The Pros and Cons of Trackback

52 comments
Story Text:

UPDATE: This post was originally titled "Nasty Retaliation Required - Apply Within" but it's turned into a great discussion on Trackback in general, so it's had a title change to relect that...

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This morning i had to delete 1500 trackbacks, and permenantly disable trackback due to some arsewipe amateur TB spammer that doesn't even have the good sense to not hit live sites...,

If anyone has any thoughts on payback, im all ears, pm me or email me - "nick - threadwatch.org"

The site is: ace-decoy-anchors.com

I work very hard at keeping this site clean of filth, and have worked particularly hard at the TB filter, and for the most part it does a great job. Now, thanks to some newbie spammer, i've had to spend an hour cleaning up, and disable a great feature for Threadwatch.

I don't normally bother with retaliation of any kind, life's too short - but this one has really pissed me off, and i'd appreciate some help if anyone can...

Cheers

Comments

I've noticed some odd posts

Typically random text with a pill link. I guess there's no such thing as a "trackback whitelist" in the blogosphere (yet)?

Btw. that site says "account suspended", but perhaps that's just smokescreen...

 

>account suspended

Of course it is. There are hundreds of domains owned by this guy, they all say that when you visit. Simple cloaking stuff, or even just a bait and switch..

Go GoogleBowling

Get a good cloaking product (I think you probably know the owner of a good one, heh) and go GoogleBowling - if only because I am desperate for someone to try it ;O)

Is it not possible in your code to scrape the trackbacking site to see if they have linked to the page being trackback spammed? Most TB spammers are like referrer spammers in that they never actually link to the target pages so can be identified that way. Obviously any really clever TB spammers could get around that but how many scriptkiddies could?

Different Slant....

So i run a site and I dont mess around. No blogs, no TB, nothing. I piss someone off, rightly or wrongly. They decide to make me into a blog spammer. Now I have done nothiing wrong, but you are after my hide!

Now you get someone to fuck me over. But I did nothing. Tough call.

http://www.threadwatch.org/node/1540

Good point

Presumably using IP address of the trackback request could help determine who is doing it?

proxies

lots of proxies out there

not to mention

zombie machines to cloak the IPs - were they all the same or different?

 

When the guy puts "account suspended" on his homepage, it does not leave much room for doubt...

I am not having a go Nick

But lots of hosts suspend first and ask later.

It is a possibility, that's all i am saying. BTW the TB spammer who did you, pissed me of as well as it made a load of posts active again, which hampered my TW usage.

So if genuine, then please do go and sort them :-)

Same spammer?

I got hit by a trackback spammer yesterday, but a different domain. This is a long time spammer. There are ways to block this one, for now. Not sure if it's the same guy you got hit by

This is your spammer:
http://spamhuntress.com/2005/04/21/suspended-for-abuse/
This is mine:
http://spamhuntress.com/2005/04/21/trackback-spammed-today/

Although some techniques are different, they both use name servers with variations on a theme:
ns1.suspended-for-abuse.com
NS1.SUSPENDED-DOMAIN.COM

You might want to ...

check out this .htaccess file:
http://www.tomandpilar.net/tom/htaccess.txt

Quite helpful.

Anyone who can put trackback out of action...

..has my most grateful thanks, there is nothing more irritating on a blog as to be reading through a set of interlinked and relevant comments when you come across this half assed trackback which just repeats what you have read in the original article.

perhaps

...something like trackback premoderation is needed (pic from serendipity):
http://jalcorn.net/weblog/uploads/trackbackspam.png

 

Quote:
has my most grateful thanks, there is nothing more irritating on a blog as to be reading through a set of interlinked and relevant comments when you come across this half assed trackback which just repeats what you have read in the original article.

You see any of that stuff here? I wouldn't think so - i've a pretty strict TB policy; As they show up as comments they have to relate directly to the conversation and add serious quality to the discussion - else they're history...

Hmm - I'd say about 50%

That I have seen at TW fall into that category - how long they last is another matter.

I would say that many are by respected people and do add to the discussion except that the title, first paragraph which are usually displayed are really a recap of exactly what you have just read.

One could almost say that they are just a kind of bloggers spam, that other bloggers tolerate because it benefits the 'blogosphere' in the search engines.

