Eliminating (Most) Trackback Spam

Well, wordverify has taken care of almost all comment spam, except for human spammers, of course.

However, trackback spam, since it is by definition automated when working properly, cannot be eliminated with that method. I had the simple idea to write a plugin that, upon receiving a trackback ping, would snag the referring URL and make sure it actually links. If not, the trackback would be rejected. This is slightly in opposition to the spirit of trackbacks, according to some, since some people believe you should be able to send a trackback without actually linking. I am not necessarily in agreement, but I think the elimination of this possibility is a small price to pay to eliminate spam.

Well, seeing as how this idea is so simple, I assumed rightly that I wasn’t the first to have it. Indeed, Dan Sandler has already written a fine plugin for WordPress which does this exact thing.

With this plugin installed, along with wordverify, I am finally looking at a near spam-free existence in my blogging. I hope it lasts.

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  • http://www.cs.rice.edu/~dsandler/ Dan Sandler

    Thanks for the Trackback Validator shout-out! Please do make sure the plugin’s “send us research data” box is checked, since this is an ongoing research project here at Rice University, and we need all the spam data we can get. (And thanks also for the pointer to WordVerify; it’s lightweight and does one thing well, so it makes an excellent complement to the Validator.)

  • http://www.bigadventuremarketing.com Darrin

    I wonder if they’ll make a version for pMachine’s Expression Engine. That sounds useful. I’ve built a nice blacklist and IP block list – which I publish to my .htaccess file, which helps a lot – but I still get a dozen or more trackback SPAMs a month. Most of the comment SPAM has ceased, thank goodness.
    I wonder if we could get a law through congress that all convicted spammers will have their hands cut off. That would stop them, or at least slow them down. :-)

  • http://www.mtannoyances.com Tim Warner

    Thanks very much, Chris, for making me aware of this plugin. I had grown so discouraged with my TrackBack spam problem that I had removed my wp-trackback.php file, run a SQL query across my WP database to turn off TrackBacks/pingbacks, and so on. Now that I’ve upgraded to WordPress 2.0.1 and restored my wp-trackback file, I think I’ll turn TrackBacks back on along with this lil’ plugin.

    Have a good one,

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