Thanks for the wayback link Kevin. I failed to find it first time around. There are so many interesting points in that post and in the comments, and also a faint whiff of déja vu. The sidebar shows exactly what went wrong with pingbacks and trackbacks, and I suspect there is still no way to bridge the gap between the "commenting is broken" and the "technology will fix commenting" crowds.
In the end, we both know, it depends absolutely on the people involved. Maintaining a website that you regard as your own does require maintenance. Like a garden, you may choose to let a few weeds flourish, for the wildlife, and you may also seek to encourage volunteers, for the aesthetics. A garden without wildlife is dull, a garden without aesthetics is pointless.