As you may have noticed I opt for functional titles in this series called Blog Mechanics. Today, I want to talk about the elements contained in the “footer” of a blog post.
Normally, you’ll see similar information present on every blog, occasionally presented in different ways depending on the blog platform being used. These include something called a permalink, comments, and an element known as trackbacks. Let me explain.Permalink
The permalink is the unique URL for that particular post. One of the things that make blogs so attractive to search engines is that each post becomes its own page with its own distinct URL. This enables other bloggers to link directly to the post in question.
This element is what sets blogs apart from any other type of internet publication format. It enables the reader of the blog to remark on what you’ve written. Blogging is all about engaging in conversations and comments allow for that to take place.
Most blog platforms allow the option of turning comments on or off. In my opinion a blog without comments enabled is no blog at all. Let me qualify that by saying, thanks to a peculiar annoyance called comment spam, some bloggers have no choice but to turn them off. However, it’s a blogging best practice to leave comments on when possible. Blog platforms are getting better at handling comment spam too, so it’s less of a problem nowadays.
In my experience, this is the least understood and underutilized of all the interactive elements contained in the post footer. Trackbacks are an invention of the creators of Movable Type, Ben and Mena Trott. They are indigenous to blogs, but not all blog platforms support them. (Blogger is a case-in-point. You can institute trackbacks with Blogger via a third-party plugin from Haloscan.)
Trackbacks are simply a way for one blogger to let another blogger know that her post has been talked about. For example, let’s say you write a post that is of particular interest to me. Instead of leaving a comment on your post, I write something of my own and link to you. But, how will you know I’ve talked about what you’ve written. That’s where the trackback comes in.
Beneath each blog post is listed what’s known as a trackback URL. Like the permalink, it’s unique to that particular post. I copy the URL and paste it into a specified form field in my blog entry interface. When I publish my post, a “ping” is sent to your blog. Upon completion an excerpt of what I’ve written “magically” appears beneath your post. You’ve just been trackbacked!
I hope I’ve “demystified” the elements contained in the footer. It’s these very components that make a blog the powerful publishing tool that it is, from a technical standpoint at least.