Technorati’s link count widget

Filed under: — 3:59 am

I’ve never been a big fan of the trackback system. Its use is confusing and inconsistent among weblogs, and the group with the largest motivation to take advantage of it are spammers. Frankly, I’m surprised it’s still so widely supported—trackbacks are enabled on all posts by default in the latest WordPress and even on hosted weblogs.

To avoid hundreds of spam trackbacks a day—which cannot be reliably filtered, period, no matter what anyone says—I don’t allow trackbacks on any of my sites.

Meanwhile, Technorati has released a link count widget for weblogs. This is a very easy way to include a link that displays “blog reactions,” or posts elsewhere linking to the current post. You can see it at the bottom of this post next to the “Comments” link.

This is an ideal replacement for trackbacks—it keeps the links at Technorati, which has professionals to deal with spam, rather than on my sites, and it serves the purposes of enabling discussion across weblogs and enabling weblog authors to brag about how many links they’re getting. It would be perfect if not for two flaws:

  • If there are no links to a post, it displays a generic “View blog reactions” link, which appears not to be customizable. This is unfortunate for those of us who have less popular weblogs, since the link is usually useless. I’d much rather have the link disappear until there’s a “reaction” to link to.
  • Technorati’s database is a jumbled, inconsistent mess that cannot be counted upon to reliably report links. That’s a topic for another day, though, and I’m hopeful that they’ll improve with time.

Despite these issues, it’s still better than Trackback. Goodbye, Trackback, and good riddance.

4 responses to “Technorati’s link count widget”

  1. Eric Meyer says:

    Ditto on both counts. I’m not quite ready to turn off *backing on my site yet, especially since Akismet has never in my memory failed to catch trackback spam on my site, but I’m beginning to consider it seriously.

  2. Amit says:

    I disagree entirely. TrackBack is an open system which can be leveraged to do a lot more than just work for entry link-back tracking. Handing over all power to Technorati for this infrastructure is a silly move any way you look at it.

  3. Michael Moncur says:

    I think if the Web (and the Internet before it, and probably a lot of things before that) has taught us anything, it’s that totally open systems that were built with absolutely no regard to security can’t survive without serious changes.

    I’d love to see those changes happen – and I’ll be the first to admit I have no idea what they should be – but until then, as a site owner who would be dealing with over a thousand trackback spam a day if they were enabled, I can’t imagine a reason to allow them.

    True, Technorati’s system is a poor substitute for trackback – or rather, a poor substitute for a working trackback system – but it’s the only thing we have, so far, that isn’t irreperably broken.

  4. Tim says:

    I don’t think the Technorati system is a poor substitute. I think it works well. But your point regarding “generic “View blog reactions”” is a good point. Maybe they will fix this in future versions of their widget (ajax or something?).

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