This page represents my efforts to understand how newsgroups work.
"Usenet is like a herd of performing elephants with diarrhea -- massive,
difficult to redirect, awe-inspiring, entertaining, and a source of
mind-boggling amounts of excrement when you least expect it."
Gene Spafford, 1992
The Old Method of Creating a New Big Eight Newsgroup
That is a Thunderously Stupid System!
The New Method of Creating a Big Eight Newsgroup
Zen and the Art of Starving TrollsSnippets of Dialogue
Links: Anti-Troll & misc.writing.screenplay
How Newsgroups Work
You Can't Tell the Players without a Scorecard
A Sketch of Usenet History
Allbery on Usenet
(suspended September 19, 2005; superseded by new system in 2006)
No group has any "right" to exist on Usenet's "rec" hierarchy. All groups are created by courtesy of the 100,000 or so news administrators on computer systems all over the world. You can read all about How to Create a New Newsgroup and The Big Eight Newsgroup Creation Process.
In order to win the favor of the news administrators, people have to demonstrate that the new group would be popular. The admins do not like creating groups that are never used or that are used infrequently.
"No" votes count more than "Yes" votes. There are two rules that
must be met:
1. "Yes" votes must outnumber "No" votes by 100.
2. "Yes" votes must be at least double the number of
So if ((Yes = (100+No)) AND (Yes = 2N))
then the proposal passes.
Here are five sample votes where No wins:
Yes / No
All proposals fail if they gain fewer than 100 votes IF there is 1 No vote. This gives the opposition tremendous power to stop a weak proposal. So in contests that attract more than 100 yes votes, a no vote is worth essentially 2 votes.
Rule #1 (Yes votes must outnumber No votes) dominates decisions when the total pool of votes is less than 300. When the total is less than 300 votes, all cases in which the Yes vote is 100 more than the No vote are guaranteed to be double the No vote. The turning point comes at 200 Yes to 100 No. After that, all winning votes are guaranteed to be more than 100 larger than the No vote because of rule #2 (Yes votes must be double the No vote).
Ru Igarashi has a neater graph: <http://www.geocities.com/ruigarashi/FAQS/big-8_vote_req.html>.
If the proposal is voted down, no new proposal can be started for six months:
From the Guidelines:
"6. A proposal that is substantially similar to a previous failed proposal may not be made until at least six months after the
close of vote on the last such failed proposal."
"13. The discussion period must be a minimum of 21 days. If a proposal remains in the RFD phase for more than 120 days, the proposal may be suspended and a competing proposal allowed to go forward. If it has been more than 120 days since the latest RFD for a proposal and a Proponent Questionnaire (see point 14) was not submitted within 60 days of the latest RFD, the proposal will be considered withdrawn."
When/if a Call for Votes (CFV) is issued, the following two rules come into play:
"20. The explicit voting instructions in the CFV may not be distributed, in whole or in part, to any forum, by anyone except the votetaker. People wishing to vote should be referred to the CFV posted in news.announce.newgroups or told to contact the votetaker for a copy. Violations may result in invalidation of votes by the votetaker or long-term suspension of the proposal by the n.a.n moderator.
"21.Whether or not the CFV may be sent to mailing lists is at the discretion of the votetaker, and if done should only be done by the votetaker directly."
On Sat, 18 Dec 2004 19:40:56 -0800, Richard Henry wrote:
>I don't understand the logical foundation of the voting process, I guess.
Jim Riley replied:
Once upon a time groups were created simply by posting a message to the group. The news software would see an unrecognized name and create the group. New froups were created due to a misspelled name.
So a process was developed where a person who thought a group should be created would post a message to (example, "I'm thinking about creating a screenwriting group. Is there anyone interested?"). People would send the "proponent" e-mail expressing their interest, or perhaps expressing that they didn't think that the group was a good idea.
If there was sufficient interest in the new group, and not too much opposition, the proponent would post a message to the group, causing it to be created. A group that was created in accord with this process it would be included in canonical lists of newsgroups, increasing the likelihood that it would be created on more, if not most, sites.
