited from this yet?
posted by me3dia to MetaFilter-Related at 12:13 PM (63 comments total)

posted by mathowie (staff) at 12:14 PM on July 19, 2002

I'm not complaining -- it seems like a natural extension of what MeFi's about. How do the usual suspects feel about it? What do y'all think of inbound links being displayed with the comments?
posted by me3dia at 12:14 PM on July 19, 2002

I don't see the BackTracked comments on that thread, Matt. Is there anything that distinguishes them from internal comments?
posted by me3dia at 12:18 PM on July 19, 2002

Man, we need to tidy up the place and put some pants on.
posted by ColdChef at 12:19 PM on July 19, 2002

Am I the only one that finds it ironic that the TrackBack page linked above has no trackback link?

kidding, kidding
posted by adampsyche at 12:21 PM on July 19, 2002

What are you guys talking about? Did you scroll all the way down to the end?

I want to use them as a sort of "extended comments" section.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 12:29 PM on July 19, 2002

From the side blog: I've added Trackback features to the site. Anyone running a MovableType blog should be able to take advantage of this. Here's an example of a thread using it (scroll down to the end), report errors here.

Oh, I see. It's not intuitive to scroll down past the comment entry box for more content.

That's a prety nice implementation, though. Should prove an interesting (albeit somewhat limited) barometer of the zeitgeist we develop here.
posted by me3dia at 12:35 PM on July 19, 2002

Hey matt.

Cool - I like the way you've integrated the new design element.

But I've got to ask - why are you doing this? It's fantastic for the blogosphere (or MT) to have MeFi put its muscle behind TrackBack, but does it really make sense? What's to be gained from links to comments that have been posted off-site? Isn't it better if they get, uh, posted in the thread?

It's going to be really fucking annoying when 30% of posts are in 'trackback' form, as a means to promoting one's blog. Why do we need off-site comments?
posted by Marquis at 12:37 PM on July 19, 2002

But I've got to ask - why are you doing this?

See here.

posted by precocious at 12:45 PM on July 19, 2002

...Or here, maybe.
posted by precocious at 12:48 PM on July 19, 2002

So if you're blogging with MT you need never post to MeFi again! Or register a username...
posted by xiffix at 12:50 PM on July 19, 2002

I've got a question. If you ban someone from MeFi, doesn't Trackback effectively let the person become a member again? For instance, if someone is banned, they can just convert their blog to Moveable Type and start linking to MetaFilter entries with their own comments. (The only difference being that they can't create FFPs.)
posted by Tin Man at 12:53 PM on July 19, 2002

Er, FPPs, and basically, what xiffix said.
posted by Tin Man at 12:54 PM on July 19, 2002

So if you're blogging with MT you need never post to MeFi again! Or register a username...

That's going on the assumption that people will care enough to click your link and read your opinion if it's not inline with all the others. :D

For instance, if someone is banned, they can just convert their blog to Moveable Type and start linking to MetaFilter entries with their own comments.

I do believe there is a way to ban trackbacks as well.
posted by precocious at 12:56 PM on July 19, 2002

So if you're blogging with MT you need never post to MeFi again! Or register a username...

Its a good experiment. Remember that the comments are added to the end of the post. It remains to be seen whether users here will address those comments and bring them into the conversation or ignore them.
posted by vacapinta at 12:58 PM on July 19, 2002

There's no way I'd use Trackback instead of posting a comment in a thread. You lose the immediacy and interactivity.

I might use them in addition to posting comments, once I upgrade to MoveableType.
posted by timeistight at 12:58 PM on July 19, 2002

And aren't people just going to post rabbits on their blog to get a free TextAd?


Whoa, that's a great idea! I'll be right back.
posted by Shadowkeeper at 12:59 PM on July 19, 2002

I guess that would be true, but they would be set apart from the "real" comments pretty clearly. And if you didn't want to read them, you'd be able to avoid them pretty easily.

As far as self-promotion goes, I think MeFites are savvy enough to tell the difference between shameless self-promotion and true commentary. That said, it might eat into textad sales. [on preview: as Shadowkeeper just pointed out]

(Another thing: you can't use MT with blogspot or most of the other free hosts -- they won't let you load the software onto their servers, and blogspot is owned by Pyra.)
posted by me3dia at 1:00 PM on July 19, 2002

If it really gets out of hand, people will just ignore the trackbacks, and they will probably be coded out. I doubt that will be necessary.
posted by insomnyuk at 1:02 PM on July 19, 2002

I added trackback indicators to the front page, with a direct link down to them.

