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The Debate Over Trackbacks from Private Blogs

blogs are now able to be set to “private”, restricting access and viewing to only those with passwords. I think private blogs are fabulous, allowing those who don’t want anyone to read what they write the ability to blog in privacy, and specific groups of people to blog for each other and themselves, free from prying eyes. Private blogs are great for businesses and groups who want to share their information with each other, and make it exclusive by being “members only.”

I’ve gotten several trackbacks from private blogs. The sentence around the link to my posts appears in my trackback, which means at least that much isn’t private. Private blogs have no distinguishing marks on their trackbacks, so if I click on the URL to their site, I get a warning that this is a password only, private blog. No chance to read what they wrote about my post, and no clue as even what this blog is about.

I certainly don’t want links on my blog that go nowhere, and certainly not to private blogs. What a waste of time for my readers to see something interesting written in a trackback, click it, and come to a dead end. Useless.

It’s up to you if you want your blog private for you or your group. That’s swell. However, if you have trackbacks and pings turned on, WHY?

If you want your blog private, and you don’t want everyone and anyone to have access, turn off your trackbacks and pings globally. Go to Options > Discussion and turn them off.

WordPress Trackbacks turned off globally

If you only have the occasional blog post set to private, than turn off pings on a per-post basis in the Write Post Panel > Discussion subpanel.

The Debate Over Trackbacks from Private Blogs

As to what to do with the private blog trackbacks on my blog, that’s a good question.

There is the possibility that the private blog may “unprivate” itself in the future, making this link become viable. But should I wait for that time, a time that may never come?

I’d love to hear your opinion on what to do with private blog trackbacks on your blogs. For now, if it says something intelligent and “nice”, I may leave it, or edit it with a warning that this links to private, password only blog. If it says nothing much, or unpleasant things, I will probably delete it.

In the interim, if you have a private blog, and intend to keep it that way, turn off your pings and trackbacks and save people the trouble of debating over your delete.

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Copyright Lorelle VanFossen, member of the 9Rules Network

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  1. Posted August 17, 2006 at 8:21 am | Permalink

    Isn’t this something that the act of making your blog private in the admin pages should stop anyway.

    If you have chosen for your blog to be private then you don’t want anyone to know about it seemingly therefore by default WordPress shouldn’t send the pingbacks or trackbacks?

  2. Posted August 17, 2006 at 8:54 am | Permalink

    I agree with westi, that seems like that should be an automatic change. Can someone at be notified of something like this?

  3. Posted August 17, 2006 at 9:29 am | Permalink

    Interesting. I don’t many have even thought of this issue. But yes, agree with the comments above.

  4. Posted August 17, 2006 at 1:12 pm | Permalink

    I’ve never been on a private blog. But I’d just assume that if it was private that they wouldn’t want me posting their stuff everywhere. Common sense and all that. Its sorta like linking to a news site that is subscription only…no point to it is there?

    Sweet blog BTW
    L8s M8s

  5. Posted August 17, 2006 at 5:59 pm | Permalink

    You just described a pingback. Pingbacks are not possible on password-protected blogs. Trackbacks are, but trackbacks in WordPress are completely manual.

    For the situation you describe to have occurred, someone must have linked to you and your blog checked the pingback when the blog had no password, and then password-protected their blog afterward.

  6. Posted August 17, 2006 at 7:09 pm | Permalink

    Matt: I’m just trying to help people understand.

    If someone with a private blog includes a link to another blog (or trackback/pingback enabled blog) in their post or manually through the trackback feature, the trackback should not have shown up in my comments? Or should?

    Or they published the post with the trackback link and then password protected their blog or blog post – after the trackback went out?

    I’ve gotten a few of these recently, so this is new territory.


  7. Posted August 17, 2006 at 8:37 pm | Permalink

    If they simply link to another blog, the PINGBACK will not show up at all.

    A trackback includes a “payload” with it that would include the first 50 or so characters of the blog entry and the blog title. Trackbacks, unlike pingbacks, are not automatic and I think that if someone manually goes through the trouble of sending a trackback it should be posted.

    I *think* what you saw is a pingback from someone who protected their blog afterward. If you wanted to link me to an example I could look into it further.

  8. Posted August 17, 2006 at 9:15 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for the clarification. Unfortunately, I deleted the comments when they led to the private blogs. I’ll keep an eye out for future ones and let you know. I got four of them within two days from two different private blogs, and then nothing more. It was very strange. Thanks!

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