Everybody's Internet Update


Everybody's Internet Update

Date: Mon, 20 Mar 1995 01:43:08 GMT
From: owner-newjour@ccat.sas.upenn.edu
Subject: Everybody's Internet Update

Date: Sun, 19 Mar 1995 19:53:08 +0100
From: au007@rs1.rrz.uni-koeln.de (Michael Uwe Moebius)

Date: Mon, 6 Mar 1995 00:26:26 GMT
From: adamg@world.std.com (Adam M Gaffin)
Subject: Everybody's Internet Update - March

(Link to archive active 6 May 2004)

Number 10 - March, 1995
An online publication of the Electronic Frontier Foundation
Edited by Adam Gaffin, adamg@world.std.com

This month:

1. Usenet Fish Tales -- How to Avoid Being Trolled
1.1 Baiting the hook
1.2 Avoiding the worm
1.3 FYI
2. Parents Say the Darndest Things
3. A Novel Idea
4. Services of the Month
4.1 Cave art
4.2 Da Vinci
4.3 English
4.4 Finances
4.5 Golf
4.6 Taxes
5. Public Internet providers
6. Contact Info


Any fisherman can tell you about trolling -- you cast out your line
and slowly drag it along, waiting for some fish to come along and grab
the bait and get hooked.%

It's a time-honored tradition on Usenet as well, one that newcomers
can easily find themselves ensnared in, often to their dismay (and the
delight of the allegedly more experienced trollers who catch them).


The basic idea behind Usenet trolling is to post a ridiculous message
and then sit back and watch as newcomers (and some veterans) try to
tear into it. A really simple troll might be to post a message in a
Star Trek newsgroup telling participants to get a life, or to post
something like "101 Uses for a Dead Cat" in rec.pets.cats. If the
troller's lucky, people will rise to his flame bait, sometimes so
vehemently that the newsgroup becomes engulfed in a flamewar that
completely drowns out all other discussions.

Veteran trollers, however, usually display more subtlety than that.
Sometimes, they start out with seemingly innocuous postings. Over a
period of days, however, their messages grow more strident. And as
people begin to argue with them, the game is on. Sometimes, trollers
will go after a single person they know will bite hard on the
proferred bait (that they know this often indicates that the trollee
has, himself, displayed some behavior others might find

This is what happened recently in a flamefest that erupted on several
groups simultaneously. One well known net.personality responded to
some post from a person he finds objectionable with a message that

You'll be pleased to know, then, that you have been added to the
USENET Global Killfile, a list of objectionable users whose
articles will automatically be blocked by subscribing sites. At
the present, the list of sites which comply with the USENET Global
Killfile is approximately 82%.

Your messages will continue to be transmitted from site to site
so that the non-GK using sites will still see them, but users on
participating sites will not be troubled with your messages
popping up in their newsgroups.

The "Organization" line of the header read: "USENET Central

The "fish" took the bait, loudly decrying this latest offense by the
Usenet Cabal, the secret group that really runs Usenet. So, too, did
a number of innocent bystanders, who publicly complained about this
egregious attempt at Net-wide censorship. It got worse and worse.
Finally, the subject of the troll posted a message in which he claimed
the original poster had forged the original message from himself and
that because of this fraud, he had visited his local FBI office, where
a sympathetic agent took copious notes on this awful abuse. At this
point, several people jumped into the conversation to tell the person
he'd been the subject of a practical joke and to give it a rest (to no


The troller left several clues in his message that it was all a joke.
The most obvious one was its sheer ludicrousness. Given the number of
Usenet systems out there today, the likelihood of getting 82% of them
to agree on anything -- especially something like a universal censor
system -- is remote.

The more subtle clue was the list of newsgroups to which the troller
posted. The last one on the list was misc.test. Now, this is a
newsgroup set up so people can test their Usenet connections. There
are a number of Usenet systems around the world that respond to any
postings in that group with e-mail, letting the poster know where and
when her message was received. So if you see a posting in a Usenet
group that is cross-posted to misc.test, right away you've got a
pretty strong indication that the message is really a troll (as well
as an indication that, if you follow up to the post, you're going to
start getting all these e-mail messages from auto-responding Usenet

So what do you do? If you see a message in your favorite newsgroup
that looks like the sender is just crusin' for a bruisin', first,
count to 10. Just because you *can* reply doesn't mean you have to.
Remember that the best way to deal with annoying on-line
people is to ignore them -- they thrive on making others irate. Check
the line in the header that says which newsgroups the message has been
posted to. If there are a number of them, think to 10 again -- do you
really want to start a cross-newsgroup flamefest where all the groups
get taken over by "get this crap out of this newsgroup" messages?

If you feel you simply HAVE to respond in public, pare down the list
of newsgroups. In most Usenet editors, that's fairly easy to do -- go
up to the "Newsgroups" line and delete the names of newsgroups to
which the message is really inappropriate (including misc.test,
alt.test, etc.). Be careful to keep the remaining names separated by
a comma (but no spaces). And flame away. But count to 10 again,
1.3 FYI

For a short time, there really was a Usenet Cabal, although it went by
the name of Backbone Cabal. In 1985, a group of Usenet
administrators, faced with a growing number of newsgroups, agreed to
try to change the overall naming system to accomodate them all. They
came up with the present hierarchical system (comp., soc., rec., etc.)
and managed to get the change through. For more info, connect to the
Jargon File World-Wide Web site at
http://www.monmouth.com/~jshahom/jargon/index.html (Inactive 6 May 2004)
and search for "Backbone Cabal"
http://www.monmouth.com/~jshahom/jargon/backbone_cabal.html (inactive)


Every community has its own lingo, and the Internet and Usenet are no
different. From AFAIK to YMMV, from, well, "trolling" to
"telnetting," the 'Net has developed its own ways of describing
things. Today, with the 'Net consisting of millions of people around
the world, we're seeing the development of even smaller online
communities, each of which in turn has its own unique phrases and
ways of putting things. One of those communities consists of the
people who inhabit misc.kids.pregnancy and misc.kids.

