[OpenID] Proposal: TrackForth

Dmitry Shechtman damnian at gmail.com
Thu Feb 1 18:35:05 UTC 2007

Since this list is quickly becoming an incubator for innovative ideas, I
though I'd jump on this speeding boat and present my idea. It isn't tightly
coupled with OpenID, although XRDS certainly helps.

It's called TrackForth.

Whenever you post a comment on somebody's blog you'd probably like to keep
track of the responses. There are a couple of services that allow this
(cocomments is one), but they use proprietary APIs and centralized
management. Which is very bad in the context of decentralized identity.

Since most blog platforms already include TrackBack client/server
implementations, TrackBack can be relied on as transport for initial comment
notifications. Implementations of the proposed protocol could also rely on
Atom comments extension for content delivery and on OPML for content
delivery metadata.

Below is an example inspired by the PingBack specification. It assumes both
parties using an imaginary blogging system called WeirdProse, which is the
reason for the wp- prefixes in script file names. Please note that steps 8 -
10 are implementation-specific.

1.  Alice posts a comment to a post on Bob's blog under the name "Alice"
with the subject "Test" and the text "Hello, TrackForth". The permalink to
Bob's post is http://bob.example.net/?p=12, and the URL of Alice's blog
(provided in her comment) is http://alice.example.org/.

2. Bob's blogging system inserts the comment into the moderation queue and
requests the page referred by Alice's link.

3. It scans the page for the trackback link tag, which it finds:

<link rel="trackback" href="http://alice.example.org/wp-trackback.php" />

4. It then performs the following request:


5. Alice's blogging system adds a new entry to Alice's comment list and
returns a trackback success response.

6. Bob approves Alice's comment. The permalink to it is

7. Bob's blogging system performs the following request: 


8. Alice's blogging system marks the comment as approved and requests the
page containing Bob's post.

9. It scans the page for the Atom comments link tag, which it finds:

<link title="Comments feed"
type="application/atom+xml" href="http://bob.example.net/wp-atom.php?p=12"

10. It then adds a new entry to Alice's OPML data.

Note that the presence of the # in the URL indicates an approved comment.
This allows for notifying the commenter on approval. In case the client
blogging system does not support comment permalinks, it may simply append #
to the URL of the post.

TrackForth can potentially draw spammers. Any measures that are currently
used for TrackBack spam filtering could be safely applied to TrackForth.

The above example uses a non-standard TrackBack discovery mechanism (which
is good in a sense, since it distinguishes TrackBack from TrackForth). An
XRDS service type could have been used as well. Although I have yet to
complete by TrackBack implementation, my XRDS already has this:

	<URI>http://blog.phpbb.cc/trackback </URI>

I'd truly appreciate your comments.


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