RSS Updates Moving Beyond Pings

By Matthew Hicks  |  Posted 2005-05-31 Print this article Print

As aggregators and search services get serious about finding new ways to stay informed about fresh feeds, an early initiative called FeedMesh bets on cooperation.

For Webloggers, sending notifications of new postings are like the street-corner sellers yelling the hot headline for metropolitan newspapers. With the rapid growth of bloggers and Weblog communities, its becoming increasingly hard to be heard. But adjustments to a piece of basic RSS plumbing that is responsible for keeping readers informed of feed updates may ease the pain. Some of the leading RSS search and aggregation services have begun banding together to build a next-generation approach for distributing update notifications to the syndicated feeds that are a core part of most Weblogs and a growing number of news and portal sites.
Called FeedMesh, the approach takes the dozens of ping services that exist today a step further by seeking cooperation among aggregators to share updates among themselves.
The idea for the initiative, which is being championed by PubSub Concept Inc., was hatched last year during an informal meeting of aggregators and other leaders involved in RSS and blogging. "Its the kind of idea that fits the time and the nature of the blogging community," said Bob Wyman, co-founder and CTO of New York-based PubSub. "If [sites] produce a feed, they are looking for syndication and are looking for as broad of syndication as possible." Ping services operate by receiving notifications of updates from blogs and then publicly posting those updates or adding them to a specific index. Ping services are both open to public view, such as, and tied to individual search engines or aggregators, such as Technorati Inc. and Yahoo Inc. Aggregators and bloggers, though, are starting to search for alternative approaches to typical pinging as the number of feeds being published continues to rise and as ping services proliferate among the competing search engines and aggregators. PubSub itself tracks about 10 million feeds with FeedMesh, Wyman said. Read more here about another consequence of syndication feed popularity—bandwidth bottlenecks. Since the idea was floated, FeedMesh has turned into an active mailing list to discuss organizational and technical details. So far, participating RSS aggregators and search services include, BlogShares, Syndic8 and Blogdigger, which announced its involvement in April. Currently, FeedMesh is handling about 15 to 20 notifications a second, Wyman said. For the most part, participants are reading the update notifications, but the eventual aim is for all members to equally contribute their notifications. These updates come from more than ping services. Wyman said that about three-fourths of the feed update notifications on FeedMesh actually come outside of ping service based on aggregators and search engines crawling for RSS and Atom feeds and on relationships where a blog-publishing service directly shares updates with a specific aggregator. Next Page: Sharing with one another.

Matthew Hicks As an online reporter for, Matt Hicks covers the fast-changing developments in Internet technologies. His coverage includes the growing field of Web conferencing software and services. With eight years as a business and technology journalist, Matt has gained insight into the market strategies of IT vendors as well as the needs of enterprise IT managers. He joined Ziff Davis in 1999 as a staff writer for the former Strategies section of eWEEK, where he wrote in-depth features about corporate strategies for e-business and enterprise software. In 2002, he moved to the News department at the magazine as a senior writer specializing in coverage of database software and enterprise networking. Later that year Matt started a yearlong fellowship in Washington, DC, after being awarded an American Political Science Association Congressional Fellowship for Journalist. As a fellow, he spent nine months working on policy issues, including technology policy, in for a Member of the U.S. House of Representatives. He rejoined Ziff Davis in August 2003 as a reporter dedicated to online coverage for Along with Web conferencing, he follows search engines, Web browsers, speech technology and the Internet domain-naming system.

Submit a Comment

Loading Comments...
Manage your Newsletters: Login   Register My Newsletters

Rocket Fuel