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"Usenet Death Penalty" against AOL 138

An anonymous reader wrote in to send us an article from Deja News discussing the fact that German Usenet Admins have declared AOL Rogue, and are discussing banning the ISP to cut down trolls and spam. The RFD ist auf Deutsch, so you might wanna hit up Babelfish for your usual amusingly broken translation.
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"Usenet Death Penalty" against AOL

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    Check out these links: [] []

    It will help you understand why spam is morally and *technically* evil.

  • When we have to resort to such heavyhanded tactics, in order to maintain a semblance of order, isn't that a sign that the system is fundamentally broken?

    If we could enforce per-user quotas on Usenet, it would cut out almost all of the junk, without rmeotely approaching censorship. It would Spamming no longer feasible. Long boring screeds would be rare. And quotas would limit the spread of flames. As for trolling, that wouldn't be an issue if hotheads weren't so easily provoked. So the issue with trolls is really an issue with flamers.

    Of course, there are lots of other issues. For instance, the top level heirarchy makes very little sense. And there are too many junk groups, etc.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    When I was running my static IP's, I set up ipfwadm to filter out all packets originating from several ISP's. AOL was one (Easy enough to find all their IP's and filter them) as was the entirety of, from whence a lot of spam seemed to be originating. ipfwadm and its replacement, ipchains, are wonderful tools.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    The trouble is, this is an extreme action that may well actively harm the net access
    of a lot of people

    it doesnt harm the net access of a lot of people, it harms aol users ability to post to some german language newsgroups. few aol users speak german, and even fewer would have anything interesting to say in those newsgroups.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    A demonstration of exactly what I wrote about netiquette. Only
    at Slashdot would someone waste his time complaining that
    an interesting post should be marked down.

    It is very pertinent and on-topic, especially considering the
    general tone of posts which state or imply that AOL users are
    the bane of civilization but perhaps, with the help of Slahsdotters,
    can be uplifted out of ignorance....

    I don't care how the post gets rated. And, to reply to your post,
    I'm not so sure that the majority of slashdotters disagree with
    much of the post you regard as a troll. Some very vocal, elitist
    wannabe nerds, perhaps, who look down their noses at lusers...
    It's something they may not think about much and take for
    granted - the current system of ISPs and portals which exploit
    people using the internet.

    Giving individual users the rights and responsibilities of domain
    owners would eliminate much of the spam for logistics reasons
    alone - it's a lot more expensive to spam a large number of
    individual domains and to maintain the mailing lists. This would
    also force individual users to become more responsible or to
    seek help on their own rather than own if they want to use
    the net.

    Finally, is your immature reaction to a post for God's sake?
    I hope God has something better to think about that the ratings
    of posts at Slashdot.

    Holy flames
  • by Anonymous Coward
    It's the company, not the users.

    First, the extremely large number of users attracts people who
    exploit them with spam and much worse. AOL also exploits
    users with pop-up ads that are difficult to remove - like having
    one's name taken off a junk mailing list.

    Most AOL users just use email for communicating with
    relatives and friends and are quite harmless. Very few post
    anywhere, even within AOL's own chat rooms.

    I think Slashdotters need lessons in netequitte. Relative to the
    number of posts or readers, AOL's user base is quite civilized.

    The solution is to eliminate ISP's and proliferating domains.
    Every citizen of the world should be given a domain, but only
    one, and every company allowed only one. ISP's would just
    be relay points whose services are contracted by phone and
    cable companies or whatever is used to carry the traffic, perhaps
    providing storage as well for those connecting with set-top
    boxes or other devices that are not full computers. In other words
    a net address would be a like a post office address now is.

    Many domains would remain inactive, for those choosing not
    to use the internet, but many others would be activated. Of
    course this would require a reworking of the entire infrastructure
    of the net, and can't be done overnight. The way traffic
    is handled will change anyway, so why not change it in a manner
    which facilitates democracy and true free enterprise rather than
    what we have now, which is exploitation of users by unscrupulous
    parties providing services whose value is vastly overestimated.

    This way every individual, or company, would be responsible for
    their own email and content, and real point to point communication
    would become a practical reality.

    Many nerds are opposed to such freedom, because they make
    a good living exploiting users by owning or working for ISPs.
    What services do ISP's provide, really. What services do
    portals provide? Mostly the illusion of friendliness and convenience.

    This would also vastly increase the trade for nerds and others
    providing contractural services to individual domain owners,
    but in a free market and not by exploiting captive audiences
    using ISP"s and portals.

    Most importantly it would eliminate the sale and hoarding of
    domain names, which really should be outlawed. Anyone with
    a grain of sense can see that this practice violates every
    principle of human rights and international law.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 28, 1999 @04:27AM (#1876098)
    I am all for this, if enough of a movement gets started to teach AOL a lesson, I would be more than happy to also do it at the small ISP I run.

    "I am sorry, but we do not accept mail from AOL here"

    Damn, that would be so satisfying.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 28, 1999 @04:29AM (#1876099)
    One problem is, there ARE some intelligent AOL users. My favorite poster to a.p.t is from AOL.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 28, 1999 @05:49AM (#1876100)
    AOL users can't mail some ISP's in the Netherlands and I think this trend will continue AOL cleans up it's act. It's a good thing too, if a lot of ISP's decide to ban AOL, it's a choice: either AOL or the "real" internet. I used to get 4x spams per week from AOL users. I used to forward every message with a complaint.. it HAS stopped recently.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 28, 1999 @06:40AM (#1876101)
    The gist of the RFD is that the anonymous free trial accounts AOL gives out are a spammer's best
    friend, that AOL doesn't take action against spammers when notified, and that several Usenet groups are currently being destroyed by spammers using a series of free trial AOL accounts.

    From Babelfish, with a little help from me:

    AOL harms the network, because it offers trial accounts with up to 650 free hours. This gives
    Spammers, Trolls, and other people who wish to
    conceal their identity problem-free full write access to the network. Their posts can't be
    traced (so the spammers can't be identified).

    The AOL administration takes no action against people spamming from these accounts, even when action would be justified.
    Complaints to AOL are acknowledged by an ignorebot, and the spamming continues.

    A current example is the activity on de.etc.finanz.banken+broker, de.etc.finanz.misc, and de.etc.finanz.boerse, where where an individual AOL Spammer has made an otherwise lively hierarchy almost useless for several weeks, because he constantly posts similar advertisements
    for his commercial Web PAGE and slandering,
    while constantly changing AOL Accountnames and
    misleading Subject lines. He also sends mail
    bombs from his AOL account to the people who
    try to complain about him.

    Another example is the mailing list, which for months has carried
    more Spam (almost without exception from
    AOL users) than useful contents."

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 28, 1999 @01:31PM (#1876102)
    Something to add to the discussion: there seems to be a difference in handling abuse of American and of German AOL users. AOL Germany is a subsidiary of publisher Bertelsmann, so it's a different company than AOL US. In the discussion following the posting of the RfD it was mentioned that while AOL US does honor abuse-notifications, AOL Germany doesn't. I can't verify that myself, though.

