January Feature: Webrings, Forums, and Surfing the Web for Gourds
Are you interested in using the internet to expand your knowledge of gourds? Want to see lots of pictures of finished gourds? Do you want to communicate with other gourd enthusiasts and perhaps ask questions about gourd related techniques? Want to find out what others are doing with gourds?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, there are plenty of places on the internet for you to visit. I always recommend that people start with our national organization, the American Gourd Society. (There is also a Canadian Gourd Society, other countries may also have their own organization.) However, there are lots of other internet resources you may not be aware of.
When visiting the home page of Arizona Gourds, you may have noticed a box at the bottom of the page that is titled "Webring". Arizona Gourds is part of the Golden Gourd webring, and it is joined by over 70 other gourd websites. The Golden Gourd webring is the largest and oldest gourd related webring, and is limited to sites devoted primarily to gourds. The webring provides you with hours of gourd related entertainment; you can search the sites randomly or spend a few hours and systematically visit all of them. This is a fantastic way to see what other gourd artists are doing and enjoy all the photos, information and ideas that each site has to offer.
If you have a website of your own, you may want to consider joining a webring. Membership is free and the ring brings in new traffic in to visit your site on a daily basis. Often, new gourd sites languish unnoticed by anyone except for a few friends and family. Joining a webring makes it easy for new visitors to discover your site.
Another way to view lots of gourd sites is by visiting a "Top Sites" link. These lists function in a similar manner to webrings, except the individual entries are ranked by the amount of people that vote for them by clicking on a special link within their site. Once you click on their link, you will be taken to a page that shows you all the other sites that are connected through the top sites program. and a ranking of how many times they have been accessed. You have the flexibility to visit those that sound most interesting to you. Here is a link to the Arizona Gourds sponsored top sites list:
(Please note that the advertising on the top sites page
is placed there by the company that provides the top sites
software - I have no control over the ads that are displayed.)
Looking for a way to chat with other people about your common interest in gourds? Yahoo and other groups such as MSN and AOL sponsor online groups that allow you to correspond with other people that share the same interests. There are several gourd related online communities; the sites that I am most familiar with are hosted by Yahoo. I participate to some extent with several of these groups. You can be as involved as you wish - some people call themselves "lurkers" and never post any messages, they just enjoy reading messages that hold some interest for them. Others are heavily involved and spend a lot of time sending messages back and forth with their online gourd friends. Some lists have membership restrictions; for example you may have to be a member of a state society to participate in their online group. Many others are open to all. Some allow only gourd related messages, while others allow birthday greetings and other non-gourd related topics.
Click on the logo below to visit gourd related groups sponsored by Yahoo. You can read a bit about each group and decide which one(s) are of interest to you.
In order see and utilize all of the features of each site, you will have to create a yahoo identity and sign up for those groups that interest you. Once you have joined a group, you'll be able to access all their features including photo galleries, files, tutorials and of course the message board that connects all of the members. You can choose to have messages sent individually, by a daily digest or to simply read the group messages online. The choice is yours. Warning: online groups can be habit forming! You may find yourself spending a lot of time on gourd related activities.
Last but not least, internet seach engines are a great way to find information about gourds. The majority of people that visit Arizona Gourds use Google, but other search engines may find different gourd sites. Each search engine uses different software to determine who is listed and where they rank - so you may find sites on one that are not listed by others. Most search engines offer a method of surfing images as well as websites. If you use Google, try entering "Gourd Art" and view all the websites that are listed. Next, look for the link at the top of the Google page and click on the link that says "Images". You'll be amazed at the pages and pages of photos that appear. You can modify your search in many ways by choosing different terms or topics.