Over time, "sufficient interest" became quantified, and eventually became 100 more Yes votes than No votes. I don't know of any particular reason that the Yes and No votes are compared in the way that they are; it may be simply be a way to have No votes be registered with typically little consequence. At one time, most proposed groups received over 200 Yes votes, whether there were 10 or 30 No votes didn't matter.
At one point, there was talk of adding a 2/3 supermajority rule, but it was unclear whether this was to permit groups with margins such as 120:40 to be created or to stop groups that had a 500:300 margin from being created. The former group had sufficient interest, and not too much opposition. The latter group had a lot of opposition, despite achieving a 100 vote plurality.
A formula that included a supermajority could not be worked out, and the idea was dropped. About 6 months later, sci.aquaria was proposed. It was widely opposed because of its placement in the sci.* hierarchy rather than the rec.* hierarchy. The group passed by something like a 700:400 margin under questionable circumstances. Someone noticed that if there had been a 2/3 rule in place, the group would have failed, and the current 2/3 rule was added.
sci.aquaria was created under the old rules. Since that time, few groups have failed because of the 2/3 rule, since it is rare for a proposed group to receive 100 No votes, and even if there is a lot of No votes, there might be even more Yes votes.
At one time the average vote was 200+:30. Most proposed groups were created, and since they had sufficient interest they had some level of success. Groups with somewhat marginal interest might squeak by on a 135:30 vote.
A few groups would fail. If it was 20:30, the group probably would have been unsuccessful. If a group failed 120:30 it is not seen as a flaw in the system, but rather simply a disappointed proponent.
The proposals with massive opposition and massive support were rare, and had gone beyond the point of determining whether there was interest in a _newsgroup_ about Topic X, but were rather popularity contests aobut Topic X itself.
1. (optional) The proponent may start an informal discussion in news.groups and in related groups about the proposed group.
2. The proponent submits a Request For Discussion (RFD) to news.announce.newgroups.
3. Discussion of the RFD takes place primarily in news.groups.proposals.
4. The proponent asks the board to vote on the proposal.
5. The board votes on the proposal.
6. If the proposal passes, it is implemented.
See http://www.big-8.org for more details.
The Tao that can be put into words is not the real Tao.
Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching
This meditation is inspired by a series of questions that have arisen in news.groups concerning the unhappy experiences of misc.writing.screenplays. I've collected some questions and and answers here as an example of how to use a web page to support a newsgroup.
Many methods of dealing with trolls have been identified in the discussion.
A. FAQ Attack.
Publish a FAQ on How To Deal With Trolls in This Newsgroup biweekly or something like that.
- Use web pages like this one or like the OS2 Troll FAQ to help newcomers understand how to deal with trolls.
B. Form a Cabal.
- Develop a coalition of like-minded people to help coach newcomers using e-mail, yahoo groups, or the like. (I'm tempted to create a yahoo group named mws_cabal because I know it only takes a few minutes on yahoo to do so. I'm resisting the temptation so far. I'd rather that the group was created, named, and moderated by an mws regular. I've found that in many cases being helpful isn't helpful. Any volunteers?)
C. Starve the Troll.
- Ignore the troll.
- Don't respond to people who respond to the troll
- Teach people how to use killfiles and filters.
D. Create a New Moderated Group.
See above for some notes on the newsgroup creation process.
E. Create a New Moderated Hierarchy.
People have dreamed about a version of Usenet that would be guaranteed to be free from trolls. Some even designed a new system and got it up and running. It died. Cf. http://www.usenet2.org/.
Their failure doesn't mean that you can't do better. Let me know when your newsgroups are up and running. I probably won't sign up for them, but I'd love to see how you manage it.
F. Create a Moderated Gateway.
Otto Mation: "I think it may be an excellent course to start a new 'parallel' but moderated-by-software newsgroup that simply acts as a super filter for any and all cross posts."
