A trackback is one blog’s way of saying to another blog, “hey, I’m talking about what you’re talking about and I referenced and/or quoted you.” It allows the original poster to see that his/her comments are being mentioned elsewhere, and for the one doing the talking it gives them a link on the original entry (if the original entry displays trackback pings, as mine does below).
If done correctly, as intended, it’s a win-win situation for both the trackbacker and the trackbackee.
Unfortunately, it’s been greatly abused and many blogs are turning trackbacks off. I don’t have them on the [C3](http://www.c-three.org) blogs. And it’s a spam magnet from marketers hoping to get some “Google juice” out of a link on your blog in the trackback section, thinking that it’s not as moderated as the comments. Until Movable Type 3.2, trackbacks weren’t moderated by default. There’s the new “no follow” attribute which is supposed to help, but I don’t think many pay attention. It’s not only about Google, it’s about eyeballs and accidental clicks too.
What really annoys me are folks who try and take advantage of trackbacks who should know better. It’s not automated comment spam. I just received a trackback notice that when I read the snippet in my inbox, it was completely legitimate. It was from a site, maybe you are reading this and know who you are, who picked up something I posted today (maybe through [Technorati](http://www.technorati.com)) and sent me a trackback ping **but never mentioned my entry, my site or linked to me in his entry on the same subject**. I’m sorry, that’s just not cool. You get a free link on my site and I don’t get a thing in return? No, I don’t think so. My site, my rules. Send me a ping if you’re referencing or quoting me, otherwise please don’t bother. I won’t publish it.