Warning – nostalgia post

I see John Quiggin is touting Thursday (give or take a few days) as the tenth anniversary of the birth of his blog.  I can’t be even that precise, because this blog has been through several iterations, and the early days coincided with my marriage breakup so events tend to be a bit blurry.  But Troppo certainly had its inception around about this time ten years ago.

I started it as a hand-coded solo blog called The Parish Pump in or about April or May 2002 (the archives no longer exist even in The Wayback Machine). My impetus to blog came from Tim Dunlop, who had been an active participant with me in a Yahoo! discussion forum run by Online Opinion‘s Graham Young.  Tim started a blog and told me he thought I was an interesting writer who should also venture into the then (fairly) new blogosphere. I took his advice. From memory Tim Blair was already blogging too, but I’m not sure that any other currently prominent bloggers were posting as long ago as that.

After 2-3 months of solo hand-coded blogging I concluded that I needed to shift to one of the automated blogging platforms, and that I didn’t have the time to maintain a sufficiently frequent flow of posts by myself to retain a reasonable audience.  Accordingly I moved The Parish Pump across to Blogspot on 18 August 2002,changed its name to Troppo Armadillo and turned it into a group blog.1

Early Troppo group authors included Darwin mate Wayne Wood and Geoff Honnor from Sydney.  Both still comment at Troppo from time to time, Geoff more frequently than Wayne.  I haven’t given up hope that both might one day make a comeback to active blogging rather than just commenting.

In early 2003 Troppo Armadillo shifted to a Movable Type platform hosted by Mark Gallagher, then on 4 June 2003 to another Movable Type platform hosted by Scott Wickstein, and a little later again to a WordPress platform hosted by the redoubtable Jacques Chester (who still hosts us, along with Catallaxy, Skepticlawyer and several other prominent Australian political blogs).  Belated deepest gratitude to all three hosts (especially Jacques), all of whom have accommodated us free of charge and put in huge amounts of volunteer expert labour to keep Troppo running for ten years.

Only days after our rescue by Scott Wickstein, prominent academic historian Christopher Sheil joined the growing list of Troppo authors on 13 June 2003. Chris later moved on to start his own highly successful solo blog Back Pages, which he closed down after the 2004 election. Chris then moved briefly to Larvatus Prodeo group blog (see below) before moving back to Troppo in 2007- 9 and then ceasing blogging apparently permanently (although you never know).

Troppo took an even stronger leftward turn when Mark Bahnisch joined us in 2004 and posted prolifically before moving on to start the highly successful left-leaning group blog Larvatus Prodeo in 2005.  As most readers will be aware, LP closed down only recently.

Of course, Troppo’s most prominent and prolific contributor has been Nicholas Gruen since he joined Troppo in March 2005 (2044 posts covering 292 pages and still growing), closely followed by the incomparable Don Arthur. Nicholas too has attracted a range of highly regarded economists to post at Troppo, including Paul Frijters and legendary veteran Fred Argy.

I’ve only been able to mention the most prolific and prominent Troppo authors here.  There are many others who have made Troppo the vibrant home of civil and civic discourse that it mostly is.  We’ve just re-established a drop-down archiving facility by author in the sidebar. Feel free to go and browse.

John Quiggin reflects on his blogging trajectory:

Inevitably, I’m not as excited as I was in the bright dawn of blogging, and the most optimistic hopes for the medium have not been fulfilled but after ten years I’m still not jaded or badly disillusioned.

I guess that also sums up my own feelings. But I’m still pretty enthusiastic about the potential and reality of the blog medium as a valuable part of the civic/democratic process, and I’m certainly proud of the part Troppo has played and continues to play in that process. I hope we last another decade at least.


