The History of the alt. hierarchy

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  • 18 Nov 2020
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The Alt. Hierarchy was a major transformation that enabled a better distribution chain in the newsgroup postings. The alt. hierarchy, coined and developed by Brian Reid was a revolutionary transformation of the Great Renaming of 1987.

They are often referred to as backbone carriers” or the backbone cabal by the user of the Usenet. There was an effort to alter the organization of the newsgroups which led to few objections by some vocal users. The initial idea of the talk.* hierarchy specifically for the discussion of certain controversial or highly sensitive issues by the renaming did not go down too well.

The alt.hierarchy as developed by Brian Reid was an alternative to the talk.*. It was designed as a network without any backbones which made it an independent network for the creation or non-creation by a new newsgroup.

For the developer Brian Reid, who was a member of the Backbone Cabal, the idea was to create a brand new hierarchy. With the renaming of the popular mod.gourmand group of which he was a moderator. Under the new naming structure, the group was initially called as, a comparatively unattractive and more compelling sounding group than its predecessor.

The alt refers to the fact that it’s a hierarchy that serves as an alternative to the mainstream hierarchies such as comp, misc, news, sci, soc, rec, and talk. It made alt.hierarchy a perfect place for a variety of topics that normally didn’t fit anywhere else.

For example, there are a number of newsgroups which are dedicated to discussing the work and lifestyle of many famous people like writers, musicians, actors, sportspersons, etc. The sub.hierarchy tag has also been used by many known people looking to promote themselves or their work.

Many trials of famous people finds alt. hierarchy discuss threads, a popular topic of discussion among the users, such as the trial of Karla Homolka.

Usenet Newsgroups

A Usenet Newsgroup is a database or repository which exist within the Usenet system. The idea is for posting messages from various different locations using the Internet network. They are classified as strictly discussion groups that must refrain from posting mainstream news. The Usenet Newsgroup is fundamentally distinct from the discussion groups of the World Wide Web. Though there are similarities in its function with discussion groups, newsreader software is needed to read all the messages in a newsgroup. Before the popularity of the world wide web, the Usenet newsgroups were a popular medium of debate and discussion among users. It provided a private advertisement free medium unlike the revenue infused world wide web. In recent times, the newsgroup has further shrunk in its user base after the arrival of easier and more user-friendly modes of interaction such as Facebook, Twitter.

alt. hierarchy

The alt.hierarchy is a class of newsgroups among Usenet users. It contains all the newsgroups whose names would begin with “alt.” and organized hierarchically. alt.* hierarchy is not only confined to just the newsgroups of a specific subject or type. But in practice, formally organized forms of groups do not tend to occur in alt.*.

Unlike other hierarchies, alt hierarchy has no centralized control and anybody who is technically proficient in the creation of a newsgroup can do it.

In actual practice, most newsgroups follow a highly informal procedure of public discussion following alt.config before it was created.

This added procedure is designed so as to enable potential creators to better understand what different factors would contribute to a newsgroup’s success.

The news administrator has control over whether to add a new newsgroup. They may choose not to do so if the idea of the group has not been pre-discussed in alt.config.

This allows for groups to not follow a procedure defined from before and usually don’t get propagated.

The removal of a newsgroup occurs in a similar way to its creation. As a standard practice, a newsgroup administrator refrains from removing a newsgroup

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