a cache of usenet and other text files pertaining
to occult, mystical, and spiritual subjects.
Why is the alt.religion.wicca newsgroup is so full of cross-posting trolls and flamers?
I don't know.
What can be done to enjoy alt.religion.wicca despite the trolls and flamers?
There is a secondary newsgroup, alt.religion.wicca.moderated, that is probably flame-free. I don't know, having never posted there.
If you want to stick it out on alt.religion.wicca -- or if a newsgroup in another occult or magick area of usenet is being invaded by trolls and flamers from alt.religion.wicca, you can add the names of trolls and flamers to your newsreader's kill-file (aka a kill-filter or message filter). Their messages will then become "invisible" to you unless someone else quotes them or they change their pseudonym. The result will be to significantly reduce the volume of posts, and also to delete harassing, mean-spirited flames, ad hominem attacks, cross-posted trolls, and other off-topic chit-chat. If the trolls and flamers change their 'nyms, just add the new 'nyms to your kill-file.
Anyone who wants to enjoy occult and pagan usenet would do well to prepare a kill-filter. Most newsreaders support this function and allow you to filter out messages by the name of the sender or by selected words in the subject line. You may have to make a new fil-filter for each newsgroup you subscribe to, but it is worth it. If you don't know how to work with your newsreader's kill-file, ask tech support at your isp for help. by some of the worst flame-war perpetrators.
Due to the cross-posting involved, any list of people who post to alt.religion.wicca is also useful to apply to other Neo-Pagan and Wicca-related newsgroups such as alt.traditional.witchcraft, alt.pagan, and alt.pagan.magic. It is even of use in alt.magick and alt.magick.tyagi, due to the cross-posted traffic
This is my current kill-file roster; it
is based on sender pseudonyms. It includes chronic off-topic posers,
as well as trolls and
flamers who are known to pick fights or join ongoing flame wars and to
cross-post the resultant flames across several
Das Uber Bitch
[ Doc Jeff ]
THE Cast Iron Bitch
This list may look very long, but a number of these pseudonyms belong to the same few troubling people, who use multiple identities. A few folks even ASKED to be included, because they want their names to be seen among the list of their cross-posting, flame-war-spreading friends.
Will making a kill-file mean missing out on serious discussions?
Some pseudonyms are used by people who are always polite, friendly, and congenial. Don't kill-file them; enjoy their posts.
Some pseudonyms are used by people who are variable in style. They may engage in discussions sometimes, but not reliably. For some, their primary interest may be community gossip and/or sexual flirtation, not the subject of Wicca. Others may be interested in Wicca, but there may be vendettas ongoing that cause them to continually harass one or more individuals, while still posting on-topic with respect to strangers or friends. These people -- i guess you can class them as gossips and selective flamers -- can be checked out for a while before kill-filing them or continuing to read their posts.
Some pseudonyms are used by people whom i consider to be habitual trolls and flamers, in that 75% or more of their posts are disrespectful, aggressive, hostile, snide, contain ad hominem attacks, are disruptive to on-topic discourse, and/or consist of gross sexual, scatological, and/or intellectual insults and harassment. In addition, the worst of these trolls and flamers tend to cross-post their assaults into newsgroups to which they don't even subscribe, just to make trouble. They travel in packs, invading newsgroups with grafitti-like one-liners, picking fights with the regulars, and, eventually, if they are ignored, moving on.
It is my opinion that posts made under these 'nyms can be completely ignored without diminishing your ability to enjoy any usenet newsgroup discussions of Wicca, pagan, or occult subjects.
There are also mentally ill people who post to usenet and occasionally become obsessed with posting to a single newsgroup, even going so far as to psyically stalk people they "meet" through the newsgroup. According to usenet archives at google.com, one such person has done this in alt.religion.wicca. Because she has used a dozen or more pseudonyms for short durations and is therefore essentially kill-file-proof, you will probably have to read around her posts if she returns. There are similar mentally ill people in alt.magick who send bursts of 20 to 100 posts under one pseudonym, and then come back the next day and post as many messages again under a new pseudonym. They are generally recognizable by their incoherence and almost every newsgroup, over time, learns to work around them.
There are so many pseudonyms -- how can you tell who is who in these groups?
You can't. I can't.
Anonymous or pseudonymous posting is not the norm all over usenet. In business newsgroups, science newsgroups, computer technology newsgroups, etc., it is normative to post under one's own name.
Many posters in the online Neo-Pagan, Wicca, and Occult communities, however, do not want their "real" names to be known. Their reasons for this are varied, but generally focus on two issues: job security (Pagans, Wiccans, and Satanists have been fired or otherwise targeted for social attack) and personal fears (single mothers and young women in the Pagan community feel vulnerable to stalking). I myself have been a single mother in the Pagan community, and i have always posted under my own name -- but i have no intention of contesting the reasons others have for seeking anonymity.
