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The Internet

Webring - Another One Bites The Dust 90

imrdkl writes: "Salon is running an feature about the history of the WebRing since Yahoo! bought it last September. The article goes on to give an outlook on Yahoo! itself, including how WebRing has recently been sold to one of the original developers. Webring seemed to me to be a really nice neighborly concept, but it seems at least some of the ringmasters reckon it should die now."
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Webring - Another One Bites The Dust

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  • by Harumuka ( 219713 ) on Saturday December 08, 2001 @08:02PM (#2676873)
    There's a large list of webring systems at Google under Computers > Internet > Web Design and Development > Web Ring Systems [google.com]. Hopefully not all webring systems will go the way of WebRing.
      • Sorry, but that is incorrect. The original link provided by Harumuka,
        http://directory.google.com/Top/Computers/Internet /Web_Design_and_Development/Web_Ring_Systems/ [google.com] was actually correct. Your link yields the following message:
        "The requested category Computers > Internet > Web Design and Development > Webring Systems could not be found. It is likely that this category has been moved to another location within the directory. "

        Check your links first next time. Moderators, please mod the parent down.
        • Just to clear things up, the first directory result for "webring" was ...>Webring Systems. However, following that link gave me the error you described. It became obvious ...>Web Ring Systems is the correct group.

          However, now ...>Web Ring Systems doesn't work, and ..>Webring Systems does. What the heck? I bet it has something to do with Google's redundant servers:

          $ host google.com
          google.com has address 216.239.39.100
          google.com has address 216.239.33.100
          google.com has address 216.239.35.100
          google.com has address 216.239.37.100
          google.com mail is handled (pri=40) by smtp3.google.com
          google.com mail is handled (pri=10) by smtp1.google.com
          google.com mail is handled (pri=20) by smtp2.google.com
          $

          Other Slashdot users reported ...>Web Ring Systems working yet ...>Webring Systems not, the complete opposite of what I currently experience. Odd. At least, I'm glad to know Google's directory for webrings (or is it web rings?) is not going the way of Yahoo's.

    • I have actually created a javascript webring with no knowledge of javascript (stole it all from javascript tutorials). I pieced it all together into a working webring that you can host yourself. You have total control over it, instead of another company. The only problem is, you do all the work. You have to input every submission, and update it when they ask. But the benefits outweigh the losses if you have time on your hands to update it.

      http://www.noroua.nb.ca/Webring/index.htm

      That is a URL to a working version if you want to see how I did it.
  • by hingleton ( 153901 ) on Saturday December 08, 2001 @08:06PM (#2676887) Homepage
    Did the concept of webrings ever really generate anything though?

    Remember the last time you noticed a link to a webring'd site - you were probably on that site due to Google, and you were there because you wanted a specific piece of information.

    Information found - close the window.
    Information not found - hit back and try the next search result down.

    Any online "communities" are usually formed by a group of people who know each other (at least to a minor degree), and not by the "next link on this webring."
    • While I never much cared for webrings (there always seems to be a site or two in the ring chain that is missing/broken/or annoyingly has a page in the ring that doesn't belong and wants folks to dredge the site to find the page they came looking for) they did do one good thing. With the web ring's index page, you could see all the similar pages, even if a search engine hadn't found them yet.
    • "Any online "communities" are usually formed by a group of people who know each other (at least to a minor degree), and not by the "next link on this webring."

      You hit it on the head with this comment. The webrings were a useful tool for content providers, because it gave them a sense of community. Given the ratio of consumers to providers, though, that turns out to be a pretty small segment of the web population.
    • Webrings are very nice ways to form 'communities'.

      Some sort of competition sometimes springs up when you see the other sites on the ring - but it's all friendly.

      If you were looking for something like 'Bryce Pics' and galleries, a web ring is nice because you search once, and hit next when you are done with that page. You don't have to go back and search through google again.

      Why does everyone think they suck so much? Maybe I need to start a 'Save the webring' webring?
  • I like Google's "Similar Pages" utility that allows users to find pages with relatively similar content to ones that they already find informative, useful, etc.
  • Salon anyone? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by gkbarr ( 124078 ) <gkpcs@yah[ ]com ['oo.' in gap]> on Saturday December 08, 2001 @08:14PM (#2676912) Homepage
    Is it my imagination, or has /. become the office link to all things Salon? Pretty redundant for those of us who read Salon on a regular basis to see all of their stories posted here too.
    • I just happened to be reading there after the posting on their architecture [slashdot.org] about an hour ago. No conspiracy here, folks.
    • It is a little disturbing to see a salon fluff piece posted basically every day to slashdot. Not that the stuff isn't interesting, but the intermediate ad pages do really suck. I like salon, but why should we pay for a subscription service to see ads? I'd like to see their subscription content, and would probably pay for it, if they just told me they'd strip out all the damned ads if I paid. Methinks Rob is in bed with someone over at salon.
      • I'd like to see their subscription content, and would probably pay for it, if they just told me they'd strip out all the damned ads if I paid.

