The moment you start getting more traffic on your blog, those harvesting it for their own petty interests will show up instantly: spam commentators and trackbacks of doubtful quality. While comment moderation is something most bloggers are paying attention to, as it is easy to implement and dedicated plugins make it a bliss, there’s a different story for trackbacks.

First because having your blog quoted on a different site generally means your writing is appreciated and spread among new readers. Most of the times it comes from blogs with common interests, from bloggers who just happened to run into your article and love it or from friends helping you out in your promoting endeavors. Plus, if it’s a quote and if it gives proper credit, there’s no harm done!

But there are two types of link-backs I’ve ran across that can harm a blog more than you can imagine. And there are two things you can look for when trying to prevent such mischievous usage of your content:

  • what quote is really linked to your name or blog name
  • what else the blogger posts on the page where you’re quoted

Why is this important, you might wonder? I’ll share my experiences with you to better explain my point.

Case 1: What was it that I wrote about again?

I do keep an eye on recent links to my blog. I think it’s nice to visit those reading my blog and to thank them for the link love. It’s also a good way to catch little thieves. So one day I wanted to get to know this blogger who had just linked to one of my posts. Imagine my surprise when I saw my blog was credited for an article that had nothing to do with me, while stating that had written my own post. The quote and link technically matched, but practically the wrong name was misleading. I googled that .com person to find out their content was stolen in the same manner and that they had written the post I was credited to. And this practice was repeated for all posts I found on that blog

I left a comment on the thief’s blog, asking to have my blog linked to the proper content. I also alerted a few other bloggers about what was happening. I deleted their trackback from the post in question, but I don’t think any of this stopped them from stealing content.

Case 2: Inappropriate content posted along with the excerpt and the trackback

I have been managing a niche security blog for a while now. One of my more popular articles was one day quoted by another blog. Looking at the blog link, I first thought it might be a legitimate blog, as it appeared to also be covering security, but from a different angle. But when I followed the link to read a few posts, I found some rather upsetting content. Before getting to the actual quote, I had to get through a dozen thumbnails of videos of people fighting. Judging by the snapshots, they looked pretty cruel. Not to mention that their headlines were racist.

While I can’t do much about them linking to my article, I can make sure I don’t send any traffic their way! But I still am bothered by the fact that posts I worked hard on are associated with amateur videos of people with extremely violent interests.

Why Does This Happen so Often?

Not all blogs use moderation for trackbacks. And if the number of such back links is high, they are harder to monitor. That means these leech-blogs have lots of incoming traffic. The only proper measure to take is to make sure we all double check trackbacks. If no traffic is heading their way, they will need to change tactics. I am not naive enough to believe they’d suddenly have principles and act on them. But I do think it will make it harder to take advantage of other’s efforts and reputation.

I am sure there are not the only two ways to harm blogs through trackbacks. Are there any resembling situation you’ve ran into and we should all be aware of? If so, feel free to share them here.

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