Replied to

 

Source: XXIIVV Webring

I like it.  It’s unconventional and neat.  I think with a ring of personal diaries and wikis emphasizing the Random navigation makes sense – like a teleporter.  All the other points you made: classy, sophistication, minimalism are all valid.  Good webring. Good find.

Download Ringlink for free. Ringlink is a CGI Perl program that provides the tools necessary to build and run rings of websites, i.e. systems of links between websites of similar contents.

Bookmark: Ringlink download | SourceForge.net

Eureka!  Now this is a genuine FIND.  I looked for this weeks ago, but the script website is dead and I thought I had reached a dead end.  Today I tried my search differently on a different engine and found the actual Ringlink script.  Better, it was last updated in only 2017 so it’s current!

Ringlink is a perl script for hosting webrings. Note the plural.  You can set this up as a webring hosting platform. Yes strangers can sign up and start their own webring or webmasters can sign up for a pre-existing ring.

There are still some small highly niche ring hosts running this script today.

I once ran a small niche webring hosting service using an earlier version of the Ringlink script back in 2003ish.  It worked like a charm.  I think I had about a dozen rings running on it, not all of them were mine.  I don’t know what the top end is for this script, that is, how many rings it can run and how large.  I know my version had a proper index of rings and I think each ring also had an index of sites.  Ringmasters had their own admin panel and the RingLink host had an admin panel.  On my version ring codes were all HTML.

To get this running you need a CGI host.  Some knowledge of perl and HTML.

Now this is a tool for a webring revival.

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/en/linking.

A self-contained PHP/MySQL script for creating and managing a full-featured webring

Bookmark: The Orca Ringmaker – PHP Web Ring Creation and Management

This is a full featured script.  If you want to create and host one webring.  This is not a server for hosting multiple webrings.  Still very handy since you have control on your own server.

This is Part II of my series on the Death of Webrings.  Part I is here.

For this article I am going to use two examples.  I want to make it clear that I am not picking on the example rings, their creators or their intended uses.  I do want to point out what I see as flaws in their model that unless corrected will inhibit use, uptake and general adoption by the public.

Modern 2018 webrings overview.  There are not a heck of a lot of examples which is why I am discussing the only two I know about.  Both of these webrings are one offs, meaning they are custom coded to form one webring.  They are not a centralized service designed to host many webrings.  Nor are they designed so that anybody can create and run a webring.  In this sense they are less democratic than the old 1990’s style ring hosts like Webring.org, Ringsurf.com and Webringo.com.  On the other hand, they do avoid being dependent on a third-party silo.  The creator has full control.

Indiewebring

Indiewebring is made on Glitch which seems to be a remotely hosted service. If so, it is a sort of silo.   I am in no way a coder, but the way Indiewebring operates is really neat.  It is designed to link together Indieweb enabled websites.  Unlike a ’90’s style ring where you have to register with the ringhost, then register your websites, then apply to webrings, this modern ring has almost none of that “friction” to joining.  You put your site URL into the form and it checks to see if you have enough Indieweb identification and stuff on your site.  If you do you get a code which you must place on your site.  Almost no instructions, few explanations if things go wrong, all very minimalist which is the fashion.

It works well and at least at the front end, it is simple.

The idea is neat.

This ring, as built, is really more of a club or association.  It is not organized around topical content, but rather if you have the right code on your site.  As such it’s almost like a merit badge.  There is nothing wrong with that, I’m just pointing out the limitation.

It is a black box.  There is no public index of ring member sites or how many sites are in the ring.  The only transparency is to follow the ring.

I presume rings like these can be replicated – if you know code or understand how things work at Glitch.  If replicated how does one make such a ring topical?  How would that auto signup feature check to make sure all the applicants are about one topic? (ie. blue widgets, Star Trek, catching lobsters. etc.)  Just having the right code in place to join is not enough for most visitors.  They want to surf a ring that matches their interests.  Code is not content. Code is not entertainment.

Administering such a ring is also a black box.  How are member sites curated?  Are all ring codes intact?

My point is not to bash this individual ring, but to say this is not the model to build a “webring revival” on.  It needs to be:

  1. DIscoverable.  Hubs, interconnection.  Does the ring code give any clues as to what the ring is about?
  2. Easily replicated by average person.  If every ring has to be custom made there will be no ring revival.
  3. Topical.  Does it match the ring topic?
  4. Curated.  Are the topic and the quality of the sites right for membership in the ring?
  5. Managed.  Are all ring codes in place?  Can they be found? In short, is it navigable?
  6. Transparent. What are the signup rules? How many members? Who is a member?

It may well be that all these concerns can be addressed eventually.  If so, great!  I think the web might be ready for this.  If not, it is an evolutionary dead end.

Microcast.club

Microcast.club is getting much closer to solving the questions above.  This idea has some legs and I would like to see the concept grow and maybe fork to be even bigger than a webring.

