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Trackback and Pingback Spam: What to do?

spam botIf you have previously read this post then please scroll down to “Some tips on moderating comments, pingbacks and trackbacks” as it  has been updated.

Have you read Jonathan Bailey’s – Not Good: Human Spam And Dumb Bloggers Are Killing Comments And Trackbacks? If you haven’t done so yet then I suggest you read it now so you can protect your blog from pingback and trackback spam invasion.

Every day I see blogs wherein bloggers have posted trackback and pingback spam. This is not surprising as the Akismet Live Spam Zeitgeist 83% of all comments received are spam.

I find it quite easy to identify bot generated and human generated spam designed to get the spammer’s URL into blogs so it will be posted and open the door to them getting clicks to blogs that amount to splogs full of cherry picked plagiarized content and/or stolen content. But due to their desperation for recognition and validation new bloggers don’t find it easy to click the “spam” button. It seems they are especially vulnerable when it comes to approving pingback and trackback spam, because their desire to post comments often challenges their ability to discern the difference between spam and legitimate comments.

Desperation results in Mistakes

What I find is the worst is the inundation of trackback  and ping back spam from businesses who are trying to get their links into our blogs.  I can’t imagine doing business with any business that employs people to undertake such sleazy practices, however, there are many bloggers some new and some not so new to blogging, who are sucked into the vortex. They are not only sucked in when it comes to posting it to their blogs, but are also sucked into automatically making   internet marketers who have invaded social media and social networking sites “friends” and “followers”.

Every week we get at least a couple of new bloggers posting to the support forum wanting to turn off Akismet (ridiculous and not possible), and to examine every spam received by Akismet. In almost every case when I visit the blogs in question I find they have approved bot generated and/or human generated spam.

On the support forum I have even witnessed Staff politely posting and itemizing the so-called false positives in the belly of Akismet,  and recounting the words  that indicate it came from spam factories ( acne prevention, viagra, casino and/or buy drugs online pharamaceutical spam). Even after we Volunteers and Staff explain that the very worst of the spam that can bring down the whole site is removed from their moderation queue some newbies are still unhappy about not being able to see it.

Closing the doors

I’m seriously considering implementing three new practices on my own blogs. At this point I moderate all comments like you have described above and I check out all pingbacks and trackbacks, while moderating comments. However, I suspect some crap has slipped by me via Zemanta and possibly from activating “possibly related posts”.

The first idea I am toying with is simply going through my entire blog and removing all pingbacks and trackbacks received from sources I do not know. The second idea I’m toying with is simply disallowing any and all pingbacks on all new posts from this point forward. Thirdly,  I’m considering not approving any trackbacks at all.

What do you readers say to that?

Some tips on moderating comments, pingbacks and trackbacks

May 7, 2010 Update

In her article How to spot a splog Lorelle says:

“Splogs, spamming blogs, are often little more than link farms, a bunch of text stuffed with links to whatever they are selling. The easiest way to identify a splog is when nothing adds up nor matches. The content doesn’t match the links. The content doesn’t match the blog title or post title. There is a signature or name in the article that doesn’t match with the name of the post author or submitter.”

When we first begin blogging our comprehension of what’s going on and why we ought to do this or that is cloudy. As we proceed we  become exposed to a wide  variety of bloggers who approach the same subjects from different angles and eventually a light shines into the darkness and we begin to gain understanding.

1.  If someone posts a shameless plug in very poor English, but has a blog that’s expertly written – there’s a chance the content has been stolen.

2.  If the blog has been around for quite some time, 6 months or more, and has no Google rank – the bar is completely GRAY in color – there’s a good chance Google has already detected duplicate content, and blocked the blog from search results.

3.  If the blog has only been around a month or so and has an extremely high Google page rank, such as a 4 or 5, there’s a good chance the blogger is stealing page rank by using a redirect and cloaking tactic.

4.   Advertising is not an automatic indication of wrong doing with a blog. However, if a blog has what appears to be an over abundance of TLA (text link ads) there is a chance the blog is for the sole purpose of making money. It’s advisable not to share links with a blog that contains an over abundance of TLA type advertising because the chances are great that Google will detect and block this blog from search results – rendering your back link useless.

5.  An abundance of affiliate type advertising is also not a direct indication of any wrong doing!  What you want to look out for are blogs with an abundance of “get rich quick” affiliate links. These types of links sometimes even lead to virus infections and severe browser problems such as homepage reset and redirects when surfing.

