odd-lot thoughts

Wednesday, September 08, 2004

Fun with blogs -- trying "Trackback"

Following another tip (#6) from my new blog guru, Simon, I decided to try trackbacks. Trackbacks are automated ways of linking from one blog to another. If you look on a blog that has Trackbacks, try clicking on one and see what it looks like. You'll see a list of links to blogs which have referenced the specific post you're reading.

Why is this good? Because you have added a node to the distributed conversation. To me, that's what blogs are and why they fascinate me.

In non-instructional-designer/web-nerd-speak, you've added a link to the referenced blog, which is always good for increasing traffic to that site. And you get immediate gratification when you look at the trackback and see a link to your site.

The main problem is that Blogger doesn't support trackbacks. But with Simon's advice, I tried to use the manual trackback pinger. The URL he supplies didn't work however. So somehow I managed to find Simpletracks.

It's a easy-to-use web-based trackback form which allows you to create a trackback to another site. But I don't think you can use it to trackback to a Blogger site, since there is no trackback URL for a Blogger post.

Here's how the Simpletracks form works:
  1. Enter the trackback URL. This is the tricky part -- I did it incorrectly several times and got an unhelpful error message. A Trackback URL is not the same as the URL of the post. To get the trackback URL, you have to click on the trackback link of the post you want to reference. There you will see at the top of the page, "the trackback URL for this post is...." Copy that and paste it in.
  2. Enter your blog name, entry title, entry URL, and entry excerpt.
  3. Click "send ping."
  4. Now the cool part -- go back to the post you referenced, and click the trackback link. There, at the end of the list (until someone else comes along) is a link to your site, and a tantalizing excerpt.

Cheap thrills are the only kind I can afford. Luckily, I get a lot of mileage out of them. If it weren't for Blogger, I'd probably be doing something important right now. And what's the fun in that?


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