Population Statistic: Read. React. Repeat.
Wednesday, October 26, 2021

tricky track
It’s pretty much official: Trackback is getting spammed to death.

Around here, the only type of blogspam I get now is of the trackback variety, without exception. The traditional comment-form spam now appears to be passe, done in by all the efforts directed on that particular front.

I have found a fix: Trackback Validator plugin for WordPress. It’s based on an operating principle fundamental to the concept of trackbacking:

The idea behind the Validator, which is under development by students in the Rice University Computer Security Lab, is simple: Trackback URLs that point to pages that don’t link back to your blog are bogus. It’s an easy test to perform, and one that no current Trackback spammer is bothering to try to defeat; since we’ve started using this plugin on our personal WP blogs, our Trackback spam rate has dropped to zero.

To me, this is exactly what trackback is supposed to be, anyway: An alert that someone else bothered to link to a specific post that you wrote, and did so within the context of their own timely content. (Obviously, there’s some room for interpretation.) There’s no other reason to shoot out a trackback. In the world of blog linkage and feedback, there’s a clear delineation: Comments are free-standing, and trackbacks are teasers to extended referential material.

In any case, the Validator has been doing its job. I’ve had it installed for a week, and it’s stopped every illicit trackback that’s come through. The image above illustrates the action: Those “last 50 trackbacks” have come through in the last couple of days, and as you can see, all but three have been spam.

I’m not fooling myself that this is a permanent solution. At some point, spammers are going to figure out how to beat this; I can’t imagine it’d be that hard to scrape permalinks, post them to a site, and then send forth the trackback. But until that happens, this’ll do.

by Costa Tsiokos, Wed 10/26/2005 10:58:25 PM
Category: Bloggin' | Permalink |

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1 Feedback

    When I started using Rice University’s Trackback Validator plugin for WordPress back in October, I knew it wouldn’t work forever:
    I’m not fooling myself that this is a permanent solution. At some point, spammers are going to figure…

    Trackback by Population Statistic — 05/17/2006 @ 10:17:23 PM

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