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Strands of String Pings December 14, 2012

Posted by nrhatch in Art & Photography, Blogging, Humor.

Lately, I’ve noticed a disturbing trend that’s growing in popularity among bloggers . . . the “String Ping.”

A blogger writes a post in connection with a WP Prompt or Photo Challenge and includes a l~e~n~g~t~h~y string of pingbacks to everyone and anyone who did a post on that topic, prompt, or photo challenge.

Often, the blogger does not bother to visit or comment on the linked posts first ~ they just grab ALL the links from the WP prompt and string them together like beads on a necklace.

Or strands of popcorn and cranberries for the yuletide tree.


In no time at all, they’ve created cyber garlands L~O~N~G enough to circle the globe.


At first glance, String Pings appear to be “free advertising” for posts listed.  But with 30, 40, or 150 (!) other links in the same strand, the likelihood of a single piece of cyber popcorn garnering a second glance is slim to none.

Especially since there is little to differentiate one kernel from the next.


So, what’s really going on?

String Pingers, like spiders, create vast networks of cyber garlands:

* with 30, 40, or 150 (!) links back to their blogs
* to gain free advertising and attract visitors
* often without visiting or commenting on host sites first

String Pingers are . . . parasites . . . cyber ticks . . . vampiric blood suckers.

Oh, wait, I’ve got it!

String Pings are . . . SPAM.

Hence the new policy on SLTW of flushing String Pings down the cyber toilet via my SPAM folder.

Aah . . . that’s better! 

Related post: What’s the Deal with SPAM? (WP Daily Post)


1. Don - December 14, 2012

I’ve noticed it too, Nancy, but certainly can’t put it across as elegantly as you have. It’s rather sad. The ends to which people will go just to attract traffic.

nrhatch - December 14, 2012

Thanks, Don! I’m delighted when people link back to posts on SLTW . . . provided they’ve read and commented on the post in question first. :mrgreen:

2. katecrimmins - December 14, 2012

Gosh, I didn’t even know that! I don’t do the WP challenges, nor do I follow them so I missed this whole thing. I have found that when I include links to similar stories on my blog (only one or two at the most), they are rarely visited so I don’t do it unless something strikes me.

nrhatch - December 14, 2012

I often link up with other blogs . . . but only when I’ve read a post that I feel is worth sharing with others.

This new trend is disturbing because it really is designed to benefit the String Pinger . . . not the linked blogs. It’s GREEDY.

3. tori nelson - December 14, 2012

I’ve been pretty annoyed when I spot a giant chunk of Pings just piled below a post. Kind of takes away the whole point of reading blogs, to actively read and visit sites you like.

nrhatch - December 14, 2012

I’m with you. When I see that kind of list on someone’s blog, it turns me off. If they do it often, I stop visiting that blog.

And, on our own blogs, whenever we see that a pingback is nothing more than a STRING PING, we can delete it or toss it into our spam folder. If String Pingers stop getting attention and traffic for greedy tactics, they’ll stop.

4. ericjbaker - December 14, 2012

Bring all your string pings to Mardi Gras. See if you can get something for them.


nrhatch - December 14, 2012

Ooh . . . there’s an idea. Or, perhaps, I could toss them from a float in the next AMI parade. Cheap trinkets! 😀

5. Tom (Aquatom1968) - December 14, 2012

I’m still learning about WordPress, Nancy, and these string ping things are new to me. When you mentioned it in your comment on my blog, I thought you were referring to those little shortened web address links rather than the normal length ones, and then I realised it was the pingback things. And now, I’m thinking it’s not them either, because I’ve never seen a long ping string thing.
And only in the blogosphere could one type such a sentence and it makes some kind of sense! 😀

nrhatch - December 14, 2012

It’s mostly folks who do the WP Prompts and Photo Challenges. Some of them include a list of links to everyone else who posts a link on the WP page. It’s ridiculous.

If I want to see all the links, I can go to the original WP Prompt. 🙄

6. Hudson Howl - December 14, 2012

Just another nuisance to deal with though they haven’t cropped up with me big time YET on the blog site. I had a inkling of something was in the works a couple weeks ago from an ip in Amsterdam which I promptly Denied an that seemed to kill all spam for the moment. It pays to be vigilant on such things I found out the hard way.

For the last couple of months I have been at war with servers in China which had hot linked to media on the main site not the blog site. I thought because I was small and quiet I would be immune. Wrong. I was horrified not delighted when I seen my bandwidth usage go from peanuts to 15gig over night. Now things are back to normal but it wasn’t an easy fix. I mention as some might wonder where crawlers and spam bots start and its not usually WordPress sites (.com or .org sites) they begin and spread out on social media sites like Facebook, like Stumbleupon, etc etc. Even String pings begin in social networks then pic up steam as they head through sites not just wordpress but all sites that allow commenting.

