Well, I do think Mena is right. It is simply much easier to experiment with and experience trackback than expecting people to understand it via a rote explanation. Why is that? To be frank, I’m not very sure. I read – and I understand. My brain grasps the logic of the concept. However, I forget or get confused soon after.
Well – I think I understand this fully right now. Let’s imagine that I decided to write an entry on Roundup Issue Trackers. I decide to “Allow Pings” on this blog posting. My post is immediately supplied with a “Trackback URL” – apparently a specially structured URL for this purpose.
Now imagine, that sometime in the future Rob stumbles on my site and discovers the Roundup post. Rob has also worked with Roundup and he has much more to say. He could comment – or he could post to his own blog.
The question becomes then – how do you link the two?
The first thing that comes to mind is for Rob to insert a link into his blog pointing to a “permalink” that I (hopefully) supplied. An astute reader notices however that this is not a complete solution. It considers a case in which Rob’s blog is read first. But what happens if my site is more popular? People going to my site would not be aware that there was a related blog perhaps half way around the world.
This is where trackback comes in. He uses the trackback URL I supply (or uses the handy bookmarklet) to ‘ping’ my blog. In other words, he writes his post on his site and selects my trackback URL as the one to ping. My post suddenly has a Trackback count of (1) indicating that someone has written a posting they consider closely linked to this one. Anyone browsing on my site can click the “Trackback” link for the posting and find a list of URLs referring to it.
The problem is however that there appears to be no way to “backtrak” (hehe – bad pun I know) the URLs that you’ve pinged. In other words – people can go _from_ my site _to_ Rob’s site – but unless I have a permalink, no one can go the opposite way. It appears that a guy called Phil Ulrich has created somthing called TrackForward that appears to do the job.
I still prefer the BackTrack terminology :)
I’ve discovered something very interesting (to me at least) – clicking on the date always appears to give you a (perma)link?