Why I Left 9rules

With all of my preamble on sharing ones side of the story, I felt the need to share why I left 9rules. I wanted to share it because a few people have asked about why I left. I want to avoid and correct any misconceptions. Whether or not this was the right thing to do remains to be seen.

In the beginning

Like any story, we need to start at the beginning. I joined 9rules back in 2005. I asked to join because I saw the opportunity to be part of a community, one founded on the idea of quality content — something I hoped I brought to the table.

For almost two years I continued to participate as best I could. In the beginning, participation within 9rules mostly came down to getting involved within the 9rules forum, a private area for members only. Like any other forum, it gave everyone a chance to share. We talked about what we were working on, helped each other out with problems, and even helped each other find a job or two.

In fact, I link my current livelihood as a freelancer to the friends and opportunities that came from being a member of that forum.

Things change

As time passed, things changed. 9rules continued to expand the network by increasing the membership. To handle the influx of new members, the site saw itself redesign once or twice. New features got added such as Notes and my.9rules. As time moved on, I saw the traffic I receive from 9rules slow to a trickle.

On the flip side, my life was getting quite busy. Client obligations were making it harder to be involved in the forums any more (and any participation was often a distraction from what I should have been doing: work). I had barely used either the Notes or my.9rules which many members had said improved their traffic.

With 9rules no longer sending traffic my way and I no longer able to participate in the forums or on the 9rules site, I felt my time within the network had run its course.

Saying goodbye

Here is what I sent to Tyme, who helps manage 9rules:

I think the time has come for me to bow out of the 9rules network.

I’ve been mulling this decision for some time but have come to the conclusion that the 9rules network and I are simply heading in two different directions.

I had decided to wait until the redesign (Ali) had launched but the push to more inclusive community efforts (like Notes and my.9r) has ultimately meant little to no traffic coming from 9rules. The communities within which I belong are crowded and my site is getting lost in the crowd. On the flip side, I also no longer have the time to invest in the new 9rules features like the Notes that may have contributed to greater success within the network.

The members forum has been the biggest plus and the people within 9rules that I’ve met has ultimately been a huge factor in allowing me to go freelance. For that, I am eternally grateful and throughout the (almost) two years I’ve been a member, I’ve continued to speak highly of 9rules and will continue to extol the benefits of 9rules membership to anybody who asks.

I commend the 9rules team for what they have accomplished and wish the best to you, Mike and Scrivs in the future.


I had intended that my email clearly stated why I left: I didn't think either of us were getting much out of me staying.

However, it seems that some felt my ego had simply grown too big. I'm sure helped in no small part by the somewhat recent forming of Sidebar Creative and the rather brash statement that "we're the best." And coincidentally (or maybe not so), Steve Smith, Bryan Veloso and I had seemingly left at the same time.

As it turns out, I left 9rules back on March 25th with Steve leaving of his own accord a couple weeks later. While I shared my experience and my plans with Steve, by no means was our leaving calculated or orchestrated. Finally, with Bryan's return from a month off from blogging, he was removed from 9rules in May.

Back to the point about ego, I'm a little surprised. I've certainly never considered myself an egotistical person. Have I crossed that line and not even realized it? If that's the case, by all means let me know.

Lessons learned?

What are the lessons I should be taking away from all of this? Should I have come out right from the get-go and shared what happened? Does anybody even really care?

Clarification: To be clear, this post was intended to clarify my reasons for leaving 9rules and not to blame Tyme (or anybody for that matter). In retrospect, my clarification may in itself have been unclear (oh the irony).

Published May 25, 2007
Categorized as Personal
Short URL: https://snook.ca/s/808


34 Comments · RSS feed
Christian Watson said on May 25, 2007

Honestly Jonathan, I can't believe that many people will care. If it was the right thing for you to do then good for you. At the end of the day you have to focus on your priorities, which is probably providing for your family (it is mine).

Sometimes you just need to step back and put things in perspective — last time I looked at the news hundreds of people were dying in Iraq every day.

Jonathan Snook said on May 25, 2007

@Christian: true, maybe this is all just useless drama. But I can't help but feel the need to vindicate myself, if only to a small group of people. Maybe that shows my insecurity.

Lance Fisher said on May 25, 2007

I can't say that I originally found your site through 9rules, but there were other blogs that were members which linked here. I subscribed because I liked the content and design. I really don't care if you are a member or not, and the message you sent to Tyme seems very reasonable and respectful. It's too bad if some people are trying to read between the lines. I've never had the impression that you are arrogant.

Jeff Croft said on May 26, 2007

I, for one, don't care one bit. And I love Scrivs. But, I don't read your blog because you're a member of any network -- I read it because it's a good blog. Period.

khaled said on May 26, 2007

It's funny but 9rules isn't what it used to be. It's a different beast to the one that both you and I joined. The smaller community where there was like 40 people had a COMPLETELY different energy to it. That isn't to say that there isn't energy there now, but it's definitely a different kind that I can't seem to get into either.

When we started it was an exclusive little club and that exclusivity is what made it special I guess, there was a lot of trust between people. Now it doesn't have that. It's got other things. I'm still undecided if I am aiding the network or visa versa to be honest.

