Glad you asked.
What is Ricochet? Really, we’re three things:
(1) An online magazine/blog where you can read center-right commentary from the likes of Peter Robinson, Rob Long, Richard Epstein, Dennis Prager, Pat Sajak, John Yoo, Judith Levy, Victor Davis Hanson, Mollie Hemingway, Jim Pethokoukis, Jon Gabriel, James Lileks, Nathan Harden, Paul Rahe, Troy Senik, Rick Wilson, and an all-star assemblage of the some of the best talent on the center-right
(2) The number one source for center-right podcasts on the internet. We’re the home of the flagship Ricochet Podcast, a weekly look at current events in politics and culture where Peter Robinson, Rob Long, and James Lileks conduct interviews with newsmakers and pundits, in addition to debating the issues of the week amongst themselves. Our other productions include GLoP Culture — featuring Jonah Goldberg, John Podhoretz, and Rob Long’s irreverent takes on media and entertainment; Law Talk — featuring Richard Epstein and John Yoo in lively debates over constitution law; Need to Know — Mona Charen and Jay Nordlinger’s weekly political roundup; and American Wonk — Avik Roy’s deep dive into the most pressing public policy issues facing the country. And that’s just the start. At any given time, we host roughly a dozen different series.
(3) We’re a social network. When you’re a member of Ricochet, you can interact with our contributors and other members via comments on posts, direct messages, and live chats. Ever wanted to know insider stories about what it was like to work in the Reagan White House? Just ask Peter Robinson. Curious about a case before the Supreme Court? Bring it up to John Yoo and he may discuss it on the next Law Talk podcast. Want to know what it’s really like being a conservative in Hollywood? If you ask, Pat Sajak will answer. Most political sites on the web feature smart people talking at you. At Ricochet, those people are talking with you.
A lot of this stuff is free. Why should I join? Ricochet operates on a fundamentally conservative principle: that people are willing to pay for value. How much would you be willing to pay for an all-access pass to a 24/7 cocktail party where you could interact with some of the center-right’s biggest talents? Probably a lot more than the pittance we charge for access to Ricochet conversations and podcasts. Plus, there are goodies on offer, like a subscription to National Review/Digital, Ricochet gear, and special events like live shows and premium podcasts. Why not join today?
I’ve been on internet forums with comments before and they always devolve into a cesspool of name calling and personal attacks. Why is Ricochet any different? Simple — the cost of membership. We don’t charge much to be a member. It’s just enough to cover our costs. But the reason we put up that nominal barrier to entry is because we believe almost no one will actually put down money just to troll others. Communities are different when everyone has skin in the game. With very few exceptions, we’ve been proven right. Still skeptical? How many sites can you think of where a thread on abortion could run to over 350 comments and still remain civil and on point? We’ve got something special here.
The few occasions where people go over the line are handled by our Code of Conduct. It’s a simple set of rules of the road. No profanity, no ad hominem, treat others like you’re attending a dinner party with them, etc. We’re proud of the CoC, but you know what we’re even more proud of? How infrequently we have to use it. Editors will enforce the code when it’s broken, but our members have overwhelmingly internalized these norms and policed themselves. It’s because of them that we can boast of being the most civil forum on the web.
What’s Ricochet’s Editorial Stance? Simple — we don’t have one. There’s no Ricochet ideology any more than there’s a town hall meeting ideology. We don’t take an institutional position on anything. We’re a forum — a place for people of divergent views to explore and engage with ideas. We’ve got conservatives, moderates, social conservatives, libertarians — basically every stripe of the center-right you can imagine. At Ricochet, you’ll hear the same variety of views on issues like immigration, gay marriage, the Tea Party, abortion, foreign policy, and libertarianism that you would in any large gathering of people on the center-right. Do we exclude liberals? No. We’ve even had a few join up. But this is primarily a forum for those on the center-right and we ask that all members and contributors respect that.
What’s the Member Feed? The Member Feed is an exclusive area of the site open only to our paid members. There you can write your own posts, several of which get promoted each day to our Main Feed, where they’ll be available to the public alongside the work of some of our biggest stars. If you’ve ever dreamed of blogging stardom but haven’t wanted to go through the work of setting up your own site, Ricochet is the place for you. Simply join up and start writing.
We’ve had writers from our Member Feed featured in outlets like RealClearPolitics, Instapundit, Time magazine, The Federalist, and the Rush Limbaugh show. We’ve even asked a few to join our roster of regular contributors. We realize that there’s a lot more talent out there than just the professional pundits in Washington, New York, and Los Angeles. The Member Feed is our way of developing conservative talent from all walks of life and all corners of the country.