    Another interesting fact is that according to German "netgod" Lutz Donnerhacke AOL Germany is understanding the problem is going to make an announcement to the (de-)abuse-groups, soon.

    Finally, the RfD is obviously lacking support of German news-admins so probably the effect, a successful CfV will have, will be minimal. BTW: It is not cleared, yet, if a formal CfV is possible.

    - Sebastian Rittau
  • I wouldn't call a UDP "forming a cartel and blocking" an ISP. You're simply stopping them from participating in Usenet. It's not like you're blocking them from the Internet.

    Also, I would say that if a company doesn't play by the "rules", a lot of little companies crushing them is perfectly fair play.
  • That's sort of a defeatist attitude, but to a certain extent you are right.

    I don't believe that by enforcing the rules now that it should have long ago that USENET will die. Maybe it can be saved from the spammers. Maybe A time will come when all usenet messages can be traced to their authors (the real ones)

    That degree of personal accountability is missing, which means that lots of people will take advantage of being anonymous.

    Don't get me wrong, being anonymous has advantages sometimes... for whistle blowing, etc, Nobody needs to know what I'm looking at when I surf, but for Seriously, who needs to be anonymous there? You're posting to the public...

  • by Zack ( 44 ) <<zedoriah> <at> <>> on Friday May 28, 1999 @06:08AM (#1876105) Journal
    > controlling content on the internet on behalf
    > of their population or any other way of
    > "controlling" the internet

    So what's the issue here? The issue here is freedom. If I want to go look at porn, or see information on abortion, or read anti-{insert your country here} propaganda, I should be allowed to. Freedom does not include "doing anything you want." I should not be able to degrade the quality of your service.

    I should be free to view whatever content I want.

    Spam, however, is another matter entirely. An email message sent to my account is not the same thing as a web page sitting out there. An email to me gets to me, and I am forced to wade through it in order to get to the rest of my messages. The spam sent to me actually causes me harm (in terms of lost time, lost bandwith, and lost disk space). A web page sitting out there that I don't want to see doesn't affect me at all.

    USENET has rules. For example, posts are supposed to stay on topic, avoid flames, don't cross post to 1000 different groups. AOL users have violated the policies, and AOL refuses to do anything about it. In order to keep the net sane, they've got to be controled. So we have the freedom to read on topic posts and not see ads for sex sites in EVERY newsgroup.
  • Here's the principal difference, the Austrailian government is an "outside", "foreign" force trying to impose on how much of the internet their citizens can see and use. The German admins are "inside", "domestic" forces making use of the standard internet self-regulatory features that have evolved over the decades (an eternety in internet time).

    Think of it this way: Australia is trying to impose a trade embargo on the Internet (and trying to get local businesses to pay for and manage the blockade). The German admins are police trying to get a drunk tourist to stop disturbing the peace.

    To put it another way, Austrailia is insisting one group of people (ISP's) censor another group of people (normal citizen's). The Germans are determining what takes up the space they paid for, and announcing it to the world in case others feel like following suit.

    That's why most of us support the German admin's actions instead of the Australian government's.
  • What would prevent anyone in Australia from using an encrypted network tunnel (i.e. "simple" ones like PPP over TCP/UDP through an SSH stream or more complex ones like IPSEC)? If they had a host in a free country (say, the USA) to work with, they could just set themselves up with another access point, and they would bypass any restrictions the government imposed.
  • by jandrese ( 485 ) <> on Friday May 28, 1999 @07:43AM (#1876108) Homepage Journal
    The problem is that it isn't that simple. Most malicious spammers now use a technique called superceding where they basically overwrite the body of "signal" messages with noise. This makes it look like legitimate posters in the newsgroup are posting spam under legitimate titles. IMHO this is the most vile kind of spam, since not only does it increase the noise of a newsgroup, it actively decreases the signal, and destroys countless discussions. The worst part is that moderation is usually ineffective agsinst this kind of attack.
  • SPUTUM(tm) [] has been tracking net-abuse issues since the 'Net was brought out into the mainstream. They put in some information on the Cabal Network Security [] site. PICK UP A ANTI-NET-ABUSE SLACK PAMPHLET!!!

    The MAPS RBL should be manditory (it's availible with Sendmail), but ORBS is more radical in it's relay checking. It's very similar to a UDP but invoked often for lesser reasons. A better Relay blocker, the Radparker Relay Spam Stopper (RRSS) [], is availble and practices the same goals as the MAPS RBL in respect to open relays.

    If every admin read and .usenet, then the world would be less spam-free.

    Spammed? Click here [] for free slack on how to fight it!

  • That may be true, but if a cartel of ISP's all decide on a certain policy, you are still totally pimped. In the US there are laws limiting collusion between supposedly competing businesses, but they are rarely effective unless there is blatant price fixing going on.
  • Well, why were you contacting AOL then? Denial of Service is illegal, and therefore a law enforcement problem. Contact law enforcement, and let them deal with it. AOL will listen if you go through the proper law enforcement channels first.
  • If my ISP were to do that, I'd promptly find another one. Many of the people I contact frequently are on AOL. I do not appreciate an ISP trying to tell me who I am allowed to email.
  • What about NetZero [], a completely free internet service?

    If free trials are evil in your opinion, then permanent free accounts must be doubly so.

    But what about the people who can't afford $20/month for an ISP?
  • Well, I've had a lot of problems with *'s unsecured wingates. * as well. Why not just ban all cablemodem users? Sure, that's fair. Ban AOL, ban cablemodems, ban anybody else remotely likely to cause trouble, and you'll have a trouble-free network. You'll also have no users.
  • I've never gotten a reply from Earthlink or Mindspring about spam or denial of service attacks from their users. AOL actually replied. Go figure.
  • Small ISPs tend to be quite helpful. However, large ISPs are for the most part not. AOL is no worse in this regard than Earthlink, Mindspring, @Home, UUNet, and a myriad of other ISPs that do little to get rid of their abuse users and spam problems. AOL is, in fact, better than many of these ISPs, as it is at least trying to get rid of spammers. AOL, unlike most of the other ISPs, has actually taken large spammers to court, and actively goes after their accounts.

    Perhaps you should check the SMTP servers in the headers of the spam you get - the majority of spam from is not from AOL - anybody can write "From:" in the headers.
  • Umm, your reply made little sense to me. I want to email people I know on AOL. I do not appreciate an ISP telling me I cannot email these people.

    Telling the people "get a new ISP" is not an option. It is not my place to tell my acquaintances what ISPs they are allowed to use, just as it is not my ISP's place to tell me who I am allowed to send email to.
  • Banning an ISP because lots of its users are clueless seems like a bad idea to me. First of all, the majority of UseNet problems are from spam, and the majority of UseNet spam does not originate from AOL. AOL is in fact one of the few ISPs actively combating spam, even taking large spammers to court. Earthlink, Mindspring, FlashNet, etc., are all much more guilty in this field. Why don't we ban them all for refusing to clean up their spam problem?