I decided to add them because it wasn't too hard to reverse engineer the system, and add it to my homebrewed publishing system (no part of MeFi except the sideblog uses MT).

If the feature is abused, it'll go away. It's an experiment for now, and what's wrong with that? I hope people use it for supplimental info or additional perspectives, and I purposely set it far enough apart that people wouldn't post comments in response to trackbacked links. That's what trackbacks are for actually, if you want to respond to someone's trackback post, do it on their blog, in their comments.

Trackback's the first attempt to string a wire through all the random blogs out there and the MetaFilter implimentation is an experiment to take part in that. I don't know what people will do with it, but hey, that's what experimentation with technology is all about.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 1:08 PM on July 19, 2002

I kind of envision it being used for comments that do not fall into the discussion per se (as in, you aren't going to respond to someone's comments with a trackback), but as a way to expand on your own site with commentary that you may not feel like including on MetaFilter (for whatever reason).

Besides, it's not as if you can post a reply to someone, becuase then your site will look pretty silly with a response to someone whose comments are not on your site.

I do see it as potentially abused, but if it is, the Hand of Matt is Swift and Merciless indeed. Is there a way that a TrackBack can be banned from a certain domain?
posted by adampsyche at 1:15 PM on July 19, 2002

It's an experiment for now, and what's wrong with that?

Absolutely nothin'.
posted by timeistight at 1:28 PM on July 19, 2002

Thanks precocious, but I had read that...

And yeah, Matt, I appreciate it as an experiment.

But I wonder, again, what the goal is? What sort of comment would be posted via trackback that wouldn't be (better?) suited for the thread itself?* What does trackback accomplish which comments don't?

In the case of MeFi - 50% of which is about responses - I worry that TrackBack will simply dilute or reduce the discourse here. I can imagine dozens of people who might write short posts (completely appropriate for in-thread comments), but who post them on their blog instead as a way of promoting it, and who in so doing remove the potential for MeFi discourse on the subject.

I suppose a post that was directly addressed to one's own website audience... but if it's so pointed that it's innappropriate for the thread, will it contribute much to whoever might see it linked on MeFi?
posted by Marquis at 1:30 PM on July 19, 2002

As Matt said:
As the person running MetaFilter, I'd like to know who is pointing to the site and what they think

I think this is more geared toward people who dont have a MeFi account but may have something valuable to add to the conversation.

and who knows, maybe Matt is secretly using this as a recruiting tactic, offering memberships to those who consistently post valuable comments?
posted by vacapinta at 1:38 PM on July 19, 2002

Marquis and vacapinta, I've got no secret motives, I was just jazzed at figuring out how they did it, and wanted to give it a try.

Part of it is tracking weblogs. If I go to daypop and search on the metafilter.com URL, I see dozens of people talking about posts on metafilter that didn't comment for one reason or another, and it's easier to follow the links from metafilter than wait for daypop to scrape their pages.

I hope these don't turn into promotional mechanisms, though they certainly might. If they do, things will change and the experiment will be ended.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 2:22 PM on July 19, 2002

I think this is pretty damn cool. It's right up there with the RSS feed in 'cool things that MeFi does that don't have an immediate beneficial aspect to the community'. It's just cool and I know I'll use it. I often post longer and more considered followups to my MeFi postings or pointers to particularl cool threads on ym own blog. I'm really excited.
posted by nedrichards at 2:30 PM on July 19, 2002

I'm thinking that if anything has an immediate beneficial aspect to the community, it's the connection mechanism at work here. People who can't get MeFi accounts, people who've lost their accounts (who knows, maybe some of them have matured/gone sane), and MeFites who still have something to say on a subject after a thread has been deemed dead equine can still contribute.

And hey, the inverse aspect of this--MeFi sending traffic out to other sites--is good . . . isn't that what community's about?

