Not all of the net.legends are people - or even human. Therefore, viola (tm):

Stupid Net Tricks


Dave Rhodes and MAKE.MONEY.FAST:

In every Paradise there is at least one fatal flaw. In every mail system, there is sooner or later a chain letter. UseNet, luckily, seems to have been adopted by only one such - but it pops up in more places and faster than kudzu, and is about as hard to kill completely. Actually, nobody currently knows much about Dave Rhodes (but see below) - except that he wrote the template for the first MAKE.MONEY.FAST pyramid scheme. His name and address have long since fallen off the top of any of the current copies... There is something of a miniFAQ available on this post.

Advice to new netters panting to try it out and make $50,000 in an afternoon: I can tell you right now what you're gonna get - an extremely full emailbox, a ticked-off sysadmin (because your emailbox is full of letter bombs from irate UseNetters who snapped at seeing this cr*p in their newsgroups for the fifth time in two weeks, and because several thousand *un*snapped-as-yet UseNetters email her directly saying "Talk to this kid; it's illegal, a waste of time, and annoying), and a rapidly-vanishing UseNet access (wave bye-bye to it for a looooong time, if you're not lucky...). The letter itself says it's legal, you say? It's lying; it's known as a Ponzi or pyramid scheme, and is wire fraud for *sending* the letter, *and* postal fraud for receiving any of the money thru the U.S. Mail (can you say Federal Case, boys'n'girls?)...

And you *have* to leave a trail directly to yourself, name and address - or else it *can't* work (hee hee)... Save yourself the grief: just say NO to Dave.Rhodes . Recently voted number one on list of people *every* UseNetter would like to see die an excruciatingly slow and painful death. If we're lucky, it does not get posted at all (for a day or two).
Contrib. post:

 Dave Rhodes was a student at Columbia Union College in Takoma Park, MD.
This is a Seventh Day Adventist college. The posting machine was !cucstud,
aka Columbia Union College, Student. It passed news upstream to uunet.
Cucstud was a 3B2, and there were two or three more. Note this predated
the widespread usage of the pseudodomain of { }.UUCP, and I don't recall
if the site was ever so named.
 Needless to say, Leroy Cain, the sysadm, was not amused. This posting was
made in 1987-1988, sometime just after the infamous jj@portal one, and
his incoming mail queue was impressive.
 I do not know if Leroy took the matter to the Dean of Students, but do
know he posted an apology, and ensured that Dave would not be doing that
again, at least at THAT site.
 As for why I had an account on cucstud, and knew Leroy, when my only
connection was that I caught a bus to work in front of the place every
morning; that's a different story........
 I like what Dogbert had to say about chain letters:
 "Don't you think that for your first crime you shouldn't attach your name and
address and mail it to several thousand strangers?"

[Evidence has since turned up that the Dave Rhodes letter has been circulating, in snail-mail form, long before that fateful day in 1987 or 1988... ah well...]


Alt.* ... is a sewer. Thanks to Bruce Becker (q.v.) and others like him, there are literally thousands of odd, little-known, poorly-propagated alt.* groups, many or most newgrouped as a whim of someone's. The canonical first on the list in this category (and the most widely (?) respected) is alt.swedish.chef.bork.bork.bork (newgrouped by Jeff Vogel, with Distribution: mudd and surprising-to-him results), for speaking in Mock Swedish and discussing chickee recipees. This spawned, thru the intervention of Shub-Internet (q.v.),, alt.wesley.crusher.die.die.die, sci.edward.teller.boom.boom.boom, alt.lawyers.sue.sue.sue,, (and of course the infamous, missing and all) as well as alt.ted.frank.troll.troll.troll ... all of which are effectively immortal.

