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question about online discussion forums and the dawn of the internet

post #1 of 28
Thread Starter 

I have a few questions about early online ski discussion boards.  Who here knows a bit about the origins and scope of

SKIVT-L and the usenet discussion group rec.skiing.alpine?  Respond here or send me a PM if you have answers to a few questions:  when did these start, how popular and useful, who did they serve, and their pros and cons?  Were there any other important early US online ski discussion boards/forums?

Thank you.

post #2 of 28

Not directly related, but I started out on a dogsledding group.  It went from a few people to spinoff groups, then basically email lists.  Got totally out of hand after a while.  

post #3 of 28

we're in web 2.0.  web 3.0 users will be seen in holograph form and the borg will answer your question about how you should really turn your skis.

post #4 of 28
I participated in rec.skiing.alpine before rec.skiing.alpine.moderated started up. I don't know when it started, but it was way before I bought my first computer circa. 1990. There was a pretty good-sized group of contributors with a wide variety of fairly on-topic discussions and a bunch of abusiveness. If someone asked a how-to skiing question, they usually got some good suggestions, some really bad advice and some abusive responses. Same for equipment and resort inquiries. I basically stopped viewing after the ski magazine websites started up.
post #5 of 28

I used to post on rec.skiing.alpine a bit back in the mid 90's before the Powder forums and TGR. Place had some really messed up people, eventually resulting in legal action against that weirdo from Seattle who kept harassing some Aussie chick (I think because she turned down his sexual advances made with some comp'd lift tickets?).

post #6 of 28

Hi, James.

 

I also used to participate in rec.skiing.alpine, aka rsa.  There are a few other current Epic members who inhabited rsa as well.  There was also a rec.skiing.nordic if I remember correctly.  I probably started posting in rsa around 1993 (with apologies to my former employers) but I know it had been there awhile before I started paying attention to it.  

 

As Kneale alluded to, rsa was a very free-wheeling place.  Completely un-moderated, so the abusiveness gradually escalated to the point where very few people remained.  Also as Kneale pointed out, when the EpicSki and POWDER(now TGR) forums came into being, practically everyone who wasn't in the middle of an ongoing bloody cyberwar defected to either of those fora or both.  rsa introduced me to a number of people who are still friends today.  When we moved to Salt Lake City in 1996, I had an already-established network of backcountry skiers whom I "knew" online and who welcomed me into their ranks.  I'll always be grateful to rsa for that.

 

There were two moderated ski forums that were more or less contemporary with rsa; TelemarkTips.com and Paula's Ski Lovers.  TT was a lot of fun, a very irreverent crowd with a great, self-effacing sense of humor.  Paula's was much more sedate but a nice counterpoint to rsa once the flame wars exploded.

 

Also, a lot of original members of rsa split off into a private group that I still get message summaries from.  I could perhaps manage an introduction for you if you pm me.

 

What's incredibly ironic to me about rsa is that its rise and demise almost exactly paralleled that of another newsgroup I joined way back then called rec.outdoors.fishing.fly.  This was a flyfishing group and, again, I made a bunch of connections that have served me well over the years.  Just like rsa, however, the completely anonymous and unmoderated nature of roff eventually resulted in huge name-calling, fights, insults, and even threats.  Can you believe that???  Unbridled aggression about FLYFISHING?

 

All of this is why I believe in moderated internet forums.  The human collective can be very ugly at times if left to its own devices. 


Edited by Bob Peters - 11/19/13 at 2:31pm
post #7 of 28

In the beginning it was just rec.skiing

 

Sometime in the mid to early 90s it split into:

rec.skiing.alpine,

rec.skiing.announce,

rec.skiing.backcountry,

rec.skiing.marketplace,

rec.skiing.nordic,

rec.skiing.resorts.europe,

rec.skiing.resorts.north-america,

rec.skiing.resorts.misc, and

rec.skiing.snowboard.

 

About 5 years ago rec.skiing.alpine.moderated was launched.

 

 

Archives from the above groups should be in google groups, and the discussions surrounding the split and the creation of rsam would be somewhere in the news.admin hierarchy.

 

I still read and occasionally post to rec.skiing.alpine, although there's not much to read there once it's filtered by my killfiles.  There never has been much traffic on rsam.

