I see every once in a while a phenomenon that makes me wish that SO had a linkback mechanism, concretely to make a triple (SO_URL, HTTP_Referrer, Timestamp) part of the public data dump.

The reason is that the usual pattern of my answers' votes is:

  • they get 95% of the votes over the first two days and then they linger on without an extra vote for months.
  • they randomly get a single vote every now and then (Google hits one would presume.)
  • they randomly get more than a single vote in a short time period (day or two) (Blog post one would presume, or going back to the active list, but it would be nice to be able to know for sure.)

3 Answers 3


There is one scenario where I could see this being useful: links from within Stack Overflow. There, it would effectively compliment the "Related" sidebar.

I don't see the point in a full-blown linkback system, apart from perhaps some ego-stroking on the part of Q&A authors. As TheTXI notes, these tend to become more noise than anything (and can also lead to referrer-spam).

...aaaand this now exists!

  • Great idea about the links from within to have a trackback setup. But the linkback via referrer public dump suffers from no spam issue, in my case is more curiosity than ego.
    – Vinko Vrsalovic StaffMod
    Commented Sep 4, 2009 at 17:54
  • Great, now it should be cross-site though ;-) Commented Feb 8, 2013 at 7:37

Your third bullet point about getting more than a single vote in a short period of time can also more likely be attributed to the possibility of the item happening to shoot back up the active list (whether it was a community user bump or just from other activity on the post). This would enable multiple people to see it on the list at one time and then give out some more votes that way.

As far as the actual request for linkbacks, maybe I am just not understanding it all well enough, but I can't picture how it would work (in terms of display on the pages, if at all?) or how much usefulness it would actually serve. I see blog comments all the time with those linkbacks and stuff and I have always seen them as noise, personally. I hope that isn't what you are looking for.

If you are just wanting some more data in the dumps, then that I can be behind completely. I am all for more data being available to query off of.

  • Linkback is the generic term to be able to discern where is a certain page linked from. That can be deduced via trackbacks (which are what you refer to as noise) or via the referer header. In the original question I offered choice, but I think that's always more confusing. Hope I clarified this now.
    – Vinko Vrsalovic StaffMod
    Commented Sep 4, 2009 at 15:22
  • If all you are looking for more is more info on the data dumps, you can count me in agreement.
    – TheTXI
    Commented Sep 4, 2009 at 15:26
  • Great, where can I retrieve my waffles?
    – Vinko Vrsalovic StaffMod
    Commented Sep 4, 2009 at 15:29

Well, that might be complicated.

Youtube does something similar to what you're describing, if you click on "Statistics & Data" under a video. For this video:


The stats are ... (takes about a full minute to load, so it's expensive, even on YouTube..)


  • 1
    I agree it might not be feasible due to load but, what about adding referrer information to the data dump? that should be feasible...
    – Vinko Vrsalovic StaffMod
    Commented Nov 1, 2009 at 20:33

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