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Is Trackback Dead?

[Note: If you're not a blogger this post will most likely be too "inside baseball" for you. Feel free to skip it completely.]

Imagine my surprise to find various pronouncements (here, here, here, etc.) that trackbacks are dead. I'm not buying it... tracbacks work fine.

Have spammers started using trackback? You bet.

Will they use whatever is proposed as a replacement for trackbacks? Absolutely.

The funniest thing to me are discussions about such things as making sure comments are not rewarded in Google's Page Rank, which is supposedly what the spammers are after [See the rel=nofollow discussions]. I've seen as much spam as the next person (in fact probably more), and the one thing I'm sure of is that attempting to use logic to explain the motives of comment/trackback/referral spammers is useless. Logic and spammers have no have no relation to each other. For all we know the whole endeavor is some massive Texas hold 'em dick measuring script kiddie game... Attempting to discern their motives is futile.

I'm not willing to scrap trackbacks because the combination of MT 3.14 and MT-Blacklist 2.0 does a very effective job of dealing with both comment and trackback spam. About the only feature missing is trackback moderation, which would shut the door on the majority of trackback spam.

One of the features that I would loose by closing down trackbacks is the inline trackbacks feature, and I'd suspect that other bloggers (especially those linking to Wizbang) wouldn't want to see that feature lost - it drives too much traffic. I'm all in favor of adding Technorati links for each post; in fact I pioneered it in July 2003 (comment enable version of the post), but it's not the same. I still believe that sites that do not accept tracbacks (i.e. InstaPundit) should list the Technorati Link Cosmos for each post, but history has shown that if you can send and receive trackbacks you can increase your traffic.

And it's all about traffic....


Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Is Trackback Dead?:


» Myopic Zeal linked with Wizbang on Trackback


» The Bunker linked with Is trackback really working?

Comments (13)

Trackbacks dead? That's ju... (Below threshold)

Trackbacks dead? That's just silly. And let me be one of many to thank you Kevin, for your trackback policy here at Wizbang, which is helpful to many of us with less established blogs.

It's a mystery to me why ne... (Below threshold)

It's a mystery to me why neither Movable Type nor MT-Blacklist handle trackback spam better.

But I agree that trackbacks are here to stay until something better comes along. Technorati, at least for now, isn't it. Even with the server upgrades, they're still not as "live" as they ought to be with their updates. And their search leaves a lot to be desired.

Trackbacks are *gaining* in... (Below threshold)

Trackbacks are *gaining* in popularity even with the spam from what I can see. Plus, if you are an Expression Engine user, you can defeat the spammers with a couple of settings in the control panel. I imagine MT will not be far behind in implementing random-character trackback links if they don't have it already. That combined with limiting the number of trackbacks per X amount of time, per post and/or IP number pretty much shuts down the script-run spamming. I haven't had a new spamback added to my site in weeks.

Yes, the rumors are prematu... (Below threshold)

Yes, the rumors are premature. I got nailed on February 1st and fixed it almost immediately with the Three Strikes plugin for WordPress. It's worked like a charm for both comments and trackbacks.

As with other issues at tim... (Below threshold)

As with other issues at times past, Kevin, your solutions and how you reason them surpass in effectiveness and simplicity nearly everyone else's (which means you're smarter, ha), and this Trackback-It-Is-A-Over thing is one of those emotional "solutions" that fancy pants wrongly conclude is a technical solution.

Anyone with MT publishing can forward to MT any/all Trackback email notifications as to a Spammer using Trackback (follow the link in the MTBlacklist and you'll find the site and the email to which to forward your emailed Trackback notices)...and in my experience, the guy there who wrangles the MTBlacklist quickly incorporates the information into the Blacklist.

MT also makes it possible to place bans on entire domains and/or URL expressions of any/all sorts and it's easy to put extensive bans in place to thwart almost every new appearance as it takes place. You just have to remain vigilant about the problem and not allow the content to sit there very long...

And more but running through the helps offerings is like writing about cleaning the house so I'll move on to more important things here and that is that Wizbang has allowed a lot of us other bloggers (even Jay Tea without a blog!) to grow and expand and share readers and interest and information such that Wizbang's Trackback process is really great, has been very fruitful to many for many reasons.