 

Interestingly, the FAQ for rec.skiing is still available, unchanged since 1998 - http://www.darryl.com/skiing/

 

Here's an interesting article on the early history of usenet - not much about skiing newsgroups in particular, but interesting nonetheless.  http://firstmonday.org/ojs/index.php/fm/article/view/613/534

 

HTH.

post #8 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jamesj View Post
 

I have a few questions about early online ski discussion boards.  Who here knows a bit about the origins and scope of

SKIVT-L and the usenet discussion group rec.skiing.alpine?  Respond here or send me a PM if you have answers to a few questions:  when did these start, how popular and useful, who did they serve, and their pros and cons?  Were there any other important early US online ski discussion boards/forums?

Thank you.


 It probably started with a 'lift tickets are too expensive' thread  that's still going on and on and on ;)

post #9 of 28
Thread Starter 

Thanks folks.  That was very interesting feedback.  I might get back to some of you with follow-up questions.

post #10 of 28

Being there at the creation, the early forums were on CompuServe.  The mostly PC oriented stuff (I remember Michael Dell working out of his garage providing support to people on PCSupport forum).  My second computer after my Compaq Portable in 1982. 1200 baud modem was the key to life, download programs like OzCis made the forums useable.  My second computer was a Dell desktop 8086.

 

Sports and all kinds of forums quickly followed the PC forums.  AOL picked it up after that when the Netscape and the web changed everything vs. the CompuServe subscription service.  AOL bought CompuServe, still exists today I believe. You can view some of the forums.

 

AOL, the web and Netscape changed everything and the dotcom era began but those early sports forums on dial up subscription were the beginnings.  The dotcom direct stuff wiped out AOL.

post #11 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Peters View Post
 

Hi, James.

 

I also used to participate in rec.skiing.alpine, aka rsa.  There are a few other current Epic members who inhabited rsa as well.  There was also a rec.skiing.nordic if I remember correctly.  I probably started posting in rsa around 1993 (with apologies to my former employers) but I know it had been there awhile before I started paying attention to it.  

 

As Kneale alluded to, rsa was a very free-wheeling place.  Completely un-moderated, so the abusiveness gradually escalated to the point where very few people remained.  Also as Kneale pointed out, when the EpicSki and POWDER(now TGR) forums came into being, practically everyone who wasn't in the middle of an ongoing bloody cyberwar defected to either of those fora or both.  rsa introduced me to a number of people who are still friends today.  When we moved to Salt Lake City in 1996, I had an already-established network of backcountry skiers whom I "knew" online and who welcomed me into their ranks.  I'll always be grateful to rsa for that.

 

There were two moderated ski forums that were more or less contemporary with rsa; TelemarkTips.com and Paula's Ski Lovers.  TT was a lot of fun, a very irreverent crowd with a great, self-effacing sense of humor.  Paula's was much more sedate but a nice counterpoint to rsa once the flame wars exploded.

 

Also, a lot of original members of rsa split off into a private group that I still get message summaries from.  I could perhaps manage an introduction for you if you pm me.

 

What's incredibly ironic to me about rsa is that its rise and demise almost exactly paralleled that of another newsgroup I joined way back then called rec.outdoors.fishing.fly.  This was a flyfishing group and, again, I made a bunch of connections that have served me well over the years.  Just like rsa, however, the completely anonymous and unmoderated nature of roff eventually resulted in huge name-calling, fights, insults, and even threats.  Can you believe that???  Unbridled aggression about FLYFISHING?

 

All of this is why I believe in moderated internet forums.  The human collective can be very ugly at times if left to its own devices. 

 

I just had a look at the current rsa via Google Groups and WOW that nutjob (Scott Abraham) is STILL there posting insane rants on a daily basis... simply amazing.

post #12 of 28

The first online skiing discussion board I participated in was at Digital Equipment Corp back in the 1980s. We had VAXNotes -- non-graphical, text-only forum software. Skiing was one of literally thousands of forums, work-related and non work-related. Participation was global -- it ran on our internal network, which, at one time, was supposedly the largest non-government/military private network in the world. There was always lots of traffic on the skiing forum, and it seemed like you could always find the info you were looking for. Since DEC was based in Massachusetts, and had large operations in New Hampshire, Vermont, and Maine, eastern skiing was well covered. They also had a big presence in Colorado Springs, Albuquerque, and Phoenix, so western skiing was covered too. Employees in France and Germany would often participate as well.