    This whole deal seems as absurd to me as the fact that several IRC networks banned all cablemodem providers since a lot of cablemodem users had improperly configured WinGate software that allowed abuse.
  • It's not being proposed that AOL use their own customer base against something; It's being proposed that *an outside group* turn AOL's customers against them.

    If AOL (or MS, or anyone else) tried to force their own customers to rise up against someone, I would consider that unacceptable. This is not.
  • When I was cracked quite some time ago, I called what turned out to be the wrong ISP, and asked for help. They traced the cracker past them to his true home, and were otherwise extremely helpful.

    Thankfully, I've only been attacked this once; However, I understand that this kind of assistance and cooperation is commonplace. Were I running an ISP, I would try to offer it myself.

    Even an instance on use of proper channels by AOL is ungentlemanly, making them far worse netizens than almost all other ISPs out there. Their unwillingness to offer help against what is generally considered a common enemy is a Very Bad Thing, and I understand other ISPs wishing to have nothing to do with them.
  • >If M$ refused to support it's customer base

    They already do.

    > USENET is not the Internet police. No one is.

    This has about as much heft as me claiming that no one has the right to tell anyone what to do. It may be true in my way of thinking, but the fact is that a society cannot function like that.

    Besides, it's not your systems in question here, so what you think is irrelevant.
  • I wasn't speaking about spammers, but the metoo-type posters. I stopped using usenet before the spam was that bad, because of all the noise from worthless/offtopic/etc posts.

  • I agree with you. My original post was an impulse post. I was going on what I had seen a couple years ago. I know longer read usenet on a frequent basis. I quit largely because of all the noise. And that was before the spam got really bad.

    Unrestricted trial accounts are Evil. Deja news does at least make you go through an extra step of verifing with another e-mail account before you can e-mail or post from there. Not much of check, but it is better than nothing. I only hope they aren't content with that and are looking for a better checking system.

    I think aol has improved their image some, here recently. So I don't wish a UDP on them, but I hope it cause them to evaluate some of their processes, including restricted trial acounts (other than a time limit) and user education.

  • by Xamot ( 924 ) on Friday May 28, 1999 @04:14AM (#1876124)

    Hopefully the threat alone will cause AOL to make some changes. I know it's not the company itself, it's the users, but since they know they have the largest base of newbies they should do something.

    What is that something? How about forcing users to take a quiz on netiquette that they must pass before given the ability to post. Even just a major effort to educate their users would be a step in the right direction. Most ISPs don't have to worry about this, but AOL isn't most ISPs.

  • I also would like AOL to actually react to mails to, not just having their ignorebot giving me replies.

    That's a good reason for a UDP. If AOL isn't doing it's part to keep the usnet useable, it must not be allowed to participate. Consider a responsive abuse role account to be a requirement for participation.

  • >You mean that the ad for non-surgical lyposuction
    >is an idea that needs protection?

    I don't have to--the United States Supreme Court already did. As an attorney i think that the doctrine of "commercial free speech" is one of (but not the) worst to come out of the court in its history, but it'ss there. It came up in the context of lawyer advertising, which virtually every bar association and licensing authority banned. It is now permitted over their objections.
  • I'm going through one of my cyclic fits where I yank linux for freebsd, and don't have newsposting working yet. So I tried dejanews, but they seem to have removed threaded reading in their latest "update" (I *defy* you to read alt.folklore.computers without threading). So I cringed and tried remarq again (cringing because last time I tried, it kept failing and feeding me pages about what to change on IIis to fix its problem, when it gave me anything). It is no longer possible to retrieve a message with junkbuster active--you're given the page pof most recent articles whatever you do. Turn off junkbuster, and it loads. Somehow, it's detecting the proxy and refusing to function. And there's now way I'm letting doubleclick set cookies and flash blinkies at me . . .

    and it doesn't help that changing the blockfile seems to trigger linux-netscape (the only one i could get to work at all) to crash on freebsd . . .

    So I suppose I just wait a few days until i figure out posting . . .
  • I guess that's why I (and probably many of us love Slashdot). It's reminiscent of the USENET of long ago. It discusses mostly tech topics and topics of interest to fellow geeks. The S/N ratio is pretty high. Newbies (usually in September) were whacked for bad postings after which they fell into line or were filtered out with killfiles (you rarely had to go this far, though). There was zero spam (it was once a usenet axiom that *you* *don't* *post* *ads* *in* *newsgroups*- *period*. [expecting .forsale and later biz.* groups]). USENET had a common culture back then much like Slashdot has a common culture now. Unfortunately it's a catch-22. Success, like when the internet went mainstream, destroys that culture. USENET is a wasteland now. And Slashdot is becoming popular... hmmm... we shall see. At least Slashdot has a control element the anarchastic USENET lacked.
  • It's reminiscent of the USENET of long ago.

    For content, sure... but this fscking web interface sucks. Good ol' trn, last updated in 1993, still kicks the pants off of the scroll and drool web interface for usability in reading large numbers of messages.

  • Ok so you don't know anything about spam and the First Amendment. The first Amendment protects unpopular ideas not advertizing. You gonna tell me that ads are speech that need protection? The first amendment doesn't mean all's fair.

    I'm bothered when I see websites, (including a certain Linux User Group) have a blue Internet ribbon on one side, and a "fight spam" on the other. To me, that sends a contradictory message. "I'm for free speech as long as I approve of it."

    Please!! You mean that the ad for non-surgical lyposuction is an idea that needs protection? Do you see us complaining about an unpopular idea? Do you see us trying to get the microsoft web site closed down? No! We just want an end to advertizing where it prohibited!

    The money spam causes is from the terabytes of advertizing floating arround usenet that each news server has to deal with. Why don't you keep that mail on you hard drive. Post I LIKE SPAM on a newsgroup and use your REAL e-mail address. See how long it takes for you to delete that!
  • It seems to me that some people here define their freedom by limiting other people's freedom. This is not what i would call freedom.

    My freedom ends where yours begins - and freedom always comes with responsibility. You're free to do whatever you want, you're responsible for your actions, you must not limit the freedom of others. It's a simple principle that can and does cause pretty complex situations.
    Usually it's obvious, for instance, think about this: Somebody comes along and puts lots of advertisement stickers on my property. No matter how easy they are to be removed, if I don't want them, I shouldn't be bothered with it.
    On your property, feel free to put those stickers all over the place, it's your property. Your decision. But leave mine alone, please, as I'll leave yours in peace.
    It's about the same situation: ISP's providing boards for discussion and AOL messing it up with ads against the will of the owners. Oh, it's not AOL that abuses the system, it's just some users - so read on:

    I am not saying that if people abuse their rights on an online service, we shouldn't punish them. But punishing individuals is not the same as excluding a large internetprovider and all it's clients.

