Mon, Dec 29th - 11:45AM
What to Do about the Former RM
We’ve observed some rather disturbing chatter in the Shoutbox over the last couple weeks. A few ring managers (RM’s) of recently won rings are being contacted by the rings’ former RM’s.
The former RM’s write the new RM to express their outrage over the ring having been seized and put up for adoption, then auctioned off to another member. The more timid of RM’s, either due to empathy or fear, will transfer the ring back to the former RM.
If you are such an RM, stop and consider this:
You worked long and hard to accrue enough AP to buy the ring. It’s now yours to manage. Rings go up for adoption because they have been neglected.
We realize that some former RM’s have gone through a period of turmoil in their lives. This doesn’t excuse the harassment of the new RM, though. It’s not the new RM’s fault that the ring went up for adoption. We urge you to retain control of the ring you won in Auction Central.
If the former RM continues to write you threatening or abusive emails, save all the emails! Then open a support ticket for “abuse” and include your documentation.
Have a Big Heart?
Some RM’s have expressed that they don’t mind giving back the ring to the former RM. This is especially true in cases when the former RM details a particularly heart-breaking trouble in their life as the reason for not managing their rings.
If you are such an RM, we recommend that you don’t simply transfer the ring back to the former RM. Instead, make them a “helper” via the ring’s “Global Settings.” After the former RM has proven that they are as diligent as you, then you can make the decision to transfer the ring back to them.
Once again, if for any reason you feel bullied by the former RM, document it and open a support ticket for “abuse.”
Sun, Dec 28th - 5:09PM
Auction Central Celebrates 2500th Winning Bid
Congratulations to WebRing member hariam for being the 2500th successful winning bidder on Auction Central.
Now the Ring Manager of York Rite Freemasonry, hariam has been awarded 2 months of our premium membership level - WebRing 2.0!
This concludes our awarding of milestone auction wins, but we will continue to monitor how many rings have been won throughout the coming months. Congratulations to all who won 2 months of WebRing 2.0 membership.
Have you visited Auction Central today?
Fri, Dec 26th - 4:22PM
Nominate the Excellent Rings of 2008
In the past year, WebRing has experienced the greatest period of genuine activity in a long time. Between members stepping up to help clean rings to those who have won rings in Auction Central and spruced them up, WebRing Communities are rapidly regaining their usefulness as a source of similarly themed quality sites.
We would like to recognize the most exemplary of these rings in January's Newsletter, but we need your help.
Nominate a New Ring
A few members of WebRing not only took the initiative to create brand new rings for niches currently not found on WebRing, but also successfully built up their ring via the invite system.
For a ring to qualify as an "Excellent NEW Ring of 2008," it must have filled a previously unfilled/contemporary niche.
Nominate an Improved Ring
Now that adoptable rings have landed back in the hands of members who care about quality, hundreds of rings are getting a much needed cleaning. As a result, rings that were once filled with dead, off-topic, or otherwise spammish sites are now a joy to explore. One member noted that "the best rings are ones that make you lose track of time because you get so lost in its great sites."
For a ring to qualify as an “Excellent IMPROVED Ring of 2008,” it must contain high quality sites that directly match the theme of the ring.
Rules for Nomination
As with any contest, there are rules that you must follow:
- Ring Managers may not nominate their own rings.
- All nominators must include their WebRing ID to be counted.
- All nominations must include all required information. Incorrectly formatted nominations will be discarded.
- Only 3 nominations per WebRing ID.
How to Nominate a Ring
After you’ve found up to 3 rings to nominate, simply leave us a comment below to let us know. You should format your nominations as follows:
- Category (New or Improved)
- Ring ID (not the title)
- Brief explanation of why you nominate the ring
- Your WebRing ID
Here’s an example:
Category: Improved Ring
Ring ID: onlinedogbreeder
Why: I nominate this ring because it has been purged of all link pages, dead sites, unethical breeders AND the manager has broken it up into some perfectly focused subrings.
My User ID: webring
Prizes, Prizes, Prizes!
