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My trackback spam problem

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More than half the traffic to my site is Trackback spam — but not of the variety you’d expect. I’m not talking about people trying to ping me, I’m talking about Simpletracks, my standalone trackback tool. Simpletracks lets you ping anyone even if your blogging tool doesn’t support trackback.

The problem is that for the last 6 weeks, spammers are hammering it, and hard. Now they aren’t smart spammers. All but a handful of the spam traffic comes from a small group of IP addresses. So those are blocked. Other evidence that these guys aren’t very bright is that it’s probably harder to submit to my form than it is just to send the trackbacks directly and skip the middle man.

I’ve added some countermeasures to Simpletracks. I aggressively ban people that hit the tool too often. I have a form key that changes every few minutes, requiring that you actually load the form before submitting it. There’s a few other tricks as well. But the bots are as dumb as the spammers, they’re already been set to run, and the fact that they aren’t getting through does nothing to deter them. They keep hammering my server.

October 27, 2005 9:58 AM

If the spamware is using trackback the same way most blogging software does, it is scanning the html page for the hidden "rdf:RDF" block("trackback:ping="), and using that info to send the trackback. As long as your plugin alters the RDF block to reflect the new trackback URL, the spammer will have no trouble sending the trackback.

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