Hey, Dave Winer — how about implementing a method of invoking the weblogs.com ping that doesn’t do an immediate site check? It could just return a success code, then queue the request for processing. A cron job could then reap the queue every few minutes in an efficient multi-threaded way, and add the legitimately updated sites to the list.
This would eliminate the long wait and the associated timeouts for pinging clients, and hopefully would also reduce load on the weblogs.com server as well, since you would be able to pool database accesses.
You would, of course, still leave the original method available, for those who just can’t stand the thought of waiting more than one minute for their site update to be seen by the world.