  1. 1. Incidentally the reason for the armadillo theme (still evident on our header) is that I have always styled this blog as politically non-aligned (in a party sense) and “centrist” (whatever that might mean). The armadillo motif springs from a quote by American op-ed writer and humourist Jim Hightower: “There’s nothing in the middle of the road but a yellow line and dead armadillos”.[]

About Ken Parish

Ken Parish is a legal academic, with research areas in public law (constitutional and administrative law), civil procedure and teaching & learning theory and practice. He has been a legal academic for almost 20 years. Before that he ran a legal practice in Darwin for 15 years and was a Member of the NT Legislative Assembly for almost 4 years in the early 1990s.
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paul walter
paul walter
11 years ago

Quiggin is a mighty bloke from what I can see, doesn’t know his own strength, “calls himself an economist”, “more intelligent than Britney Spears”, “a green with a totalitarian mindset” and “never wrong”.
A Johnny Appleseed character, in short.
He actually intimidates me a bit, the gravitas is phenomenal, but backed by a body of learning soaked up and rendered meaningful by a powerful mind. Yet the bloke has never been exclusive or rude, or not prepared to consider another’s viewpoint and answers evenly rather than obnoxiously: Civil , bar one or two minor offences, I committed once or twice, in contrast to other more doctrinally-influenced sites.
Of course if you are persistently stupid, he will come down on you like a ton of bricks.
This is actually one of the highlights of a Quiggin thread; watching what happens over a series of posts when a less competent commenter has begun monopolising a thread.. Silence, more a sort of ominous premonition and then something of the ilk of a brick wall contriving to bring itself down on its victim from some height.
Sinclair Davidson, by contrast, is just a bit too lenient of fools.
Quiggin’s blog is one half pol economy and general public affairs and half economics. There are way too many people literate in economics who comment there, so I generally avoid comment and try to figure the economics instead.
But if I see something I like, or disagree with, it is good to comment among intelligent people who put issues ahead of personalities.
Digressing, am sure Margo Kingston was out earlier, Brian Bahnisch, Don Arthur, Tim Dunlop and others who later struck out on their own, I remember these sorts of people getting my interest up early at WD when it became obvious that many people “out there” did have contributions to make, in explaining issues. Also the neat little blog now defunct, Ken Lovell’s Road to Surfdom (was KP involved in that?) and finally, honest Andrew Bartlett.
But after the shake ups of recent times I’d go to Quiggin, (Dr) Gary Sauer-Thompson in my home city at Public Opinion, or for a left view, Passant, as well as here. The new indy No Place for Sheep is best for something from a different trajectory, a bit more social science and culture oriented; dignified and accessible feminist thinking rather than shoot first, ask questions later rad stuff. I also visit Political Sword, where thought goes into commentary and Online Opinion, for gravy. I found the Leeg Eags good as well but not so much recently.
But to finish on Quiggin, he’s one of those people who is a better blogger than I am a poster.

Thomas the Tout
Thomas the Tout
11 years ago

Ken – I was not there for your first blog, but I have visited your site from early times. I recall the frustration you went through with the various platforms and some of the hosts. You have persevered, and that is to be applauded.
Sad to say, for some years I only scanned many entries (as opposed to reading), and then mainly to ascertain the arguments of the ‘enemy’. (he who knows only his own side of the argument knows little). Sorry to say, some of the contributors became pontificators, and some denigrators. Even so, I wish ClubTroppo a long and useful existence, and salute its creator and most of its contributors.

Nicholas Gruen
11 years ago

And well done from me Ken. By the way I didn’t know that Tim Dunlop had been at it so long. Such a good commentator and pretty pathetic what little use the MSM made of him – though at least Murdoch gave him a go.

Quiggin is the star methinks for reasons summarised above. In fact his blog was the first one I ever came across and I just really loved the fact that here were the thoughts of someone thoughtful, either considered or run off fairly quickly as the case may be and then there was a deep archive full of similar stuff. That was pretty exciting.

