Hotmail has started pinging March 2, 2002 9:05 PM   Subscribe

I just noticed that Hotmail has started pinging, just like it's a blog that's been updated. To me, it's a sign of things to come -- corporate creeps in weblogs clothing. Should we care?
posted by blackholebrain to General Weblog-Related at 9:05 PM (8 comments total)

Anyone can enter pretty much anything into this form, and there doesn't appear to be much validation going on to prevent spamming. I kind of doubt that it is MS doing this. I just punched in and it showed up in changes.xml. Dave will probably have to require a custom meta-tag in the headers of pinging sites or some such measure in order to validate data.
posted by machaus at 9:23 PM on March 2, 2002

All true, but what I wonder is how long before rss/syndication services like become so saturated with infomercial-like *spamblogs* and corporate propaganda 'updates' that they deteriorate into nothing more than advertisement aggregators (think email).

One might argue that the very heart of blogging is "no restrictions"... but "no restrictions" is the crack in the doorway through which a marketing monster will eventually enter.

I suppose the only criteria for an updated blog is anybody with an rss.xml feed---and I don't think blogs should be searched like people in airports---but even using metatags, ad execs who equate syndicated blogging with "open-source marketing" will find a way to abuse it.

I just don't want to start looking like my inbox..

posted by blackholebrain at 9:40 PM on March 2, 2002

This doesn't only apply to services like or any page with a "recent referrers" section can be spammed in a similar way, using either google or a custom-made page.

However, I doubt anyone is seriously going to go in for spamming personal pages, but the ping services are more worrying because more people make use of them (or services on top of them), so it would be better exposure for adverts.

You would have to be quite subtle to get away with it consistently, though: pinging regularly, often, or with little change are behaviours which could probably be trapped. If that didn't work, a list of spammer hosts could be maintained locally, or even better, shared between the ping services, and used to block requests.

Make another form, so users of the service can complain about items in the list which they think are adverts, and you wouldn't even need to manually check most of the entries ...
posted by walrus at 8:36 AM on March 4, 2002

hmmm. Rather than bother you folks, I just now googled "pinging" to see if I could find an explanation for beginners. Second site I looked at,, produced a notice that the Bravenet server system had found an "unauthorized breach" last Sat (Mar 2) and they'd be down for days cleaning up the mess. I'm going to make myself chicken soup now.
posted by realjanetkagan at 9:54 AM on March 4, 2002

Ping defined by techweb. Basically, it's how blogs send a message to to let it know they've been updated.
posted by blackholebrain at 10:07 AM on March 4, 2002

{walrus} The idea of making a complaint form to submit bogus blog entries showing up in the updates is good. That's about the simplest solution, and at least makes the job easier for whoever's checking those kinda things.

I like randomly clicking through all the recently updated blogs---just to check out new, interesting and cool [as well as useless and boring] blogs that otherwise I'd never come across---which I'm sure many others do as well. If such a form had existed when I saw hotmail there, I'd have gladly taken a minute or so to do just that.

posted by blackholebrain at 10:26 AM on March 4, 2002

it helps to thinking of pinging in the vein of sonar systems on submarines (in fact, that is where ping got its name). pinging something on the internet is the equivalent of asking that thing "are you here?" the host you've pinged will generally return a ping in answer: "yes, i am here."

among weblogs, pinging can be used to determine if a webpage has updated. for example, there is one host that pings my website every hour of every day. (i don't know why; i update only once every few days or so.)
posted by moz at 11:08 AM on March 4, 2002

thanks, blackholebrain...I think that TechWeb link will be very useful to me in the future! But, y'know, moz? I find your source for the term more believable than TechWeb's (which looks suspiciously like somebody grasping at straws to me) ;) If y'all don't mind, I'll just think of pinging as a flock of geese honking their respective locations in the V to each other as they fly over my house.
posted by realjanetkagan at 3:10 PM on March 4, 2002

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