OTB Turns 21

This blog is now old enough to buy alcohol.

I did a very long retrospective on our 20th anniversary last year and don’t have much to add, but I thought the milestone was worth noting.

James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. CSK says:

    Let me be the first to buy OTB a drink.

  2. Flat Earth Luddite says:

    Bappy hirthday (or anniversary) to OTB. So, now that it’s legally of age, where’s the open bar?

  3. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Happy birthday to you,
    Happy birthday to you,
    Happy birthday to OTBeee eeeeee,
    Happy birthday to you!

    Have a nice peaty Scotch on me.

  4. Scott says:

    But, like every enterprising youngster, you have a fake ID and been buying for a while.

    Congrats for lasting this long!

  5. Sleeping Dog says:

    Such staying power!

  6. MarkedMan says:

    I believe this makes OTB 72 in blog years. Here’s the formula:

    – Any blog that makes it past the first month of enthusiastic, “Dammit, I’m gonna write something every day!” and actually does it, is equivalent to 11 years old. (just starting to develop a sense of responsibility

    – Any blog that is still posting daily after 6 months is equivalent to 16 years old, i.e. “Has an afterschool job and has shown a commitment to showing up for work every day, and not too stoned at that.”

    – Any blog that is still posting daily after 1 year is equivalent to being a college graduate, i.e “Recognizes that this is now real life”

    – Any blog that makes it to 5 years is equivalent to 40, i.e. “Has definitely dealt with some unexpected life sh*t but managed to keep it together.”

    – After that it is just two years for every one human years, recognizing just what a dark room full of buzz saws the blogosphere is.

    So, 72 years equivalency

  7. Kathy says:


    Is there a need to adjust for going/not going to a substack?

  8. Joe says:


  9. Michael Reynolds says:

    I tried blogging. Three times. Bear in mind that I’ve been churning out books at a rate of about 3 published pages a day, 365 days a year, and have been doing it since 1989. I’m fast, I’m prolific, I’m disciplined. And yet. . .

    I love OTB as an online second home. James and Steven have built something impressive here. But I wanted to add my genuine admiration as a fellow word producer for the sheer productivity and stamina on display. I couldn’t do it, indeed, failed at it.

  10. inhumans99 says:

    Congratulations!! I remember when I used to be more of a lurker than someone who posts. I forget when I first happened upon this wonderful blog, but once I did it became a place that I have probably checked out at least once a day for many, many, years and hopefully many more to come.

    There have been a few times when I got the vibe that the stresses of life were impacting James and Stevens desire to continue to contribute posts to this blog on a daily basis, but truth be told I never felt that James or Steven were going to just give up on this place. I suspect in the back of their minds (and quite a few minds of us regulars) they knew they had built something special with OTB.

    Not quite Cheers, because everyone on this site does not know everyones birth name, but nonetheless, a place where I always feel welcome to sidle up to the bar for a quick chat with someone or just to grab a quick drink (so to speak) to get me through my day.

    I even like seeing some very irregular posters like Mimai start posting more often, and hope some other infrequent posters start to dip their toes back into the OTB waters.

    I also like that I do really feel that when folks apologize to each other here that it is pretty sincere, and that we would feel comfortable coming up to a fellow poster in real life and apologizing for sometimes getting a bit emotional/heated when posting, and the majority of us would understand and try to do our best to put the water under the bridge and continue to hang with each other.

    This really is an amazing place you and Steven have built James, and once again I hope to be able to hang out at this blog for many more years to come.

  11. Barry says:

    Congratulations and thank you for the hard work!

  12. CSK says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    Your blog didn’t last because you don’t like not getting paid for writing. I don’t, either.

  13. Bill Jempty says:


    Your blog didn’t last because you don’t like not getting paid for writing. I don’t, either.

    In 1999, I discovered this website and one year later started contributing stories at it. In 2007, I started contributing these stories to a second website. By 2010 I ranked 5th or 6th in total KB written at the first website.

    The only payment I got were reader comments. After posting a story in 2011 and being met with silence, I stopped posting to either website. It was an ill tempered decision but I was going through a particularly rough time with my cancer treatments then.

    Kindle Direct Publishing started in 2010. I heard about in 2012 or 2013 but held back from publishing stories there because I am not computer savvy. Finally in the spring of 2014 I began selling ebooks and the rest is history.

    My free writing had several benefits

    Over time it helped me improve my writing
    Ten years of writing gave me a large amount of stories, which approximately 90% of them I eventually began selling at Amazon. My two best sellers are among these
    Two people, Steve and Lee, kindly offered to proof and edit my stories and the only payment they ever asked for were Walmart or Starbucks gift cards.
    I built a following through my contributions to those websites. Partly, I may be right or wrong about this, is that I stayed away from the tropes* most often seen in stories at these places.
    Because I was a long time contributor at these websites, I could announce on their message boards that I just published an ebook. So I made money selling ebooks on day one. My first month of royalties earned was a little over $300. Last year my monthly average was almost 25 times that. Now I have a LA, A publisher, and sold the movie/television rights to two ebooks of mine.

    BTW I used to blog too from 2006 to 2015. I totally shut down doing that when my book business took off in late 2014 early 2015.

    *- For instance the story where I have a mother and daughter pulling a con and there is a nosy reporter who may or may not be catching onto them. Most common thing to do at this website- Link up the reporter and mother romantically. What did I do? One fourth of the way into the story I have the mother raped and murdered (Not related to the con she was pulling but due to her being in the wrong place at the wrong time) and the daughter is a witness to it.

  14. Bill Jempty says:


    Happy blogging anniversary.

  15. Michael Reynolds says:

    Bingo. But it’s more than that. I’ve stayed productive for three reasons: 1) Fear of poverty, 2) Deadlines and 3) I owe the IRS what? No longer poor, no longer under contract, I have an accountant who understands that I’m not a responsible adult. And my wife, when last I checked, had two books on the NYT kid’s list, so I’m pretty much a kept man at this point. I’m back at work, 300 pages into a likely unsellable book, but I no longer have my fast ball. It’d take a fukton of Adderall for me to hit a 20 page day.

  16. Mr. Prosser says:

    Congratulations. I don’t remember when I began reading this blog, sometime in the mid to late aughts I think. Enjoyed it and hope for more.

  17. KM says:

    OTB! OTB!

    First thing I check in the morning when logging on. Often the way I waste my free time (and work time) reading interesting arguments and day long debates. Tab is permanently up, usually 2-3 depending on the day’s posts and refreshed frequently. So many posters I know the stories of, real people behind the opinions in the ether. The drinking reference is apropos because this does feel like a lounge sometimes; you know what table to sit at when you want in on a convo, what everyone’s having and what topics get the chips (or fists) flying.

    This site’s amazing. Congrats on creating something that’s held together and managed to keep true to itself despite some rather messy political shifts, twists and turns!

  18. Moosebreath says:

    Congratulations, and hoping for 21 more years!

  19. Mister Bluster says:

    I’ll just leave this here.

  20. Slugger says:

    As soon as I locate my Paypal password (give me 48 hours) I’ll donate $26. That’s for one bottle of Bulleit rye.

  21. Slugger says:

    @Slugger: Found it. Money sent!

  22. JohnSF says:

    Many happy returns!

    UK note: over here you’d have been old enough to buy alcohol for three years; and old enough to drink beer or wine with food for five years.
    So you’ll need to work on catching up. 😉