Link Counts Are Open
Actually, I think that the Link Count Widget solves two problems at once. The obvious problem with form-based discussion is that it is massively abused by spammers to drive traffic to unrelated commercial sites through links embedded in their comments. As spammers have adapted to defensive techniques, it has become increasingly difficult to ward off the junk. A less obvious but related problem is that commenting leads to a duplication of effort. Lots of commenting can mean that you’re writing the same thing on other people’s web sites as you write on your own. Plus, you don’t have any control over what happens to your comments once you submit them, so if you’re a stickler for getting it right you can often spend more time worrying over what you say than you would on your own site. (At least I’ve heard that this is a problem, but being so laid back it hasn’t happened to me.)
Nobody but spammers would oppose the first point. Whether the effort thing is a problem though depends on how important the social aspects of commenting are to people who publish blogs. Comments are fun, they offer ease of interaction, and the status rewards of public interest in your stuff. They are also good at facilitating discussion though they’re more often used to generate consensus than deliberation. But whereas reader feedback is important in the world of print publishing to make discussion possible at all, on the web it’s much easier for readers to also be publishers. So do we really need comments on every personal blog? The Link Count Widget fills the gap by making a list of referring sites directly accessible to readers. It will be immediately obvious if a post has generated any interest, just as it is with comments.
On the technical side, I had to modify the widget’s js a little to deal with some of the styles so I’m running a local copy instead of the embedded script. The Technorati-green link colour was not jiving with my theme. This isn’t optimal but until Technorati makes it easier to modify the look of the links it will have to do. Even though the comments are disabled I welcome feedback as much as ever, so if you’ve got something to say and you don’t want to publish it on your own site, you can reach me via the Contact page.