A Brief History of Conservative Blogs on the Internet (or why are we here?)

HotAir wasn’t the first home of this community.  In the beginning, post 9/11 there was Little Green Footballs (LGF), run by Charles Johnson.  For most of the decade of the 2000’s, having an account that allowed you to comment (open registration was very rare) was considered a privilege.  Charles had, among other things, exposed Dan Rather’s faked George W. Bush memos which his research revealed was created in a font used in Microsoft Word that didn’t exist in the 1970’s when the “memos” were allegedly authored.

Michelle Malkin founded Hotair.com in 2006 as a conservative website and forum using the wordpress commenting structure.  The site quickly became one of the leaders in the conservative blogosphere, generating thousands of page views per day and being cited on Fox News and Rush Limbaugh’s show. After Rick Perry’s famous quote where he mentioned “hot gas,” commenters affectionately referred to hotair as “hot gas.”  In 2009, Michelle sold the site to Salem Media Group, which also owned Townhall.com.

Rick Perry cites “Hot Gas” poll ~ QUICKclip

Rick Perry refers to Hot Air as Hot Gas…

Also in 2009, Charles came out of the closet as a far left atheist and started banning his own users left and right. HotAir had already quite a following that was soon augmented by refugees from LGF.  We more or less stayed there, post Michelle Malkin’s sale of the site to Salem Media more because “we are there” than any other reason.

From 2009-2016 a noticeable trend developed.  The site’s headlines and bloggers started to move away from conservatism and toward the political “center”.  A mood of tension developed between the bloggers, Ed Morrissey and Allahpundit, as the conservative commenters, who numbered in the thousands, became more disillusioned with the content of the articles being posted.

We put up with endless numbers of loser leftist co-bloggers (like Noah Rothman) as well as the site tone’s continual drift towards supporting the GOP Establishment “Neo Conservatism”  over Reagan-ism.

This all came to a head in 2015-6 with the rise of Donald Trump (as well as Ted Cruz)  and an anti-Establishment wave within the GOP Base.  The advent of Trump may have been too much for this relationship to endure, as on Monday, February 15, 2016, a day that will live in infamy, Ed Morrissey announced that in 24 hours the site’s commenting structure would be switching from WordPress to Facebook.  One of the reasons cited was an unwillingness by the moderators to continue to deal with continuous disputes and complaints.

Ed Morrissey:

For almost ten years, Hot Air has utilized a proprietary, members-only comment system. In 2006, this kind of system made much sense, but Internet standards and technology have moved beyond this kind of system. Beginning tomorrow, Hot Air will move from its present proprietary closed-comment system to Facebook comments. At that time, native commenting functions will cease, and all comments will come through the Facebook interface.

We have certainly enjoyed the comment section and look forward to seeing it grow and become more diverse. That is one reason why we feel it necessary to make this change. A closed, proprietary system requires far more resources to manage than we can apply to the task. As a result, we rarely have the opportunity to open the system to new commenters, which means that newer Hot Air readers have no opportunity to engage and provide their feedback to our articles. That is unfair to those new Hot Air readers, and it also deprives other readers from a broader range of views.

Also, our commenting format has been outdated for some time. The Facebook interface has comment nesting, the ability to like, and post-commenting editing capability. Rather than use resources to essentially re-invent the wheel, using what has become an Internet standard interface makes much more sense. Facebook has over a billion users and many Hot Air readers likely already have accounts, two key reasons we chose this platform for our site. Sites such as IJ Review, TechCrunch, Huffington Post, WebProNews, Inquisitr, and more have gone to Facebook comments, while almost all others have gone to some other outside platform that allows Facebook for a login, such as Disqus.  Some readers may have concerns about using their real identity to comment at Hot Air, and we certainly understand that reluctance. Anonymous accounts can be created on Facebook, though, and those can be used for commenting on other websites.

This will also allow Hot Air’s editors to put aside policing the comment sections. We get steady, and lately increasing, demands for interventions in quarrels between commenters that often requires much time and effort to unwind. Our terms of use will still be in force, but we expect to spend very little time moderating comments. Since comments will get linked to user’s Facebook’s identities, we expect that any conflict between commenters can be handled between those users. We will modify our comments disclaimer accordingly soon to emphasize that point.

While we want to open our comments sections to as many new readers (and existing readers without accounts) as possible, we also hope that our existing community of readers will continue to comment here — and engage with many more readers, too. To those commenters, we offer our gratitude for your patronage, and your patience as we revamp for a dynamic election year!

The reaction was immediate and visceral.  That thread set the all time record for most posts on a HotAir comment thread, ending with 7,100 comments, 99% of which were against the move.  The change was supposed to happen at midnight that night.  I was permanently banned by Ed Morrissey that afternoon for “threatening” him with this tweet:

Constantine XI on Twitter

@EdMorrissey @ITTRP Better unmake it if you plan on keeping your job…

This was the last straw, as anonymity was clearly being stripped from commenters who had posted anonymously for ten years.  Not only that, but Facebook is well known for having a liberal bent, and the potential for people being banned off Facebook entirely made this an untenable option for the majority of commenters.

The community which had more in common with itself than with its hosts suddenly had nowhere to go to meet, and people who had been friends for ten years and had been through the wars together were faced with not ever seeing or talking to each other again, or scattering among several other conservative blogs.

Enter ConstantineXI and this website.  

Thanks to the extraordinary efforts of certain commenters, such as Constantine, Blink (who gathered dozens if not hundreds of email addresses), Fossten, Sugarbuzz, NWConservative, and Doomberg, www.Hotgas.net was born and the Hotair community was saved.  The spirit of conservative blogging and commenting has been salvaged and preserved in the site that you see here.

The rest, shall we say, is history.  A large chunk of the community that had made HotAir great came to this site, which had been my own personal blog, which was hastily re-themed in progress to HotGas even as the cheap hosting plan I had the blog on was groaning and cracking under the strain.

Site Milestone 12/1/2016

The time has come for Hot Gas dot Net to gradu­ate from High School and move on to the “big leagues,” as Donald Trump would say. We are now a dot com! Welcome to SpartaReport.com!

A couple of things to note:

  1. Manage­ment and owner­ship remains the same as it did at Hot Gas.
  2. There will be NO Facebook comment­ing installed.
  3. Our mission – to promote conser­vatism, Ameri­can­ism, and liber­ty while fight­ing the left at every oppor­tu­ni­ty – will remain the same.
  4. This gets us out from under the shadow of DeadAir, remov­ing any oppor­tu­ni­ty for accusa­tions of copycat­ting. We’re our own indepen­dent entity, putting those old memories behind us.
  5. Hotgas.net will redirect you to spartareport.com for the time being, to give you time to change your favorites.
  6. Follow us on twitter @spartareport.
  7. Like and share us on  Facebook! Just click the button to like us in the sidebar!