Overall across all sites the useful trackbacks probably number less than 10% and therefore we'd probably all be better off without them. If someone wants to reference an article they have written on the topic then they should really have the courtesy of actually going to the site and writing a comment out manually.

 

Trackback is about communication - it's a simple elegant method of sites alerting eachother that they're talking about the same topic, or about the topic first posted.

Personally i love it. Communication is a good thing, and technologies that improve it are welcomed.

Part of the problem with trackback is that i dont think many in the SEO field actually get it, apart from the spammers...

-

Quote:
Communication is a good thing, and technologies that improve it are welcomed.

I totally agree, I'm just not swayed by the argument that trackback is actually an improvement yet.

Sad About Trackbacks

I pulled them off our blog earlier this week for exactly the same problem, too much time having to keep things clean even when using the deletion tools within Movable Type. I like the idea, but in the end, the spam just killed it.

ace-decoy... yep.

They got me with a couple hundred comment spams yesterday... I'll vouch for the legitimacy of your accusations. :-)

Part of the problem with trackback is

that i dont think many in the SEO field actually get it, apart from the spammers...

I agree - this is really something to educate SEOs about.

Re TB spam: can't you simply put them on editorial review first? WP offers bulk deletion (though getting hundreds of e-mail notification messages can suck, too, but that can be turned off) which is a real breeze.

 

>>can't you simply put them on editorial review first?

Yep, that's what im going to work on over the weekend - the problem isn't in deleting thousands of entries - that was just a matter of thinking about it then constructing the SQL query, the problem is when they hit when im not here to take immediate action...

But it shouldn't (i hope) be too hard to put them as 'unpublished' by default...

Boo Hoo

Webmasters have to accept responsilbilty for their own sites, that includes dealing with what they consider spam, no medals are awarded for that.

Anyhow lets hope the guy is a real nasty evil piece of work, make the wolf pack feel better about themselves. On the other hand, and who knows, could be a mom with a sick kid throwing everything at it in the hope of hitting quick paydirt for the operation.

Who benefit trom TB?

I have to agree with Kali: Personally I hardly ever find TB references relevant. Most is just clutter.

> Trackback is about communication - it's a simple elegant method of sites alerting eachother that they're talking about the same topic, or about the topic first posted.

I think you nailed it with "sites alerting eachother" - I agree that it might be a great feature for site owners I just usually don't find it very usefull as a user.

Did it to him?

Am I missing something or does his site say online phentermine eight billion times? Hmmm, my millions are on him doing that, not anyone else.

eight billion

- no, only 530 times. There are 376 other words as well. Actually it's a pretty impressive piece of text construction. Guess what the next most frequent words are? Stopwords. Here's top 20 in decreasing order:

online phentermine you your and to the we in a of is have any medications with it you'll are making

Well

>> Trackback is about communication - it's a simple elegant method of sites alerting eachother that they're talking about the same topic, or about the topic first posted.

Mutual masturbation?

what i don't get

..about that site is how's anyone making money off that? I mean, it looks fine and the text is generated very well and all, but i don't see one single ad or even an opportunity to buy any of these fine products. Only thing i can think of is a showcase/commercial for a tool? If so, it's not mine i should add.

On second thought - the places those TBs were sent, like Nick who hates this stuff and the spamhuntress, mivox, danny sullivan... no doubt it's deliberate *lol* nice piece of spamvertising - somebody is having a good laugh now i guess *rofl*

If trackbacks are useless

Why is a lot of traffic to my blog people following my trackbacks?

Trackbacks show readers "you might also be interested in these posts". Comments IMO are for quick short replies, if I want to reply in depth or more likely digress a little bit and use the original thought as a starting point then I write a blog that references the original.

I have had conversations with other bloggers exactly that way through my various blogs. Before trackback the only way you could do it was by emailing the author and saying "I saw what you wrote and wrote something else that you might find interesting". Back when I read peoples journals/online diaries (before the "blog") it is quite unlikely my email would have been read let alone responded to. Now I have real interaction with some people I have a lot of respect for.

Having said all that, I have been publicly corrected that technorati et al are replacing trackback functionality using tags. I am starting to believe it .. ish.

From both a blogging and an SEO point of view

I find them very useful and follow them myself quite frequently if what they say sounds interesting and pertinent enough.

