If you have a WordPress site you might get these Trackbacks or Ping notifications from time to time.
Your first question is probably, “Isn’t this SPAM?”
Before we go too deep into that let’s talk about what a Trackback or a Pingback is…
On the surface they might appear the same but a they are slightly different.
The WordPress Codex describes a Trackback as:
- Person A writes something on their blog.
- Person B wants to comment on Person A’s blog, but wants her own readers to see what she had to say, and be able to comment on her own blog
- Person B posts on her own blog and sends a trackback to Person A’s blog
- Person A’s blog receives the trackback, and displays it as a comment to the original post. This comment contains a link to Person B’s post
That would be something akin to my post the other day “9 Habits…” where I cited a post I had read somewhere and then wrote a blog post here. I linked to the original post, and in doing so I automatically sent them a Trackback. That Trackback sends them a link to my post with a small snippet of what I wrote about. They might see that and come over here and tell me how off kilter I really am. 😉
Depending on the theme of the original post, my Trackback might show up amongst the comments (of the original post). In this particular case it did not.
I say that it might have shown because it’s entirely up to the design of the theme as to weather or not they wish to show Trackbacks. If my Trackback had been shown it would be a direct link over to my blog post. Readers of the original article might see the Trackback (and a snippet of what I wrote) and click on over to discus my ‘extreme off kilterness’ on my post (on my site).
Those of you with a little sneakiness in their veins just had the thought, “That would drive more traffic to my site as a result! I could use this as part of my marketing plan!“. And yes you are right.
Pings operate slightly different. Some people say they were a direct result of having to deal with sneaky people like you. 😉
The WordPress Codex says:
- Person A posts something on his blog.
- Person B posts on her own blog, linking to Person A’s post. This automatically sends a pingback to Person A when both have pingback enabled blogs.
- Person A’s blog receives the pingback, then automatically goes to Person B’s post to confirm that the pingback did, in fact, originate there.
So right off the bat we need to have a bit of a two way communication to happen before anything else happens.
Additionally, Pings are different in that show up in the comment portion of the dashboard (like my picture above). They do not automatically show in the comments section unless I ‘Approve’ the Ping AND my theme has the feature turned on to show Pingbacks. Most themes do not – so even if you approve the Ping chances are the only person that might see it is you.
DOES MY SITE HAVE THIS TURNED ON?
It’s easy to check. Start by heading over to your DASHBOARD > DISCUSSION and at the top you’ll see a few boxes.
The top box sets your site up to automatically SEND out those Trackbacks and Pings.
The second box allows you to get notifications of others doing the same.
Either check both or uncheck both depending on your feelings.
The next step is a little more complicated. Deep within the code of your Theme there may be a bit of code to show Trackbacks. If there is something like <?php trackback_url(display); ?> in the proper place your site will show them, if there is no code like that, even if you ‘approve’ a Ping or Trackback it still won’t show to the public. Does that make sense? You’ll be hard pressed to find a site that has Trackbacks showing.
Now back to the original question, “Isn’t this SPAM?“.
I’ll bet 75% or more of it is SPAM.
But by having the notifications turned on you might just see a few real ‘Mentions’ from real people. There’s also another thing that happens. Sometimes a site has related content at the bottom. Usually that’s generated from a plugin that is looking to get you to drill deeper by showing other posts of yours. Sometimes they’ll also show posts from other sites – that generates an automatic Trackback! In that case it’s not a deliberate attempt at SPAM, but an automated bot that created the notification.
MORAL OF THE STORY:
No matter if I approve, mark as spam, trash or just ignore the notifications – nobody but me will ever see them.
Given that, I’d rather know about it when someone cites my articles than not know – wouldn’t you?
For that reason I say leave them turned on and don’t worry about it. 🙂