Net legends FAQ

Last-modified: 9/12/94

This... is the Net.Legends FAQ. Due to minutes^H^H^H^H^H^H^Hweeks of unrelenting plagiar^H^H^H^H^H^H^Hresearch, we have gathered together here some descriptions of those net.phenomena that one hears about in passing, and (due to the collective memory of the Net being about one week, maximum) wishes one had more information about (such as "Who was McElwaine, anyway, and why is he still being talked about?). What follows is a list of some of the Legends of the Net, along with descriptions, semi-explanations, and (in some cases) a parenthesized catchphrase for easy identification... not all of the following are completely factual entries: in some cases the true facts are known only to one person, or lost in the mists of time, while in others the facts pale in relation to the mythology. In any case, the actual facts included, sparse though they may be, are true as far as I know; if you have evidence otherwise, please contact me and tell me (saying "This is wrong!" without actually saying what is wrong with it is of little use to me, though...) (Note: "Myth" is canonically used to refer to stories involving gods or other supernatural beings; "legend" refers to stories involving humans that could be true.)

The FAQ in each case should be considered to be "Who or what is ____ and where can I get some [no wait.. umm..] why & how should I know this? [yeah, that's it]". The miniFAQs mentioned are available by anon-ftp (as is this FAQ) or gopher to cathouse.org, the awesome AFU archive, under /pub/cathouse/urban.legends/net.legends, and are mostly composed of representative posts... they are also available by mosaic to http://enigma.phys.utk.edu, in my personal page (click on UT Particle Theory Group at the bottom of the HomePage and then on David DeLaney, middle of page) [they are not stored on enigma, so don't write angry letters to the sysadmins or to the Boss and annoy them, please], at least as long as that personal page stays there.... The FAQ and the miniFAQs are currently not available at utk via anon-ftp; the FAQ's several places on Internet, most of which I don't know, but one is ftp.umd.umich.edu, under /pub/text; another is in /pub/crd at ftp.netcom.com, which is now a Hypertext/Mosaic link to the cathouse archive mentioned above. Have Fun!

Disclaimer(s):

Since these are in fact net.legends, not much of a real attempt to verify that these people actually do hold these opinions, exist at these addresses, etc., has been made; in addition, much of this FAQ is in the form of, er, "overheard" posts (fully credited at the end), to give some feel of what it might be like to have heard a net.conversation about them, and to preserve the "legend" style... The "Contrib. post"s are posts (or sometimes email) which people have made, recalling what they remember about the subject, and are not guaranteed to be accurate, but only what the person who posted them remembered.

If you have better info on any of these, see the last bit of the FAQ (if you are any of these, and wish to correct some info, by all means go ahead! Lewis Stiller did, and won a new updated entry! Dan Karnes broke the chain, and 2 weeks later got exiled to news.admin.*...).

Any attempt to actually email any of these addresses may have results ranging from complete silence to a perfectly normal conversation to mailbombing to complaints to your sysadmin to sudden inclusion in a vast global conspiracy; You Have Been Warned. Also, if you're one of the type who call up all the phone numbers they see in movies (which is why the 555 exchange is universally used in the USA now for these things ... but I digress) consider what it might be like to have your name appear on one of these things... and wake up with 1,000 pieces of mail in your mailbx...

This is not "the FAQ for alt.usenet.kooks" (motto: In Cyberspace Everybody Can Hear You Scream), by the way; many of the people herein are here only because they are or were noticeable in one way or another on various (sometimes widespread) parts of UseNet. Some are loons, yes, or crackpots or kooks; some are not by any stretch of the imagination. Some are probably not very sane, while others are quite sane, and there's even some where it's very hard to tell one way or the other; all, however, have some distinguishing characteristic(s) that cause them to stick in people's memories. By the way, the repeated use of "loon" and its derivatives in the quoted posts and some of the descriptions comes mainly from the origination of this FAQ in a thread entitled "Call For Loons" (which started on alt.folklore.computers), before it became clear that notoriety, not looniness, should be the distinguishing characteristic of those gathered herein. This is not a complete listing of Notable People Of Usenet - be serious! The net's way too big for that. This is a selection (albeit a large one). This FAQ is also biased, in most cases towards the humorous side; all FAQs are biased, because they are ultimately written by people who are biased. There's not enough room in the world's hard disks to present all sides of every argument for every person and/or phenomenon noted in here, so some things are inevitably gonna be left out. Deal with it. In most cases, if you want to know more, you can either ask on the newsgroup(s) in question or ask the net.legend themselves; many will be happy to explain (sometimes at great length) their particular quirks, or why they feel the way they do. Some will of course be acrimonious instead of happy; see above about emailing them... The information in here is inevitably somewhat or largely out-of-date, simply because the Net (and even Real Life) keep moving on. No conceivable FAQ could keep up with the current doings of even a small fraction of the people listed herein. Updates will be accepted, and probably stuck on the bottom of the 10,000 or so lines of other raw-data-to-be-smelted-into-FAQ- entries currently in the possession of the FAQ-maker... And yes, the format is a bit difficult to find things in; it was hard to write, so it should be hard to read, no? Search functions are your friends... [This is probably more correct for the pure ASCII version... ingvar]

    Table of Contents:
  1. The Good Guys
  2. The Rest Of The Stories
  3. Stupid Net Tricks
  4. Lesser Lights
    various and sundry, too many to list here; read! read!
  5. Also Nominated
    but with little or no information attached, unfortunately...
  6. Other Callings
    or, The Debris Of The Naming Straw Poll
  7. Credits
    You know who you are ... or you *will*...