Are pingbacks worthwhile at all? I don't get very many, but at least half of them seem to be spam.

Akismet doesn't trap them nearly as well as comment spam, and sometimes it's even hard to tell manually whether they're spam, since the spam-blogs have gotten good at stealing plausible-sounding content. Most of the time it's only by the 3rd identical pingback from a different domain that I'm sure.

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12 Responses:

  1. David M.A. says:

    What problem where ping backs supposed to solve in the first place?

    • jwz says:

      Letting people know that you're talking about their stuff, and noticing where people are talking about your stuff. I guess.

      • Barry Kelly says:

        I think the tasks are better subsumed by two other things: Google Alerts to discover other conversations, and then subsequent blog posts that link to the other conversations if they are worthwhile.

        Of course, this is somewhat more work than automatic pingbacks, but then, I can't recall ever following a pingback myself - pretty much the only time I notice the conversation continuing elsewhere is because it was either someone I followed, or it came up on a social news site, or because the blog author linked to it themselves.

  2. I think they are similar to SMTP. Built assuming goodwill, and because it might be cool.

    At night, the ice weasels come

  3. MZ MegaZone says:

    I use the plugins Simple Trackback Validation and Bad Behavior, along with Akismet, to help limit trackback spam on my WordPress blog. It seems to work for the most part.

  4. stickfigure says:


    I never look at pingbacks, and actually get really annoyed when I have to scroll through them to find other content on the page. Waste of screen real estate.

  5. Otto says:

    The Simple Trackback Validation plugin will solve most of your woes here. It is very simple and obvious. Basically, when you receive a pingback, it actually checks the post being sent to you to make sure you are actually being mentioned in it. This eliminates virtually all pingback spam.

    • Otto says:

      Note that STV doesn't solve the problem of post content from legit sources which mention you being re-posted (aka stolen) elsewhere and having them ping you. I generally just delete those by hand when they happen.

    • jwz says:

      My understanding is that that's the difference between trackbacks and pingbacks -- WP *already* checks that pingbacks link to you. The only pingbacks I get are from spam sites that have scraped and republished the contents of some *real* blog, so this plugin won't fix it.

      • Not that Jamie says:

        Yes, it does, and as best I can tell, your distinction is correct.

        You still should not care. You can measure direct traffic as well as anyone else. Track back / ping back is usually spam, and when it isn't, you don't care, because you can already see it. It was a good idea that failed under the hooves of spammers. Email only works because people actually care about it, and it is kind of a bitch to make work, these days. Nobody cares about track backs.

      • Otto says:

        You're correct, however, "checked" is a large word. I find pingbacks useful to know who's linking to me. But yes, repost spam links to me too, on occasion. There's no good way to detect that case, since it is a real blog (splog) and it is linking to you.

        If you're getting spam blogs linking to you, STV won't help with that.