Semantics Social Media Weblogging

Introducing Tagback

Recovered from the Wayback Machine (includes comments).

The purpose of Trackback initially was to ping the readers of another’s post about something they may want to know about. Of course, we immediately started using it as a referrer link (“Hi, I linked to you!”)

So, we’re dropping trackback and we need something in its place. I provided the how-tos to add Blogline citations and Technorati links in the previous post, and these will provide you a listing of who has linked to the article directly. But that’s the limitation: these solutions are dependent on a link. How can we point a person’s readers to another post or article, without linking to the post directly?

Easy: Tagback.

For each post, I create a tagback consisting of the words of of my individual post, stripped of white space and dashes, preceded by ‘bb’ to differentiate my posts from other people’s posts. I also include a link to the Technorati tags page for this tag, which forms my ‘tagback’. You can see the tagback for this post at the end.

Now, you can either use the tag with a photo in flickr, or you can use it in to annotate any bookmark: your post, another person’s post, an article, a reference to a specification, whatever.

Since Technorati scarfs up delicious tags and flickr tags, all of these items will eventually appear in my Tagback page, along with weblog posts where people have linked to the tag directly in the post. And if Technorati excludes googlebots and other bots in the tags pages, thereby denying any pagerank to the tag pages, there is no incentive for spammers to spam this page.

As long as Technorati denies pagerank for the individual tag pages. Hint. Hint.

Now, regardless of what weblogging tool you use, including Blogger, WordPress, Movable Type, Typepad, ExpressionEngine, whatever, you can participate in discussions, and without having to install any code. Just use whatever tags or function calls you use in your weblogging tool to get the title, and create your own version of a tagback. Or you can manually create a tag for each post you’re interested in designating as a ‘to be discussed’ item, and leave it off from those posts you don’t want to create a tagback page for.

So, you guys were right – tags are handy. I could get the hang of this folksonomy stuff.

I did have to update the code to strip out dashes, and just create a one word tag. I don’t like it, but flickr can’t deal with dashes, and it seems like wants to use spaces, and Technorati seems to not care. Since there is no standardized word delimiter with all of these systems, I just stripped out anything that isn’t a alphanumeric character.

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