One way trackbacking

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This weblog is indeed fulfilling my ongoing quest of learning and discovery of this wild web out there. I've just got my first one-way TrackBack from Houssein on this entry about If you are not familiar with TrackBacks, check this tutorial first.

About a week ago, Joi Ito commented on his first one-way TrackBack:

I got a trackback on my iTunes entry (the first trackback there...) from a Japanese MT blog. Anyway, I went over to the site and it was indeed an entry about iTunes, but no mention of me or my blog. Also, no link back.

So, maybe I feel a bit hurt, but nothing illegal going on here. Obviously it makes sense to try to direct people to more information about a topic and sending a trackback to an entry about the same topic makes sense. It just felt weird. I had been looking at trackback more as a two-way thing, but I guess they are technically one way.

Timothy Appnel has added more thoughts to the discussion.

Re-reading the words from the TrackBack tutorial:

In a nutshell, TrackBack was designed to provide a method of notification between websites: it is a method of person A saying to person B, "This is something you may be interested in."

This is exactly what Houssein did, and my weblog is configured to accept and publish incoming TrackBacks. Nobody did anything wrong, no need to send the troops to wipe the evil out. So why do I feel exactly like Joi?

The assumption that TrackBacks are a two-way thing, in the sense that a TrackBack is legitimate only if the TrackBack sender displays a link back to the recipient's site, is only due to the high degree of integration and automation achieved (I am referring to MovableType in that matter). To enable the publication of Trackbacks, or automatically send Trackbacks to other sites requires exactly one click on their respective check box in the weblog preferences. To trackback another site then requires nothing more than linking to a post from one's post, hence the two-way linking that is visible, expected, implied.

I am always welcoming feedback by all means, so I see a legitimate use of one-way TrackBacks. Despite being the developer of a plugin dedicated to, Houssein adds more thoughts to the picture, so it's worth reading (for the francophone audience that is, ironically the underlying subject of the initial post regarding language information).

However, it is easy to infer how this can be abused (think this as spamming a web site very much like spamming one's mailbox apart that you are spamming the site's audience, not just the owner). I have currently a simple door beel, I hope I won't need a dog or a doorman or, worse, weapons of mass TrackBack destruction.