My problems began as I have traced it back, with an account on Stumbleupon. Links to my site on Stumbleupon made it to Renren the popular social network in China. Apparently someone liked what they came across an then their friends liked it and so and so on, it took about a year to snowball. Then a bad seed webcrawler put two and two together and bam. They hot linked two popular files, an when some visited their sites and download the files, they got paid for the clicks by advertisers and I paid for the bandwidth.

Yes yes yes drop kick your Ping Strings, it will make someone else’s life better.

nrhatch - December 14, 2012

Thanks, HH. I don’t understand everything you said about the bad seed webcrawler, but I will continue to kick Ping Strings to the curb . . . where they belong. 😀

Hudson Howl - December 14, 2012

Sorry to have rambled on, but it has been a very annoying couple months. At first it was upsetting to see what was crawling through the sites. But now that I understand more of it, I just learn as I go and address what needs addressing.

nrhatch - December 14, 2012

No problem, HH. I expect that other more tech savvy folks will appreciate your thoughts.

7. aawwa - December 14, 2012

Fair enough!

nrhatch - December 14, 2012

The last time I participated in the WP photo challenge, pingbacks started rolling in within minutes from bloggers I didn’t recognize who (as far as I know) have NEVER visited or commented on SLTW.

I clicked on a few of the links and saw String Pings with as many as 150 pingbacks. I decided to stop approving them UNLESS the blogger has commented on the post in question AND does more than create a cyber strand of links.

8. Crowing Crone Joss - December 14, 2012

string ping? oh I would much rather somehow reached out and offered to hold hands,for a moment in time.

nrhatch - December 14, 2012

Maybe that’s what they think they’re doing. 😉

9. ryoko861 - December 14, 2012

What a waste of time. Unless there’s monetary value somewhere involved. I’ve never heard of “String Pings” though. So should we toggle (or untoggle) “allow pingbacks” in the settings?

nrhatch - December 14, 2012

I never heard the term “string pings” either . . . I made it up. 😉

I have it set to “allow pingbacks,” but if the blogger hasn’t commented on my post and just includes a long string of pings without individual introductions, I’m not going to approve the comment. And if any post without approval, I’ll shoot ’em on sight.

10. Three Well Beings - December 14, 2012

I didn’t know what to call those things! I never did really understand the purpose! Thank you for clarifying!

nrhatch - December 14, 2012

Linkbacks can be a force for good . . . I just wrote a SHORT post on the tragic shooting at the Elementary School in Connecticut this morning. Rather than writing a LONG post, I linked to four thoughtful posts on the tragedy so people who want to read a few more views on the shooting can do so.

11. wisejourney - December 15, 2012

Love your imagery…words and pix

nrhatch - December 15, 2012

Thanks, WJ.

The top photo is from a gallery in Village of the Arts . . . it’s titled “The Beaded Forest.”

The bottom photo was taken at the AMI Historic Museum . . . probably at an Art Show.

12. jannatwrites - December 15, 2012

I haven’t seen this, but it would be annoying. (Sometimes I wonder if people ‘like’ posts for the same reason – just to get traffic back to their blog.)

nrhatch - December 15, 2012

Sometimes that appears to be the case . . . or, maybe, it’s just their way of saying, “I was here. And I have nothing to say. So I’ll just press this shiny button here so you know I was here.” 😀

13. sufilight - December 15, 2012

I wasn’t aware of this, but good to know.

nrhatch - December 15, 2012

Linking back to related posts is great when you enjoyed them or found them noteworthy in some way.

But linking up just to link up to create a huge cyber raft of posts that you haven’t even bothered to visit is just silly. 🙄

14. sweetdaysundertheoaks - December 15, 2012

I don’t think I have seen this but I haven’t posted for a bit or participated in any WP challenges in a long time. They got too big for me.. 🙂

nrhatch - December 15, 2012

The trend is most noticeable with the WP Challenges. I guess most of the folks who dive into that ever expanding pool are looking for more visitors and higher rankings.

If a prompt “prompts me” to participate . . . I participate. If it doesn’t, I don’t. Same with Trifecta. Most of the time, I have too many other ideas floating around.

15. kateshrewsday - December 15, 2012

Never heard of them before, Nancy, but I’m with you. Blogs are for genuine interaction: not promoting someone we have never met. Into the spam folder with it!

nrhatch - December 15, 2012

This type of behavior ties in with the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut.

