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Comment tracking


CommentsTrack is a new project taking another stab at the comment tracking problem: "How do you follow up on comments you posted?"

My main concern so far is that I would get spam pings. In a previous post about comment authentication and tracking I tried to address that issue by using the authentication exchange to establish some trust between the comment server and the user's authentication/signature server.

The lag problem that the spec draft mentions is interesting. If the comment server has to send many pings for each comment, and the pings are synchronous, then posting a comment takes a long time. But the asynchronous ping and other approaches are not as simple...

A possible solution is to use img tags to do a minimal ping, and have the browser load them. When a tracking server receives a minimal ping, it can then fetch the complete information about the update.
If the tracking server doesn't make that request for any reason, then the minimal ping will be included in another user's page, until a maximum retry count and time limit are reached.
One downside of this approach is that the web bug images shouldn't be placed on pages that can be cached...
The beauty of this solution is that websites that get a lot of traffic (and thus comments) will be able to spread their ping images amongst many browsers.


(1) spam pings:
We will probably present our idea of authentication implementation in v0.4 of the specification. We know that it is a serious problem, but we're lucky that there were other people, like you, thinking about this problem, before. We'll try to find the best solution for all.

(2) minimal ping via images:
Interesting, we also had a resmbling idea. The problem is: What about pages that don't really have visitors? What you describe is like "outsourcing" cronjobs to visitors, it only works if there are visitors. Not a good solution for a mechanism that perhaps should be used by many many webloggers out there, we thought.

The problem isn't to transfer the data, that doesn't need much time and work. The problem is that you have to get a connection to the server to transfer data at all. And when servers are slow or even offline you even cannot send a small ping but have to wait until the connection-try timeouts. Large comment-threads could have severeal hundered URIs to ping. Wait 150 connections to time out really is no fun.

Perhaps we found another solution for the pingproblem, in the background I'm just testing it. We'll see...

Posted by: Jan (August 27, 2004 06:26 PM)
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