What forums have over blogs is the immediacy of conversation. There’s usually someone around on a well-populated board who’s willing to reply to whatever gets posted.

There comes a time when you want your own space. Either you make a long personal thread or you strike out on your own blog. (For me, the retreat to a personal thread on a forum was because my preferred blog space, LiveJournal, was blocked by the firewall and I needed to write to maintain my sanity.)

Gluelessness
I’ve noticed that a number of forum users will have their personal blog sites. In some cases, that personal space shows another face of the individual, but it’s very easy to lose sight of personal blogs in the clatter of forums.

Glue and RSS
When I first conceived of a glue between forums and personal blogs, I immediately thought of RSS feeds being part of the bridge. So I built The Way with RSS feed presentation as a major feature of the place. That satisfied my need to get the public postings on external personal blogs collected for easy viewing. Sure, I can use Google Reader or other utilities to do this, but my informal surveys revealed that many people don’t understand RSS syndication well enough to use an RSS aggregator. So building it made sense.

Glue and Trackbacks
A challenge from Xini to make cross-site conversations easier induced me to explore trackbacks. I’ve since added that capability to The Way so that conversations can more easily be extended across sites.

I’ve hesitated using trackbacks because I didn’t understand them; several of my friends have admitted the same! That seems really silly now that I get it, but the descriptions I’ve seen of Trackbacks tended to just miss making sense to me. I did find two sites (mentioned below) that helped me wrap my head round it.

The best description of all is that trackbacks are links that post comments on the linked-to site. The best advice is to just do it and see what happens.

The Experiment Continues
I’m curious to see if my small group of folks at The Way will try the trackback stuff. I know they use the RSS aggregator (just checking my stats here confirms that). We’ll see. The Way has suffered from my life and work problems; I hope we can overcome those hassles.

References:
“How to use Trackbacks to Promote Your Blog” by 5 Minutes for Mom. Best description I’ve seen about this useful technology!

“Sending Pings and Trackbacks” from WordPress Guides @ Tamba2. The “just do it” approach.

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