A Blogosphere Built for Two (or Three or Four or Five…)


Mark of New Jersey

Mark is a Founding Editor of The League of Ordinary Gentlemen, the predecessor of Ordinary Times.

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52 Responses

  1. Avatar David Ryan says:

    I want a notation that my bad behavior as a commenter was/is responsible for the signature LoOG bowdlerism that is fish.Report

  2. Avatar Jaybird says:

    I love this place.


  3. Avatar Patrick Cahalan says:

    Tom still doesn’t have front-page rights, I believe.Report

  4. Avatar Plinko says:

    Neat history. As someone who was a drive-by reader for a year or so, I didn’t fully appreciate the depth of changes that went on between visits at the time.

    It’s a great place.



  5. Avatar Tod Kelly says:

    Wait… you guys all did stuff before I got here?Report

  6. Avatar Robert Cheeks says:

    I do believe Mark nailed it when he described me as ‘resident crank.’ and unless I missed it the beloved and oft honored “North” was n’er mentioned and, of course, should have been. However, he might have added in moi’s case: aging knight errant, defender of the faith, and flawed Christian. Never-the-less this old fellow has come to count among his palsys the commentariat and bloggers in toto here at this rather confused and derailed site, which so accurately and without pretense so eloquently and with a certain panache, defines the intellectual modern.Report

  7. Avatar greginak says:

    Wow…nice history but I’m waiting for Howard Zinn’s The People’s History of the LOOG for the rest of the story.


  8. Avatar Burt Likko says:

    Reading over Mark’s history, I think there is a lot to be said for the ideological struggles during the first year concerning that — and a combination of Erik’s willingness to try on different paradigms for size, the presence of competing advocates, and the weeding-out of idealogues has created a truly unique brand of intellectual, political, and cultural discourse.

    LoOG has always been and remains the place where the promise of true academic debate — facts, argument, theory, and experience, all converge within a community of bright people acting in good faith, and are deployed in a search for truth — has best flowered in my experience. That is the real, valuable brand, one which we all should protect and advance.

    Guest posting leads to sub-blogs, and a now-thriving community of sub-Ordinary Gentlemen. Including but hardly limited to the prominently-mentioned TVD — so many people deserve props for their contributions here and I’m proud to have played a role in that.Report

  9. Avatar James Hanley says:

    The archipelago is subjected to poorly understood geological and tidal forces that leave its physical geography in a constant state of change.

    Yet it’s surprisingly easy to build a home here.

    As someone who emigrated to LoOG via the Positive Liberty cum One Best Way merger, I agree the immigrant culture did not mesh well with the natives’, but reading your history I wonder how much of that had to do with the pre-existing societal tensions that appear to have already developed.  I found the League an unpleasant nation at that time, which is what prompted my quick exit (and, I must correct you, the exit was not entirely amicable for my partners, who found themselves unceremoniously expelled from the domain despite having committed no crime–I still feel both guilty and bewildered that my decision to burn my citizenship papers led to that).

    I find the League a much more pleasant place culture today, which is why I now come to vacation here more often, after assiduously avoiding contact with the archipelago for some time.  I also appreciate the fact that no passport is needed for entry.Report

    • Avatar North in reply to James Hanley says:

      Is it egocentric of me to note that every one of the Leagues major breakups or cataclysm’s occurred while I was on various vacations and thus was not on the net much? Yes I think it is. Honestly, I can’t take my eyes (or monocle) off you people for even a second.Report

    • James,
      You’re right. I admit that your return to these parts probably influenced my recollection of the PL part of the Great Divorce, though technically it was still “more amicable” than the breakup with Brown, which is an exceedingly low bar. I was also going through a lot of tumult in my personal life in December that left my involvement with internal debate a lot more sporadic (not non-existent) than it had historically been; combined with the fact that I was closely ideologically aligned with all of the PL folks, my memory of the causes of that breakup was probably a bit skewed. Looking back at my emails and posts from the second half of 2010, it’s pretty clear that the preexisting ideological problem was no small part of it, though ultimately I think the ideological problem was itself a symptom of a structural problem.

      Before the merger, we had basically addressed the symptom, but not the underlying problem, by cultivating a roster of what amounted to a bunch of ideological dissidents. I remember discussions with Erik where we concluded that the site’s unifying thread was something akin to “Fish Movements,” which is really an ideology unto itself. The merger, especially combined with Brown’s devotion to the Anonymous movement and the influx of Balloon Juicers, pretty much destroyed that apple cart.

      I suspect that the difficulties with the merger/Brown addition ultimately had the same cause as the instability the previous year, which was that combining fairly prolific bloggers of different ideologies in one forum is inevitably going to either force those bloggers to be less prolific due to the need to be sensitive to a more diverse audience, or will lead to boatloads of friction and eventual divorce; one ideology inevitably comes to dominate, which just exacerbates these problems until the place becomes anything but diverse, though it may otherwise still be a pretty good blog.

