[Home]UseNetCabal

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(ShallowPage) There is no UseNetCabal ;) --DominicBurns
See, when I read the GodKing page that referenced this page, I assumed coming here would involve an interesting historical anecdote. One-liners are funny, but they are no substitute for actual information.

Also, if there is no UseNetCabal, why does every spam post to a live newsgroup get smacked down?

When you act to preserve the common good as you see it, you're the cabal.


Actually, the UseNetCabal was a real entity, spreading anti-cabal stuff like the block at the top of the page. 'Course, as a direct result, no one can find out any information. You could hunt for some in TheNewHackersDictionary?...

Also known as the "backbone cabal," in the early days of netnews there was a group of system administrators who utilized their technical authority to impose their decisions upon others, blocking the creation of newsgroups that they personally disliked, for example, even when they had been approved by the (then fledgling) process for such matters. (They did this only a few times, but it proved one too many, resulting in the community's rejecting their authority, and the effective end of the cabal.)

The backbone cabal was one in a number of early examples of TechnoCracy.

That's a bit distorted. I just saw the above after writing the following paragraph on c2:

Actually, the origin of that was in reference to the "backbone cabal" (UseNetCabal), a group that most certainly did exist, but which was relatively benign; they exercised power in deciding to carry or not carry various newsgroups, and as administrators of the biggest most highly connected hubs on UseNet, their decisions did in fact carry a certain amount of de facto authority -- which is what led JohnGilmore? to create the alternate Usenet via his system hoptoad, the alt.* groups (originally alt.sex and alt.drugs, since the Cabal wouldn't accept such groups, and then alt.rockandroll for symmetry).

I'll add that the newsgroups they blocked weren't typically a matter of "personal dislike", it was more a concern about using their organization's money to propagate things wildly inappropriate or disagreeable to management.

Furthermore, the "block" consisted of just refusing to have their local system relay such groups, which does not directly have anything at all to do with whether any other sites accepted and related those groups, so in a direct sense they were just adminstering their own local system and budget as they saw fit. It's just that, in the cases where the people doing so happened to have extremely high connectivity to other sites, it had the side effect of markedly decreasing global propagation of those groups.

This puts a rather different spin on things. In particular, it was never possible for anyone to completely censor some group, and it was never possible for users to overthrow their supposed tyranny. They simply gave a lot of support to the propagation of Usenet, a factor which was immensely helpful in early years, but became gradually less important as overall Usenet connectivity boomed, both in the dialup years, and particularly as commercial firms were allowed on the Internet.

P.S. I can only hope that the comment about the Cabal suppressing info about the Cabal was meant purely as a joke, because if it were meant seriously...it's not a question of whether such an assertion is true or false, it's a question of the level of ignorance of how things work that it would take to be able to entertain such a notion. Starting with the fact that spam is in fact not generally suppressed on UseNet, for instance. -- DougMerritt


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