What is a pingback?

Pingback is a method for web/blog authors to request notification when somebody links to one of their posts. Typically, web publishing software such as WordPress will automatically inform the relevant parties on behalf of the user, allowing for the possibility of automatically creating links to referring documents.

For example, Sharon writes an interesting article on her blog. Mary reads Sharon’s article and comments about it, linking back to Sharon’s  original post. Using pingback, Mary’s software can automatically notify Sharon that her post has been linked to, and Sharon’s software can then include this information on her site.

What is a pingback?

The pingback system is a way for a blog to be automatically notified when other Web sites link to it. It is entirely transparent to the linking author, requiring no user intervention to work, and operates on principles of automatic discovery of everything that it needs to know. A sample blog post involving pingback might go like this:

  1. Alice posts to her blog. The post she’s made includes a link to a post on Bob’s blog.
  2. Alice’s blogging system contacts Bob’s blogging system and says “look, Alice made a post which linked to one of your posts”.
  3. Bob’s blogging system then includes a link back to Alice’s post on his original post.
  4. Reader’s of Bob’s article can follow this link to Alice’s post to read her opinion.

It enables reverse linking — a way of going back up a chain of links rather than merely drilling down.

The best way to think about pingbacks is as remote comments.

  • Person A posts something on his blog.
  • Person B posts on her own blog, linking to Person A’s post. This automatically sends a pingback to Person A when both have pingback enabled blogs.
  • Person A’s blog receives the pingback, then automatically goes to Person B’s post to confirm that the pingback did, in fact, originate there.

The pingback is generally displayed on Person A’s blog as simply a link to Person B’s post. In this way, all editorial control over posts rests exclusively with the individual authors (unlike the trackback excerpt, which can be edited by the trackback recipient). The automatic verification process introduces a level of authenticity, making it harder to fake a pingback.

If a site is Pingback enabled, each time you link-out you will be “pinging” external sites. Pingback requires for Site A to physically link to Site B.

Verifying Pingbacks

Comments on blogs are often criticized as lacking authority, since anyone can post anything using any name they like: there’s no verification process to ensure that the person is who they claim to be. Pingbacks aim to provide some verification to blog commenting. You can set your blog to moderate pingbacks and so have control over them.

You can read the official pingback documentation here.