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Documentation >> [ANN] Conversant Adds Support for Trackback

Greetings Everyone,

Today we've upgraded all Conversant sites with full support for Trackback.

"Trackback" is a way for one web site to automatically notify another web site that it has been linked to. So if web site A gets a new link pointing to a page on web site B, site A sends a "trackback ping" to site B to notify it of the link. Usually, site B would then include a return-link to site A.

Again, this all happens automatically. After the owner of site A has created the link to site B, nobody has to do anything: the web servers talk to each other and work out the details on their own.

Read more about Trackback on the MovableType web site. If you're interested in the technology behind the feature, see the Trackback technical specs.

Trackback in Conversant

Conversant's support for Trackback is implemented for all messages, not just for weblogs. So, Conversant can send trackback pings for any message posted to your site, if you allow it. There's more, below, over how to control which messages send pings.

We've done our best to make this feature as easy to use as we possibly could. For example, you never have to enter any special information (like a special trackback url) to send trackbacks to other sites. When you post a message containing any URL's, each of those URL's will automatically be checked for support for Trackback. If supported, then Conversant sends the ping. (Obviously, this is assuming that you've allowed your site to send trackback pings for your messages.)

How to Use Trackback on Your Conversant Site

By default, your Conversant site will not do anything with Trackback. It won't send the pings to other sites when you post a message, nor will it accept pings from anyone who links to your site.

To enable trackback support, follow these instructions:

  1. Go to your conversation's admin area (
  2. Click on "Preferences" in the left-hand navbar
  3. Click on "Trackback" in the group of links that appears below Preferences

Your now on the right page. Keep reading.

Enable Outgoing Trackback Pings

If you want Conversant to send pings to the URL's you include in your messages, you must at least change the "When to Send Trackback Pings" preference. The default is never. Click the help icon (the question mark) if you don't understand the options.

The other preferences in the Outgoing Pings section should be self explanatory, but there're more help there if you need it. Just click the ? icons.

Enable Incoming Pings

If you want other sites to be able to "ping" the messages on your site, first you'll have to change that first preference, labelled "Allow Incoming Trackback Pings?," to Yes. Pings from other sites will then be registered with your site, as soon as they are sent.

To really take advantage of trackback, you should make two more changes:

  • Add the <!--#trackback.discovery--> macro to your Message (viewing) template, or any other message teplate used in the rendering of pages people are likely to link to (such as a fullThread page, or Bound URL pages, or weblog pages).

    This makes it easy for other sites to ping your pages, because the information they need to reach your trackback service will be embedded in the page's HTML. (This is called "Autodiscovery.")

  • Add the <!--#trackback.render--> macro to your Message (viewing) templates. This will list all of the sites which have linked to your message, a short excerpt of their post, the name of the site that send the ping, and the time and date that they sent the ping.

Both of those macros have already been added to the built-in, READONLY message templates. We hope you're not using those templates (they're not very pretty), but they should at least give you examples to follow.

What About Trackback Spam?

Like all internet technologies, spam is an issue with Trackback. It's available on enough platforms that the "spammers" have figured out how to send bogus pings to sites which support trackback. By doing so, they get links on lots of sites and Google gives them a higher page rank.

Spammers are evil.

We've done what we could to prevent your site from being hit with trackback spam. Whenever a ping is sent to one of your pages, Conversant will download the page that has (supposedly) linked to you. If the page that sent the ping really does have a link to your page, then we accept the ping and store the information in the database. Otherwise, the ping is rejected as spam.

The idea is that the spammers aren't really linking to you, they're just hoping your software won't notice. Good thing you're using Conversant, huh? ;-)

There's a lot more to say about this feature, but this should be enough to get everyone started. (If I haven't put you all to sleep already.)

Docs will follow as time permits.

Enjoy! Feedback and questions are, of course, welcome.


P.S. If you'd like to try it out, turn on your site's trackback feature and then post a link to this message on your own site. Then, come back and reload the page (make sure you reload it, so that you're not seeing a cached copy).

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