G. Fish for Newbies.
From the ongoing dialogue in news.groups, I see that a major concern of the veterans is that the troll is driving away newcomers. Seasoned veterans of the group know how to filter the group and avoid getting entangled with the troll.
Reaching newcomers before they become frustrated and disappear is a worthy goal. What fun is a newsgroup when there is nothing new in it? At the same time, playing in newsgroups just isn't to everybody's taste. "Let them go free: if they come back, they're yours; if they don't, they never were."
"I dunno, I've seen it happen where people are perfectly happy to spend their time complaining" (B/).
T: The problem is in attracting new members to the newsgroup. If all they see are headlines about unrelated topics they soon tire of trying to find the "kernel" of the newsgroup and move on -- provided they even get that far.
M: As the Buddha said in response to the last temptation, "Some will understand."
T: ... If those regulating newsgroups can do nothing about such blatant abuse ...
M: Nobody in news.groups is in the business of "regulating newsgroups." Not even the troika/quarto (Russ Allbery, Todd McCombs, piranha, & maybe Brian Edmonds). news.groups just deals with the namespace of the Big Eight, because to name a group is to create it or to unname it is to destroy it.
T: ... -- it pretty much leaves *everyone* at the mercy of the [trolls] of the world.
M: Yep. It's the new wild west, and there are lots of uncivilized people in the territory.
T: I can't believe that *nothing* can be done about this man and that we are all at his mercy.
M: Talk with the people you enjoy talking with. Welcome newcomers. Teach them not to feed the troll. Take what you like and heave the rest.
T: Again, generalities.
M: True. But they're glittering generalities! :o)
T: I understand that the mechanical apparatus is not easily available to ban this menace, but I am a bit weary of the patronizing platitudes about "how to deal with a troll."
M: Some people have said they would like our advice. Advice comes in platitudes--it's the nature of the beast.
T: He is easy to filter out -- but if you looked at the JPEG snapshots of his MWS threads provided from last night -- you can see that someone subscribing to MWS for the first time would most likely make a run for the hills.
M: Here's where the as-yet-uncreated mws cabal comes into play: all the newbie has to find is one (1) good post from one person in on the conspiracy, and he or she will get information to help them make the troll disappear.
T: This sounds great as an abstraction, but in the real world that leads to newcomers coming in and feeling like this group is run by a clique that they can never penetrate, so they leave. We already have that without going to all the extra trouble.
M: No matter what steps you take, it's going to be "extra trouble." Have you read Russ Allbery's FAQ on "The Pitfalls of Moderation"? It's a quick, easy read, but it is written in blood and deserves to be carved in stone.
T: ... We have flame wars there. We have trolls, we have all the "features" and maladies of a normal newsgroup.
M: Yes, you do. I can tell that even without looking at the group. Just the tone of your voice and the look in your eye is enough evidence for me.
T: We *ALSO* are infested by [a troll]--something completely different than the normal abuses that afflict a newsgroup -- and any member of any newsgroup that has infested by [it] would readily attest to this fact.
M: Cf. the now defunct Usenet II. If you want to eliminate all human fungi, that's the kind of work you have to do. If you want to have fun with the existing system, you'll have to put up with some noise in the background.
Taking control of the inner life of discussion groups has been proposed, implemented, and found unsatisfactory. You may, of course, create your own news hierarchy with new anti-troll rules and invite the world to come play in your new namespace. Speak but the word and your world will be created! In the Big Eight namespace, the consensus (so far) is that the system works well enough for a lot of people to have fun with it. Trolls happen.
T: ... the desire is to get him to *stop* inundating MWS with his off-topic, vicious and cross posted crap. Is that, somehow, unreasonable?
M: The desire is perfectly understandable and healthy. Now we need "a means to an end." By what means shall we attain this end? ("You folks get rid of him for us" is not an option.)
T: Educating mws posters isn't the issue. Educating mws newbies isn't the issue. Cutting off the flood from (a) JM and (b) whatever argumentative gits he's dragged in from all four corners of alt.*, now, THAT is the issue.
