The inevitable progression of Time Bomb 2000 : LUSENET : TB2K spinoff uncensored : One Thread

I discovered TB 2000 quite by accident. My "Raiding Your Local Y2K Survivalist" essay was cross-posted. Since early in 1999, I watched the forum steadily decline in terms of content and character. Initially, there was some interest in serious Y2K discussion. Off-topic posts were chastized by both optimists and pessimists. The major decline seemed to start when the hand-selected sysops begin their reign. The selection of the sysops profoundly influenced the forum. Yourdon chose his most slavishly devoted followers. The double standard became apparent quite early. Posts were treated differently based on authorship. Doomsayers could make personal attack after personal attack without rebuke. "Pollyannas" were warned, edited and eventually deleted. Will Continue was allowed to continue... Y2KPro was not. I certainly admit some "Pollies" contributed nothing more than attacks on the doomsayers. It was unfortunate the sysops never exercised any sort of moral leadership. In fact, some of the sysops were among the worst offenders in the realm of personal attacks.

The "delete on sight" policy was the movement to true censorship. Content was completely ignored in favor of exclusion based on authorship. Andy Ray was deleted for being Andy Ray... an rather Orwellian turn.

After the rollover, TB 2000 completely jumped the tracks. Y2K was a nonevent... less than a bump in the road. The best contributers left and the forum fragmented. With Y2K over, there was no topic left.

The forum sysops (including Yourdon) will continue to use the excuse of "troll attacks" as a weak rationale. The censorship, however, started long before the forum moved. I condemned Lady Logic's attacks on multiple Internet fora and the Y2K chat area... as did every other reasonable participant in the discussions. The sysop theory of a "plan" to destroy TB 2000 is nothing more than paranoid delusion. The vast majority of participants simply disagreed about Y2K, without acting in any manner to disrupt service.

The "new" forum has finally become the private club the sysops wanted. In time, the sysops will outnumber the regular posters. Attempts at censorship are ultimately self defeating... and this will be the final stage in their progression.

-- Ken Decker (, March 04, 2000


Ken, I once belonged to a thriving Book Club where each member got to name a book, that we would all read for discussion. It was lots of fun, and I discovered lots of books I would otherwise not have tried. Some were not my cup of tea, but that wasn't a problem.

But then one of the members said we should not have books that was insulting to religion, and pushed a slight majority in to agreeing. I spoke my mind about censorship, but it was too late. Then another member objected to religious books, then one objected to books that were on the borderline of Romance novels, another objected to political books. I got tired of speaking up for all books and left. Guess what happened? It is no more. I now belong to a new group and censorship of any kind is not allowed.

-- gilda (, March 04, 2000.


Having participate over the years in a great many unmoderated Usenet newsgroups, I can assure you that the "inevitable progression" of an unmoderated forum is not a much prettier sight.

In the useful and original sense of the verb, trolling is the act of trailing a baited hook behind a boat, usually with a bright, flashy spinner attatched, designed to attract and hook unsuspecting fish.

In Usenet trolling, the troller posts an aritcle about highly-controversial subject matter, having a tone that is designed to infuriate as many forum participants as possible. Such threads inevitably grow to enormous lengths and soon overwhelm the forum. All the energy of the participants is absorbed into warmaking and peacemaking efforts. All trace of decorum is sunk.

Every unmoderated forum I have ever participated in has exhibited an increasing number of trolling threads over time.

The other common fate of unmoderated Usenet newsgroups is to fall under the sway of a crank or a kook. The average Usenet kooks have WAY too much time on their hands. They are capable of launching 500 postings a week. They are also capable and natural trollers. They make it a point of honor to dominate all conversation in the group. Every thread is turned into a forum for the kook's favorite topic, no matter what the original subject was. Those threads that are not highjacked tend to die as unnoticed as a housefly in a dusty corner.

A large percentage fo the Usenet groups I have followed have their resident kook. When two kooks arrive in one group, they do battle until one leaves. No group is big enough for two kooks.

So you see, lack of moderation is no great shakes, either. But, FWIW, I have NEVER seen a moderated newsgroup ever be as lively or as interesting as an unmoderated group. It is an iron law. The anarchy and havoc of unmoderated groups is their charm as well as their bane.

-- Brian McLaughlin (, March 04, 2000.

So Brian, in so many words you are saying this forum is doomed from the start. Sad.

-- canthappen (, March 04, 2000.

I don't see him saying that at all. Of course there will be trollers here. We had them on TB2000 also, in both Doomer and Polly flavors. Some troll posts end up being some of the more interesting messages.

If one is trying to keep to a specific topic, then one wants to weed out the troll posts. However, if there IS no topic, then it's not as easy to define what a troll post is in the first place.

Don't sweat the trolls. At least until they spam.

-- (hmm@hmm.hmm), March 04, 2000.

>> So Brian, in so many words you are saying this forum is doomed from the start. <<

Not doomed in any larger sense. Only in the sense that many threads will degenerate into hopeless flame wars. Others will be pointless or silly. As participants we will be doomed to sift endlessly for the wheat among the chaff. The proportion of chaff will *always* be high.

The most surefire trolls revolve around religious topics or party politics. You get crowds of angry, annoyed people yelling right past each other. I find that ironic, really, when you consider that most of the participants would get along fine if they met in a room, face to face.

-- Brian McLaughlin (, March 04, 2000.


I LIKE chaff. That, and news, is why I'm here. Much of my workday is spent with "wheat", and this is a broadening diversion from it. As a hobby it beats snorting crack.


-- Someone (, March 04, 2000.

I was recently on a certain board with not too bad an idea, for moderating, without censoring....

The board has eight sections. You can post in any of the sections. The moderator decides if a thread is getting out of hand, etc. and moves the entire thread to a section called "Flame Wars" (or whatever).

That way, participants can read and post to such threads if they want to, or avoid them if they want to.

That too could get nuts. The worst might just be sniping over the criteria for moving a thread to Flame Wars. "*MY* post was reasonable, just cuz I was in that thread, do we ALL have to get moved?" ... For that, I suppose you could have "Flame Wars about the Flame Wars" ?? :)

There is no great solution and maybe the best solution is none. It really is no big deal in aforesaid forum, but sometimes useful. Maybe every house needs a padded cell. Flipping out is not such a bad thing. :-) All kidding aside, the only real point of it would be that - * the moderator's bias is there for all to see. *

Personally, I thought the "TimeBomb 2000 Deleted Threads" was inspired. One step further, and kind of what I'm talking about here, is for a forum to keep their own "Deleted Threads" if they must delete or moderate at all... (Shouldn't any self-respecting thought police have compassion and a sense of humor?)

In any case, it's a must that Deleted Threads stand as a museum alongside the TimeBomb 2000 archive although I suspect it's not even 5% of what was actually deleted.

-- Debbie (, March 05, 2000.

Brian stated:

The most surefire trolls revolve around religious topics or party politics. You get crowds of angry, annoyed people yelling right past each other.

Uh huh. Yep.

-- Bingo1 (, November 27, 2000.

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