Don’t Hide Your TrackBack

I wrote quite a lengthy piece about Trackback and why I didn’t agree with some of Tom’s opinions but now I’ve decided to break it down into smaller pieces. So, here’s the first point I want to challenge:

Trackback should be invisible to the user

The argument suggests that Trackback’s workings should be concealed from the user. This is debatable but certainly the existence of Trackback should not be. If you politely list Trackbacks after one of your posts then, I contend, it appears – to those who don’t know Trackback – that you are actively linking to those sites. This causes two problems:

  1. If you don’t share with people that this feature exists how will anybody know to adopt it? It could be argued that by trying to seamlessly integrate Trackback and hiding the workings you are inhibiting people’s understanding. Thus, when Tom says, “No-one’s going to get it until everyone’s using autodiscovery” I would have to disagree. Trackback must not become a clique for those in the know and the only way for that not to happen is to be more obvious with its existence.
  2. People don’t know you have utilised Trackback. How is a reader to distinguish between a link you are actively promoting and a Trackback (something an author may not even know is there)? Linking (especially without comment) implies some kind of approval (yes, sure that’s a sweeping statement but how many times do you link to something you disapprove of or disagree with and not indicate it?) and, as a blog is personal publishing, an author needs to be clear about what’s a personal approval and what’s not.

So, this very train of thought means I am going to have to re-design my own site as I have it set up to seamlessly integrate Trackbacks into a post. Maybe I won’t get time to move on to my other thoughts.

On this day…