A Book, a Look, and a Hook: What’s Up with 9Rules?

In the past month or so I’ve been with 9Rules a number of rather important events affecting myself, Gnorb.NET, and 9Rules have occurred which you may actually be interested in. (Seriously, these are pretty exciting news, at least for me.) These involve a book I’m collaborating on, cool changes in the 9Rules community site, and my role within the 9Rules community.

First event: The Book

Here’s the lowdown: A few of the 9Rule members (including myself) got together in our top secret, for-members-only forum and decided that we’re going to write a book. Now, I’ve written books before, but they’ve all been for private parties, so none of them are for sale. (Unless you just happen to work for government housing and financing agencies and use a specific type of software, you’ve probably never seen my work.) From the looks of this, however, it looks like this will be an honest-to-Guttenberg, real life, buy it at Barnes and Noble’s book. Pretty cool, no?

The book will be comprised of a set of pieces (articles, stories, poems, photo collages, etc.) reflecting the various communities featured in the 9Rules network, as well as being themed after the 9 rules themselves. While I’m in the process of writing a piece for that book, that’s not what has me the most excited (although it’s right up there). What really has me fired up about the project is that I was actually chosen (by decree?) to help Tyme, one of “The Rulers” (the 9Rules founding members), organize the project and make sure it moves along. In other words, I’m back in the familiar position of managing editor.

The challenge, of course, is keeping everything organized. In a collaborative project like this (or any time you’re managing that herd of cats known as writers — especially bloggers whom you’ve never met and who are volunteering their time) you have to try to keep everyone on schedule while tip-toeing around whatever events may be taking the lion’s share of their time in their real (or even second) life. In addition, when stuff comes in, you have to make sure you edit it, discuss it, and if necessary ask for a rewrite of it. As an editor I hate when I have to to ask this, but as a writer it’s usually not all that bad to hear it, unless your editor has some sort of agenda.

Side Note: For example, I once had an “editor” (actually a micromanaging boss who knew nothing about journalism) who wanted me to write an “even handed” story about Google. After writing what I thought was an even handed story, I was forced to remove 2000 words from my 5000 word piece and add in 1000 words outlining what amounted to a conspiracy theory of how Google could potentially crush businesses they didn’t like or who didn’t pay them some sort of fee, sort of like mafia-style bosses, by eliminating them from the search engine. Frankly, I hated having my name attached to that piece, and I almost resigned that job over the changes. (The name of the piece was “Google: God or Devil”, a title which I was opposed to at that time due to religious reasons, in addition to the fact that I didn’t believe the stuff I felt I was being forced to write.) Unfortunately, I didn’t resign, mostly because of the insipid belief that I needed that money. Lesson learned: if your ethics are telling you “no”, refuse. Worst thing that can happen is you get fired. You can get over that by getting another job or source of income. Getting your integrity back is much harder, and the memory of it is not so easily erased. Interestingly enough, a conversation about following a leader you don’t trust or disagree with showed up on 9Rules Notes not too long ago.)

Needless to say, this is totally different than when you’re working with only one writer, since you only really have to worry about two things: the speed of the writer and the speed of the editor. In some cases you also have to think about the speed of the printing press, but that depends on whether you’re going through a mass publisher or an independent, and the reliability of that independent publisher. In any case, it’s usually easier and much less frustrating.

Anyway, here’s a list of some the people who, in addition to myself, are currently helping out with the project. I’ve linked to their blogs so that you can get an idea of what you can expect from the book:

Of course, not everyone listed will be contributing as a writer. Some are editors, some are designers, and some will grace the pages of the book with their photography, but the flair of all will be what this book presents. This is what has me truly excited.

Second Event: The Redesign

If you haven’t been to 9Rules lately, you should. The site has been totally redesigned and now features a ton of seriously cool community functionality. (The new design is called “Ali”, by the way, as in Mohammed Ali.) If you haven’t been there before at all, check it out and explore it. You’ll find a ton of cool features which allow you to interact with the rest of the 9Rules community (including yours truly). If you haven’t been part of the whole “Web 2.0” (buzzword) scene, then this may be the perfect opportunity to start getting into it. Heck, if you load up the page and hit reload every 30 minutes its like you have your own, impersonal RSS reader which features great content you know almost nothing about.

