Dear WebRing Members and Managers,
Chances are you are on this page bacause you have already read about the changes we are making to WebRing. I decided that it was time for me to connect with all of you at a more personal level; to share some history and to explain the "whys" of WebRing's changes.
Let me introduce myself: I'm Tim Killeen and I co-own WebRing with my wife Chris. I have been part of WebRing since its early days. I came on board in 1997 as a lead engineer just after Starseed purchased WebRing from Sage. Starseed was a small company based in Ashland, Oregon.
While working my day job teaching Computer Science at Southern Oregon University, I became a real believer in WebRing. A small group of us put together the WebRing that you all know and love. Many of you know what happened shortly thereafter.
In 1998, Geocities purchased Starseed, and then almost immediately, Yahoo! purchased Geocities (a couple of early Yahoo! founders understood and appreciated WebRing's potential. Sadly, they left Yahoo!). We were left to work with Yahoo! to see the dream continue.
Following the burst of the Internet bubble in 2000, Yahoo! lost interest in WebRing and we were given our walking papers. I believed (and still do) so strongly in WebRing and what it stands for that I decided to see if Yahoo! would let us buy it back from them and continue to nurture and grow it. Using our personal savings, Chris and I purchased the company from Yahoo! in 2001. Today, WebRing is still a family-owned business in Ashland, Oregon.
To keep the company going over the years, Chris continued her work as a preschool teacher and I took on sub-contracting jobs with other companies. Early on we asked for contributions so that we could pay a couple of valuable, loyal workers who, until then, had been working without pay. Your contributions were extremely helpful, but we were still barely able to keep the company afloat.
In 2003, we decided to experiment with running Google ads. It was successful enough that I was finally able to commit 100% of my time to WebRing and pay our employees. It was then that I also began focusing more on WebRing's potential to become a true Internet community where people could easily connect and share information. But as WebRing continued to grow, expenses continued to increase and we've never been able to get far enough ahead to realize that potential.
Early in 2006 we decided to take a risk; to make WebRing better - for all of us. To do that, we realized the cost to support some services that are currently free is preventing us from doing more. We spent long hours discussing the pros and cons of how to resolve this, and talked with many loyal friends and supporters of WebRing. In late September, we introduced our Premium Services Plan. Your recent feedback made us realize we missed a very important point in our discussions: we need to share our vision with you and ask for your help along the way so that we can achieve this vision together.
Let me share this vision: We want to create Internet communities that allow people to easily connect and share information. Today's WebRing works well for Internet savvy people, but it's cumbersome to add web sites and somewhat difficult to use for less savvy users. For visitors, we want to have Internet communities that yield more precise searches than mainstream search engines, and directly connect them with the people in the communities they are interested in. For members, we want to do a better job of driving highly targeted people to their web sites and elevating their sites even more in mainstream search rankings. We want everyone to be able to easily communicate with each other.
We want Community Managers to have more options to develop their environment specifically for their community. They should be able to communicate among themselves to share success stories and helpful tips. Community Managers should be rewarded for creating excellent topically focused communities because they provide more benefits to members and visitors alike. In essence, we want to create on-line communities that are so easy to use, they ultimately become as valuable to WebRing users as contacts in their "real world" communities. This vision will require a significant investment of time and money.
We are doing what we truly believe in: Creating Communities; Connecting People. WebRing is a way to do this; the way of today and the way of the future.
We hope that you find these changes to be straightforward, logical, and more importantly, appropriate. We are trying to create the most useful community on the Internet by allowing members, managers and visitors to have access to the services that are important to them so they are able to experience the greatest benefit possible from every WebRing visit.
We believe this revised program will allow us to fulfill what our vision has always been: Creating communities. Connecting people. In closing, I realize that we can't make this a reality without your continued commitment and support. As always, we listen and respond to your feedback. Please keep it coming: feedback @ webring dot com
April 28, 2009 personal letter from Tim.
November 21, 2006 Status report.