Aside from the winning rings getting featured in January’s Newsletter, you will earn 20 Activity Points for each ring you nominate (AP will be awarded manually, not automatically). On top of that if you select your nomination, you will receive 3 free months of our premium membership level – WebRing 2.0!
You have an extremely short window to nominate rings. The deadline is December 30, 2008 by Midnight PST. Spread the word!
Which rings do you nominate as “Excellent Ring of 2008”? Tell us as a comment below!
Wed, Dec 24th - 1:53PM
Happy Holidays to all you marvelous WebRing members. No matter how or what you celebrate at this time of the year, we wish you only the best. Here are a few Christmas-themed rings you might enjoy:
||The Christmas Lights WebRing
This ring is particularly fun. Whether you celebrate Christmas or not, there's just something magical about a festively lit home.
||Christmas & More
This ring contains some adaptations of the classic "Night Before Christmas" story that Trekkies are sure to love.
Another ring managed by chigirl, the sites in this ring explore the origins of Christmas. Some even dive into theological and philosophical discussions about the celebration of Christmas.
We searched for some quality rings to feature for Hannukah, Kwanzaa, and Solstice too. Alas, the rings we found didn't even begin to offer up much relevant content at all, or had zero .
We invite you to search for such rings and to offer the RM's your services. You can best help them by searching for related sites and inviting them to join those rings. You also get the added benefit of earning AP for all who join WebRing because of your invitation.
Fri, Dec 19th - 12:40PM
Auction Central Celebrates 2000th Winning Bid
Congratulations to WebRing member king5021 for being the 2000th successful winning bidder on Auction Central.
Now the Ring Manager of A Transit Terminal WebRing, king5021 has been awarded 2 months of our premium membership level - WebRing 2.0!
At the time of this post, we are already at 2070 auctioned rings. Should a member take the 2500th ring by the end of the year, they will win 2 months of 2.0 membership as well.
Have you visited Auction Central today?
Thu, Dec 18th - 4:16PM
Internet Explorer Security Hole
We have received a few emails from concerned members and RM's regarding a recent announcement regarding Internet Explorer.
All supported versions of Internet Explorer (IE5 - IE8 Beta2) contain a security hole that hackers can and have exploited, sniping passwords and financial information. Apparently, this security hole has existed for some time and just discovered. Microsoft reported that as many as 1 in 500 who use Internet Explorer may be infected.
As a result, Microsoft put their feet to the fire and created an emergency patch. That patch should have arrived as an update today. If you got a Microsoft Update, don't delay on installing it.
If you have your Microsoft automatic updates turned off, you should definitely search for updates. Or, you could download the patch directly from http://www.update.microsoft.com/windowsupdate/v6/default.aspx
Then, there's always the option of finally downloading an alternative Web browser like Mozilla Firefox or Opera. If nothing else, use them for a couple weeks to make sure that IE's patch really works, then go back to using IE.
Hopefully, you were not victimized as a result of this security hole. If you suspect anything amiss, you should take special steps to change your passwords and monitor your bank and credit accounts closely.
NOTE: This was a Public Service Announcement and does not directly relate to WebRing.
Tue, Dec 16th - 4:23PM
Sites Must Be Audience Appropriate
Today, we delve deeper into another qualification a pending site must meet before being approved for ring membership: Content must be appropriate for the ring’s audience.
What We Mean by "Audience"
Think of "audience" as a movie rating. Ring Managers can designate their ring for one of three audiences:
- General - Ring's content can be viewed by general audiences.
- Mature - Ring's content is suitable for teens and older.
- Adult - Ring's content should be viewed by adults only.
How to Determine Audience
The easiest way to determine a ring's audience is to look at the ring's Global Settings. Alas, only a Ring Manager should have access to that management tool, which makes your job as processor just a little more difficult.
Adult rings are pretty darn easy to spot, because you can't enter them without choosing to view them. If you have any doubt about the ring's audience, look at its category.
General rings are also pretty easy to determine. Always start with the ring's description. Many RM's will clearly state that all sites must be "Family Friendly" or "All-ages Appropriate." If this is the case, don't approve any site that is even slightly questionable. Additionally, if the RM chooses to use the terms "No porn" or "No Adult Sites" in the ring description, we recommend you ask the RM to change it. To learn why, read this related article.