While I haven’t gotten to use all of the site’s functionality — especially in the my.9r area — I’ll won’t go into much detail, other than to say that a lot of buzzword-type functionality has made it into the pages. (You know what that means as well as I. Probably better.)

(By the way, is “bloggebrity” still used? Ever? Anywhere?)

Now, my only real complaint about the new site is the focus factor on the front page. By that I mean that it seems like everything is vying for your attention, all of the time. Seriously, when I look at the front page, I don’t know what to focus on. I think this may be caused by the use of so many contrasting colors and patterns in one place. Also, the dark background of the site doesn’t help.

With that said, here are a couple of featured I’d like to see:

  1. I use 9Rules.com as pretty much my RSS reader. It would be nice if they could make the 9Rules Community tab (the green one) would
    1. have a “General” category in addition to the current categories of “Tech”, “Fun”, “World”, “Opinion”, and “Business”, then present only the feeds related to that category when that tab is selected, and
    2. if the page (or at least that portion of it) auto-updated every few minutes or so (this way I can keep the page open and just take a look at it once in a while without having to hit “reload” all the time.)

    Now I know I can probably find a Firefox extension that will do this for me (Opera does it right out of the box), but c’mon people: AJAX! AJAX! More buzzwords!

  2. Like in the Community tab, I’d like to see the Notes tab auto-update every few minutes so I can see what’s going on. Again, extension, AJAX, whatever.
  3. It’d be real nice if they had some sort of badge that I could put on my site featuring stories from other 9Rules sties (maybe separated according to all the categories in the Community tab, including “General”, for sites like mine). True, this isn’t a 9Rules site thing, but it’d be cool nonetheless.

So that’s about it. Of course, the changes to 9Rules weren’t just technical, they were also structural.

Third Event: Community Leader of the Commentary Section.

Along with the change in design, new Community Leaders (CLs) were selected for some of the categories. In a move that may prove to be as unwise as this unfortunate event…

Somehow, I do not think you thought your cunning plan all the way through

…I have been selected as the Community Leader for the Commentary section of 9Rules, along with Tyme. Of course, when I saw this (no one told me; I just kind of saw it on the Commentary page) I had about the same reaction as Karmatosed:

Karmatosed:…yes I did jump about the room in excitement (not sure if should be ashamed by that…)

me: Like Karmatosed, I too jumped about the room in excitement. (Well, sort of: I’m at work.)

Nostrich (Richard Dunlop-Walters), however, put it best:

nostrich: I didn’t get excited and jump around because I’m a man and men don’t do that. I just sat there in silence concealing my erection.

Like a man.

I couldn’t have said it better myself. Like any position of leadership, this comes with the burden of responsibility, which here translates to starting and continuing stimulating conversation in the Notes section, reading and keeping up with the other Commentary category blogs, and making sure to crush all opposition with my mighty keyboard of death and the +2 mouse of invincibility. (For $15 you can get one of those at Best Buy, or from The Wizard, if you talk to him about the hidden Mario 3 levels. You game geeks know exactly what I’m talking about.) This is all stuff I was doing anyway, so it isn’t a burden the link at the top of the Commentary section makes for a nice bonus.

Anyway, so now you’re all caught up with what’s going on with me and 9Rules. This aside, belonging to this group has helped me see a number of things in different ways. Hopefully this will translate to better writing and marketing skills, though I fear there’s a longer journey than what I anticipate with that one. Still, like anything, it begins with a single step.

Time to walk my thousand miles. Like a man. As for you… well, happy dance for me, will ya? And toss a little good luck mojo my way, if you can spare some. It looks like I’ll bee needing it.

2 thoughts on “A Book, a Look, and a Hook: What’s Up with 9Rules?

  1. Thanks a lot for the feedback, your thoughts on the homepage are definitely not going un-noticed as we’ve heard lots of feedback about it. Who knew that the most important page of the site would be the homepage? Crazy! 🙂

    And your three ideas… all I can say is that 1 of them is already done but we haven’t launched it, however it’s your idea x50. The other two are nice suggestions that we’ll definitely think about. Which is which!!!

  2. Hey that is exciting news!! I’ve been over to 9Rules a few times but really haven’t stuck around – I don’t know why, but it sounds like I should check it out a bit more thoroughly.

    Hey – I’m not ignoring the comment you left on my TV post. I intend to write a follow-up post about it, perhaps today, and link back to you.

    I love it when you comment – so wordy (I like!). Makes me feel important!

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