small meaningful things

mirrored links

The other day Wesley left a comment on one of my posts to let me know that they referenced it in one of their recent posts, “How Websites Die“.

I think it is so cool that by them leaving a comment, my post now has a link to their post which links back to mine, like a mirror.

illustration showing two links

Most links are one-directional, and we don’t really know who is linking to us if not for analytics.

Note-taking apps like Roamresearch call them backlinks – two links that reference each other. Wouldn’t it be cool there is a standard way of displaying backlinks from someone else’s website? WordPress does this with trackbacks, but as far as I know they only work with other wordpress sites. Then there is Indieweb’s webmentions, but everytime I take a look to see if I can implement it, it just sounds a little too complicated. I wish there was a simple way for everyone to do it.

We could then have a way to display conversations that take place over a series of blog posts from different websites. Or a themed chain of blog posts from different sources.

If you didn’t know this, I implemented this sort of linking within my website. It doesn’t show up in RSS for now but on my website below this post you could see I linked to the original post that Wesley commented on, and if you navigate to that post it links back to this note. So I can personally keep track of the contextual relationships within my own content. I just think it’ll be cool to do so with other people’s blogs too.

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7 responses

3 thoughts on “mirrored links”

  1. I love how small this corner of the internet feels right now: my friend Brendan ( linked to Wesley’s notes the other day, so I ended up on their site and found it delightful and thoughtful and subscribed immediately, and then there you were, completing the loop! And now here you are!

    This conversation makes me thinking of (Other) Brendan’s writing about Blogging Megastructures ( and maybe also Social Longform Writing ( I took comments off my blog and I’ve turned off analytics, but I’ll admit I do miss that kind of backwards sleuthing when I’d see a traffic spike from some domain I’d never heard of, and then go learn about some new person I’d never met who’d linked to my work.

    (I also really love the Related Posts feature on the site hereβ€”it’s clean and intriguing and gives just a bit more intention than browsing by categories or tags.)

    1. Winnie says:

      Hi Lucy, thanks for stopping by! I love it when such loops happen, especially these days when people don’t blog much, much less share external links actively. I subscribed to your friend Brendan’s blog, thank you for sharing it. πŸ™‚

      I follow other Brendan’s writing too. I remember he did an experiment with Tom Critchlow on networked blogchains which is similar to what I’ve written above: – I guess that was part of the posts you shared.

      I relate to the sentiment about analytics and comments – for a long time I didn’t have analytics on my blog, but I added it back in out of curiousity to see if the “library” parts of the site gets visited at all. Being able to see referrals is a nice bonus. I deliberately ignore the numbers part though, so it has to be viewed mindfully. I think comments can be quite a bit of work, but perhaps totally worth it if someone likes you stop by and leave a thoughtful comment like this one.

      (Hoping to make this website a little more connected between each little piece versus just a chronological timeline of content.)

    2. Wesley says:

      Oh, wow, this corner of the web really is small! I’d just seen Brendan’s blog a few weeks ago, since a friend of mine linked to on Metafilter β€” it’s fun that he found my website!

      And I just poked around on your website, and realized that I’d seen your (excellent) XOXO talk a while ago β€” I think it was Julia Evans who brought it to my attention? I’m scrolling through your blog now and it’s excellent, I’ll have to take some time to read through more of it later πŸ™‚

      I’ve been thinking recently about ways to make it easier for people to connect with each other via blogs and personal websites. I should probably put comments on my website, and writing more responses to people whose posts I like seems like another good plan, although that often feels heavier than I’d like β€” sometimes I don’t have much to add, and I just want to say that I’m there and I saw it and appreciated it.

      I’ve found the Google Search Console ( pretty good for finding links to my posts β€” it doesn’t require analytics that tracks users, which is nice. It doesn’t catch every link, but it gets a lot of them β€” just today I found a link to my notebook from a few months ago, which I’d missed at the time.

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