Webrings.. what a cool invention! Sites of common interest linked in a line like a string of outdoor lights. The first one I came across was, of all things, a Pink Floyd ring. Once I figured out what it was, I was more fascinated by the process than by the quality of the sites.
If you're looking for a specific bit of information, you're still better off with a search engine, but surfing a web ring can be a fascinating pot-luck type of experience.
Well, having decided that I didn't really mind if anyone read what I have to say here, I applied to join a couple of web rings, and became a member of Open Pages just yesterday. And what's the first thing anyone does when they move into a new community? Check out the neighbours, of course! In this case, specifically, checking out the Forward and Back arrows for the ring.
My neighbours are nothing if not dramatic.. on my left, we have "I Got the Malaria" by Katie, a high school student in Jacksonville, FL. On my right, "plaintive wail" by Stee (Stee???? whatever..) a writer/actor in Hollywood CA. I only read a few random entries of each, but I intend to return.
And Stee, well, Stee definitely knows his way around the keyboard. But where oh where is "'Night Mother, Part I"???????????
Another fun activity that arises out of having a website, is Tracker Tag. I recently read somewhere (online, I forget precisely where, though) that one way to publicize your site is to click on the "random" webring link, which leaves your url as the referring page on the resulting site's tracker (if they have one). I discovered trackers by accident, seeing a logo and not knowing what it was, clicking on it, and ending up with a report of that web page's statistics. (My tracker is that little thingy that looks like a colourful E at the bottom of the page.) I knew there were page counters, but this is way better.. you find out the visitor's provider, type of operating system, browser, time zone, how many pages they visited on your site, how long they spent there, and what page (if any) they followed the link from! It's almost like peering into your neighbour's house with a telescope, and watching them peering back at you.
For instance, as I write this, someone from AOL in the mountain time zone is at my site. I've had visitors from Germany and the Netherlands, and a speed-reader from disney.com who covered 11 pages in 2:04. I think it was Stee, checking out his neighbours...