February 10th is OffGuardian’s birthday. As of today we are eight years old. That probably doesn’t sound very old, but from this side of the keyboard it feels like most of a lifetime.

Let’s journey back, to the heady days of February 2015 when OffG published its very first article. It reads, in its entirety:

In today’s Guardian article about the wild unpopularity of conscription in Ukraine, Shaun Walker tells us that the eastern Ukrainian resisters ‘appear to have an unlimited supply of weapons and training from Russia’.

In the interest of responsible journalism, would it be possible for Mr Walker to tell us how this information ‘appeared’ to him?

That’s it. That’s the whole thing. It was written by our now-retired editor Systematic. There’s no image, and no comments. It probably reached about five people.

It’s probably hard to imagine for new readers, and hard to remember for veterans, that’s all OffG was meant to be at first. A place for people banned from the Guardian’s comment section to post their responses to the Graun’s hysterical anti-Russia/anti-Syria rhetoric and general neoliberal bullshittery.

Eight years, 6000 articles, 500,000 comments and tens of millions of views later, we’ve broadened that original remit just a little.

It’s quite a thing we’ve built, and I’m including all of you in that “we”. Because it was readers and commenters looking for a home that helped to shape us. A truly independent platform. No sponsors, no contacts, no grants, no NGOs and no control.

Over the years working in alternate media, you come to realise how truly rare it is to be actually free, not beholden to anyone at all. There’s a few of us who can make that claim, but not nearly as many as there should be.

Anyhow. Thanks to you all for reading and supporting – it’s been an interesting and eventful eight-year ride.


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