Saving Usenet One Post at a Time
This pretentiousness Copyright 1997 Sean Barrett
How can we, as individuals, fix Usenet?
What do you do when email, flaming, and complaints to ISPs
all fail to reduce the noise level in your favorite newsgroup?
If fighting fire with fire just doesn't work, fight noise with signal.
My personal battleground is the newsgroup talk.bizarre,
a newsgroup whose standards for "appropriate posting" are so
subjective as to be nearly worthless.
Nonetheless, posts are appropriate, either more or less,
in each individual's opinion, and it is only through the
exercise of this opinion, through some sort of action, that
Usenet can be improved. I choose to consider my own opinions
as meaningful, based on their similarity to the opinions of
others whom I respect.
A side note: One can consider how these opinions operate
together en masse.
t.b. even has an "official" scoring system, in which
participants vote on articles as to whether they are good
or bad. The result is made available to all, and a
digest of the best articles is available.
Unfortunately, very few people contribute to the voting
system. (Fortunately, whoever they are, they seem to care
about improving the signal to noise ratio, rather than simply
spamming the voting counts.)
Turning Lead Into Gold
There is one big advantage to talk.bizarre: since it is
not oriented around any particular topic, it is easy to come
up with "signal": just write something interesting, clever,
amusing, or, especially, bizarre. I don't exactly have
a lock on that last one, but I think I can do the other
three ok--on the rare occasion when I come up with some
subject matter from which to fashion my post.
One day, upon becoming fed up with one particular poster's frequent
habit of writing one-line followups that in no way matched
my opinion of an "appropriate post", I decided that I would
followup each of his one-liners with an "appropriate" post
which integrated his post, thus turning his noise into my
Not long after, I began to apply this to other posts that
matched my general mental image of the posts I was targetting.
They had to be followups. They had to be short (I've replied
to a few two-liners [and one many-liner whose many lines were
all identical]). They had to be stupid, irrelevent, hypocritical,
or things better taken to email. And I opened my sights on
other posters as well.
Quantity or Quality?
Writing on demand is not trivial, but fortunately, I find
the context inspiring. And I can skip the odd post that I
cannot find any way to reply to. (I do not write followups
to replies to my posts of this form, to avoid an explosion of
Of course, the inspiration I get is not always particularly
endearing. Large quantities of these posts have been
appropriate only in sofar as they incorporate the material
from the targetted post, and are in verse--while their
actual content is merely a flame of the offending author.
And in writing so much stuff, it's certainly possible
I'm just producing utter crap. But I've gotten more
positive feedback in one week than I had in my entire
previous five years.
Maybe we'll just let the voters decide.
The Battle So Far
The ones I think are the best to read (at least in this
context, where you never saw the original post's context)
are indicated in boldface. It's about 20% of them.
(hit-or-miss archiving and HTML-ization
services provided by Deja News):
The oneliner-followup-followup project in some sense
really begins here, when I decided not to restrict myself
to just one poster as a target. (According to the archive
dataes, the following set of posts were made in just two
days, two days when the oneliner-followup-followup
project was at its peak.)
The following is from Alta-Vista. It apparently never showed up
on Deja-News; I wonder if it got around poorly in general. Too
bad, I think it was a decent one. (On the other hand, I only
ever seem to see about half my posts on Alta-Vista. The new net
Back to Deja-News format...
And I thought I was silly giving these files 3-digit numbers.
- Re: Sunday Lloyd shows awareness of my work, I show awareness of his awareness. This is the last of my regular Lloyd followups,
since my work was only encouraging him to post more dreck.
- Re: Book Someone else posted a much shorter followup that coincidentally uses the same second line. Hmm.
- Re: REGARDING: Porn Stars For some reason, this one-liner
got reposted, so I decided to give it the treatment. I just can't imagine why
I chose the subject matter I did.
- Re: webtv Oops, for the last two stanzas of the main part,
I forgot my rhyme scheme!
- Re: Elton sucks lame
- Re: Had I Only Warmed My Feet Think about the title after
you read it.
- Re: Rough Morning I blatantly misread what the author
- Re: Prediction: This Year's Top Hallowe'en Costume A food
song with that special taste of Usenet
- Re: Stale, Dead Web Sites Lovecraft with hints of Rush
- Re: slice Can you believe I'm still making Milli
- Re: Stale, Dead Web Sites nothing remarkable here
- Re: Rough Morning An adaptation of the Lisa Germano song
Sycophant; not very meaningful unless you know that song.
- Re: Please help me The original post was heavily
cross-posted; I chickened out of cross-posting it. Maybe you can tell why.
