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[The beginning] [1999 till August 2000] [Yahoo! Webring integration] [Split rings]
[ Prehistory | Creation | The first three months ]
This page describes how I created the Science Humor webring, how I tried to get people to join the ring and what the results of those action were.
As usually the history of a ring starts with a website, in this case my Science Jokes list, which has its own history. This is a list of jokes about the physical sciences, the biggest of its kind and I am quite proud of it.
This story starts with me travelling around a science fiction ring, moving to the list of sites and accidently selecting the homepage of Webring.org. I never realized that most webrings came from the same place. I seem to remembers self-made cgi-scripts and just links with next and previous. This was different. Rings which everybody can make. There were lots of SF rings and enough Robert Jordan rings to make you nauseous And do not be mistaken: A few years back "The eye of the world" made me decide that the Tolkien imitation genre was not dead yet, but the series gets a bit drawn out these last books.. I spend some time visiting SF rings and later that week some literature rings and then I thought that I should submit my site to a webring.
Looking under science did not give me anything, under humor were so many rings that I gave up, but webring also has a search engine and that found me a Fun Science ring. This ring was meant for education though, and it contained sites which could show children how much fun science could be. Nothing wrong with that, but my site is more for people who already love the sciences. I have given obligatory physics practicals to biology students at the university and the ones who did not like physics at the beginning, did not consider it fun at the end, at most bearable. It is much easier to show people that science is funny.
So, my site did not fit any ring. Too bad.
The next day, I had a reason to make a ring. My site started as a list to collect all the science humor on usenet so that it would not get lost when the posts expired, years of collecting. But now there are not many original science jokes on usenet (exept for puns, they still flower). Nowadays people put their original jokes on webpages and there was no need to collect them, besides that it would be stealing. I could only collect the links. But with a webring I could knit them together into a kind of meta-site, with an infinity of science humor, through which people could wander forever.
With a bit of luck it can grow of itself, all owners of science humor pages announcing themselves to the ring and I could wander through all those pages forever without the difficulty of finding those pages. This was a wonderfull idea. I would start the ring immediately.
This chapter is loosely based on a e-mail from Eric Stokien and my reaction on how I had followed his recipe for starting a ring on the ringmasters-l mailinglist on December 9, 1998, when the webpage existed about 2 months. This chapter was finished on January 8, 1999.
I made a list of Science humor pages to which I had links. This list was only about physical sciences and mathematics (comparable to my own site), but I also had a psychology and an economy humor page in my general humor bookmark list. I guessed the commercial sites would not be interested and that the sites with only links would not be interesting. From the rest I searched the site for the e-mail adress of the maintainer. Sometimes I found that the site had disappeared, sometimes there was no e-mail adress, but this left 15 sites. October 16, 1998. I mailed those people if they would be interested in a science humor webring. I got 4 reactions within 12 hours and decided to make the ring.
Saturday October 17, 1998 was the great day. I made the webring with the form on webring (http://www.webring.org/) I made the webring, which was pretty easy. Then I read the FAQ http://www.webring.org/help/ringmasterfaq/, as was suggested in the instructions I got in an e-mail from webring. I considered the FAQ very usefull but I found out that setting up a webring was more work than I had expected (I not only had to make a ring homepage and a webring html-fragment, but I also must work on the html-pages and e-mails that were part of the site submission process. This was the beginning of a very hectic time. I wanted to complete the ring setup before monday, when I had to work again. I saved some subscription pages from webrings I knew and used that to make my own. At the same time I made the html ring fragment. I made it a very simple one, a simplified version of the standard version, so that it could be seen by all browsers. I did not use any graphics. I do not wish to make the ring to make a too big impression on the member sites, many of which are text only.
The FAQ also caused me to join the ringmaster mailinglist in the middle of the "wrongly adopted webring" affair, wich made me move to the digest within a day. Despite the flamewars in the list, I am still subscribed to it (January 1999) because of the many usefull tips.