Usenet trolls and habitual flamers also prefer to hide behind pseudonyms and anonymizing remailers. Their reasons for seeking anonymity are quite obvious and certainly not defensible. In some cases, such a person will establish and maintain two or more personae (sock-puppets) and sometimes these personae will be used to express different viewpoints. One sock puppet might be friendly, another rude; one might take one side in a flame war, another the opposite side.
Trolls and habitual flamers who post anonymously and hang out in groups where anonymous posting is the norm have their own slang terms. One that i learned upon entering arw is "PI." In the rest of the English-speaking world, PI means Private Investigator (a detective for hire), but in the world of anonymized trolls and flamers, PI means "Personal Information" -- as in, "You posted his PI and that is inexcusable, you bitch!"
Anonymity is not a problem for me: perpetual flame wars are a problem for me. It seems to me that in alt.religion.wicca, a community of anonymized Neo-Pagans and a community of anonymized trolls and flamers have reached a large overlap. I believe that one reason that arw is so combative is that trolls and flamers trying to keep their "PI" from being known (and thus to avoid responsibility for harassing their fellow humans) can call up the ghost of Neo-Pagan solidarity (wherein being known as a Pagan might get one fired) when they want help.
Ironically, many of the real names and city locations of the trolls and flamers in the list above are well known -- you can easily look them up by performing a simple search of google's archive's of usenet group posts, if you wish. The reason their real names are so easy to find is that in their endless feuding, these people often rat each other out for spite by spreading abroad their enemies' "PI." If nothing else, looking up their real names will provide you with a list of people to avoid if you ever are introduced to them in real life.
Who wrote this FAQ?
My name is catherine yronwode. I compiled this FAQ when i first entered alt.religion.wicca on 2/23/3, drawing upon material posted to usenet by one of the trolls, who had created a convenient list of the alternative pseudonyms and the real full names of many regular posters with whom he was engaged in flame wars (which can be found through the google usenet groups search engine). All opinions are mine.
Is this document fair and accurate?
Yes and no. It consists of my opinions. I can vouch for my own fairness and lack of malicious intent, but, since the subject matter includes flame wars and vendettas, i cannot vouch for the intent of others. Where the words "me" or "my" appear, they refer to catherine yronwode.
People have threatened to sue you over this web page -- what will you do?
I believe that the first amendment to the Constitution of the United States covers the creation of a document like this, because it is not libelous in intent but merely brings into the open the problems associated with perennial flame wars in an unmoderated usenet newsgroup.
Why did you create such a controversial web page?
I did not intend to. Here's how it happened:
In late January, 2003, a poster named Jeff Crowe began to write scurrilous things about me in usenet. At one point, he threatened to sue me because my husband maintains a usenet archive (in which none of Jeff Crowe's usenet posts are archived). I began to pay close attention to him. All of his posts were cross-posted, as is common with trolls and habitual flame war promoters -- and i dutifully, as a good netizen, deleted the cross-posts from the header. Each time that he replied, he reinstated the cross-posts, particularly to alt.religion.wicca. He also asked me, both in public and in private email, why i was deleting arw from the headers. I replied that i did not read it. I had posted an announcement there once or twice, and a few posts i made to cross-posted threads had probably landed there, but since joining usenet in 1994, i had not subscribed to the newsgroup.
Crowe's continual re-instatement of arw in the headers of his cross-posted flames about me drew a tremendous number of additional flames from regular members of that newsgroup. I noticed that these posters spent a lot of time flaming each other (forgetting about me entirely). Most of their flames were concerned with these topics: body fat, body age, sexual organs, feces, urine, mucus, intelligence, charges of dishonesty, sand charges of oath-breaking. I wondered what, if anything, their feuding had to do with the religion of Wicca, especially considering the Wiccan Rede and belief in the Threefold Law.
On a whim, i decided to follow Jeff Crowe back to his nest, as it were. and see for myself the state of Wicca in usenet.
Being a whimsical person, i decided to see if the arw newsgroup was what a person i knew in usenet claimed -- a "hell-hole" -- or whether the intelligent use of kill-files might render it habitable on a sort of time-share basis with the trolls and flamers.
This document grew out of my experiments with kill-filters but within 24 hours it took on the tenor of a participant-observer anthropological study when i began being flamed, receiving friendly corrections and updates, and was threatened with law suits. I did not intend it to be controversial. However, i don't respond submissively to being bullied. So here we are.
As i write this, the human species is deforesting every continent and denuding all the oceans on our planet. This pains and outrages me.
As i write this, my nation, the USA, is on the brink of invading Iraq, a nation that has not invaded us. This troubles me deeply.
Over in alt.religion.wicca, a few petty people are calling each other names. It's pretty sad, but not unexpected, given the things that humans do to each other and to all the other species that share this planet.
Alt.religion.wicca is a microcosm.
I'm only passing through.
html 2/23/3 - 3/7/3
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