I gen­er­al­ly don’t like blog net­works. Too often they’re super­fi­cial, cheap­ly con­struct­ed com­mu­ni­ties used by the cre­ators to give them­selves a sense of belong­ing and pur­pose in the blo­gos­phere. Some of the most promi­nent exam­ples of this are on Livejournal, where any­one will cre­ate a clique if they’re an emo kid, a self-pro­claimed “hot mom”, or even hap­pen to hate Rachael Ray.

There was only one com­mu­ni­ty that caught my eye in the four years I’ve been blog­ging. Several pro­lif­ic sites I fre­quent, such as graphicPush, Snook, 456 Berea Street, and even Lorelle fea­ture a small leaf on their site. I had to learn more about this lit­tle uni­ver­sal logo that was on many of the sites that inspired me, and the net­work called 9rules.

9rules logo

I dis­cov­ered that they’re the only com­mu­ni­ty with a phi­los­o­phy and qual­i­ty with which I agreed. As on their web­site, “9rules is a com­mu­ni­ty of the best weblogs in the world on a vari­ety of top­ics. We start­ed 9rules to give pas­sion­ate writ­ers more expo­sure and to help read­ers find great blogs on their favorite sub­jects. It’s dif­fi­cult to find sites worth return­ing to, so 9rules brings togeth­er the very best of the inde­pen­dent web all under one roof.”

Their phi­los­o­phy is based on a set of nine rules to live by:

  1. Love what you do.
  2. Never stop learn­ing.
  3. Form works with func­tion.
  4. Simple is beau­ti­ful.
  5. Work hard, play hard.
  6. You get what you pay for.
  7. When you talk, we lis­ten.
  8. Must con­stant­ly improve.
  9. Respect your inspi­ra­tion.

Although I can say that I agree and fol­low every sin­gle one of them, num­ber eight par­tic­u­lar­ly res­onat­ed with me. It’s one of my rea­sons for liv­ing, and par­tial­ly why I start­ed blog­ging in the first place.

For once, I felt com­pelled to join a com­mu­ni­ty.

Becoming a mem­ber, how­ev­er, isn’t a sim­ple task. Every few months, they open a 24 hour win­dow for peo­ple to sub­mit their blogs. 9rules does­n’t have a spe­cif­ic cri­te­ria for what to accept. Sites are judged on con­sis­ten­cy and qual­i­ty of mate­r­i­al, as well the pas­sion for the sub­jects being blogged.

The com­mu­ni­ty lead­ers go through every site togeth­er, often sev­er­al times, before decid­ing whether to let some­one join. They also main­tain an exclu­siv­i­ty clause; mem­bers aren’t allowed to be part of any oth­er com­mu­ni­ty. There was even a purge once, to clean the net­work of any sites whose qual­i­ty had dropped.

In the past, the accep­tance rates have been between 8–16%. The most recent round (the fifth) was last October, with 1190 blogs being sub­mit­ted. At the end of this round, the num­ber of accept­ed mem­bers stands at a ten­ta­tive 134.

Two weeks ago, I found out that I’m one of them.


  1. Congratulations! The 9 Rules site is intrigu­ing, thanks for post­ing about it.

  2. Cool. Congratulations. It’s a good con­cept they have going to keep the bar raised.

  3. I had­n’t read the actu­al 9 rules of the com­mu­ni­ty and I have to admit, hav­ing read them, you real­ly belong there. This has always been an excel­lent blog. It’s so clean, the writ­ing is superb, the pho­tos are beau­ti­ful, the video is always inter­est­ing and of course, it’s deeply per­son­al and hon­est.

    Congratulations Jeff.

  4. Ok, I’ll be the wet blan­ket… Doesn’t any­one detect the stink of nepo­tism here? I’ve been blog­ging for quite a while, and with the likes of the Bloggies and the mul­ti­tude of oth­er self-love rank­ing con­tests, the point seems moot. If your site is good, peo­ple will find it.

    Having said that, I just stum­bled on this site tonight; it is good. :)

  5. I don’t have any rel­a­tives work­ing at 9rules, so did you mean nar­cis­sism, instead of nepo­tism?

    Assuming that this is what you meant, I don’t agree.

    My blog has noth­ing to do with “being good”. It’s sim­ply a plat­form for me to express myself. I say what I want, and I’ll nev­er pan­der to an audi­ence. Often, peo­ple don’t like my frank­ness, or the things that I talk about.

    Because of this, I’ll nev­er win a Bloggie or any such award. And I’ll nev­er ask my vis­i­tors for nom­i­na­tions or votes, which is what many blog­gers do, and what I would def­i­nite­ly con­sid­er to be acts of nar­cis­sism.

    Unlike the Bloggies, 9rules isn’t a com­pe­ti­tion. Members are all on the same lev­el. There’s no ego­tis­ti­cal “best blog” award.

    The 9rules net­work isn’t a pop­u­lar­i­ty con­test. You don’t get in based on the largest num­ber of votes. You apply. Only three peo­ple, whom I respect as sig­nif­i­cant mem­bers in the blog­ging com­mu­ni­ty, decide whether you are accept­ed or not.

    It isn’t just about net­work­ing with a wider audi­ence, it’s about net­work­ing with lead­ing mem­bers of the blog­ging com­mu­ni­ty. Since I’ve joined, I’ve been able to pick the brains of peo­ple I’ve admired. I’ve been exposed to many sites I nev­er would have come across before. You’re prob­a­bly right in say­ing that I’d come across a site even­tu­al­ly, but this has sped up the process con­sid­er­ably.

    As well, the 9rules net­work helps bring expo­sure to niche blogs. There are a few spe­cial­ized blogs that may be “good”, as you put it, but only have a small tar­get audi­ence.

    Thank you for your com­pli­ment though. :)

  6. I use the term nepo­tism loose­ly in the sense that the weblog com­mu­ni­ty has large­ly orga­nized itself into cliques (many of which shame­less­ly attempt to prop­a­gate their own self-impor­tance).

    Admittedly, I know next to noth­ing about 9rules. My eye­brow always cocks for an evaluation/acceptance sce­nario, though, and like I said — I’m a web blan­ket.

    Either way, con­grat­u­la­tions. :)

  7. Now I under­stand your use of the term nepo­tism, and I com­plete­ly agree about blog net­works prop­a­gat­ing their own self-impor­tance. This is exact­ly what I’m refer­ring to when I said “I gen­er­al­ly don’t like blog net­works” in the very first para­graph. You hit it dead on.

    9rules isn’t run by a clique though. One of the rea­sons why I like the net­work is because they don’t let in peo­ple sim­ply because they’re friends. The lead­ers have nev­er been to most of the sites they accept, so it’s an unbi­ased opin­ion.

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