- Re: in praise of "old man" personal hygiene products
silly extended rhymes
- Re: eet's that simple self-referential
- Re: Timecop Sucks more silly extended rhymes
- Re: What is a one-liner? very abbreviated rhymes
- Re: Question Trying to capture one of Elspeth's tones
- Re: Timecop Sucks limerick
- Re: Are Ernie and Bert.. GAY!?? verse reminiscent
of the double-dactyl form
- Re: JUST GOT IN a two-for-one special
- Re: I love Mao The followed-up post was itself a oneline
followup of a oneline followup, so the zoo bit is a reference to my
followup to that.
- Re: now another two-for-one special
- Re: WHO DECIDED IT WOULD BE A GOOD IDEA FOR SHITHEAD
CANADIANS TO SPEAK UP A limerick, I personally like it a lot, but
that's probably not generalizable.
- Re: WebTV (again!) extended rhymes, and a reverse cascade
- Re: Are Ernie and Bert.. GAY!?? Kinda lame, disconnected,
and lacking a big finish. On the other hand, I think I managed to segue
to the quoted material from the intro (the lamest famous possible) pretty
effectively (it doesn't sound forced, like the verse sometimes does).
- Re: Are Ernie and Bert.. GAY!?? Scroll down for the
- Re: Make ME Money Fast No frayed knot joke here
- Re: what i don't need, redux. umm, a cascade all by myself
- Re: I love Mao. Feel free to interpret the subject
of this post as the name in the subject line.
- Re: pangrammatical Incredibly simplistic double-cultural
reference, with swear word.
- Re: in praise of "old man" personal hygiene products Awkward
meter derived from post.
- Re: anarchist poetry for the american road The
between-the-lines treatment of the oneline comment, and a bonus "song"
with the pointless crap at the end of the original post
- Re: Unbelievable Condensing a device Elspeth had
recently used down to its core, in an exquisite arrangement (IMHO)
- Re: Welcome to talk.bizarre! (Monthly Posting) Have
a frivolous flame of the current most-annoying-guy-on t.b
- Re: Serious Sad Most every word rhymes or is connected
- Re: 2-3=1??????? Umm... not very good I guess
- Re: "HACKERS" TEND TO SMELL Limerick
- Re: weird things to eat I'm a rhyming monster
- Re: boredom Most every word rhymes
- Re: what i don't need, redux A little simplistic.
I like it.
- Re: Diggin in New approaches to meter and ryhme
Pop Music References
There were so many of these, explicit and implicit, that
they deserved their own section. A couple of these aren't
actually to be found in this archive, because they were
posted at the same time in non-oneliner-followup-followup
posts, but in my head they all go together.
- An adaptation of The Beatles' Rocky Racoon
- Any Day Now, by Cop Shoot Cop, which has a similar structure
- The obligatory Pixies' Monkey Gone to Heaven reference
- A stanza vaguely ripping off the central lyrical concept
from the Faith No More song Epic
- Shaking Through, the title of an REM song
- A quote from Robert Fripp's Exposure album
- An adaptation of Lisa Germano's Sycophant
- Reference to The Bobs' Mopping, Mopping, Mopping [*].
- A line from The B-52's Rock Lobster
- A one-line adaptation of The Sisters of Mercy's This Corrosion
- Jeez, another Lisa Germano reference, from Forget It, It's a Mystery
- Another Pixies' song, La La Love You
Spot the Reference!
Explicitly quoted material omitted.
- Two lines of Dr. Seuss rip-off
- Two punchlines, like my stories traditionally have
- A Wittgensteinism
- A Scooby-Doo reference
- An MST3K anagram
- A word-borowing from the sci-fi novel Witches of Karres
- A three-word Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy reference
- A reference to the Dungeons and Dragons Module Tomb of Horrors
The Most Extended Rhymes
(in the sense of being multi-syllabic)
I don't expect to ever top "network computer".
- original -- dirigible
- loud way, gung ho -- Mao Tse-Tung, though
- understand anything -- plan what to bring -- canned when we sing
- seduce me boy--rooster coy--reduce my toys--noose
annoys--Brewster "Roy"--moose employs--goose McCoy--loose enjoy--Caboose ahoy
- network computer -- debt lurks some looter -- forget Kirk's dumb shooter
The Worst Rhymes
(not counting those that appear on the above list)
- 'froup -- galoot
- sonatas -- piranhas
- context -- Knotts-(Don)-hexed
- Webster -- Death Star
- furry -- jury duty
- on -- come
- similar, yes -- Himilayas
Typos, Spelling mistakes, Grammar Errors, and Brain Farts
(But were some of them trolls? Only I know.)
- How do you spell "galoot"?
- "On no!" for "Oh no!", in Re: you just don't get it, do you?
- "reaches out to that some dimension", in Re: interment
(it almost works as written, but if I had meant it, I'd have put
"some dimension" in quotation marks)
- "Chevyn" for "chevyn" in Re: Numbers! Solutions?
- "one-liner followup-followup project" isn't actually a very clear
way of saying things. What I meant was, in compuspeak,
((one-liner followup)-followup) project,
but that's obviously not what's on the page. I've since revised this
to something more directly parseable.