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The alt hierarchy enables the Usenet community to exercise complete freedom of speech.
The issue of free speech and the Usenet have been intertwined from its creation, since the newsgroups were carried by a wide variety of military, academic, and corporate sites, each with their
own usage policies. In a bit of an Internet theme, like the similar development of mulitple IRC
networks the establishment of the “alt.” category established a right to freedom
cuased by a reaction against over-control at the center.
The first attempt to control Usenet speech resulted in the creation of the “talk.*” hierarchy, where all controversial newsgroups and postings were supposed to be allocated. This wasn’t successful mainly because it was a controlled form of free speech. Someone could say what they wanted in the talk newsgroups, but the groups themselves were still controlled by the backbone administrators. Interestingly, with the increase in message traffic in the late 1990’s, the talk newsgroups saw a resurgence in use for the discussion of controversial subjects just as they were originally intended.
The introduction of genuine free speech on the Usenet began with the creation of
the “alt.” hierarchy, sparked by the creation of alt.sex.
The alt hierarchy
other hierarchy. All other Usenet hierarchies require you to follow a definite
to create a
new group in that category. However, a newsgroup in the alt hierarchy
can be created by anyone. The resulting set of
newsgroups form a truly global democratic system, since each group in the alt
survives only if people show an interest in it.
The best description of the creation of the “alt.” category, is given by someone who was there – Brian Reid, as described below:
“The famous barbecue at which the alt net was created was held at G.T.’s Sunset Barbecue in Mountain
I don’t wish to offer an opinion about how the net should be run; that’s like offering
– Brian Reid; in Hardy, Henry’s The History