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Thursday, September 2, 2004
A Trackback Debate Emerges

By Steven Taylor @ 10:06 am

Chris Short takes the opposite position on trackback etiquette than I have espoused on numerous times in the past. His position is that there is no particular reason why a blogger should include a reciprocal link when a trackback is sent. Chris likens those who insist on such as “Trackback Nazis".

As I have said before, it strikes me as only polite to note where the idea from your post came from. And yes, I am cognizant of my TTLB and Technorati rankings. However, it goes beyond even that for two reasons.

The first is that it simply strikes me as rude to have gotten info from a blog and trackback that blog in hopes of generating a little traffic for one’s own blog without reciprocating in a relatively minor way (like a Hat Tip or simply a link stating that you got your idea from a specific blog). It simply strikes me as common courtesy. Further, whether one likes it or not, links are the currency of the Blogosphere. Mutual linkage is a centerpiece of blogging and so it seems to me that one-sided linkage (which is essentially what trackbacks without links are—especially if the blog one is trackbacking has inline trackbacks) is a violation of a fairly fundamental element of blogging.

Second, and to me more fundamentally, is that as an academic I find proper citation to be an absolute necessity. I was just telling a class yesterday that it is always better to over-cite than to under-cite. To me (and I am not criticizing Chris-this is the first time I have visited his blog) it is simply intellectually dishonest to be inspired to write something based on someone else’s post (be it a link they found first-and that you might not have found on your own-or an idea that sparked a response) and then not give credit. To fail to give some credit has an element of intellectual theft and dishonesty to it. As such it far more than mere “etiquette” or even about traffic/rankings.

Hat tip: Jeff Quinton.

(and yes, I trackbacked Chris)

Filed under: Blogging

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1 Comment»

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  1. SezU: “where the idea from your post came from”

    I think there are two schools of thought on the subject of trackbacks. I base this on the Movable Type tutorial on trackbacks:

    School One says that you trackback the source of an idea for a post. And I agree that in this case, you really must give credit for the original thought.

    School Two says that like content is linked about. In this case, the two sites both had original thoughts on their topic. I suppose it would make sense to trackback the other page as well as link to it, but in this situation I would consider this merely polite and not mandatory.

    What’s unfortunate is that, at least with bblog, which I use, you can’t automatically indicate the hat tip when you make the ping. This has to be done manually in the content of the post. This is something I’d like to change if I ever get around to it.


    Comment by Dave Diamond — Thursday, September 2, 2004 @ 4:24 pm

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