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alt.sex is a Usenet newsgroup that was popular in the 1990s. An October 1993 survey by Brian Reid reported an estimated a worldwide readership of 3.3 millions for the newsgroup, that being 8% of the total Usenet readership, with 67% of all Usenet nodes carrying the group and traffic of 2,300 messages per month.[1]

The newsgroup was the origin of the Melissa virus, where it was posted with message headers claiming that the post had been written using the America On Line account of Scott Steinmetz, whose username was "skyroket". Kizza reports that the headers on the post were probably forged by Melissa's author, David L. Smith.[2]

The newsgroup hierarchy below alt.sex comprises several newsgroups, including alt.sex.stories (which is the biggest newsgroup in the hierarchy after alt.sex itself), alt.sex.pictures, alt.sex.blondes, alt.sex.bondage, alt.sex.bestiality, and even alt.sex.rape. The former four newsgroups generally feature text and images that can be found in adult magazines, such as Playboy or Penthouse. The latter three newsgroups exemplify a set of sub-groups that deals in more extreme topics. Other sub-groups include some with intentionally humorous names, such as alt.sex.aluminum.baseball.bat, alt.sex.boredom, and alt.sex.bestiality.hamster.duct-tape.[1] There are more newsgroups of the latter kind, although they are far lower in traffic than those that deal in mainstream sexual behaviours.[3]

The University of Waterloo in 1994 ceased carrying alt.sex-bondage, alt.sex.bestiality, alt.sex-stories, and alt.sex-stories.d upon the recommendation of its ethics committee, which had expressed concerns that the content of those newsgroups violated the Criminal Code of Canada.[1]

In a 1993 analysis of the alt.sex.* hierarchy, Maureen Furniss concluded that "sexually oriented boards act as a kind of support group for people who post notices to them, especially individuals whose sexual orientations are very marginalized (those who practice sadomasochism or bestiality, for example)."[1]

alt.sex.cancel is a Usenet newsgroup set up specifically to help combat spam cross-posted to the entire alt.sex hierarchy. The newsgroup is a simple spam trap, and according to its charter, any message posted there may be cancelled automatically.

[edit] References

  1. ^ a b c d Leslie Regan Shade (1996). "Is there Free Speech on the Net? Censorship in the Global Information Infrastructure". in Rob Shields. Cultures of Internet. Sage Publications. pp. 13–17. ISBN 0803988052. 
  2. ^ Joseph Migga Kizza (2005). Computer Network Security. Springer. pp. 87. ISBN 0387204733. 
  3. ^ Fred H. Cate (1998). The Internet and the First Amendment: Schools and Sexually Explicit Expression. Phi Delta Kappa International. pp. 17. ISBN 0873673980. 

[edit] Further reading

  • Brian Reid (1993). Usenet readership summary report. Palo Alto CA: Network Measurement Project at the DEC Western Research Laboratory. 
  • Maureen Furniss (1993). "Sex with a hard (disk) on: computer bulletin boards and pornography". Wide Angle 15 (2): 19–37. 

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