I see good things for this, so long as it's not abused. Cross your fingers.
posted by precocious at 2:50 PM on July 19, 2002

I think it's a terrific idea, certainly a worthy experiment at least. I can't wait to upgrade my Moveable Type to 2.2 to take advantage in the future. Thanks, Matt.
posted by evanizer at 2:55 PM on July 19, 2002

Yeah, I think it's swell too. If I link to a MeFi thread on my site it's because I want any readers who don't check MeFi to have a look. Typically, they don't have accounts, so they wouldn't comment here anyway.

Even if it's not about comments - we may be able to gauge the interest of a thread in the larger weblog community by looking at the trackbacks, which is pretty cool.

Man, we need to tidy up the place and put some pants on.

Here's another advantage. More sense of MeFi being scrutinized by 'outsiders'. Less opaque in-club shenanigans. More pants.
posted by D at 3:13 PM on July 19, 2002

I thought the point was to list all inbound links to threads to see who is linking, like a referrer log. Who really cares what Joe Blogs has to say?
posted by euphorb at 3:39 PM on July 19, 2002

Who really cares what Joe Blogs has to say?

Probably some of the same people who care what Joe Mefi has to say.
posted by timeistight at 3:55 PM on July 19, 2002

How about the trackback boxes be on the right side, like the sidebar is? That way people can collapse them if they like, and they're also more noticeable to those who like them.
posted by geoff. at 4:22 PM on July 19, 2002

good point geoff, I might do that.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 4:29 PM on July 19, 2002

So this is like referrer tracking?
posted by holloway at 5:53 PM on July 19, 2002

So this is like referrer tracking?

That's part of it. It's a sort of automated (once you have everything installed and correctly set up) system for moving permalinks around and tracking links across blogs.

It also serves as a REST style api, I could for instance, give out a special URL and allow anyone that wanted to send any post they make that talks about metafilter into metatalk automatically. So, on the one hand, it's simply tracking the offsite blog talking about metafilter, but I could also run the content here in another context.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 6:21 PM on July 19, 2002

Admit it, mathowie, you're just trying to get holgate back on the site again, aren't you?

[No permalink, alas -- the bugger's disabled archiving since mid-June, apparently -- but, for future reference, Nick's commenting on this post.]
posted by mattpfeff at 6:29 PM on July 19, 2002

Matt, this is fantastic!

I got TrackBack up and running the day it was released, but have had a terrible time finding other pages with the functionality. The first week had a flush of trackbacks to discussions of trackback, but not much since then. Besides the benefits to you and to MeFi, this just might spur MT users to turn it on and the other major weblog tools to add it. Thank you!
posted by ewagoner at 6:32 PM on July 19, 2002

Just wondering, Matt - I assume you decided consciously not to include trackbacks for MeTa threads at this point...I for one would love to see those as well. At least half of the inward links to Metafilter I make from my blog are to MeTa discussions....
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 6:50 PM on July 19, 2002

Yeah, eventually I'll add them here too.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 7:36 PM on July 19, 2002

This is so cool. I see a great deal of potential for binding together and strengthening the community.
posted by Optamystic at 7:46 PM on July 19, 2002

ewagoner> I upgraded to the newest MT mostly because I hate having out-of-date software, but had no plans to use trackback (truthfully, because I thought it was pointless). Once it was instituted here, I started to consider the potential, and well, it really is a nifty tool.
posted by precocious at 9:08 PM on July 19, 2002

In its current implementation, trackback isn't very useful. It tells you who likes a post you made, and it gives people who liked your post a pointer to other people that are talking about it.

There are however plans to come out with a tool that could thread a discussion across multiple blogs, and that would provide a very interesting view of how ideas spread across the web.
posted by willnot at 9:43 PM on July 19, 2002

I think backlinking is approaching critical mass.
posted by NortonDC at 9:51 PM on July 19, 2002

Although she has recently decided to take a (possibly permanent) break from weblogging, I believe Shelley Powers is continuing to work on 'ThreadNeedle', which is intended as an open-source tool to track conversations across weblogs, which will compliment rather than compete with Trackback.

More info and discussion on ThreadNeedle here, and a related and pertinent (and lengthy) discussion on 'blogthreads' initiated by David Weinberger.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 10:21 PM on July 19, 2002

Trackback is great -- I love the wonky interconnectedness it promotes. A couple of suggestions:

The excerpt from the weblog is so short it's tough to tell whether the site is worth a visit. For example, look at the trackback for the Bush threat post.

