What to do about trackback spam

I’ve pretty much obliterated comment spam on Word Munger by simply shutting down comments after a couple of weeks. However, trackback spam continues to be a significant problem.

If you’re not familiar with trackback spam, it is a way to exploit one of the coolest things about blogs: their interconnectedness. If I make a blog post about someone else’s blog, my blogging software “pings” them to alert them that I have written about them. Then readers of that blog know to visit Word Munger for the witty, incisive commentary that typically shows up here when I’m not busy revising manuscripts.

Spammers have figured out that they can set up fake “blogs” that do the same thing, but instead of masterful prose, all you’ll find there are ads for online poker or desperate housewives.

Sometimes I figure I might as well ignore trackback spam — after all, it typically only shows up on ancient posts like this one. On the other hand, perhaps this makes me part of the problem. Maybe I should go back and delete it all, in the interest of making the Internet a better place for all of us.

It’s kind of like those restaurants who hire homeless people to walk through parking lots putting their flyers on every car’s windshield. They’re littering, actually, and my first reaction when I find one of their crappily produced, ungrammatical “flyer’s” on my car is to throw the litter on the ground. But I can never bring myself to do this, so instead I litter the floor of my car with their paper spam, where it generally sits for a few weeks until my son Jim decides he wants earn a little money cleaning out the cars.

So, maybe the solution is the same for trackback spam: I can hire Jim to clean it all out! Perhaps trackback spam is simply the ultimate full-employment solution for lazy teenagers.

UPDATE: Now see, over on Cognitive Daily? That’s how trackback is supposed to work. Why can’t we all just get along?

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2 Responses to What to do about trackback spam

  1. Scott says:

    Dave, don’t even get me started about those damn flyers
    that get stuck in my car’s windshield . . .

    But more to your point, I’ve wondered how trackback/comment
    spam is automated. I’ve noticed that it pretty much only
    occurs on posts with *certain* words.

  2. dave says:

    I think they’re automated differently, and there are different ways of automating for different blog software. Comment spam, for me, typically moves one post at a time, through my entire blog. Trackback spam is more like how you describe, typically hitting the same article multiple times. But your blog isn’t on WordPress, so you probably see entirely different spam procedures.

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