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An Ordinary Anniversary

Ten years ago this month, a handful of guys got together and founded a site that they called The League of Ordinary Gentlemen.

I wasn’t there, but I’m sure it was magnificent. Sir Mark of Jersey lays out some of the details here.

I personally didn’t start reading until later that year. I was doing my own thing at Hit Coffee where I had a “no politics” rule. I was reading and rarely commenting on other political sites at the time. One of the few was The American Scene, which had a commenter named Freddie, who linked back to The League. Then, someone in Hit Coffee’s corner of the blogosphere, Burt Likko, also joined the staff. The site just kept popping up on my radar.

There is no site but this one that would have gotten me back into political blogging. The writing was good but the commenting section was even better. It was a place where things weren’t just debated, but discussed. I had no intention of being a contributor until I did. I had no intention of being an editor until I was asked to be one. There is nowhere that would have happened but here.

The site has evolved a great deal over the years. It started off as an ideologically balanced forum for discussion. Its politics have evolved and, contrary to the fears of predictions of many, never quite settled in a specific place. In 2014 it had the biggest change, with both a site redesign and a changed name from League of Ordinary Gentlemen to Ordinary Times. Then last year, we finally changed our URL to match the new name. We have a raft of new contributors, and hope to be bringing in some new readers and commenters to match. (You can help us out by liking us on Facebook and sharing our content.)

To celebrate the anniversary, Mike Dwyer and I came up with the idea to invite a bunch of elder statesmen to make their return or make a point of contributing this month. Founders, people who were pivotal to the site, and maybe a person or two of notorious note. With any luck, you will see some old familiar names again. Rather than soliciting a bunch of posts like this, these will be posts of the sort they wrote when they were here, or were contributing more regularly. In some ways, I think that – and hopefully a good discussion beneath them – is the ultimate tribute The League of Ordinary Gentlemen and Ordinary Times.


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Will Truman is the Editor-in-Chief of Ordinary Times. He is also on Twitter. ...more →

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37 thoughts on “An Ordinary Anniversary

  1. Well this should be fun and weird. It feels sort of like a HS reunion though that would suggest i avoid the whole thing since it makes me feel like a shy dorkwad teenager. I will find all the music i used to listen to years ago while i read the posts to complete the experience. King Crimson was all the rage with the kids when this started right?

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  2. The League/Ordinary Times had to be one of the few blogs that changed a lot over the years but still manages to exist. The early commentators were all over the political map but the readership was mainly right-leaning or libertarian. By the time I joined, it was more liberal-leaning place with relatively more mainstream politics.

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    • There really has been a lot of change over the years. I started to write a paragraph on that before deciding it would take too many words. But that’s about right. It started off ideologically balanced but then shifted right. When Positive Liberty folded into it that brought a lot of libertarians on the front page and some collaboration with Balloon Juice brought leftward commenters over.

      Trump kind of scrambled everything. Or maybe clarified it. Not a lot of support for him, to say the least, though not a lot of consensus on what the biggest problem with him is.

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    • The early commenters seem to be right leaning or libertarian only because you came in after Positive Liberty, a libertarian blog (consisting of James Hanley, Jason Kuznicki, Jonathan Rowe, Jim Babka and DA Ridgely) collapsed. Three of those people joined the masthead over here following that collapse and pulled a number of commenters from there (including myself) to the league. Prior to that, the league was more centrist with lots of people who combined left and right-ish views in very odd ways. If I remember correctly, you found us just as the libertarian influence was waning.

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  3. I had no idea Ordinary Times/League of Ordinary Gentleman was 10 years old! I haven’t been here anywhere near as long as many commenters here (I first stumbled upon this site on Twitter maybe a year and a half ago). It’s interesting reading the comments of old-school posters and contributors to find out just how much this site has changed in its time.

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  4. Space Awesome! Happy anniversary everyone. I know I found the LoOG from Andrew’s site I believe one of Jason’s post. Probably in 2010 can’t remember. I want to thank the commetariat and especially all those behind the scenes that make this such a great place to hang out.

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  5. I wasn’t here right from the beginning, but I don’t think it was too long after; it was back when Barrett Brown was still a regular commenter. Like North I came here thanks to a link from the Dish, though I lurked for years before I ever started commenting. Should be interesting to see former Leaguers stopping back in.

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  6. I found this place via the blogroll on BHL, which had just popped up randomly on my FB feed about seven or so years ago. So FB >> BHL >>OG. Really appreciate the atmosphere of generally respectful discourse between disparate political angles. Been hooked ever since. Really it’s the only site I regularly visit apart from FB and lately Twitter. FWIW, it’s also the only place on the internet I’ve ever had any scribbles published, so that happened. Happy Anniversary!!

