Ringlink 1.0 was released three years ago through this message to the old RingManager list at eGroups:
Let me take this opportunity to give you "The Birth of Ringlink" out
from my perspective. To some extent it also contains some rhapsodical
comments on WebRing, but I think it has to be that way. WebRing was
first, WebRing is the giant, and most things about webrings take place
in the shadow of WebRing. That's how it is.
The Quotation Ring
Some people would not consider me to be much of a ringmaster. I have
one webring, the only ring I ever had. This story needs to begin with
that ring, the Quotation Ring.
I started it about 5.5 years ago on the WebRing system. I had just
created a tiny personal site, that happened to include a quotes page,
and linking together quotations pages around the world appeared to be
a nice idea.
The Quotation Ring had already been started, but when I tried to join,
the ringmaster proved to have lost her interest. This was far before
"adoptions" was administrated by the WebRing staff, so I emailed the
ringmaster, got her blessing to start my own ring with the same name,
and also got her permission to use the graphics.
I customized the ring, including the list page, which was fully
customizable. (You were even allowed to suppress the few ads that
existed at that time.) Then I looked for quotations sites on the web,
and invited the webmasters to join. Think I sent somewhere between
75-100 such invitations. I started a discussion forum for the ring
members, and the ring grew rapidly.
There was an independent mailing list for WebRing users, and a few
Usenet groups, where ringmasters helped each other and exchanged
opinions and experiences.
The Quotation Ring grew to a few hundred member sites, and I was 'in
charge'. The members showed their appreciation. I was proud.
It was fun. :)
There was an IT boom out there. The WebRing ownership was changed a
couple of times, probably resulting in some people getting rich, while
others (Yahoo!) paid a fortune for WebRing, and after a while they
wanted to get some return from their investment.
Things began to change, and the changes were typically presented as
"exciting news". You were no longer allowed to suppress the ads.
Yahoo's strategy, to utilize the huge database with ringmasters and
members to drive as much traffic as possible to their pages, became
more and more evident. The "Hub" page, with a lot of links to various
Yahoo! owned resources, replaced the highly customizable list page.
Navigating a webring was not as pleasant as it used to be.
The support at WebRing was either unavailable, or unreceptive for
It was not as fun as before.
A new mailing list, "RingManager", was established by Dave Kay as the
new forum for the ring community. RingManager aimed to support the
original ideas with webrings. Now it was the beginning of the year 2000.
I had installed and modified a couple of simple CGI scripts, and I
started to play with the thought of creating a script as a
collaborative effort among a few dedicated ringmasters, that could
serve a webring from any site. Such a script would make it possible to
design my ring exactly as I wanted it to be, and I would get full control.
I knew I wasn't able to do it myself. For gods sake, I was not a
programmer! But when testing the idea at "RingManager", I got some
Okay, now there were already a few webring scripts. None of the
scripts I explored was good enough, at least in my opinion. But maybe
one of them could be made "open source", forming the starting-point of
a full-fledged webring script? Why re-invent the wheel? I tried to
convince the owner of RingWorld of that idea, but was turned down. "We
can't do that."
Mike Rudberg started the "Ringers" project. Maybe that was it?
However, Mike had decided to use the C programming language, and to me
that seemed not to be the right choice for the wide-spread script that
I would like to see.
So, how would you organize a few ringmasters, spread around the world,
to write a webring program from scratch? Especially when you knew very
little about programming yourself? I had absolutely no idea. The crazy
idea, to start by my own, was born. With a programming experience
basically limited to customizing a guestbook script and studying a
couple of webring scripts, I began.
Reading a book or two about Perl and CGI had been very appropriate,
but that was not what I did. Instead I surfed the web for guidance as
soon as I encountered a problem. Which I of course did for basically
every new step I took...
It was utmost irrational. But slowly, slowly I made progress. And it
was fun! Finally, after having dedicated the whole summer (fortunately
a rather rainy summer) to Ringlink, I was able to share it with the
world at July 31, 2000.
Created by Ringmasters for Ringmasters
It's worth noting that Ringlink was created out from an _idea_, i.e. the idea of giving the ringmaster of a webring as much control as possible. The Ringlink slogan, "created by ringmasters for ringmasters", was formulated several months before the first Ringlink
version was released.
Let me take this opportunity to remind you of how Ringlink is intended to be used:
- Install the Program on your own server or webhosting account, and run one or more of your own webrings.
- Install the Program on your own server or webhosting account, and provide a small-scale webring service, offering a few other ringmasters the opportunity to run their rings at your Ringlink installation.
It's easy to understand that the ringmaster can get full control by installing the program on his or her own webhosting account. But what about creating a webring at somebody else's Ringlink installation? Doesn't that make the ringmaster as dependent on the webring host, as had been the case if she or he had created the ring at WebRing or RingSurf?
My answer to that question is: No!
For a couple of reasons, running your webring on Ringlink - any Ringlink installation - gives you conclusive advantages compared to other alternatives:
- There are hundreds of Ringlink webring hosts to choose between.
- If the service of your current host would deteriorate, you can simply take a backup copy of your webring , send the backup file to some other Ringlink ring host, and ask him or her to upload it.
 This works safest with version 2.34 or higher.
Even if such a move of a webring means that the ringmembers need to change the ring code, I dare to say that the independence that Ringlink offers the ringmasters is unique.
My feeling is that Ringlink 3.0 makes up a complete whole, and I believe that it serves the intended fields of application, as described above, rather well.
At the same time I'd like to say that Ringlink is probably not suitable for a _really_ big webring hosting service. I believe that a program serving such a service needs significantly different technical solutions in some respects. Even if I have started to *play with the
thought* of making such changes, for instance add an option to make Ringlink interact with a SQL database, I'd like to emphasize that such possible changes would be beyond the scope of the idea with Ringlink.
So, to summarize:
- Ringlink was created out from an idea.
- The current Ringlink release serves that idea quite well.
The Developer of the Ringlink program,
and a founding member of the WOW website.
"created by ringmasters for ringmasters"
The Quotation Ring