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E-R.org Critical Mass Question
Old 04-29-2014, 02:01 PM   #1
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E-R.org Critical Mass Question

The concept of critical mass in reference to ER and portfolios has been discussed a number of times, most recently in this thread started by nash031. Obviously from that thread, once you've strayed from the strict scientific definition of critical mass, you're free to define it however you want.

Recently, it occurred to me that I have reached "critical mass" with this forum. I joined the forum in 2009, and spent about 7 months browsing and reading before making my first few tentative posts. The information and conversations were good, although I didn't get the more complex interactions and dynamics of the group. Heck, I didn't even really know who anybody was, with the exception of haha. I mean, anyone who has been here for more than a day or two knows who haha is right?

Slowly, I started to get a sense of who the main contributors were, and what they were like, as well as a vague idea about some of the former contributors who have since gone on to greener pastures in the actual world outside the internet. Yes - I even started to get a feel for the fact that some of these screen names are real and relatively normal people, with real and complete lives, outside the boundaries of discussions on SWR, the merits of dividend investing over a total-return approach, the value of frugality, what the ACA means to us, etc. etc.

Even more recently, this forum has begun to mean something to me on a personal level too. I'm not quite eloquent enough to be able to put it into words, but this realization only came about in the last month or so. It has taken 4 or 5 years for me to get to this point.

My questions for you are -

How long have you been here, and how does E-R.org fit into your life? Is it a place you come to occasionally to see the latest chat on financial issues, or does it mean more to you than that? How long was it before this place felt like Cheers - or maybe you're not there yet? Perhaps you think we're just a bunch of weird old fuddy-duddies who do that really bizarre thing called saving money, and we merely represent a passing curiosity to you?

As my ex used to say to me, "It's just a question. I was only wondering......"
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Old 04-29-2014, 03:19 PM   #2
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I started reading the forum on and off back in 2005 but only became an active participant in 2007 (it's hard to believe that it has been 7 years already!). I can't remember when I started feeling part of the community, although it took a while to figure out the culture and dynamics. During my stint as a moderator, I had the chance to see that there were truly good people behind some of those screen names. Over the years, ER.org has become a pretty big part of my life. It is of course, a great source of information regarding financial issues. But by now there is not much more I can learn about the financial aspects of FIRE, so that's not what makes me come back on a daily basis.
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Old 04-29-2014, 04:07 PM   #3
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Quote:
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My questions for you are -

How long have you been here...
Forever. I was one of the first three dozen to register on the forum when it came online in June of 2002. The latest stats show only six of those first 36 are still active on the forum.
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...how does E-R.org fit into your life?
E-R.org IS my life. In spite of what you may believe, I don't actually live inside the E-R.org servers.
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Originally Posted by Major Tom View Post
Is it a place you come to occasionally to see the latest chat on financial issues, or does it mean more to you than that?
It's a virtual campfire I can sit around whenever I want and enjoy the company of others. Even better than an actual campfire, there is no smoke - plus an ignore list!!!
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How long was it before this place felt like Cheers - or maybe you're not there yet?
I've been here longer than I can recall. I'm not sure, but I think at one point some of the regulars would respond with "Norm!" after my first post of the day.
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Perhaps you think we're just a bunch of weird old fuddy-duddies...
Absolutely. Finest kind...
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E-R.org Critical Mass Question
Old 04-29-2014, 04:19 PM   #4
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E-R.org Critical Mass Question

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Originally Posted by REWahoo View Post
I've been here longer than I can recall. I'm not sure, but I think at one point some of the regulars would respond with "Norm!" after my first post of the day.

Is that you, Butch?
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Old 04-29-2014, 04:37 PM   #5
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Compared to some I'm a newbie, coming on in December 2007. Like most others I lurked for a while first.

How does it fit into my life? It's a good group of people who share some common values and don't think it strange to discuss index funds and asset allocation, paying off the mortgage vs. keeping it, where "frugality" is a normal part of life and not something weird people do, and similar topics.

And it's entertaining.
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Old 04-29-2014, 04:43 PM   #6
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A bunch of strange people.
I fit right in.


Seriously, this is the most involved I've ever been with an online forum, and I enjoy it greatly. Yes, I'm glad for the "Ignore" button in certain cases, but I have very few in that group.

Nearly thirteen years since my ER date and I'm starting to feel like it's going to be permanent. So just put up with me. Or hit the "Ignore" button if you prefer.

Great group!
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Old 04-29-2014, 04:57 PM   #7
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I joined last year after my younger brother's death. Reading and posting here filled a void left by my brother's departure from my life. Now, it is where I gather useful data, share interesting information, and just "hang around." I try not to post long posts, controversial one (if I do, it is always unintended). Most of my posts are drawn from my experience.

