As of September 5, 2000, Yahoo! fully integrated WebRing into their system. Many people participating in WebRing thus far are fleeing like rats on a sinking ship, and many others are wondering why. I personally have either moved my rings to other ring systems, relinquished control of them to other ring members (in a couple of cases I did both), or outright deleted the ring if it was no longer useful. General grievances with Y! aside (which many people have as a result of the Y! takeover of GeoCities, but that is another matter), there are several reasons for no longer wishing to maintain a ring on the Y! system.

First, the process of associating your Y! ID with your ring ID is not instant. It shows up under "my rings" right away, but takes quite some time before you have access to the management functions. For one of my rings, it was about 6 hours. I received no notification that it was active, nor was there mention that I would not have access immediately. Another ring wasn't active for 24 hours. I still (as of this writing, about a day and a half after association) do not have access to my last one.

Second, the "email all members" function has no information about whether it's everyone in the ring, everyone in the queue, or both; I also have no control over which that is, don't have the chance to remove duplicate addresses, and can't use my own email program which would enable me to specify the correct return address (instead it uses the one my Y! ID is configured for).

Also, the new navigation is un-customizable aside from color (and even then only given the choice of white or light grey... you can see how that would be an issue for someone whose design tastes tend to lean towards dark), and apparently contains banner ads (I haven't seen it yet myself). This new server-side navigation is mandatory for new ring members. We are no longer given the option of pointing the ring at any page besides where the ring fragment is. The ring homepage is made completely useless; Y! points all fragments back to the Y! page for the ring rather than our own designed pages which may have extra features for the members. The Ring Logo is now squashed into a 150x150 square, no matter what the actual dimensions of the image are. I no longer have aesthetic control over the ring. Fortunately existing fragments still function. Added on 05.07.01: this is no longer the case, and pages that do not contain the new style of fragment are gradually being auto-removed from the rings.

In addition to my gripes about the management portion, as a ring member I have had difficulty associating my site ID with my Y! ID as well. When using Netscape, I consistently got an "Invalid Member Command" error whenever I tried to do so. Upon using Internet Explorer instead, it claimed to have successfully associated me with the site, but they are still not showing up under "My Rings" and I therefore have no way to edit the information.

Perhaps the most disappointing part of this all is the fact that once all the current ring managers leave the Y! system, they will only be replaced by new people drawn in from other parts of Y! who have no idea of what the WebRing once was. Y! will never feel the change.

-Sierra Kempster, ex-ring manager of Ring of the Night, Out and Proud!, Californians' WebRing, and others

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hits since 11 September 2000.