Configuring Trackbacks in Drupal

Creating a Blog Entry with Trackbacks

Once you've installed and configured trackbacks, your blog authors can easily set up trackbacks. A blogger who creates a blog entry will see a couple of new options. For example, if I'm planning to go to OSCON and I want to let people know, the Allow Trackbacks option at the bottom of the Submit blog entry form enables trackbacks for that particular blog.

If I want to manually ping other sites that have trackbacks enabled, all I would have to do is put in the URL of the blogging site that will receive the trackback. A blogger at the other site will notice the ping I've just sent and will then be able to choose whether or not to accept my request for a trackback.

Once I click the Submit button, my blog entry will be shown with the trackback URL.

You can send a trackback to any trackback-enabled site; you aren't limited to just Drupal or another CMS. WordPress and many other major blogging tools support the Trackback Technical Specification (see the box titled "How Do Trackbacks Work?").

Trackbacks and Spam

Spammers will sometimes take advantage of trackbacks. As you learned earlier in this article (see the "Configuring Trackbacks" section), if you are concerned about receiving unwanted trackbacks for unrelated content, you can enable checking and moderation to review trackback results. Another option is to install one of the common Drupal anti-spam modules [7]. Additional modules that can help you combat spam also are available through Drupal [8].

How Do Trackbacks Work?

A trackback is an http packet sent between one web server and another. It is sent whenever a user chooses to enable it, usually when the blogger creates or updates content. Trackbacks are implemented with the use of either POST or GET queries. These queries are exactly the same as those used in processing HTML forms. Trackbacks were created with the use of existing queries to capitalize on previous work, and also because the developers didn't want to create a new type of traffic that could be blocked easily by firewalls and other security software.

Still, it's possible, though unlikely, for this type of traffic to be blocked. You might want to test to see whether your pings are going through to remote systems. To verify a problem, consider reviewing the Trackback Technical Specification [9].

Conclusion

Trackbacks aren't going to make a blogger instantly popular, and they could cause additional work if you are serious about reviewing URLs to thwart spamming. However, some groups have found that trackbacks help increase their hit ratio for Google and Yahoo! searches. More importantly, trackbacks support better communication within their communities.

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