Kill The Ping! The Ping Is Dead!

DodoThis morning, prompted by Jeff Chandler’s post, Another Part Of Blogging Dies – Pinging and Paul Maloney’s, WordPress Ping Lists: Is There A Point Anymore?, I decided to take a quick look at the sites that my installations were pinging and evaluate their usefulness.

I was in for a bit of a shock.

The “ping” for those of you who don’t know or remember (and I forgive you if you don’t remember) was a way for blogs to notify services that a new post was published.

They could then unleash their spiders to crawl your content and otherwise spread the word that you had written the next “must read” thing. You know, the kind of content I mean… The all important “I’ve got a new favorite brand of coffee and I contracted syphilis from my cousin Susan” post.

These days we announce such things via Twitter and Facebook, but the ping predates those. The ping is old school baby!

There was a time when pinging specific websites after new content had been published would allow that content to be indexed faster instead of going by a web crawling schedule, the ping would notify the crawler to come early and index the new content. Search engines like Google are so fast at indexing new content on the web, I think the benefits of pinging have gone out the window.

While I’m inclined to agree with Jeff that the benefits of pinging have greatly declined I’m not about to stop a practice that may possibly drive me some traffic, even if it is just one or two hits, when it costs me nothing to do. You never know if those one or two hits may become subscribers!

Still, the benefits have to out way the cost and while it was costing me zero time to ping, it was costing server resources (timeouts on pings sent to dead servers etc… ) and over the years I’ve built up a large number of sites that I had WordPress sending pings to every time one of our sites published a post.

That list had grown to a staggering 77 different sites and having been neglected for the better part of two years, it was about time I cleaned it out.

I’m rather shocked and a little saddened to say that of the 77 sites on the list only 11 remain functional.

Here are the ones which are still hooked up to life-support:

http://rpc.pingomatic.com/

http://rpc.weblogs.com/RPC2

http://ping.feedburner.com

http://blogsearch.google.com/ping/RPC2

http://ping.blo.gs/

http://www.syndic8.com/xmlrpc.php

http://www.blogoole.com/ping/

http://blog.goo.ne.jp/XMLRPC

http://ping.blo.gs/

http://overskrift.dk/ping/

http://rpc.twingly.com/

As I’m sure you’ve noticed not all of these are based in countries with English as their first language, but that doesn’t mean there’s a lack of people interested in consuming content in other languages.

You’ll also notice that some of the services, such as Google Blog Search and Feedburner,  are already covered by Ping-o-matic, which WordPress pings by default. I’ve included them on the list because Ping-o-matic is, in my experience, unreliable and badly in need of an update.

There has only been 1 update to the Ping-o-matic blog since 2006 and that was back in March of 2009. It’s fair to say that it hasn’t received much care or attention from Automattic lately.

Some of the services which it list on it’s manual ping web interface are defunct. In some case the providers have discontinued their RPC ping receivers and in other cases even the providers themselves have gone the way of the Dodo.

As far as I’m concerned the era of pinging out your blog posts has passed and it’s time Automattic killed Ping-o-matic and the functionality was removed from WordPress.

The Ping is dead but it’s corpse still lingers stinking up the servers of people who, like me, haven’t cleaned out their lists in a while. I’ll still check this list periodically, removing servers as they finally die off, but only because I’m a mean bastard that refuses to let go…

That and I might pick up one final subscriber from the rotting flesh…

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