M: OK, "cutting off the flood" is possible in a moderated newsgroup. It's not possible in an unmoderated group.
T:... We *want* OUR newsgroup back. We are willing to put forth the effort needed to clean it up.
M: Learn the Law of Trolls: they feed on opposition. Quietly write to people you like, one by one, in the background, via e-mail, and persuade them, if you can, to give up all contests of manhood and honor. (I use the word manhood deliberately and without any disdain for female trolls. They enter into testosterone wars, too.)
T: ... If a newsgroup has been subjected to his off-topic, cross posted spam, its members detest him.
M: Attacking a troll strengthens it. Thirty or forty years ago, I read a sci-fi story about a war between two groups. The key to the resolution of the war was realizing that every weapon fired at the enemy rained equal destruction on the users of the weapon. I guess it was a version of the law of karma.
T:... If the curse of [this troll] was loosed on news.groups would you be willing to give up and change over to news.groups.moderated?
M: Folks have discussed this over the years. My news server (newsguy) seems to filter out a huge amount of troll droppings for me. I clean up anything left over with filters and/or a quick decision to pick my way past the cowpies.
T: You know, it's easy to be philosophical and wax eloquent about treating your fellow troll with respect, sitting in the comfort of your own, basically clean newsgroup.
M: LOL! Yes, it's easy to be philosophical. If I'm a "fellow troll," I guess you'll have to take my advice about how to treat us trolls. ;o) And yes, I'm very, very grateful for the "basically clean newsgroups" that I participate in.
T: Wouldn't you consider unfair that one man, apparently a rabid cross poster, could force you from your "home" and make you move to another?
M: I made a choice like that in 1998. BTDT and still am paying the mortgage on the new house. It was my choice, and I'm doing my level best not to whine about my choice.
T: ... Make an exception in this exceptional case.
M: I firmly believe that there are exceptions to every rule (except to the rule of exceptions). I've advocated and defended making exceptions (cf. rec.crafts.scrapbooks). I don't think the sky is falling and I'm not going to run around trying to prop it up this morning. ;o)
T: ... All that we really need to regain our newsgroup is to disallow cross posting, which is a very minimum amount of moderation.
M: You can teach people to achieve that effect by using the anti-crossposting tools. Or work to create rws.moderated.
T: ... Please subscribe to misc.writing.screenplays for a couple days.
M: No, thanks.
T: You will immediately see the scope of our problem -- and that it is, in reality, an external problem -- not an internal squabble.
M: I take your word for this. I believe you. You're right. I concede your point. That it is an "external problem" does not mean that anyone other than you can solve it. No one else can take a bath for you; no one else can gain enlightenment for you.
T: The group makes a very bad first impression, and few of those who meander this way bother to stick around.
M: Enjoy the few. Nurture them. Aren't they good people to spend time with?
+ + + + + +
Don Aitken: "Keep using the group for what it is intended for. If there are not enough on-topic threads, then start some. Time and energy used in debating how to deal with [your troll] is time and energy subtracted from that."
+ + + + + +
Mark Dodel: "In the comp.os.os2 groups we have had a handful of trolls that from time to time (sometimes seems neverending) go off on such garbage attacks and flood the groups with insane attacks trying to make the groups useless and drive away the people that actually participate. The community has come up with a strategy to handle these loonies. We ask everyone who insists on responding to them to put [FUD4] in the subject so people who don't want to even see the nonsense can filter it. This works fine until some people new to the groups decides to respond without knowing about the strategy. Someone usually quickly points them to a web page we have setup explaining the trolls and how we deal with them. As to people that insist on responding and not cooperating with the rest of the group, there are only a few of these folks and people just killfile them along with the trolls."
In a later post, Mark recapitulated how this strategy works:
"Respond to the crossposted replies with a polite request to:
- Not respond to the troll.
- If they must respond to the troll, set followup to an appropriate group if there is one, and drop all inappropriate groups from the crosspost.
