Hosting Tutorial & Guide

Understand Pingbacks and Trackbacks & Stop the Spam

updated on Sep 15, 2015
Understand Pingbacks and Trackbacks & Stop the Spam Pingbacks and trackbacks are two methods for communications and notifications between websites. The terms are confusing on the surface, but in fact, they are using different technologies and created for different purposes.

There has been a debate about whether to use pingbacks and trackbacks. This post will give an answer by presenting the pros and cons. But at first, please take a look at what these two terms mean.

What Is a Pingback?

A pingback is like a remote comment. It is created and sent automatically by the system when you link to another website on your blog. If the website has pingbacks enabled, it will receive the comment, and the administrator can made moderations. When the pingback is approved, it will be displayed in the comment section on that website in the format of a link.

When talking about pingbacks, there is another term that needs to mention – self-pings. Self-pings are the pings within your blog between posts or pages. When they are enabled, you will receive notifications each time when a post links to another. Most bloggers would not use self-pings as they are not very useful and sometimes could be annoying.

You can simply prevent self-pings by using a shortened URL like "/writing/write-a-good-blog-post/" instead of the full URL "" when adding internal links.

What Is a Trackback?

Trackbacks are also used to notify other websites when you link to them. Just like pingbacks, they are sent for communication, and once approved by the website owner, they are displayed as comments. However, there are indeed some significant differences between pingbacks and trackbacks.
  • Trackbacks are created manually while pingbacks are automated.
  • Trackbacks can send an excerpt of a post or page, and the comment display includes a title, excerpt and a link, while pingbacks come with a link only.
What Is a Trackback

Pros and Cons of Using Pingbacks and Trackbacks

Despite the differences in origination and the display, pingbacks and trackbacks are similar to each other in the advantages and disadvantages. The information below should be able to help you decide whether to use them on your WordPress blog.

  • You gain an opportunity to communicate with other bloggers. As people appreciate the valuable mentions on others' blogs, you can establish a connection with them by sending pingbacks or trackbacks.
  • If your post is defined to be useful to the blog's audience and displayed in the comment, it brings some quality traffic and a backlink to your blog.
  • Pingbacks can help you find out who is scraping your site. When people steal your articles without changing anything, the internal links can originate self-pings to your blog.
  • Most trackbacks nowadays are spam. As there is no verification for incoming trackbacks, they can be easily faked, making your comment section full of spam. Tools like Akismet can stop most spammers, but more spam will keep pouring into your site. Pingbacks can also be spammy.
  • Moderating pingbacks and trackbacks can waste a lot of time. If you use the two features, you can easily get tons of pieces of information, and then you have to spend much time approving or deleting them. Most bloggers think it's not worth the time, so they do not even enable pingbacks or trackbacks.
Pros and Cons of Using Pingbacks and Trackbacks

How to Stop Pingback and Trackback Spam?

Pingbacks and trackbacks are enabled automatically during the WordPress installation, so it's probable that from the first day on, you dashboard is flooded by spam sent from automated scripts. Fortunately, there are effective ways to stop spammers. In below, we will introduce the two methods that are adopted by most WordPress websites.

Disable pingbacks and trackbacks completely

If you find that most of the pingbacks and trackbacks are spam, you can simply turn off the two features in WordPress dashboard without using any plugin or adding any code. This is the simplest method.

To do this, just log into the admin dashboard of your site, navigate to Settings > Discussion, and under the "Default article settings", uncheck the box of the second line which is used to allow pingbacks and trackbacks. At last, scroll down to save the changes. From now on, pingback and trackback spam is no longer a problem.

Disable Pingbacks and Trackbacks

Use a plugin

The plugin method is recommended when you do not want to miss the opportunity brought by pingbacks and trackbacks but are tired of removing spam manually. Below are three recommendations which are easy-to-use and effective in combating spam.
  • Akismet – Akismet is included in the default WordPress installation. It is designed for comment spam filter, so it can also catch trackback spam. The benefit is that you don't need to install and manage one more plugin.
  • Topsy Blocker – This plugin checks the validation of each trackback by performing several tests. It blocks trackbacks originated by known sources at automatically, and checks whether a trackback is really sent from the referrer.
  • Antispam Bee – This plugin is designed to block both the comment spam and trackback spam. It has a list of powerful features but is very easy to install and use.