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Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Farewell to "trackback"

I'm discontinuing the posting of "trackback pings" on this blog. These are little notations that show where other bloggers have linked to entries on this blog. This feature comes with several disadvantages, the biggest being that it is a magnet for spam. Even with a halfway decent anti-spam program at work, fully 99 percent of all trackback pings I have received lately are spam. A little cost-benefit analysis reveals that it's time to pull the plug on it until I can get around to a better way to fight the vermin that have made a mess of the internet.

So this is the last trackback-able post on this blog, at least for a while. I'll leave up all the spam that gets through my filter. Watch what happens.

UPDATE, 7/3, 3:20 a.m.: I think the point has been made. Time to close down "trackbacks" on this post, too. Goodbye, spammer jerks! Enjoy eternal damnation!

Comments (14)

plop this into your .htaccess file in the directory where you put your index file. It uses a little overbreadth by loppong off the last number or two, leaving a trailing dot. It can cut out a lot of funny hits, and it returns a very small number of bandwidth bytes. The performance hit is limited, but not optimal.

RewriteEngine on

RewriteCond %{remote_addr} ^61.108.41. [OR] #
RewriteCond %{remote_addr} ^200.30.79. [OR] #
RewriteCond %{remote_addr} ^203.76.143. [OR] #
RewriteCond %{remote_addr} ^220.160.203. [OR] #
RewriteCond %{remote_addr} ^202.96.1. [OR] #
RewriteCond %{remote_addr} ^218.56.161. [OR] #
RewriteCond %{remote_addr} ^203.160.1. [OR] #
RewriteCond %{remote_addr} ^196.40.43. [OR] #
RewriteCond %{remote_addr} ^203.160.1. [OR] #

RewriteCond %{remote_addr} ^69.37.27. [OR]
RewriteCond %{remote_addr} ^72.9.242. [OR]
RewriteCond %{remote_addr} ^218.48.160. [OR]
RewriteCond %{remote_addr} ^222.216.2. [OR]
RewriteCond %{remote_addr} ^200.25.144. [OR]

RewriteCond %{remote_addr} ^200.223. [OR]
RewriteCond %{remote_addr} ^218.219.150. [OR]
RewriteCond %{remote_addr} ^203.146.247. [OR]
RewriteCond %{remote_addr} ^202.88.129. [OR]

RewriteCond %{remote_addr} ^200.122.153. [OR]
RewriteCond %{remote_addr} ^213.23. [OR]
RewriteCond %{remote_addr} ^210.51.162. [OR]
RewriteCond %{remote_addr} ^213.23.149. [OR]
RewriteCond %{remote_addr} ^205.252.23. [OR]
RewriteCond %{remote_addr} ^200.36.112. [OR]
RewriteCond %{remote_addr} ^218.232.213. [OR]
RewriteCond %{remote_addr} ^59.7.88. [OR]
RewriteCond %{remote_addr} ^209.8.22. [OR]
RewriteCond %{remote_addr} ^206.161.205. [OR]
RewriteCond %{remote_addr} ^206.161.192. [OR]
RewriteCond %{remote_addr} ^209.8.40. [OR]
RewriteCond %{remote_addr} ^213.23.147. [OR]
RewriteCond %{remote_addr} ^144.137.30. [OR]
RewriteCond %{remote_addr} ^202.155.218. [OR]
RewriteCond %{remote_addr} ^216.155.76. [OR]
RewriteCond %{remote_addr} ^140.134.6. [OR]
RewriteCond %{remote_addr} ^221.163.174. [OR]
RewriteCond %{remote_addr} ^62.197.126. [OR]
RewriteCond %{remote_addr} ^82.136.215. [OR]
RewriteCond %{remote_addr} ^85.178. [OR]
RewriteCond %{remote_addr} ^ [OR]
RewriteCond %{remote_addr} ^69.50.176. [OR]
RewriteCond %{remote_addr} ^85.178.69. [OR]
RewriteCond %{remote_addr} ^85.178.112. [OR]
RewriteCond %{remote_addr} ^85.255.114. [OR]
RewriteCond %{remote_addr} ^ [OR]
RewriteCond %{remote_addr} ^ [OR]
RewriteCond %{remote_addr} ^195.225.176. [OR]
RewriteCond %{remote_addr} ^64.124.85. [OR]
RewriteCond %{remote_addr} ^68.45.127. [OR] #
RewriteCond %{remote_addr} ^ [OR]
RewriteCond %{remote_addr} ^ [OR]
RewriteCond %{remote_addr} ^88.72.230. [OR] #
RewriteCond %{remote_addr} ^88.72.233. [OR] #
RewriteCond %{remote_addr} ^88.72.. [OR] #
RewriteCond %{remote_addr} ^ [OR] #
RewriteCond %{remote_addr} ^87.123.57. [OR] #
RewriteCond %{remote_addr} ^ [OR] #
RewriteCond %{remote_addr} ^87.123. [OR] #
RewriteCond %{remote_addr} ^ [OR] #
RewriteCond %{remote_addr} ^ [OR] #
RewriteCond %{remote_addr} ^88.72.231. [OR] #
RewriteCond %{remote_addr} ^88.72.232. [OR] #
RewriteCond %{remote_addr} ^85.178.122. [OR] #
RewriteCond %{remote_addr} ^88.72.234. [OR] #
RewriteCond %{remote_addr} ^85.178.76. [OR] #
RewriteCond %{remote_addr} ^68.212.185. [OR] #
RewriteCond %{remote_addr} ^150.101.105. [OR] #

