Probes are based on keywords, Facebook likes and thumbs ups on YouTube, enabling users to create intelligent feeds such as the "latest stories on BuzzFeed with more than 1,000 Facebook likes".
Other examples of probes already on Ping.it are: "the top three news stories per hour from the top 10 news sites"; "TechCrunch articles with more than 100 Facebook likes"; and "highest rated articles about the big six in the premier league".
The new probes feature could be really useful to journalists. For example, you could set up a keyword search to flag up a story from a favourite site that mentions a particular word. For us at Journalism.co.uk this might be "apps news on The Next Web"; for a reporter interested in viral videos it could be "YouTube videos on Reddit with more than 1,000 Facebook likes".
Ping.it is not only an RSS reader but also a social network, allowing you to discover and share feeds. You can both create your own probes and subscribe to ones set up by other people (much in the same way you can subscribe to a 'recipe' on If This Then That).
The new feature launched today and is the latest development from Ping.it, which launched in beta in December, three months before Google announced it was axing Reader.
In an email to Journalism.co.uk founder and chief executive of Ping.it Marius Lian, who is based in Norway, said he "believes this disrupts the ongoing battle for web/news feeds", and helps those who "face a daily battle with information overload".
A press release further explains the probes feature. "If a user wishes to receive updates on 'YouTube videos on Reddit with more
than 1 million views' they can easily create a probe that uses the APIs of both YouTube and Reddit to draw the information directly to their feed."
The release goes on to say that Ping.it provides "a more filtered and relevant news feed than traditional readers".