So, You Want A Web Ring, Huh?

By Joe Burns

Use these to jump around or read it all...
[Web Rings?]
[Method One: Linear Rings]
[Method Two: Generated Rings]
[Method Three: Let Someone Else Handle It]

     Like most really good ideas, Web rings are simple yet effective. Anyone can set one up on any topic and it doesn't take rocket science brain power to get it up and running. "Me do Web ring good," as I like to say.

Web Rings?

     Yup. Easy concept. Let's say you have a Web page discussing your overt love for collecting foam rubber from couches and sofas produced in the mid- 1970s. Let's also say, and this is a long shot, that there are 10 other people out there that have a similar page. One guy chooses foam rubber from Lazy-Boys. Another guy collects foam rubber from chairs sat on by famous Americans. Whatever.
     Now you, the main foam rubber guy, decide it would be nice if others who are foam rubber-inclined could just jump from one foam rubber page to another. So, you set about creating a Web ring.

Method One: Linear Rings

     A Web ring is just what it's called. It's a series of pages, all with a common theme, that are linked to one another.
     Using the example above again, let's say there are 10 pages in all. One person sets him- or herself up as the "Ring Master" and takes charge. With a little bit of planning, all you really need is a section of the page denoting that the current page is part of a ring. Then provide a link to the page before in the ring, and the page that follows that page in the ring. Then a user can move in a linear fashion through the ring. Just make sure the last page in the series then links back to the first page. Done. Web ring.

     The only hard part about all of this is when a new page joins the ring. It's up to the Ring Master whether or not they should be added at the end or somewhere in the middle, nearer a page it matches. Either way, the links will have to be kept up-to-date and those in the ring will have to be willing to make updates when you ask.

Method Two: Generated Rings

     This is a better way of setting up, and mastering, a ring. What you do is have one central location for the ring and those who want to attach simply put a line of code into their page. A JavaScript, or some other type of interface, is contacted every time someone clicks to go to the next page in the ring.
     I'm seeing rings now that have options for Previous Page, Next page, and Random. I guess that's good, but isn't going for a random page sort of killing the whole concept of moving through a ring? Eh, it's just my opinion. Take it for what it's worth.

     With a little thinking, you can use myriad random and linear JavaScripts to set this all up. I found a couple that would do the trick. This one by Qirien Dhaela is set up to do just that -- be a Web ring. It places three buttons on your page, allowing you to choose next, previous, and random. It's slick and can be run on all Web ring pages, or as an external JavaScript so members only have to place a simple SCRIPT code on their page.

Method Three: Let Someone Else Handle It

     If you haven't been already, you should head to http://www.webring.com if you have any interest in joining or creating a ring.
     The site provides over 22,000 different rings for you to join. And, if you can actually think of a topic that isn't already covered, they'll let you become your own Ring Master. Gosh!
     Now, here's the good part: It's free! At least it was at the time I wrote this tutorial (2/13/98).

     In order to go through the process, I signed this page up with a Web ring. I still write the bulk of my stuff in NotePad, so I attached this page to the "Made with NotePad" ring. Here's what happened:

  • I went to Webring.com and looked at the full list of available rings, did a search, and ended up wanting to join the "Made With Notepad" ring.
  • The Notepad ring is kept at http://www.pvideos.demon.co.uk/notepad/. I got to the page by clicking on links that appeared when I saw the full list of all the sites that are part of the ring.
  • I went, clicked on the link saying I wanted to join the ring, and got my general issue stuff.
  • I was asked to take a banner to place on the page (you'll see it below) and a few lines of code to put on my Web page. I had to alter the code slightly so that the image was being called for correctly, but that was very minor. I also had to put in my e-mail address.
  • Next, I filled out a short form telling the address of my page, its title, and a few other items, like a description and keywords.
  • You are also asked for a password. Write it down -- don't forget it.
  • Then click to submit all this to Webring.com.
  • If you do not get any errors, you're registered.
  • On this particular Notepad Web ring, I then had to e-mail the owner and tell him that I had posted the items. He then took a look at the page and had the final yes or no as to whether it would become part of the ring. I guess he chose "yes."

     I can't say that each and every one of the ring-joining experiences will be just like this, but I'll bet they're all pretty close. By the way, here's the banner I received. Feel free to waltz around the Notepad ring yourself!

This Notepad Ring site is owned by Joe Burns.
Click for the [ Next Page | Skip It | Next 5 ]
Want to join the ring? Click here for info.

     And that's that. As you can see, it goes from super simple to pretty involved, depending on whether you want to be a member or actually run your own Web ring. But, like I said above, the best ideas are those that are the simplest.




[Web Rings?]
[Method One: Linear Rings]
[Method Two: Generated Rings]
[Method Three: Let Someone Else Handle It]

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