One thing that I definitely agree with however is the fact that I will always look fondly at those early days since they really introduced me to a HUGE amount of incredibly creative and cool people.

However as with all things you only get something out of something as much as you put into it.

pablasso said on May 26, 2007

to your last question: no

Jonathan Snook said on May 26, 2007

@pablasso: I had a feeling that might be the case. :)

Bob Geiger said on May 26, 2007

Good move. 9rules began as a really great project, but turned seriously sophomoric after round three. The once celebrated quality content is non-existent. Zero. I think you and the others are better off departing if the current relationship is less than a win/win (or you could just continue to pad 9rules' Google PR with that leaf, in spite of getting absolutely nothing in return). Honestly, I don't think anyone really cares about 9rules anymore. It is just a glorified forum, isn't it?

Resurrect Inksmith, maybe? Now that would be exciting!

Good luck to you and the others on the new projects.

Paul Armstrong said on May 26, 2007

I've gotta say, I actually feel that you are one of the very few "A-Listers" that don't have such a giant ego. I've seen a lot of people in the web design world make it big with one hit and then become so full of themselves, they seem to be a completely different person.

Kilian Valkhof said on May 26, 2007

The way you come across always seemed more on the timid rather than the inflated ego side, actually. (Do stay like that! :)

I don't think anyone really cares, or cares longer than a day. Do whatever is best for you, because the rest of the world will try and do the same :)

Brandon said on May 26, 2007

If it helps, I found you via the 9Rules Network only weeks ago and am now an RSS subscriber. Perhaps the return from 9Rules isn't as apparent, when you have a high percentage of people who might bookmark or subscribe to your feed.

Fredrik Wärnsberg said on May 26, 2007

The impression you've always given me is that you're a very helpful and humble person (without having met you in reality). You leaving 9r won't affect that impression.

Carolyn said on May 26, 2007

I've worked with you and interacted with you a bit online, and I have to say you most definitely do NOT have an inflated ego. I'd go on with a series of compliments, but you'd only be embarrassed.

David Hemphill said on May 26, 2007

I don't think you have an inflated ego at all. I know from what little I've talked to you online and at SXSW that you're kind, helpful, and knowledgeable.

However, I find it interesting that many of the "names" I know of online have left 9rules. It almost seems like it's been a middle step for some at arriving as an established name. And even though you don't have time to fiddle with the new 9rules tools, you still manage to put out some good content, which is what keeps me subscribed.

Nate Klaiber said on May 26, 2007

I think you are making the right decision. I was unaware you had left (but I was also unaware you were there in the first place). 9rules always seemed too 'cluttered' to me, but thats nothing against them - I just have different ways of browsing/finding things. I think that its beneficial for BOTH of you - if people ultimately aren't coming to your site from there, and you aren't using the tool anymore - then why 'waste the space' (not that you are a waste of space....you get what I mean).

I think it was a good decision - in no way would I attribute this to a large ego.

I agree with Paul Armstrong - you are a top notch developer who is here to help web developers at any level.

Kyle said on May 27, 2007

Jonathan, while I don't really care which way or another who stays and goes in the network, I can at least offer you a bit of why some people thought it was egotistical: It was merely the fact that you left without saying goodbye. Little actions like that tend to make people come to conclusions well before they have any information.

From our side of the fence one of our most active members suddenly wasn't there... and then we figured out on our own that you had left 9rules. (in fact, the only way we figured out was someone noting your site was missing from their my.9rules favorites).

To me, that's the part that sucked. It's kind of like thinking you're friends with someone, hanging out with them and then they leave town for a new job without telling you. It casts a shadow of "I'm better than you, and you don't need to know why I'm leaving." I know you didn't intend that, but that's most certainly the interpretation.

For me, I don't really hold any grudges to any of the people who have left, be it happily or not happily. 9rules does need to think about how to 'let go' of members, because this situation has come up several times now. Every time someone leaves, it scars the community a little more. IMHO (and I'm not blaming you), it's these scars that changed the shape of the community from the "early days" like Khaled was talking about.

But for me, I'm just going to keep contributing to 9rules because it's brought me nothing but good things. I can't say one negative thing 9rules has brought to me, and I can list a hundred positive things. To me, that's all I need to stay aboard.

Volkher Hofmann said on May 27, 2007

To be quite honest, when I heard you had left, I thought you might have left for exactly those reasons (one or any combination thereof) you mentioned here. I also did not have the feeling anyone was holding any grudges.

Good luck with everything and I'll be around here again and again because it's an exciting site. Lots of interesting design and redesign going on here ... and lots of interesting writing!

Jonathan Snook said on May 27, 2007

@kyle: you've raised some very interesting points. Saying goodbye to the members would have been a good idea and I regret now not doing that. I am still disappointed that someone could read what I wrote above and come to the conclusion that my decision was ego-driven.

Justin Palmer said on May 27, 2007

I left a couple weeks ago myself. Like you I rarely used any of the new community features, and I have been staying too busy to write anything of worth lately so I wasn't of any real use to 9Rules and 9Rules wasn't really useful to me anymore (not to be taken in a hateful context).

