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Mon, Mar 16th - 11:21AM

Many Outdated Rings Have Historical Value
The internet is all about the newest "thing." Whether related to news, gadgets, activism, lifestyles, television shows... surfers tend to look for the most up-to-date information.

Surf the thousands of WebRing directory long enough, though, and you're likely to discover some highly outdated rings. As is to be expected, many of those rings are abandoned and wind up on Auction Central.

If you're eyeing such a ring for the purpose of merging because you think you'd be helping purge the system of an outdated ring, think again.

Consider outdated rings as historical.

Just because the ring has no obvious immediate value, it doesn't mean someone won't find them a valuable source of information. Take these rings, for example:

President George W. Bush (2001-2008)
A pro-Dubya ring maintained by an RM who supported his reelection. If you look at the ring ID, you can see that the ring was initially created for Bush's 2004 reelection campaign. In even greater numbers are anti-Bush rings. Both types of rings will be of tremendous value to those exploring the last 8 years of US politics.

Apple Newton Web Ring
No, this isn't about Newton discovering the laws of gravity. Developed in the late 1980s, this Personal Digital Assistant was one of the first on the market. Believe it or not, a small handful of people still use their Newtons.

Xena WebRing
Okay, so perhaps Xena fans would refute that any Xena-related ring is outdated. She is still revered by her fans. However, the show ended nearly a decade ago. This is a prime example of a ring that seems like it might be outdated, but isn't.

Sure, most of us look at these rings and think, who could possibly care about these topics anymore? Remember the long tail will inevitably prevail and someone who really needs the information your ring members have to offer will appreciate your ring.

Not all outdated rings merit retention.

Of course, some outdated rings, no matter how niche they are, deserve to be deleted. Here are three top questions you should consider when assessing an outdated ring.

Are the sites in the ring...
  • on-topic? If none of the sites actually pertain to the topic of the ring, the ring is ineffective.
  • actively maintained? If it's apparent the webmaster updates the site somewhat regularly, they add value to the ring and signals that the topic might not be as outdated as you initially thought.
  • in good shape? If the site contains nothing but broken links, missing images and garbled text, it destroys your outdated ring's value. If most sites in the ring are similarly dysfunctional, then you should consider getting rid of the ring, but first...

Consider rebuilding the ring.

Even if an outdated ring is filled with broken sites and irrelevant sites, search the web to see if other appropriate sites exist. Most likely, you will find perfect sites to join your ring. Plus, odds are the sites you'll find will be a little bit less fancy and built by a webmaster who can easily add the NavBar to their site.

We always encourage you to build up and improve your small or outdated ring before resorting to a merge.

Comment (1)

Wed, Mar 11th - 5:29PM

HTML-NavBar Heavy Rings Shouldn't Be Merged
Way back near the turn of the 21st century, all NavBars were created from a lengthy and unchanging piece of HTML code. Any change in the ring order meant all members of the ring had to go in and edit the code.

Then we introduced some JavaScript into the mix, making NavBars lighter and more dynamic. With a few taps of the keyboard and clicks of the mouse, a Ring Manager could change the look of her NavBar on all her member's sites. Members didn't have to lift a finger.  

Both forms of NavBars are available to members, but we recommend the use of the JavaScript-built NavBar (commonly referred to as SSNB).

The Problem with Old HTML NavBars

NavBars built purely of HTML (commonly referred to as HTML NavBars) are still available to those members whose web hosts do not allow the use of JavaScript. However, most members don't typically install them on their sites much anymore. In other words, the HTML NavBar is pretty antiquated.

A fair share of sites still have the HTML NavBar installed. Unfortunately, only the individual site owners can alter the many HTML NavBars out there on the web. Even more unfortunate is that many of these webmasters no longer belong to WebRing. In fact, they probably don't even remember they have the site.

