On Trackbacks

“The Trackback is dead,” many are saying. Others (including me) think that the trackback/pingback is alive and well. Trackbacks, as Paul O’Flaherty says, are more valuable to him than comments. Depending on their preferences, bloggers either enable or disable trackbacks. Big bloggers, like John Chow, often disable them because of the size of their blogs. They get innumerable quantities of backlinks, and they just don’t want to deal with all of the trackbacks. It’s much easier to moderate comments than pingbacks.

Personally, I like trackbacks. If someone wants to write a large blog post on their blog, rather than leaving a large comment on my blog, it’s fine with me. The only problem I have is with the display of the pingbacks.

Some bloggers say that trackbacks should be separated from the comments so they don’t interrupt the flow of the conversation. While this is, in my opinion, a great idea, I can never find a good place to put them. If I put the trackbacks above the comments, then readers may not scroll down to see the comments, and perhaps leave one. If I put them after the comments, then they interrupt the path a user’s eyes take between the comments and comment form. Putting the trackbacks after the form is unintuitive, thus my pingbacks remain integrated with the comments. I’ve been searching for an innovative way of displaying the trackbacks without de-emphasizing either them or the comments too much, but I’ve had limited success. Think about that a bit. What is a good way to display trackbacks?