Recent Increase In Trackback Spam

31 Mar/10

Jojo just mailed me an interesting article about a blog that discovered that its trackbacks, the links pointing to their articles from other blogs, increased practically overnight to three or four times the standard amount. We to have seen an increase in trackbacks coming from totally unrelated Internet sites which is one of the main reasons we have disabled the display for now.

Trackbacks are usually a good thing. A webmaster who reads an interesting blog post decides to write about it and notify the other blog about it by sending a trackback. WordPress is configured to automatically add trackbacks to the comment section of that article generating a link back to the site the new article was published on.

Spammers use that method to get links from sites they would never get links from otherwise. The WordPress plugin mentioned at The Big Picture is called Related Blog Posts and automates that process. It is without doubt not the only one. The plugin places 12 links (the value seems to be modifiable) to blogs beneath the article that match basic keywords. The articles usually have nothing to do with those blogs they link to and serve only the purpose of getting a link from those blogs back to the site to improve the site’s search engine rankings, pagerank and trust.

I have seen other forms of trackback spam, sites that post trackbacks and remove the links to the original article after a while. What are your options against this trackback spam?

  • Disable trackbacks: Stops all trackback spam but also legitimate trackbacks
  • Moderate all trackbacks: Takes lots of time and patience
  • Block Hosts: Block some hosts from accessing your web server
  • Pray that Akismet or another WordPress plugin manages to filter out the comments (some still need to be moderated though)

Webmasters could also try and report those sites to Google and other search engines but that is most likely like fighting against windmills. WordPress definitely needs a better way of separating and moderating comments, trackbacks and pingbacks. Have you encountered an increase in trackback spam lately? Let us know in the comments.

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