Absolute Beginner's Frequently Asked Questions

1. What is Spam?

Spam is a form of Net Abuse.

Most inexperienced people using newsgroups tend to be a bit confused about what Usenet Spam actually is. Some think that any advertising or marketing post is Spam. This is completely wrong. There is a very precise technical definition of Usenet Spam with which every poster to newsgroups should be familiar.

On Usenet, "Spam" is the name given to EMP ("Excessive Multiple Posting") - i.e. posting the same message repeatedly to different newsgroups - and ECP ("Excessive Cross Posting"). It comes from the famous Monty Python sketch about the cafe where spam is served with everything.

Until 1994, there was no such thing as Spam. Then a couple of American lawyers by name of Canter and Siegel decided that it would be a great bit of marketing to post the same message to every single newsgroup advertising their services (the notorious 'Green Card' spams). Others soon jumped onto the bandwagon and it became clear that Usenet was facing a threat to its very existence.

The means already existed for such posts to be cancelled but as soon as the possibility was raised of issuing cancels for spam, people began to scream 'censorship'. So the main question was to find a way of cancelling Spam which would ignore the content of posts and look purely at how many times the same message was posted. After a great deal of discussion and soul-searching, a reliable, objective definition of Spam was created. This was the BI (Breidbart Index).

Unless they breach the BI level, the following are NOT spam:

"Spam" in its Usenet meaning should not be confused with "Spam" as it is used in reference to Email, where it means "Unsolicited Bulk Email" or "Unsolicited Commercial Email".


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