RewriteCond %{remote_addr} ^64.127. [OR]

RewriteCond %{remote_addr} ^216.148.246.
RewriteRule ^.*$ - [F,L]

Ron: That looks scary -- what does it do?

The .htaccess file is looked at by the server before ever delivering an html file or processing a perl script or php file, etc.

Every http connection request by a client web application to a web server delivers a header (just a bunch of bytes of data) filled with a set of lines; things like referrer and browser identifier requested number of bytes etc. . . . the stuff that gets accumulated into your statistics files. And, each request must come from somewhere with an IP address. The set of lines above does nothing more than instruct Apache to examine the IP of the requester and if it matches one of the listed conditions to immediately send a 403 error code (access denied) and be done.

RewriteCond %{remote_addr} ^150.101.105. [OR] #

this condition means that ANY access attempt by IP range

IP through

gets sent the access denied response by

RewriteRule ^.*$ - [F,L]

the ".*" ( dot-asterisk ) takes the entire requested URL (using a Regular Expression) and substitutes it with "-" (meaning nothing or blank) and the "L" indicates this is the last time this darned request even needs to be looked at.

Just do not list your own IP address from where you browse as one of the IP addresses to send the 403 code; it might complicate matters.

The .htaccess file instructions in a given folder apply to files within that folder, and files within subfolders.

The above code would also stop the aggregators from accessing your site in preparation for delivering automated comment and trackback stuff, if they come from the same set of IPs.

You could do weird stuff like let CoP staff view pages but prevent their posting, unless it is Randy, if you want to get creative. Or, you could just occasionally add a few new lines of RewriteCond to respond to a new trackback busybody.

Where did those IP addresses come from?

Hits on my site from automatic trackbackers and commenters. I get no real visitors so I am a good filter for identifying the automated ones.


You could demand human intervention by letting folks know that for any trackback they must alter the URL from something like this:
to this:

They are already using a copy and paste method.

Then you can couple that with an .htaccess tweak like this (THIS PART IS STILL CONCEPTUAL):

RewriteEngine on
RewriteCond %{REQUEST_URI} !/mt-tb # need to test, but designed to exclude trackback without the JACKSAYSITSOK
RewriteRule [workinprogress]
[I am working on the precise RewriteRule that substitutes JACKSAYSITSOKmt with mt]

This would be far too left-field for the automated folks to guess at even if it is in the comments here. Too much work.


just rename the file

but leave the reference in the main page just as it is, and add a note in the comments policy page (comments & trackback policy page)

I'm not even sure what a "track back ping" is- would someone enlighten me, please?

Honestly, I really don't think trackbacks are a necessary, or even worthwhile, thing. I've never really liked MT/Typepad/etc. in general though. You also are certainly not the only blogger who doesn't allow trackbacks.


