Mark Pilgrim writes: IO is more controlled [than linkbacks] -- you have to subscribe to other people's feeds to read their responses -- and is therefore better suited for intentional collaboration. Auto-linkbacks are more about exploration and manufacturing serendipity. Must explore this further.

This is why I went bananas with the referral links everywhere. Manufactured serendipity. The referrals do something that a weblog's comment feature just doesn't do.

Dave & the Userland crew often assert that weblogs are better than discussion groups, for various good reasons. Radio UserLand shipped without a comment feature (although it has one now), which I assumed was because the UserLand opinion was that the convention to comment & respond to someone's weblog was to do it in your own weblog.

The big problem I see, though, is that you're in your own bubble. If you have something to say about something I wrote, and you're not already in my RSS subscriptions, I'll never read you. If I don't know you already, chances are that I may not come to be introduced to you. The same goes for Instant Outlining. While I appreciate the intentional nature of this tech, and its strengths in avoiding spam, I want to meet you half way. I want to be surprised and have my ears get warm and turn red when you say something about me.

Referral-driven linkbacks on all pages on my site do this. If you post to your weblog and include a link to me, then I hear about it the first time someone traverses that link. This, to me, is even better than the comment feature. And, as Mark Pilgrim observes, this is better that a single referers page because these linkbacks appear in context. The conversation is built up from links in place and on topic and where the action is. To me, this is the two-way web really in action


Archived Comments

  • The current linkbacks for this article include: * (6) * (1) * (1) I suspect these are all from the same link. The second link, the permalink, is probably the most useful for linkback. It would be nice to come up with a convention or feature not unlike HTML BASE that indicates "this is the right context for this link".
  • Yup, they are all the same link. Not sure how I could collapse them though without some cue from the referer. One thing I could maybe do is order them by domain, or maybe make an outline out of them.
  • Collapsing them all under the most specific (ie, longest) URL would fix it: you'd get the one with the #anchor, then. What's the right name for "string subtraction," anyway?