 

Quote:
I find them very useful and follow them myself quite frequently if what they say sounds interesting and pertinent enough.

Absolutely fanto. That's the policy i've tried to keep here, kali is right in saying that often the TB's here just repeat what i, or another author has already written, and that's unfortunate. The thing is that in most systems the TB takes the first 255chars of your post and uses it for the TB, and many people start their post with a quote - the ones that actually make the grade though, and get left in as comments here, genuinely (at leat from my pov) are worht clicking to read the full post. It's a wonderful way to communicate, and really goes to demonstrate that communication and relationships are far more distributed these days.

Companies are being urged by all manner of analysts and experts to monitor what people say about them, and im quite keen to do the same here on individual posts, if for different reasons - online communication is changing, and seo's will either "get it" or "throw rocks at it" - i know which one i want to be.

Way back in the mists of time, i wrote a post that compared the folks that *still* insist that html3.2 is good for search engines with iron mainden fans - there's nothing wrong with iron maiden, but there's plenty of goood stuff that's happened to music since many of the sterotypical denem jacket waring rockers stopped listening to new music...

It's like that with the internet, and new technologies. Some will embrace it, and try to work out how to best profit from it, some will throw rocks at it.

Who cares?

Im going to work on getting it reinstalled - i like new stuff :)

 

> i like new stuff :)

I like new stuff too but there is a difference between what I think about new tech as a user and as a marketer/seo/sem. I may find a particular function, like TBs to be of little value to me as a user but that dosn't really matter to me as a marekter. If I can benefit from anything in the marketing I do, I will do it - weather or not I personally enjoy the function. Two different things :)

 

>new stuff

That was the last line in a long post about why i like trackback - not the reason..

 

Wow, i just managed to find that post about iron maiden and html 3.2 heh..!

Rock thrower

I don't get it at all, not even a little bit get it, sorry.

It feels like I fell asleep, during which there was a vote and that vote declared the Internet to be about the ME! Now I'm a newbie but I always had the impression it was about the "us", I'm not prepared to let that go.

>Comments IMO are for quick short replies, if I want to reply in depth or more likely digress a little bit and use the original thought as a starting point then I write a blog that references the original.

So let me get this straight. You read something interesting, the author offers you the chance to engage, and your first reaction is to scurry off to your own site and wax lyrical? Thats fucked up imho.

 

Is this link his actial website? ace-decoy-anchors.com I just wen't to have a look, absolutely unbelievable. Just by looking at his site and it's content you can figure how what kind of person they are.
As for revenge, that can backfire on you as well, but of you are willing to go for it then you could always nuke the idiot.

 

> So let me get this straight. You read something interesting, the author offers you the chance to engage, and your first reaction is to scurry off to your own site and wax lyrical? Thats fucked up imho.

I totally agree - and as I user I find it very anoying too because I find it harder to follow comments to a subject this way.

Comments vs. Trackbacks

>So let me get this straight. You read something interesting, the author offers you the chance to engage, and your first reaction is to scurry off to your own site and wax lyrical? Thats fucked up imho.

The disadvantage of just commenting on someone else's site is that the people on your blog don't find out about whatever it is you're commenting on. The bloggers I've watched over time tend to comment and trackback, whichever struck them at the time as the best way of taking part in the discussion.

impressed

not.

Quote:
Actually it's a pretty impressive piece of text construction. Guess what the next most frequent words are? Stopwords.

kidding, right? please say yes... :-)

BTW, Claus - still owe you a thanks for your sticky mail breakdown of the mirrored sites thing at wmw. gracias.

Pingback

Pingback is a much more robust interblog communication tool, and is much harder to spam. In fact I haven't seen Pingback spam at all yet. It's supported by WordPress and one or two other open source tools, but I'm not sure about Drupal.

 

I must say this guy has great rankings in G for phentermine....using a bunch of subdomains. As much as people hate spam, we can always learn from it wehn rankingo n $$ terms

"your first reaction is to scurry off to your own site"

Um .. no.

My first reaction is to reply in the comments. Like I did here. Like I do all the time here. Did you read what I wrote or did you imagine what you thought I wrote? ;O)

As in forums and TW, some thoughts spark new threads others continue existing ones. Nick sometimes moves replies out of threads as they are interesting pieces in their own right. Not sure where you are going with this but I think TB and now Tags are the way forward.. probably best to agree to disagree?

