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Foot In The Mouth Apology

Back in September 2005 9rules was featured on TechCrunch, but not in the cool way all Valleyites hope for. Back over a year ago, only a few months after launching our first site, many people were linking to 9rules in a manner of ways like 9Rules, 9 Rules, 9 rules, and so on. We thought we’d write a joking entry over at our blog to clear the situation up but many people thought we were being jerks, and after reading the entry over a few times I have to agree. Some things like sarcasm and a smile don’t translate well to the web, but the combination of saying something dumb and trying to be sarcastic just doesn’t work at all.

At the end of September this year, a few weeks ago, blog network b5media raised a Series A venture round, and although we’re not direct competitors we are still in the same space together. Whenever a blog-related company launches something new it’s big news since it’s a small industry niche that we’re in, so when b5media announced their funding round it brought out various reactions from around the blog world, some of which I talked about here. Taking on funding is a bit step for many reasons, but regardless, major props need to be sent over to b5.

One of the reasons I like blogging so much is because it’s a soapbox for me to speak and see what others have to say in response. On many entries here I analyze a company, talk about the executives, maybe joke about their users, be sarcastic regarding their popularity, but generally just have a good time talking about the web industry that I love so much. The problem with doing the same thing with a company in our niche getting funded is that you can’t knock on parts of a blog network because they’re all run by an actual person somewhere, at their house, writing about what they love, and I made the terrible mistake of crossing that line. I commented at Valleywag the same way I write joking entries here, but it was totally unnecessary and I got rightfully murdered for it. Regardless of what I meant by the comment, I offended a lot of people and for that I’m truly sorry. My comments didn’t need to be said, and no one has the right to comment on someone’s passion.

A bit later I posted a link in the 9rules Humor community referencing the Valleywag post, and I stuck my foot in my mouth there as well. At the end of the post I linked to a few b5media blogs I saw listed in their sidebar randomly, and without giving it a second thought, published the list. I only meant to poke fun at b5 over their Valleywag feature, not insult anyone who wrote for any of their blogs, but it was taken that way and I’m very sorry for that too. I’m an idiot.

The problems came to a head yesterday when the Blog Herald tried to incite a comment war between 9rules, b5media and everyone else, but we didn’t show up. I’ve upset enough people in this whole mess so heading to BH (like I might have done in the past) just wasn’t a good idea — my blog network analysis and sarcasm hat has been hung up. I’ve emailed those who I’ve pissed off and tried to bury the hatchet, and this post is just another attempt at putting things behind me and moving forward.

From now on I’m staying far away from any type of blog network analysis, sarcasm, comment war, or anything else because not only is it not worth it now, it’s never been worth it. 9rules is very popular around the world and one of the responsibilities that goes with running a company like that is knowing when to shut up, knowing when to apologize, and knowing when to keep your feet on the ground. This was one of those times when I stuck my foot in my mouth and didn’t mean to offend anyone, but it happened, and I think writing an entry in such a public manner is my only real way to repent.

Back to your normal programming…

About Mike Rundle

Comments

  1. franky says:

    Wow! Although I am not used to do this, congrats on having made this entry Mike.

    Nevertheless, I do hope Business Logs will not change too much, because certain people do appreciate what you write here. Maybe because they can read inbetween the snark, or have the same style.
    Besides that I do think many communities need outspoken personalities. And you are one of those, a thing I always liked about 9rules. As you could read in the b5 comments, I do like both platforms.

    Maybe it now is time that all the big dudes go sit together and fight together the online media, time for some UBN? United Blog Nations? Even Arrington wrote today he thinks more before he writes.

    Keep up the criticism, many people like me learn alot from it, just think of the howto. ;-)

  2. Mike Rundle says:

    Hey Franky, thanks for the comment :)

    I’m not going to pull punches and make Business Logs lame, but I am going to steer clear of blog networks or companies that could be thought of as 9rules competitors just to keep my nose clean. I think that’s really the only way to keep my pants from falling down to my ankles lol.

  3. I think you shouldn’t necessarily hang up your hat on the analysis front. If you strip out the jokes (which is hard for me to do in my own writing) you still have some kernels to build some constructive criticism upon.

    We all suffer from foot-in-mouth from time to time… Comes from publishing in a medium where editing is eschewed.

    That said, there is a place for humor in this industry. And I think you said it right: don’t criticize the passion in people, but I’d add it is okay to criticize actions. Constructively of course.

  4. Actually, it was my blog that you chose to ridicule:
    http://www.sacreddollsandbears.com
    and, no, I have not received an apology from you.
    We’ve had 3 deaths in our family this week, so your mocking comment didn’t make life any easier. Perhaps, before you heap scorn on someone, you might pause for a moment and consider if it just might have a negative impact? Words can hurt and words can heal. I think that there is already more than enough negativity swirling around out there. Why add more?

  5. Mike Rundle says:

    Sorry Noreen, I could not find an email link on your to send you a personal apology, but this entry was written to you especially. I sincerely apologize for my comments and your losses.

