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December 09, 2023 - @563.54 (what is this?)
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Author Topic: Have webrings and buttons aged badly or not?  (Read 790 times)
shevek
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« on: September 22, 2023 @941.10 »

The small, niche web relies on webrings and button walls with links to personal sites for discoverability; there is no algorithm or feed mostly. Yes, you might have the Neocities tags, follows, or the Global Activity, but not everyone is on Neocities or discoverable and follow-able (disabled profile etc.). You need something to tie all these free floating sites together, as it has been even when Geocities was around. Lots of us have found cool sites and people through webrings, button pages, or other link collections. It fosters community.

But something I have been thinking about recently is how this concept is interacting with certain social media etiquette or behaviors. It might just be my experience, but being "guilty by association" is something I know has happened and is happening a lot on websites like Tumblr or Twitter. Problematic things are revealed about someone, and then most people are expected to unfollow them, remove things promoting their content, stop consuming their art or maybe even make a statement disavowing them.

Regardless about how you feel about this practice, how do you think this translates to our niche of the internet? Is this an issue that you think about here, or something you have already experienced?
Especially since many here are still also on social media sites still, where this is practiced in some parts.

I'm thinking of the following example scenarios:
  • Someone whose button you have on your website has released a deeply disrespectful blog post that's making the rounds. Do you feel the need to remove their button as to not seem like you are supporting them and that view, or not? Do you fear that people think you have picked a side in this conflict because you still have that button up?
  • You're in a webring, and you skip through it and discover that the site that is before or after you in the order features content you disagree with profoundly. Do you exit the webring or ask to be moved in the order because you don't want anyone thinking you are associated (or for people who are not familiar with how webrings work, that this is one of your pages)?
  • Someone with very problematic views features your button on their site where they host these views. Do you ask them to take it down or not?

The difficulty in all of these is being aware that they are happening. Many of us only check websites sporadically, or only initially when we follow them. We don't know where our buttons might end up, and how many of us go through the webrings we are in?
It's hard to keep up with it all.

Do you think webrings and buttons have aged badly in this regard in comparison to ~20 years ago? Is it over for them with this attitude, or is it a non-issue for you? How would you handle the above scenarios?
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« Reply #1 on: September 23, 2023 @51.68 »

If someone whose button I have on my page wrote a very disrespectful blog post, I would remove their button once I found out - not because of "guilt by association" or whatever but because why would I want to give that more traffic? Same goes for someone who puts my button on their page but has very problematic views (problematic is a very broad term here but if I think their views are actively harmful I would be extremely uncomfortable with them linking to my website and likely ask that they not do so).
If I'm in a webring with someone who has content I disagree with profoundly... again, that's pretty vague, if it's something like hate speech I'd bring it up to the creator of the webring and leave if they don't take action to deal with it. Otherwise, I think if someone assumes I have those views or whatever because they don't know how webrings work, that's a them problem. It'd be weird to make a big deal out of being next to someone whose content I dislike in a webring unless that content is hate speech or something similarly harmful. Only exception is for a certain view that makes me really really uncomfortable, but then I'd just silently leave the webring, there'd be no point in starting drama over it.
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« Reply #2 on: September 23, 2023 @163.50 »

This is interesting to me. I generally try to include buttons to other sites that heavily feature worldbuilding projects or OCs, which is the content of my site - I assume that someone would want to see more of that from my links, and when I put a little button on my links page I feel like I'm vouching for that project. Like, hey, this is really neat! And while some of these sites have personal sections/alt sites, they're still mostly fiction, and I'm not bothered by most things in fiction so I don't know that I'd care much, especially if it was handled in an interesting narrative way.

For the specific scenarios... I think I would be bothered but removal would depend on the severity of the content. If their entire website shifts to be around this questionable new content/to be inflammatory in nature, I would probably remove the button because their site became something different to what it was when I endorsed it, in a negative way. But otherwise I don't really feel, personally, that a questionable post or whatever is enough to get me to remove something because I like giving people the benefit of the doubt. I assume people are generally speaking with good faith and may be struggling to articulate an idea with clarity or kinder language; I'm interested in the real intentions of what they're conveying. So in general, maybe I can be overly forgiving about that sort of thing.

I can see how keeping their button would seem like an endorsement of their views/thinking/whatever hypothetical we're talking about. But at the same time is it wrong to like some aspects of a person or a site and not the rest? Why does pasting a button on my page have to proclaim that I 100% agree with everything on that site, at all times? I think that's reading into it more than it should be. I don't expect to agree with anyone I meet 100% all of the time so why should the culture place that expectation on me when I link to a site - a growing, living thing that will change with the person who made it?

Again, like, if an entire website is just about hatred and whatnot I don't think I'd link to them. But we're talking about relatively normal-sounding sites.

