Weblog ping services

Given the sheer number of weblogs that exist, and more importantly the number of those that could be dead, knowing which weblogs have been updated and when is a critical piece of information. The solution to this problem is a notification service, whereby weblogs alert a system when they’ve been changed. Pioneered by weblogs.com, ping services are the linchpin of every major weblog aggregator.

Nowadays, every weblog author has a number of options to choose from when they setup their blog. The big three are:

There are a number of other ping services for specific communities (e.g. geographic, topical, etc.), but most people decide on the big three. In addition to these choices, the Pingomatic meta-ping service has emerged as a way to easily manage your pinging adventures. Since most of the smaller systems also troll Weblogs.com and Blo.gs, this seems like a suboptimal solution. Why ping 15 individual services when you can ping just one and get the same effect?

As for who receives your ping, Technorati, Bloglines, and Feedster are all closed systems, and pings sent to them are available only to their service. As the weblog economy grows, there will only be more and more competition for each ping, and I assume these companies will protect their data, and for good reason. Any additional updates they get above and beyond the free, open services provide an advantage over other companies. For me, the choice of an open ping system is obvious, but i fear that new webloggers will choose the only name they recognize and many smaller services will lose out at the expense of better-marketed systems.

In the realm of open ping systems, Blo.gs has taken a leap ahead with respect to the efficiency of ping delivery. Most ping services use HTTP as a delivery mechanism, requiring a user to poll a URL to get an XML list of recently updated sites. This is highly inefficent given the nature of the process, namely using a pull technology to push information. Probably due to demand, Blo.gs has moved to a push system whereby blog aggregators can recieve updates as they roll in.

While the future of Blo.gs is unknown, their source code is available, and it has remained a freely available system from the outset. As the author of a blog aggregation system, their efforts have made my life that much easier over the course of the past few years. I sincerely hope that this system, or another open system like it becomes the industry standard for providing update information. Otherwise many of the smaller weblog systems will suffer.

Fill My Closet

nordstrom's gift cardOver the past few days I’ve received emails from a few friends asking me to sign up for a service called “Fill My Closet,” which appears to be yet another viral marketing campaign.

Their proposition is simple: sign up for a free trial from a host of companies, get 5 of your friends to do the same, and get a free $250 gift certificate to Nordstroms. Paypal was the first company to utilize this sort of strategy when they paid cold cash for every new signup a user could generate. I fell pray to this offer (who could resist free money?), as did millions of other people. Paypal subsequently turned out to be a great service, and I would have signed up anyway.

FillMyCloset on the other hand is essentially a viral marketing frontend for all of the old school junk snail mail—magazine subscriptions, free product trials, cd clubs—seemingly great offers with huge drawbacks. These junk services are brokered by a company called MetaReward.com which allows people to easily sign up for services (one-click shopping for thigns you don’t want) Unlike the postal service, which is a random attempt to find gullible people, FillMyCloset uses social networks to find cliques of gullible people.

If each person that completes the required networking service, and gets 5 people to sign up for a service, the cost to the service provider would be $50. I’m sure that none of the participating companies would pay that much money per new customer, so the service must depend on people not being able to quite achieve their goal. If they set the number of friends too low, everyone will succeed, and if they set the number too high, no one will think it’s possible. Five seems to be the magic number, although I’m not sure why it’s so hard.

The site is a service of Free Super, an incentives-based viral marketing company. Their website provides very little information about the company, except that they can “generate thousands of new customers every month, at a fraction of the legacy cost of acquisition.” At least they’re upfront about their sliminess.

Google’s AdSense spam

Google has embarked on a pyramid-based incentives program directed at bloggers. They’ve been pushing really hard for me to put AdSense on Blogdex, presumedly because it has high PageRank. I was first contacted directly by someone located in New York under the pretense of a “potential partnership between Google and Blogdex.net.” This was a personal email requesting me to contact them directly (their name has been changed to protect the innocent):

Subject: Blogdex.net partnership with Google
From: John Doe <[email protected]>
To: [email protected]’d like to discuss a potential partnership opportunity between Blogdex.net and Google. I work here in the New York office.

Please let me know when might be the best time to follow up with a call.


John Doe
Google, Inc. | Partner Development
1440 Broadway, New York, NY 10018

I called them back, not sure what this “partnership” entailed. It turned out that they wanted me to put AdSense on Blogdex, nothing more. I politely declined noting that it was a research project on academic bandwidth, and forbidden from containing advertising.
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