Here is how it works: you put your microcast feed URL in the form. You get a webring code to put on your microcast website.  You also appear in the flat directory you see on the ring page.

This has some legs for the future.  It’s more topical and open.  The ring and the directory reinforce each other providing traffic for everyone.  I’m assuming the ring code is checked periodically and that having it on your site keeps you in the directory. Remove the ring code and lose your listing.  This helps keep thing easier to administer.

It’s still not subject oriented but there may be ways to overcome that.  If that can be overcome either by human review (might be wise) or machine detection you could expand this idea into a semi automated categorized directory with multiple subjects.  Just speculating.

It still has many of the same problems as the Indiewebring above.  It’s custom made so it is hard for the common webmaster to duplicate.  That limits mass adoption.

I wish them both well.

Back to old school.

I did find The Orca Ringmaker.  This is a php script and as near as I can tell, it lets a webmaster create one webring.  This gets around concerns about remote ring hosting silos going under.  You are the host.  Anyone who knows how to install this on their server can run one so it can be duplicated.  Pro Tip: Even if you have no use for it now, I would download a copy now.  Webring stuff can disappear from the web overnight.

Update

I found this after publication: Bookmark: Ringlink download. Which is a perl script to let you run, not just a webring, but a host of webrings.

What does this mean?

Recap:

  • Two of the three remaining web ring hosts appear broken (read slowly dying.)
  • Webringo.com is at least in working order but appears to only have a few thriving rings and many abandoned ones.  (This is sad because it has some good features.)
  • Indiewebring is a one off. Neatly done but problems with replication and wider adoption.
  • Microcast.club has some good features but the same questions about wider adoption still exist.
  • Orca Ringmaker is a bit harder to start up (you have to install a script) but at least it’s off the shelf and ready to roll once you overcome that.

 

None of this gives me hope for a resurgence of widespread webring adoption.  I’d like to be wrong.  Unless somebody like Taylor Swift suddenly makes a webring and promotes the heck out of them, I just don’t think people will notice in enough numbers to matter.

I hope somebody proves me wrong.

 

 

This was also posted to
/en/linking.

Also on:

The finding of the Coroner’s Court is that 1990’s style webrings are officially dead.

Evidence of Demise

  • Two of the three remaining Ring Hosts are broken.  Both Webring.org and Ringsurf.com are broken in such a way that nobody can sign up as new members and it has been that way for a time.
  • The third remaining ring host, Webringo.com, is functioning.  It just appears that they have no traffic.  But points to them for keeping things in working order.
  • New 1990’s style rings created have had zero take up.  This is too small a sample to really tell but it is a small indicator.
  • A newer Indie-tech style webring has little useful traffic despite a user base.

What Killed the Webring?

  1. Generation shift.  Web 1.0 users “surfed the Web” so they liked the idea of a curated grouping of websites they could surf to.  Modern web users are used to helicoptering into a single web page via a search engine.  They only care about that page and it’s information, not websites or surfing.
  2. Rings are passive.  They sit there and wait to be discovered.  They are passive in recruiting members and they are passive in finding users.  Passive cannot break through the noise of the modern web.
  3. Search engines used to suck.  That was one reason for webrings you couldn’t find anything.
  4. Geocities, Tripod and Homestead.  Webmasters on these free hosts wanted to be found, joining a webring got you traffic.  Those free host webmasters were also familiar with HTML so they were not intimidated by having to put a ring code on their sites.  Modern webmasters use CMS’s and are more intimidated by messing with HTML code.
  5. Young webmasters may have heard of webrings in passing but have never seen one in the wild.  They don’t know what they are. Ditto the public visitor, they don’t know what they are.
  6. Commerce.  The web in the 1990’s was little used for commerce.  It was a place to explore, have fun, find neat things, exchange information and ideas.  Rings were good for explorers but not daily commuters.  Today commerce has taken over the web, efficiency rules so we can maximize sales, revenue and consumption. Webrings were never good for that.
  7. Lack of traffic.  Webring hosts had hubs.  These were a directory of webrings organized by subject. Example.  Many tens of thousands of visitors went to these ring hosts to find rings to surf, because search engines sucked.  So a webring gained traffic from both the ring host and the ring codes on individual sites.  The biggest reason you joined a ring or started your own ring, was to tap into the hundreds of thousands of eyeballs at those hubs, the code on other websites was icing on the cake.

The notable exception to this today might be the Bomis style ring.  It had enough differences that it might be a sleeper.  I’ve searched for any old perl or php scripts that would create a Bomis clone, there are hints that one may have existed at one time, but it is long gone.

There may still be some life in old style webrings: it seems to me neocities.org is a perfect match for webrings.  But it would take some promotion.  A ring host would need to get listed in Neocities webmaster resources pages and it might catch on. They would be a good match just as they were for Geocities et al.  But it would take effort.

