educational

WebRing Update

Stephen Yagielowicz

Last week I wrote an article here about my recently renewed interest in the WebRing traffic sharing system. Since then I have received an email about their separation from Yahoo! and their growth plans for the future. If you could use some more high-quality targeted traffic, then you'll want to read this article:

For my own part, I've closed off The Smut Factory WebRing to "outside" sites and will use it as one of my main Traffic Looping mechanisms. This will allow me to retain the traffic flow between my "crypt" sites as much as possible. For those who have never used a WebRing, or abandoned its use in the past, check out this view of the future, straight from the source (edited for brevity):

Those of us at WebRing would like to take this opportunity to say hello and welcome you "back" to WebRing. We say "back" because it has been a long strange journey indeed since Starseed first took over operation of WebRing several years ago.

We won't take your time here to describe many of the things that have been, and will be, happening with WebRing. We encourage you to read the current status page, and check it periodically, at http://dir.webring.com/h/status20011203

Let us summarize where we are and where we hope WebRing can be in the near future.

WebRing is once again independent of all parent organizations and is returning to the style of organization it used to be: A community site largely devoted to assisting it's members, RingMasters, Site owners, and surfers, in enhancing *their* Internet experience. For many this is a hobby, for others part of their business. Whatever the reason you choose to participate in WebRing in particular we hope that we can continue to improve your experience.

In the near term our focus is, and has been, to facilitate the migration from Yahoo! to WebRing. This has *not* been an easy process. We knew it would not be due to restrictions required by Yahoo!, mainly imposed to protect the privacy and rights of individual users. In this we agree completely with Yahoo! Your privacy and rights are important to us as well. Nevertheless, we have been inspired by the response from you.

In coming months we will begin initiatives in two main areas:

We will be implementing features that users have been asking for for some time. Some are old features you want to see restored, while some are new ideas we've gathered from support emails and other forums.

We will also be introducing features that we have been thinking about for years now but have never been allowed to develop. We think these will greatly enhance you ability to promote your web site(s) and increase your traffic. If you are doing this as a hobby then you should be able to interact with more people interested in the same topics. If you are a commercial user then you shuld be able to expose your product or service to a larger, yet still focused, audience.

We would like to stress that WebRing is a community and we are doing our best to keep it that way. We feel that the best way to grow and support the community is to work with you, the community, to ensure that your needs and wishes are the topmost priority.

In order to meet this objective we are asking, humbly, for your assistance and participation. Basic system costs are not small: Buying and operating many servers and paying for bandwidth is a monthly expense. We're putting our effort and great deal of time into WebRing. A small contribution from each member can give us the resources we need in order to improve support and allow us to improve the service we provide to you. Here are some of the ways in which your contribution would be used:

- First, we'll give you back in promotion credit what you contribute to us: We will credit your account with any contributions and allow you to use that credit to promote your Ring, Site or whatever else you would like to promote throughout the WebRing site. Many of you run commercial sites and already pay to support/host your site. Directly promoting your site and/or business on WebRing's pages is one way to improve the traffic to your Site or Ring. Giving small sites, with limited budgets, an opportunity to advertise on a large site like WebRing is something most large sites won't consider, and can't accomodate.

We believe your promotions will have much greater appeal, at a lower cost, than the mass market banners, popups, popunders, etc. that are used by mainstream advertisers. We'd like to see those mostly eliminated from WebRing, used sparingly to help keep costs down.

- Develop tools to allow you to directly benefit from any advertising revenues your Ring's pages produce. We'll give you the ability to run promotions of your own, at a discounted rate to other advertisers, on your WebRing pages, directory and search pages, allowing you to keep any proceeds exceeding system costs. In the meantime, if you have a client who would like to sponsor or advertise on your Ring let us know. We'll help you out.

- Allow you to "un-advertise". Many people would rather not be bothered with ads at all, and have no need or wish to promote their Sites/Rings further. We'll allow you to block either ads on your Ring's Hub page, or on any page you visit while logged in to WebRing. You, in essence, can have an ad-free service without the hassle of operating your own.

- Promote WebRing on other parts of the Internet. By pooling resources we can promote WebRing elsewhere and increase traffic accordingly. We have already secured a sizeable promotional campaign which will begin shortly after the migration period ends.

- Continue enhancing the system. Obviously, a better system is in everyone's interest, and will keep WebRing growing and bringing more content and traffic to you and other users. All of the projects outlined above will be aided by support from the community; you.

- Pay for existing hardware and bandwidth, and add new as needed. We have already spent more that $60,000 to ensure that we have adequate hardware and bandwidth to cover the first year of operation. If WebRing grows as we believe it can, eventually we'll need more to continue.

- Continue to provide timely, personal support. We have strived to respond to each and every request for assistance since the migration period started. Every one of the people involved is unpaid and works at another job to support themselves. We think it would be in your best interest to have some paid help to ensure that you get the best, personal, care possible.

If you value WebRing as we do, and as many others who have already contributed do, and feel you can benefit from an even better system, then we ask for your assistance. If this does not appeal to you then you should ignore this request. We'll still offer the best service and support whether you contribute or not. That, to us, is what community means. The amount you contribute is up to you, think of it terms of a magazine subscription perhaps.

Best wishes,

The WebRing Team

Final Thoughts
I've shared this with you not only because I feel that using the WebRing system is a great way to increase high-quality targeted traffic to your site, or as in my application, as a great way to loop and retain traffic within a family of sites; but to illustrate an "innovative" (yet certainly not unique) way of generating income: through a "PBS" style soft-sell sponsorship plea.

Lest you think that this approach won't work with webmasters, or adult site surfers, I will point out that I've noticed "Warphead" over at http://www.adultcore.com doing the same thing for sometime now, soliciting cash contributions for his "Buy Warphead a House" fund. Since he runs a TGP, he thought this approach would work; and apparently, he has received an impressive number of contributions — both through PayPal as well as from checks in the mail. Something to think about: ~ Stephen

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