Christian Heilmann

The social part of blogging is broken

Sunday, October 28th, 2007 at 8:14 pm

Having just spent another hour deleting trackback spam advertising a non-existent medication I am thoroughly sick and tired of playing catch-up with the evildoers of the web and turned off trackbacks on this blog. I can get the same information from my logs, although it is a shame that I have to go there.

The initial idea of blogging was awesome: you publish information, get immediate feedback with comments and you’ll also get notified by trackbacks when other bloggers talk about your stuff or build upon it.

However, this seems to be over. If you have a blog that managed to get high up in Google’s pagerank (and you didn’t get demoted last month for daring to try to make some money with it) you will get the following:

  • trackbacks from web sites that don’t exist (for whatever reason)
  • trackbacks from web sites that were built for SEO (like – check the footer – SEO WordPress theme Ad Flex Blog ( Using v0.8.9.6a – v0.8.9.8h available ) by VK Solutions sponsorized by Digital Proof – sponsorized???)
  • trackbacks from blogs that scrape other blogs (both Ajaxian and Smashing magazines are cloned throughout the web when they have new posts)
  • comments from clumsy spammers
  • comments that were written on order ( as Marco ranted on about lately – online and IRL :) ) to advertise a certain site

And that’s the evil spammers of this world. There is however a lot more noise on the line:

  • trackbacks from people who consider a list of their latest bookmarks a blog post
  • comments from people who don’t really want to comment but advertise their own blogs by hinting they have a solution
  • comments from people who do not read up on the context but only on what they get by scanning over the post (this could be because of them reading the RSS and not getting that a post is just pointing to a larger article or product – you get a lot of those on sites like Ajaxian)
  • comments from people who are fanboys and -girls of certain technologies and by default consider everything else wrong and people who talk about it morons
  • comments from people who try to annoy you or take you on as you are “the expert”

This is nothing new either (I’ve written about this three years ago) but it has become so much you have to spend more time swallowing very short and rude remarks than writing your blog.

As said I am turning off trackbacks, as I am not showing URLs they were pretty pointless here anyway. I will instead publish URLs that I consider good enough to link back to. For the moment I am still allowing comments as I do get the occasional good one (in a vast sea of rubbish) but I am toying with the idea of getting rid of those, too. This would be really sad as I did start blogging because of the option to get immediate feedback from people anyone can read.

I am not at all subscribing to the school of people who claim comments are dead and if you wanted to comment blog about it yourself or twitter about it and we use technorati as the feedback consolidator. I don’t expect everybody to blog or use twitter and consider it very dangerous indeed to go down that route as it does smell of inbreeding to me. People find our blog posts via search engines and should not have to be part of the “blogging scene” to be able to comment.

That said, we need a remedy to fix the social aspect of blogging, one that is easy to access and secure enough to stop the spammers. That is very tough indeed, cause anything that is findable is also spammable.

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