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TrackBacks: The Utility

Today I stumbled onto an article I wrote quite awhile ago (Mar/03!). It's called "TrackBacks Tough to Understand?"

In 2004 TrackBack spamming swelled like crazy. As a result, many people turned TrackBacks off entirely, and their utility is still being debated by many.

I remain a loyal user of TrackBacks, however, both on this site and The Sand Trap. I use them primarily internally to link related articles to each other. Someone reading an article about Phil Mickelson winning a tournament early in 2005 may click the "Related Article" that talks about Phil winning the PGA Championship later that same year, for example. "Related Article," in this sense, is exactly what a TrackBack is.

As a means to an end - and that end being interlinking your own content in a web (sorry to use that word, but I can't think of one better and less cheesy) of links - TrackBacks serve tremendous utility. So much so, in fact, that I'd love it if vBulletin could add TrackBacks to its forum software (or if an enterprising person would create a hack that did so).

How about you? Do you use TrackBacks? Do you find utility in them? Do you wish others used them more frequently?

P.S. TrackBack spam was a large problem, and at times it did border on not being worth the hassle, but SpamLookup in MovableType 3.2 and, before that, MT-Blacklist have done an admirable job at keeping nearly 99% of the spam TrackBacks away.

3 Responses to "TrackBacks: The Utility"

  1. Trackbacks are not that useful these days with Technorati and Feedster searches. I can subscribe to searches of my name and my blog's name and find out everywhere people are talking about me or my topics. When I redid my site's design a few weeks ago and opted to disable comments, I disabled trackbacks as well because 99% of them were just from spammers.

  2. Justin, that's a pretty silly argument. Are you the only person who uses your site? If so, great. If not, Feedster and Technorati don't help the common person visiting an older entry who may want to see an update from you or someone else on the topic. Heck, I don't even use those sites because TrackBacks are far more elegant and user-friendly for everyone involved - publisher and reader.

    Plus, TrackBacks link specific articles. The Sand Trap has written quite a bit about Phil Mickelson, but we don't link to every article every time we mention his name - just certain articles, and different articles each time.

  3. I still think TrackBacks are cool. MT 3.2 seems to be pretty good at catching the spam.. and I've got it set to require me to authorize trackbacks anyway.