Legitimate trackbacks and monitoring conversations

I was reading with a bit of amusement the exchange between Steve Rubel and Jeremy Pepper on what constitutes a “kosher” trackback or not. At issue is whether a five-months old post (Jeremy’s) can legitimately trackback a brand new one (Steve’s). In my book, if the old post is modified to include an update, and point to the new one as a relevant addition, then that’s fine. What does not work here (at least for me) is that Jeremy did not link to Steve’s post, but still trackbacked it. I would have done like Steve: check the post that sent the trackback, see that there was no link to my post, and delete the trackback.

Note that I am not saying that Steve is right and Jeremy is wrong in their particular context, but that it is also my policy: I only accept trackbacks that include a link to my post. Why ? Because trackbacks are a way to start/continue a conversation, and I am delighted to send traffic away to blogs that continue a conversation I have started, and that link to me. But trackbacks aren’t a one way street. And if you believe that your own post adds another dimension to the conversation, just leave a comment and mention the URL (like Narendra – co-founder of Webshots – did on my post regarding G’Talk with his rant on “we don’t need no stickin’ Google IM”).

Blogging platforms should actually have an option to analyze incoming trackbacks for the presence of a proper link. For example, if you trackback a CNET post without linking to it, your trackback will be ignored.

I also picked up a question from one of my regular readers, Zoli Erdos, who was asking if there are tools out there that allow you to track comments you have left, and monitor ensuing conversations. Integrated systems like Buzznet, and I believe Flickr, allow you to monitor these if you have an account on the platform. I also know that Blogware, the platform used by Master Eric Rice, can send emails when comments are made on a post you have commented on but that is email, and that’s not great. One could probably manually bookmark posts that he/she comments on, and come back to them after a couple of days, but that also is not great. So Six Apart, WordPress, please, can you guys agree on some mechanisms to get this functionality implemented.
In the meantime, any suggestion as to how to do this efficiently will be appreciated.


  • http://pop-pr.blogspot.com Jeremy Pepper

    Well, I’m still trying to figure out the value of naming names. He could have written the same post on trackback etiquette without naming names.
    And, why update a post when it’s still relevant? Mike Manuel did update his, I didn’t feel there was a need to, but that it was still an issue that is timely.

  • http://pop-pr.blogspot.com Jeremy Pepper

    Good point, Jeff. And, no I did not link to Steve’s post, but did a trackback on another view on CS and PR. Not sure if I buy that a trackback has to be updated to include a link, unless that person is looking for link love. Did I post a trackback to get traffic? I don’t see any blips up in traffic when he posts a link to me, so no. I was just hoping that others could see that there are more opinions and views out there on the issue.
    As David Parmet noted to me today via IM, he figured that we were way to early on the adoption curve to have a set of rules and dos and don’ts.
    This is just a good example of the shake out in so-called blog etiquette.

  • http://www.zoliblog.com/blog/_archives/2006/2/3/1743272.html Zoli’s Blog

    Tracking the COMPLETE CONVERSATION – Part 3

    Stowe Boyd introduces the concept of the Conversational Index:…successful blogs — ones that were currently viable and vibrant, and those that were …