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The Reverse Trackback

Originally written on: April 16, 2005 at 7:53 pm

Last Updated: April 16, 2005 at 7:53 pm


For several years, I have been part of the IA/Design weblog community. Like a good netizen, first I read all I could on the topics that interested me. Soon, I found a good group of authors (see my sidebar for an incomplete selection) that produced articles worth discussing. I’d leave comments with a consistant username and URL, so over time other readers and authors would know me, and (hopefully) find my comments insightful. In my transition from passive reader to active participant, I found something lacking. I’ve left comments on so many sites, it became impossible to follow up with them. It was then I decided a “reverse trackback” could be a very useful tool.

Trackbacks have existed in the weblog universe since the fine folks at Six Apart created the concept. You can think of a trackback as a “remote comment”. It tells an author of a weblog, “Hey, someone posted an article on another site that references your article”. This is a good idea, as you may want a bit more flexibility in your response than a comment form provides. Of course, this doesn’t solve my problem. I want the ability to track all the comments I’ve made in the past, based on my username. At the time, there wasn’t a central clearinghouse for identifying yourself on multiple weblogs. Now, TypeKey, also from Six Apart, may allow for this functionality.

Originally, I wasn’t too fond of the idea of a central repository for weblog comment authentication. There are too many privacy issues, and too many avenues for abuse. I’m still not keen on the idea, but TypeKey, if given a “push”, could offer the functionality I desire. Let’s assume for a moment, that all weblogs had TypeKey verification. Then, I could log into any site, leave a comment. Later, I could go to my TypeKey account page, and see all the sites that asked for TypeKey verification. I could then click on any one of the entries, and go to my original comment. This would allow me to aggregate my comments, and better manage discussions. TypeKey doesn’t currently offer this functionality, but it should.




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