Due to my "newbie" status and lack of my "on-line" social skill, I don't yet feel quite at home around this forum.

I have my favorite posters (ones I make a point of reading their posts, even if subject line looks boring ), and ones I don't care too much (nothing against the individual, it's just a clash of style/personality oft found in any community).

Eventually, I will run out of things to post/reply and slowly but surely disappear. But so far, I find this forum to be the best I've came across.
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Old 04-29-2014, 05:00 PM   #8
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Been here since October 2002, retired in 2005, I check the site almost daily for new posts of interest and occasionally post items I have questions about. Kind of nice to hang out among those of like interests.
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Old 04-29-2014, 06:26 PM   #9
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Definitely like the financial discussion here.
Also learned more about the ACA from discussions here than I did on any other site. Folks were challenged to bring facts - and did.... which made the discussions much more valuable.

I also like the random stuff like the discussions of food, travel, photography, and RVing.

The quirky personalities are what keep me coming back. There are some very witty people who post here - some snarkier than others - but I am always entertained.
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Old 04-29-2014, 07:10 PM   #10
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I discovered this forum during the month I was evaluating whether to ER. I ran the numbers through FIRE Calc but mostly I understood how to look at my financials on my own to make a decision. What this forum has been to me is a place to examine the non-financial aspects of ER. I ER'd at 55 three years ago. There aren't a lot of people I know with whom I can talk about this stuff. This forum has been perfect for that.
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Old 04-29-2014, 07:11 PM   #11
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Great post Major Tom..

I've been involved in online communities for more than 30 years.. I know at times its been a bad thing for me, this meme applies to me more times than I care to admit.


But ER-Org seldom feels that way, much more like I'm at Cheers.. Except for with bunch of smart, sensible folks instead of alcoholics..

At times I feel foolish spending some much time on discussion boards, but almost never at this place.
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Old 04-29-2014, 07:29 PM   #12
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Joined in 2011. I was doing some financial planning and started to realize that I had a path to call it quits way before 65. I then realized there must be other people who are thinking about this and googled "early retirement". Been here ever since.

I read daily. I love personal finance, learning from other people's experiences, and the give-take on ideas. Like others I love the math and trade-offs. I love being surrounded by positive, productive, LBYM people.

I post rarely -- only when I really feel like I can contribute something meaningful from personal experience or I just want to add my voice in a "+1" fashion. I love to help people and hope to do that whenever I post. I never post just to critique someone. Not who I am.

Best forum I've ever engaged with. Bar none. Great job to all the moderators, etc.
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Old 04-29-2014, 07:50 PM   #13
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This is the only forum I participate in, or rather the only one that I spend any time reading.

A few years ago, I started to wonder if I would have enough to ER, and discovered that there was something called WR (withdrawal rate). So, what should that be? A search on the Web led to FIRECalc, and then to this forum. I did not lurk very long before joining.

I have learned quite a bit about financial matters from this forum. Will not say that I have outgrown that need, but I have certainly found that money matters less to me now, although I pick up a tax tip here and there.

So, I come here mostly to BS. It's fun to do the give-and-take, and joke around. It's my social outlet, not too different than people hanging out at a neighborhood cafe.

By the way, occasionally my joke or tease was misunderstood. I blame it all on myself, for not knowing the other side I was conversing with.
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Old 04-29-2014, 08:03 PM   #14
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How long have you been here,
I started lurking on this forum several years before joining, having heard about it while lurking on Vanguard Diehards I think? Or somewhere. I kept coming back because I liked the dynamics here, the wisdom I found here, and the moderate size of the forum (not too big, not too small). But did I really qualify to join? After all, I was planning to retire at 61-62 years old. That isn't all that early, folks. I didn't want to crash the party. So, I hesitated. I continued to look for good retirement forums that weren't just for early retirees, but I am picky and couldn't find any this good.

Finally in January 2007 (at age 58) I joined, and after joining was reassured by CuteFuzzyBunny that I wasn't too old to be here. Good.

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and how does E-R.org fit into your life? Is it a place you come to occasionally to see the latest chat on financial issues, or does it mean more to you than that?
Err.... (looking at my post count).... I'd venture to say that it means more to me than that. Right now, that is. I am a forum addict from way back, and I have participated heavily in other forums before as well as all over usenet since the early 1980's. I know how great forums can be, and I can also see the signs when things start going downhill. We aren't there yet, in my estimation anyway. I hope we never get there.

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Originally Posted by Major Tom View Post
How long was it before this place felt like Cheers - or maybe you're not there yet? Perhaps you think we're just a bunch of weird old fuddy-duddies who do that really bizarre thing called saving money, and we merely represent a passing curiosity to you?

