News.com Leads Blog Communication

This is the coolest thing I’ve seen all year. Check out the HTML of this article I linked a few days ago. Notice anything at the top?

<link rel="pingback" href="http://tb.news.com/p2t.cgi/2100-1032-5368454" />

Houston, we have Pingback support! Let’s dig deeper:

<rdf:RDF xmlns:rdf="http://www.w3.org/1999/02/22-rdf-syntax-ns#"
xmlns:dc="http://purl.org/dc/elements/1.1/"
xmlns:trackback="http://madskills.com/public/xml/rss/module/trackback/">
<rdf:Description
rdf:about="http://news.com.com/2100-1032-5368454.html"
dc:title="Microsoft flip-flop may signal blog clog"
dc:identifier="http://news.com.com/2100-1032-5368454.html" />
trackback:ping="http://tb.news.com/tb.cgi/2100-1032-5368454"
</rdf:RDF>

Ugly as sin, but that’s trackback. It gets better…

A little URI hacking takes us to this page which lists all trackbacks and pingbacks the article recieved. How cool is that?

It’s my understanding that even though they’ve had the trackback autodiscovery code for a while they’ve been recieving mostly pingbacks, which makes sense given that it’s more fully and elegantly automatic. It would be cool if they could add support for the nascent rel="trackback" discovery method and save themselves the trouble of the RDF hack. Hopefully spammers won’t exploit their trackback server too soon and they can support legacy systems that don’t implement Pingback yet.

The implications of this are fairly large. News.com is obviously bootstrapping code that will involve their readers with the blog conversation surrounding their articles. How long for other sites to catch up? Will they plug into Technorati or Pubsub next? As far as I know this is the first major media organization to implement Trackback and Pingback. The team at News.com should be commended for their effort and leadership in this area.

7 thoughts on “News.com Leads Blog Communication

  1. Very cool, only good things can come of this *nods*

    Incidentally, can anyone point me to a tutorial for implimenting pingbacks? The Pingback specification looks like it should help a lot, but my brain is having a hard time distilling everything it’s talking about. I have my own-coded website and i really want to impliment pingback, -but- i have very little understanding on XML (enough to have created my own PHP generated RSS feeds) and next to no understanding on RDF. Or am i being a dunce and i just need to re-re-re-read the Pingbck specs?

    I was -so- tempted to just use WordPress after playing with it, but in the end i didn’t want to lose three years worth of content. :( And i couldn’t find a module to bolt on entry-specific galleries.

  2. I’ve created a very simple pingback server in PHP. There’s still some big issues on my to do list for it, but it should give you an idea about how to move forward (you would probably want to save the pingbacks in a real database instead of the XML file I use).

    There you can download my server from http://www.solitude.dk/archives/20040918-2125/
    I’ve also typed up notes on how to turn on pingbacks on that page. With PHP it’s dead easy. Just add <?php header(“X-Pingback: http://yourdomain.com/path/to/pingback/server/“);?> to the top of each entry.

    I’ve based both my pingback server and the client I’m working on on Simon Willison’s XML-RPC library. It’s a fantastic piece of work. You can get it at http://scripts.incutio.com/xmlrpc/

  3. This is very interesting. I wonder when they will actually link from the article to the pingback/trackback page. Right now, it is a little hard for readers to discover this page.

    Great discovery.

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