People who put together these String Pings are, in essence, saying “LOOK AT ME! COME SEE MY BLOG! I AM MORE IMPORTANT THAN YOU!” The more greedy they are . . . the more links they grab.

Why? Because they are measuring their worth in the blogosphere by using an external yardstick (stats) rather than internal satisfaction.

We are a society “gone wrong.”

16. Pocket Perspectives - December 15, 2012

ah ha…I’ve been confused about those lists and the notifications I get about whether to okay them…thank you for clarifying. I think I’m far too naive, at times!

nrhatch - December 15, 2012

Actually, I think you had it right the first time. 😉

When I get a pingback from a new to me blogger, I check out their post to see if I want to approve it. If I find a list of 30, 40, or 150 links, I don’t bother approving it.

17. Tammy - December 15, 2012

I’ve noticed it. Just didn’t know they were called string pings.

nrhatch - December 15, 2012

I made up that name . . . it seemed “descriptive” of long lengthy garlands of cyber links. 😉

18. dogear6 - December 16, 2012

I read this over and thought uh oh. . . I’ve approved some of those. I went back through my comments and found I didn’t do too badly. One of them is a frequent commenter on my blog; why she did such a long list of weekly photo challenges to link to is beyond me. Another one I didn’t know at all, but when I’d checked his blog, he replied to every comment he got even the ones that said “thanks for linking”.

I went ahead and deleted them to trash (not spam) but am glad for all the ones I didn’t approve because I didn’t think they looked quite right.

Thanks for posting about this. I’m going to get my other blog going again and will repost this over there.


nrhatch - December 16, 2012

I routinely approved them . . . until they started increasing in number. It became the “thing” to do ~ write a post and link up to 40 or 50 other posts. I decided NOT to support the trend, even for frequent commenters on SLTW.

I still welcome pingbacks (like yours) when the blogger in question read the post, commented on the post, and decided to share the post with others. That is, of course, how pingbacks were meant to be used.

Thanks for sharing, Nancy.

dogear6 - December 16, 2012

I don’t know if you ever followed SARK, but her on-line forums were totally destroyed by trolls and she had to take it off-line for a long time. I think this is a new variation. Why people feel the need to do this? I think it’s just strange.

nrhatch - December 16, 2012

It is strange . . . perhaps they are focused on the QUANTITY of visits rather than the QUALITY of their interactions?

19. Multiple Pings Listed in a Post | A Daily Life - December 16, 2012

[…] To read this in more detail, click here to read about the Strands of String Pings. […]

20. philosophermouseofthehedge - December 18, 2012

Zapped over from Dogear6. This linky things seem to be gathering speed – and it is a greedy/easy way for some to improve stats. Just annoying. Nice post. enjoyed the comments, too. Thanks

nrhatch - December 18, 2012

Exactly what I’ve noticed . . .

When the photo challenges started, bloggers would link up to 10-12 blogs they followed regularly. A few decided that if 10-12 was good, MORE would be better.

The lists got longer. Other followed the trend. Now the lists are so long that being included in one is no longer a “compliment.”

21. Lynda - January 1, 2013

I followed Nancy’s post to here and I am dismayed. I recently started following WordPress and their “Daily Post” as well as Julia’s 100 Words for Grownups Challenge, and participation in both have garnered quite a few pingbacks, which of course lead to “string pings” you have mentioned here in your post.

Another thing that I have noticed recently is the increase in REblogs by folks who don’t even blog! When you visit their site the whole content is a series of hard work that I, and others, have done and they have skimmed to add to their site! I suspect something evil behind it, but I can’t figure out what it could be. Can you?

Oh, and then there are the out and out spam Trolls out there. I set my WP prefs. to close comments after 30 days to stop the influx of spam. I was loathe to do it but it worked. Sort of… Now instead of getting 30 to 50 per day I am down to about 4 or 5 per week, and they are coming in on the backs of my posted PHOTOGRAPHS!

Suggestions? 😐

Thank you for your informative post! ~ Lynda

nrhatch - January 1, 2013

I don’t know what’s up with those re-bloggers who never write anything original. Perhaps they are using the site to harvest e-mails from people who subscribe or comment?

I’m having a tough time with WP right now. It’s hard for me to access my dashboard to write or edit posts, edit or approve comments, etc.

Might be the Stats Helper Monkeys monkeying up the works. 🙄

Lynda - January 1, 2013

Yes, the helper monkeys always make me think of the Flying Monkeys in OZ!

nrhatch - January 1, 2013

Same here! “Fly, my pretties! Fly!”

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