A "trackback ping" is a way for one blogger to notify another blogger that their blog entry has been referenced.

Generally, it's intended to allow people to see where a given blog topic has been extended across to other blogs. For example, if I wanted to blog about trackback pings myself, I could post my item and submit a trackback to this article of Jack's. Then, when people were reading Jack's blog, they could see that I had blogged on the same topic, and they might visit my blog to see the additional commentary.

Theoretically, it's a way for bloggers to gain more exposure for their blog -- it's essentially "free advertising" for whoever sends the trackback ping -- and no doubt that's what Jack has found to be the problem. If I had some sort of spam operation that sought to drive people to my website, I could very easily send trackback pings to a bunch of popular blogs, trying to get people on those blogs to visit my site even though it had nothing to do with the original blog post.

I definitely see the exposure benefits to submitting trackbacks on other sites as my own blog hasn't yet established a following. However, it doesn't seem to be much used (at least on the sites I visit regularly) for the intended purpose of extending or relating blog topics. So I'm with Michael that it's not a necessary thing at all. It might be worthwhile if people used it as intended, but if Jack's getting a lot of spam out of the deal, it's definitely not worth keeping around.

Michael, could you elaborate on your thoughts about MT/Typepad? What tool(s) do you prefer?

Sorry to sort of sidetrack the conversation, but I've just started my own blog on Typepad, and I'm still in the free trial period. So far it's been fine, but if there are any "gotchas" that I might not have seen yet, I'd appreciate knowing about them before I pay up!

The most recent version of MT allows you to manually accept trackbacks and comments.

Also, I just noticed that Kevin Drum on Washington Monthly's site has switched to using a trackback feature from Google Blog Search that is in Beta and doesn't seem to be working yet, but I would imagine that it will. It takes trackback spam right out of the equation.


Trackback allows blogs to automatically "communicate " with each other. If another blog links to an entry on a link to that post is created here under Trackback. That way if you are reading something Jack wrote of particular interest to you, then at the bottom of the post will be links to other entries on other blogs that reference the post that you are reading, you can follow the links and see what others are saying about that topic. It auto-creates a conversation.

For example:

This blog post was commented on by a blogger/columnist a BusinessWeek who took issue with it and wrote a resonse. I can find that response because of trackback.

However, spammers use it to auto-generate links back to their websites, websites that have nothing to do with the topic at hand. Usually porn, pharmaceuticals, loan sharking or gambling. Because search engines use inbound links to judge the popularity and authority of a website, this has become an annoying abuse of trackback.

It's a shame because can be a nice way to move around blogs on a specific topic.

Thanks David and Marc!

Here is a scheme requiring human intervention to manipulate the URL that is now tested:

1) Dream up a special word like NAGSAYSITISOK
2) Put seven lines of code in a .htaccess file
(See, track back test nagblog entry.)
3) Make a duplicate copy of mt-tb.cgi file named like NAGSAYSITISOKmt-tb.cgi
4) Instruct anyone that wants to send a trackback ping to make a substitution like below:


PROOF -- Copy and paste both lines above into the list box on your own web log entry page for sites to ping; the first will fail, the second will work. The first link is the one that automated gleaners of such links will find, but will be wholly useless. Still, the old "mt-tb.cgi" link, like that found on Jack's main page, still functions to generate a list of prior tackbacks. Like this:

Lily, Experience is the best teacher. This test page is for you. Log in as if it was your very own blog and send a trackback ping for yourself and test the results.

--PDXNAG: The geek in me still lives.

Really, it depends on what you want to do. TypePad and MT are great for what they do. Personally, I far prefer open source tools such as WordPress, Mambo, Drupal, etc. These require more infrastructure and the like, but I'm the kind of person who runs his own webserver. I really enjoy the ability to look at some functionality and say, "Actually, I think I'd prefer to do it this way..." and then just change it myself. Especially with TypePad you don't have that option. So, like I said, it all really depends on what you want to do.


