March 20, 2006

Spammers Destroy Trackback

Posted by Arcane Gazebo at March 20, 2006 3:42 PM

I turned off trackbacks a while ago due to spam, and I see that two blogs much larger than mine (Marginal Revolution and Brad DeLong, both on my list of daily reads) have done the same. Indeed, looking in my server logs I see that there has been a massive, distributed trackback spam attack underway since last Monday—presumably this is also what's hitting the other blogs. There's no way I could have policed this last week, in Baltimore with my computer broken, so I feel vindicated in closing off trackbacks several months ago.

Making Light has a way to prevent individual links from contributing to the Google pagerank of the linked site; this will indeed make this kind of spam pointless, but I don't think it will act as a deterrent. It's basically free to post trackback spam and I doubt any spammer will bother to check which sites are tagging links with the "nofollow" attribute. Certainly they haven't noticed that I don't even have trackbacks anymore.

Ultimately the result will be the complete abandonment of the trackback protocol, as we are seeing already. I hope this won't also happen with blog comments, but since the value added to the blog is much higher for comments it's more worthwhile to police them for spam rather than close them entirely.

Tags: Internet, Website

Wouldn't having a white-list of approved sites remedy this situation? Or am I misuderstanding the problem?

Posted by: Matt B. | March 20, 2006 6:01 PM

This is what does, and it's been pretty controversial. But they have pretty stringent requirements for approval. In my case I'm interested in any legitimate blog that's linking back to me, but it's hard to construct a whitelist for this. It seems like blog search engines like Google Blogs or Technorati are doing a better job (they too have problems with spam blogs, and I don't know how they deal with it).

Posted by: Arcane Gazebo | March 21, 2006 1:27 PM
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