Did you read what I wrote or did you imagine what you thought I

A bit of both ;)

>probably best to agree to disagree

I'm cool with, just frustrated with the shift from us to me, if you get my drift.

Its trackbacks inline with comments ....

.. that cause the annoyance to users, if you displayed trackbacks as a seperate section to the left or right of the main comments it would probably enhance the user experience and still allow the benefits of the trackback system.

Nice idea Kali

I noticed there's a lot of spare room below the ads on the left. Would be nice to have TBs "on the side", perhaps even in a collapsable* box.

* or is it "collapsible"? Both are correct, but which one is UK-English? - I wonder

 

Eric sums it up nicely i think..

Quote:
The disadvantage of just commenting on someone else's site is that the people on your blog don't find out about whatever it is you're commenting on.

I often comment on other blogs and forums, mostly when the thing im commenting on isn't right for a post at TW, i keep track of them with delicious: http://del.icio.us/NickW/replies

If i want to share that post with TW readers, then i post it here, and comment on it here (though sometimes i also comment on the post itself) - it's a question of audience, do you want to comment as part of a small group on the actual site (which often i do) or bring the issue to members/readers of your own blog aswell?

As for inline comments, personally i like it, but the point is well made. Im almost certain my programming skills are not up to shifting tb's to the side though unfortunately.

Good idea Kali

I think moving TBs to a seperate section on pages would improve usability a lot. I agree that they belong in the threded comments section as they appear now on most sites - it's most often a generel reference to the thread, not a specific comment that fit in the place it's referenced in-thread.

pings, TB's, tags

drupal does pings.

I still think that somebody is having a practical joke on us here though, but the trackback discussion is interesting on it's own merit.

There's a lot of new words in this "blogosphere" as it's apparently called. I actually think some of the tech stuff is pretty nifty, but i do agree that trackbacks don't contribute to the discussion as well as a comment does. I find them distracting as well, and that is simply because they have the same format (and placement) as a comment. That said, if the TB text is relevant i do click on them sometimes to read the full thing.

Also, i do sometimes follow ping URL's in blogs. I've discovered interesting blogs that i didn't know about that way (pings, TB's).

I think i've seen ping spam too, but on second thought that would have been good old-fashioned referrer spam in stead.

Practical joke

Claus, I don't think the trackbacks were a practical joke. Do a search for the domain name. It's pretty widely spammed. Also, the whois info pegs the owner of the domain as a habitual spammer. The domain appears to have been referrer and comment spammed as well. And it's a previously owned domain with many old backlinks.

allright then

... i rest my case. Somehow i still find it hilarious though, as the guy/girl running that site must be well aware which kind of sites were on the receiving line, and perhaps even a reader here. I mean, it's not exactly "under the radar", so to speak. You might as well send UCE directly to Spamhaus/SpamCop, or try to sell a "lemon" to a seasoned used car salesman...

But then again, i guess you shouldn't attribute something to sense of humour that could be explained by stupidity or laziness.

Shotgun approach

It's spray and pray, really. The spammers generally build lists of sites to be spammed based on Google searches for specific terms. I doubt they look much at the domain names of said sites. They often search for specific script names together with search names. Some search for text entered by another spammer, then hit the blogs that weren't cleaned (when Googlebot last came by).

I've seen one spammer blacklist sites, so they wouldn't spam them again. Mine and most of my blogroll got blacklisted by one spammer. But that was after finding his own name on my site...

BTW, I can't reach the spamvertized site. I wonder... Any DDOS'ing in progress? Eh, maybe I shouldn't ask.

 

Quote:
Any DDOS'ing in progress? Eh, maybe I shouldn't ask.

Pretty sure you don't want to know. It's always REALLY good to be able to say with perfect truthfulness: "Sorry sir. I have NO idea"!

Grrrr, he's at it again

New spamrun from the same spammer. He's been going through all my posts since a month ago. And I have a LOT of posts! Comment spammed every single one, it looks like. Tried trackback as well, but I had them blocked.

This is really irritating!

http://spamhuntress.com/2005/04/25/poker-comment-spam-run/

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