Also, if you don't mind a grammatical nit, there ought to be ellipses at the end of each excerpt to show it has been chopped off.
posted by rcade at 6:26 AM on July 20, 2002

The excerpt is determined by the linkers' settings (assuming they're using Movable Type). If you don't specify the excerpt text, it takes the first X words of your post. Many people probably have never had any reason to change it from the default which is only like 15 or 20 words.
posted by willnot at 8:27 AM on July 20, 2002

I think this experiment is outstanding. Some people don't feel comfortable posting at MetaFilter..to an outsider or a casual MeFite like myself, sometimes the community temperature leans toward hostile. But on many occasions I have discussed MetaFilter threads on my own (now defunct) weblog. Now that I have Movable Type and am working on a new site, I plan on using this feature.

I heartily agree that from a design standpoint, "side" conversations belong on the side of the thread, a la the main page sidebar.
posted by xyzzy at 9:55 AM on July 20, 2002

The number of trackbacks is only shown if I have my settings set to display threads by date.
posted by adampsyche at 10:58 AM on July 20, 2002

of course, we're going to have to stare at trackback posts like these nasty excuses while the blogging community gets their bandwagon-jumping skills in order. very nice.
posted by patricking at 3:08 PM on July 20, 2002

eww, test trackbacks are an ugly thing.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 6:20 PM on July 20, 2002

Yup. I left one of my own.
posted by rcade at 7:11 PM on July 20, 2002

crap, I'll have to toss out the ones with blank excerpts and links. D'oh.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 7:30 PM on July 20, 2002

TB Feature request: In the main page pulldown menu, an option for "most trackbacks" or "recent trackbacks." I have a preference for recent trackbacks as an option. Rather than consider a trackback post as a comment in an thread, I would like to be able to see the main page wth posts ranked and ordered by how far they have spread offsite. I want to see how a post replicates and propagates itself.
posted by rschram at 9:51 PM on July 20, 2002

Here, from the blog book thread, is a good example from stavrosthewonderchicken of how useful and expannding it can be if properly done.
posted by MiguelCardoso at 8:24 AM on July 21, 2002

Trackbacks that just restate the post on their blog and get the trackback by writing a "via MeFi" link suck.

I think the best implementation will be to do multi-MeFi-thread commentary that can be found through the trackback system.
posted by mblandi at 11:25 AM on July 22, 2002

So wait, I think I have it wrong. If you link to the same link that the front page post links to, the trackback will appear on MeFi at the bottom of the comment even if there is no link to the thread here?
posted by mblandi at 11:57 AM on July 22, 2002

Okay, so from the MeFi trackback explanation page, I have the impression that the trackback links are created based on the MT blogs that point to the comment page of a thread. But, there's a trackback linking to OliverWillis that has no inbound MeFi link.

Is that because trackbacks are not refreshed? Maybe Owillis first had the MeFi link when the trackback was created, then edited it out. Real-time anything that I know of is resources intensive, and I can't think of any way to abuse this. I'm just curious of the mechanics of it.
posted by mblandi at 7:27 AM on July 23, 2002

mblandi, Oliver didn't necessarily have to link to metafilter, but he based his post around that metafilter posting.

This helps people track memes, even though there is no indication from the upstream person's site, people reading metafilter would know he took the link from here and discussed it on his site.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 8:53 AM on July 23, 2002

Okay, so it's based on some kind of trackback ping-fu. I see. Sorry to make you spell it out. Cool. I thought it was on some kind of [a href] analysis of similar links on all MT blogs.
posted by mblandi at 11:02 AM on July 23, 2002

basically it's all automated, if you run a mt blog, and click your mt bookmarklet on a metafilter page, the trackback will be noted by your mt install (if you enable it)
posted by mathowie (staff) at 11:44 AM on July 23, 2002

Matt, if one entry pings multiple times, the MeFi entry records multiple TrackBacks. See for an example, where I corrected a typo and re-pinged.
posted by ewagoner at 7:07 AM on July 24, 2002

Sorry Matt... I see that you're already on top of that, and it's likely with TB itself.
posted by ewagoner at 7:56 AM on July 24, 2002

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