Mature rings are the toughest to determine. There is little guidance we can provide on this one, aside from checking out a good portion of the sites currently listed in the ring. If the maturity level is comparable, approve the site for membership. If in doubt, leave the pending submission for the RM to approve. Additionally, if the entire ring seems like it should be designated as "Adult," contact the RM and suggest they change the ring's audience.
Ring Rating Logos?
Over the course of WebRing's history, the idea of displaying a ring rating has been presented multiple times. Obviously, clearly visible ring ratings would help in processing pendings. In general, though, would you like to see ring ratings on hub pages? Let us know below as a comment.
Fri, Dec 12th - 1:28PM
Auction Central Celebrates 1500th Winning Bid
A hearty congratulations to WebRing member barhi for being the 1500th successful winning bidder on Auction Central.
Not only does barhi now have the distinction of managing the Computer Games ring, we have also upgraded them to our premium membership level - WebRing 2.0!
More than half of December remains. Who will be our 2000th winning bidder? Stay tuned...
Have you visited Auction Central today?
Thu, Dec 11th - 12:51PM
Sites Must Be On-Topic
So far in our discussion on proper pending submission processing, we have talked about the importance of keeping rings free of links pages and of all sites providing genuine, substantial, and relevant content.
Relevancy is the focus of today’s qualification that a site must meet in order to be approved for membership in a ring: Content must match the theme of the ring.
In WebRing terms, this is more often referred to as the site being “on-topic” for the ring.
What Is a Ring’s Theme?
The theme of a ring is its focus or niche. You can determine a ring’s theme by its title, description and category. All rings should have an easily determined theme, but not all will have a clearly defined set of criteria for membership. Be careful not to confuse theme with membership criteria.
Why Is Theme Important?
WebRing is all about themes. Think about it.: What is a ring but a community created to bring together similar sites? WebRing Communities stand in a unique position to better serve web searchers, in that rings should contain concise lists of sites that contain the information, services or products that someone is looking for. Theme determines which sites should be allowed in a ring.
What about Rings with Vague Themes?
Scorpios Rule. Redheads Online. Official Web Slackers. All these rings do have a clear theme. But, how can you determine if the sites that apply for membership in these rings match the theme? This is when you take a look at the ring description. In the case of all the aforementioned, they merely require that the site is created or run by a Scorpio, redhead, or slacker.
Are you seeing a problem with themes of this nature? They are too vague, or rather, determining whether a site belongs in the ring can take some pretty heavy investigation on the processor’s part. You just have to be creative in your approach to determining if the site does indeed match the ring’s theme. If nothing else, contact the applicant and ask them to explain why they feel that they are qualified to join the ring.
Rings with On-Topic Sites Result in Return Visits
Once an online visitor has landed in your ring, they will decide in no more than 3 clicks whether or not to stay or leave. If the first three sites they view on your ring don’t provide content that is on-topic for the ring, that visitor will leave and most likely never return. If the first three sites the visitor views have stellar content that meets their immediate needs, the visitor will stick around to check out the other sites. Plus, that satisfied visitor might even return to WebRing to check out the sites listed in other rings.
What to Do if Pending Site Doesn’t Meet the Ring Theme
This one has an easy solution and zero exceptions: Deny the application and invite the member to search for and apply to join other rings that would better match their site’s theme. If you want to be extra helpful, you can search for some good rings for the member to join and suggest those rings in your denial letter.
Have you processed any pendings today? Go to the WebRing homepage or any hub page to find a list of pending submissions.
Wed, Dec 10th - 1:58PM
Provide Reproducible Error Instructions, Earn Loads of AP
We occasionally have members submit support tickets for problems we can’t replicate. We do our best to troubleshoot the problem and supply a list of things that the member can do to try to fix the problem on their end. Sometimes, no matter what the member does, the problem persists.
Situations like this frustrate us just as much as the member who is having the issue. We want to fix the problem for them, but can’t replicate it.