        I think that is, in fact, what they do. Part of the deal and all - if you pay for a subscription they remove the advertising.
    • Well, there are some of us who don't read Salon at all. But we're equally annoyed to see Salon stories in /. because Salon stories are the reason we don't read Salon in the first place. :) So we're really on the same side, but fr different reasons.

      • Well, there are some of us who don't read Salon regularly but find it interesting when /. points out some technology story.

        Taking your point literaly /. should never refer to stories published in other newslets. I disagree.
  • I remember... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by PlaysWithMatches ( 531546 ) on Saturday December 08, 2001 @08:17PM (#2676922) Homepage
    ... when webrings were pretty big, a few years back. Every page you went to on any subject seemed to have a "This site is a member of such-and-such ring" box on it somewhere. I even joined a webring myself, back when I had a web site about the Euphoria programming language [rapideuphoria.com].

    But almost as quickly as webrings became popular, they (for the most part) vanished once again. I think there are three major reasons for this:

    1. Most webrings were poorly maintained, at best, and filled with broken links.
    2. Sites like Google, the Netscape "What's Related" menu, etc. made webrings obsolete. Why bother with a webring when your favorite search engine had a feature to show you related pages, and most browsers had this built in?
    3. Why the hell do we need 50 Linux webrings?! "Linux Users," "Linux Lovers," "The *Official* Linux Webring," "The Unofficial Linux Webring" ... sheesh!

    Those reasons and a myriad of lesser ones are what contributed to the death of webrings, if you ask me. Kind of a shame, but honestly I (as a web surfer and as a webmaster) never found much use for webrings beyond the fact that it was kinda cool to be part of a "group."

    • Re:I remember... (Score:3, Insightful)

      by evand ( 2571 )

      I think the major problem with webrings is that they weren't useful. I very rarely used them for navigation; even if I was interested in Topic X, who says that the Next Site on Topic X's webring would be any good?

      In general, if I was interested enough in the genre of site to be on a site regarding it long enough to see the "Member of Topic X Webring" navigation item, I probably knew most of the good sites anyway.

      • Exactly. You don't need a webring to tell you about other pages related to the page you are on. Most sites that have information will link to related sites. I'd rather visit the links on a good site than look through a dozen pages in a webring, hoping that the few that actually exist are what I want.
    • Re:I remember... (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Tony.Tang ( 164961 )
      I agree with this post. The utility of the webring was quite low, and has been made even less useful of late.

      One of the reasons may be that "back in the day", the ratio of "good sites on a topic" to "how easy it is to find them" was quite low. Today, the ratio is a lot higher -- it's easier to find more sites on a given topic both because there's more of them (chaos breeds goodness), and because there's a lot more investment into things on the web (consider news sites, for example).

      I was involved in a few webrings back in the day, but like the original poster said, it was more of a "belonging" thing than anything else. Being in a webring meant being in a community. One of the big ones of the day was diary-l (I don't know what happened to it). The webring also had a mailing-list -- and it was folks in the mailing-list that probably had the best time -- after all, that encouraged more interaction than anything else, and made people feel part of a group.

      It was an interesting social phenomenon, I think. In a place where there was considerably less social interaction, webrings came to be to try to bring some order to the chaos, and make people feel like they were part of a community. It was, of course, essentially an illusion (or a clickable link, at best), and I think webrings were one illusion that became evident by virtue of their being useless.
    • 1.Most webrings were poorly maintained, at best, and filled with broken links.

      Agreed - that was always an annoyance to me. Quite often, in the pre-Yahoo WebRing! days, I would use it for looking at pages for certain topics. Some rings would be in great shape, with active Webring maintainers, and 404's and broken sites would not last long.

      Others seemed like they were started by someone on a whim, then completely ignored.

      3.Why the hell do we need 50 Linux webrings?! "Linux Users," "Linux Lovers," "The *Official* Linux Webring," "The Unofficial Linux Webring" ... sheesh!

      I wonder how many of the duplicate rings for any one topic were due to a person being denied a spot in another ring due to not having a good enough site to become part of the ring. Either that, or wanting the power of being the "maintainer" - those people were just as responsible for #1.

      I still have a fond memory of WebRing. I also was temporarily part of EUROPa, and then a part of the original WebRing, before all the various rings, and the random page I went to for being added to the ring happened to have information on a personal topic that has, in many ways, changed my entire life. I would have probably gotten things taken care of without stumbling across the WebRing... eventually. But I will never forget the Ring, nor the person who's page I found myself at...

  • How many times did you fall on a web page that had that webring thing? Ok.

    How many broken links? how how many times did you have to cache the original page in a different page, "lookup 5 sites" on another page, and go thru them one by one? (or always pressing back after a 404 error).

