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Subject: [alt.paranormal] Charter FAQ

This article was archived around: 25 Feb 1999 13:30:51 GMT

All FAQs in Directory: paranormal
All FAQs posted in: alt.paranormal
Source: Usenet Version


Archive-name: paranormal/charter Posting-Frequency: Every ten days to alt.paranormal,alt.answers,news.answers Last-modified: 1998/04/07 Version: 1.1 URL: http://www.sidaway.demon.co.uk/paranormal/charter.txt Copyright: (c) 1998 Sherilyn <sherilyn@sidaway.demon.co.uk> Maintainer: Sherilyn <sherilyn@sidaway.demon.co.uk>
Latest updates: 98/04/07, 1.1: Correct copyright notice, add approval header. CONTENTS 0. Introduction 1. Original newgroup messages for alt.paranormal 2. Does alt.paranormal have a charter? 3. Big 8 newsgroups and charters. 4. The alt.* hierarchy 5. The use of charters in the alt.* hierarchy 6. Another idea about charters. 7. Conclusion 0. Introduction. This FAQ exists to clarify any possible misunderstandings that might occur owing to Dan Kettler's attempt to represent some lines of text in his FAQ, "paranormal/faq" as a newsgroup charter. Dan has made it clear that he wants to persuade ISPs to enforce his document as a charter for the newsgroup, and this document is intended as a resource for two sets of people: 1) ISPs wanting to know whether it is appropriate to enforce the document by, say, persuading their users to observe the restrictions imposed by the document as an extension of the AUP. 2) Users finding themselves threatened in any way and uncertain what to do about it. To the former, I'd say "read this, read Dan's FAQ, and make up your mind." To the latter, I'd say "give the URL of this document to your ISP and ask him to read it." For reference, Dan Kettler's FAQ is available from http://www.psicounsel.com/altparfaq.html with the latest revision at http://www.psicounsel.com/altparfaqr.html 1. Original newgroup messages for alt.paranormal About the only evidence we have of the true reason alt.paranormal was founded is this set of newgroup messages from the early 1990s, stored at: ftp://ftp.uu.net/usenet/control/alt/alt.paranormal.Z The most complete statement of the intention of the newsgroup in these messages is: "For the discussion of extra-ordinary phenomena. Per the discussion in alt.config." This is clearly a very wide brief, and fits the normal running of alt.paranormal to this day. So, in effect, it is the charter of alt.paranormal, not the restrictive document Dan Kettler wants to impose. From sloane@kuhub.cc.ukans.edu Fri Aug 2 01:07:47 1991 Path: rpi!zaphod.mps.ohio-state.edu!wuarchive!kuhub.cc.ukans.edu! sloane Newsgroups: alt.paranormal.ctl Subject: newgroup alt.paranormal From: <sloane@kuhub.cc.ukans.edu> Date: 11 Dec 90 13:26:28 CST Control: newgroup alt.paranormal Approved: sloane@kuhub.cc.ukans.edu Lines: 1 Per the discussion in alt.config. From news@gvlv2.GVL.Unisys.COM Fri Aug 2 01:07:50 1991 Path: rpi!zaphod.mps.ohio-state.edu!unix.cis.pitt.edu! gvlf3.gvl.unisys.com!gvlv2!news From: news@gvlv2.GVL.Unisys.COM (The NEWS user) Newsgroups: alt.paranormal.ctl Subject: newgroup alt.paranormal Date: 17 Dec 90 16:44:41 GMT Control: newgroup alt.paranormal Organization: Unisys/Great Valley Labs, Paoli, PA 19301 Lines: 3 Approved: news@gvlv2.GVL.Unisys.COM For the discussion of extra-ordinary phenomena. Per the discussion in alt.config. From news@tumif.UUCP Wed Jun 19 22:11:52 1991 Path: rpi!think.com!samsung!caen!ox.com!math.fu-berlin.de! fub!ivcmd!tumif!news From: news@tumif.UUCP (News-Administrator) Newsgroups: alt.paranormal.ctl Subject: newgroup alt.paranormal Message-ID: <94@tumif.UUCP> Date: 18 Jun 91 20:15:25 GMT Control: newgroup alt.paranormal Distribution: UniDo Organization: IVC Magdeburg Lines: 0 Approved: wega@tumif.UUCP From steve@gandalf.UMCS.Maine.EDU Sun Apr 26 10:54:34 1992 Path: rpi!usenet.coe.montana.edu!decwrl!bu.edu!dartvax! mars.caps.maine.edu!gandalf!steve From: steve@gandalf.UMCS.Maine.EDU (Steve E. Goldsmith) Newsgroups: alt.paranormal.ctl Subject: newgroup alt.paranormal Message-ID: <15638@gandalf.UMCS.Maine.EDU> Date: 25 Apr 92 23:15:26 GMT Control: newgroup alt.paranormal Distribution: umcs Organization: University of Maine Department of Computer Science Lines: 0 Approved: steve@gandalf.UMCS.Maine.EDU 2. Does alt.paranormal have a charter? This is the wrong place to provide a history of USENET, Big 8, and alt.*, but the short answer is "For the discussion of extra-ordinary phenomena." The long answer is as follows. 3. Big 8 newsgroups and charters. All of what follows can be confirmed from various FAQs in http://www.faqs.org/faqs/by-newsgroup/alt/alt.config.html I'll assume that anyone reading this knows that the alt.* hierarchy is in some way "different." Some people think it means you can say anything you like (the "anarchists, lunatics and terrorists" theory) but the truth of the matter is that you can say anything you like anywhere on the net, as long as your comment fits the newsgroup. To this end, newsgroups in the Big 8 hierarchy are only formed after long discussion and voting where interested parties decide whether or not a new newsgroup is really required to discuss the subject. The newsgroup always has a charter, and it is this charter which gives a Big 8 newsgroup some legitimacy--after all, it is a record of the principles upon which the newsgroup was voted into existence. 4. The alt.* hierarchy Now at about the time of the Great Renaming, some people objected to this whole idea and went off to found what became the alt.* hierarchy. The idea behind this is that anybody can send a newgroup message, subject to a small number of technical limitations, and it is up to each individual news admin to decide whether to accept it or reject it. It is this ease of newsgroup creation alone that makes alt.* different. Certain technical requirements are imposed to keep the system running smoothly, and to prevent people just going on mad newgroup sprees (it happens) there is a guideline that the newsgroup should have been discussed in alt.config, the nearest thing to and alt.* equivalent of news.groups. 5. The use of charters in the alt.* hierarchy Where do charters come in here? Ah, because even with all of the above satisfied, there is no guarantee that a new newsgroup will gain good propagation--some people may rmgroup it, some admins may not accept it, and so on, _unless the purpose of the newsgroup is clearly known and it is made clear to all that there is a good demand for the newsgroup_. So the idea of a charter has been adopted as a means of doing this. 6. Another idea about charters. What Dan Kettler is trying to do is quite different--he is trying to use the idea of a charter to restrict the opinions that can be discussed on alt.paranormal--in effect, to treat alt.paranormal as if it were a closed chat room on a BBS. Dan claims the support of Steve Reiser, who claims to be the "founder" of alt.paranormal, but Steve hasn't posted to alt.paranormal regularly in living memory--he is a ghost from the past. The attempt to impose a charter has also divided some of Dan's natural allies, with skeptic and paranormalist alike uniting against his campaign. 7. Conclusion The alleged new charter does not square with the de facto charter of this newsgroup. Discussion of extraordinary phenomena necessarily involves skepticism, even cynicism, and attempts to rule them off by proclaiming a change of charter are ill-conceived. -- Sherilyn