Blogs that eliminate Trackbacks and commenting become column sites, link-fest content, moreorless. Nothing wrong with that specifically but writers/blog authors have to decide what they want their site to be, whether it's interactive or just a return to OpEd on the internet.

It's tedious at certain flood times of wrongful comments and/or wrongful Trackbacks but it's also part of maintaining a site of one sort, versus an OpEd and/or advisory site. As it is, Spammers now rule whatever email is published so there's that, too.

It seems to now come down to the internet being a chore due to massive Spammers, or, not -- I agree with you that it's a waste of time to continue any discussion as to why they do what they do and what you suggest is surely a lot of why.

Keep the Trackbacks. I am.

Sorry, typo...should have r... (Below threshold)

Sorry, typo...should have read (fourth paragraph):

"And more ABOUT the running through helps offerings..."

Very sleepy.

Kevin,As a 'little' ... (Below threshold)

As a 'little' blogger, let me confirm that trackbacks are the key to traffic. I got my first Malkin link late last night only because I trackbacked to another site.

I recommend it to all and thanks to Wizbang for having such a great format for showing trackbacks on their front page.

I know I'm in a real minori... (Below threshold)

I know I'm in a real minority here, but I'm one of those schmucks who didn't want to go with Moveable Type, Blogger, or anything else and wrote his own blogging engine in VBScript & ASP. I've got full function with commenting and such, but getting trackbacks to work has been a major problem for one guy to take care of when systems between the big players have such trivial proprietary details that can kill operability. Not to mention the fact that I've been unable to find a good reference for it (they must be out there somewhere, aren't there?) I think I've got a really great blog, and I try to hat tip and link to almost every source I find, but I have to agree that Trackbacks are the key to traffic; one which I'm still looking. I've put countless hours programming and tweaking perhaps one of the most 'unique' (read into that what you will) blogs on the net, but I'm wondering if I'm going to have to ditch it because if it's not a commercially 'normal' system no one's ever going to see it.

Bryan,I've got to ha... (Below threshold)

I've got to hand it to you, your site looks beautiful. I know nothing about computers and have had to teach myself the html stuff to post. So even though Blogger may be considered lowrent in some quarters, I am thankful for it. There have been some frustrating times with it, but the site has kept afloat for a few different launches for me. So I can't complain.

Six Apart is going to stay ... (Below threshold)

Six Apart is going to stay on top of this issue. They have to. They can't expect people to pay money for a product that is rendered useless by a few spammers.

WordPress is free, and it is a spam-fighting machine. Its 1.5 version (not yet final) is even better at dealing with spam, and the excellent Spam Karma plugin does a great job of stopping both comment and trackback spams. Plus, you have the added bonus of the PHP+MySQL combo, which makes processing a comment about as processor intensive as a regular page load, so your site doesn't buckle when you get attacked.

Spammers are clever, and the battle is never really going to be over, but rest assured that they are not the only clever ones, and it is possible to stay a step ahead of them.

Trackback is not dead! Yes,... (Below threshold)

Trackback is not dead! Yes, some of the bigger bloggers don't feel the need for it just like they can't be bothered by comments. But those of us with smaller readerships love trackback, and not just because it gets us free plugs on great sites like yours. I follow the trackbacks all the time and find interesting new bloggers out there like KelliPundit.

I use b2evolution, and it's... (Below threshold)

I use b2evolution, and it's spam fighting features are similar to those in Wordpress. I've had few problems, and those have been very easily addressed. Bryan, I'm surprised anyone would build an engine when Wordpress and b2evo are both free and easy.

SteveL: Sure, I know I can ... (Below threshold)

SteveL: Sure, I know I can get a free solution, but I do it for the same reason other people build their own sites to their own specs... Because they can. -Or they think they can and they want to work it out. I've just been having issues finding API papers on trackback mechanisms and how to crank it out of IIS servers (I can't be the only one). For me, building and modding are half the fun of having the website and blog. Anyhow, how many individuals say they've built their own?






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