Before I get into how you can disable trackbacks and pingbacks, perhaps we should look into what trackbacks and pingbacks are and whether they are really necessary.
What Does A Trackback/Pingback Actually Do?
1. Yvone writes something on her blog.
2. Kathleen wants to comment on Yvone’s blog, but wants her own readers to see what she had to say, and be able to comment on her own blog.
3. Kathleen posts on her own blog and sends a trackback to Yvone’s blog.
4. Yvone’s blog receives the trackback, and displays it as a comment to the original post. This comment contains a link to Kathleen’s post.
Now, obviously this increases interaction and Yvone is able to convey her opinion on Kathleen’s post. This introduces both blogs to new audiences and different readerships. Kathleen’s post on her blog does not contain the entirety of Yvone’s article, but only an excerpt. You could consider it similar to trailer/teaser for a movie.
Pingbacks are very similar, the only difference is they are automated. They were designed to solve a problem of trackbacks which were lacking in authenticity. You have to remember that no matter what Kathleen says about Yvone’s post; on Yvone’s blog she gets the final say and can edit the trackback as she sees fit.
Pingbacks do display excerpts as trackbacks do. The difference lies in the fact that very few WordPress themes actually display these excerpts.
The Good and The Ugly
Having your website mentioned on other websites is almost always good for your search engine rankings. Apart from that, having a highly ranked blog mention your website and commenting on something you’ve posted will definitely send some traffic your way. They help add interaction and encourage debate about opinions you express on your website.
You’ll also be aware of any website linking to your content, perhaps a website that scrapes together content off different websites and puts up a mishmash of content to make money.
The biggest problem with both trackbacks and pingbacks is the ungodly amount of spam. People looking to push their own websites up in terms of search engine optimization will attempt to use your website as a catapult for their own websites, by adding their site’s URL incessantly to other websites.
Many people genuinely add your links with good intentions, but far more often a spam bot is submitting URLs for rather selfish purposes to thousands of sites.
If it’s spam and it will end up along with your comments, then you’ll have to moderate them. This process is an enormous undertaking and a waste of your time.
While spam affects both trackbacks and pingbacks to a lesser extent, with pingbacks, you’ll also have to deal with self pings. Anyone who runs a website or writes regularly knows a good way to keep your audience’s attention is to link to different articles via internal linking.
The problem is your WordPress doesn’t discriminate between pings from other websites and pings that come about due to internal linking practices. As a result, you’ll have to moderate the self pings as well.
Using anti spam tools like Akismet or other tools as mentioned in this previous post titled “How to Stop Spammers On Your WordPress Site” will help you combat spam in the comments folder.
Do You Need Trackbacks and Pingbacks?
The answer to that question lies in another question, “When was the last time your blog was sent a legitimate trackback or pingback?”
To say the least, trackbacks are almost certainly an annoyance and pingbacks, although genuine, very rarely add value to your website. If you feel that spending all that time sorting through spam comments, even with the help of spam sorting tools is an exhaustive and ultimately fruitless exercise, perhaps it is in your best interests that you get rid of them altogether.
Turning Them Off
From your WordPress menu, open Settings > Discussion Settings. Uncheck the “Allow link notifications from other blogs (pingbacks and trackbacks).” And you are done.
Now for self pings, you can prevent them by unchecking “Attempt to notify any blogs linked to from the article.”
We’ve successfully dealt with trackbacks and pingbacks for future articles. To disable the trackbacks and pingbacks for existing posts, you can use Simple Trackback Disabler.
If you are comfortable with running an SQL query, read this post on WPBeginner which provides the necessary snippet of code that you need to run from your web server space using phyMyAdmin.
Anti spam tools can greatly improve your ability to deal with spam from trackbacks and pingbacks. But given that 99% of trackbacks and pingbacks are spam, why even bother? If you feel that way, it is probably best that you get rid of them altogether.
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