Usenet has almost come to an end but in its time I was a huge fan of HTML newsgroups. It was there that I learnt to write syntactically correct CSS and HTML, a skill that is rare to see these days. But it was a robust environment and I was both amused and horrified at the time to see a form of rough justice meted out upon those who transgressed often unwritten rules, less amused when it was meted out upon myself!
I have created and preserved this page to hold some examples of this rough justice both for my own memories and perhaps as well for the edification of anybody who stumbles across the page. Be warned, Gentle Reader, the language ahead is a little colourful at times.
It was Jukka Korpela's infamous "pig's vomit" spray in alt.html that stimulated me to spend a bit of time in the Usenet archives searching for similar rough justice. Up until that time alt.html had taught me an immense amount about HTML and web design but very little concerning the gastrointestinal tract of pigs...
- Dec 23 1999, Tags: "You spell 'basis' with an extra 's'. You spell 'those' with a 'u'. You have no punctuation or grammar skills whatsoever. Anyone who makes serious business contact with you is a fool. Apologies to any fools offended." Original Post
- Apr 19 2004, Hywel Jenkins: "I had a look at your site and, to be fair, there's no evidence of 'web design' there. What was the point of your post?" Original Post
- Sep 10 2006, Richard: "I usually ignore anything from dorayme and most most certainly ignore anything [from] Luigi but this one escaped my ignoring... Luigi you are either a well established troll or you are a bloody idiot. In the latter case you should hir a second professional man to assist you with your one man business web site. What you have at the moment, and what I have seen over the years that I have been following you, fails dismally." Original Post
- Feb 28 2007, Jukka K. Korpela: "If you want to have the page fixed, pay someone to redesign it from scratch. That's the fastest and cheapest way. The source looks like pig's vomit, so it would take quite some time to convert it to something manageable." Original Post
- Jan 05 2009, Ed Mullen: "I remember the 60s. This site reminds me of one particular incident involving huge amounts of bourbon and pot, baked beans, hot dogs, pizza ... need I say more?" Original Post
I well remember being put in my place by a regular of this newsgroup, a very firmly done piece of work too! My favourite quote in this section is that of Neal who just lets it all hang out :-)
- Sep 15 1999, Ken MacGray: "Um, F[uck] you and your slow loading website. I imagine it would choke even cable modems. And learn to spell 'bandwidth', idiot... " Original Post
- Sep 30 2004, Neal: "Oh, a 'stars' background. How fucking novel. I don't get to say this very often. And what's more, I'm drunk, so I can enjoy it. This page is a piece of shit. If I sober up (and this page is no incentive), I'll elaborate. But this is a sickeningly boring site. I don't know where to begin. Good day." Original Post
This particular newsgroup seemed to have significantly less profanity and perhaps a little less rough justice meted out to the unwary. Witness the polite but firm rough justice meted out by Greywvern below.
- Feb 28 2005, Greywvern: "You see, that's the fundamental difference between you and me. I *know* I'm ignorant. I know a few things for certain, but I know there is far more that I *don't* know than that I do. It is painfully obvious to me that the collective knowledge of the human race dwarfs any level of learning I can hope to attain. You, on the other hand, are quite content to wallow in your ignorance, certain you know everything you need to know, and suddenly I'm of a mind to just let you continue. Goodbye, Jim, and good luck with your site." Original Post
- Sep 29 2006, Andy Dingley: "The why do you insult real professional web developers, myself included, by putting up this amateur rubbish and claiming to be a professional web services company yourself? Is this the quality of work that you supply to your customers? I haven't been even barely rude to you (I'm usually _far_ ruder), but if you're asking me to do what's probably considerable free work on your site, then it's incumbent on you to bring it to a halfway decent starting point first." Original Post
- Jan 23 2007, Andy Dingley: "It's not crap, it's _vile_. Crap would be a good idea, done badly. Yours are so fundamentally wrong in every inten (sic) that there is no point in merely listing their technical failings. They look amateurish, and that of an ignorant amateur from around the mid '90s. Rather than content you favour cutesy animated .gif clip art of the lowest quality. The page has everything thrown randomly onto it, with no sense of purpose behind it. Looking at it is like staring into the mind of a paranoid schizophrenic, a vast seething mass of aimless random activity all clamouring for attention. It's one huge spaffing jazzmonkey of a site..." Original Post
Now ciwah was one of my favourite newsgroups but nobody can deny that there were some strong personalities in there and there were certainly some who are prepared to deliver rough justice to the ignorant and clueless. Omitting the usual flame wars there have been some unusually tense discussions in this group.
- May 08 1998, Dan Kilbank: "You gotta be kidding. My daughter could design a better looking website. (she is 10 and I am serious) Your rates are high and you have obviously had very little experience in graphics and HTML. ie all your graphics clash (no colour sense at all). I have seen many of your gifs on other sites, I guess you collected other peoples gifs and just stuck them in. Your links all have borders - ugly and amaturish. When you plan to charge good monety (sic) to build a site, you had better design it yourself instread (sic) of ripping off other sites and pasting the junk together poorly." Original Post
- Oct 12 1998, Matt Pryor: "I quite like the orange background - but yellow text on top does look like somebody has had a particularly nasty case of projectile vomit onto my computer screen. And I think I have a migraine coming on....." Original Post
- Feb 14 2004, Jukka K. Korpela: "Isn't it wonderful that we can detect ignorance or trolling (who cares about the difference?) on the simple basis of making our newsreader do something with messages that contain the string 'HTML 1.0' (unless followed by a suitable phrase)? Ignorance is excusable; we're all born ignorant, and remain ignorant in most affairs all of our lives. But when you start an argument where you present strong opinions and you reveal complete ignorance of the basics, you have turned natural ignorance into something much worse." Original Post
And in conclusion...
Most of these newsgroups have now either stopped functioning completely or seem to have little more to offer. Sad that Usenet has gone this way but for those of us who were active in the boom years of Usenet, and the HTML newsgroups in particular, there are still some great memories...