Here’s an ongoing problem for a tiny section of the membership:
Next #> link on hub pages (sites list to be precise) doesn’t open the next page of sites in the list.
Have you encountered this problem? Only a handful has reported this issue, but none of our efforts have resulted in a resolution. Our biggest trouble in resolving the issue is that everything works on our end. We simply can’t fix problems that we can’t replicate.
A High-Paying Challenge
If you are one of the few members who just can’t seem to resolve the “Next #>” issue, we challenge you to create a clear set of instructions that will help us replicate, and thereby resolve, the problem.
To accept our challenge, you will need to follow these guidelines:
- Supply as much detail as possible, including the Web browser and version you were using, how you were using the system (signed in as “memberx” or not signed in) and the exact URL we can go to re-create the problem. The URL should be the one that should open the next page of sites when you click Next #> on the sites list of a ring.
- Include details about your cookie security settings, and whether or not the problem resolves after your cookies have been adjusted.
- Write the set of instructions in English and make it as easy to follow as possible.
- Submit the set of instructions as a support ticket.
As promised, we will award you 1000 Activity Points if our techs can successfully reproduce this issue using your set of instructions. We only ask that you don’t hound your 2.0 reps or the support ticket system about the status of your submission.
Even those who submit an unsuccessful set of instructions will earn a small amount of AP for their efforts. All AP awarding is at the discretion of the techs.
Tue, Dec 9th - 2:14PM
Content Is King
Today, we explain the first qualification a site must meet before their application to join a ring is approved: The URL must contain substantial, relevant content.
Content Meets Needs
When a visitor enters a WebRing Community, many do so with the intention of seeking information, products or services. When they enter a ring filled with link page after link page, odds are the visitor will go elsewhere and not return.
In deciding whether to approve or deny an application, ask yourself: “Is the content informative, helpful or valuable?” If the answer is no, then you should contact the applicant and ask them to move the NavBar to a more content-rich page of their site.
Content Entertains Visitors
Some sites, like personal blogs, have no other purpose than to provide an outlet for thoughts and creativity. Whether it’s political satire or just some photos of a family vacation, sites that focus on the social are huge right now. From the stay-at-home mom to the Anarchist artist, socially oriented sites gather followers and subscribers every day.
In deciding whether to approve or deny an application, ask yourself: “Will ring visitors find the content relevant and entertaining?” If no, check out the rest of the site’s content. Then, contact the applicant and ask them to move the NavBar to a page you specify. Remember to be objective in making this determination.
Search Engines Love Content
Last Saturday, we presented a firm example of sites that should never be approved for membership. In that post, we breezed by the prevalence of link farms, a page of a website that contains nothing more than a list of links to other sites. Link farms present the greatest drag on a ring’s search rankings on major search engines. Why? We said it before, but it bears repetition.
Google and the like’s algorithm of looking to links to indicate a site’s authority resulted in massive amounts of exploitation of their systems. To combat that, Google dialed back on indexing sites based on inbound links and keywords and turned their lens to the actual content. It has been rumored that Google now even penalizes sites for containing too many links.
In deciding whether to approve or deny an application, ask yourself: “Are there more links than content, and is that content substantial or a mere listing of keywords?” If the answer is no, then contact the applicant and ask them to move the NavBar to a different page of their site that you specify.
What to Do If Applicant Won’t Comply
If the applicant won’t move the NavBar off of their links page to a page with content, deny them membership. Here are some rare exceptions:
- The Links Page is the applicant’s only way of adding a NavBar. We recommend that processors tread lightly here and limit the amount of these types of sites they allow into the ring. It is best to only allow these types of sites if the overall site contains outstanding content.
- This is the applicant’s sole ring membership. Processors should still suggest that the applicant move the NavBar.
- The entire WebRing Community contains link pages. Seldom should a ring contain nothing but links pages, but occasionally you find them. Make sure you view the first 20 sites in the ring to ensure that it does indeed contain mostly link pages. Also, a few rings are actually meant to list link pages.
Have you processed any pendings today? Go to the WebRing homepage or any hub page to find a list of pending submissions.