Also, someone generally has even LESS control over their fellow webring members (who are at the mercy of the webring master) than a button wall, so... I can't fathom judging someone by their webring neighbors!
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« Reply #3 on: September 23, 2023 @228.72 »

I'd say that classic-style buttons & webrings have aged even better than follows & content consumption in this regard!

Whenever you follow someone or boost their content, it means that you're actively being shown their statements, so if someone goes off the deep end of the flat Earth, the people who follow them are expected to eventually know. This isn't so if the level of engagement is just a crunchy gif with a crescent-moon graphic being left in a place where it might be forgotten.  :eyes: 

In fact, to the uninitiated, its retro cultural impression alone gives the thought that it must've been left there a long time ago (as in, before the person being linked was known to have any issues). Even to the initiated, people in these circles know that a button can just be left there and that there isn't really a consistent expectation to keep up to speed on things that others have said.

Now, having said that, you can suspend disbelief if one or two linked sites are like, this person is a problem but they have this really good directory of blinkies, or that site is being used as an example or demonstration. However, if a bunch of linked sites & resources have the same types of things wrong with them, then, especially if they've always had those issues, THAT will signal that a person has suspicious alignments.
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« Reply #4 on: September 23, 2023 @333.77 »

I feel different about this.

A certain amount of hearing the other's opinion is healthy. Because we have to get on with them as well. There are reasons for those opinons, and it's much more complex than it just being there to hate and disrespect someone.

In the end, I'd prefer to not have any "witches" (whatever drama might get you called that name in the future) being burned on the pile of wood again. Which could be... the consequence of growing radicalism in filter bubbles of any kind, like webrings?

If "guilt by association" becomes a widespread unspoken law, no joke, I'll retire from all internet conversations online. What a dangerous idea! Why? Look: One example in my link list is a deeply hateful blog. However interesting topics are mentioned, and the person makes some interesting twists with language. So can this hateful person be respected for other aspects of his work? What can we learn from it?

It's more complex than just the good guys / the bad guys (well done, Hollywood).

In that regard, the link buttons lack information, that could be more easily added in a link list. Write like "hateful donkey, but artist of words" or whatever to sign it like "proceed with caution". Maybe a combination of plain text and the button would be practical. Like having a sentence with the button if you feel the linked site needs a little description.
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shevek
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« Reply #5 on: September 23, 2023 @587.52 »

Thank you for all the answers so far :smile:

I think if someone assumes I have those views or whatever because they don't know how webrings work, that's a them problem.

I totally understand this view. I think what makes it complicated is that not just the ones in-the-know will find your site. Around here, we all know how this stuff is structured. But you may link your site on your X/Twitter, your Mastodon, your Tumblr, your Discord, your TikTok. People not used to this side of the web will see it and click the arrows, being used to this meaning that a new slide/page of the same site will show up (think pagination on Tumblr). It may be very young people only used to apps, or older boomers that were not tech inclined, or anyone inbetween too. Of course, those are just strangers, and "who cares what strangers think", but it's still interesting to think about. With how deep some people dig for problematic stuff, or what can be read as endorsement, in the future it might be seen as endorsement that one is a neighbor of these sites. People can really misinterpret it if they want to :0

If their entire website shifts to be around this questionable new content/

I think in this case it is very obvious, yes, and a very clear cut case. You may even hear about it from others. But in general, seeing how many people follow a lot of people on Neocities or have lots in their link lists and button sites, it can be very difficult to keep up with that. And realistically, who wants to moderate their own site by going through all the stuff you link to every few weeks? For some, this might be hundreds of sites with a lot of pages and other external links, too. It is a colossal task. I really think the issue might be simply not noticing and not being able to keep up.

Why does pasting a button on my page have to proclaim that I 100% agree with everything on that site, at all times?

I agree, it probably shouldn't. I think the examples above in some posts are really good though: It gives that content more traffic, or people initially put those buttons up to endorse it and lead their viewers to similar content they might enjoy. If you use buttons this way or are used to them being meant that way, seeing someone link to something offensive (maybe like Gans) could seem to you as if it is endorsement of the views.

Maybe a combination of plain text and the button would be practical. Like having a sentence with the button if you feel the linked site needs a little description.

I think that might be a good solution! You can always add extra descriptions. Not just warnings or your own view, but also the date you added it, or in case of webrings, an explanation how they work and how you are unaffiliated with the ones before or after you in the webring order :smile:
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« Reply #6 on: September 23, 2023 @702.58 »

I prefer having a curated links page with descriptions (like mentioned above) rather than a massive button wall since I think it tends to mitigate this exact issue. It makes me think a little more about what links I want to put up and why.

I feel like if you have a little blurb explaining that you like (for a wholly hypothetical example) that person's site design and shrine for a book series people will probably clue in that you probably didn't link them because you wanted to allude cryptically to your views via their offensive blog post from 2 weeks ago, though if you do become aware of that sort of content a disclaimer should be considered common courtesy (or just take the link down, depending on the severity).

