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(January 1996)

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Subject: Re: How was "-request" coined?
From: ala @ LunaCity . com (alyson l abramowitz)
Date: Sun, 07 Jan 96 15:23:17 PST
To: list-managers @ greatcircle . com
Cc: ala @ hustle . rahul . net
In-reply-to: <sRVcHD2w165w @ LunaCity . com>

ala @
 LunaCity .
 com (alyson l abramowitz) writes:

> Long,  long,  ago;  Far,  far away,  in the days of the ARPAnet....
> David asks if anyone remembers how and when the names listname @
> and listname-request @
 site were created.  As an oldster on the list
> of an ancient 30something in age,  I remember this.  
> I believe both terms were created by Roger Duffey.  Roger was 
> an MIT graduate student who tried to keep a science fiction interest
> list from overrunning the DEC-10 machine he was using for research.
> I have the printouts I could look up the year in.  1979/80 sounds
> about right. I'm not off by more than a year.
> Back in those days,  that particular DEC-10 (MIT-AI) and its
> sister MIT machines had some interesting mailing software on it
> which allowed someone to send to a distribution list name and have
> it exploded to all of its members (something few other pieces of
> mailing software supported gracefully).  
> The list in question threatened to overwhelm MIT-AI.  So Roger
> bundled up a days worth of messages into a digest.  So the 
> SF-Lover's Digest (and digest lists,  in general) were born.  
> I believe Roger created the -Request versus the mailing list
> convention shortly after he started inventing the Digest.  The
> original packagings were very primitive and developed over 
> a (relatively short) period of time to have a complex indexing
> system (which only 15 years later we are in a position to take
> advantage of now).  
> Having a -Request mailbox made it possible to automate much of
> the process of physically making a digest once messages were
> selected and ordered (tho I don't think Roger actually did
> this;  others of us did;  he was on a funky OS so we couldn't
> share software easily).  The two streams also allowed for the
> potential automation of add/deletes that LISTSERV eventually
> provided.  
> Although I ran one of the major redistributions of that list,
> I never thought to ask Roger why he picked -Request as the
> name for administrative requests.  He had had a lot of background
> in moderating groups.  He always contented that he used much of
> the same techniques on the digest lists.  I don't know.  Perhaps
> it was just as simple as thinking that people were asking for a 
> request to be added or removed.
> I find it interesting that people were asking you for parts and
> other such questions.  When I did my stints as moderator (many
> years ago) those kinds of requests never occured.  Maybe its
> just that the world and the Internet has changed.
> I know one thing I did when I was handling redistribution and
> moderating was to educate my list members about how to communicate
> and what was acceptable net behavior.  Every one of the early
> digest lists came with a welcome letter explaining this kind of
> stuff (a concept Roger created for the Internet).  And when someone
> didn't behave appropriately,  I would send them a polite message
> in my moderator/redistributor role explaining why their behavior
> was in violation of net behavior/rules (and sometimes rejecting
> a contribution or suggesting revision).  
> Well,  David,  you've got me feeling all nostalgic now.  Maybe I'll
> get energetic and go reread those old printouts I've lugged from
> house to house for years (I still have a copy of the original lists
> in TOPS-20 tape format,  too!).
> Best,
> Alyson


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