WordPress Trackback SPAM Annoyances


One of the worst things in blogging (aside from the constant, unrelenting abuse and hate mail you subject yourself to) is dealing with SPAM. Here you are just talking openly about whatever and someone tries to make money off of it. Low…

I’ve gone out of my way to kill the spammers. First, I only allow comments by registered users and registered users only receive a password to the email address they provide at registration. This nearly eliminates comment spam, I may have had one junk message in the past year.

Second, I absolutely neutered the trackback SPAM. These are the fake comments you see on Vladville that say “Mike said this: ” followed by my post contents. What I have essentially done to neutralize these monkeys is removing the hyperlink to their URLs, so even though they SPAM me, it gets them nowhere and just sends more links to my blog.

I kind of make a living killing spammers so this goes a little beyond the lone annoyance, its outright emasculating. So I’m sitting here in the atomic tangerine lab trying to come up with some replicable pattern that I can use. Most trackback SPAM plugins rely on curl to check if the offending web page has the direct link to my blog post. For pretty much everyone, that seems to be the case. So here is about the only thing I have come up with so far:

All trackback SPAM has the full post URL in it. The page also quotes, partially, my blog post and attributes it to someone else. I am intercepting the URL, downloading it with curl, stripping out all the HTML and running preg_match between the two posts.

Because all HTML and punctuation is ignored, it should be pretty easy to find a pattern match over at least 100 characters.

For the most part, nobody quotes paragraphs and paragraphs of text in a blog post, they merely link to the article and offer their point of view on it. Let’s see how it goes, right now I am just logging the matches and not discarding them automatically.

Off topic… I tried this too:

Most trackback spam happens within minutes of the post going live. It is almost safe to say that nobody would have read, thought about and produced a post referencing me within let’s say 30 minutes of my blog post. Something that automated either has no life at all or is a spambot.

If you have a better idea, I’m all ears…

P.S. I killed the monkey-glide as a courtesy to Katie. As you may have noticed, there is some more AJAX happening on Vladville, this time just a stupid CSS trick that brings in additional navigation without cluttering the page — just click on the monkey tale thats right above my head on the top right corner of my page where it says “Whats on Vlad’s Mind?” – (In my best Stewie voice) Maybe I’m thinking maybe the wife needs to take up more blogging and less bitching about how inconvenient her husbands blog is? Write a compelling narrative about the javascript timeouts and smooth scrolling with jquery? Something that will make us all root for the protagonist? Maybe put in some life experiences in the plot? Nah, nah.

7 Responses to WordPress Trackback SPAM Annoyances

  1. Pablo says:

    I’ve been annoyed with trackback spam as well. What I would prefer to do is have all trackback auto-moderated (or said differently, I’d like to apply different rules to trackbacks vs comments). Then let akismet filter out the spam when it has enough data.

    The difference between trackback and comments is comments have the potential for actual discussion, and there is benefit to the commenter to see their comment immediately. Trackbacks, on the other hand, are transparent and irrelevant to the external author, so timing isn’t critical, and they (legitimately) occur much less frequently.

    I haven’t trolled through wordpress plugins to see if there’s one that lets me apply different moderation rules to trackback vs comments.

  2. Pablo says:

    I just found this simple plugin on the WordPress site that marks all trackbacks for moderation. All you should have to do is periodically go in, recheck the moderation queue (to clear the ones not previously considered spam) and approve the rest (if any).

  3. Pablo says:

    Annoying I can’t edit my own comments, but I forgot the link:

  4. vlad says:

    URL for it would have been nice 🙂

    Did you ever get my email about the syntax for “find” that was kicking my butt?


  5. vlad says:

    There we go… now just to go back and edit comment timestamps so I don’t look like the giant ass that I am 🙂


  6. StaceyCochran says:

    I saw the Monkey Tail..even pulled it (hey, what can I say, I am a sucker for random monkey tails hanging around)..but none of the links in that menu work….it’s cute..but not functional.

  7. vlad says:


    Yeah, when I gave it to the designer I just filled in the BS material, I have not yet figured out what to put up there..


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