Pet peeves and possible bomb shells of managing a web ring, from a former Ringmaster
I had a rather distressing task once. I created a ring that was very narrow of focus, but made a general invite to come join it, as most ring masters do, spreading the net far and wide among all your known associations, hoping to get the ones you want for the new ring. It's either than or spend a week or two, going over every association and other ring members you may have, trying to find ones which suit and inviting just them. Which most of us don't have time for.
But what happened this time, is what was distressing, I had a great many friends come to join, for which I bless them, many however, did not fit the rings intent and this forced me into a position to tell them no. Which was very hard. They all understood, but some distress on both sides... bless their hearts for wanting to join and understanding when I said no.
Part of that was my fault, with
the new ring I was not as clear as I might have been to the rings intent,
and promptly fixed that, for which I thank them for pointing it out to me, :) and begged their forgiveness for the misunderstanding. It was not a day old at that point and still in the larval stage, they helped me improve it greatly,. At this time I was still pretty new at the game, I've learned since then :)
But my point on web ring protocol is
Most any ring master who has more than one ring will send a general mass mailing to all current ring members when they have a new ring others may want to join . And anywhere else they can find to put it.
It does not mean they think the sites that receive the invite, will suit, it means they hope some of them who see it might, they are just letting it be known it's out there in the most time efficient way possible.
Web ring is set up to where to do an " invitation " you can do one of two things, either send one letter to everybody at once, or send the same letter, one email at a time. Which, if you have 100-200 members ( or more...) between all your rings, could get real old, fast. So no one does this, what they do instead is send out a general invite to all members at once, trusting that those for whom the new ring fits, will come join. Everybody else, it is expected, will just delete the mail, at least that's the plan. I get a dozen such invites in an average week. Many of which, don't apply to me and I just delete the email or ignore the notice, as intended.
This can lead to misunderstanding though, as I have discovered , as many seem to feel that a general invite means that you will accept their site when they get there, weather if fits or not. Assuming that the invite itself means you checked out " their " site and extended the invite to come see, to them personally and therefore intend to sign their site on as a given, as after all, you invited them didn't you ?
And can get hostile, offended or hurt feelings, when you don't ,because their site does not fit the ring.
But such a mass mailing does not mean this, as any ring master knows, what it means is you hope that some of them might suit and is not a personal invitation in the real sense of the word ... in most cases ...It is in fact, an invitation to come look and see if your site fits the rings need. Which is perhaps what the invite letter should say, as it's wording, as it comes off of web ring on auto can easily be misunderstood.
Which brings up my next point ...
If you are the recipient of such a mass
mailing , go to the join page for the ring and
Read the description of the ring before you join it no matter how you came to learn of it. I have blown this one myself, so not pointing fingers at anybody :) as I sit down and make application to 50 or more rings at a clip.. so I know I've done this one and been denied for it .... Most ring masters, make it pretty clear what they want for the ring. If the ring is for, Owners of poodles and you don't own a poodle, then the ring is not for you , even if you got a invitation mailing about it. So don't force the ring master to have to deny you because you applied to a ring, your site is not suited for. It makes it very hard on them and you, as no one likes to be rejected no matter what the reason. Even if the reason is a misunderstanding.
For ring masters, do make sure that the description is clear and well stated, if not, then it's partly your fault if they don't understand and you have to embarrass both of you by denying them. You can't cover everything, it makes no sense to try, there will be some who don't see, no matter what you say, but try.
I am so gun shy on this now I'm afraid
to make a general invitation anymore for fear of just this,
as most of them I had to tell no recently, were my friends. :(
Revamping the invite:
Used to preface my invites with, "this is a general mailing to come see a new ring" and just skip the word invitation completely...and state if your site suits please apply, if it does not please ignore this mailing. But even that is tricky and not enough, as some people apparently, ( not my friends :) bless their hearts ) get offended thinking that you should limit even that kind of " invite " to those it suits. Come on people !!! Is anyone really supposed to wade through a 100-200-300 or more sites to pick out the, however many that " might " suit, and let only them know ? Let's be reasonable.
Dependent on how many rings you have, you could be talking days here. A great many we send out as possibles to join are bound not to suit ALL,or in some cases, even any , we send them to. And while we may be the ring master, we know your site name, some of what's on it and what name you use, which may or may not be, your real name, so we don't really know a heck of a lot about you to base a judgment on if your site would suit a new ring or not, in advance... as we would have to look at them all, in detail ! So we don't try and make that call, unless you apply, then judge the details of it, at that time. It's the only sensible way to do it.
Case in point :
I have a friend with over 60 rings he manages, who recently sent out a mass mailing to all his ring members, for a new women's ring he adopted, and a gent mailed back rather offended, that he had been included in the general mailing. My friend told me, he just had to ask this man
" How am I supposed to know what gender all my rings members are. ? Guess ? "
Again, it's be reasonable, if the ring
doesn't fit you, don't apply to it, but don't be offended when you get
a general mail from a ring master whose rings your on, about a new ring
they now have, that your site may not be suited for, it's nothing
against you, if your site does not suit, or even as in the above case,
your the wrong gender for it, just ignore it and go on.
