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Experiences with Usenet I

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Experiences with Usenet I

For the past year or so, I have been a frequent visitor and contributor to the Usenet group, (RGM)1. Due to various flamewars2 and SPAM attacks3 in the past, the newsgroup decided to moderate itself. For the most part, the moderation has worked--the flames died down, the SPAM disappeared. Life at RGM was never better. People were talking about Mecha and Mecha related topics with gusto. Then from the bowels of America On-line (AOL) came ATN.

This person (most people at RGM assume that he is an adolescent male, but this is only an assumption based on his writing style and manner) has stirred up the members of RGM like no flamer or SPAMER has, and he´s doing it without breaking the any Netiquette rules (more or less).

What he does is quiet simple. He starts a new thread with a topic that longtime readers of RGM know will get the more fiery members hot under the collar. Then he proceeds to "argue" his point; however, ATN´s lack of debating skill and pig-headedness (he refuses to believe that he is wrong or that other possibilities besides his exist) makes said fiery members even madder. Even I have YELLED LOUDLY at ATN for his inability to see the world except through his blood-colored glasses4.

This type of repeated behavior has lead many members to believe that he is a Troll5. If this is true, then he is breaking the charter of the newsgroup. Those that do not think he´s a troll believe that he is just a very immature boy. If this is true, then he is not breaking the charter of the newsgroup, but is being annoying (like a pesky fly).

With the success of the anti-flamer, anit-SPAMer moderation fresh in people´s minds, someone asked the newsgroup if it should moderate (i.e., censor) ATN´s posts so that they would never appear. I was glad to see that many people responded negatively to this request (in the name of "Free Speech"). These people claimed that although they think ATN is immature and annoying, he has a right to post immature and annoying messages to RGM. The main argument against centralized (by the moderator) censorship was that people do not have to read anything written by ATN, if they don´t want to (localized censorship).

In fact, many of us enjoy reading the silly arguments of ATN and the angry replies of the other members as they try to give ATN a clue. True, this enjoyment is growing stale, but it still can bring a smile or two across my face every now and then. Free Speech has triumphed (for better or for worse). ATN can still post messages that make people mad. God bless the Internet.


1 RGM is a newsgroup dedicated to discussing "Mecha"--giant robot or robot-like war machines. Most of the members write about one particular Mecha game--Battletechtm which is made and trademarked by the FASA corporation.

2 A "flame" is a newsgroup message that is intended to "fan the fire" inside somebody--i.e., make them very mad. It is an intentional attempt to "piss somebody off." A "flamewar" is what results when people begin flaming each other (or multiple members).

3 On the Internet "SPAM" is not some mystery meat in a can, but unsolicited e-mail, now usually consisted of capitalist schemes to defraud naïve readers.

4 For those of you who aren´t native readers of English, this is a pun on the typical English phrase "rose-colored glasses," which means that the person described sees the world in their own narrow naïve way.

5 I´m not exactly sure what a "Troll" is on the Internet; however, from the Usenet posts I assume that it is somebody who visits a newsgroup, posts "flames," and then leaves when everybody on the newsgroups gets mad.

Zatím žádné hodnocení
FULK, Ted S.. Experiences with Usenet I. Ikaros [online]. 1998, ročník 2, číslo 5 [cit. 2024-07-19]. urn:nbn:cz:ik-10204. ISSN 1212-5075. Dostupné z:

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