The Problem with Merging HTML-NavBar Heavy Rings

There's much more to the abandoned website discussion, but here's our point as it relates to merging rings:

When you merge a ring that has lots of sites with HTML NavBars into another ring, you orphan those NavBars, leaving them homeless.

All NavBars matter. They're all working to point to your ring, to point to WebRing. As a general rule, our 2.0 reps will not merge any ring with lots of HTML NavBars into another ring. They will, however, consider allowing you to merge into a ring rich with HTML NavBars.

Comment (16)

Mon, Mar 9th - 10:43AM

Why not Merge Niche Rings into General Rings?
WebRing Communities tapped into "the long tail" before the term was ever coined.

What Is "The Long Tail"?

Originally coined in Chris Anderson's now landmark book of the same name, the long tail is the term used to describe a strategy of businesses that sell a high amount of products but only a little at a time. Anderson contends that the internet's rise in popularity was mostly responsible for this phenomenon. Particularly important is the power of keywords.

Say you're looking for a book on parenting a child with autism. If you simply enter the word "parenting" into Google or Amazon, you're unlikely to find what you're looking for without clicking through page after page of search results. Type "parenting child autism" into the search engine, and you wind up with a much more satisfying and pertinent set of results.

The Value of Niche Rings

Rings that are highly niche tap into the power of the long tail. Not every ring is created with the intent of selling things, but they do exist to connect like-sites.

The more niche that a ring is, the more SEO power it has - both on and off of WebRing. This SEO power mostly comes from the ring's title, description and URL. Here are 3 examples of niche parenting rings:

Keep Your Rings Niche

If you go to Auction Central and bid on the Parents of Autistic Children ring for the purpose of merging it into the Parenting World ring, you're going to metaphorically cut off the original ring's long tail.

Always consider the three-click rule when deciding how to merge rings. If a visitor doesn't find what they're looking for within three clicks, they leave. This is why a niche ring is so much more effective than a general one, in most cases.

How Niche Is That Ring in Auction Central?

Although ring merging is not forbidden, we ask you to think about how much niche power there is in the ring.

Is the ring already general and identical to a ring you already manage? No problem. Is the ring specific? Resist the urge to bid on the ring... unless, of course, you intend to improve it instead of merging it.

Remember: If in doubt, consult your 2.0 rep before bidding on the ring. Want 2.0?

Comment (4)

Sat, Mar 7th - 11:38AM

New Rule Added to Ring Manager's Agreement
Poor Michael. Our top WebRing 2.0 Personal Representative has been absolutely swamped with requests to merge rings newly acquired via Auction Central. To help him avoid having to repeatedly deny his members, we added a new rule to the WebRing Community Managers Agreement.

The New Rule

Before anyone can bid on an adoptable ring via Auction Central, the bidder has to agree to the WebRing Community Managers Agreement. We tried to anticipate any negative ring management practices by creating six simple but pertinent Rules of Conduct.

At the time, we didn't expect that so many members would bid on rings for the sole purpose of merging them into their other rings. After trying to convey our discouragement of this practice, we decided it was high time to add another rule to the agreement:

7. Ring Managers who bid on adoptable WebRing Communities via Auction Central will do so with the intent of improving their newly won Communities, not for the purpose of merging or deleting them.

Note that the emphasis of the rule is on "improving" the ring.

Don't Delete Newly Won Rings!

It doesn't happen often, but occasionally, a member will bid on a ring just to delete it. This practice boggles us, as the member had to spend some time accruing enough Activity Points to buy the ring in the first place. Still, we felt the need to include the reference.

Are Ring Merges No Longer Allowed?

Not exactly. Some ring merges make total sense. A good example is merging one general horse ring into another general horse ring, especially if the majority of the members are found in both the rings.

Merge Requests Will Be Denied If...

There are three main types of merge requests that we will deny 100 percent of the time:

Join us next week as we explain in more detail our reasons for denying these types of ring merges. Hopefully this will help all you ambitious Ring Managers to better gauge which rings to bid on and which ones to leave for another member.

Comment (13)

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