I think it’s time we faced the fact that Trackback is dead. We should state up front – the aspirations behind Trackback were admirable. We should reassert that we understand that there is a very real need to find mechanisms to knit together the world of webloggers and to allow conversations across multiple weblogs to operate effectively. We must recognise that Trackback was one of the first and most important attempts to work in that area. But Nevertheless, we have to face the fact – Trackback is dead.
It has been killed by spam and by spammers – by the sheer horror of ping after ping pushing mother/son incest and bestiality links. It has been killed by the exploitation of human beings quite prepared to desecrate the work of tens of thousands of people in order that they should scrabble together a few coins. It has been killed by the experience of an inbox overwhelmed by the automated rape of our creative endeavours.
In a way it should have been predictable from the beginning – we should probably all have spotted that functionality that allows individuals to place links on other people’s sites could be exploited by spammers. Some people did spot these problems, but even they had no sense of the scale. Their responses were – at best – muted. But now I think we have to accept that the evidence is in. The situation is clear and it is not good. We’re engaged in an arms race with the worst kind of people, an arms race that has raged across other communications media and which we show no sign of winning. For me, the negative experience of dealing with trackbacks has long-since overwhelmed the benefits it brings. For these reasons, I’m turning off all incoming Trackbacks on plasticbag.org from this moment on.
I am not so sure. Trackback serves a great purpose and introduced a way to interact with other blogs in a very dynamic and connected way. Sure we have to contend with the plague of trackback spam but then again haven’t we had to contend with email spam for years now? Saying trackback is dead because of spam is like saying email is dead because of email spam. In time we will have the technology to slow trackback spam to acceptable levels (it will always be there). Don’t count trackback out just yet.