    AOL is free to set up its own rules within their service. AOL customers/members are bound by these rules, if they cause trouble, their accounts will be cancelled. Since the service belongs to AOL, only AOL itself decides who can and who cannot access the service.
    At the same time, AOL as an ISP is a member of the Internet, not the owner of the net. There are rules and netizens are bound by these rules. If they cause trouble, their ISP's will be involved, too. If the ISP doesn't help enfore the rules but supports the abusers, the ISP will be held responsible, so the ISP will be punished.
    Of course that will punish all innocent customers as well. That's the point, those uninvolved people will hopefully realize that AOL has made a mistake, and once enough people increase the pressure, something will be changed. AOL couldn't care less about public newsgroups, but if their users care enough, they'll make AOL care and act.
  • Mail with the hostname and IP address of the problem host. If the user dees not fix the problem promptly they will be disconnected from the network until it is fixed.
  • Somebody earlier above gave links to [ttp] and []. These links are highly recommended reading. One thing that anti-spam advocates stress over and over again is that spam is problematic because of its volume, not because of its content. In fact, it is precisely this content-agnosticism that distinguishes anti-spam efforts from censorship.

    The definition of e-mail spam is "unsolicited bulk email": that is to say, an email message is spam if, and only if, it is unsolicited and sent to a large number of recipients. Likewise, a message is usenet spam if, and only if, it is crossposted or multiposted heavily enough (c.f. the Breidbart Index). In each case, the content of the message is totally irrelevant. Spam is characterized by the manner in which it is delivered, and not by the content contained in the message.

    The difference between anti-spam efforts and censorship efforts is that censorship by definition uses message content as the sole criteria for rejection, while spam fighters by definition use message delivery parameters as the sole criteria for rejection.

  • > In the US, most ISPs charge a flat monthly rate,
    > so you can't even argue that you are being
    > charged for the time to download it.

    That's not the point. In general the backbones
    have to pay for that and eventually you pay it
    because the backbones costs end up in your
    flat rate.

    You have a point on the free speech issue though.
    OTOH, in this particular case AOLusers would
    still be able to read news and in the end also be
    "allowed" to post via a different newsserver. The
    UDP aims at AOL and not it's users.
  • > I suppose the argument can be made that bandwidth
    > would be even cheaper today than it is if not for
    > spam. This may be true, but such arguments are
    > hard to prove.

    Well, either way you wouldn't say that bandwith
    is generally satisfying atm. If it would be there
    wouldn't be any of the InterNAP ads showing up
    on /. ;)
  • UDP because of some stupid morons, who can't post right?

    Okay, I haven't read any of the BIG-8 groups for two years now, so I can't comment on the damage(!) done by AOL users there, but in de.* you'll mostly find some stupid (or falsely quoted or whatever) postings by AOLers, but you'll find significantly more idiots using Outlook Express or any incarnation of Mozilla. So what do you want to do against that?

    UDP against Microsoft users? UDP against Netscape users?

    UDP is what you do if an ISP does damage to the net, due to spamhosting (see the (proposed) UDP against PSI - the only active UDP I can remember lately ist the one against netcom (which has been cancelled)), AOL does not do that - you might want to take a look how many of those UCEs which are apparently from AOL aren't (same goes for hotmail or juno).

    If you are fed up with Postings from AOL, then put into your killfile and don't accept any Mail from AOL users. If more and more people are doing this, some people who now are with AOL will change to another ISP (and I hope for you, that these are only the users who are worthwile reading).

    But I can't see AOL trying to actively destroy the usenet at the moment.

    As I said: I'd like to have a more responsive Abuse team at AOL (maybe Afterburner likes to leave and I want restricted test accounts. But these are my wishes (and those test accounts are mostly misused for UCE, not for spam or velveeta) and no reason for an UDP.


    No, I don't work for AOL, I just don't like the lynch mob which has built up behind the Proponents of this RfD.
  • As said: these are four groups out of close to 400 in the de.* hierarchy. That's not really AOL destroying usenet, is it?

    There's morons and aggressive people with every ISP, although most ISPs are quicker to react against those people.

    Yes, free trial accounts are evil (tm), and Seltzer-McKenzie is changing his trial CDs faster than other people do change their underwear.

    But that's no reason for an UDP, is it?

    BTW: doesn't get that many UCEs, and not all of them are from AOL.

    Plus, there is not that much content on this mailing list (and it is only closely related to usenet ;-)

  • by Ralph ( 2956 ) <> on Friday May 28, 1999 @04:50AM (#1876138)
    Hopefully the threat alone will cause AOL to make some changes

    There's something you might miss, when reading a "bablefished" translation of the RfD: The RfD asks the admins to issue an UDP for the de.* hierarchy in Usenet, not banning AOL completely (which would be a quite senseless thing to discuss about in a de.*-only RfD).

    It is not even clear, which kind of UDP should be issued, a passive one (where the newsfeeds won't take any postings coming from AOL) or an active one (where any AOL-Postings will be canceled on sight).

    Furthermore the RfD talks about many issues, which aren't related to Usenet at all (not reacting on messages sent to, sending UCE from AOL test accounts), so many admins (and users) can't agree on issuing an UDP for those points.

    Next: The actual reason for posting this RfD is a guy (calling himself Seltzer-McKensey) who is actually destroying four newsgroups in the de.*-hierarchy (de.etc.finanz.*) by posting hundreds of postings there monthly. AOL doesn't react to this (neither by calling them, nor through e-mails sent to They tried to ban him from posting, but this guy just switches to his next AOL-CD and goes on posting.

    But through this guy alone, the technical funtionality of Usenet is not harmed, so that's no reason for an UDP. And many of the admins and users in Germany (or in de.* which is international) take the same standpoint. There's idiots with each ISP, AOL has the problem of their non-restricted testing accounts.

    Now, before anyone accuses me of standing in for the enemy ;-) - I would like to see those AOL test accounts being restricted (no posting without verification of the person who uses an account), I also would like AOL to actually react to mails to, not just having their ignorebot giving me replies. And that they can restrict those accounts has been shown some weeks ago: Without being a verified user with AOL, you can't send any e-mail attachments.

    But I don't think that the mentioned points in the RfD qualify for issuing an UDP (and I don't quite see, what an UDP limited to one hierarchy could do). UDP is the last resort against an ISP, and I don't see, that this last resort should be used against AOL at the moment.

    If UDP, then hierarchy-wide and not local to one hierarchy. If UDP then for reasons everyone will understand, but not for those. Otherwise there should be an UDP against right now, for the same reasons (or take any other company which allows webbased posting without checking on the users).


    PS: Of course: Friends don't let friends use AOL.
  • It was easy at first to eliminate spam from AOL. Since 100% of the content from AOL was spam, it was mighty easy to add a killfile. Then it was netcom, etc... Then they got smart and munged addresses.

    What bothers me is that AOL is not a true internet provider in the sense that you can't finger a user or use the traditional ntalk to talk some sense into the newbie. AOL lets them hide. The world they know is behind that free CD they got and the protected proprietary services they got. Somehow they found the newsgroups attractive and decided to spam them.

