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2005/6/1 Pithing Needle affects cards regardless of what zone they're in. This includes cards in hand, cards in the graveyard, and exiled cards. For example, a player can't cycle Eternal Dragon or return an Eternal Dragon from his or her graveyard to hand if Pithing Needle naming Eternal Dragon is on the battlefield.
2005/6/1 You can name any card, even if that card doesn't normally have an activated ability. You can't name a token unless that token has the same name as a card.
2005/6/1 If you name a card that has both a mana ability and another activated ability, the mana ability can be activated but the other ability can't be activated.
2009/10/1 Once Pithing Needle has left the battlefield, activated abilities of sources with the chosen name can be activated again.
2012/10/1 Activated abilities include a colon and are written in the form [cost]: [effect]. Triggered abilities and static abilities of the named card work normally.
This ought to cover at least a few bases of confusion on the matter.
Here is what constitutes an activated ability:
602.1. Activated abilities have a cost and an effect. They are written as "[Cost]: [Effect.] [Activation instructions (if any).]"
Note that Planeswalker's loyalty abilities are also activated abilities.
606.1. Some activated abilities are loyalty abilities, which are subject to special rules.
Additionally, Pithing Needle does not stop mana abilities. This is what constitutes an activated ability that is a mana ability:
605.1a An activated ability is a mana ability if it meets three criteria: it doesn't have a target, it could put mana into a player's mana pool when it resolves, and it's not a loyalty ability.
This cleared things up for me so much because for most of the time I thought pithing needle stops guilded lotus (which is why I sideboarded it in the first place) because someone who had judged frequently had told me that it was a possible move.
Planeswalker abilities are activated abilities. Activated abilities always have a cost. The cost of using a Planeswalker ability is adding/removing Loyalty counters, or simply announcing that you're activating the ability (as with cards like Jace, Memory Adept ).
Nope, Wayfaring Temple 's ability is a triggered ability, which always has whenever, if, or when clauses to tell you when an effect happens. A good way to differentiate is activated abilities require a player to make an ACTION for the effect to happen, whereas triggered abilities are TRIGGERED by events within the game.