OTB, apparently along with tons of other sites, got hit with a massive influx of TrackBack spam overnight and this morning, with several thousand pings left. Kathy Kinsley has done some tweaks and installed some plug-ins for me, so hopefully they’ll solve the problem.
Apropos of this, Zed sent me a link to this article in today’s Register:
So how and why do “link spammers” – as they generically call themselves – do it? Are they the same as the email spammers? What do they think of what they do, ethically? And what can stop them? If you’re affected by this spam, say because you run a blog, or a website, or like the other 99.9 per cent of Net users just come across the stuff, Sam explain the important thing to remember is it’s nothing personal. They’re not targeting you personally. They’re just exploiting a weakness in a system which blossomed just at the time that Google cracked down on the previous method that spammers used, where huge “link farms” of their own web sites pointed circularly to each other to boost each others’ ranking.
“It was around December 2003: Google did what was called the ‘Florida update’. It changed the algorithm that measured how high a site should be ranked to spot ‘nepotistic’ links and devalue them. So if you had a link farm of sites with different names which linked heavily to each other, they were pushed down,” explains Sam. So the link spammers – who prefer to call themselves “search engine optimisers”, but get upset when search engines do optimise themselves – turned to other free outlets which Google already regarded highly, because their content changes so often: blogs. And especially blogs’ comments, where trusting bloggers expected people to put nice agreeable remarks about what they’d written, rather than links to PPC sites. Ah well. Nothing personal.
The article explains the mechanics of the process and why, technically, it isn’t illegal.