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In Vino Veritas

Lange, Pinot Gris 2015
Kiona, Lemberger 2014
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Aix, Rosé de Provence 2016
Marchigüe, Cabernet 2013
Inazío Irruzola, Getariako Txakolina Rosé 2015
Maso Canali, Pinot Grigio 2015
Campo Viejo, Rioja Reserva 2011
Kirkland, Côtes de Provence Rosé 2016
Cantele, Salice Salentino Reserva 2013
Whispering Angel, Côtes de Provence Rosé 2013
Avissi, Prosecco
Cleto Charli, Lambrusco di Sorbara Secco, Vecchia Modena
Pique Poul, Rosé 2016
Edmunds St. John, Bone-Jolly Rosé 2016
Stoller, Pinot Noir Rosé 2016
Chehalem, Inox Chardonnay 2015
The Four Graces, Pinot Gris 2015
Gascón, Colosal Red 2013
Cardwell Hill, Pinot Gris 2015
L'Ecole No. 41, Merlot 2013
Della Terra, Anonymus
Willamette Valley, Dijon Clone Chardonnay 2013
Wraith, Cabernet, Eidolon Estate 2012
Januik, Red 2015
Tomassi, Valpolicella, Rafaél, 2014
Sharecropper's Pinot Noir 2013
Helix, Pomatia Red Blend 2013
La Espera, Cabernet 2011
Campo Viejo, Rioja Reserva 2011
Villa Antinori, Toscana 2013
Locations, Spanish Red Wine
Locations, Argentinian Red Wine
La Antigua Clásico, Rioja 2011
Shatter, Grenache, Maury 2012
Argyle, Vintage Brut 2011
Abacela, Vintner's Blend #16 Abacela, Fiesta Tempranillo 2014
Benton Hill, Pinot Gris 2015
Primarius, Pinot Gris 2015
Januik, Merlot 2013
Napa Cellars, Cabernet 2013
J. Bookwalter, Protagonist 2012
LAN, Rioja Edicion Limitada 2011
Beaulieu, Cabernet, Rutherford 2009
Denada Cellars, Cabernet, Maipo Valley 2014
Marchigüe, Cabernet, Colchagua Valley 2013
Oberon, Cabernet 2014
Hedges, Red Mountain 2012
Balboa, Rose of Grenache 2015
Ontañón, Rioja Reserva 2015
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Willamette Valley, Rose of Pinot Noir, Whole Clusters 2015
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Layer Cake, Shiraz 2013
Desert Wind, Ruah 2011
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Jack London - The House of Pride, and Other Tales of Hawaii
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Mark Herrmann - The Curmudgeon's Guide to Practicing Law
Barry Glassner - The Gospel of Food
Phil Stanford - The Peyton-Allan Files
Jesse Katz - The Opposite Field
Evelyn Waugh - Brideshead Revisited
J.K. Rowling - Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
David Sedaris - Holidays on Ice
Donald Miller - A Million Miles in a Thousand Years
Mitch Albom - Have a Little Faith
C.S. Lewis - The Magician's Nephew
F. Scott Fitzgerald - The Great Gatsby
William Shakespeare - A Midsummer Night's Dream
Ivan Doig - Bucking the Sun
Penda Diakité - I Lost My Tooth in Africa
Grace Lin - The Year of the Rat
Oscar Hijuelos - Mr. Ives' Christmas
Madeline L'Engle - A Wrinkle in Time
Steven Hart - The Last Three Miles
David Sedaris - Me Talk Pretty One Day
Karen Armstrong - The Spiral Staircase
Charles Larson - The Portland Murders
Adrian Wojnarowski - The Miracle of St. Anthony
William H. Colby - Long Goodbye
Steven D. Stark - Meet the Beatles
Phil Stanford - Portland Confidential
Rick Moody - Garden State
Jonathan Schwartz - All in Good Time
David Sedaris - Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim
Anthony Holden - Big Deal
Robert J. Spitzer - The Spirit of Leadership
James McManus - Positively Fifth Street
Jeff Noon - Vurt

Road Work

Miles run year to date: 5
At this date last year: 3
Total run in 2017: 113
In 2016: 155
In 2015: 271
In 2014: 401
In 2013: 257
In 2012: 129
In 2011: 113
In 2010: 125
In 2009: 67
In 2008: 28
In 2007: 113
In 2006: 100
In 2005: 149
In 2004: 204
In 2003: 269

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