When I first started surfing the net I came across groups of sites usually on subjects like Star Trek or the works of J.R.R. Tolkein. You would land on a site and at the bottom would be a control that allowed you to move on to the previous-or-next site connected in a giant ring.
This was before search changed web surfing into something much more purpose-driven in nature. I found an example of a web ring for you connecting fans of the western TV show The Young Riders. Web rings are now largely artifacts of a simpler time online.
I was reminded of web rings when I came across a campaign by Pedigree Foods as part of their ongoing programme to encourage adoption of rescue dogs (and sell a few bags of dog meal in the process). They have developed a ‘Write a post, Help a Dog’ programme to engage bloggers in discussing rescue dogs and Pedigree Petfoods efforts. One of the key elements in this programme is something that they call a ‘blog hop’ which works in the same way as a web ring. The key difference seems to be that all the blogs are visible to each other.
This provides those involved with a greater sense of involvement, but also a denser set of interlinking which may look like spam to your friendly neighbourhood search engine. From a PR perspective it also makes the coverage generated easier to find. Pedigree Petfoods used Linky Tools to facilitate their blog hop.
Here’s what it looks like for the Pedigree Petfoods campaign: