From: (Modemac)
Date: Sat, 29 Apr 1995 20:51:44 GMT

[ Article crossposted from alt.folklore.computers,news.admin.misc,alt.config,alt.usenet.kooks,,alt.conspiracy.usenet-cabal ]
[ Author was Matt Schnierle ]
[ Posted on 29 Apr 1995 19:35:34 GMT ]

The following is the FAQ for the group alt.conspiracy.usenet-cabal. As the
maintainer, I'm considering adapting it as a general FAQ regarding the
supposed USENET Cabal. Anyway, I'm posting it for comments, suggestions, and
feedback. Any of the above, or flames, can be send to

It should be noted that a copy of this FAQ can be obtained (until May 8th) by
sending e-mail to

It might also be noted that the author is looking for an FTP site that might
be interested in being the home for the FAQ until the *.answers folks get back
to him.

There is no cabal. Therefore, you can't really
find out what it is. But, for a discription of
what it was, and why people continue to refer to
it, read on.

alt.conspiracy.usenet-cabal FAQ

I. What the heck is this group?
II. Why was it created?
III. Who created it?
IV. What the heck is a cabal?
V. But I thought they broke the Backbone Cabal?
VI. So, there is no Cabal
VII. Credits and other information

I. What the heck is this group?

Alt.conspiracy.usenet-cabal is a group to allow the
unbelievers or believers (depending upon your personal level of
paranoia) to ponder the existence and actions of the Usenet
Cabal. It also serves as a repository for other related
discussions of supposed "control" figures and groups that some
net.kooks swear are out to get you. Be forewarned.

II. Why was it created?

In late 1994 and early 1995, a reorganization of the news.*
hierarchy was proposed and eventually passed. During the
inevitable flamewar that took place, the opposition accused the
proponents of attempting to consolidate power to control USENET,
and began throwing the concept of a Cabal around (not for the
first time, see part IV). A relatively amused bystander decided
that it would be a Good Idea to take these discussions out of the
groups they were currently in ( and
most of the news.* groups) and place them in a group were the
legions (actually, there were only 5 or 10, but they were awfully
vocal) of paranoid naysayers could discuss the group amongst

III. Who created It?

Matt Schnierle ( sent the original
control message in early February of 1995, after the group had
been proposed and discussed in alt.config.

IV. What the heck is a cabal?

According to Webster's Dictionary, a cabal is "a small group
of secret plotters" or "the plots and schemes of such a group."
When referring to a cabal in terms of present day USENET, one
pictures a group of people who secretly meet in a smokey back
room, have private mailing lists, and meet in exotic spots in
California, North Carolina, and Virginia, all the while plotting
the future of USENET, its content, and its users.

The "original" cabal was comprised of news administrators of
the major "backbone" (those willing to pay huge long distance
bills in the days of UUCP, and who moved a great majority of
USENET traffic) sites. These individuals had a large say in the
creation and naming of groups, simply because they could
_seriously_ hurt a group's propagation by not carrying it.
During the "Great Renaming," it was these people who oversaw the
dismantling of the net.*, mod.*, and fa.* hierarchies and
reorganized them into the system we have today (comp.*, misc.*,
news.*, rec.*, soc.*, sci.*, talk.*). The Backbone Cabal came
apart for many reasons. The voting system was brought into play,
which reduced much of the Cabal's power. Brian Reid, whose
recipe group was somehow eliminated during the renaming, began
the alt.* hierarchy (which was originally carried via alternate
distribution means, therefore avoiding the Backbone). The
introduction of NNTP allowed news to be distributed over the
Internet, which reduced the power of the Backbone by offering
separate and better means for high volume traffic handling.
Eventually, the Backbone Cabal and its mailing list, ceased to

V. But I thought they broke the Backbone Cabal!

They did. But there are many doomsayers, who to this day
_insist_ that there is a Cabal that continues to control USENET,
while trying to gain and consolidate even more power. Despite
the fact that USENET is cooperative by nature, and that any
administrator's influence ends at the gateway to his site, these
seemingly normal (although this characterization is used loosely)
humans cling to the notion that there is a Cabal.

In order to combat this slightly warped view of the world,
the readers of USENET have developed the following regulation:

USENET Rule #0: There is no Cabal. There is, however,
a net-wide conspiracy designed solely to lead Dave
Hayes ( to believe that there is
a Cabal.

(Rule courtesy of David DeLaney's net.legends FAQ)

This rule explains many things, the foremost being the existence
of alt.conspiracy.usenet-cabal. When someone rants about the
evil Cabal, their post is met with the inevitable response
"Remember--there is no Cabal." And life goes on.

Even though There is No Cabal, you can find out more about
the Cabal at Also, there may or may not
be a separate alt.* Cabal. Refer to the above URL for details.

VI. So, There is No Cabal.

Exactly. Hence alt.conspiracy.usenet-cabal.

VII. Credits and other information

This document would not be possible without the input and
writings of a great many people. Much of the information
regarding the Great Renaming and the Backbone Cabal was gleamed
from many postings and FAQ's which are too numerous to entirely
list. However, the following documents were of great assistance
in compiling this FAQ:

The Net.Legends FAQ: Maintained by David DeLaney

The Great Renaming FAQ: Lee S. Bumgarner

The USENET Cabal Homepage:
(Remember, there is no homepage)

As always, there were many USENET posters whose thoughts,
ideas, and debates had a rather large influence on the content of
this FAQ, in addition to many e-mail correspondences. I'm sure
some of them will be surprised that they are on this list; I can
simply say thanks. The authors who heavily influenced this FAQ
include: Jonathan Grobe, Paul Phillips, Henry Edward Hardy, Joel
Furr, Brad Templeton, Chris Lewis, Richard M. Miller, Dik T.
Winter, Dave Hayes, Steve Boursy, Andrew S Damick, David
DeLaney, Lee S. Bumgarner, Mike Chapman, David Barr, Abby
Franquemont-Guillory, Brian Edmonds, Tim Pierce, Michael Grubb,
@who cabal, Gene Spafford, David Lawrence, UVV, Ian Kluft,
CancelMoose (tm), Ron Newman, the folks from *.answers,, and many others who go unmentioned....

Faq Maintained By: Matt Schnierle (

--Matt Schnierle
--<a href="">

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