Trackbacks are an effective way for bloggers to create multi-threaded conversations that take place on multiple blogs.
It’s been suggested that widgets and other integrated third-party tools that bloggers embed on their site can take the place of trackbacks. They show who’s linking to a particular blog or post and are automatically updated by the third-party service itself, rather than relying on the blogger to send a trackback.
However I still think there’s value in trackbacks. They provide a direct link between two related blog posts, rather than an indirect link through a third-party site.
As a blogger I welcome trackbacks even more than I welcome comments – because if someone’s sending a trackback they’ve typically taken the time to write a post referencing mine, which shows a (slightly) greater level of engagement than writing a comment directly on my blog.
That said there are some real disadvantages to trackbacks. As Antony notes, bloggers need to be disciplined to send trackbacks when posting, as it’s all too easy to forget. Plus there’s the fact that some blogging platforms don’t accept trackbacks (why?) which means they aren’t a universal standard on all blogs.
I’ll keep sending trackbacks when it’s appropriate – and hopefully people will keep sending them my way too.
(and please, no-one ask me the difference between a trackback and a pingback – I’ve never really understood – but they seem to give the same end result)