- If they must crosspost to your group, to please add a designated flag to the subject so people who want to can filter all the garbage (e.g., [FUD4]).
- Point them to a web page to explain why you are doing this.
And if these people persist, just killfile the morons. See http://www.mr2ice.com/TMFaq/ for an example of what we have done in comp.os.os2.*. No solution is perfect and there will always be idiots that will do their best to circumvent any strategy to deal with these kooks, but it helps a lot."
+ + + + + +
Yowie: "And now in one cat group at least, we post recipes for the troll-b-que we'll have. So we have taken back the troll threads and make them enjoyable for us again. Sure, the core set of posters all had to adopt this method, but now we have, the newbies quickly learn that the acceptable way to deal with trolls is not to bite back, but to trim the newsgroups back down to the one we read, and post scrumptious recipes to share with each other. Its actually kinda fun - exactly the opposite of what a troll wants. It seems remarkably effective too."
+ + + + + +
Guy Macon: Helpful hints for your camapaign:
- Set up a hotmail account in case you trigger a "frea speach" kook.
- Don't post to any one group more than once or maybe twice a week.
- Crosspost to all the groups that the crossposter did, but with your group and the Troll's group deleted.
- Set followups to one group.
- Say "don't crosspost" instead of "don't crosspost to MWS." Some kooks will respond to a polite request by crossposting. Make it hard for them to figure out where.
- People can preface their posts with [MWS]. There are groups where all of the real posters do this, and they do a sort by subject in order to bring them all together when they read posts. Works great against spammers, works against most trolls. If the troll starts using the special identifier, he finds that he just made it really easy for people in oyher newsgroups to filter out his posts. BTW, "[MWS]" is preferred to "MWS" or "MWS:" etc., because you don't want to filter out posts titled "I like MWS!" and such.
- Here are instructions on how to killfile using various newsreaders: http://www.hyphenologist.co.uk/killfile/killfilefaq.htm
- Here is a program that will allow Outlook Express to do a better job of killfiling: http://www.nfilter.org/
- How should I react to crackpot messages? http://www.uwasa.fi/~ts/http/crackpot.html
- How should I react to abusive postings or email? http://www.uwasa.fi/~ts/http/abusive.html
"Usenet being what it is, if you participate in newsgroups at all over a period if time you have the possibility of attracting your own personal lunatic, who considers any disagreement a personal affront, and considers it their duty and obligation to 'expose' the person they fixate on. It's kind of pathetic, but they can't quite seem to figure out why no one else sees their actions as heroic." --Richard Ward
+ + + + + +
Bill Cole: "If you used the facilities at your ready disposal you could see what an Altopia-free newsfeed looks like. It is a lossless form of compression. A full explanation of why they have not been de-peered completely would explain most of the deepest flaws and the most important strengths of Usenet."
+ + + + + +
BarB: "OE can handle it, and that's the newsreader most people use.
- Highlight the message.
- Pull down the Message menu.
- Click "block sender".
That's not as good a filter as one which will eliminate crossposts, but it is fast and easy."
Dena Jo: "I was using OE and switched to Xnews because I found myself devoting time every single day to kill-filing a person or a thread or something. OE doesn't handle it well. In Xnews, within a few days, there was no sign, for me at least, of the infestation. Now I'm an Xnews devotee."
BarB: I wasn't questioning that Xnews is a much better filter. Filtering by crossposts is much more effective in this case, however Xnews requires a steeper learning curve than most users will accept. Most users will not make the effort to switch readers, especially if this is the only group where it is needed. OE will take out the main troll permanently with two mouse clicks but, yes, it will take a few minutes daily to get the rest and it won't be perfect. Your object should be to suggest what is possible for the average user, not what is ideal."
Screenwriter Beginner's FAQ
(about writing screenplays)
A = Alan Brooks
J = Jon Bell
A: As I understand it, there are a number of factors weighed against our request, these being
1. The NAN moderation team is of the strong opinion we wouldn't get the votes to carry the request.
J: Have they really stated that as a specific reason to deny your request for such an RFD? They've posted plenty of RFDs that didn't have a snowball's chance in hell of passing.
