When Paul first pitched me his 9rules idea last March while down in Tampa, I think today was the day that he envisioned. We originally had no homepage, then a homepage with just links, then a homepage with just a big list of sites, then a homepage with sites grouped by tags, and now today we release the current iteration of our website which tacks on two brand new sections called 9rules Communities and 9rules Featured and few thousand pages of content updated daily. So what’s the deal? Read on.
Right now, our private 9rules member forum gets about 30-40 new posts every single day by our members, so it’s most definitely thriving. For those outside the network looking in, it’s difficult to see the camaraderie formed, but the excitement of our members in the forums is palpable. Some of our members have landed full-time jobs because of connections made through 9rules, others have started new projects/companies, some others have gotten free site redesigns or technical help, and even others have landed nice client gigs too. We wanted to bring that kind of community-like atmosphere to 9rules in a big way, and 9rules Communities is a great start.
9rules Communities lets people dive into the 9rules members and their content in a whole new way — you can peruse the Technology Community to read about the latest tech mergers, go to the Movies Community to read the latest reviews, and a whole lot more. We realize that there are myriad topics covered by 9rules members (30+) so we think that bringing related sites closer helps both their members and our readers.
Another feature you might have noticed about 9rules Communities is that we are now caching member content right on our site. No, we will never be publishing the full entry (right now we publish about 200 characters for each I believe) but we are working on some cool things that will help our members out with traffic on a per-post basis. Another good thing about caching member content on our servers is that we can now index entries for searching purposes, as well as run automated scripts against them to pull out certain keywords, phrases, and tags that might be helpful to their readers. We’re working with our members right now about ways to help them out in that regard, and the reaction has been overwhelmingly positive. Our mantra has always been “content is king”, and the bucket-loads of content we have access to now opens up a ton of great possibilities.
To coincide with 9rules Communities, we now have a new area called 9rules Featured, which are weblogs written by members that highlight Community-specific content from around the Network and the web. Think of them as a type of “best of” of 9rules content, category-specific, and totally human-edited.
9rules Featured is what I’m the most excited about, because it really gives our members the additional spotlight and exposure that they’re looking for. 9rules member extraordinaire Benedict Eastaugh is now heading up the 9rules Philosophy Blog, and he’s got some really cool plans in store for his Philosophy Community. Ben will be able to spearhead the 9rules Philosophy efforts, get some community-buliding stuff going on, feature great philosophy content from around the web, and hopefully get some great new philosophy blogs to join the fun.
Right now we only have 6 different Featured blogs, but that number will be rapidly expanding over the next few days and weeks once we get our members set-up with Featured blog accounts. I anticipate the larger categories (Design, Business, etc.) to have multiple Community leaders, and therefore some fantastic content on their associated Featured blogs. My friend Scott described 9rules Featured blogs as “weblogs that blog the Network” and I think that’s a great way to think of them. Once we get some more Featured blogs up and running, 9rules will have even more great, original content to add to our growing member base. I can’t wait to see how our Community leaders like their new digs.
The Community and Featured launches are merely the beginning — they were basically a big test of our new content caching infrastructure made possible by our resident Jedi programmer Colin Devroe and our friends at (mt) Media Temple. Now that we have 9rules spiders going out every few minutes to re-index member content, the doors are now completely open as to where we can go next.
Over the next few weeks we’ll be unveiling a new homepage that does justice to the great member content, Communities, and Featured blogs. The current page doesn’t take advantage of our new infrastructure, so something more useful is definitely in order. Around that time we’ll be rolling out our new feed offerings, so that readers can subscribe to basically any section of 9rules they choose. Subscribe to individual Communities, Featured blogs, groupings of members, or basically anything else you could want to stay on top of. I’m a big Bloglines user, so this will let me stay on top of our members and all of their content much easier. I can’t wait.
Other things that are coming soon include profile pages for each 9rules member, better archive organization (view our members’ archives on 9rules.com? no way!), more synchronization with our friend Dave Pell’s company Rollyo, a more dynamic submission area, some additional functionality for Communities and Featured, and a whole lot more. We’ve been accused recently of not divulging our plans for all to see, but what can I say, we didn’t want to spoil any surprises. Steve Jobs never lets anybody know what’s coming next, so we thought we’d take some cues from the master and keep our mouths shut as well. All that matters is that our members are happy, and right now, they couldn’t be happier.