In response to a recent question in one of my favorite Windows Live Groups, I discussed some of the lesser-known blogging tools that are available in WL Spaces:
As you’re reading a blog post on someone’s WL Space, you may have noticed a string of links across the bottom of the post. While most of these are pretty obvious, you may wonder about the function of a permalink or trackback, or what exactly Blog It does for you?
These mysterious options are part of every blog post
A permalink provides a direct link to your blog post (or entry, as it’s formally known), as opposed to the main page of your space. The permalink is not dependent on the title of your post or any of its content, so it doesn’t change if you modify and republish the post. Permalinks are handy when you expect a lot of people to link externally to a specific post instead of your main page, because your that page typically includes only your most recent posts.
Trackbacks can be used by other bloggers whose posts reference yours. When they use the trackback URL (at the bottom of your post) to create a reference (by clicking Add Trackbacks at the bottom of the editor), it notifies the trackback server, which updates your trackback counter and enables you to get a list of who’s linking to you. Trackback URLs cannot be used to create direct links to your content, however; they only work as tags within posts.
Oddly, the trackback feature seems to be missing from Windows Live Writer; as far as I can tell, it’s only available if you’re composing within the web-based editor. If I’m overlooking something (and that’s entirely possible, as it’s pretty late), please let me know.
Adding a trackback URL to your blog post
Blog It simply creates a new post on your WL space that references the target post’s trackback URL. For instance, if you wanted to link to my new Win 7 Beta Review (shameless plug), you’d click Blog It, and (tada) you’d get a new post in your editor, complete with a “Talking about…” title and an automatic trackback to my post. It’s simply a way to get the ball rolling on a new blog post.
If you prefer to use WL Writer, then you can use the Blog This button on the IE toolbar, which magically launches the program and creates a new blog post with a conventional hyperlink to the target page. Again, the support for automatic trackbacks appears to be absent.
Needless to say, these are rather elegant blogging features of WL Spaces and Writer that are completely lost on average users. You can disable trackbacks in the the blog options, but I don’t think there’s anything you can do to remove the other options from appearing below your blog posts. But honestly, why would you? I’d encourage everyone to make better (yet appropriate) use of them to improve our community experience. Viva la Windows Live!