    Since there is no way to identify AOL users, the only way I know how to eliminate the crap is to kill it all.
  • by dattaway ( 3088 ) on Friday May 28, 1999 @04:52AM (#1876140) Homepage Journal
    I remember on fateful morning many moons ago when I fired up tin to read the newsgroups and each post was repeated seven times each and from this new entity called "" So, I read through them (where did all the good news go?) and found they were ALL one liners and "me too" or something absurd. I wasn't mad, just pissed off! Usenet went downhill after that. The once mighty newsgroup that had readership of 100,000 died into a cesspool of spam and is still dead.

    It amazes me how a provider will not educate users how to properly use the service, but will only tell them how easy it is with point and click. "Click here, now you can post! See how easy that was?"

    Death to usenet? No, death to AOL!
  • by dattaway ( 3088 ) on Friday May 28, 1999 @05:28AM (#1876141) Homepage Journal
    Its not controlling content, but damage control. Its not the type of content, but noise is not useful. Can you think of a use for spam? And there is no way of controlling it, but to cut it off. There are many people who wish to contribute actual content, but when there is a big pipe pushing raw noise into the newsgroups, its utility is diminished. It breaks.

    Usenet might break and become no more if spammers are unchecked. The death penalty might be the lesser of two evils.
  • by dattaway ( 3088 ) on Friday May 28, 1999 @06:53AM (#1876142) Homepage Journal
    It all was in spring 1994 if I remember right when I shortly killfiled every .com and .net leaving nothing but .edu and .mil posts. That worked for a while, but people graduated and had to use those addresses. No one wanted to have an address like it was some disease.

    You can take the power search page, save it and edit the crap out of it. They make it easy as you will see a few comments in there that say "content starts here" and "content ends here." You can cut everything above and below that.

    As far as the banner ads go, visit [] where you can easily install an industrial strength anti ad tool. Its easy to maintain too. If a sex banner or eye killer comes into view, just insert that address into the blockfile. No need to restart anything as the next time you load a page, you can see the changes take effect immediately.

    May your surfing days (and nights) be enjoyable and not surf in sewage and spam.
  • by dattaway ( 3088 ) on Friday May 28, 1999 @11:59AM (#1876143) Homepage Journal
    > The questions might go like this:
    > 1. Someone posts something that's totally opposite to what you believe. You then:
    > a. Post an intelligent, well thought arguement that adds to the debate.
    > b. Type an angry reply, one sentence long, in all caps.

    I forsee one problem: AOLers aren't *that* stupid. Anyone old enough to know how to send an email/usenet message can also

    Oh? Back in about 1994 when AOL opened the floodgates onto usenet, they gave users a big point and click button. I was told they were given a brochure describing "full usenet access" over a variety of topics. The newsgroup was the group at the top of the list if I remember right. In less than an hour, it was the worst of usenet with thousands of posts destroying any use that group had. To my horror, I was logged in at the time when this happened.

    Typing in a one sentence reply in all caps would be the best case. Usually, it was a sentence fragment, or just a thought, or a word or two. Not only that, there was a bug with the posting software that duplicated each post seven times. Irresponsible? I would have to say yes. As I see it, AOL is here to exploit the internet. It raped and pillaged the newsgroups in 1994 and I am not surprised that it is extending its reach into our mailboxes.
  • Have you ever tryed to report the problems to the other ISP's? I had a problem with a * user a little wile back so i sent a Email to MediaOne. And guess what...a real person replyed and MediaOne took care of it. TRY that with AOL, a BOT will reply and basicly say "screw you". The real problem is that AOL dosnt GIVE A SHIT. As long as the users keep sending is $20 a month they could(and do) care less what they do.
  • "...but I used to travel alot and you can always dial in from anywhere. They even have an 800 number which you can use. Check Email, telnet..."

    AOL isnt the only ISP that lets you dial in from anyware. Most big ISP's have 50 state dialups and some have 800 #'s. has a list of alot of them. The nice thing about going with a REAL ISP is that they have real admins. Most ISP's will take care of problems. One of AOL's problems is with SpamBot's that hang out in chat rooms and pick up your Email( When i had AOL i got 80~100 SPAM's a BS) address. so how does AOL fix this? They just tell people to turn off their Email or dont use chat. Keeping you happy isnt realy are only 1 user out of 11 Million

    As long as the problem user keeps sending $20 a month to them they wont put a stop to it, it is very hard to get kicked off AOL.

  • Well, if he's not happy about being blocked, he should complain to AOL management, and loudly! AOL is more likely to respond to subscribers leaving in droves than anything else.

    Of course, your favorite poster could always get a real ISP.... ;)
  • says-

    Babelfish makes the translation up until 4 para. in, then gives me "**Translation ends here**"

    Yes- of course it does- it limits the amount of text you can translate in one pass. If you want to translate large docs, you gotta translate it in pieces.
  • There was also, IIRC, a similar furor concerning AOL's IRC presence, and the refusal of their administrators to cope with the behavior of their users. Eric Fichtner, then AOL Operations Administrator, more or less laid down AOL's official policy of refusing to provide IRC services in any way other than wholly automated without human monitoring. In that respect, Usenet and IRC have similar properties -- keeping them from getting utterly swamped often proves incompatible with corporate profit maximization tactics.

  • but are you *really* getting spams from AOL users, or (as in my experience) getting spams which have fake return address?

    aol's mail servers are actually pretty quick at stopping spam getting out.


  • Well, in the channel I frequent, they've banned *!*@~* That kills probably 99% of the Wingate abusers by filtering out those without ident.

    As far as AOL being banned from IRC, it wasn't specifically because of the users that was removed. From reading operlist for awhile (yes, I have no life), there was a lot of arguing about it, but it was finally decided to get rid of the server because the ircops on the server didn't do anything to regulate the users. I think it's pretty much the same thing here. AOL refuses to respond to complaints about their users on usenet, so stuff like this happens.

    Also, I do know of a few IRC servers that allow AOL users (, for one), so they aren't completely shut off.

    -mike kania
  • Well, personally I see a big difference between what the Australian government tries to do, and what the UDP against AOL tries to reach.

    In Australia, the goverment wants to limit certain content - the UDP doesn't. For the UDP, if you would like to receive spam, we don't care - but since so many (I use 'so many' very loosely here; so far I haven't heard a single person who LIKES spam) people complain about spam and AOL doesn't do anything about it, the UDP is one way to make them think about it again. Once they change their policy the UDP restrictions will be lifted.

    From then on, nobody will care about the AOL users email content as long as they aren't spammed with it; e.g. if some guy on AOL sends out a commercial mass mailing to people who explicitly requested it, noone will mind. But if they allow people to spam the whole community with free online accounts, then something is IMHO very wrong.

    What I would suggest as a possible policy change, that would be if AOL would change the status of their CDs in a way, that the new user can surf and read news, but as long as he doesn't pay (and with that fully disclose who he really is), the user should be barred from posting articles and sending email via this account (AOL is certainly big enough to build a second dial-in system which is firewall protected to barr those test users dialling in through this number from accessing the outside world via NNTP/NNRP/SMTP. Everything else could stay open... And once the user pays, his login will be transferred to another dial-in number, that doesn't have these services blocked.