INN apparently now has a "kill-the-chefs" option which sends newsgroups of the form to the bitbucket... Also infamous: .cabal, from approximately mid-'93, which broke news software far and wide (due to no-one having imagined anyone would create a newsgroup starting with "."...), and is *still* causing problems among some xrn users... The moral of the story? First: read *all* the newsgroup description lines. Then: read the alt.config FAQ. Only after *that* should you even *think* of discussing a new alt.* group (on alt.config, of course).

"Can you take a moment to fill out this survey?"/"Do my homework for me, mister man?"/"Please email me, as I don't read this group":

This sort of stuff recurs quite frequently, and is usually a result of low familiarity with UseNet. Try not to do it yourself. Surveys actually do have a place - but not the ones that seem to think they're doing you a favor by letting you contribute to their Important Research... "Please email me, as I *can't* read this group", on the other hand, is quite acceptable, as is "Please email me; I'll post a summary of the responses". Thinly-disguised attempts to get others to do your research paper or algebra homework are Right Out, thanks.

"Will you icky queers kindly take your pictures/GIFs/discussions/proposals OUT of our nice shiny clean newsgroup!":

Sigh. There will always be people who have *no* idea that ideas different from theirs exist - until they get to UseNet, where *anyone* can speak up at *any* time. Quote: "It's UseNet, get used to it." Prevalent on the erotica and sex groups; usually seen proposing that the group be *split* into sections - what a *marvelous* idea - why hasn't *anyone* ever thought of it before? Tend to leave quickly, under the dark cloud produced by the flames. Canonical recent example: stx1606 (q.v.).

Clueless newbies:

Everyone has been a newcomer at one point or another. Thus the term "newbie". It's not derogatory, and it's an easily-curable condition - for most people. The rest tend to become known as "clueless newbies". The only known treatment for such is repeated force-feeding of clues. Sometimes even this doesn't work... If someone *does* give you advice on the net, it *never* hurts to think about it for a second, nor does it ever hurt to think before following up to a post. Canonical example: the alt.christnet (q.v.) fiasco. And remember, all you newbie-flamers out there - you too once knew nothing whatsoever about this mysterious thing called UseNet.

Death of UseNet/Internet predicted:

People panic easily, it seems; any time there's a new development leading to expansion of the net, someone's sure to bring up its humble origins and the fact that it was never designed in the first place to be *anything* like what it's grown into today. This invariably leads to someone else predicting "imminent death of UseNet; film/GIFs/JPEGs/animated ASCII art/SIRDS/ Claymation/etc. at 11" (old news joke; Brad Templeton (q.v.) claims the origina l formulation of "Imminent death of the net predicted" - I don't know who first added " at 11"...). Basically, it's gonna take a *lot* of shit to break the net, as it is today (even Dick Depew (q.v.) didn't manage it (yet...)), although it can be staggered some, or slowed down for a bit... meanwhile, it keeps right on growing, and the next crisis is always Just Around the Corner (tm). The net *was*, after all, designed to keep functioning after an all-out nuclear war... and though some of the flamefests have approached this level, none have quite managed to destroy it yet.

Anyway, "Imminent Death of the Net predicted, at 11" is a long-running net.joke, applicable to Internet as well as Usenet, and is in fact the unofficial Motto of news.admin.misc (where the net.crises are posted about and debated endlessly - until the next net.crisis shoves them aside).

.sig viruses:

First there were .sigs; next, the Warlord (q.v.); then came .sig viruses. The simplest (and probably first) was "Hi, I'm a .sig virus; copy me into yours and join the fun!". This, rather predictably, mutated into dozens of non-compatible versions; most .sigs can only hold one or so (Kibo's is, as usual, an exception; a 1000-plus-line .sig has room for *everything*!).

