An open letter to Jason Calacanis

Dear Jason,

I’m a big fan of the Weblogs, Inc. blogs. My Bloglines account has feeds for Engadget, Joystiq, TV Squad and Cinematical. I always find great information from these blogs, often stuff I blog about myself or mention to family and friends. The biggest compliment I can give you is that I regularly reccommend your blogs to others – they’re just that good.

As a reader of your blogs and a blogger myself, I usually comment on a few stories each week. I love the opportunity to interact with other readers and the Weblogs, Inc. bloggers concerning posts. But the chain of community, the conversation, breaks down when I blog myself. You see, Jason, none of your blogs accept trackbacks.

Trackbacks are the lifeblood of continuing conversations in the blogspace and a great way to show the whole internet just how popular and powerful your voice is. Most of the big political bloggers use trackbacks to demonstrate how their loyal readers spawn louder voices, directed by their own blogging. Heck, even BoingBoing enables a “blogs’ comments” link on all their stories that links to a Technorati cosmos page, thus letting readers know who else has picked up the mantle on some of their initial reporting. Get with the program, Jason, and give us trackbacks! If the number one blog on the internets (BoingBoing) can do something similar, why not you?

As an aside, let me relate a conversation I had late last year with Joshua Schachter, creator of del.icio.us. Joshua let me know that, at the time, Engadget stories were being bookmarked over twice as much as similar Gizmodo stories. I know you and Nick Denton have a friendly rivalry, but wouldn’t you like a visual cue for your readers that Weblogs, Inc. blogs get more people talking than Gawker blogs? I, for one, would find that appealing and intriguing.

It’s just a thought, Jason, but I hope you’ll hear me out. Trackbacks or something similar, like BoingBoing’s “blogs’ comments”, would be a great way to participate in the wider blogging community. Your own mission statement highlights the fact that you should already be taking advantage of trackbacks:

Weblogs, Inc. is dedicated to creating trade Weblogs (a.k.a. “blogs”) across niche industries in which user participation is an essential component of the resulting product (emphasis mine).

And this:

gives users the ability to participate by engaging in discussions, ranking stories and by submitting their own “blogs” (i.e., pointers and summaries of stories on other sites)

You run such great blogs, it would be a shame not to live up to your lofty goals. But that’s just my two cents. Keep up the good work.

Seth Miller
Mostly Muppet Dot Com

UPDATE: I emailed a copy of this letter to Jason and he kindly responds in the comments. Take a look. Interesting response.

UPDATE II: Engadget now features “Linking blogs” which repurposes Technorati’s cosmos. Steve Rubel and Marc Orchant are on the case as well. I’ve Trackbacked the pertinent posts. ;-)

UPDATE III: Jason lets the world know that I was the cranky blogger who took him to task on TrackBacks. Glad Weblogs, Inc. listens to it’s readers. :-)

  • http://calacanis.weblogsinc.com Jason

    We obvioulsy see the value in trackbacks… however, when you hit a large number of page views the value of being listed on the trackback page goes up. It is so valuable now that spammers would be more then half the trackbacks on a site like Engadget.

    We’ve figured out how to control the comment spam problem, but since tracks in occur off our pages it is really hard for us to defeat the “trackback spammers.”

    Right now we leave it up to folks to go to Feedster, technorati, etc. to check the trackbacks.

    We have some ideas of how to handle the trackback spammers but we’re not comfortable with it just yet… when we make it a little more stable we will annouce it.

    thanks for the feedback.. and for reading!

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