Next I worked a bit on the webring administration pages and entered the webring HTML fragment, using the variables within -- -- tags. The --id-- tag is replaced by the id number of a website, wich ensures customised webring fragments for every site. Very neat.
Now everything should work and I submitted my own webpage. It worked beautifully. Okay, I found some spelling errors in the submission pages and e-mails and some very unclear parts, but it worked and I had a ring with one site. I repaired the errors. I was not smart enough to think of submitting test pages and throwing those out later, so I did not test the improved pages.
The next step was getting members. First I e-mailed the people who had reacted to my first mail (as a matter of fact, I made an error, so I send a wrong URL).
Finally, still on sunday, I sent all the 15 web-owners an official invitation (also to the people I invited before, because of that wrong URL). Within 2 days all original interested people reacted, only one withdrew his submission as he found out webring was a commercial organisation. From the other eleven, I got one new positive reaction.
And there it was: a working web-ring!
So how could I make the ring to grow. This consists of two steps. First find a fitting webpage, second convince the owner of that site to join the ring.
Where could I find science humor sites.
I used all these methods in two batches. The first just after creating the ring, the second during the Christmas hollidays. I sent a more or less standard e-mail to all the owners of these pages. That were 42 e-mails wich resulted in 13 members, 2 refusals, one person who sent me a lot of jokes from his old site and 26 without reaction.
Except for the newsgroups all these resources are exhausted now (January 1999). Of course there will come new ones as the Internet grows, but at the moment I believe I know most sites that can be found this way. Anyway, I had a lot of fun searching the web for those sites.
Another possibility is to advertise the ring. This is much more interesting. All the sites above were relatively easy found at logical places. Interesting sites which can not be found in the directories and who just happen to be difficult for the search engines can join the ring spontaneously and increase their visibility. That is the main purpose of the ring after all, that unknown sites profit from well known sites.
There were some advertising methods I did not use, wrong or right, who can tell:
What did all the advertising get me in three months:
That is it for now. I guessed there would be a hundred fitting sites and found about 40, which seems pretty good. Of those I got 14 sites, about one in three, which seems rather bad. Maybe I should make more work of the invitations. Anyway 14 sites which I like to visit is not bad at all.
|001||Science Jokes||October 17, 1998||Collection of mathematics, physics, chemistry and biology humor. It also includes humorous quotes, rhymes, mnemonics and anecdotes about scientists||My own site|
|002||Laboratory of Laughter||October 18, 1998||a science humor index of biology, chemistry, physics and general science humor|
|003||The First Internet Gallery of Statistics Jokes||October 19, 1998||The greatest collection of jokes about statistics and statisticians on the Internet. The oldies but goodies are here but so also are many new jokes that have never before appeared in print.|
|004||The Archives of Statistics Fun||October 19, 1998||This site contains fun topics and anecdotes that can be used in the teaching of statistics. Tips on teaching and learning statistics are also included.|
|005||Parodies & Pastiches||October 20, 1998||This site presents a selection of parodies, pastiches and pseudo-scientific papers written by scientists, or by writers having a scientific background.||This site also has a webring link on the French version of the page|
|006||Psychology humor||October 25, 1998||A collection of psychology jokes. Most are not funny. Psychologists have no sense of humor.||The last of the original group|
|007||The Quantum Theory of Econodynamics||November 2, 1998||The Quantum Theory of Econodynamics is a collection of essays, stories, poems, and art. The entire site is economics related; the quantum theory essays relate concepts in physics to those in economics. The humor is "academic."|
|008||BioHazard Level 5 - Aliquotes Archive||November 2, 1998||Online archive of Aliquotes, a monthly journals of bioscience humor.||Site closed June, 1999|
|009||Economics Humor||November 3, 1998||Humor directly related to economics only.|
|010||Sizzling Organic Chemistry Dramas||November 21, 1998||These are four somewhat bawdy (if you are a molecule) plays illustrating organic chemistry reaction mechanisms.||Brenna Lorenz liked the webring so much, that she also joined the Fun Science ring|
|011||Astronomy Related Jokes||December 10, 1998||Astronomy Related Jokes|
|012||Songs of Cesium||December 16, 1998||Popular and classical songs rewritten to glorify the most sublime, explosive, and electropositive of elements, the almighty Cesium.|
|013||Dolly's Cloning Emporium||January 1, 1999||Dolly the Sheep's home page as it were. Sheep cloning, mouse cloning, human cloning, wildlife cloning... Biotech info, definitions, how-to, and the ever-present FAQ|
|014||Science Made Stupid||January 1, 1999||A tribute to the 1986 Hugo Award Winning book by Tom Weller.|
And finally the people whom this is all about, the visitors to science humor websites. They should have the advantage of an easy way to read more science humor and the member sites should have the advantage of more visitors, who like science humor. How succesfull has the ring been during the first three months?