Web rings whole intent is to gather sites of like purpose or theme together, so if you want to learn or see poodle dogs, you go surf the ring of poodles and see site after site of said dog. Rather than the usual way which is to try and hunt them all down yourself.. this is web rings whole purpose for being, to become a mini engine to sites of the rings stated purpose.
I had many such, some of my rings were for artists, some for clergy, some for reiki masters and some for general pagans, some just for southern Californians, some for professionals, not everybody will suit every ring I had, it's a given. Some ring masters however, play favorites and let their friends in a new ring even if they don't fit the ring at all, and this ruins it's whole stated intent to my way of thinking.
That or they find themselves in the position of having to tell a friend NO because the friend applied and would rather mess up the rings intent than do that....
It's not easy
to risk telling, an otherwise welcome friend, no.. not this ring.
A word , try not to put a friend in this position if you can at all help it, it's painful to tell you no.
Because if your site does not fit, and the ring allows it, for fear of offending you, the ring can become just a general mish mash of sites with no real topic , which a body could get picking sites at random. Web ring is good at bringing in targeted traffic to a site where the viewer seeks just what you have. If the ring is on topic.
They are sometimes loosely related sites,
but related none the less or should be. But if sites in the ring don't
fit the category at all, you just confused the heck out of the surfer for
one and lost them for another, as once they hit too many off topic sites,
they will leave and you have lost what you set the ring up for. Which was
to provide a place to surf for a given purpose or theme, so everybody gets
Another way this can happen is to set web ring on automatic and never check it, web ring is perfectly able to run itself almost in that if you set it up so it can accept an application, check if they have the nav bar, and list them if they do and or suspend them if they don't .
Nifty, however one mega problem here, doing it this way without checking the site that's applying is how you wind up with off topic sites on the ring, from people who don't read the rings intent or worse .... don't care. Nothing to my mind shows more lack of care and concern from a ring master than to be surfing along some ring of poodles and right in the middle of it is some site on bass fishing... or worse doing kinky things with bass or whatever. Which would be fine, on doing kinky things with bass ring, but is outa line on the poodle ring. You see where I'm going here. :)
This is the ring masters fault,
as they allowed that site to be there, but it's hard sometimes to get them
off once they are there, as people can get downright rude when told their
site is off topic. And all you have to have happen is a couple of experiences
with this , to get hand shy about bringing it up . It does not matter that
you are polite and ask them that perhaps they would be better served elsewhere.
People can get downright hostile.
It's a hard call sometimes, especially if a ring master adopts a ring and the persons site have been there a long time. Especially if the site is iffy.. it fits but it doesn't.... Ya gotta make judgment calls on what someone else thought was ok, but you have second thoughts about. But if you are ring master, the ring should flow as you want it to flow and if that means clearing out off topic sites, then clear em out. Politely as possible and give them plenty of warning if you can. Too many don't keep up their emails so don't even know you took over. So this can be hard, but try. By whatever means it takes, get the ring back on topic or there is no point to having it ,as it fails in what it was made for. But it can be very hard.
Worst Case :
I had this happen on a ring I adopted,
it was a mess, gave them as much warning as possible in every way possible
, then cleared out the mess of broken sites and off topic stuff... and
found in the process I had deleted the former ring master... A month
later they finally noticed this and came after me teeth barred. Nasty notes
in my email, nasty letters in my guest book, childish juvenile nonsense.
They wanted to know how I had managed to " steal" their ring, which is
ludicrous. One it's not possible, two why would I want to, when I can make
my own ring for free. When I asked web ring, how is it possible the ring
master did not know the ring was up for adoption ? I learned..
Web ring put it up for adoption not them, they had ignored it so much that Web ring itself put it up which they will .. If you have not logged on in a given time to administer your ring, they will take it from you and put it up for another, with the assumption you don't plan on caring for it. Nor do they tell you. Web ring upheld my right to the ring. Just so you know if the gent had been polite, I would have given it back to them. But they were childish and rude, so I didn't. It was not my fault that Web ring took it from them, it was their own for neglecting it. Hence forth, I preface all new adoption letters with, Hello I am new the ring master, if you are the former ring master and this is not your wish, speak now. What is not said but implied, is speak now or forever after hold your peace. Sounds like a marriage vow. :) and in some ways.. it is
Holding a web ring is like holding any other group, it brings with it certain responsibilities along with the rights and sometimes hard choices. If you are Ring Master you must accept these responsibilities or hand the ring off to another who will. And in the case of grand neglect , Web ring will do it for you.
As a ring master it's your job to make the intent of a ring clear, have sites on it that fit the theme you choose, and try and make sure it all runs smoothly as possible by keeping tabs on your membership and it's flow. As a possible ring member it's your job to make sure your site fits, the rings you apply for, ( if in doubt, ask..) keep the nav bar up and working and communicate with the ring master on any concerns.
And that way we all can have fun surfing away as intended.
Starwind former Ring Master