Trackbacks and pingbacks were developed early on in the history of blogging as ways to notify us when certain things happen. These great legacy tools are still available in WordPress. Is this something you need to know about? I would definitely say that both trackbacks and pingbacks play an important part in any WordPress blog. Our goal today is to explain what trackbacks and pingbacks are in WordPress and why you may or may not need them.
What are Trackbacks?
The best way to think of trackbacks are somebody tapping on somebody else’s shoulder and saying, “Hey, can I reference what you said in my own conversation?”. As an example, my friend Bob wrote a blog post about how much he loves cake. I also want to write about this and include something he said. So I do and I mention his post. I copy his trackback URI or something similar in my own blog post. Now my friend Bob should be notified about the trackback so he can check it out and see what I had to say about cakes.
What are Pingbacks?
Pingbacks are very similar to trackbacks, but also have a few differences. You write an article, and include a link to another website. If that website has pingbacks enabled, they get a notification. Then, they can choose to allow a link from your article to appear on their website. The most common way this is displayed is as a comment. Depending on the WordPress theme you are using, they might look different.
The Problem with Trackbacks and Pingbacks
Now that we have covered what both of these are, I wanted to let you know why they are not as popular as they used to be. At their core, these are both great ways for you or others to share opinions or carry on conversations via the publishing platform. However, once you get popular enough – you will start getting spam trackbacks and pingbacks. This is why some authors choose to disable pingbacks and trackbacks in WordPress.
To enable or disable this function go to Settings > Discussions from within WordPress. Next to “Default article settings” choose to check or un-check “Allow link notifications from other blogs (pingbacks and trackbacks) on new articles”. Finally, scroll down and click the button labeled, “Save Changes”.
While not everybody finds trackbacks and pingbacks as useful anymore, it is important to know what they are and how they function.
So, when it comes down to it – these are both notifications that you can use in WordPress, but they do have differences. A pingback is a type of comment that is created when you link to another blog post where pingbacks are enabled. Trackbacks are a way to notify legacy blog systems that you’ve linked to them. Pingbacks are much more of a notification where trackbacks are more of a way to add an acknowledgement or reference, much like you would do with a paper in school. They both provide unique ways to reference or let somebody know you are referencing them.