Linkback

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A linkback is a method for Web authors to obtain notifications when other authors link to one of their documents. This enables authors to keep track of who is linking to, or referring to, their articles. The four methods (Refback, Trackback, Pingback and Webmention) differ in how they accomplish this task.

"LinkBack" is the generalized term we use to reference three methods of communication between Websites.[1]

Any of the four terms—Linkback, Trackback, Pingback, or (rarely) Refback—might also refer colloquially to items within a section upon the linked page that display the received notifications, usually along with a reciprocal link; Trackback is used most often for this purpose. Also, the word Trackback is often used colloquially to mean any kind of Linkback.

Dan Magarino, Morgan Stanley Equity Research, is credited with popularizing the term "linkback" and also contributed to its widespread adoption by RiXML.org.

Refback Trackback Pingback Webmention
Trigger mechanism Visitor to linking site clicks on the link, and his browser takes him to the linked site Code on linking server examines added or updated documents, extracts links, and sends notification to linked server for each link found Code on linking server examines added or updated documents, extracts links, and sends notification to linked server for each link found Code on linking server examines added or updated documents, extracts links, and sends notification to linked server for each link found
Notification medium HTTP referrer value HTTP POST[2] XML-RPC call HTTP POST with source and target parameters[3]
Capture mechanism Examination of incoming HTTP referrer values Trackback capture script XML-RPC function Webmention capture script
Information sent by linking server None
  • Linking site name (Optional)
  • Linking post title (Optional)
  • Linking post excerpt (Optional)
  • Linking post URL
  • Linked post URL
  • Linking post URL
  • Linked post URL (target)
  • Linking post URL (source)
Additional information presented to linked server HTTP referrer sent by a visitor's browser upon clicking the link IP address of linking server IP address of linking server IP address of linking server
Autodiscovery mechanism (how the linking server finds out how and where to send the notification) None LINK tag in the header of the linked page or Trackback RDF Documents Special HTTP header or LINK tag on the linked page HTTP Link header or link element on the linked page
Action required when notification is received
  • Extract referrer value from incoming HTTP headers
  • Retrieve referring page
  • Parse retrieved page for desired information
  • Gather desired information from
    • Given parameters
    • or retrieving and parsing the given URL
  • Retrieve page at "linking post URL"
  • Parse retrieved page for desired information
Verifying that linking page does indeed link to linked page is recommended, not explicitly required
Advantages Requires no special code on linking server (the link itself becomes the notification when someone clicks on it) All the information desired by the linked server (Linking site name, post title, excerpt) is present in the notification itself
  • Notification mechanism has a complete technical specification
  • Less susceptible to spamming
  • Uses well known parts of HTTP wherever possible (autodiscovery, encoding of data, response status)
  • Reuses Pingback’s existing semantics
  • Minimum amount of data transferred on-the-wire
Disadvantages
  • No notification unless someone actually clicks on the link
  • Relies upon visitors' browsers sending proper HTTP referrer information
  • Linked site must retrieve and parse linking site's page to extract the information it wants
  • Notification requires positive action by linking server
  • Notification mechanism has only a partial technical specification
  • Autodiscovery information may prevent XHTML validation
  • Notification requires positive action by linking server
  • Linked site must retrieve and parse linking site's page to extract the information it wants
  • Relatively new, so less widely implemented.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Shum, Jerry. "Linkbacks" (in English). Retrieved 30 September 2011. 
  2. ^ "Trackback specification draft". 
  3. ^ "Webmention Specification".