[At-Large] ICANN Accountability Mechanisms

bzs at theworld.com bzs at theworld.com
Mon Jan 3 00:08:58 UTC 2022

Usenet and DNS are roughly the same age, particularly if one ignores
the very early history of Usenet (net.*).

The "demi-gods" were affectionately (or not) known as TINC, "There Is
No Cabal" (from assertions that there was a Usenet Cabal.)

Structurally TINC was very similar to ICANN albeit much more informal
and only a handful of individuals.

TINC largely consisted of managers of the big Usenet hubs through
which most Usenet traffic passed.

If they collectively decided to ignore your discussion group its
propagation was very limited tho possible. No one stopped anyone from
sending out a group creation control message plus or minus malicious
attempts by which I really mean malicious.

This is not much unlike ICANN's control of the root servers and its

Anyone can set up their own root server with their own TLDs just as
anyone could set up a Usenet hub and try to propagate a different set
of discussion groups.

So both are ultimately controlled by propagation and visibility.

On January 2, 2022 at 09:09 ocl at gih.com (Olivier MJ Crépin-Leblond) wrote:
 > Dear Barry,
 > oh what a great trip into memory lane! Thank you! One thing you did not
 > mention, though, is that back then there were Usenet demi-gods who used to be
 > able to keep the whole thing sane and together. When these retired/moved on,
 > Usenet started declining. I don't think there are net demi-gods in domain
 > names, are there?
 > Kindest regards,
 > Olivier
 > On 02/01/2022 07:31, Barry Shein via At-Large wrote:
 >     Re: TLDs and communities
 >     From: Evan Leibovitch via At-Large <at-large at atlarge-lists.icann.org>
 >         I witnessed first hand the hopelessness and futility of those who believed
 >         that a TLD could define, sustain or create a community.
 >     Back in the days of Usenet, the 1980s mostly, which had millions of
 >     users and eventually over 100,000 discussion topics the issue of when
 >     to add a new topic was a constant, lively issue.
 >       https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Usenet
 >     Discussion groups were "tree" organized so you had rec for recreation,
 >     rec.sports, rec.sports.baseball, etc.
 >     For a while there were only eight top level topics (rec, comp
 >     [computer], talk, sci, ...), plus many regional (ne for new england,
 >     uk, and so on), and quite a few informal, unblessed top level topics
 >     such as "alt" which existed outside the mainstream governance.
 >     (Note: There was earlier history, net.*, but it adds nothing to this.)
 >     It should sound a little familiar.
 >     How were new topics created?
 >     By an open discussion and vote on certain designated administrative
 >     discussion groups. Other than that there really was no governance
 >     structure.
 >       An important bit of wisdom gained was that you could not create
 >       interest in a topic by creating a group for it.
 >     The most compelling reason to create a new group was to split off
 >     discussion traffic which was overwhelming another, more general group.
 >     So rec.sports.baseball might sprout rec.sports.baseball.worldseries
 >     because the former was being overwhelmed with world series discussion.
 >     We knew from experience back then, the 1980s, that you could not
 >     create interest or community by creating a topic category for it.
 >     Attempts failed repeatedly until it became a governing principle.
 >     You (dear reader) may find that unintuitive but that was what actual
 >     experience taught us.
 >     P.S. An expression that arose from Usenet was "Eternal September":
 >       https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eternal_September
 >     In simple terms students, millions, arrived every September, got
 >     access to Usenet, and began imagining what the rules for things like
 >     newsgroup creation were or ought to be. Every year.
 >     Then AOL added Usenet and it became "Eternal September", the academic
 >     schedule no longer throttled the flood of new accounts.
 >     Unfortunately some of these TLD discussions have that "Eternal
 >     September" feel to them.
 >       "I don't want to hear YOUR opinion! I want to hear MY opinon coming
 >        out of YOUR mouth!" -- some wag

        -Barry Shein

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