|3.||123||75||Laboratory of Laughter|
|4.||94||52||The First Internet Gallery of Statistics Jokes|
|5.||89||38||Parodies & Pastiches|
|6.||88||42||The Archives of Statistics Fun|
|8.||56||56||Sizzling Organic Chemistry Dramas|
|9.||56||45||BioHazard Level 5 - Aliquotes Archive|
|10.||55||45||The Quantum Theory of Econodynamics|
|11.||45||45||Astronomy Related Jokes|
|12.||34||34||Songs of Cesium|
|13.||17||17||Science Made Stupid|
|14.||14||14||Dolly's Cloning Emporium|
This is disappointing. The homepage of the science jokes is visited by over 8000 visitors in 8 weeks. Only 250 enter the ring, that is 3%. I do not know the number of visitors to the other sites, maybe the percentage is higher there. I have now put a ring fragment at the bottom of every page. As my site consists of many joke list, people can easily follow the ring instead of going back to the index if they wish to see other jokes. For more homogeneous sites, that will make no sense. I now start to wonder whether people want this ring.
How many people visit a site from the next, previous and random links? (There are no statistics for people who come from the listing of the sites)
|1.||61||53||The Quantum Theory of Econodynamics|
|2.||37||16||Laboratory of Laughter|
|3.||36||33||BioHazard Level 5 - Aliquotes Archive|
|4.||31||12||Parodies & Pastiches|
|6.||30||11||The Archives of Statistics Fun|
|7.||29||29||Astronomy Related Jokes|
|8.||27||12||The First Internet Gallery of Statistics Jokes|
|11.||16||16||Sizzling Organic Chemistry Dramas|
|12.||8||8||Dolly's Cloning Emporium|
|13.||5||5||Songs of Cesium|
|14.||4||4||Science Made Stupid|
I "stagger" the webring every other week, a function from webring that makes sites with many visitors lie next to sites with few visitors. This should cause sites at the bottom of the first list to be at the top of the second one. It seems to work more or less, as you can see.
I am not going to tell what happens to webring, they can do that themselves if they like, but some things have effect on the rings. The origin and history of web ring can be read in the following articles: Web Rings / Will the Circle Be Unbroken? and Webrings own history page
On November 11, I got an e-mail that Starseed inc., the webring company was taken over by Geocities, which hosts free websites and is notorious because of the agressive advertising on their pages. For webring this means they get enough money and commercial knowledge and they are very happy about it, but it almost cost me a member (Hi Jonathan), who luckily decided that as long as it does not influence the ringsites, there will be no problem.
Another problem is the fact that sometimes the cgi-scripts did not work during the second half of november and in december. Once it seemed to be out of order for a day. (I did not test all the time, so maybe it were a few small disturbances). I understand that due to the massive growth of the number of rings, they need new machines and sometimes there are glitches and the ring does not work. Irritating, if that happens when I have just invited somebody to join the ring but also for ordinary ring use. I hope the problems will be solved soon.
Last change: June 14, 1999
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[The beginning] [1999 till August 2000] [Yahoo! Webring integration]
Comments to the maintainer of the Science Humor Webring (Joachim Verhagen)
This page is maintained by Joachim Verhagen