  6. karmatosed says:

    Yep all of us have those moments, I tend to go on the fortnightly regular as clockwork uh argh gob running away times. Humour has a place – just pity sarcasm is never interpretted well online. Keep the passion though and as has been said constructive criticism works. I hope this gets taken the way it’s meant and that other sides also see this the way it’s meant and also take a step back. Kudos on this post though and it does take something to do this. Just don’t loose your voice or water it down too much. Take a fews day to recharge, spend time with your partner and play with your dog. Come back fresh and with the playing field rebalanced.

  7. Well fair enough Mike. I’ve stuck up for you a lot internally, since I’ve actually met you and all, but I nearly lost it last week. It’s good to know that it wasn’t where you were really coming from.

    While you didn’t attack me personally, it sure felt that way.

    Personally I love constructive criticism, so feel free to email me thoughts whenever mate. I think things just get out of hand in public between our groups for some reason. Maybe it’s just plain old fashioned pride in what we’ve each built, eh?

    Either way, move on, keep Business Logs going, and keep rocking it with 9rules :)

  8. John says:

    Mike, I don’t think you needed to apologize like this but it definitely shows your true character. I’d hate to see your sharp commentary get dull just because you’re holding back or afraid of upsetting some people.

    The blog world is filled with commentary from all sorts of people on all sorts of subjects, business or personal, and you have to have a thick skin to be a part of it. It’s unfortunate that some people let your fairly benign comments get to them personally but that’s just the way it goes — you live and learn.

  9. Welcome to my life, Mike. Join me in trying to keep our collective noses clean. It won’t always happen, but when it does, owning up is best.

    From a b5 lightning rod to a 9rules lightning rod,
    Aaron

  10. Matt Craven says:

    Mike,

    Well said!

    Matt

  11. Brian Clark says:

    Mike, I was so mad at you in the last week that I’ve literally deleted comment text (before hitting submit) three times at 9 rules and at Valleywag.

    My mother would not have approved at some of the names I almost called you.

    Thanks for stepping up. It really goes a long way.

  12. Bah. You’re entitled to your opinion, and I don’t think your comments are that bad. The owner of “sacreddollsandbears” does have a right to be offended – singling that one out was the only really bad part of your comment. Everyone else needs to develop a thicker skin and realize that there are much, much worse things out there on the Internets than intelligent people who disagree with your business model.

  13. John says:

    Over at Blog Herald you’ve got Martin calling you guys a bunch of pussies, I’ve read before people calling 9rules leaders idiots and assholes and worse. I don’t think you’ve ever personally attacked someone — you just criticize the company not the individual — so I think a lot of this is two-faced. It’s okay for people to gang up and mock you personally in a public forum, but when you criticize a blog for being lame or a company for whatever you get villafied and strung out to dry? That’s pretty fucked up.

    I’ve read that you’ve taken potshots at b5media more than anyone else, but what about the blogs who talk about 9rules just to get more comments than they’ve ever had before? The most commented posts at Blog Herald are when they take shots at 9rules, so I think they bite at your ankles just to grab a piece of your popularity and turn it into cheap pageviews.

  14. Mike Rundle says:

    Thanks for the comments everybody.

    John – I’m sure that people have their reasons, and whether they’re personal or business or they’re friends with somebody who doesn’t like me, it’s fine with me. I’m not going to get into it anymore because it’s just not worth it. I’ve said things I stand behind and I’ve also said things I regret, but the hatchet is officially buried in my opinion :)

  15. Devin says:

    I like how you’ve stepped back and apologized. I know you’re passionate about what you do and you love all this. I think, obviously, that emotion can get the best of us. Not everything needs to be replied to, not every comment needs to result in pages of discussion; that’s how I felt every time I heard something about b5 from 9rules.

    Your Business Logs post was good, I enjoyed reading it. The other stuff? Well, I’m happy to see you apologized. The cultures are different and I’d hate to have seen this go against the 9rulers. In any case, you’re the man, Mike.

    -dreams

  16. Brian Clark says:

    >>Everyone else needs to develop a thicker skin…

    OK, let’s start with you.

    Shut the fuck up, stupid.

    How’s it feel?

  17. How many feet have you got, Mike? :-)

    Actually, it takes a big character to stand up and face the flak when you’ve gone overboard on something — as we all do from time to time.

    As you imply, the net is multi-ethnic, multi-cultural, multi-everything. You have to be careful about irony, sarcasm, in-jokes, anything that isn’t right down the middle, because everyone potentially can see it. Politeness is the only virtue in such an environment.

    My own view is that any criticism that’s not constructive is just peevishness. Such people should go and get their livers sorted out.

  18. Brian Clark says:

    OK, I shouldn’t have said that, right?

    I take it back. All better?

    Not likely. Telling people to get a thicker skin is not the answer here, and I once again thank Mike for this post.

  19. Tyme says:

    I was enjoying the conversation until I got to Brian’s comment telling a commenter to STFU. That is unprofessional, undignified and I cannot express my disappointment in your behavior Brian degrading this discussion with such immature behavior.

    Brian, you can act a fool on your blog but how dare you come to someone else’s and show such a lack of respect.

  20. Mike Rundle says:

    Thanks for the comments everyone, very much appreciated. I’m closing the conversation down now because I think all that has to be said has been said.