Trackback is dead, said Jeremy

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POSTED: August 15, 2006

Yesterday I alerted everyone on who reads the WE in e-pedagogy blog to the fact that this site was (finally) online. Ralf responded almost immediately, asking where the trackback features were. This made me remember something interesting, so I went off to track it down.

Jeremy Zawodny works at Yahoo and blogs almost continuously on a mixture of web issues and the joys of being an amateur pilot. In August 2005 he wrote a piece saying that trackback was dead, and he was disabling it from all his blogs. He linked to three other pieces supporting his view.

All of them claimed that the feature had a) never worked properly, and b) was now overrun by spam-links. They all said “use Technorati” or “use PubSub”, or something similar. They all, in other words, advocated climbing onboard one or more of the newer social tagging sites.

This was good news for me because ten minutes looking at the Trackback documentation clearly indicated that I was going to have a very bad time indeed trying to get it to work inside WikkaWiki. Technorati, on the other hand, seemed slightly more like a piece of cake. This feeling grew when I quickly found that I could begin by manually updating my links on Technorati, progress to writing a way of pinging each new entry, and finally dig into their APIs to get search results back on my site.

I also found two tools that made me happy. I may not use them, but their very existence iindicates that this will be an interesting road to follow. I found a Technorati Tag Generator on The Gospel According to Rhys. Then I found Duck Soup, a complete implementation of the Technorati API in php, with full documentation.

This, then, is a project, not an hour’s work. I can start by adding Technorati tags to the blog posts, in addition to the internal keywords. Logically these should duplicate each other. Then I could move to only using the Technorati tags, enabling me to create list pages combining my entries with other material indexed by Technorati.

At that point I should check how other people (including the people at Technorati) feel about blikis,and about whether ALL the pages should be indexed or only those pages explicitly listed as blog entries.

Action research, you have got to love it…