The Critical 'I'

Read. React. Repeat.

Tuesday, February 24, 2004

Amy Gahran makes an argument for having news sites provide trackback capabilities, as a way to enrich site content.

I've often wished for feedback functions on newspaper and other news sites, for adding my two cents to the article du jour. I would think that the average site would probably opt for regular comments over trackbacks, as commenting is more straightforward, and more inclusive (i.e., not everyone has a blog).

But I think the big disincentive for adding feedback features to news sites is, as usual, spam potential. Regular, run-of-the-mill blogs are getting plagued by comment and trackback spam to the point where many blog authors are shutting down those utilities. News sites, with their larger audiences, would be an especially attractive target for spammers, and would bring on unwanted headaches that would outweigh the intended advantages.

Aside from spam, I wonder how trackbacking would work with sites that require registration or subscription access. I suppose parts of the registration barrier could be dropped for something like this; again, I'm not sure it would be worthwhile to do this.

Gahran's post did alert me to the existence of Movable Type's standalone trackback tool. I guess MT wants to spread the love, hoping that it will lead to increased adoption of their full blog management software. Of course, this tool still requires the backend access to your blog's site that comes with owning your own domain, so it wouldn't have done me any good when I recently added the trackback function to this blog.