A particularly strange turn was taken on a.f.u in late 1993, when Vicki Robinson, relative newbie, innocently proclaimed "But I'm not in anyone's .sig". A.f.u being what it is, this appeared in someone else's .sig almost immediately, (Jason R. Heimbaugh claims this distinction, and is keeping both the .sig collection and the FAQ) and quickly spread to cover nearly the entire a.f.u community of posters; it has been sighted as far away as news.* . There is a Vicki Robinson sig-virus FAQ; refer to it for more details on chronology, varieties (this .sig virus mutates MUCH faster than normal), etc. Vicki's own .sig now contains mentions of her .sig virus in other people's .sigs (a meta-virus)... "welcome to afu. Here's your accordion" sums it up best, I guess. A Vicki virus in your .sig is not *required* for a.f.u posters (indeed, Joel Furr (q.v.) has denounced the practice, saying essentially "get a life"... and has ended up in Vicki's .sig, and others, as a result)... but viruses *are* contagious. Has somewhat revived, in multiple varieties, not all of which are Vicki anymore, in late summer '94.


Possibly one of the strangest places on Usenet. Home to the worship of and/or scorn for Kibo (q.v.); impossible to crosspost inappropriately to, much like misc.misc . Home also to a constantly-changing cast of "regular" Kibologists, currently including several people already mentioned in this FAQ (Kibo, by definition, plus John_-_Winston, Ludwig Plutonium, and Andrew Bulhak, and everyone mentioned in the xibo entry), as well as such luminaries as Craig Dickson, Lewis (YDNCTFL YWSRCFAOTW) McCarthy (not to be confused with Lewis Stiller), Rose Marie Holt, brent jackson, and Jay Paul Chawla, plus a couple anti-kibologists (Jason V Robertson is filling this role at the moment, with R Bryner being an anti-k 'bot). Filled with trolls, beabling, "You misspelled Ann Rand", odd followup-to lines, posts from Kibo, and a proselytary attitude; inadvertent arch-enemy newsgroup of . If you see it in the headers while reading another newsgroup, you may want to take a deep breath before pushing 'f'. Stick around long enough here and you'll be crossposted almost everywhere else on UseNet... which leads us neatly into

Crossposted to *.test:

A variation on "crossposted to alt.hell and back"; see Gannon, Argic, etc. A news.admin.misc post suggested that this practice (which gives unsuspecting followers-up a deluge of autoreplies from the daemons scanning the *.test groups worldwide) originated with Carasso (q.v.) in the late 80s; further data I've gathered indicates, however, that it well predates him, and that he simply widely popularized and practiced it... Moral: *Always* check your Newsgroups: and Followup-to: lines...

And the sequel, "Posted separately to every newsgroup you can find":

No, you're not the first person to think of it. Unfortunately, you won't be the last, either. As the net grows, and the number of new users grows, however, each incidence of this is a little worse than the last; at the moment we have in net.memory Skinny Dip Thigh Cream (posted by someone who set his email-forward to the [widely known] address of one of the developer s of Mosaic, but got kicked off his account *very* fast anyway because he didn't have the access to set his site's postmaster@ address' forwarding too), Laurence Canter and his law firm^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^Hwife Siegel [Green Cards and Spam! I do not like it, Sam I Am!] (who have been kicked off *four* separate services for mass postings of a misleading "Green Card" ad) and Clarence Thomas IV, who mass-posted a two-page note about the end of the world ("JESUS IS COMING SOON") soon after the California quake from a Seventh-Day Adventist college somewhere. Joel Furr (q.v.), incidentally, has released a Canter & Siegel T-shirt, and in return has been threatened with various lawsuits by the distaff portion of that lovely pair...

"Cross-posted to 2000 different newsgroups" has also been thought of; this will quite probably break people's newsreaders all over the place due to line length considerations. Either of these is about the only thing that's not actually illegal that you can easily do which will piss off your admins *and* the net worse than posting Make.Money.Fast (q.v.); don't even think about going down in net.history like this, kids. Can you say "25,000 pieces of email in your mailbx"? Can you say "Kicked off your account faster than you can spell"? I knew you could...

