The Webring Specifications
A webring shall be deemed to have no beginning nor end member website. Accordingly, if a method is provided to list the member websites of a webring, the listing shall not commence at a fixed 'first' website, but at the website most recently visited, or in the case where no website has been recently visited, at a random point in the webring.
A webring navigation panel (navpanel) shall favour all member websites equally and without preference. To this end, the webring system shall provide a method to re-order, or randomly shuffle the websites in the webring from time to time.
The webring navpanel shall include links to facilitate travelling the websites of a webring sequentially, in one or both directions, from the point of commencement in the webring. If the point of commencement is outside the webring, then webring navigation shall commence from a random point within the webring.
A method shall be provided to circumnavigate any break in the webring, permitting navigation to continue sequentially through the webring beyond the break.
A webring system shall provide the ringmaster with the tools needed to efficiently manage his or her webring, notably a means to validate the integrity of the webring, by insuring that all member navpanels are displayed on the proper web page, and that they are using the correct code for that website.
When designing the Default Navpanel for your webring system, it is important to use the style attribute for all Links, and to specify the background color within all <TABLE>, and <TD> tags!!
Link example: <a target="_top" style="color:#cc00cc; text-decoration: none" href="http://YOUR_DOMAIN/YOUR_SYSTEM/prev[siteid]">Previous</a>
<TD> example: <td style="background-color: #ff9933; width: 100%"></td>
If you do not do so, the colors your member ringmasters use for their navpanel's links and background colors will be overwitten/replaced by all their ring's member websites that use style sheets (style sheets that specify other colors for link and background colors)!!
Design and Development
Currently most webring systems are developed and designed using Perl, and making use of a CGI-BIN (Flat Database with DBM (Database Management)). A complete webring system that would be developed and designed using PHP or Perl and MySQL (a relational database) is much anticipated!
HyperText Markup Language (HTML) has transformed the Internet into a dense world wide web of information, opinion and expression. The content of the internet is formed into a dense netted or webbed association of connected facts and ideas mirroring the cognitive human brain's mass of linked synapses.
Manifesting itself in countless ways in the physical universe around us, the circle is one of the most elegant forms in existence. It is natural that this elementary structure would play a significant role in the cultivation of the Web.
As we know it today, a webring is a collection of web pages arranged to form a circle by webring management software situated at a hub site. A uniform block of hypertext links (navpanel) appears on each member page in the webring. It is through this interface that the hub connects the pages together to trace a circular path. Beginning at any page in the webring, a visitor can proceed through these navpanels to visit every member page in the webring, eventually returning to the page from which he or she started.
The first webring to meet this specification was created by Sage Weil in 1995. The concept itself was novel enough to sustain growth, where the sole criteria for membership in the webring was the willingness to accommodate the navpanel on the member page. Before long it became clear that webring enthusiasts had more specific ideas, and wanted to create webrings with unique purposes of their own. Sage revised his software to allow the creation and administration of a large number of webrings and so the first webring system was born.
This is where the excitement explodes. Just as peoples disperse and congregate organically in communities along the lines of concentrations of interests and purposes, so did webring systems and webrings. They multiplied rapidly, as a growing community of motivated system managers and ringmasters began to express the full range of human interests in unrestricted ways. Bringing personal judgement to bear, system managers and ringmasters began to forge the content of the web into dynamic, organic form, each webring system or webring being imbued with it's own unique character and design.
Why would a person consider setting up a webring, and what would be it's purpose? Say for example you had a website on Aardvarks.
Setting up a webring would allow you the ringmaster to network with other webmasters who had a website on Aardvarks.
The webring if well managed would be a great resource on Aardvarks for persons not having a website, but who were seeking information on or about Aardvarks.
The webring once established could then become the cornerstone of a online community of persons having an interest in Aardvarks.
What binds a webring together is the navigation panel (navpanel). A smaller version of the navpanel is often referred to as the navigation bar (navbar). It only takes one broken or missing navpanel to break the webring, so most if not all webring systems have a feature that allows a ringmaster to validate the integrity of each member website in his or her webring.
The area of greatest controversy concerning webrings is where these navpanels are placed on a webring member's website, and how they are displayed.
Most webring systems offer ringmasters various choices:
The ability of a ringmaster to allow webring members to list 1 or 2 URL addresses (one for the home page of the website, and one for the web page where the navpanel is displayed), or list only 1 URL address, but allow the navpanel to be placed on any page within that website (what the WebRing.com webring system refers to as a Pass_L).
