I've always wanted to namecheck that great Velvet Underground song. I wore my teeth in my hands...So I could mess the hair of the night. Anyway, Sébastien Paquet has posted a suggestion to improve the Topic Exchange - which reminded me of my own efforts to ignite the topics community over a month ago. Here's Seb's post:

I believe I have finally seen the light as to how the Internet Topic Exchange (ITE) could be made simpler to use and more viral at once, taking one cue from my colleague Stephen's recent ridiculously easy shibboleth strategy for putting together conference aggregators and another from Joshua Shachter's now-defunct reversible.org

1. Right now submitting a post to a channel requires people to either fill in a form on the channel page of their choice or send a TrackBack ping to the channel. Both are simple, but still harder than they should. How about adding a third option: simply link to the channel in your post. To make it easier, the top of each channel page could even provide some standard boilerplate chunk of the requisite HTML.

2. In order for this to work the ITE needs to watch the participating weblogs. It already watches for weblog updates, so just let people register their blog or feed once and let the ITE pick out the posts that link to it as they appear thereafter.

Note that this new option automagically generates visibility for the channels on participating blogs with every post submitted; this is one of the key elements that were missing for effective word-of-mouth propagation of awareness of the Exchange. I'm kicking myself for having taken so long to find a simpler way.

Of course, along with ease of use comes more spam. I've been thinking about this too - more later.

My Reply

Here's what I posted in Seb's comments (tided up a bit):

This is pretty much what I was getting at a month or so ago, only I wanted Topic Exchange and K-Collector to play together more. Ref: Proposed Solution for ENT Topic-Sharing Community and the follow-ups here and here. And this is what I ended up with - K-Collector picks up my posts via my ENT-enabled RSS feed. And my weblog automatically pings Topic Exchange every time I post, via my use of MT categories (which match up with Topic Exchange names).

You propose people include the TE link in their post, which is similar to what I do - only I include the link on a reference tacked onto the end of the post (so it doesn't actually form part of the post itself). This way works for me, because it means I don't have to manually enter the link - MT does it automagically for me. The downside of my method is that I use pre-defined categories, which does limit the topic selection somewhat. But I balanced this by knowing that my topics/categories match now with *both* Topic Exchange and K-Collector, which was what I wanted.

Anywho, good luck with your proposal. If it helps more people adopt TE then it's a good thing.