Hitler, Nazis, nazis, and net.cops:

Warning: now that this FAQ has mentioned Hitler and Nazis, UseNet Rule #4 (also known as Godwin's Rule, after Mike Godwin of the EFF, sci.crypt, and, a sometime foe of David Sternlight (q.v.) [even though it was apparently in use, by Richard Sexton {q.v.} among others, before Mike's 1988 (?) net.advent; the "Godwin's" part seems to stem from "Rich Rosen's Rules of Net.Debate, which I don't have a copy of]) says it will be coming to an irrelevant and off-topic end soon. Just as there will always be newbies ("It's *always* September, *somewhere* on the net" - response to a 1993 wave of postings on a.f.u), there will always be people who see the net and are repulsed because there's stuff there they don't want to see - so they set out to make sure noone else can, either. They invariably fail, because there are no net.cops to enforce any such rules on UseNet; in the course of the heated flamewar that usually follows, things escalate until either Hitler or Nazis (or both) put in an appearance, at which point the thread has officially lost all relevance. People scream at each other a bit more, then give up and go home. Bleah. "Keep your brains up top; don't be a net.cop."

This has mutated, in true UseNet fashion, to encompass *any* continuing thread; if you mention Hitler or Nazis out of the blue, the thread is sure to die irrelevantly soon (and, incidentally, you've lost the argument, whatever it was)... and every continuing thread on UseNet *must* contain such a reference sooner or later. Invoking Rule #4 deliberately in hopes of ending a thread, however, is doomed to failure (Quirk's Exception)...

UseNet Rules #n:

No firm info at the present time is available on just what the other UseNet Rules #n are. However, at a guess, they include:

Rule #nonumber: There are no hard-and-fast Rules on UseNet, only Guidelines, which are more or less strictly enforced (and differ) from group to group; this is why it's generally wise to read any group for a bit before ever posting to it.

Rule #0: *There* *is* *no* *C*b*l*. There *is*, however, a net-wide conspiracy designed solely to lead Dave Hayes (q.v.) to believe that there is a C*b*l. Corollary: *There* *are* *no* *pods*.

Rule #9: It's *always* September, *somewhere* on the Net. Dave Fischer's Extension: 1993 was The Year September Never Ended [so far, there doesn't seem to be much evidence he's wrong...]

Rule #17: Go not to UseNet for counsel, for they will say both `No' and `Yes' and `Try another newsgroup'.

Rule #2 (John Gilmore): "The Net interprets censorship as damage and routes around it."

Rule #108 (from the soc.motss FAQ): "What will happen to me if I read soc.motss?" "In general, nothing. (You may be informed or infuriated, of course; but that's a standard Usenet hazard.)"

Rule #666: Old alt groups never die. They don't fade away nicely, either.

Rule #7-B: There is no topic so thoroughly covered that noone will ever bring it up again.

Rule #90120: Applying your standards to someone else's post *will* result in a flamewar.

Rule #1: Spellling and grammer counts. So do grace, wit, and a sense of humor (the latter two are different), as well as a willingness to meet odd people, but these are lesser considerations.

Rule #x^2: FAQs are asked frequently. Get used to them.

Rule #29: no rational discourse can happen in a thread cross-posted to more than two newsgroups.

rule #6 (Eddie Saxe): don't post to misc.test unless you understand the consequences.

Rule #547 (Arne Adolfsen): When people know they're wrong they resort to ad hominems.

Rule #37 (Faisal Nameer Jawdat): Read the thread from the beginning, or else.

Rule #5 (Reimer's Reason): Nobody ever ignores what they should ignore on Usenet.

Rule $19.99 (Brad `Squid' Shapcott): The Internet *isn't* *free*. It just has an economy that makes no sense to capitalism.

