One of the changes in the latest version of equivocality is the removal of the 9rules leaf from my footer, marking my official departure from the network.
The community served me well in the past, and I’m proud to say that 9rules introduced me to many awesome people — Dave Seah, Edrei Zahari, Nils Geylen, Joe Lencioni to name a few — some of whom I’ve been lucky enough to meet in person, and others I still hope to meet one day. I can say that just knowing them has made my time with the community worth it, even if I got nothing else out of it.
But eventually there were sweeping changes. A revised membership agreement controversially stated that participation in the private forum (the “Clubhouse”) was required, but it went stale anyway. At one point there was an exodus of very prominent and active members who were big names in web design and development. 9rules even got bought out, and years ago this news would have made waves in the web community, but when it happened, there wasn’t so much as a ripple.
Most troubling, however, was the behaviour of the upper echelon. They refused to be criticized, and instead of rolling with the punches or respectfully disagreeing, they would often write long posts, rudely bashing any uncomplimentary articles point-by-point. In a way, I understand. If I put that much energy into something, I’d want it to be universally praised. But that’s never going to happen with something as big as 9rules.
Soon I learned that the triad thought they were above fault. I saw it in the forums when a member would opine about a change. The triad would take offense, close the thread, then open a new one, explaining their actions and looking for support from other members. Others learned that disagreeing with the triad could get you summarily dismissed. A person leaving the community was taken as a personal insult, and they’d respond snidely, even when the person had every right and good reasons to leave. The leaders of a community represent their members, and when they do things that embarrass themselves, they embarrass the members as well.
Eventually, I decided to continue as a non-participating member and distance myself from the overall network; 9rules would get as much out of my content as I did from being a member of such a community. But after the last few rounds of acceptances, I found the quality of the pages to be extremely low, and I no longer wanted to be associated with the content or the people of 9rules.
I’ve tried to turn a blind eye to many things in the past, always hoping there would be new leadership and innovation around the corner, but too much of 9rules has left a bad taste in my mouth. It makes me sad to see a network that once won the Best Community Site of the Year award at SXSW disintegrate into this, but there’s no reason for me to stay anymore.