2019-04-16 Referrer Tracking

From an email I recently wrote to somebody regarding blogs:

The blogs have a problem with communication: even if we do link to other blogs, we sometimes simply assume that they read our blog, or worse, we assume that they probly don’t want to read our blog, and so we don’t let them know about our link, or we don’t know how to contact them, and so on. I have no solution to this.

I guess we should all sign up to Google Alerts. I used to do this many years ago, trying to find people that linked to my site, but it’s tricky since every forum post and every comment I left elsewhere was a false positive. Also Google is tracking me and my interests.

Later I switched to referrer tracking. This simply looks at the referrer headings browsers provide when following links (a privacy problem, if you ask me), but this solution is weird, too. If you look at my referrers you’ll see some important links like Recommended Reading from the Questing Blog (thanks!) but for the newer pages, all the links just go back to sites that have my blog on their blog roll (thanks!). But what does it mean? Somebody (or some bot?) saw the link on the blog roll and followed it. That’s cool. Thanks! But it also no longer means that people wrote a blog post and linked to my blog.

A few weeks ago I thought that pingback was the answer. But the few times I tried to leave a pingback myself it didn’t work. I’m assuming that’s because people are moderating their comments (good for them!) and somehow that disables pingbacks. It makes sense, too. Pingbacks (and referrer tracking) allow other people to place link to their sites on your blog. That’s not a power you’d like to grant easily! Anyway, the upshot is that it doesn’t work even if the sites support pingback in theory (like all the Wordpress sites).

It gets worse: all the Blogspot sites don’t support pingback in the first place. If you look at the RPG Planet, you’ll see that it lists 260 blogs and 151 of them are Blogspot sites. More than half the sites don’t support pingback.

As I said, I have no solution.



It looks to me like the solution is a social, rather than technical, one. And by that I mean this very comment.

Happy Easter and keep it up!

– Enzo 2019-04-17 06:12 UTC

Oh, I guess you were talking about inter-blog communication, not whether anybody reads your blog. Oh well, Happy Easter anyway 😁

– Enzo 2019-04-17 06:15 UTC

Happy Easter to you, too! As far as the communication problem goes, I’m talking about exactly this: the technical solutions (that don’t work) to a social problem (we don’t know when others are interacting with us elsewhere, whether it be reading, referencing, recommending, criticizing or commenting), which might be caused by the strange affordances of the medium (blogs not encouraging us to comment elsewhere, not even an “I like” button, or if there is one, we wouldn’t know who clicked it).

– Alex Schroeder 2019-04-17 07:01 UTC

Looking at my referrers just now, I seem to be on the blog rolls of two blogs I haven’t heard of:

Interesting! So perhaps the system still works in a way. I least I can discover that.

– Alex Schroeder 2019-04-17 07:05 UTC

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