As you might expect from the names, these are newsgroups where people
go to discuss having babies and what to do with them once you have
them. They're the kinds of places where people get to know each other
and discuss all the amazing/silly/fun/annoying things their children and
spouses (and strangers) do and say. In fact, such messages pop up so
often that the locals have developed acronyms to put in subject lines,
so other participants can get an idea of what the messages are about.
They include:

CTTD Cute Things They Do
CTTS Cute Things They Say
ONNA Club "Oh No, Not Again" Club -- Women who are trying to
get pregnant who instead get their period again.
RTSS Ridiculous Things Strangers Say
STHS Sweet Things Husbands Say
STSD Strange Things Strangers Do
STSS Strange Things Strangers Say
STPS Silly Things People Say
STTTTB Strange Things They Take to Bed
YKYAPW You Know You're A Parent When...


"Letters from Abroad - or Two!" is a clever experiment in linking the
linear style of novels with the interactive abilities of the Internet
-- it's an online story that lets readers interact with the characters.
In the introduction to this Web-based story, we read:

Doreen and Birdie have been best friends practically since the moment
they met in the secretarial pool of a large international advertising
agency, that will remain nameless for reasons of liability. Both had
dreams of the fame and success associated with the glamorous world of
television advertising, but alas, wound up typing, taking letters, and
making coffee with hundreds of others that had similar dreams.

Now the unthinkable has happened. They have been transferred! And in
this day and age of high unemployment and poor world economics, who
were they to say no. Thankfully with the onset of the electronic age,
they can stay in touch, even if they can no longer meet in the

The story of their lives (and, natch, loves) is played out in their
e-mail messages to each others, past flames -- and to you. The system
lets you read their e-mail and send messages to either or both of the
heroines -- with the resulting correspondence then being incorporated
into the story.

To take part, point your Web browser at
http://www.compulink.co.uk/arc/abroad.htm (inactive) and then just follow
the links. [As of 5/15/96, this site appeared to be down]



In December, two explorers discovered a large collection of Stone Age
cave paintings in Vallon-Pont-d'Arc in the south of France. The
French Ministry of Culture has set up a Web site to discuss the
findings and give people around the world a chance to see the
paintings. Point your Web browser at
http://web.culture.fr/gvpda-en.htm for the English version or
http://web.culture.fr/gvpda-d.htm for the French tour.


Point your Web browser at http://www.leonardo.net/main.html (inactive) for
an online exhibit on the life and creations of Leonardo Da Vinci.


Wordplay-L is a mailing list all about English words, grammar,
pronunciation and the like. To subscribe, write to
mailserv@levels.unisa.edu.au. Leave the subject line blank, and as
your message, write:

SUBSCRIBE WORDPLAY-L yourfirstname yourlastname


If you need to see stock prices from Hong Kong, they're now available
on the Web at http://silkroute.com/silkroute/news (inactive).

4.5 GOLF

GolfWeb is a Web site devoted to the putting life, at


American taxpayers can get answers to frequently asked tax questions,
as well as some tips on saving money this filing season on a Web site
set up by MacMillan Publishing USA, the publisher of J.K. Lasser's Tax
Guide. Point your Web browser at
http://www.mcp.com/jklasser/jklhome.htm (inactive).


Benoit Cark Lips maintains lists of Internet providers in Europe,
Africa and Asia. You can find them on the World-Wide Web at
http://www.earth.org/~lips (inactive) or via FTP at sumex-aim.stanford.edu
in the /info-mac/comm/information directory.

The correct dial-in number for Lorain County Free-Net, Ohio, is (216)


Everybody's Internet Update is published monthly by the Electronic
Frontier Foundation. Current and back copies are available by anonymous
FTP or ncFTP at ftp.eff.org in the pub/Net_info/EFF_Net_Guide
directory; by gopher at gopher.eff.org (select Net Info, then EFF Net
Guide, then Updates); and by WWW at
http://www.eff.org/pub/Net_info/EFF_Net_Guide/ (inactive)

To receive the updates via e-mail, write to listserv@eff.org. Leave
the subject line blank, and as your message, write:

add net-guide-update

To obtain a copy of the entire EFF Guide to the Internet, use anonymous
FTP or ncFTP to connect to ftp.eff.org and look in the
/pub/Net_info/EFF_Net_Guide directory, or use gopher to connect to
gopher.eff.org and then select Net Info and then EFF Net Guide. You'll
find several versions for different types of computers. The file
netguide.eff is the generic ASCII version.

To reach Update Editor Adam Gaffin, write adamg@world.std.com.

For general information on the Electronic Frontier Foundation, send an e-
mail message to info@eff.org. To ask a specific question, write

Everybody's Internet Update is copyright 1995 by the Electronic Frontier
Foundation, Washington, D.C.

Adam Gaffin
adamg@world.std.com / (508) 820-7433
The big dummy behind "Everybody's Guide to the Internet"
Visit Boston Online: http://www.std.com/NE/boston.html (inactive)

Original posting date: 
Sunday, July 30, 1995
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