blogrolling goes boom

Monday, September 20, 2004, at 07:10AM

By Eric Richardson

Blogrolling, the service that many blogs use to keep a list of what other sites have recently updated, has been having some trouble over the weekend. Apparently Thursday they did some maintenance, declared everything working, and then disappeared for the weekend while users showed up and left comments saying that their sites were broken. All I know is that the roll at LA Blogs has been the same for several days now.

This makes a convenient time for me to mention my number one complaint with blogrolls that use blogrolling: why do some sites show up as updated when they haven't changed at all? I'm not going to name names, but there are a few sites on the LA Blogs roll that I find particularly guilty of this. Now, I'm not trying to charge this to malice or an attempt to tweak position to get more traffic. More likely it's just a poor job of implementing something having to do with the pings that let blogrolling know the site has changed.

Basically, blogrolling just looks for a ping to come in saying "this site's been updated." That's it. Now I'll grant you that making sure content has changed is a sticky proposition. You can't checksum the page content, 'cause it could well have some dynamic element that's different for each load. You can't require an RSS feed to timestamp the latest entry without greatly limiting the pages supported. So yeah, I'm complaining without a solution to the problem. But still, there has to be something better. Surely someone with more time to devote to the problem can come up with a smarter solution than I could.