Mon, Dec 8th - 2:33PM
Bid Tracking Page Revised
In response to bidder feedback, we have made revisions to the bid tracking page.
Clearly Stated Updates
You will now find information in the header as to the freshness of the data (Item A). This should help those wondering why certain changes aren't yet reflected in their list.
Next | Previous
For those who have bid on more than 30 rings, your bid list requires multiple tracking pages. Aside from the "Jump To" button, we have added the "Next" and "Previous" links to expedite your tracking process.
Sorting entries makes life so much easier for someone trying to keep track of auctions. One click of the up or down toggle arrows will sort according to the following sections of the bid tracking page:
- Sort by Title - Alphabetical (Item B)
- Sort by Close Date/Time - Chronological (Item C)
- Sort by Bid Status - Open to Closed, or vice-versa (Item D)
Removal of Auctions
Some bidders have requested that closed auctions get removed from their bid tracking page. Others would like to keep them on the list. We opted for the following compromise:
All closed auctions should disappear from your bid tracking page after 3 weeks.
What other revisions would you like to see made to simplify your bid tracking experience? Let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org. Have you visited Auction Central today?
Sat, Dec 6th - 4:22PM
Never Approve This Type of Pending Submission
Yesterday, we listed the qualifications a pending submission must meet before it is approved for ring membership. Those qualifications are broad sweeping, so we thought we would give you a concrete example of types of pending submissions that you should never, ever approve.
WebRing member ilovelinks has submitted this page/URL to the Sunflower Mania ring:
Do NOT approve this pending submission! Why not? Read on…
Reason #1 - It’s a “links” page.
If there is one rule we can push regarding processing pendings it is to never approve a links page. They utterly destroy the value of a ring. Here are the biggest problems with link pages.
Link lists do not add value.
In terms of information, link lists offer very little to someone searching for information, products and services. Try to remember the last time you searched for a list of links. With rare exceptions, you probably can’t; you searched for content.
Search engines don’t like link pages.
Not too long ago, Google, Yahoo, AOL Search, et al all loved links, as they were seen as creating and establishing “authority.” However, spammers quickly learned how to exploit the system. As a result, search engines now spurn the “link farm,” sites composed of nothing but links. Link pages decrease overall search-generated ring traffic.
Solution: Put the submission on hold. Contact the applicant and ask them to move the NavBar to a page/URL with actual content related to the ring’s theme. Remember to let them know they will need to change their registered URL.
Solution: This site has done something correct in providing “links” navigation on their overall site menu. Put the submission on hold. Contact the applicant and ask them to change their registered URL to a page you specify. If the applicant complies, they will receive a Pass_L. If you are processing a pending of this type as a community member, make sure to first familiarize yourself with the Ring Manager’s policy. Some don’t allow Pass_L sites.
Reason #2 – There are too many NavBars.
Put yourself in a visitor’s shoes. You’ve come in through the NavBar on another ring member’s site. You are then confronted with this page filled with NavBars. Are you willing to wade through the NavBars? Not likely.
Solution: Contact the applicant and ask them to use the single NavBar. Remember to explain that the NavBar will change to match the ring that a visitor is currently surfing.
Reason #3 – These NavBars are meant for multiple IDs.
A look at the page’s source code reveals that the NavBars on this page are built for two different WebRing IDs. This falls in the “too many NavBars” category. The problem with using NavBars for multiple IDs is that it adds confusion for the visitor. Plus, adding NavBars on the same page for different IDs only dilutes your page’s effectiveness. Some members have legitimate reasons for creating multiple IDs, but it should never be for the purpose of adding different NavBars to the same URL.
Solution: Contact the member and ask them to remove one of the NavBars. Remember to tell them that they need to delete the URL in the account associated with the NavBar they choose to remove.
Reason #4 – The page already belongs to too many rings.
Nothing destroys visitor satisfaction and a ring’s uniqueness as deeply as a URL that belongs to way too many rings. Worried about denying an application of this type being viewed as a discriminatory practice? Consider this: if they already belong to dozens of other rings, how is one more membership going to really help them?