      Seeing as we were on several occasions in 2009 called the new Obsidian Wings, it seems worth mentioning that I think this was a problem that eventually turned ObWi into basically a liberal movement site, albeit a very, very good liberal site. Others can of course correct me if my recollection of that is wrong.

      I think the Great Divorce exposed this problem, which otherwise might have festered for years. Combined with the established success of the guest posts, I think this allowed us to come up with the subblogs idea and to see the need for more organic front page selection. Through 10 months – an eternity in the blogosphere- those two changes seem to have finally solved the problem.Report

      • Avatar DensityDuck in reply to Mark Thompson says:

        It is kind of amusing to re-read the Brown/Hanley exchanges, particularly the ones near the end when Brown is trying to talk away the fact that he started posting the personal contact information of commentors he didn’t like.Report

      • Avatar Rufus F. in reply to Mark Thompson says:

        Just out of curiosity, do we ever do the email listserv anymore (for the readers, this is where we communicate via email to ensure that all of our posts help the Obama administration)? I must have missed some of this tension because I don’t remember hearing about it via emails. Also, I never knew why Schmitz and Schaengold left. To be honest, I don’t remember that time being so contentious, although I wasn’t around as much.


        • Avatar Mark Thompson in reply to Rufus F. says:

          I can’t really recall the last time we did one of those, actually. those were always a lot of fun, and I miss them.

          From the time you came on board until about November, there really wasn’t much tension. I theorize above as to why that was, but there’s no way to really prove it. I do know that the lack of tension was hiding the format problem, though.

          But starting in November there was definitely some tension, though the parties involved tried to be discrete about it, I think. Additionally, the heightened tension in the comments section was apparent, and became a justification for a couple of people doing relatively little writing.

          All that said, doing this piece has helped me realize just how much history is a matter of interpretation, even if – maybe especially if- it was something the author experienced firsthand.Report

      • Avatar greginak in reply to Mark Thompson says:

        It was a bit “interesting” around here during the Great Divorce. It was clear there was far more then playful roughhousing going on. I don’t think i commented much then partially because i work with people in custody battles and it felt a bit to unpleasant.Report

  10. Avatar E. D. Kain says:

    This is amazing. I think I’ll just redirect the About page to this post.Report

  11. Avatar James K says:

    Thanks Mark, as a newcomer this history was very useful to me, I was only vaguely aware of this blog before I followed the Positive Liberty crew here.Report

  12. I really like this blog.  I came with the Positive Liberty / One Best Way readership when the bulk of them moved over (for some reason, even though Mr. Kuzinicki had moved earlier, I didn’t follow him here….not out of antipathy, I just didn’t do it).  I should say that although I really liked Positive Liberty, et al., I was never really on board with libertarianism (and never claimed to be), and perhaps that bias is why I find the League congenial whereas some others from that readership might not have been.  (FWIW, even though I am probably a “liberal,”  I have never read Balloon Juice, and until I read this post, I had no idea what it was.)Report

    • While I am (mostly) a libertarian, I think the League has an advantage by combining a wide range of perspectives.  You don’t see enough of that, on the internet, or elsewhere.Report

      • Avatar greginak in reply to James K says:

        I think the mix of perspectives is what keeps this place great. Balloon Juice has a bad rep around here because of the lame troll commenter’s. Part of that that is BJ is an echo chamber in the comments section. I will admit to liking the front pagers at BJ, ideological and partisan and foul mouthed as they may be.Report

        • Again, I haven’t read Balloon Juice, but I wonder if it’s anything like Lawyers, Guns, and Money.  I find the posts there–or at least a strong plurality of them–to be well thought out.  But the commentariat there is of the “echo chamber” variety, at least in my opinion.



  13. Avatar Bozo The Imbecile says:

    Mark, this is absolutely brilliant! How I love it–this will keep me laughing for the entire weekend–thanks for uncontrollable laughter as painful as it might be.

    What a week for the League. At two complete opposite ends of the emotional spectrum, your brilliant and hilarious history of the League and Pat’s extraordinary poignant, deeply touching and profoundly moving words on Veterans Day–you’ve covered it all. Bravo. Two masterpieces of writing in one week. Not bad, gentlemen. Not bad. Writing at the very highest of order that could never be improved upon.Report

  14. Great stuff Mark. My fondest memory so far was the Great Bourbon and BBQ Summit of 2010.

    I’ve become a woefully infrequent blogger at my own digs but I’llhave to put together a few musings on this later today.

    As always, so friggin’ proud to be a League regular.Report

  15. Ahhh…mutton. Our little slice of the BBQ world. I don’t pretend that Kentucky BBQ is on par with some of the other southern states but mutton is a nice addition. Having relatives in Owensboro I ate a lot of it growing up.

    Now country ham – that’s a whole other thing. Food of the gods.

    It’s rough having all those Wildcats fans in Lexington but I will admit it’s pretty, especially around the horse farms.Report

  16. Avatar 4jkb4ia says:

    “exacerbated by the occasional presence of the Balloon Juice mobs”

    OK, I howled with laughter.Report