9rules Writing Community

9rules strikes me as potentially a great idea. It’s basically a conglomeration of blogs, each of which has been approved as reaching a certain standard of quality.

The 9rules Network 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.

They have periodic application periods when they winnow out the sheep from the goats and accept the sheep. The approved blogs are then sorted by subject.

Since blogs are many and multiplying, any way of finding the good stuff has to be a good thing. But I decided to look at the blogs which have been accepted into the 9rules Writing Community. It hasn’t given me great faith in their quality control. One of the various principles they claim for themselves is that

A nicely-designed site might draw readers in, but it’s the content that keeps them coming back.

But given that at least two of the ten in their ‘writing community’ are blogs which are nicely designed but whose content is seriously poor (1, 2), I find myself unpersuaded. The most likely scenario is that the people who selected the blogs just weren’t very literary by inclination; my point really is that they aren’t doing their credibility any good.

In the interests of balance I’ll point out one more 9rules literary blog, PoetryReviews.Ca, where they review Canadian poetry books and seem to do a good job of it.

But generally the 1rule which is most important seems to be ‘style over content’. Perhaps that’s unfair. Perhaps the many good blogs that can be found among my long poetry blogroll just haven’t applied, so 9rules don’t know what they’re missing.

13 Comments

  1. 30 July 2006 at 12:24 am | Permalink

    Thanks for the good ink Harry.

    A supreme honor to bag a bad review from you…

  2. Peter
    30 July 2006 at 12:25 am | Permalink

    This is a funny post, especially since your blog has no solid direction and the visitors to your blog do not even know its purpose. Your content is far more poor than the sites you listed. Actually, the blogs you listed (9rules, 1, 2, and poetry review) have great content and I am adding them to my favorites. It’s obvious your site didn’t get selected, so now you are bitter.

  3. Harry
    30 July 2006 at 1:05 am | Permalink

    Hi folks.

    Curiously enough, I had no agenda at all – I just wandered across 9rules and decided to comment. But thanks for dropping by.

    Harry

  4. 30 July 2006 at 1:46 am | Permalink

    Harry, I see your point. But my response is “don’t complain; do it yourself.” I’ve been having a ball finding things to excerpt in my sidebar Smorgasblog – it makes blog reading into a daily treasure hunt – but if you don’t have time for something like that, I gather there are apps that let you syndicate snips from a few, choice blogs. My point is I think we could all be doing more to promote each other, rather than relying on a few, bogus “communities” to pick the winners. Screw them.

  5. 30 July 2006 at 4:22 am | Permalink

    You’re all missing the point. The point is, the future has suddenly become clear to me: I am going to marry Andrew Eglinton and transmit the rot with him forever. Thanks, Harry!

  6. Harry
    30 July 2006 at 8:40 am | Permalink

    Dave, you’re quite right of course. One of the virtues of the internet is that it usually is possible to do it yourself, and the Smorgasblog is a nice way to do it. I think my annoyance is partly due to long-term frustration at the kind of stuff which is generally presented to the public as ‘poetry’. It’s one of the few things that gives me sympathy for professional philosophers.

    N-a-F: just glad to be of service, ma’am. *tugs forelock*

  7. Tom
    30 July 2006 at 4:01 pm | Permalink

    How do you define “seriously poor content”?

  8. Harry
    30 July 2006 at 5:19 pm | Permalink

    Hi Tom.

    I’d rather define good content. There are lots of different ways to write poetry, but here are some of the kinds of things I might hope to find in a poem:

    Good poetry is surprising, interesting, and nuanced. It makes use of striking imagery and the sonic qualities of language. It takes familiar things and makes them unfamiliar. It makes the reader meet it halfway. It shows a feel for the texture of language and uses it in a fresh way.

    The two poems I picked out lack those qualities. They are not examples of good poetry. I feel slightly unfair in picking those two writers out, since their poems are no worse than most of the poetry on the internet. But ‘the best of the independent web’? No.

  9. 31 July 2006 at 8:24 pm | Permalink

    Well in the interest of full disclosure, our Writing Community is still in its fledgling stages and we realize that it needs time to grow and be nurtured. We believe our members are of a high quality, and if you want to disagree you’re free to, obviously. Many people trust the recommendations that we provide, so if they’re good enough for our readers then we’re going to be happy with the decision of inviting them to join 9rules.

  10. Harry
    31 July 2006 at 8:55 pm | Permalink

    Hi Mike.

    In retrospect, what annoyed me was probably not that I thought 9rules’s choices were exceptionally bad; it’s that I thought they were very typical. I think those choices say quite a lot about what our culture thinks poetry should be. If I was starting again with that post, I would do a better job of bringing in the general cultural context, and downplay the importance of 9rules and the specific blogs.

    Nonetheless, as someone with a belief in poetry as an important artform, I think it deserves better treatment. Possibly my approach would lose you readers – who knows.

  11. 31 July 2006 at 9:31 pm | Permalink

    “Perhaps the many good blogs that can be found among my long poetry blogroll just haven’t applied, so 9rules don’t know what they’re missing.”

    That’s exactly it Harry, and unfortunately we don’t have many connections in the poetry/writing communities (versus the design, technology, development communities) so our reach is definitely limited. We’re very interested in finding new blogs though, so hopefully soon we can use your blogroll as a resource and specifically invite some great literary blogs based on your recommendations.

  12. Bacchanalian Dance
    1 August 2006 at 8:51 am | Permalink

    “Good poetry is surprising, interesting, and nuanced. It makes use of striking imagery and the sonic qualities of language. It takes familiar things and makes them unfamiliar. It makes the reader meet it halfway. It shows a feel for the texture of language and uses it in a fresh way.”

    Good lord, the day any self-respecting poet actually stops to listen to this kind of male, western, logocentric cyber babble, he/she will at least have the comfort of knowing that the competition is weak. I suggest, Mr Rutherford, that you go back over your oh so illustrious blogroll and ask yourself a simple question: who am I to define an age-old art form in five measily little sentences?

    Now let’s have a look at one of Harry’s poems:

    “Harmison’s dew-pearled

    The lark’s on the wing,
    The snail’s on the thorn,
    Harmison is on fire,
    Panesar is taking key wickets,
    Pietersen is holding his catches,
    God’s in his heaven –
    All’s right with the world!
    As I’m sure Browning meant to say.”

    I think this poem is really surprising, interesting, and nuanced. Well done!

  13. Harry
    1 August 2006 at 8:56 am | Permalink

    No, that’s a piece of silly doggerel.

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