Solution: Deny the application. In your “application denied” email, let them know why you denied them and invite them to reapply when they have a uniquely new URL to add to the ring.
The Only Exceptions
As with all rules/policies, there’s always exceptions. This type of pending should only be approved if this is the one-and-only ring the member has applied to join AND only if it meets the follow criteria:
- The submitted URL and the ring are a perfect topical match.
- The entire site is exceptionally easy to navigate.
- The applied-to ring isn’t that good anyway, filled with mostly link pages already.
Why would we permit this exception? The assumption is that this member is new to WebRing. We want to make sure that they have a satisfactory experience. Ultimately, we would recommend that you put the site on hold and ask them to move the NavBar to a better page of their site. A little coaching goes a long way in keeping a WebRing Community great!
Rings that are created specifically for link pages/farms should obviously not adhere to the guidelines provided in this post.
Fri, Dec 5th - 11:10PM
Content Matters Most When Processing Pendings
Auction Central continues to enliven the membership, and as a result there are a lot more members processing new submissions. Referred to as “pendings,” sites that apply for membership in a ring need to be checked out first.
When you process pending submissions, you should make sure that the site meets all of the following qualifications:
Over the course of the next couple weeks, we will explain why each of these qualifications is necessary.
Tomorrow, however, we are going to present an example of a persistent type of submission that you should never ever approve.
Thu, Dec 4th - 9:59PM
1000 Rings Auctioned - ledcast Wins Big!
A big congratulations to WebRing member ledcast! As the 1000th auction winner, the new Ring Manager of the Comic Book Ring wins the complete WebRing Gear Package.
- Webster the WebRing Bear
- WebRing Ball Cap
- WebRing T-Shirt
- WebRing Water Bottle
- WebRing Insulated Mug
- WebRing Mouse Pad
- WebRing Messenger Bag
- 5 WebRing Ballpoint Pens
- 2 months WebRing 2.0 Membership
We knew that we'd witness the 1000th win this month, but we didn't anticipate how quickly we'd hit this momentous number. More and more members are joining in the fun, so much so, that we predict that December will end with nearly 3000 rings being won.
Heck, we're so glad you like Auction Central that we are going to upgrade the 1500th and 2000th auction winners to our premium membership level (WebRing 2.0) for 2 months.
Have you visited Auction Central today?
Tue, Dec 2nd - 8:57AM
Return Missing Rings to "Rings You Manage"
We had a few members note that although they won a ring in an auction, the ring doesn't show up in their "Rings You Manage" list. Here's a quick and simple way to both ensure that ownership was transferred to you and to make the ring appear in your management list:
- Visit the ring you believe you won in an auction. Is your WebRing ID listed as manager and do you see a management menu? If yes, proceed. If no, you either lost the auction or there's a glitch at work. If the latter, submit a support ticket.
- Click the "Title Change" link in your management menu. The "Edit Ring Title" page will open.
- Click the "Apply Changes" button. Do not change the ring title, unless you so desire.
You should now find your newly won ring in your management list. This trick usually works anytime a ring goes missing. Even if you do nothing, the ring will show in your list before long. WebRing is fairly self-healing in that regard.
Did You Lose Activity Points?
If you lost a ring bid and the Activity Points you bid, please let us know. Submit a support ticket with as much detail about your situation as possible. Our techs will look into each case-by-case over the next few days.
Have a Tech Tip to share? Join The WebRing Newsletter Team!
Mon, Dec 1st - 1:20PM
December Is Universal Declaration of Human Rights Month
"Whereas recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world..."
So starts the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. You can read the entire Declaration here.
This year marks the 60th anniversary of the Declaration of Human Rights. Co-created by members of the United Nations, this monumental document is celebrated worldwide throughout December. With Human Rights violations still abundant, the need for further dissemination of information is greater than ever.
To learn how you can help, check out these top Human Rights organizations:
Write a Human Rights Blog Post
Are you passionate about Human Rights? This December, write a related article and post it on your WebRing blog. Not only will we feature your story, but we will also award you 150 Activity Points.