When I first joined Webring...
... it was designed to allow sites with similar themes to be linked together so that someone interested in a specific theme would be able to find many sites via the ring, instead of having to drill down through the search engines. Of course, in those days, search engines weren't as sophisticated as they are now (I joined my first webring in 1997, I think... maybe 1996... maybe 1998). Webring wasn't designed to earn money for the ring managers, and it wasn't designed to advertise irrelevant products or services on ring hub pages or on ring displays.
All that, of course, has changed. Webring has allowed folks to stack so many rings on a single webring.com page (instead of on their own sites), that it is difficult for a ringsurfer to leave the site via the same ring he arrived on. So many of the rings have the default webring look - because with the SSNB, no one has to know html or produce a distinctive, unique-appearing ring display. Most of them look just like all the rest of them.
There was a time, a decade or so ago, when webring sites formed a community. Email addresses were available right on the ring displays, so members could communicate with each other. Today, there is little or no community. Members can't email each other, so they never get to know each other. It's all about money. I can't tell you how many sites I have denied because they are commercial sites, and my rings were not, with one or two exceptions, commercial rings. They were intended to be community rings.
It doesn't matter now, I guess. Sage Weil would hide her face from all this.