11 years ago
Reply to  Nicholas Gruen

Have you read Tim Dunlop lately? He is batshit crazy. His blog was good when it first started but he went off the deep end about 6 years ago.

paul walter
paul walter
11 years ago

Nicholas Gruen, LP closing was spectacular and a bit disastrous. Yet, as with a rainforest, the death of a giant is salvation for much that is beneath the crown.
Club Troppo has quietly held to its standards and endured living in the shade to a certain extent, but as with Quiggin, it’s reputable enough and thoughtful enough to appeal to ex LP posters, because the bloggers retain a relish for and affection for, the truth: their curiosity as to how something may work and the enjoyment of communicating some thing interesting to their fellows is closer to my idea of pure blogging.
Because it operates of a different rationale to tabloid media, there much more chance of getting some sort of insight into a given current affairs.
A bit like comparing Ross Gittins against the avalanche of utter crap at Fairfax on line, which is to say the glitter of a diamond in a cowpat.
I suspect Club Troppo is moving to become more general and accessable . Its been a sort of Fin Review against the a more mass circulation, generalist “Age” that was LP as well as the big commercial outlets that have encroached on the indy blogsphere.
There is a gap where LP used to be and there are only a few blogs with a cognitive capacity to help fill the gap, the upside is that the survivors will likely last to Armageddon (and beyond)

11 years ago

I was just here for the stoushing.

11 years ago
Reply to  Nabakov

Bullsh…evik. Came for the hurting; stayed for the flirting.

Bring Back Yellowvinyl At Troppo ‘dillo.

paul walter
paul walter
11 years ago
Reply to  Ken Parish

Surely not. Outgoing, inclusive, ALWAYS interested in a new viewpoint; will always ready include one even if it is variant; NEVER misrepresents another’s opinion offered in good faith…
No odd essentialist hang ups that see friends as enemies or any shoot first ask questions later seige mentality.
No, Ken.
Return to your FB, you must surely have not checked your inbox, I’d wager not only an acceptance, but a big bouquet of roses from an old friend and collaborator in the Good Fight, rather than evidence of something plausibly, irrationally pathological.

11 years ago

Newspapers are in trouble. They do not seem to have found the elusive business model that allows for investigative journalism. There are portents. I was interested in what Malcolm Brown had to say at Crickey, since I saw the judgement of the Azaria Case because I was in a hospital waiting room – therefore had an access to a TV. (I was moved by the Coroner’s compassion.) Malcolm Brown explained that this case was at the time in which the afternoon newspapers were in a life and death struggle for survival, which both lost.

Secondly, the New Zealand regional newspapers, mostly owned and centralized under the Fairfax banner, seem very bland. So too is today’s commentary in the SMH. Maybe, newspapers should follow the Crickey model. Blogs have failed to the extent, with extreme examples, of creating ideological silos. The opposite format while difficult in practice, and never achieved by print, but is an ideal that democracy requires, and yet is noticeably lacking in our democracy perhaps due to other factors, not least wedge politics.

11 years ago
Reply to  wmmbb

Here is the link I meant to include with Malcolm Brown commenting on the Azaria Chamberland Case.

JB Cairns
JB Cairns
11 years ago

Batcrazy. Hmm that would be writing a column that the AGW caused the GFC.

I didn’t know Tim wrote that.


11 years ago
Reply to  JB Cairns

Sorry Homer, as usual I have no idea what you are talking about.

JB Cairns
JB Cairns
11 years ago

I am not surprised

JB Cairns
JB Cairns
11 years ago

Way back then the best blogs were US based.Indeed most of the blogs were US based.

now we have a plethora.
We have the ever excellent Mark Thoma’s economist;s view and we even have the Regional Feds having blogs with the Atlanta fed possibly the best.

We can read blogs from the UK, Ireland, Germany, Holland, other parts of Europe as well.

Asutralia has come ahead quite recently.
We are all dead, Mark Graph, ricardian ambivalence, Market Economics, Macro business, Labour chart dude, Rave by Dave can be added to veterans such as here, john Quiggin and Harry Clarke.

sorry couldn’t write them all.

Indeed these days you have to cut out some blogs because of time constraints.

but all I have mentioned are high quality.

to me this means the blogosphere is improving.

It also keeps the MSM on their toes.