Andrew Orlowski ditches TrackBacks

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I guess that if Andrew Orlowski continues his compulsive, almost monomaniac (he sometimes writes about useful stuff) bashing of weblogs, the blogosphere's will move from weblogging about weblogging to weblogging about Orlowski's rants about weblogging.

His latest rant, titled Blog noise achieves Google KO, is yet again about how weblogs seem to disturb Google.

Taking one example, a search on OS X Panther Discussion that returns the trackback pop-up window of a default, out-of-the-box Movable Type installation, Andrew is now throwing TrackBacks altogether as another plague to Google.

Fear not TrackBacks my friends. Fear bad faith.

Finding a set of keywords that will return nothing interesting from Google is not particularly difficult, especially on something brand new like discussions on a product that hasn't appeared on the market yet. If you take something that has been around for some time already, like Andrew Orlowski discussion, then you can get a good deal of rather interesting results.

Also, bragging about empty TB pages is dangerous. By the time of this writing, his article is already obsolete, since the first two results now return non empty pages. The web is a living thing, weblogs are a pretty active part of it and Google like nothing more than fresh content. May be one can complain that Google is too quick in indexing fresh content (like articles that have been written just a few days ago, like in this case), I personally find it very useful, as, unlike Andrew, am able to figure out what those pages mean and that it's not the end of the world that an article written yesterday has not yet fueled a raging discussion.

Blame not weblogs, blame Canadabad design.

Sure, getting a blank page is not necessary interesting, although in this case I discovered new weblogs that are discussing the subject. If you really want to blame something here, blame the default design of MT weblogs. Displaying TBs and comments separately, and using popup windows to do that are, IMHO, two bad design decisions. But MT is not to blame, the technology allows a much better way. This kind of "blank page" would not appear on this very weblog, because I'm not using MT pop-ups for comments. I'm not even displaying Trackbacks on their own, they are treated as comments and displayed along with the article for Google to index a much more meaningful page. I wouldn't be surprised if Six Apart would fix their default templates to something similar in a future release (*).

Much ado about nothing, and certainly no license to call TrackBacks a catastrophe.

Another demonstration that Andrew Orlowski has some difficulty grabbing the weblog concepts. I wish he would return to more interesting reporting, because he knows better.

(*) P.S.: it didn't take them long. It's all about context!