Ten Years of Refactoring

Today marks the 10th birthday of ribbonfarm. I launched this blog on June 13, 2007 (with a book review). The first comment rolled in a few weeks later, organically, on July 4. That was also the day I formally “launched” the blog, by spamming my email address book.

To commemorate and memorialize the historic occasion, our resident alpha hacker Artem Litvinovich put a bit of birthday graffiti on the bitcoin blockchain. Notice the pair of leading 42s on the transaction id? That required some special low-level uber-hacking. It’s not something standard bitcoin applications can do. In his words, “You need to control the innards of the ECDSA signing code to do something like that.” I have no idea what that means, but I’m very pleased to get a special bespoke-magic-engineered birthday card here.

Two 42s is actually kinda nice. One for Douglas Adams, one for me. I was a clueless 32-year-old when I started this blog.

So here we are now, 10 years later.

618 posts later.  9797 comments later. 5 Refactor Camps later. 17 repeat contributors later. 20 guest writers later. 2 blogging courses later (well, 1.16; the second one is underway and will conclude next week).

Hundreds of Facebook discussions later. Thousands of tweets later. Multiple slashdottings and hacker-news-front-page-ings later. Dozens of meetups and couch-surfings later. Thousands of road-tripping miles later. I could go on.

If Google is to be believed later, 4 million sessions later, 2.5 million visitors later, 12 million page views later. 3 books later.

1,346,678 words later. At an average of just over 2179 words.

983,764 words by me. 102,983 by Sarah Perry. Just under 260k by other contributors. And I’m not even counting the comments. There’s probably several hundred regular commenters who’ve been with us off-and-on over the entire decade, dropping pearls of add-on wisdom in the comments section.

There are also words themselves. Dozens and dozens of useless neologisms, gleefully unhelpful abstractions, time-wasting archetypes labels, a steady stream of gratuitous insultings, entire bunny trails lined with thoughts nobody should waste time thinking, and so on.

And don’t forget pictures. A steady parade of ugly illustrations, collages, and cartoons (and a few pretty ones) has kept the torrent of words company.

And where have we arrived? I have no idea, but I think there’s a there there 🙂.

It took long hours, years of sweat and selfless toil and….alright who am I kidding, it took none of that.

I hate to disappoint people who like to see gritty toil behind long-evolving projects, but to be honest, in many ways, this has been the most effortless and entirely self-indulgent thing I’ve ever done. Play that worked, as I put it in a recent Breaking Smart newsletter. I just started writing one day, and forgot to stop. Everything else followed. Like they used to say about the British Empire, the Ribbonfarm Empire was created in a fit of absent-mindedness.

And speaking of Breaking Smart, there’s also a messy, rhizomatic sprawl of half a dozen domains, and a complex slum of infrastructure behind this rolling Internet carnival.

Over the last decade of high-ADD discursive wandering, ribbonfarm has steadfastly refused to have a focus, and outlasted hordes of blogs (and blogs about blogging) that earnestly advised everybody to “find a niche” and “focus.”

Nuts to that. ADHD ftw.

(nyah nyah nyah nyah nyah!)


So what do we have ahead of us for the next decade?

There is a ton of stuff staged and kinda hanging around, waiting to be rolled out over the next few months, to help set the course for the next decade. I’ll be posting more about all those things in next few weeks to months.

But for now, Happy Birthday to us!

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About Venkatesh Rao

Venkat is the founder and editor-in-chief of ribbonfarm. Follow him on Twitter


  1. Happy blog birthday!

    Been on here a lot recently, as a clueless 30-year-old looking for a route to play that works, so thank you.

  2. 10! To the next!!

    Nice work Venkat.


  3. Congratulations! As someone who started to blog without focus as a clueless 32-year-old, this is inspirational. Thank you. I’d say “never change”, but that would imply stagnation so I won’t.

  4. Tyler Colby says

    Congratulations and thank you for the 10 years!

  5. This is encouraging, as a clueless 32 year-old about to make the daunting move to WordPress after a few years of Medium training wheels. It’s not quite the cold start you had, but feels like “grown-up” blogging will start now. I can only hope I’ll have the impact and success you’ve had over the last decade, even if only among a particularly grumpy and hyperintellectual internet crowd ;)

  6. As a long term reader I feel somewhat innocent in not knowing when I began to read your blog and also when I did lost some bits of interest in it. It must have been in the mid or at the end of the “rust age” when I began to wonder, when you would ever slow down burning your intellectual fireworks, which I enjoyed. It would need superhuman skills to do this in the same pace forever and seemingly you solved that impasse for you personally by managing other writers as an editor. Over the last two years I learned to skip some of your co-bloggers, just by reading their names, but I guess the desire to return to blog rolls, which are sufficient for a loose community, to sustain, while regular readers can safely ignore some its members, whose authors voices they cannot stand, will be unfulfilled. Seems like the web is not enough and it needs a bit more kuddling and human touch.

    Anyway, may the universe continue to bless you with inspiration and may you return with some cool articles, at least occasionally.

  7. Different level and space of thinking here, thank you! Keep it up.

  8. Italy Michael says

    Reading The Gervais Principle series was life-changing for me.
    Not because I found anything I had not — painfully, I am a sociopath with no attraction to dominance or any earthly achievement… the unluckiest type — noticed and analyzed on my own.
    But because… I guess you’ll understand what I mean: when you find there’s someone else who’s seen what you’ve seen… it’s a relief. As if it halved the burden of knowing it.

    I am a reader of this blog since I read that series.