post #13 of 28

I also posted a few times on RSA...my god, what a disaster.  I was there probably a little after it had actually died, but the abuse was unreal - death threats, etc.  I understand several major law suits resulted, with actual convictions for fraud etc. (ie people paying for ski trips....only to arrive and realise there were no hotel reservations, promised lift tickets didnt exist, etc)

post #14 of 28

I was not an avid skier back in the 80's, but I was on USENET.  My hangout was rec.backcountry at the time.  We should not confuse USENET with CompuServe or any of the other dial-up services.  USENET was an Internet thing, back when the Internet was a connection between research universities, government agencies and the military.  Back when the Internet was populated largely by professors and graduate students, the signal-to-noise ratio was much better.

 

Note, this was all back before Web 1.0, but some of the people involved went on to bring us HTTP, Mosaic and the web.  Before that, we considered ourselves lucky to have FTP and Gopher.

post #15 of 28

I was also on rec.skiing.alpine from early on. I went into lurk mode and laid low when it got out control. When the train wreck became boring I just left. I was also on Paula's Ski Lovers and more out front there. My wife and I skied with Paula and her husband one time at Mount Snow, their "home mountain".


Edited by MattL - 11/20/13 at 5:45pm
post #16 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by Xela View Post
 

I was not an avid skier back in the 80's, but I was on USENET.  My hangout was rec.backcountry at the time.  We should not confuse USENET with CompuServe or any of the other dial-up services.  USENET was an Internet thing, back when the Internet was a connection between research universities, government agencies and the military.  Back when the Internet was populated largely by professors and graduate students, the signal-to-noise ratio was much better.

 

Note, this was all back before Web 1.0, but some of the people involved went on to bring us HTTP, Mosaic and the web.  Before that, we considered ourselves lucky to have FTP and Gopher.

 

I wasnt (still arent) that tech savy - got "online" around 1996 - but even then the internet was still very very new.  Its amazing to think how far it has come, and changed our lives - even 20 year olds probably couldnt comprehend what life would be like without it.  Anyone remember standing in line at the bank???

 

Lol!!!

post #17 of 28

Pfft, I spent many many years of looking fer pichers of purdy wimmins on the puter before I ever got around to talking about skiing on the nterwebs.  :newkeyboard:

 

Seriously though, other than a simple web page uploaded to Apache(?) in business school I didn't start doing anything online before the AOL boom.  FWIW, I met my wife on an AOL forum.  Best 19.95 I ever spent!

post #18 of 28

Wow I just popped over to rsa. I can't believe the same feud is still going on after 15 or so years. How insane is that?

post #19 of 28
Thread Starter 

Fascinating stuff from Eagles and Snowsport.  

 

Quote:

Originally Posted by gramboh View Post
 

 

I just had a look at the current rsa via Google Groups and WOW that nutjob (Scott Abraham) is STILL there posting insane rants on a daily basis... simply amazing.

 

Check the first entry on Wikipedia under Usenet Celebrity Eccentric Personalities:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Usenet_celebrity

post #20 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by crgildart View Post
 

... pichers of purdy wimmins...

 

Ah, you must have frequented alt.sex.pictures.binaries.  At least, that's what I think the name was.  They seem to have reorganized things since then.

 

Piece of trivia: content uploaded to Usenet is virtually untraceable.  Once posted, it is copied widely, but its source isn't strictly verified.  Thus, Usenet lives on as a distribution medium for pirated software, porn, etc.

post #21 of 28
The first rule of usenet is you don't talk about usenet.
post #22 of 28

I participated in rec.skiing.alpine (rsa) as Space Elder (if you listened to the radio in SLC in the 90s, you know the reference) while living in Utah in the early and mid 90s until "the troubles" overwhelmed the group. Another rsa user -- the same one who was the original target of the 20-year vendetta mentioned by other posters -- mentioned epicsski as a possible alternative, and that was my first intro to this site. 

 

rsa in its prolonged death throes was fascinating in a train-wreck, abnormal-psychology-textbook-case sort of way. It highlighted for me the whole issue of accountability in the internet world: specifically, if you think you are effectively anonymous, then how does that affect how you interact with other people? If I'm not mistaken, the rsa feud triggered the first court-ordered restriction forbidding an individual from participating in an internet forum.

