However, anything good is prone to abuse.
Trackback spam is definitely on the rise. Estimates from Weblogs.com and Matt Mullenweg’s Ping-o-Matic! service indicate that the percentage of trackbacks sent from spam blogs is well above 50%.
Side note: in case you have no idea what a spam blog is, it’s a blog which the author uses to promote affiliated websites, to increase the search engine rankings of associated sites by linking back to them or to simply sell links/ads – all without publishing real content.
So what’s the point?
I just published a post about the great new (and free) GrowMap Anti-Spam Plugin (G.A.S.P.) I started using on this blog.
The problem is that, although G.A.S.P. does a superb job screening my comments, it doesn’t do so well with trackbacks. I’ve got only 2 settings for that: all trackbacks or no trackbacks at all.
Of course, most bloggers do want to display their valid trackbacks; it certainly adds a good degree of social proof to a blog.
Then I happened to stumble upon a post on DraggonBlogger.com covering precisely this issue – isn’t it amazing how it works out sometimes? Ask and you shall receive…
Anyway, in that post Justin Germino talked about another plugin that works great with G.A.S.P. – Simple Trackback Validation.
This is what this plugin does:
- checks if the IP address of the trackback sender is equal to the IP address of the webserver the trackback URL is referring to. This reveals almost every spam trackback (more than 99%) since spammers do usually use bots, which are not running on the machine of their customers.
- retrieves the web page located at the URL included in the trackback. If the page doesn’t a link to your blog, the trackback is considered to be spam. Since most trackback spammers do not set up custom web pages linking to the blogs they attack, this simple test will quickly reveal illegitimate trackbacks. Also, bloggers can be stopped abusing trackback by sending trackbacks with their blog software or webservices without having a link to the post.
Justin actually tested the plugin and here are his findings:
This plugin does a really good job and caught 100% of the Trackback spam on my blogs over the 3 days I tested it, however by default the plugin will have your spam Trackbacks placed into the moderation queue. This will force you to have to mark all those spam Trackbacks as SPAM or Trash them. This is too time consuming, so I decided to have it set to Discard trackback altogether after I tested and showed it didn’t catch any false positives.
I decided to follow Justin’s advice and choose the same settings.
I still prefer G.A.S.P. to Akismet – by far. Using Simple Validation Trackback plugin is no big deal – it’s fast, simple, and does all the heavy lifting.
Here are a couple of post to help you comment like a pro:
Thanks, Justin, for the tip!