Trackbacks, Comments, and Hat Tips
[Related posts: Haloscan, Trackbacks for Blogger users]
This is just my humble opinion but I think I'm reasonably well aligned with most of the more dominant bloggers on this. Take it for what it's worth.
A Trackback, imho, is normally understood to be a way to send the message "I linked to your post on my blog." If you use either of the Trackback Pingers I've recommended, they also give you a way to include a short excerpt from your post in your Trackback. If you have something to add to something you read on another blog, particularly one with a lot more traffic than I get, leaving a trackback can be an excellent way to generate some traffic to your blog. For example, the trackback message I left at http://www.blackfive.net/main/2004/09/democrat_republ.html has brought 113 people to my blog so far, including 13 today, three days after I left it. Leaving a Trackback on a post you didn't link to is generally not considered "good form"; It's better in that case to leave a comment or send an email.
Comments are a way to share your opinion, ask questions, or contribute information, on a post on someone else's blog without posting about it on your blog (although you can do that too if you want to.) If been known to leave comments on a blog post as soon as I read it, then post about it when I have time and go back and leave a trackback. As far as I know, most bloggers have no objection to that.
Hat Tips -- That isn't the only term used but it seems to be fairly common -- are something you put in your blog post to acknowledge "I wouldn't have known about this if I hadn't read about it on this other guy's blog." Sometimes that message is so clear there's no need for an explicit Hat Tip; My Veterans Day comes early this year post is a good example of that. On the other hand, I could have left the Hat Tip out of Too good to excerpt -- Just go read it and no one might have ever known, but I would have. If I link to a post or a new blogger, please, by all means, feel free to link to the same post or person; If I didn't think they were worth mentioning I wouldn't have done it. On the other hand, my traffic isn't so heavy yet but what I'd like you to mention my blog if you do that. (Trackbacks are nice, too, but your readers don't see them, so if someone sees your post but not mine they won't know where you got your information.) I promise to do the same for you. Fair enough? Good.
On a related subject: If you haven't installed OneStat yet, I think you should. (I learned about it from The Mudville Gazette, by the way.) It's a great way to find out who's sending you traffic, and that can sometimes lead you to other blogs you'll want to blogroll and go back to. I've met some interesting people that way.