The demise of the webring does not make me sad.  It’s time has passed and there are better ways to find websites.  It would have been nice to have it as a tool in the fight against the Google search monopoly silo but it’s a bit like fighting Delta Force with a sword.

This is part of a series: See Part II Here.

This was also posted to
/en/linking.

Also on:

When I find an interesting new tool, I like to think of all the ways I can use it.  When I found out I could put HTML on a Page on a Micro.blog hosted blog it got me thinking.

So what else will work there?  Nothing earth shattering here but a couple of small ideas.

One thing you can do is make a webring landing page.  The key here is that you can post HTML to Pages on MB.

For those that don’t remember the webring heydays of the 1990’s, webmasters would join several webrings,  now you didn’t want all those ring codes taking up space on your index page so you created a separate page for your webring codes.  Usually visitors would enter and leave the site by this page.

Landing Page:

Now Micro.blog does have a footer space you can place HTML in, but what if you wanted to join several rings?  You create that landing page.

  1. in your MB admin you create a new page.  Name in something like “Webrings” so visitors know where to find the code.
  2. Join a webring somewhere.  Use yoursite.com/webrings/ as the page you join with.
  3. Place the webring code on that page. (An HTML code should work.  I’m not sure if a javascript code will work but you can try.)
  4. You probably should place a greeting on that page explaining where visitors are at.  You want to make the ring easy to navigate.

Done.

Ring Homepage:

Let’s say you want to start your own webring and run it.  You can start a webring at a ring host.  I recommend Webringo.  Old school rings need a Homepage where you set out the criteria of your webring (example).

Have some fun!

What other things can you do with a micro.blog Page?

  1. Cool!
  2. Neocities.org and webrings are made for each other.  Both Webring.com and Ringsurf.com appear to be malfunctioning when you try to join.  Webringo.com works. If I were the owner of Webringo I’d try to get exposure on Neocities somehow.
  3. Duckduckgo.com provides the site search to find Neocities hosted pages.  They have done a good job.
  4. There are some subjects that are better suited for a static site rather than a blog.  In fact the content will probably get buried on a blog. Neocities is perfect for such micro-sites.

Blog Lane Webring: Gettiing on a webring is like turning onto a previously unexplored street and seeing the sights, hence the name: Blog Lane. Purpose: To help visitors discover blogs. This is a…

Source: Blog Lane Webring

The problem with blogs, especially new blogs is getting discovered.  I’d like to see if webrings can help with that.  Sure this is a throwback to the 1990’s Web, but the Web in the ’90’s was fun to explore.  Time to recapture that.  If you have a blog join and try it out.

Replied to

In reply to: The Awesome Directories.

Kicks,

I think I have an answer to your linkrot concern. Not for Awesome but a hypothetical directory – “someday”.

The idea really isn’t mine, I got it thinking about the Microcast.club directory, which is really a new Indie style webring that also has a List of Sites page aka a flat directory page.  When you join you get a webring code to place on your site, plus listing in the directory.  Cool.

Linkrot.

On some hypothetical future niche directory it’s that webring code that prevents the linkrot.  As long as the webring/directories robot keeps finding that validation code you stay in the directory, no code and eventually you will be dropped. Not perfect but it automates the process a bit.

It wouldn’t have to be a webring code, it could just be a validation code, I suppose.  I like the idea of indiestyle webring/directory combined.  My worry would be scale on the ring.  Old style webrings had a sweet spot of 50-200 sites.  Over 200 and they become difficult to manage and it was found that bigger destination sites in the ring siphoned off too much ring traffic and gave very little back.

Still adding that directory page was a good evolutionary move for indie-style rings.

Massaging this idea a bit:  one could let ring members self define subject categories when they join very much like you did on Indieweb.xyz (tags sorta) which would help when it gets larger.

This was also posted to
/en/linking.

I was checking out the webring stub on Indieweb.org and the list of hosts.  As of 7/18/2018 here is an update on the information on webring hosts.

  1. Webring.org/rw – I tried to register. I get an error message “host unavailable” from my browser, when I fill out the form and click register.  Somebody might want to verify.  Could be temporary.
  2. Ringsurf – I tried to register.  Registration form has captcha  asking to fill in the code.  Only it gives no code.  Lots of things broken on that site, general state of disrepair and the “Marketing” pitch sends up warning signals in my opinion.
  3. Webringo.com – this is the only webring host not listed on that page, and it’s the only one fully functioning. It’s old but everything works: registration, ring creation, admin.  Somebody might want to add them to that page.

I don’t have editing privileges on the Indieweb wiki and registering and then immediately starting to edit would probably get me frog marched to the door as a spammer and rightly so.

Hopefully somebody will see this and confirm my observations and edit or something.