Reading along in my favorite newsgroup, I saw "WARNING" and unexpectedly landed in a controversy about Censorship from Spaaace!
Primarily, the message is that, unless something is done shortly, this newsgroup may not exist a year or two from now. [...] A few months ago, a group of network administrators got together and decided to fund a project called "STARGATE". Basicly, this was a sound idea. News sources would be routed to the STARGATE transmitter which would beam the mes- sages to a satellite which would, in turn, relay the mes- sages to more localized network hubs, thus alleviating the need for as many long distance calls. [...] Unfortunately, the people who have promoted this scheme could not leave well enough alone. They felt that the volume of "garbage" flowing through the net was too high. They felt that the carrier of these messages might be able to be sued for possibly libelous messages. They felt that this was their chance to play God and they took it. In short, the new network will have no unmoderated news. [...] Let the people who conceived of this know that it is not appreciated. E-Mail bomb them. Flame them until they drop. If you see them in public, spit on them. [...]
-- Frank Adrian
This proposed change is not being received well by the net at large.
I agree that lots of Usenet submissions are trash. Everything is trash to somebody. What I don't want is centralized control. That's the ONE thing that makes Usenet different from every other network, and it's a valuable difference.
-- John Gilmore
Some of the responses from Usenet admins are also very interesting, as they provide a glimpse into what's involved in keeping the current network running, and continuing to scale up.
Because we have to deal with the net on a day to day (sometimes hour to hour basis) and talk to a LOT of the people who run the net, I think we have a different view of the net than the people who simply have the priviledge of using the damn thing. [...] I mean, seriously-- if you haven't spent months bickering with the carriers lawyers, how in the HELL can you suggest seriously that we really don't need moderators or that we can do it in software? If you people seriously want to try to get along without a group of overworked and harried people who happen to spend a lot of time keeping this thing running so you can bitch at us about it, then fine. Let me know. I'll rmgroup mod.singles, I'll unsubscribe to net.news, and I'll laugh if and when the system dies. We can cancel Stargate, we can watch the backbones start restricting news, the software can get flakey, and, if you could get it through the garbage, everyone who is yelling at the fascists for trying to do a thankless job would spend just as much time yelling at us for letting it fall apart. I don't know about the rest of them, but I am sometimes tempted to just step back and watch the damn thing die.
This is another vote in favour of some source of moderated news - either via stargate or some other means. While at Waterloo, I've watched the information flow on USENET grow from under 1Mb/week to its current level of over 4Mb/week. I used to read almost everything that came in (except info-cpm, remember that?), now I read only a small fraction, and the valuable stuff is getting scarcer.