A: 2. There is a moratorium on conversion of groups to moderated status.
3. If the change ticket were sent out, some news service administrators would ignore it, so it wouldn't work anyway. [...] My questions are: 1. Why are such change requests ignored?
J: The problem actually applies not just to control messages that change the status of a newsgroup, but to all control messages, including the ones that create new groups and remove existing ones. Originally, the whole process of creating, removing, and modifying newsgroups was intended to be automatic. Control messages were supposed to be acted on automatically by news server software, thereby avoiding having to contact hundreds or thousands of news server administrators individually and get them to make the changes. Unfortunately, the basic system is very insecure. Anyone with a certain amount of technical knowledge about control messages can post one. As a crude safeguard against this, news servers can be configured to accept control messages only from specific sources, for specific newsgroup hierarchies. However, it's usually trivially easy to forge the "From:" header.
I myself have seen my server (when it was running older software) brought to its knees by floods of tens of thousands of newgroup control messages purporting to come from the moderator of news.announce.newgroups, but actually coming from vandals who resent people who are "in charge". This was a regular occurrence a few years ago. These floods are in addition to sporadic bogus control messages posted by individuals on a one-off basis.
To counter such attacks, most current news server software packages now allow for cryptographic verification of PGP-signed control messages, and many newsgroup hierarchy maintainers use them (including Russ and company). However, it takes work to configure PGP verification. Many server admins probably don't bother with it, and instead choose the simpler route of turning off all control-message processing when they get hit by the first control-message flood. Then, of course, there are probably a lot of old servers out there whose software doesn't even allow for PGP verification.
Is there anything I/we could do to improve the process, or are there actually news administrators out there who believe a no-change policy is the best one? I don't think it's usually a policy against change in general, but rather a quick and dirty way of blocking bogus changes like the ones described above.
At many ISPs and other places that operate news servers, newsgroups are a very low-priority service, managed by people who don't know much about them and may not even use newsgroups, themselves. They just aim to keep things more or less working on autopilot on a day-to-day basis, with minimal effort, and address relatively infrequent things like new groups or changes in groups only when a customer requests something.
A: 2. Could change requests be processed as rmgroup requests followed by creategroup requests? Would that be better honored, or are rmgroup's often ignored as well?
J: If anything, the situation is probably worse with rmgroups, again because of the potential for vandalism. And technically it doesn't really make any difference anyway, because there's no such thing as a "changegroup" control message per se. It's just a "newgroup" with an updated moderation status flag. Servers interpret a newgroup for a group that they already have, as a request to change the status flag if necessary.
A: 3. If we wanted to created a moderated group as misc.writing.screenwriting, leaving off the hated .moderated tag, would such a request generally be considered seriously? Just to make that clear: rather than creating a sister misc.writing.screenplays group called misc.writing.screenplays.moderated, would the use of a similar name like 'screenwriting' be okay, or in the Great Name Space of usenet would that be considered worse?
J: If that's what you all really want, I don't see any reason why Russ and company would stop you. Tacking "moderated" onto the end of an existing group name when creating a moderated counterpart, is just a convention. I personally think it's a useful convention, and I don't "get" why people might resist it, but right now at least, I don't feel strongly enough about it to vote against a proposal that doesn't use it. Some news.groupies might feel otherwise.
Dept. of Physics and Computer Science
Clinton, South Carolina USA
Guy Macon: Many news servers have no admins, just a fellow who does a million other things and only touches the news server when it breaks. No money, no time, not a lot of interest from the users.
A very important article by Russ Allbery. I've been a moderator of rec.autos.sport.nascar.moderated since 1998. I haven't found any other discussion of the pluses and minuses of moderation that surpasses Allbery's remarks. Folks who think a moderated group is the answer should study what he says very carefully.