  • Hmmmm.... let's see....

    Oh Goody! I've just passed that damn netiquette test!

    Now where's that spamming program got to? :)
  • by Booker ( 6173 ) on Friday May 28, 1999 @05:26AM (#1876154) Homepage
    As a last resort, the UDP rocks, although it's unfortunate when it comes to that. There's a lot of potential for throwing the baby out with the bathwater. It's been used effectively a few times though, I believe.

    If every admin would utilize the MAPS [], the ORBS database [], and participate in these UDPs [], the world would be a remarkably spam-free place.

  • When I send an invoice, I expect the response to
    be a check, most likely to my snailbox.

  • That is a good idea - Usenet is dying because it can't cope with new developments in the quickly evolving Internet, such as spam. It's time for something new.

    One of the strengths of the Usenet was its distributed design, making it suitable for non-persistant links. Today, I'd say that the cost of running a news server with all the binaries groups outweighs the gain from this design, since most sites who could afford a full newsserver have very good links. A cacheing nntpd is much more useful than a full-blown newsserver these days, except for very large ISPs (IMHO).

    Web communities with forums are already evolving nicely, and it seems like they will replace Usenet eventually (except for some die-hards, who still insist on using text consoles and low-bandwidth connections and will do so for the next 10 years; no offense intended).

    Note that many Internet users who haven't been around for many years aren't very familiar with Usenet anyway, they'll just go looking for stuff on the web instead.

  • I tend to agree, you either have to be for total free speech, or acknowledge that there are limits as to what constitutes "free speech". I'm bothered when I see websites, (including a certain Linux User Group) have a blue Internet ribbon on one side, and a "fight spam" on the other. To me, that sends a contradictory message. "I'm for free speech as long as I approve of it."

    I know people argue that Spam costs them money... please! On my slow dialup connection it takes less than a second to download a spam mail, and even less time to delete said mail. In the US, most ISPs charge a flat monthly rate, so you can't even argue that you are being charged for the time to download it. I know the situation is different in other countries, but other countries don't have the first amendment either.

  • That's not the point. In general the backbones have to pay for that and eventually you pay it because the backbones costs end up in your flat rate

    In theory. However, I haven't seen that happening. In 1994, before Spam was a problem, I signed up for unlimited access with an ISP, and was paying $19.95/month. Today, I am still paying $19.95/month. If you factor in inflation, then I'm actually paying less today!

    Since 1994, the cost of bigger pipes has come way down, today you can get cable modems for about $40, maybe up to twice that for DSL. I expect prices for bandwidth will continue to fall in the forseeable future

    I suppose the argument can be made that bandwidth would be even cheaper today than it is if not for spam. This may be true, but such arguments are hard to prove.

  • Maybe AOL should adopt the policy which CompuServe, which is now AOL, used to apply. There were restrictions on what could be done with a new account, which were removed after checks etc had been made.
  • Not using AOL. Letting AOL know why.
  • AOL does not need to destroy Usenet. It broke all by itself. Usenet was created in an era when the users were by and large, professionals. Personal civility was never at a premium, but attacks on the infrastructure itself were high crimes against the community.

    Usenet simply has no strong protections against vandalism. The barbarians knocked down the gate a long time ago, it's time to leave them the ashes they've made of it.
  • Nonsense. There is a big difference between a government controlling what people may say to each other and an admin controlling what content takes up space on his private property. Content that is in violation of the informal agreement to use the service. Usenet groups are not public property.
  • In the great tradition of United States drug laws, they'll make thinking about it a crime. Or possessing the goods. Or possessing goods you could use to obtain, manufacture, or utilize the goods.
  • > I should be free to view whatever content I want.

    You are also free from being compelled to carry the content you do not want. Is your ISP violating your rights by not carrying every single newsgroup?
  • Uhhh. USENET doesn't have the right to police USENET? Is that the argument?
  • by CrazyFraggle ( 9200 ) on Friday May 28, 1999 @07:40AM (#1876166)
    A had a short chat with our local newsmaster on the subject. He told me that about a year and a half ago a UDP was enforced upon because of intensive spamming originating there. At that time, he told me, all the major Usenet backbone servers enforced this UDP. For five days or so, no news where accepted from, or fed to

    After those few days, all the spammers that were using at the time, where gone from Of course, later new spammers has come to, but at least now they're aware that it's a problem. (I wonder where they went :).

    Perhaps a complete UDP would make AOL actually see the problem? X million annoyed AOL customers have the power to make AOL change that a few sysadms do not have.

  • And that's what makes the whole thing so laughable. Even if they REQUIRED isp's to block porn, a simple variation of ROT-13 (how about binary: 1=0 and 0=1) on your internet feed would be enough to completely dissolve any 'blocks' available.

    But effective blocking is so laughably impossible, and so laughably ILLEGAL, no ISP would even bother spending the hundreds of thousands of dollars getting filtering routers.

    We have one cable internet provider in Australia and it sucks. []

  • In my experience, AOL actually are pretty responsive and prompt at thwacking spamming users (just 'cause you don't get anything other than an autoresponse doesn't mean nothing's been done, necessarily) - for the number of free accounts they give away and for the sheer number of users they have, the quantity of AOL-originated spam is low. A lot of people use AOL throwaway accounts for return addresses, but this isn't "spam from AOL".

    Their rep for clueless users is largely undeserved nowadays. Not that I'd use them myself, but it's important to check reality against prejudice.
  • Doesn't seem all that long ago that AOL's IRC server was delinked from efnet. And IRC has been a much better place.

    Also, what most don't understand, AOL isn't an ISP. AOL is an "on-line service". The difference? AOL is a proprietary network, that just happens to let users have some access to the internet.

    The internet is like a world-wide library. AOL is me letting someone in my basement and going "if you need a book from the public library, I'll see what I can do"

    So what's this have to do with usenet and irc? AOL is like the idiots that go to the public library, take out a book, and rip all the pages out of it before they return it. Banning AOL is like saying "don't screw with out stuff, you want to destory books, do it to yours at home. Now return your library card and have a nice day"

  • It would be satisfying until...

    You do some consulting for a company.
    A company of networked consultants.
    Consultants many of whom utilize AOL.
    From AOL, who send you specifications.
    Specifications you turn into a billable product.
    Work done, oh no, have to send invoice.
    Have to mail invoice to...guess what.
    Accounts payable person with...guess what.
    An AOL mail address.
    Send invoice and wait.
    Hey. what's go'in on?
    Oh my! You didn't get the reply?
    Needed to validate some information.
    Information needed to release the check.
    Sorry, you'll have to wait until next month,
    to be paid for your work.

    Think this is made up?
    Sorry, its reality!

  • Actually, considering that that AOL is an ISP, it's probably illegal to form a cartel and block their traffic.