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  7. I found it via The American Scene. That was dying, a someone had mentioned this place. I popped in and found it was pretty seriously ideologically balanced. I liked that, as it made real discussion possible.

    We were so young.

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  8. I came here after Culture 11 blowed up and after I got banned from Redstate in 2008. (The earliest comment I could find was this one back from March 2009. I was yelling at Freddie. Sigh.) But I *LURKED* for a couple of weeks before taking a deep breath and commenting.

    Since, even then, the site felt like it had been around forever, I feel like “The New Guy”.

    Ten years. Golly.

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  9. 10 years later, this remains the only site on the Internet that I consistently get pleasure from reading.

    I’m sorry my contributions have been few and far between over these last few years. There’s a strong likelihood I can start consistently contributing again starting sometime this year.

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  10. I remember many arguments, many political, a surprising amount about food and drink.

    This is the only site other than C4SS (an anarchist think tank project of sorts) that has requested more than one guest post from me. I really don’t write anymore (life stuff and mental health — sitting thinking about the world and how much is utterly wrong imo and should be changed long enough to write columns about it makes me want to drink more and throw stuff) tho, just tweet.

    It was good to come here and get into actual *discussions*, really never got that outside of the old days of forums. Glad this site is still around.

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    • I wish you would write more. If i recall correctly you where well centered between the left and right at a very low y-axis point on the political compass.

      I have a theory, that if we have a shot of self governing and a possible lasting peace, it will come from a vantage point very close to where you are.

      The reason you are likely frustrated is because the world has gone mad, and you are the only one holding the sanity meter.

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  11. I want to say it was 2010 or ’11 that I started lurking here. Regardless of how much I comment, this is one site that I consistently return to. I’m glad the site’s still going strong. Congratulations!

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  12. I can’t remember when I started imposing my will on everyone here… maybe ’14-ish…because I definitely lurked for about two years, not wanting to interrupt the liberal interplay – which is why I came in the first place: to see what smart liberals think and why. Of course, I’m a bit idiosyncratic on the political spectrum… so when I hear you folks talking about the liberals and the libertarians it sounds to me like you are distinguishing between your brother Daryl and your other brother Daryl.

    I’ll echo what others have said; the commentariate is why I come here (sorry content generators… grist for the grist god*). I’ll add also that it isn’t simply a good comment here or there (of course there are those) but the continuity of the commentors… I’m genuinely curious about so-and-so’s take on such-and-such as the comments have context and the avatars (to me at least) have a little bit of substance behind the pixels. For that I’m grateful.

    * I certainly appreciate the (usually) thoughtful essays posted to prompt the daily demarcation… and I especially appreciate when the authors participate in the comments – that’s an increasingly rare gift.

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  13. This is a great idea. Although I wasn’t on board with OT for some time after its inception, I was on one of Erik’s earlier websites before his change of heart politically. I think I was first pulled into OT in a spat with Freddie about intervention.

    I look forward to seeing some of its founders and big names return for this celebration!

    In addition, if anyone is interested in doing a live event in the Bay Area, I would be more than happy to set something up. Getting to meet other OT contributors at one of the past summer events was an awesome experience, and while I can’t put on quite the same performance, I would definitely make sure we could have a meal and drink in the greater SF region.

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  14. As best I recall, I encountered the site during the summer between two legislative sessions in Colorado, although I don’t remember which two. Could only lurk briefly, then went back to the 60-hour weeks when internet access was restricted to strictly job-related information mining. Bookmarked, though, so I could find it again. Couldn’t comment — staff positions were non-partisan, enforced to such a degree that I wouldn’t trust any sort of anonymizing tech available at the time.

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  15. Happy anniversary. I also found this place via positive liberty, via one of the bloggers who was a frequent commentator on reason’s hit n run and a regular on another long running libertarian(ish) message board.

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  16. I found this place via Sully and became an occasional and then regular commenter. While the posts and comments were well above the norm for political blogs, there was a real dearth of puns, which I felt duty-bound to address.

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  17. Apropos of a conversation elsewhere, I should add that this site has the best comments culture of any ‘open’ site on the internet. And that is the most difficult thing to both obtain and maintain.

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    • Absolutely. It seems to be a function of having a fairly tight group — maybe a couple dozen? — regulars that have all been here a while and generally treat each other with respect. Usually anyway, lol. I have no idea how you would intentionally cultivate that sort of thing. The cesspools are much larger, more anonymous, and lots of drive-by trolls.

      As good aa the articles are, I wouldn’t hang out here were it not for the community culture.

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