Trackbacks and Other Puzzlements

Mrs. Squirrel of Dewey’s Treehouse posted a request in one of the comments below. She wants to know what trackbacks are. I know somebody else is wondering about that, too.

I learned about trackbacks from these two posts:

Mudville Gazette’s Everything You Wanted to Know About Blogging But Were AFraid to Ask.

La Shawn Barber’s post on her pet peeves about bloggers.

You can get the same information by clicking on those hyperlinks and reading the posts. LaShawn explains the why of trackbacks and gives a couple links to trackback enabling downloads. Grayhawk at Mudville tells how, and he has a simple little tutorial walking you through a trackback, and gives another link or two to some downloads to permit trackbacking. Those links are both great resources for new bloggers, but some of us still won’t be sure what a trackback is and when we should use them. That’s what I’ll try to cover in this post. Then if you want to know more, click on the above links. They are both great sites that should be in your favorites, anyway.

A little while ago JennyAnyDots wrote a post about the regency dresses she made. Kathryn at Suitable for MIxed Company liked that post, and she mentioned it in her blog. She took the time to post in our comments section, and she told us that she was going to link to our blog, which pleased JennyAnyDots very much (btw, you can see pictures of her dresses here, just below the picture of Clark, our late and unlamented spider).

We like to know when other blogs are paying attention, when they have something to say about one of our posts, and when they send visitors our direction. It’s just… nice. Trackbacks can also send extra traffic to a blog. Blogs that have trackbacking enabled automatically list those sites that have trackbacked to a post. Readers interested in pursuing a topic can look at the list of blogs tracking back to that post and click on any link that interests. Basically, Kathryn took the time to give us a hand-made trackback. REgular trackbacks automate the process. If we had trackbacking enabled, it would have been simpler for her to let us know she’d linked to our post.

Not every blog has comments enabled, and not every blogger likes to comment or has time to post comments. Trackbacks are an automated way to notify a blogger that you have linked to one of his posts. Blogs with trackbacking automatically ‘ping’ each other when the trackback program is used.

Better blogs than ours have trackbacking enabled, but not all blog services have a trackbacking program set up. Blogspot doesn’t have trackbacking yet, and since we are blogspot site, we don’t either. You can download a program to provide trackbacks from Haloscan. Haloscan will handle the comments section and allow trackbacking. I haven’t done that yet because, well, I just haven’t gotten around to doing that yet. Also, I understand that when you download Haloscan, you lose all the old comments made before you had Holoscan. I’m not sure I want to do that, but eventually, we probably will, just because we like the concept of trackbacking so well.

Meanwhile, there is no way to trackback to one of our posts. We only find out that a blog has linked to one of our posts if somebody takes the time to notify us, we read it while reading that blog, or, in the case of larger traffic blog, our tracking system tells us we have had one thousand visitors coming to us from Hugh Hewitt’s blog (yes, that happened one day, and it was very exciting!).

However, we can give trackbacks to other blogs that have trackbacking enabled, and I like to do that (so we give rather than receive trackbacks for now). I use Kalsey’s Simple Tracks, which I learned about from LaShawn Barber. Mudville mentions at least one other.

If you are interested in pursing this topic, you can click on the links to their sites which I gave at the beginning of this post. Incidentally, if you came to our blog from a link on another website, our tracking system tells us which website that was. So when Samantha, for instanced, referenced us in her blog, I knew something was up without even reading her blog, because we had so many visitors come to us from Eclectic Domestic that day. So when you click on one of the links in one of our blog entries, you are notifying the owners of *that* blog that you came from The Common Room, and if enough people do that, the other blogowner just might click back over here to see what we’re about.

Now we blog because we like to. It’s a fun family activity for us, and some of us like to write very much and all of us like to air our opinions on just about everything under the sun (There Are Limits, However, which is why we have not permitted the first year students to post to the blog!) We started it for fun.

I knew that large blogs like instapundit and others bring in blogmoney- but I didn’t think ours would ever be a financially profitable venture. I still don’t know if it will, but I’m dreaming. Since we started our blog we’ve learned that there are ways that even blogs like ours can bring in some income, too, and we’re rather hopeful that one day our blog can help the Headmaster cut back on his outside work schedule. Increasing our traffic is one of the steps toward that goal. I presume other bloggers wouldn’t mind an increase in traffic, either, so that they might also one day work toward a blog that brings in at least a little income (for those interested, so far I have earned approximately five dollars on Amazon purchases linked to from here, so we won’t be growing rich on Amazon links, but we already knew that). This is one of the reasons I like to link to other blogs that I think have quality content- I’d like to help them out if I can. It’s also one of the reasons I appreciate it when our readers share our blog with others.

So that about sums up everything I can tell you about trackbacks, with plenty of extra information you never knew you wanted to know.

There will not be a quiz. However, let’s consider this as a practicum class. I’d like to see other bloggers new to this medium put into practice what you’ve learned today- comment more on the blogs you read, link to other blogs, use trackbacks when you can, and share the blogs you like with your friends. Enter a few of your blogposts in one of the many Carnivals. Help other bloggers you like by sending one of their posts to the Smarter than I Carnival. Share the love.

Until next time… class dismissed.:-)

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