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[alt.paranormal] Charter FAQ


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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>

See reader questions & answers on this topic! - Help others by sharing your knowledge
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

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