6.  Watch out for unrealistic FeedBurner subscription numbers! This one is becoming increasingly popular. If you see a blog with little content, no page rank, no comments, and what looks like very little traffic – yet they have a FeedBurner subscription indicator that say’s they have 12,457 subscribers – beware! If they would willfully use code to alter and fake their subscriber list, you can practically rest assured they’ve used other tactics on their blog as well.

7.  Other indicators that all is not well can include a lack of contact information for the owner, at the very least there should be an email address somewhere.

8.  A lack of timely posts, huge gaps in the posting calendar followed by bursts of several posts in a row on the same day often indicates someone that blogs only when they have paid reviews to do.

9.   Bad judgment where credits are concerned – I see this quite often, a blogger will alter the code on WordPress templates and remove the template creator’s name and replace it with their own. Photographs without a mouse over “alt” tag, and no credit given anywhere are another indication of bad judgment.

10.  Any site that has contents comprised of posts or snippets of posts which are automatically posted from RSS feeds is not a real blog!

11.   Comments containing numerous links are a wake up call. Set your wordpress blog up to automatically send any comment containing more than 2 links (default setting) to the spam moderation queue.  > Dashboard > Discussion  >

12.  Older posts are a target for spam. You can set your blog up on that same Page to cope with this. Automatically close comments on articles older than ___days.

13.  If you receive a suspicious comment, pingback or trackback then know this. Search engine criteria for quality inbound links has become increasingly tougher due to unscrupulous webmasters trying to achieve  incoming links by deceptive techniques, like hidden links, or automatically generated pages designed solely to provide incoming links to websites. These pages are called link farms; they are disregarded by search engines, and linking to a link farm can result in your site being banned entirely. Use the bad neighborhood checker and do not post pingbacks, trackbacks or comments emanating from linkfarms.

There are blogs and there are splogs and it’s important to learn the differences between them.

86 thoughts on “Trackback and Pingback Spam: What to do?

  1. Thanks for your post, almost a year old, but absolutely true. And I say it is getting worse with spam.
    On my Blog I get I say >85% of Spam comments (including trackbacks/pingbacks).
    I moderate all my comments and it is very annoying to get all the spam.
    I like to keep the “Allow link notifications from other blogs (pingbacks and trackbacks)” checked in WordPress dashboard, so that I know who is linking to my post and return the favor if they are a genuine blog with similar niche.
    I am first time on your blog, Excellent content and information you have.
    I am a bit curious about your choice of “timethief” for a name.

  2. I’ve read so much until my eyes are crossed,all I want is a simple answer: How do I do pingbacks? I have a few blogs that I want to attract more attention and the pingbacks will work if I knew how to do them. All I’ve read is just confusing just plainly tell me how to do them from the dashboard then what.Any serious help will be appreciated.

    • All blogs are set up with comments open and pingbacks enabled. There is nothing for you to do other than approve the self-pingbacks you create by linking to earlier posts in more recent posts in your comment moderation lineup along with the comments.

      See here on any post you create > Discussion module
      It’s below the editor box scroll down and look for
      __ Allow comments.
      __ Allow trackbacks and pingbacks on this page.

  3. Wow! I’m glad my ping came through and you allowed it, TT! :)
    I can spot s.p.a.m a mile off, I seem to have a nose for it, thankfully. But anyway…
    I don’t know if this will help you or anyone else reading your comments here, but something else I’ve discovered (and I did myself no favours forgetting about it in a comment on someone else’s blog the other day, as very soon after I had eight of the same bits of the damn stuff in my comment admin area that had escaped Akismet) is that if one uses the actual word s.p.a.m (without the dots, of course, just ‘as is’) and the comment or post in which one is using it is searchable by those pesky bots, then it attracts the stuff. So I’ve taken to using dots or asterisks or the term ‘oinky meatbots’ or spelling it out as ‘ess pee ay em’ to avoid the stuff. I can’t tell you how many times this had happened to me, TT, before I started spelling it differently. It’s crazy!

    Another thing that might help: if I see a comment that I’m not sure about, I hover my cursor over the username to get the URL, then to avoid clicking on it I physically type the URL into Google search and do a search on it. If it brings up associated crap with it, then I delete the comment. If it looks kosher then I visit the blog. Since I’ve had Absurd Old Bird, I think I’ve only clicked on an oinky meatbot blog once.

    Be well, TT.

  4. I think I may be in the same boat as Olivia above. I am fairly new at this, getting a new blog going, and it appears that when I write a new post and link it to one of my interior pages I invariably get a trackback of some sort, which shows up on the interior page. Am I better off taking those back off? Does it really matter?

  5. I had held a few of those in moderation queue; they anyways had appeared in SPAM. Wonder why- let me go back and set that right..

    Once again.. Thank you Titi


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