Rule #3 ("Why 3?" "Because we felt like it"): For every opinion there is at least one equally loud and opposing opinion; sometimes stated as:
Rule #27 (Gary Lewandowski): "In cyberspace, *everyone* can hear you scream." And for completeness' sake:
Rule #4: (Godwin's Rule) Any off-topic mention of Hitler or Nazis will cause the thread it is mentioned in to an irrelevant and off-topic end very soon; every thread on UseNet has a constantly-increasing probability to contain such a mention.
Quirk's Exception: Intentional invocation of this so-called "Nazi Clause" is ineffectual.
Case's Corollary: If the subject is Heinlein or homosexuality, the probability of a Hitler/Nazi comparison being made becomes equal to one.

`Rap is not music' (and other Permanent Floating Flamewars):

Contrib. post:
In the list of non-human net.legends, I think the `Rap is not music' meta-thread deserves a mention. This turns up every month or two in some music group, and is distinguished by being even more predictable than the average recurring net.thread. It's become a crowd participation event to chant along with the newbie following the script until he gets to the point where he (never seen a woman do it) volunteers to write a rap 'cos its so easy and disapears in a puff of embarassment.
>Let's the top of my head, not looking in the archives...
>There's the "how do I remove a file named '-' from comp.unix.wizards...
>( at least a year so far..)
>The " 'move' is less intuitive than 'copy-and-delete' thread from this
>humble newgroup [alt.folklore.computers] ( 3 or 4 months, and still kicking!
>Hi, Mike [Dahmus]!).
>The "Furrymuck is for lameoid perverts" thread that Joel Furr keeps
>firing back up on
>And let's not forget the "Imminent Death of the Net" theme, which has echoed
>at least since the first FidoNet gateway...(or was it Compu$erve?)
 Those are all recurring, not long-running.
>Do the cyclical "september threads" count as continuous?
 It's moot now. September 1993 will go down in net.history as the September
that never ended.
 Foob's Law states that the quickest way to completely derail any netnews
discussion is to bring up gun control, and so I guess we're on our way to
Outer Space now.

Note that almost every newsgroup will have a Flamewar that Will Not Die (or two, or six) lurking somewhere in the background - but that these flamewars are usually pretty well confined to the one newsgroup simply through specialization, so I'm not gonna even try to include most of them here... however, there are several that pop up almost at will *anywhere* in UseNet, among which are the abortion flamewars, the homosexuality flamewars, the "My computer's better than yours" flamewars, the freedom-of-speech/UseNet- is-international flamewar, the Permanent Floating Flamewar that followed Serdar Argic wherever he oozed, the drug wars (for various drugs), the male/ female circumcision wars, and the Christianity-spreading-people vs. "enlightened intellectuals" flamewar(s)... there's something about many of thes e subjects that seems to attract the worst in people (that's partly why this FAQ seems to concentrate somewhat on anti-gay posters, for instance - there's so *many* of them that have this little "hot button" that there's more kooks amongst them...). Scan down the subjects in talk.* for a more complete listing, and note that Emily Postnews has a FAQ on the predictable "I want my groooop!" script for alt.config ...

"Oooo, *he's* Famous! What's his email address???":

There are many people on the net who are Famous in Real Life tm; however, usually the requirements of being Famous preclude their spending all their time on the net corresponding by email with Fans. Some have newsgroups where they hang out (Douglas Adams and Mike Jittlov have their own groups, for instance, as do Dave Barry and Terry Pratchett, and they show up there or lurk with varying degrees of consistency); others are on an online service or just lurk in certain places. Generally, though, you'll do better writing to their editor or publisher or agent if you really really want an autograph or a piece of their clothing... William Gibson (of Neuromancer fame) is *not* on the net (he still reportedly uses a manual typewriter), so don't ask. Asking "Gee, how can I get [famous author]'s email address? Pretty pleeeeeze?" on rec.arts.sf.* is likely to get you semi-toastily flamed as well.

This may be slowly changing however... more companies/organizations are discovering that the net's a good place to get feedback or opinions, or to get volunteers (or even employees), and some (like Wizards of the Coast on have a quite extensive net.presence, looking for reactions and/or helping people. But in general, creative-type famous people must spend much of their time creating, not wasting time on UseNet...