    I guess the ringowners had better things to do than to maintain their lists, the concept was cool while it was working, but right now it's just a pain and time wasting. I agree, put this dog to sleep.
    • My biggest problem with webrings was that the other sites were completely useless. Either the site I was at didn't have what I want and the others didn't either, or the site I was at had what I wanted and the others didn't.
    • I disagree, it was never a good concept. The web is distributed, WebRings only "value add" was to have a centralized place to "maintain" the ring. If page 'a' links to page 'b' which links to page 'c' ... which links to page 'a' what do you need a central site for?
    • The problem I had with webrings was that website owners were less likely to join and existing ring and would instead make their own ring to compete with an existing one.

      For example, say I make a webring for Handspring Visors. It's dedicated to websites about Visors, Visor software, Visor mainteance - everything Visor. Now other Visor sites wouldn't join up - the owners of the other sites would create competing webrings, and before you know it there'd be a webring for Visor Hardware, one for Visor games, one for Visor hotsync tips, one for Visor hacking, etc.

      How many webrings do we need for the same topic?

  • Some of the disadvatages of webrings have already been pointed out:

    Search engines do a better job of delivering information looking for.

    Half the time, links in webrings were broken.

    Duplication of effort; everyone and their brother wanted to be the "founder" of THE Linux webring - and the same was true for EVERY topic imaginable. More like webchainmail.

    The worst part was the webrings where some goofball thought they'd use the 1337-est tricks they knew in designing their web page, so 90% of the bandwidth to download the info went to bad flash, stupid fucking .MODs, or tables that brought netscape to it's knees (or a GPF).

    Good riddance.
  • by Soko ( 17987 ) on Saturday December 08, 2001 @08:47PM (#2676993) Homepage
    I seem to remember a Webring of Webrings?

    "One ring to connect to then all, and in the Ethernet bind them..."

    *wince* [Ducks myriad of popcorn and Glossettes from the back of the back of the theatre... [lordoftherings.net]

    Yeesh. Sorry 'bout that...

    Soko
  • an unemployment webring for the displaced admins and programmers. Oh, wait! Doh!
  • Terms of the deal (Score:3, Informative)

    by Russ Nelson ( 33911 ) <slashdot@russnelson.com> on Saturday December 08, 2001 @10:14PM (#2677303) Homepage
    Anybody else notice the terms of the deal? Existing webrings won't be transferred! Sure looks to me like they decided that the whole thing wasn't worth one cent, and when the original author asked for the name webring.org back, they gave it to him for free.
    -russ
  • I think people have gotten confused somewhere along the line here. I had a Webring back in the days of webring.org and it worked fine. Then Yahoo bought it, I had to make a couple of login changes, but it kept working fine. Now they've sold it to Webring.com ( http://dir.webring.com ) and I was notified by email that I could migrate my ring by clicking a link. I did so, it migrated, and now it lives on the new Webring.com and works fine.

    Webrings are not inherently rocket science, it is just nice to have a common clearinghouse. I wish the new maintainers the best of luck.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    As Webring isn't dead, its just going back to its originators
  • My Webring Days (Score:2, Interesting)

    by dystopianO ( 542440 )
    I created my first webring, The Absinthe, in July '97 with my then girlfriend in hopes of making an area to link our friends gothy sites together. It grew from two simple personal sites into a ring of more than 150 sites. By this time I was dealing with the ring all on my own (A difficult task with the amount of submissions I was getting), so I enlisted two friends to help. Starseed had purchased webring by this time and I was becoming more discriminating with what type of site I would let into my ring. Goth rings were a dime a dozen, I wanted mine to standout and shine with the best that the gothy portion of the net had to offer. With Starseed came changes to the webring management functions to increase ease of use. These changes made administering a webring more difficult, timeouts were frequent and after a timeout you had to wait 20-30 minutes to log back in making ring management tedious. With the arrival of the Yahoo/Geocities deal, I really feared for my ring and those others I was a part of. I wasn't worried about ads or popups, I was concerned about the perversion of the communities that we ringmasters had created. Without the ring masters holding the system together, creating rings with Next5 and List/Index pages to display ads on(And who here is an old ringmaster that remembers the option to turn off ads on your pages? Ahh the good old days.), webring wouldn't have flourished. So with the advent of a new "improved" UI, to enhance ease of use, the Webring died as far as I'm concerned. It didn't die because it was simply difficult to admin a ring, it died because it was no longer fun. Fun was the reason I'd created a ring and the only reason I worked to create a better ring for myself and all those who were members. Also the trend was dying faster than the Swing dance/music craze. Everyone had a webring, so they made X of the Y sites, then they made cliches, now they all have E/N sites.

    Maybe one day I'll use Ringlink to revive The Absinthe, but only when I feel that it may be fun once again, it's certainly past the 'so last year' phase and hardly anyone has a decent ring anymore.
  • One site that works as good a googles "similar" button, www.l2g.com/more/[webpage you search for]
  • Lots of griping about 404s, but what do you expect from ad hoc routing software? Webrings, rather than relying upon static links, could (and might) be managed like routing tables, with routes being updated and pushed dynamically, and with redirects to the service upon failure, rather than loss of all reason.

    The same could/should be said of 'blogs?? Ted Nelson had a good thing going when he provided for link fixup in his early hypertext fantasies!

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