A trackback is used to exchange information between blogs. If a blog entry refers to the content of another blog, the trackback URL can be used to link to the original blog. Some systems do such trackbacks automatically, others require the trackback URL to be entered manually.
Reference to an original article with trackback function
The trackback function was developed by the company Six Apart, founded in 2001, for a blog software also originating from this company. In addition to being able to refer to other blogs and make reference to them, a blogger can also use trackbacks to see who has referred to their own posts in which blog. A set protocol ensures the exchange of data and establishes relationships between entries. In most cases, a trackback is only created if the blog contains a link to the original article. Only a few bloggers also set a trackback if only a content reference to the source topic is established. If the own article is linked and a trackback is set, the author of the article usually receives the information by mail. With some blog systems it is possible to moderate trackbacks. They can either be generally switched off or it is determined for each individual entry whether trackbacks are allowed or not. In addition, it is possible that trackbacks have to be enabled manually to minimize spam.
Trackbacks can be set automatically or manually
Depending on the software used, trackbacks are generated automatically by the system as part of Trackback Auto Discovery or have to be entered manually. This usually happens at the end of a blog entry. In addition, trackbacks that link to the user’s own entry are also displayed at the end of the blog and summarized in terms of content. This gives users a quick overview of blogs that have referred to the initial post.
Spam as a result of trackbacks
If trackbacks are generally allowed, this often leads to massive spam attacks. The approved blog area is flooded with an abundance of advertising. Although the legislator prohibits this type of advertising, the possibilities to legally defend against it are usually small, since the authors of such advertising attacks are often located abroad and can therefore only be prosecuted with difficulty. Most blog providers provide their bloggers with free plug-ins that can be used to filter spam so that it does not appear in the blog in the first place. However, spammers are becoming more sophisticated and still often manage to bypass spam filters so that the spam has to be removed manually.
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