    Anyways, how would you feel if AT+T Worldnet, Prodigy, and UUNet decided to block your ISP's traffic?
  • This is not really true. There aren't that many barriers to entry in the ISP business. If you don't like what you perceive as censorship, there's little to stop you from starting your own ISP and hosting all the AOL spam you want. If enough people find value in this service, you will gain customers and be successful (don't bet the bank on it though).

    This isn't like oil or diamonds where supply is strictly limited to a few countries/corporations.
  • Well, we did contact law enforcement agencies. Have you ever done this? You make it sound like a veritable cure-all.

    It's not. You have to deal with a lot of delays and red tape, and it's hard to get someone's ear if you can't *prove* substantial financial loss.

    In our case the FBI investigator told me that they would not take our case, even though I had plenty of logs of someone hidden behind an AOL dynamic IP running DoS attacks for days.


    The real problem with your argument though, is the premise that AOL should ignore abuse by their subscribers unless forced to do something about it by a governmental body. Government intervention should be the course of LAST resort.

    Also, there's a wide range of activity that is considered abuse on the internet but is not technically illegal. Usenet SPAM is such a case, and if AOL continues to ignore the abuse its subscribers perpetrate, UDP is a reasonable response.

    In your other post you claim that other ISPs are no better. Well, besides the fact that this does not in any way invalidate the arguments against AOL, it's been my experience that most other ISPs, even larger ones, are significantly better at curtailing abuse.

    I'd also like to make a point that just because AOL is a large ISP with a huge userbase, this does not mean that they don't have the capability to be more responsive to abuses, or even more friendly toward outside sysadmins.

  • by Outland Traveller ( 12138 ) on Friday May 28, 1999 @06:24AM (#1876174)
    The reason I dislike AOL so strongly is their attitude towards the internet. AOL sees it as a natural resource to exploit, rather than a community. They take and take, but they do not accept any responsibility for problems they cause. In the environment of the internet, AOL is one of the largest polluters.

    Last year a luser at AOL was running a barrage of Denial of Service attacks on our webserver. I don't know why (s)he did this but I do know that I received absolutely ZERO help from AOL resolving the issue. After a many attempts to talk to someone who could understand what a DoS attack is, I was told the equivalent of "tough luck". They wouldn't give me the time of day unless the FBI was involved.

    When we discover cracking activity from other ISPs, those ISPs are usually very helpful in taking care of the problem.

    This is just one example, but this newsgroup issue and earlier IRC issues seem to indicate a pattern of behavior. AOL needs to realize that the rest of the net doesn't exist for them to exploit. AOL needs to step up and take some kind of responsibility for the problems they create.

    The biggest problem is that they've created an accountability nightmare. No one can effectively deal with an abuser armed with a box of AOL CDs, except for AOL. And AOL doesn't really care.

    If the UDP forces them to improve their abuse management, I think that it's a good thing. I don't think they will change until there is damage to their reputation/bottom line.

    - OT, who would not recommend AOL to anyone.
  • X million annoyed AOL customers have the power to make AOL change that a few sysadms do not have

    In the case of AOL, I have nothing but total agreement. But - allow me to wax off-topic for a moment to make this point:

    If Microsoft were to adopt, excuse me, 'embrace and extend', this approach to leverage it's customer base against the DOJ in the ongoing suit, what would happen?

    If M$ refused to support it's customer base until the suit is dismissed, claiming excessive resources are needed to continue it's case...

    X million unhappy M$ users, beating down the Fed's door, would certainly make a point, no?

    USENET has even less right to inconvenience all the MEE-TOOS at AOL, than M$ does to inconvenience it's own users. USENET is not the Internet police. No one is.
  • While a test such as the one you described would probably be effective at eliminating 95% of the AOL me-tooers, I'm not sure I could ever see AOL implementing such a thing.

    After all, why do most AOLers come to AOL to begin with? Because they're too stupid, lazy, or uninterested in learning basic Internet usage skills. AOL understands this and tries make to the AOLer's experience as fast and idiot-proof as possible. Anything requiring them to apprehend and understand information will deter newbies from using the service.
  • It takes a very bold ISP to ban the domain. I'm sure that a very large percentage of every ISP's users are forced to contact someone via their AOL e-mail address at some point in time.
  • C'mon, let's not blame it all to spam. Most of the
    time when I leave a group, it is because traffic
    is simply too high. With xxx million users, groups
    like "35mm photography" explode, with or without
    spam. Sadly enough, often there aren't any sensible subdivisions possible so you end up
    with one million people all talking in the same place. That's killing Usenet, not spammers.
  • I could not agree more. My lonely Quake2 server ( was harassed by AOL lusers. I sent in several complants to AOL, but received nothing back, and the lusers from AOL kept showing up. Complants about childish people to other ISP's recieved prompt attention and action.
    I think one of the previous posters hit it right on the mark. AOL see's the Internet (and all of the materials on it) as resources to be exploited, and not to added to or treated as a community. The idea I have in mind is how certain businesses see Natural Resources in the world. Some go in and strip mine, and deforest, not caring. While others go in and use a resource, making sure that it is not damaged and contributing and adding to the resource.
    AOL just has to change it's mind set, and these German's are going to help them. I wish other ISP's would follow their lead.
  • by blkwolf ( 18520 ) on Friday May 28, 1999 @05:43AM (#1876180) Homepage
    I'd say there's one important difference between the Australian govt. and the ISP's in question.

    Australia is trying to dictate what every australian ISP, and user is allowed to download, view, read, carry on their computer systems or internet access. Here the people have no choice in the matter neither do the ISP's who to comply with the new laws will have to invest hundreds to thousands of dollars a piece so that they can filter out and block "unreasonable" content and possibly monitor the activity's of their users.

    This on the other hand is nothing more than a specific group of ISP's choosing not to carry certain content. As they own the services they provide they also have the right and the freedom to choose what services they do provide and what content they allow to be stored on their servers and harddrives. No different than me placing a filter in my news group reader to filter out and delete any posts from, as I have the right and freedom to view and download what I choose.

    Because an ISP chooses not to carry certain content, that does effect their users but those users still have a choice, if they feel the ISP doesn't provide enough services they want or need that have full ability to switch to a new one, subscribe to an online news service where they will probably get access to far more groups than their ISP has ever carried, etc.

    So the difference is that in the German ISP situation every person involved has a choice, the ISP's have a choice on what they want to carry and pass thru their equiptment, and their users have a choice of sticking with the ISP's new policy's, switching ISP's, or finding their news posts somewhere else.

    Australia no one has a choice, the govt. says this is how it will be and short of moving out of the country you will obey the rules and only see what we want you to see.
  • I use AOL.

    i know quite abit about computers (I like to think anyway...)

    The reasons are many, kinda long, but I used to travel alot and you can always dial in from anywhere. They even have an 800 number which you can use. Check Email, telnet. Its just really easy. I've had no problems with them.

    Thats the problem with AOL is that they make things really too easy. Newbies can do anything. But the AOL admin are not clueless, if you go to use Usenet, they have instruction (unsenet FAQ and Edicite.) right there for people to use. Most probably don't bother to read the instructions (go figure..) They're so big and basically they're turning into the countries biggest ISP. There seems to be less and less AOL content and more internet content now. Its hard to police that many members.

