Great Circle Associates List-Managers
(June 1998)

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Subject: Re: Ron's idea (and mine)
From: Chuq Von Rospach <chuqui @ plaidworks . com>
Date: Thu, 11 Jun 1998 22:00:23 -0700
To: nolan @ tssi . com, rsk @ gsp . org (Rich Kulawiec)
Cc: list-managers @ GreatCircle . COM
In-reply-to: <>
References: <> from "Rich Kulawiec" atJun 11, 98 11:12:31 pm

At 9:08 PM -0700 6/11/98, Mike Nolan wrote:

> > I've seen estimates that 40% to 70% of Usenet traffic is spam
> Not in the newsgroups I follow, perhaps it is more like 5% there.

The latest numbers from the spam trackers was that about 33% of usenet
is traffic, 33% spam, and 33% spam-cancels from the spambots. That was
on reason why they tried the spam-cancel moratorium, because the
firehose was not only not putting out the fire, but was washing away
the house.

> there are only a few basic techniques that will work.  Peer pressure doesn't
> seem to be working,

and it never really did, except when the net was small enough that
everyone more or less knew each other. Cooperative systems only work as
long as everyone agrees to cooperate.

> I'm not sure that there is a viable purely technical
> solution, and as far as I can figure that leaves only central control

technical solutions do work. Look at some of the filtering software
going onto USENET. Individual sites can start making decisions for
themselves, which I think is far superior than central control.

But beyond that, there is another option. In fact, it's an option that
many of us have already taken, even if we don't realize it.

Balkanization. When Usenet grew too large and imploded, what'd many of
us do? Wander back to mail lists.

Usenet is the "global village". That concept is bogus, and always was.
Mail lists are a bunch of isolated villages, all attached to a greater
or lesser degree to the information superhighway via offramps. We're
all building smaller villages in the suburbs.

The trick isn't to try to fix things on a global scale, because it
won't work, but to build LOTS of little villages, each of which works
independently, and each of which is of a size that CAN be controlled,
either by peer pressure, by central authority, or by building walls and
hiring guards for the door.

We've been balkanizing for years, building offramps and putting up
signs that say 'eat at joes' along the highway. The problem with
balkanization is helping people find out that you exist, so they can
find you. And the portal sites, among other reigistries, are handling
that part (to greater, or usually, lesser, levels of success. The most
successful advertising is still word of mouth or personal referral,
just like in real life).

Don't try to build one big thing and make it work right for everyone.
Silly concept. Build lots of little things, and let people choose the
things they want to be part of. The whole global village thing, where
we're all one big happy family (hah!) really causes people to look at
this the wrong way, and try to build th wrong solutions.

Chuq Von Rospach (Hockey fan? <>)
Apple Mail List Gnome (
Plaidworks Consulting (
<> + <>

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