Web Rings are not new. They’ve been around for years. They were the precursors to things like clickable widgets, like the one on this blog. But being not new is not the same thing as worthless.
The idea behind a web ring is to connect your site to a circle of similar sites. All the sites on the ring have something in common. As a writer, you might want to join a ring that is composed of other writers of your genre, or maybe if you write about golf, you could join a ring of golfing sites. What you're trying to do is get new "traffic" to visit your site -- people who otherwise wouldn't know your URL. They go to one site and then click on the ring icon and are whisked to you.
How do you find these rings? Check the organizations you belong to and the Internet groups you frequent. Go to author sites, click on the ring icon and see if you'd fit in with the group. Don't forget about niche rings, ones that would fit your subject matter, whether it's medieval weaponry or kangaroos.
Once you find a ring you want to participate in, how do you join? Most rings will have a way of clicking to join. It may be a matter of clicking the logo for the ring, or sometimes you'll click a word like "Join." More than likely, you'll have to not only give the URL to your site, but a justification as to why you would fit in with the group. Then, you'll probably have to be approved.
Once you're invited to join, you'll be given directions how to post the ring html code on your web site. Usually, putting the logo up on your site is easy. The ringmaster will provide the html and instructions. If you don't maintain your site yourself, get your webmaster to do it for you. Sometimes, though, it can be a pain. You may have to manipulate the code. More than likely, though, if you have problems, there'll be a contact email for help.
You're not restricted to one ring. You can join multiple rings. Obviously, the more rings you belong to, the greater the chance that a visitor will circle around to your site. I've seen a few people who've gone overboard, though. Their site is a long page of ring after ring.
Once you've joined a ring, don't just totally ignore that little logo on your page. Check it out.
Make sure it’s working. Make sure the sites participating in the ring are ones you want to be associated with.
Rings are one way to market your site (and thus everything on your site, from books to schedules to services you provide). They get better results than those annoying banners that pop up on some sites. Hopefully, if a visitor "rings" to your site, they'll like what they see and bookmark your page. If not, maybe they'll catch you on the next trip around.
5 months ago