Get out when things don't make sense anymore.
This week I received an email from Thyme, the COO of 9rules, informing me that the user agreement had changed, and that I must agree to the new terms to retain my membership.
My first thought was "Nice, it is about time they updated the membership agreement. I wonder what new stuff is addressed or highlighted?" After reading for a couple of seconds my good vibes quickly soured. I discovered that the change in the agreement centered around participation in the private forum and/or "my.9rules".
This is not a post about how unfair the new requirements are, although I don't agree with them, or the reasons given by members to justify them. The idea that the weight given to a members content should be gauged by their participation in a private forum or social community and not by the quality of said content is absurd. Life's not fair, write better content.
I haven't had a featured article on 9rules in years, the guys at Particle Tree have been writing better development focused articles than I have (for instance) of course they should be given more exposure than me. But I have moved past the point of this entry, so lets get back on track.
I want to talk about something else that is more profoundly disturbing, and the reason for my exit from 9rules. What my friend Rich likes to call "astro-turfing" or the faking of grassroots and the secretive, non-inclusive nature of how this decision was reached. First lets talk about astro-turfing.
When it is forced, that's when.
Community is very important to me, it is one of the driving forced behind Habari, so don't think I am poo-pooing the desire to have more dynamic, engaging community. The fact of the matter is that I left the private forums (which I was very active in once upon a time) because the content of the forum was either requests for members to digg each others entries, or someone hocking a service.
I don't want to help you game digg, and I don't want to wade through a thousand posts from people looking for a new freelance job. I want to see topics that matter: free speech online, blogging as a foundation stone of new media and journalism, how blogging changed the world of wartime reporting. Things that matter.
That wasn't happening so I left the forum. Forcing participation now will not increase the quality of the community interaction. It will only make it hollow and forced.
I have to say I think this was handled poorly. Had there been a brief email sent around letting the members know that a discussion was happening, I would have shown up, since this is the type of thing I am actually interested in. Things that matter. But it didn't and I didn't, so here we are.
Unfortunately the way it was handled tells me that I am no longer valued as a member of 9rules, which is a shame since I really believe in the ethos that Scrivs founded the network on: That there needs to be someone out there who connects people with good content.
This is Sillyness Spelled Wrong Intentionally. Going strong for 11 years, 1 day and 10 hours