 

rec.outdoors.fishing.fly, my other go-to usenet group, was slightly less dysfunctional, but not by much, roff was more like a David Lynch movie or maybe the strangest party you've ever been to. In that corner is the Christian dwarf who, as an amateur magician, allegedly used his sleight-of-hand skills to win a handmade fly rod at a raffle during a conclave (the roff equivalent of an EpicSki gathering). Over next to the bar is the courtly bloviator who created a well-known and widely used fly-line dressing and who triggered the kind of animosity in some folks that inspired the creation of websites whose sole purpose in life was to mock this guy's pretensions.  Then in the middle of the room were all of the other folks: the zen masters, the trout whisperers, the fly-tying artists, the single-malt snobs, the poet-anarchists, the Bob Peteresque regular dudes, and so on and so on. 

post #23 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by Skidude72 View Post
 

I also posted a few times on RSA...

 

I understand several major law suits resulted, with actual convictions for fraud etc. (ie people paying for ski trips....only to arrive and realise there were no hotel reservations, promised lift tickets didnt exist, etc)


Um... none of that ever happened.  There was one hearing before a judge regarding a restraining order, which the judge approved, but there were never any lawsuits, despite many many threats of lawsuits (and also threats for everything else you can imagine). 

 

Over the years many people have stopped by to complain about shady travel agents, but they just used the newsgroup to complain; the travel arrangements weren't made via the newsgroup. 

 

Agree about the abuse, but I don't see much of that since I have a bunch of people in the killfile. Today there's still a small core of about a dozen or so who  talk about skiing amongst all the noise, but you need a robust kill filter to make it readable. 

post #24 of 28

I was a lurker on rsa for several years before posting a bit during the last two years of sanity.  I can see Gnarlito's point about how interesting the train wreck was.  For me it was nothing but sad.  IMHO, in it's hey day, RSA was the most fun I've had on the intertubes...... ya know... except for lookin' at the purdy wimmins.  Two Buddha was one of the funniest, wittiest posters I've known of, until he went off the deep end and ruined not only the best ski forum around but also the notion that unmoderated was a legit option.

 

What a shame.  What a waste.

post #25 of 28
Thread Starter 

If anyone has the time please give this article a read.  It's about Online Forums.  Let me know if you spot anything out of whack about internet technical jargon or history, or any other egregious errors:

http://www.epicski.com/a/giving-thanks-for-online-ski-forums

Thanks a bunch.

post #26 of 28
To be thorough, you might look at the forum at earnyourturns.com, where a number of member from Ttips.com migrated after Ttips cratered.

I may or may not have participated in rsa, rsb, and CompuServe forums. I'll need to see a court order and my attorney before answering.
post #27 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jamesj View Post
 

If anyone has the time please give this article a read.  It's about Online Forums.  Let me know if you spot anything out of whack about internet technical jargon or history, or any other egregious errors:

http://www.epicski.com/a/giving-thanks-for-online-ski-forums

Thanks a bunch.

 

Don't have specific comments about ski forums of yore. I am a long-time user - since the days when access was essentially subsidized by the local university and surfing the net meant dialing in at 1200 baud and getting a terminal session going to read email with pine and newsgroups with tin. I definitely spent a lot of time looking at the "snow at the stake" graph that I see from your link is still prominent on the SkiVT-L site. I can't remember if I actually ever subscribed to that list, but I was very active on other listservs in the early '90s, unlrelated to skiing. 

 

One thing that has not changed at all is the unique ability the internet has to connect you with the absolutely numerous but relatively extremely sparse folks who have the same exact interests. It's a very humanizing experience - the opposite of anomie. For example, there was a fairly short period of time when I participated religiously in something called "Monday Night Bonsai Chat," using IRC. :rolleyes  I think there were about 20 people on there, from all over the western hemisphere. This was not something I could do in my home town. I remember a cartoon in an old Internet for Dummies book that talked about how there was a cartoon about how there was a newsgroup for everyone, including "nuns who smoke pipes and dress laptops in doll clothes."

post #28 of 28

There was also a So Cal Ski Server or some such name that died out 10 or so years ago.  It had local ski area news, trip reports, ski clubs, etc.

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