Here’s an email I got ten years ago.
Subject: We’re Starting a Capitals Blog…
From: Ian Oland
Date: Nov 2, 2009, 1:39 AM
1:39 AM. Dude didn’t sleep — even then.
At some point or another over the last few weeks, I’ve spoke to each of you individually about your possible role in a new blog I’m trying to start that will focus on the Washington Capitals and the National Hockey League. I’m really, really
Excessive adverbing has been a problem here since the start.
excited that all of you have agreed to contribute and I’m really floored with all of your enthusiasm towards my ideas. After I worked closely with Moroz on Matt Wieters Facts,
I didn’t know what Matt Wieters Facts was. I still don’t. I remember Ian said he hoped RMNB might one day be bigger than MWF. Ian, lemme know how that worked out.
I’ve gained a lot of confidence in my design and have really developed a deep desire to take a share of the attention in the Capitals Blogosphere offering what others cannot. Much like Matt Bradley,
The Bradley reference is where he won me over.
we will have to fulfill a grinder’s role in the beginning, but I believe we can easily carve out a nice niche for ourselves if we make all the right decisions leading up to the launch of the blog and are diligent in our entries.
Let’s skip ahead a bit.
Hi Greg. Hi JP. Thanks for everything.
If you don’t already have these blogs bookmarked, please do and take a detailed look at what they offer. I really want our blog to be funny, interesting/captivating, and intelligent. Those are the vibes I want to put out. And I also want our blog to have creative things that other normal people cannot do. And oh yeah, make money.
We made zero money for five solid years. Technically, we bled money. And also time. And sometimes actual blood too.
My plan for now was to work on the blog and try to have it ready for a launch date of Thanksgiving.
We missed our first deadline. We would be late on several more.
All the while, you guys could start developing posts of your own and start throwing ideas out to the group. I am planning to design a comp of the blog in photoshop first, build the comp out in a preview area in html,
Anyone who still designs websites like this in 2019 should be put in jail.
and then purchase the webspace (50 dollars) and domain name via [hosting company redacted]
Don’t use [hosting company name redacted].
and get the site up and running. After that I was going to make a bunch of shirts and also start on the flash pieces.
Grandchildren, gather round and let me tell you about
Macromedia Adobe Flash.
I would keep all of you in the loop and take creative criticism as I move forward on each endeavor.
Anyways, the first thing I wanted to bring to the group for Discussion would be: What are we going to name our blog?
This is where it gets good.
I have already thought about this for a while and will present a few of the names I’ve come up with. Some are crazy, some are stupid, some are good… and that’s just in my head. What do you guys think? Below they are presented in a list, in order from top to bottom by the names I like the most.
– Red Line to Stanleytown
– What About The Cup Holders?
– Alex Semin Plays the Bongos
– Laing’s Gang
– The Dino Ciccarellis
– Ovie’s Money
Ian also got Dan Steinberg’s advice about names at some point. Dan was very patient with us, and he recommended we not choose a name that’s too long. Whoops.
I replied to Ian two days later, which is about as fast as my response time ever got. I’ll spare you the full text. Here are the good parts:
After some back-and-forth, we settled on the name Russian Machine Never Breaks. Ian replied:
I also created a twitter name called russianmachine8
That twitter account still exists. It has never posted a tweet. It has three followers. Actually, four now. I just followed it.
So we just started. We stopped thinking and just did stuff. After a couple months, Ian and I exchanged giddy emails about the site getting 500 hits in a single day. Also, we got a tweet from Eric Fehr.
@russianmachine Those are some sweet jerseys, I'm glad you like the elbows. I don't use them as much as I use too!
— Eric Fehr (@EricFehr) January 28, 2010
A lot has happened since then. We found a voice and got better at writing. The Caps went through thirty coaches. We threw some fun parties. Some couples fell in love through RMNB. Ian got married and had a baby. I saw the Caps win a game in person for the first time. We did this tweet, and we didn’t delete it:
Mike Knuble hasn't been on ice for a shot against Brodeur yet. 8 shits, 7 minutes, no offensive zone starts.
— RMNB (@russianmachine) December 24, 2011
And the Caps won it all.
But we’re still growing. As many achievements as we’ve had, I can think of way more problems yet to solve, stories yet to tell, dumb stunts left to pull. And after ten years, RMNB is still figuring out how to be a self-sustaining business.
The “world domination” bit in our Twitter profile is still a long way’s off, but the joke has started to feel a bit sad to me. The world we came from — the ecosystems and communities for self-publishing that birthed us — they’re pretty much all dead now. Tumblr is porn free, and Livejournal is a ghost town. Facebook’s pivot-to-video fraud cost thousands of sportswriters their jobs. Venture capital exploited all those underemployed twentysomethings to get free labor just to build value for their corporate consolidations. Web advertising grew more pernicious at the same rate as it grew less profitable for creators. Revanchist pockets of bros claimed the internet as their Fatherland, making it a hostile place for people who don’t look like or act like me and Ian. A lot of good people got pushed out of a space that I always thought was supposed to be for coming together.
If you were to ask me what has made RMNB successful, I’d give you two answers. First – and this is the more important one by far – is luck. It was pure happenstance that we were white and male and straight and of a certain age when the internet was at a certain maturity level and that we lived in a place where a sports team was just starting to do interesting things. Second is stubbornness. Ian and I are drastically different people with non-overlapping skillsets, but the one thing we have in common is that we were both too stupid to notice that no one was supposed to care about us. So we just kept on plugging away in ignorance until people started to care.
That said, I think I do have some Actually Sincere Advice for people who want to Do Things Online:
I’m about done here. There’s a ton more I’d like to say, but I gotta get on the Metro and get to the party. But I can’t do that until I say thank you.
Thank you to Phil and Catherine and Mike and Gene and John and Susan and other Mike and other-other Mike and Salvatore. We would have been lost without your support.
Thank you to Wes and Sam and William and Charlie and Jordan and Nathan and Ryan and Lindsey and Max and Jenn and everyone else who has made being a fan fun.
Thank you to JP and Greg and Dan and Izzy and Katie and Corey and Tarik and Ed and Brian and Mike and John and Sam. You’re the real pros, and your wisdom has always been appreciated. Except when Dan said we should have a shorter name.
Thank you to Cara and Rachel and Kris and Brennin and Julia and Donya and Elizabeth and Elyse and Chris C. and Nathan B. and Craig and Doug and Alex and Graham and Magnus and Chris G. and Stephanie and Madeline and Magnus and Brendan and Pat and Nathan S. and Alexandra and Hana and Katie and Amanda and Spenser and Margaret and Igor and Fedor and Ben and Ana and Victoria and Neil and Brandon and Daniel. The quality of people on this team has been an embarrassment of riches.
Thank you to Ian for being fearless and brave.
And thank you to you, dear reader. It would be weird if you didn’t exist.
Russian Machine Never Breaks is not associated with the Washington Capitals; Monumental Sports, the NHL, or its properties. Not even a little bit.
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