When you’re new to blogging, the crazy computer geek terminology seems to never end. There are a lot of new words to learn. Experienced bloggers take these for granted (or act like they do!) but what about the beginners? Don’t worry, your Uncle Blog Vocabulary is here. Today, we’re going to define three blogging terms in plain English anyone can understand (well, anyone who speaks English, anyway). Those words are:
A ping is what happens when one software program notifies another one of an update. It’s basically an electronic way two software applications or computers say “hello, here’s what’s new.” In computer networks (and the internet) one computer can ping another to see if it is online and active. It sends out a signal, or, “ping” over the network to see if it reaches anything. Think of sonar pings from an old war movie, or something, and you get the idea.
Pinging is used in a million different ways on the web, some of which have to do with blogging. I’ll get to that in a moment, but first, let’s look at trackbacks next.
When you come across a blog post that inspires you to write your own blog post, or which you want to cite, you can manually create a kind of link to it known as a trackback. It’s called a trackback because the link “tracks” back to the other blog. When you create a trackback, the blog that you’re tracking back to will be notified. How is it notified? It’s pinged, naturally! When you are writing a post in WordPress 2.5.1, you see the trackback area (pictured below) beneath the writing window.
If this seems laborious and unnecessary, it is. Most people don’t manually create trackbacks, anymore. They don’t need to, because WordPress will create them for us automatically. When it does that, it is not technically creating a trackback, because trackbacks are manual. It’s creating something else. Something called…
A pingback is nothing more than an automated trackback. Thanks, Mike, you say, that’s clear as mud. How ’bout an example? That’s a great idea, I say (how did this become a conversation?), check this out:
Let’s say I wanted to write a post about measuring your success in order to achieve even more success as a blogger. I find Dave Navarro’s post How Seinfeldâ€™s Secret Productivity Tip Can Make You Money and I think it would make a relevant link in my own post. So I link to it in my post (just like I’m doing right now).
When I publish that post, my blog will “ping” Dave’s blog to notify him of my pingback. When Dave logs into his blog administration area, he will see a list of incoming links, one of which will be mine. So now he knows I linked to him and might decide to visit my post to see why. Then he might leave a comment and say something like “Great post, Mike!” (that’s your cue, Dave). So… that’s a pingback.
What most people call trackbacks are, in fact, pingbacks, which makes something that should only mildly confusing and ends up making it majorly confusing!
Questions and Comments are Welcome
I welcome your questions about these terms in the comments below, or if you have any ideas for more blogging terms and concepts you’d like to have explained in plain English, please let me know.