Most webring purists consider listing more than 1 URL address and/or allowing a navpanel to be placed anywhere within a website as an abomination, seeing that it often makes navigating a webring far more difficult, and often renders the webring into nothing more than a listing of links, with the 'hub' or 'list' page often being the only page used to surf that webring, as a result of the difficulty in finding the 'Next' or 'Previous' links when using the navpanel to surf the webring.
The most preferred "classic" way of displaying a navpanel is by obtaining a section of HTML code, which is sent to the new member via e-mail (although some e-mail clients such as AOL destroy the code), or obtained directly from a webring system's site administration page (a link to the 'Get Code' page often being displayed on the page a new member arrives at once they have submitted their website's information).
The webring purists again would argue that only 1 webring navpanel (others have suggested 3) should be displayed on a webpage, and if possible that page should be that website's home page. As they see it, arriving at a webpage containing nothing but webrings breaks the webring being surfed, seeing that the webring surfer has to find that website's 'Home' page, then return to the 'webring' page, and then find the navpanel for the webring that they were surfing, when they first arrived at that website. Often a webring surfer will see another webring that interests him or her, and abandon the webring previously being surfed, or because of the lengthy download times involved for these so called 'webring' pages, they just give up in total disgust! :-( This has resulted in a ever growing number of ringmasters who have decided to NOT approve new websites seeking to join their webring, if these new members place the navpanel for that webring on a webpage containing more than 2 other navpanels (Example Ringmaster's TOS for WebRing webrings - Example Ringmaster's TOS for Ringlink webrings)!
Webring systems, and webrings like anything else online can be abused and rendered into nothing more than SPAM or at best a hub of Links, especially if used by System Managers / Ringmasters / RingMembers who only seek to attract more visitors to their Webring System / Webring / Website, and who have little or no understanding of the circular concept of a webring, seeing that they want all webring traffic to pass through the 'Hub' or 'List' page, and not via that webring's navpanel as displayed on the various member websites (Examples of this would be the large commercial webring systems like WebRing and RingSurf, who allegedly need Adverti$ement Revenue to cover their massive operating expenditures).
Thankfully it is fairly easy to differentiate between a 'SPAM Webring / Webring System' and a 'Genuine Webring / Webring System'.
A 'Genuine Webring' being one that has allot of content specifically related to the theme of that webring, is well managed (new member websites being carefully evaluated before being 'Activated'), has a logo and navpanel logo, provides prompt help when requested, and offers a well designed navpanel/s for it's members to use on their website. :-) A 'Genuine Webring System' is often small in size, has no adds, has a informative and well designed website, provides reliable support for it's member Ringmasters, has it's own domain name, and is well managed.
A 'Spam Webring' on the other hand being one that often has little or no content related to the theme of the webring, is not managed and / or is put on auto-pilot, has no logo, uses the default navpanel for that webring system, and ignores all requests for help from his or her webring's members! :-( A 'Spam Webring System' is one that overuses banner adds / pop-ups / pop-unders (Allegedly to cover it's costs), has many 1 or 0 member webrings, is poorly managed, has an uninspired and insipid website, provides little or no support to it's member Ringmasters, and has a preoccupation with size (Number of member webrings, and 'Click-Thrus') over quality.
In conclusion it should also be noted that most if not all Webring Systems have a cadre of extremely loyal members! Members who often have a zero tolerance level for any negative commentary directed no matter how circumspectly at THEIR Webring System! This has over the years resulted in many spectacular online webring wars or feuds, with the most spectacular being the take over of the WebRing.org webring system by the 'Yahoo!' empire several years ago (Yahoo! then dumped Y!WebRing, which has now been reborn as WebRing.com).
If you are new to the world of webrings, then we can guarantee that as either a Webring System Manager or Ringmaster you are going to have allot of fun, will make allot of great new friends, and overall will have a very rewarding experience, despite a few predictable technical hiccups along the way (There being no such thing as the perfect webring system or webring).
Welcome to the world of webrings, and the webring community!! :-)
If you are looking to setting up webring system of your own in anyone of several different languages, then the WOW Team recommends that you use the free Ringlink Webring Program.
If you are looking to setting up a new webring, or moving your old webring from another webring system, then the WOW Team recommends that you host your webring with any one of some 100 or so webring Systems powered by the Ringlink Webring Program.
We make these recommendations because the Ringlink program remains faithful to the original webring concept, is free, can be managed in any language, and most importantly of all most webring systems powered by the Ringlink program are advertisement free! :-)
However, if you are a Ringmaster in a hurry who needs to setup a quick webring that mostly manages itself, and who would not mind a few pop-ups and other forms of advertisement, then the WOW Team recommends that you use the WebRing.com webring system.
It should be noted that the above are my opinions, and if you are in dispute with any or all of them, then please post your opinions/concerns/suggestions to the WOW mailing list!