Tuesday, 9 April 2013

Trackbacks died last night

I disabled trackbacks last night. Somewhat sad about it, but it seems to be all the rage. TypePad announced plans to disable trackbacks and WordPress may be soon to follow.

I've never been a fan of the trackback protocol. Last night I looked at great many voices--some I was re-reading having first seen them over 10 years ago!--talking about the weakness in Six Apart's Trackback specification and slow definition of a version 2.0 that would include some kind of authentication mechanism. There were quite a few 10 year old posts talking about the death of the trackback...then. It may have taken 10 years to finally die however.

For me trackbacks became a spam vector that grew into a management problem. I just didn't want to spend 5 minutes a day or 15 minutes at the end of the week purging the moderation queue when every. single. trackback. was just spam. It was tiresome. 

My platform has support for trackbacks, pingbacks, and comments, including comment and trackback throttling (throttling is the ability to reduce trackbacks from a single IP to manage volume). I never get pingbacks due to the low adoption of the specification on many platforms, but it is the HTTP "back link" protocol I liked the most.

Ian Hickson wrote extensively about the pros of pingbacks vs. cons of trackbacks in 2002. I've been a convert to the specification ever since. While there have been emotional arguments to saving trackbacks, as a developer and actual maintainer of a blogging platform, I'm not convinced by touch feely arguments about making new friends because of trackbacks. Sorry, but I'm not seeking friends in the spam community. And making friends is not a specification that can be defined, so let's keep the death of the trackback moderately scientific in nature.

My appreciation of the pingback specification is not because it has the authentication that is missing from trackback, both don't seem to have any defined support. My appreciation is about the simplicity: it's just HTTP. There's no auto discovery necessary, no IDs, etc. Pingback just used good old HTTP and HTML metadata. And yet, while I have pingbacks on and trackbacks off, I don't expect a flood of the former. The specification kind of took off in 2002-2003 but fizzled in support.

Alas, this is all moot: with TypePad removing support, Blogger never really making it easy to support, and WordPress considering dropping support...2013 might be the year that the Trackback really died. Pingbacks may quietly follow.

Posted by caffeinated at 12:21 PM in experimental madness

H is for Horned Hunter, Van Garten

Van was born in Vateresche, a Taalbaston--the near 20 mile diameter, naturally walled, interior remnants of a crater--village of Talbecland. Located in the heart of the Taalgrunhaar Forest, Vateresche is home to a thriving lumber and charcoal community supplying raw goods to Talabheim, the seat Talbecland's Elector Count, and surrounding Taalbaston villages.

Born to a family of charcoal burners, Van would often work the shallow underground furnaces with his brothers and father. Yet he was also raised by a devout mother to honor Rhya, the goddess and wife the woodland god Taal. It was a chance encounter with a monstrous mutant beast capable of uprooting trees with a single blow and his father's selfish indifference of seeing each tree felled as a tree he didn't have to cut down that changed Van forever. Running to an empty charcoal pit and hiding from the monster, Van watch a pair of Horned Hunters slay the beast as his brother's prayed for protection and his father counted trees for charcoal.

Van vowed to join the order of Horned Hunters to protect the forests from the abominations of Tzeentch, the ruinous god of change. He ran into the forest the next evening on the regular trip to the furnaces. Van soon found the Horned Hunters and pledged to join the order.

Van submitted to a mentor known as Neidhart. Neidhart saw the fervor of Van's heart and immediately began his induction. Eschewing all civilized trappings Neidhart found the runaway an easy initiate as he arrived with only the clothes on his back and a desire to protect the forest from all evils, real or perceived. Neidhart set about with the ritual tattooing of Van and teaching Van the simple faith of the Horned Hunters: Serve the Forest, and the Forest shall serve you.

But Neidhart also instilled a zeal for protecting the forest from even those that worked the forest for a living. Van soon was quietly fighting woodsmen, game hunters, and even his own family's charcoal burning business.

Neidhart has released Van to find the sacred shrines of Rhya and Taal in the Tallbaston to prove his initiation into the order of the Horned Hunters. Neidhart fully expects Van to survive this trial, but has also suggested that any mills or charcoal furnaces destroyed are prerequisites to full initiation.

Van is quietly earning his own moniker in Vateresche, Van the Traitor Axe. However, there are those that claim to have seen Van also dispatching a rare beastman in the forest. Van's skills and mentorship will likely have him soon succeeding in the initiation rites, but also are likely to earn him a price on his head... along side Neidhart the Axeman's Bane own bounty.

Posted by caffeinated at 1:44 AM in d10