    As such, with that TCP/IP connection you can do a lot of things. With their I month free trial, You can get an account, do whatever and be thrown off with out paying.

    AOL does bring in people who aren't computer savy into the net. It adds alot to have more non technically oriented people using the internet. They bring a different perspect to NET which is good. The explosive growth of the internet has been helped by AOL getting Main ST. USA onto the internet.

    Families like it because for little kids you can block alot of features (web, chat, etc...) I let your kids romp around the relatively safe (abiet boring for adults) AOL stuff.

    So in summary you have to take the good with the bad sometimes. throwing of 50 +million people off the internet won't help solve the problem. The problem with just spread to many smaller isps.


  • This RfD is not because of the stupid users, but because AOL Germany refuses to take action against spammers. In de.etc.finanzen.* there are more than 1500 postings from just ONE person (which uses AOL test accounts), and AOL knews about it since more than 1 month (IIRC). But they do nothing about it.
    If AOL would restrict the test accounts to read only usenet news and reacts to mails to (and not just with an ignorebot), this RfD would not be neccessary.
    btw: not the german admins or ISPs are requesting this UDP, but the german users of the de.* hierarchy.

  • Babelfish makes the translation up until 4 para. in, then gives me "**Translation ends here**" with a link to "babelfish.altavista" (an incomplete address.

    I get the drift of the paper, however. In the past, and in the future I suspect, AOL will be a force to be reckoned with as far as spam is concerned. They are so fixated on protecting their users from spam (which they can't) that they don't realise that the users are the spammers. This is certainly unfortunate, as the trend does not seem to be a stoppable one. The best thing to do is to stay away from groups that are prone to spam, and stick to the web for your information.
  • It's about time someone decided to ban AOL. Maybe if those of us in the US decided to ban them too, AOL would clean up their act. Ah well, there's always Usenet2.
  • Of course, there are lots of other issues. For instance, the top level heirarchy makes very little sense.

    It has got a bit large and unwieldly, hasn't it? Unfortunately, I fear that it's too late to do anything about it. The Great Renaming[1] probably confused a lot of people the first time round (it was before my time, so I don't know how bad it was). How many people will end up hideously confused if we try it again?

    [1] Note to newbies: until the mid-1980s, all Usenet groups had names beginning "net.". The current hierarchy ("alt.", "comp.", "soc." etc) was started on a day which is now known as The Great Renaming, when all the old groups got renamed.

  • by _Spirit ( 23983 ) on Friday May 28, 1999 @05:22AM (#1876189) Journal
    Something in this discussion doesn't seem right. Most people were adamantly against the new Australian laws on controlling content on the internet on behalf of their population or any other way of "controlling" the internet, but when it comes to stopping spam it seems that for some people everything is allowed.
    If you say that AOL should be banned from USENET altogether, you are in fact not that much different from the Australian government as you pretend to be.

    It seems to me that some people here define their freedom by limiting other people's freedom. This is not what i would call freedom.

    I am not saying that if people abuse their rights on an online service, we shouldn't punish them. But punishing individuals is not the same as excluding a large internetprovider and all it's clients.

    I, for one, think that a lot of people are a bit over-sensitive to spam. They will classify anything they read that does not concern them or has a slight commercial reference as spam. If you don't want to read it there are plenty of ways to avoid it, especially on usenet. I use several filters myself to get rid of the usual crap.

    Message on our company Intranet:
    "You have a sticker in your private area"
  • I remember when this very thing hit me back when I was in school.

    The solution? I killfiled * It was amazing to watch the S/N ration skyrocket.

    Did anyone from AOL say anything important that I missed? Doubt it.

    Shortly after, killfiled * Good, but not as big of an effect.

    Now? I just use But even that is bad nowadays, after their crappy redesign.

  • 1. AOL trial accounts don't have access to the internet, period. A lot of local and semi-local ISPs offer short-term access for free.
    2. AOL software doesn't have inlinded pre-configured internet facilities. It can automatically set up your internet access but it doesn't install configure a newsreader to use it. If you want usenet you have to install and configure it yourself.

    The chance this'll happen is less than the chance that a bug in Windows 2000 will re-write Bill Gate's will putting my name in the "beneficairies" slot just before he prints it and then he gets killed the next day, but then again, who knows.
  • by sjx ( 28012 )
    The trouble is, this is an extreme action that may well actively harm the net access of a lot of people. I can appreciate the problem, but I don't think this is an acceptable solution.

    There are a lot of worthy and intelligent people using AOL. There are also a lot of idiots. Without doubt it's bad to have AOL's anonymous trial-type accounts unlimited. And AOL's own attitude towards this is often vaguely comical.

    But, IMHO, the legitimate users of AOL already have enough problems of their own, without having those problems added to by being UDP'ed simply because of the network provider they choose to use. That's insanity. It's overkill. It's fly-swatting with a flamethrower. And it's not, IMHO, the solution.
  • AOL's main concern is how many subscribers they have so they can say "your ad will be seen by 18 million subscribers!" The number two concern is keeping them on AOL, looking at ads. If a AOL user screws up your Web page, then the rest of the AOL users can't leave AOL to go there. If they screw up usenet maybe the other users will go back to an AOL forum where they can see those ads. AOL thinks only of thier responsibility to advertisers. AOL thinks of any site that isn't on AOL as costing them money. The only way AOL will reform is when thier practices start costing them users. Untill then they will do whats best for AOL and to hell with the rest of the Internet.
  • It's not the newbies on AOL who do spamming.. The newbies don't know what spam is (they just know how to get annoyed when their AOL mail box has 100 messages inviting them to porn sites), let alone what USENET is, let alone how to spam... It's the "AOL Script Kiddies"... They aren't REALLY script kiddies.. But they're AOL's equivalant. The unfortunate thing is that there are a lot of them, but they aren't AOL.

    Telling someone that you shouldn't do this doesn't stop them from doing this. The people that do this are doing it for the wonderful 15 cents a click. They don't care that it bothers someone or it's wrong.. They care about themselves..

    If you're going to ban AOL from USENET, ban every ISP that has a few script kiddies who spam it too.
  • by wolf- ( 54587 ) on Friday May 28, 1999 @09:32AM (#1876214) Homepage
    I couldn't agree more. About 6 months ago, my company was asked to do a intrusion investigation for a large company here in Atlanta. We spent nearly 3 months auditing network connections and leafing through megs upon megs of logs from services. Wasn't long before AOL ips appeared near the top of the most frequent attackers.

    Now, this was all done with modems. AOL is trying to get some of the large cable modem and *dsl providers to offer direct aol access to the net over large bandwidth. If AOL has been such a large problem with only modem access, imagine the trouble an AOLer can get into with some serious bandwidth behind them?

I THINK MAN INVENTED THE CAR by instinct. -- Jack Handley, The New Mexican, 1988.