Is webring technology stuck in 1998?
July 12, 2009 6:11 PM   Subscribe

I'm thinking of starting a webring, but the concept feels very 1998. Is there such a thing as Webring 2.0?

I'm preparing to launch a new website that will have a distinct community/network component. Rather than include a forum (too much moderation, too much work) I'm considering having a reader webring.

That said, the whole concept of a webring feels outdated, and the tools I've looked at (ringsurf, simplering, PHP-Ring, etc) feel like they haven't really changed much in the last seven or eight years. They all seem to feature clunky interfaces and limited navigation (previous / next / view / join ).

Is there some web 2.0 evolution of the webring that I just don't know about? I'd love a hosted solution, but am exploring PHP options as well.
posted by arielmeadow to Computers & Internet (14 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: If it was me, I'd think "stream" rather than "ring". Collate your readers' RSS feeds into a single feed, which can then be consumed by an RSS reader, sidebar'd in a web page, etc.
posted by Leon at 6:20 PM on July 12, 2009

I know some kids who are putting together a site that may address your needs. I had to press pretty hard to get them to explain the whats and whyfors, and I'm still not entirely sure what the 5-word purpose of the site is, but it may very well be what you're looking for. It's still pre-beta and they're working on funding, but I'm pretty sure you can go over and have a poke around and maybe even sign up still. Here's the Trogger about page.
posted by carsonb at 6:33 PM on July 12, 2009 [1 favorite]

A blogroll sounds similar.
posted by valadil at 6:52 PM on July 12, 2009

Valadil has it. Blogroll.
posted by rokusan at 6:53 PM on July 12, 2009

Best answer: Aggregate feeds from the users into a 'planet' (eg. PlanetAndroid).
posted by i_am_a_Jedi at 7:10 PM on July 12, 2009

Best answer: Ubuntu uses a planet, and it seems to have taken off. It offers both RSS and HTML aggregation, so the interface is fairly up-to-you.

The question is, why do you want a webring? To bring authors and readers into a community? To increase pagerank ot to exchange traffic? I mean, they're original value was that yahoo search sucked.
posted by pwnguin at 7:25 PM on July 12, 2009

Webrings were a lot more relevant in the past when small single-subject websites were commonplace (geocities, etc)... These days most people who would have in the past done these little indie sites are blogging instead, so as a couple people said, a blogroll or aggregate blog is more relevant.
posted by glider at 7:28 PM on July 12, 2009

Best answer: Aggregate feeds into a planet, then use a widget to display latest headlines from all participating blogs as a sidebar on all participating blogs.
posted by Good Brain at 9:20 PM on July 12, 2009

Ning is designed to be a social-network lite (or maybe a souped-up Yahoo! Clubs, remember them?). It seems to be the go-to option for focused groups that need more structure than a mailing list. The go-to choice if you want an audience and almost no structure, of course, is Facebook.

Squidoo seems to still be around. There were a ton of sites in this general space about 3-4 years ago. Hm, Hubpages, Wetpaint, Weebly .... some tending more toward wikis, other more toward blogs, others more like About or Open Directory (and arguably, webrings).
posted by dhartung at 9:29 PM on July 12, 2009

Whoops, Ning.

But basically, you should keep in mind that the whole concept of webrings is probably obsolete. The personal website on a weird-ass topic has given way to resources like Wikipedia. Today, in 2009, the focus isn't even on static content -- it's on feeds. Figure out how to Facebook and Twitter your group and you'll probably actually be more successful than anything you could accomplish with a webring-like function.
posted by dhartung at 9:32 PM on July 12, 2009

Response by poster: dhartung, my existing site uses Ning, Facebook, and Twitter all for community building.

For this offshoot site, I quickly decided that the Ning component wasn't feasible -- I found moderating a Ning community 10 times harder than moderating a forum, thanks to the overlap of Ning tools and scale limitations for a community as active as mine.

The goal for me is to allow community members to contribute content without my actually having to host, moderate, or be responsible for it.

Aggregating RSS feeds would be perfect ... with the exception of likely having to manually be adding the feeds. Knowing my readership, that could easily be hundreds, and I'm not sure I want to spend my time manually adding RSS feeds to a reader. I guess I need to think of a way to allow members to submit their RSS feeds for approval as opposed to me managing additions.

Regardless, this gives me a great direction to pursue -- aggregation makes WAY more sense than a ring. THANK YOU, ALL!
posted by arielmeadow at 9:54 PM on July 12, 2009

If you already give your members the option to add homepage URLs as part of their member profile, pull each one and parse it for

<link rel="alternate" type="application/rss+xml" title="..." href="..." />

or somesuch. That'll give you a starting population, at least.
posted by Leon at 12:31 AM on July 13, 2009

We use a Planet at our community too, our programmer had to re-code it though because it hogs a lot of resources. Also note that by implementing such a planet on your domain, you are basically automatically copying other peoples content to your site, so be sure to ask first before adding a feed. Some might object to that.

Btw, when clicking on the "comments" to your posts this error message appears:
Not Found

The requested URL /2009/07/wedding-trivia-centerpieces was not found on this server.

Additionally, a 404 Not Found error was encountered while trying to use an ErrorDocument to handle the request.
Mod_rewrite enabled in your htaccess?
posted by kolophon at 5:48 AM on July 13, 2009

Response by poster: Kolophon, thanks for the heads-up. I'm moving from a shared server to a private hosting today, so things are going to be broken all over the site as the htaccess catches up.
posted by arielmeadow at 7:15 AM on July 13, 2009

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