As my ex used to say to me, "It's just a question. I was only wondering......"
I guess it started feeling like Cheers to me about a year before I joined, but nobody knew my username yet! I knew theirs, though. I'd say a month or two after joining I felt like I had formed some solid friendships here, partly due to posts but also due to some very kind PMs sent to me by some of the most prolific members here.

One of the things I love about this forum is the unusually high median level of intelligence here compared with other forums. Another is the fact that so many of our members are truly good, fine people for many other reasons. Also you put up with me! Some day I may say farewell with a wave and a smile, but I have no idea when. That day is not here yet, for sure, and may not be here for years.

Meanwhile, I have the great fortune of having been given the chance to try to give back so I will continue working on that goal.
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Old 04-29-2014, 08:41 PM   #15
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Only been here for a little under a year, when I got really serious about retiring early (and even earlier than I had ever previously imagined) because of my dad's cancer diagnosis after only 18 months of retirement. Stumbled upon it from a Naval officer's forum where someone recommended Nords' book for military retirees.

Joined here. Joined Bogleheads.

This forum is now second on my list of forums I frequent (and is ahead of Bogleheads), and I find many of the discussions interesting and read many even if I don't participate all that often. I've learned a lot from here and Bogleheads, even though I was already a "Boglehead" and didn't really know it. I find this forum much more positive and engaging... frankly more enjoyable... than the other two or three I look at daily. I may quit my long-time college sports one because of too many negative people.

As others have said, this place is a great place to exchange ideas, learn, and read about whatever's on ioldernu's mind that day (and admire people who have enough free time to research random stuff like he does!)
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Old 04-29-2014, 09:19 PM   #16
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Came across this site after having one of those just terrible days at work. Got me to take a closer look at my finances and realize that I may have many more years to be at a job, but if I start now I can be done sooner than most people my age.

Sometimes you just need to read about others making the journey successfully in order to believe you can do it too.
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Old 04-30-2014, 12:48 AM   #17
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One of the things I love about this forum is the unusually high median level of intelligence here compared with other forums. Another is the fact that so many of our members are truly good, fine people for many other reasons. Also you put up with me! Some day I may say farewell with a wave and a smile, but I have no idea when. That day is not here yet, for sure, and may not be here for years.

Meanwhile, I have the great fortune of having been given the chance to try to give back so I will continue working on that goal.
I have been on plenty of forums filled with smart people..In the early days you had to be pretty smart to figure out how to find online forums.

The thing that differentiates this place is the lack of trolls, and just nasty people. It is one of the few place on the internet where people can strongly disagree without being disagreeable.

I know the lack of trolls is in no small part to the moderators. I think that a higher average age brings more maturity. This forum probably has the dedicated moderator and yet the least need for them of anyplace I've been on. The Maytag repairmen for moderators. It is weird people are just nice here
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Old 04-30-2014, 06:54 AM   #18
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I had to look up my start date - Feb 2006, a little over a year after I ERd. I joined looking for good retirement advice, financial and other, and found that. But I quickly noticed that I enjoy the non-financial threads as much as the strictly ER threads. Sort of like the college bull sessions I loved many decades ago. I stayed over the years because of the general level of the conversations - smart, respectful, diverse.
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Old 04-30-2014, 07:02 AM   #19
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Fascinating thread. Thank you for starting it Major Tom.

I joined in late 2010. I don't recall lurking for long before posting - lurking is not part of my nature I guess.

It has been fun to get to "know" the frequent posters and their sense of humor (or lack thereof ). In fact, I recall taking REWahoo's reply to my very first post much more seriously than he intended and him jiving me about it so it was baptism by fire.

E-R.org is one of my regular avocations in retirement - more so in the winter when there is less to do outside. It is a bit of a "Cheers" type place for me - and I don't really have a similar place in my life since I quit working.

I've learned a lot from these boards - I am continually amazed by not only the collective knowledge here, but even more so by the willingness to share knowledge and the high level of caring and occasional tough love.

As has been posted on other threads, the anonymity of the forum makes it easier to share thoughts on retirement planning and finances that I would ever think of doing in my "real" life.

So when and where is the reunion?
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Old 04-30-2014, 07:12 AM   #20
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It has been fun to get to "know" the frequent posters and their sense of humor (or lack thereof ). In fact, I recall taking REWahoo's reply to my very first post much more seriously than he intended and him jiving me about it so it was baptism by fire.
Made me look: mortgage bank won't take my money

Oh, and I also ran across this...

Widow Loses House Over $6.30 Tax Bill - Forbes
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