January 4, 2007

Blog Promotion and Cross-Blog Collaboration Via Trackback

I am a firm believer in bloggers working together to address complex issues in a cross-blog fashion. Thus, when I find something that merits a lengthy discussion, I prefer to do so in a post here rather than in a long comment on another blog. This is one reason I wish all bloggers would take advantage of trackback (if you use Blogger, check out Haloscan) or one of the alternatives I will discuss in this post.

Trackback and a couple exciting new alternatives allow me to link my post to a post on another blog. This promotes the source blog on my blog, promotes my blog on the source blog, and creates a network of information related to the original post. Without the blogger of the original post having to do anything at all, his/her blog ends up telling interested readers where to go for other perspectives on the issue(s) raised in the post. Discussion and cross-blog collaboration are enhanced to the benefit of both bloggers and readers.

The oldest option for trackback functionality via Blogger is Haloscan (actually Haloscan works with all blogging platforms). When it works, it works well. However, it requires a bit more of your time to send a trackback ping, and it doesn't always cooperate well with some trackback-enabled blogs (for more on this, see this post from InstaBloke). I installed Haloscan on Atheist Revolution when I first heard about it and have used it ever since for both comments and trackback.

Technorati now offers another option through a tool called Technorati Link Count Widget. Assuming that all connected blogs are using Technorati, this appears to be a decent trackback replacement. Best of all, it is automatic. Once you install it, you don't have to do anything. The drawbacks are that it routes you through Technorati and that it doesn't seem nearly as popular as the standard trackback I described above. If the blog you are trying to link to has not installed the widget, your links to the blog go nowhere. I added this to Atheist Revolution awhile ago. This means that any posts you link to here will automatically be noted in the "view blog reactions" link.

Since the beta, Blogger has been offering something along these lines called backlinks. Like Technorati, links are added automatically. An advantage over Technorati is that it is possible to set it up so that links are displayed on the Blogger page without having to go through Technorati. I think the main limitation is that this is restricted to Blogger blogs. I'd prefer to use a cross-platform option like Haloscan or Technorati for greater consistency. However, I plan to keep my eye on this one as a future possibility.

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