As someone with OCD this idea of "morals by association" is really stressful, and one of the things I like about web revival spaces is that it's not nearly as common to see "this person was mutuals-in-law with someone who discourse posted about such and such" style accusations, so I don't have to worry as much about scrupulocity.
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shevek
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« Reply #7 on: September 23, 2023 @728.52 »

As someone with OCD this idea of "morals by association" is really stressful, and one of the things I like about web revival spaces is that it's not nearly as common to see "this person was mutuals-in-law with someone who discourse posted about such and such" style accusations, so I don't have to worry as much about scrupulocity.

I feel similarly! Do you think it will increase as there is more membership in the web revival spaces? More people fleeing the bigger social medias for smaller spaces, forums and personalized websites? It can be difficult to leave learned behaviors at the door, and with a large influx, it can change the culture.

It also honestly doesn't help this view/"fear" of mine when I see a host of a webring just change the webring theme after people have already signed up. That's a rare exception of course, but it really makes you think - damn, now I also have to check if the webring I am in is still focused on the topic(s) that I signed up with?
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« Reply #8 on: September 23, 2023 @760.56 »

Do you think it will increase as there is more membership in the web revival spaces? More people fleeing the bigger social medias for smaller spaces, forums and personalized websites? It can be difficult to leave learned behaviors at the door, and with a large influx, it can change the culture.


I sure hope not! I know that stuff like DNIs and so on have carried over from social media for some people so it's definitely plausible, but not ideal. I don't really have any ideas on how to combat other than to encourage people to challenge the way they've learned to socialize online, but like you said it's difficult.

Especially with the expectation of social media culture that if someone says/does something bad you can never share or find value in anything else they've ever done, and have to block them and pretend they don't exist. When in reality we should probably be reading critically and understanding the nuances of just about anything we read online, no matter who wrote it. In addition to discouraging toxic online behavior, it's also just good practice in general.

On some level I think being on Neocities has actually encouraged me to get better at that- I have read the sites and writings of people who I would probably block if I saw on Tumblr (nothing bigoted of course, just minor discourse-level stuff), if I find their other stuff interesting to look at. It's kind of a weird shift in mindset.

I don't know, this topic is really interesting and has given me a lot to chew on.  :dog:
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« Reply #9 on: September 23, 2023 @814.88 »

This is tangentially related, but I had a cbox on my site. I loved the communication I had with visitors on my site through the cbox, and I appreciated the faster communication it offered compared to a guestbook while still remaining slower paced than instant messaging.

I had to remove it recently.

Some troll with a racial slur name kept commenting on it. I had repeatedly removed their messages but quickly found out that I couldn't exactly ban them from using the cbox altogether. This made me rather upset, because I ran into the issue of not wanting to appear as if I supported their views by ignoring them and leaving the comments up, hoping that they'd eventually get bored, as well as the deep seated feeling of not wanting to moderate my own personal website. I still believe I should never have to moderate my own website.

I ended up removing the cbox due to the latter thought, and it's unfair that such a pleasant experience was ruined due to one anon and my inability to be monitoring my website 24/7 to delete their comments as soon as they showed up. It's actually opened up a new discussion with myself that's more related to the topic at hand, where I simply wish to remove all buttons I've added just in case I haven't read through someone's website thorough enough (due to some users hiding information deeply) or because I've somehow missed something I don't agree with.

I don't personally care for others opinions too much. I don't care if others find me guilty by association, I'm comfortable enough within myself to know who I am and what I stand for. But even to that extent, it's annoying to have trolls in my cbox. And to have users hide offending material deep on their site. And to have users change webrings half way through. Or any number of negative experiences that I can't possibly humanly keep up with despite being terminally online. It's annoying because it's not what I agree with rather than because I worry others will think I support offending material/people, but that's the extent of it.

I rambled a lot. I hope this makes sense and that I answered even one of your questions LOL.
« Last Edit: September 23, 2023 @817.11 by awhe » Logged

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« Reply #10 on: September 23, 2023 @919.11 »

I have been on both sides of this many times :ohdear:

  • On one occasion I was accused of being in league with someone who was in the middle of a big drama; simply because I had linked to their sites in the past.
  • On other occasions Iv been asked to remove links because someone didn't agree with what I had linked too.
  • On the flip side; I have asked people to remove links from this forum because they had links to content or other sites I had issues with.
  • And I have also asked people to remove links to my sites because I disagreed with actions they had taken, or other links they had!

Iv also gotten very upset when people removed links to me, and Iv upset others by removing links to them for various reasons!