What are Ricochet Meetups? Ricochet is more than a website; it’s a community. Ricochet members regularly organize meetups throughout the country and the world. These are opportunities for our members to meet each other face-to-face and continue the conversations they’ve been having online. One of the best parts of Ricochet is meeting people for the first time and feeling like they’re already old friends. Through the community, we’ve created friendships, romantic relationships, and business arrangements. We’ve even had a few members choose to run for office.
I’m nervous about writing for a public audience. Do I have to be a writer to be a member of Ricochet? Not at all. In fact, the vast majority of our members are lurkers who are just here to read and listen to the thoughts of others. You may be surprised, however, at the urges you end up feeling to comment on a post or even write up one of your own. You’re among friends here, so you can expect encouragement if and when you decide to dip your toe in.
Joining up feels like trying to fit in with a new group of friends. Ricochet already has its own traditions, running jokes, etc. Can you help me understand the community? Most of this you will learn by experience, but here’s the quick rundown so that you can seem like a seasoned Ricochet pro from day one:
— When Peter Robinson announces in an interview that he’s asking his “last question,” it’s an extremely reliable indicator that he is not, in fact, asking his last question.
— Rob Long is a RINO squish. We know this because he frequently reminds us that he is a RINO squish. We’ve all come to accept the fact that this is as far right as we’re going to move someone who lives in Venice, California and stubbornly refuses to wear socks.
— Every week, Judith Levy posts her “Ask Penelope” advice column. Unlike most advice columns, it is written by a sane person for a sane audience.
— John Yoo has an irrational affection for the McRib that pollutes his thought process about almost everything. Under the Affordable Care Act, this is considered a “preexisting condition.”
— The cherry on top of almost all Ricochet podcasts is the closing music chosen by our producer extraordinaire, the Blue Yeti.
— Dave Carter is a trucker and writes most of his posts during brief respites from journeys across the country. This fact irritates many professional writers who would kill to have 1/10 of his abilities with the written word.
— James Lileks’ hallmark as a podcast anchor is an ability to construct extraordinarily complex segues on the fly. Rob and Peter’s hallmark is the ability to step all over these segues.
— If you post about gay marriage, Sarah Palin, religion, or Ted Cruz you will automatically generate 300 comments. It’s unlikely that anyone will change their mind, but you may learn something in the process.
— If you ask a question of Richard Epstein, you will have time to change the oil in your car before he is finished answering. Counterintuitively, every word will be fascinating.
— There are regular posts on the Member Feed about people who are hated on Ricochet. These posts are not actually about people who are hated. It’s an ongoing roast where members make fun of themselves and each other.
— There is a running gag from a Las Vegas meetup involving a giraffe. Virtually no one knows what it means and those who do are sworn to secrecy. It is Ricochet’s great MacGuffin and we’re all probably better off not understanding it.
— We like to make fun of Peter Robinson for wearing sweaters tied around his neck. It’s all in good fun. He is our favorite dandy.
Can I buy a Ricochet gift Membership for a friend? Although the process is not yet automated on the website, you can indeed purchase an annual gift Membership for a friend. Simply send a payment of $39.95 to firstname.lastname@example.org via paypal. Then e-mail us at email@example.com to tell us 1) the recipient’s name; 2) recipient’s e-mail address; and 3) a personal message to your recipient (optional). We’ll send the recipient an attractive e-card on your behalf with their log-in credentials.
Can anyone become a member? Absolutely. There’s no litmus test for membership. But we’re quite happy to say that Ricochet showcases what we think to be some of the best back and forth you can find to the right of center. Though we’re to be found all across that half of the political spectrum, we lean to the right. Of course, we’re not here to be bobbleheads. Neither are you, right? We’re here for dynamic, insightful, meaningful exchanges — however the participants might be labeled.
Are you trying to rebrand the right? Hardly. Ricochet isn’t a partisan scheme or the project of some movement or think tank. If you’re looking for a site dedicated to inside-the-beltway positioning or political public relations, you’ve come to the wrong place. If you’re looking for a big group of discerning, quick-witted, and amiable center-right folks enjoying the benefits of a conversational community, congratulations. You’ve found it.
Are you accepting new contributors? If you’d like to nominate someone, feel free to drop the editors a line at firstname.lastname@example.org. We’re always interested to learn who you think has an essential, must-read voice. But bear in mind our cast of contributors is finite and, we like to think, top shelf.
How do I contact a contributor? Contributors may be reached via Direct Message. Simply click on their profile and use the “Send Private Message” button to compose an e-mail which will appear in the contributor’s Ricochet inbox. Not all contributors check these inboxes, regularly, however, so you can write to email@example.com if there’s a contributor you’re unable to reach. We’ll get them your message posthaste.
Got a question you don’t see here? Tell us! We’ll add it to the list — with a helpful answer.