No Fancy Name
Monday, August 15, 2005
a brief guide to using the haloscan trackback system
The following post is an unedited version of Topic 40, "Using the Haloscan Trackback System," from my forthcoming book on Blogger [see TOC]. The style of this book is the Sams Publishing "In a Snap" series, which "offer[s] a unique 2-color format allowing readers to solve problems by identifying individual tasks quickly." In other words, there are a bunch of numbered tasks with lots of pictures, tips, notes, and step-by-step instructions.

The Haloscan commenting and trackback system fills a need unmet by the default Blogger commenting system—trackbacks. The concept of trackbacks is often confusing to new bloggers, but in fact it's a very simple process that enhances the links made between blog posts on a particular topic.

While you often see (or write) blog posts that include text like "Continuing a topic found [here]," where [here] is a link to someone else's blog, a trackback ping makes your post known to readers of the original post—who may or may not know anything about you or your blog. Readers interested in the topic discussed in the first blog post will see the trackback ping sent by you, referring to your blog post, and will perhaps follow this link to your blog where the conversation can continue and your readership will increase.

If you have a Haloscan account, you can send a trackback ping to any blog that has trackback functionality—regardless of the blogging platform or trackback type. That is, you can use Haloscan to send a trackback ping to another Haloscan-enabled blog, a Moveable Type-enabled blog, a WordPress blog, and so on and so forth. As long as a blog produces a pingable URL, you can send the ping. Similarly, your Haloscan-enabled blog can accept pings from any other blogging platform. The following steps show you the process of sending and viewing trackback pings.

STEP 1: Click the Trackback Link to Launch the Trackback Window [see figure 1]
On a Haloscan-enabled blog—your own or anyone else's—click the trackback link to launch the trackback pop-up window. In addition to listing any trackback pings which may have been received for this particular post, the window will also display the trackback URL.
For trackback links on your own blog, you may customize the string used to make the link. Login to Haloscan, then click the Settings link in the left-side navigation. Scroll to the Trackback link text section of the form, where you may change the strings used in the trackback links.

STEP 2: Find the Trackback URL for a Haloscan-Enabled Blog [see figure 1]
The trackback URL appears at the top of the trackback pop-up window. Copy and paste this URL if you want to send a trackback ping to this post.

STEP 3: Find the Trackback URL for a Blog Not Using Haloscan [see figure 2]
Other blogging platforms publish trackback URLs as well, as shown in this example. The placement will differ from platform to platform and blog to blog, but the URL will be clearly marked in some way to indicate that this is the URL to use for trackback pings to this post.

Steps 4 through 10 require you to be logged into your Haloscan account, for the purpose of sending a trackback ping to another blog. Login to Haloscan, then click the Manage Trackback link in the left-side menu. Next, click the Send a Trackback Ping tab to reach the ping form.

STEP 4: Enter the Name of the Referring Blog [see figure 3]
The Your Blog Name field should contain the name of the blog sending the ping. This value will appear in the trackback ping list of the recipient blog post, as the website from which the ping was received. In this example, I am sending a ping from the "Blogger in a Snap" blog to my personal "No Fancy Name" blog. Thus, the name "Blogger in a Snap" will appear as the referrer when viewing the trackbacks for the specific post at "No Fancy Name" which is receiving the trackback.

STEP 5: Enter the Permalink of the Referring Post [see figure 3]
The Your Permalink URL field should contain the permalink of the specific blog post sending the ping. In this example, just as the Your Blog Name field contains the name of the referring blog, the Your Permalink URL field should contain the permalink of the specific referring post on that blog.

STEP 6: Enter the Title of the Referring Post [see figure 3]
The Your Post Title field should contain the title of the specific blog post sending the ping. That is, the title of the post listed in the Your Permalink URL field.

STEP 7: Enter an Excerpt of the Referring Post [see figure 3]
The Your Excerpt field should contain an excerpt of the referring post. No HTML tags are allowed, and you are limited to 255 characters. You can use the first 255 characters of the referring post, or you can create a new summary to use specifically for the trackback.

STEP 8: Enter the Trackback URL of the Post You Want to Ping [see figure 3]
In the URLs to Ping field, enter the value copied from a Haloscan-enabled or non-Haloscan blog, as described in steps 2 and 3 above. You may enter as many URLs to ping as you like; the URLs should each be on a separate line.

STEP 9: Press the Ping Now Button to Send the Trackback Ping [see figure 3]
Press the Ping Now button to send the trackback ping to the URL or URLs specified in the URLs to Ping field. You will see a confirmation of the ping (or pings) displayed at the top of the page.
The Haloscan successful ping notification string appears in italicized text, not bold or red or something very visible. As such, you might miss it and think the ping as not been sent. Do not press the Ping Now button multiple times unless you are very sure the ping has not been sent, because you cannot manage the pings you have sent to other blogs. Thus, only the maintainer of the recipient blog can remove duplicate trackback pings.

STEP 10: View the Successful Trackback [see figure 4]
On a Haloscan-enabled blog, click the trackback link to launch the trackback window and view pings for a particular post. On non-Haloscan blogs, you will often see a link that says "trackbacks" or "referring posts," which will take you to the same type of information that is in a Haloscan pop-up. The trackback entries typically display the title of the referring blog post, linked to the individual post page, followed by your post summary or excerpt, the name of the blog and the timestamp of the trackback ping.

See? Easy peasy.

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