All that is to say; social dynamics on any platform or in any medium are messy and complicated; there is no right or wrong answer here. Many of these situations were stressful or upsetting, most of them were necessary at the time, but some were not  :sad:

I would like to advocate for allowing links to whatever people want, and saying that you should not be judged for content on someone else's site.. but Id be the first to call myself a hypocrite, given that this forum has some of the strictest linking rules around!

I do think that linking is the most essential part of the web though; without linking, every site dies. The best suggestion I can give is that you should respect your links! They might mean a lot to someone for better or for worse; the web revival itself is not made of websites, its made of links.

Most of the behaviours people adopt on social media seem to be about coping with the fact that they don't have the power to control their own experience (and their own identity - since external experience is very much internalised as part of how we see ourselves). With the web revival, you have to define your own experience and create your own world, and thats a very hard and slow process to navigate if you're not used to it. Thats also why I think we must be kind; managing all that is hard enough without adding extra pressure :drat:
« Last Edit: September 24, 2023 @445.12 by Melooon » Logged


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« Reply #11 on: October 03, 2023 @112.03 »

I had repeatedly removed their messages but quickly found out that I couldn't exactly ban them from using the cbox altogether.
I scared off a person like this by editing their comments with the suggestion that they're speaking to the keeper of the site, so they may want to be more careful around those of us who might be able to see where their "anonymous" comments are coming from...  :pc: 

I simply wish to remove all buttons I've added just in case I haven't read through someone's website thorough enough (due to some users hiding information deeply) or because I've somehow missed something I don't agree with.
If the information is hidden, I don't know that you could even blame yourSELF for not being aware of every dog whistle & Easter egg!

Whenever you link a site, I'm not sure it's specifically because you agree with everything that's on there, right? To be clear, you are completely free to have that standard, but lots of other standards are fine, as well. Maybe the sites look cool, or they have useful information, or they have lots of blinkies, or you like their musical & artistic works. You could also categorize your links by the reasons you linked them. Just, it's not really a personal failure to have linked someone who makes good art & has a good-looking site but, oops, they have a line way down in their About page suggesting that they don't believe in vaccines or even washing their hands!  :ohdear:  Their stinky hands probably aren't why you linked the site, and if you're made uncomfortable after discovering that, then still... you're not exactly at fault for having not known in the first place. It's just that, well... you know now, and you can only reasonably expect yourself to act according to what you know.   :eyes: 
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« Reply #12 on: November 03, 2023 @659.29 »

I dont completely subscribe to guilt by association, and it mostly due to experience. It has happened to me where I linked to someone, only for them to months later added something on their about page i disagreed with. And then you got stuff terfs using discreet language to hide their hateful views specially if you´re not familiar with the language, which just blurs the lines a bit.

However, it doesnt seem to be much of an issue for me these days as in i try to be a bit more careful on who I add to my button to the best of my ability.
It´s also why I limited the number of links in my buttons page, so things are easier to manage. As tempting as it is to put all my fave sites there or even mutual webmasters, its just hard to control in huge numbers. Plus there´s also dead links you gott deal with it.

But I did had to remove buttons (two of them), but in this case the webmaster did something really, really awful.

How bad was it? Well as in they organized an online harassment campaign over fandom shipping discourse bad. So bad it made an artist lose their job and then access to health care, so now their life is practically over.

I even had to inform them due to their actions both our sites are no longer affiliated.

Another thing I wanna add is that I dont normally do this, but it was the exception, due to the severity of their actions.

I know I cannot control who uses my button or any of the site graphics I provided for free, so I usually dont waste a lot time in it, and just leave it be..

But I do find sorta amusing when I do see it? Like, there was this one website site owner who followed me on neocities and all, and then I see they have an dni list I´m part of those groups they dislike (nothing too bad I promise, just things involving fandom stuff).

And I´m like why are they here, I´ve always been very open about my opinions, like why have a dni list if you´re not gonna follow through?

Like haven´t I been clear enough? Do people not pay that much attention?

Or is it how some people mention in this thread, where they might overlook disagreeing views if they like the content enough?
As for webrings, I havent bothered with that one very much, it one those yes theres people there that I disagree with, but its no so severe to justify me dissociating with the webring.
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« Reply #13 on: November 21, 2023 @970.07 »

I personally like having buttons, but I only put them on my site if I really like the website because it is free advertising. I am also not too well known so linking to a bunch of people I don't know feels weird. I don't have much experience with webrings but I think they are cool.
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« Reply #14 on: November 22, 2023 @214.77 »

This is honestly one of the many reasons I've avoided joining pre-existing webrings for an extended period. If I ever join a webring, I'd prefer it be one started by me and the people I know personally. As for Buttons, I honestly just don't usually use buttons for specific individual's websites, which heavily mitigates the risk of something like that happening. Organizations like defective by design or strong towns are unlikely to post something that wasn't heavily reviewed by other people.
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