Wa's Flickr


follow us in feedly


 bytes of Wa Conner… A bit at a time.



Entries in sage weil (1)


Webrings of the World Unite!

Webring recently announced that they will implement yearly subscription fees ranging from $12 to $36  for both ringmasters and webmasters of sites submitted to the Webring system  beginning in January of 2007.

Webring, according to Wikipedia, “was designed by Sage Weil ” who was only seventeen at the time “using his own CGI script in May 1994. The idea was based on Denis Howe’s system, started at Imperial College in 1994, called EUROPa (Expanding Unidirectional Ring Of Pages), but took off after Giraldo Hierro conceptualized a central CGI script to enhance functionality, which Weil coded himself. Weil’s script gained popularity, pushing Weil in June 1995 to create an organization, named WebRing, which provided WebRing tools to webmasters. “

In this burgeoning Web 2.0 world, webring.com may seem so very 1998-ish, but for many who have been on the web for most of the past decade, webring has in one way or another impacted their web surfing experience. More often than not in positive ways. Webring offered for many an opportunity for REAL social networking with webmasters. Where primarily Usenet groups and  BCC (Blind Carbon Copy email groups) were responsible for spreading the word about related websites you might enjoy in any particular topic, Webring made it simple for anyone to find plenty of sites relating to the most obscure of topics, thus yielding more precise results than the fledgling search engines of the time. 

Before blogs, Digg.com, and the ilk had made it possible to garner attention in other ways, webring offered a real social network that benefited websites whose niche might be extremely narrow (say the salt & pepper shaker collectors groups) without costing inordinately high amounts for such exposure.

Its clear that the date January 15th, 2007, when these new rates go into effect, will mark the end of webring as a viable choice by many webmasters. Already in steep decline by subscribers who flocked to other choices, I can’t imagine what in the heck Webring, Inc. must be thinking by doing this move, unless it is to intentionally kill off any chance of being involved in a serious way in the next evolutionary wave of the Internet.

My site, www.thedeadpoets.org, currently belongs to or has belonged to many webrings over the years, and my email inbox has become inundated recently with seriously miffed users who are threatening to protest Webring Inc. over the recent business decision. One of them, who we will call Tim, writes:

Hello Fellow Webringites (sic):

You’ve probably already heard that Webring Inc. has decided to start
charging people who have more than 5 websites or more than 2 webrings.

And even if you do pay a hefty $36 USD per YEAR you will only be
allowed 50 individual website listings (and a maximum of 30 webrings for
webring managers). It is ridiculous and stupid.

The Lilith eZine and Lilith Gallery is run by a group of four people.
We’ve invested a lot of time and effort into making our webrings for
people and manage 355 webrings and 19,842 site listings. Under Webrings
new rules we would have to delete 325 webrings (and all the site listings
in those webrings) by January 15th, 2007.

And we’re not alone. According to Webring Inc. there are 25,000 webring
managers who manage over 180,000 different webrings. Thats an average
of over 7 webrings per manager. Some have more, some less. The vast
majority have at least 5 webrings. That means about 60% to 72% of all
webrings we will have to be deleted.

Webring has over 21,000,000 individual site listings. If you type the
word “webring” into Google it comes up with 33.8 million websites.
Imagine if 70% of them were suddenly deleted.

Webring brings the internet together. Its a bit like Grand Central
Station in New York City. By itself, its not really that important, but as
a network it connects millions upon millions of sites on related
topics. Webring Inc. is making outrageous demands, the equivalent of Grand
Central Station saying “You can only have 2 destinations and make only 5
trips per month.”

Or to use another metaphor, it would be like Microsoft Inc. saying “You
can only install five programs and play 2 games/day. Any extra and you
have to pay us more money…” If Bill Gates ever said something that
stupid we’d all think he’d hit his head or wasn’t taking his medication

So what can you do about all this?

Protest. Email membership@webring.com and tell them what you think of
their outrageous demands. Tell them you’d be willing to pay for
membership, but not at the outrageous and unfair rates they are currently

“Sure you can have a cell phone… but you can only have 2 phone
numbers saved on it and make only 5 calls per month…”

Seriously, how ridiculous can you get?

While I don’t intend to bother with a protest, I do commend Tim for his metaphorical
explanations of the problem and wish him and his fellow protestors the best of luck,
I understand that the web has always at the core, unfortunately, been all about business.
Without turning a significant enough profit, we can’t expect any company to continue a service indefinitely.

I can only assume this will hasten the creation of more blogs on commercial solutions like Typepad
 and Wordpress, as well as the free to use but paid for by ad revenue sites such as Livejournal,
Blogger and Vox to take accelerate in notice in personal and commerical sites. Even social networking hubs like Facebook and the horrible looking but extremely popular MySpace should receive a bump in their user base as a result of this decision.

As a sidenote, is it possible that Yahoo’s reported offer to purchase Facebook for $1 billon doesn’t quite seem so ludricous after all?

[Digg this story].