Recent Increase In Trackback Spam

Martin Brinkmann
Mar 31, 2010
Updated • Jul 28, 2016

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 number.

We too 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 notifies the original source automatically using trackback functionality.

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.

So, in best case, trackbacks highlight other blogs and sites that wrote about a certain topic. In worst case, spammers exploit this to drive traffic and gain links from sites.

Trackback Spam

Spammers use that meathod to get links from sites they would never get links from otherwise. The WordPress plugin mentioned on 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 to take care of 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.

Article Name
Recent Increase In Trackback Spam
Reports are coming in that so-called trackback spam, mentions of sites that link to specific WordPress articles, has increased significantly.
Ghacks Technology News

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  1. Jabber said on March 27, 2011 at 12:58 am

    This is as good a time as any to refer readers of this site to Everybody’s Libraries, a new blog I’ve started about “libraries for everybody, by everybody, shared with everybody, about everything”

  2. Krisi said on January 15, 2011 at 10:43 pm

    The Debian Free Software Guidelines

  3. Maikl said on January 15, 2011 at 12:08 pm

    A farm is a place of growing, nurturing, life, hope and peace. and A farm can be a destination location, a place of sharing and learning for those wishing to experience a touch yesteryear in the rural whether it be for an hour or two, or an entire day

  4. Rarst said on March 31, 2010 at 9:26 pm

    I’ve only noticed increase of trackbacks from few specific sites that make aggregated pages on many topics and link them to many posts. Hoping it will get trackbacks and rank high I suppose. I had simply blacklisted them.

  5. Jason H said on March 31, 2010 at 6:41 pm

    The WP-SpamFree plugin in conjunction with Akismet works well for me.

  6. abhishek said on March 31, 2010 at 1:37 pm

    I do manual moderation, I knw its pain – but no other solution now

  7. Hairgel_Addict said on March 31, 2010 at 1:13 pm

    I also use Spam Karma and also very satisfied with it, but because my blog is bilingual (russian & english) I also endure daily attacks from crafty & insidious spam bots from Russia… If their IPs weren’t in my blacklist, they’d look like regular commenters, but with spam URLs/”websites”…

  8. Jim said on March 31, 2010 at 12:51 pm

    I can’t find this “Related Blog Posts” plugin he is talking about. Is this related to Sphere or AlpenGlo or something?

    I use Spam Karma 2. After a few weeks of trial-and-error on its settings, SK2 is catching 0% false positives and 0% false negatives on my blogs, even on pingbacks and trackbacks. End result: I still have my ‘Website’ box and I require no registration.

  9. Hairgel_Addict said on March 31, 2010 at 10:58 am

    I’ve dealt with those by removing “website” field from comment form, so that if a comment has an URL it is automatically marked as spam. Only registered users have the option to have their “name” being “linked” somewhere.. And registration has a “reCaptcha”. Oh, and I also have “Limit Login Attempts” plugin enabled.

    But I guess this won’t work you…

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