Tyme has a good grip on what a network technically is:
Lots of talk about blog networks. I have a pet peeve. Figured I might as well discuss it. First, what is a blog network? In my opinion, the network has to have ownership or some sort of control of the blogs. Not necessarily 100% control but some controlling interest.
Blog Networks come in a range of shapes and sizes and have been designed with different purposes in mind – but in a sense if you strip them all back they are simply clusters of blogs that are in some way linked together under a common name or banner.
So what is 9rules? They claim not to be a network, but is that just a way to avoid a label that causes confusion and chaos among bloggers who are trying to avoid conflicts?
In my opinion, while the business of a blog network is very similar to Tyme’s view – the network owns a stake in the blogs, etc – the reality is that a network is really just a collection of blogs with a common ground. In the case of 9rules, they all group together under the 9rules banner for the sake of community and sharing. That is, by Darren’s definition, a network. However, under Tyme’s definition it is not.
With 9rules, the blogs are owned by the bloggers and monetized by bloggers. I’d love to be proven wrong on this. I really don’t know, but this is what I gather.
This is also not a flame against 9rules. There are inherent problems with blog networks for both the network (the business) and the bloggers. Networks often times don’t have the highest trafficked blogs because so much is done in bulk. Sometimes the topics are far beyond niche and into the realm of distantly interesting. But the flip side of that is that networks have resources in terms of business and human to turn even the most obscure blog into a thriving success if executed upon. The negative side for bloggers is very individually dependant on the network and the terms under which a network blogger writes. Sometimes the pay is lucrative and other times, it takes a lot of individual effort to make a buck. It all depends.
In the case of 9rules, I would define them as a network, even if they avoid the label. They drive traffic, tons of it as I understand, to constituent blogs. They promote each other via community and linking. That to me is a network.