Trackbacks are Completely Broken

I turned trackbacks off on this blog today.

I love the concept of trackbacks, every time someone reference a blog post the software automatically creates a link back in the post’s comments.

It makes it easier to follow conversations and it’s a nice way to find more blogs on topic that interest you – it’s really a wonderful idea.

So what’s the problem then? The system is based on trust, the blogging software will blindly add a trackback comment to whoever requests one – even if it’s a spammer.

The moment spammers figured it out it was all over, lately the amount of trackback spam this site gets went up from a few messages every week to a few messages every few hours, in the same time the number of real trackbacks when down to zero.

Just to be fair, I’m not sure it’s possible to create a spammer-proof trackback system, after all the system is supposed to receive automatic messages from site you don’t know about and I don’t know how the blogging software is supposed to know if that site is legitimate or a spam site.

There is a lesson for software developers here, even if your system is really cool and helpful it can’t survive unless it has some way to prevent abuse.

And if you reference a post on this blog, feel free to leave a comment and tell me about it.

posted @ Thursday, July 24, 2008 4:07 PM

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