Gil Creque said on May 27, 2007

I can say that I personally do not care and I hadn't even noticed that you were no longer a member prior to this post. I originally found your blog because of 9rules and the reason I've kept reading is because of your content, not because of your affiliation.

When I first discovered 9rules years ago I was very excited. They were a gateway to a lot of blogs that interested me and I was happy to find other intelligent people out there who shared the same interests as me and shared a lot of information. After about a year of trying to keep up with all of 9rules additions I gave up. I couldn't read that many blogs in one day. I stopped going to the site all together and focused on the blogs that consistently kept me entertained or informed. Of course Snook made the cut and I've been a happy reader ever since.

If people have a problem with you then it's their problem, not yours. It only becomes your problem if you let it. ;-)

As always, keep up the good work and know that your readers do not care about your affiliation.

WD Milner said on May 28, 2007

I found you originally via a refernece in an article on another 9RUles member site. This was just after the first round of "submit to join". I used to enjoy the design blogs and have learned considerably from you and from others. Like Gil above, I frequent 9Rules much less these days for reasons similar to yours and his. It is becoming just another portal site, albeit a good looking one for the most part. Are you arrogant and/or egotistical? No I wouldn't say that.

Carson said on May 29, 2007

Jonathan, I think I probably know you, because of our professional relationship, better than most folks who are reading your blog or making assumptions about your motives, and I can comfortably say that calling you egotistical or arrogant is laughably absurd.

As a fellow 9r member, I completely understand where you're coming from, and frankly, I have no idea how leaving 9r would benefit your ego anyway, especially given the inconspicuous way you left. I think the reason you left 9r without saying goodbye is precisely because you don't have an ego problem.

If you thought you were that special or important, you would have been flapping your arms and making a scene about leaving. Instead you chose to quietly slip out the back door. Classy IMO, not arrogant.

cpawl said on May 29, 2007

9rules always came off as some exclusive club to begin with. The funny thing is, if you check out their blog groups the majority of them can be found by visiting only one of the featured blogs. Not sure of the exact group(s) since I do not bother with 9rules ... but Zeldman links to Jason who like Rob, who links to Shaun, who links to you, where Croft and Milner comment, who link to Khoi, ...etc. All the same anyway. Especially during SXSW. No big whoop - you left. Keep moving forward.

GazElms said on May 30, 2007

Just leave man, dont think about it. I hate sites with numbers in the url anyway, 9 this, 42 that, 99 red baloons. Had enough

GazElms said on May 30, 2007

One more thing. Having an ego is a good thing. I kick ass and everyone else is rubbish. Is that an ego problem? Yes? Great!! I love my ego problem.

Montoya said on May 31, 2007

I don't think there is anything in your reasons that indicates an ego problem.

Nathan Logan said on May 31, 2007

Having met you and talked with you at the last two SXSW events, you are anything but egocentric. Rather, you are one of the most approachable people I met there.

Let these critiques roll off your back - anyone who's met or interacted with you knows them to be inapplicable. You're a good guy who does good work and produces good content on his blog - and we all know that.

Killer Cali said on June 04, 2007

9 rules still exists? No offense.... it is a great effort, but it's old news. Maybe 9 rules is the one w/ the ego problem. I'm pretty sick of seeing that logo plastered all over blogs. Keep on rockin' in the free world Snook!

Abi Titmuss said on June 05, 2007

9 rules is so 2003. I'm amazed its still going.

AJ said on June 09, 2007

I didn't even realize you left. I was in the middle of writing my own upcoming piece on the "lost blog network" and my own succession when I noticed this post. I agree with your decision. 9r isn't what it once was and could have been.

Nick said on June 22, 2007

I have more respect for your as an independent than I did when you felt the need to brand and label yourself as "9rules." I read the 9r site on occasion and the three amigos are the largest egos of the bunch... it is looking more and more like a pump-and-dump scheme at the moment with the goal of building a community and selling out to the highest bidder.

Keep up the great work.

Johan said on June 29, 2007

Maybe you reconsidered your idea what your idea of what 9rules meant for you at the time. At the time you were still in your first year(-s) of blogging and you felt that joining a network of blogs was cool, and something valuable for you and your readership, the reason why other blogs are linked to the 9rules network. Probably, it was just a temporary fling!

Amran said on October 22, 2008

I use to have a lot of respect for 9rules, but my thought of their network totally changed when I saw this on their 9rules sponsors. This is arrogant at the highest level. A ex-small fly who are big now and forgot that everyone start small.

----------- From the website -----------
9rules Sponsors
We only accept advertising from companies with money. Contact Us.
----------- From the website -----------

Jonathan Snook said on October 22, 2008

@Amran: I can certainly see how you'd think that statement is arrogant. Their intent, though, is likely humour. Often times, people will ask to advertise in exchange for services or a link exchange. What they are saying here is that those types of requests aren't what they're looking for.

Sorry, comments are closed for this post. If you have any further questions or comments, feel free to send them to me directly.