Posted by: kurtsh | August 23, 2006

What is a Ping Server? How does Windows Live Writer use Ping Servers?

A customer asked me this question the other day and it dawned on me that an entire generation of bloggers has developed not knowing what the heck that "Notify Ping Server" setting is under Options –> Blog Settings in their Windows Live Space.

(As an aside, I love how horrendously vague we are with our description of this feature:  "Notifying ping servers gives you blog more visibility and helps grow your readership."  Cripes – so does calling up people and telling them that you have a new post on your blog but I don’t see a setting for that under "Options".)

A Ping Server is basically an ongoing log of "blogs that have been updated recently" for the purpose of letting .  By "pinging" a ping server, you essentially send an message saying that your blog has changed so it’s worth the time for syndicators to grab the latest RSS feed from your site.  The only time you actually see the content of a ping server is when you’ve looked at something like the "Recently Updated" spaces module in Windows Live Spaces where people will randomly see blog names that have been updated.  The reality is that RSS Aggregators are the actual primary consumers of ping server content, checking with them to see what blogs have changed before it goes out to download the changed RSS feeds at each individual blog site to refresh its cached content. 

In the case of Windows Live Spaces, if you post a blog entry using the standard blog interface through a browser, it pings’s ping server when you a) publish a new blog entry on you Windows Live Space and b) you have the "Notify Ping Server" setting checked off.

Alternatively, if you want to use Windows Live Writer, the blog editor that Microsoft’s recently released for free, it can ping more than just the WebLog ping server for you.  It can ping TONS of Ping Servers and let them know that you have new content.  Frankly, the only folks that will use this content will be folks reviewing & scanning topical aggregators with an interest in your blog entries topic.

So basically if you’re trying to get as much exposure as possible and want completely random people hitting your blog, (Translation: You’re treating your blog as your personal entry into the ongoing geek popularity contest known as the blogosphere) it’s possible using Windows Live Writer to notify lots and lots of ping servers about your recent changes in an effort to advertise your geeky existence.

To configure Windows Live Writer:

1) Go to Tools –> Preferences –> Ping Servers
2) Cut & paste the following list of major Ping servers into the whitespace and save.

(Thanks to Ahmed from for the ping server list)


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