Back in 2005 I was talking with Mike and I told him this idea I had for a community of sites where site owners could get together and share resources and generally help each other out. We fleshed this idea out a bit more and over time 9rules was born. The first version of 9rules had about 20 sites in it and the Community that built up around it was very tight knit. Within our forums we had wonderful discussions on a daily basis and people were enjoying themselves. We loved it so much we thought the Community could only benefit further if we added another group of sites because that gives more people a chance to share their knowledge and resources with each other.
So we did another round of submissions. However, by this time we were also gaining a reputation of being a great place for a site to join if they wanted more exposure and because of this some of the people who were submitting weren’t concerned about the Community. They simply wanted a link to their site on 9rules so they could benefit from it. Not really that big of a problem because we all want a little more exposure for ourselves, but allowing us to show your content on our site doesn’t help out the other Members. Was the purpose of joining 9rules no longer the ability to collaborate with others that share your interests? What was the point of us creating something that wasn’t to be used?
When we opened up 9rules Notes the perception was that we forgot about our Members and that we had changed our focus. Nothing could have been further from the truth. What we created was a way for our Members to interact with the people that use to only be able to partake in 9rules from an outsider’s perspective. Besides allowing Members to interact with each other, we gave them another resource to make their online presence better. Even then to some, we were just a badge and a link on the site.
To us the 9rules leaf (no matter how damn sexy it is) will always be just a leaf. We could replace it with a butterfly, unicorn or paperclip and it would still be a symbol of what we represent and not just a placeholder to put on your site. Not only does the leaf represent quality, but it also represents the fact that 9rules is about Community. 9rules is about helping others get the best out of their online experience, but we can’t do that unless some effort is put in. Our goal was never to be the Community where you get a badge and then forget about it for the rest of your life, we let Mensa have that honor. Because of this we changed our Member Agreement to include the fact we do expect our Members to participate within 9rules because you can’t be considered a Community when no one is actually involved in it.
We didn’t make these changes to be evil. We just wanted to gain back the purpose of why we started 9rules. It is something we believe in and is part of what made us great in the first place. If you want to fault us for that we have no problem carrying that burden on our shoulders. Just don’t accuse us of losing our purpose because that purpose is what makes 9rules a great place to be.