Big-8 Management Board: The group of people currently (as of 2006) tasked with maintaining Checkgroups, a canonical list of big-8 newsgroups. For full details, see http://www.big-8.org.
Russ Allbery: tale's direct heir. Russ has the PGP key necessary to send out control messages to create new newsgroups in the Big Eight. Since October 1, 2006, he has been working with the Big-8 Management Board to maintain Checkgroups.
Todd McCombs and piranha acted with Russ as the troika (trio, triumvirate, steering committee, Supreme Court, Big Three) of the Big Eight. They were the moderators of news.announce.newgroups and were known as the n.a.n. mods or nan-o-mods until October of 2005.
Brian Edmonds also served on the news.announce.newgroups moderation team, but he said he was not on the same level as the Big Three. He runs a server that hosts several moderated newsgroups. He is now a member of the Big-8 Management Board.
Usenet Volunteer Votetakers (UVVs) used to conduct the Call for Votes (CFVs) that decided questions raised in news.groups. The Big-8 Management Board has switched to a different model and is trying to build a new team of Usenet Volunteer Polltakers.
Ru Igarashi does the most amazing job reading every RFD in detail. He is one of the group's "Fine Tooth Combs."
Joe Bernstein has been working on a history of Usenet for many years. He uses posts as his primary source.
Brian Mailman is not Brian Edmonds. My apologies to both Brians!
For a more detailed timeline, see Great Moments in Usenet History.
1983 1986-87 The Great Renaming: The Big Seven organized. Roots of the current voting system planted. 1987 alt.* groups formed. 1988 Spaf kills the backbone (The Cabal). 1992 Kibo proposes HappyNet 1993 1993 Formation of Usenet Volunteer Votetakers (UVV). ~1994 tale (David C. Lawrence) takes over from Spaf. 1995 New humanities hierarchy created by a vote of 508:97. The Big Seven becomes the Big Eight. 1995 I start reading newsgroups in the fall (of course!). Not a big deal to anyone but me. 1997 Usenet II is proposed. 1998 HappyNet is updated. 2001 2002 Oct. 1, 1993 Hasn't come yet.
published the first set of newusers documents for Usenet ca. 1982 (and continued to maintain and post them for the next 11 years).
developed the concept of the Usenet backbone ca. 1983.
created the idea of the Usenet newgroup "ballot" ca. 1987.
was moderator of one of the first moderated newsgroups not represented by a gated mailing list (news.newusers).
SU: "By having a moderator with final say on what gets published an individual is taking a part of USENET for his personal agenda and eliminating anyone he chooses to."
RA: "I have so little opinion on whether or not this particular group should be created that you couldn't find it with a microscope. It really makes no difference to me at all, I have no intention of voting, and I think it's up to y'all. But it's really annoying to have someone make this sort of general statement about moderation just because they don't like this particular proposal.
"There are a bunch of excellent moderated groups on Usenet. There are announcement groups where moderators spend their volunteer time sorting through spam and confusion to distill just the items of general interest to some particular community. There are groups where the moderators filter out everything that's answered by existing documentation so that people who are interested in in-depth discussion but don't have the time to follow posts from people who are just learning can have that. There are low-traffic topics that would be swamped in an unmoderated group but can find their own moderated niche that is useful to the people who choose to read it. And those are just examples from my personal experience; there are lots more.
"Usenet was founded on little more than the idea that people at three different schools wanted to wanted to talk to each other. It supports all sorts of discussion, from completely unmoderated to edited like a magazine (see comp.risks), and there's absolutely no reason to limit the uses of the technology to just one particular type of discussion you personally happen to like. There are a lot of other people out here using Usenet, they like other things than you and I, and you and I don't have to read their groups just like they don't have to read ours.
"This *particular* proposal may be a horrid idea -- I have no opinion at all. But please don't generalize about moderators; it's one of those quiet jobs that never gets noticed when it's done well, and healthy moderated groups in their appropriate place enrich Usenet for a lot of people." -- Russ Allbery