Twenty Sided is Nine Years Old

By Shamus Posted Monday Sep 1, 2014

Filed under: Landmarks 176 comments

Today is September 7,672nd, 1993.

Back in the late 80’s and early 90’s, the internet was mostly email and Usenet. No Google. No YouTube. No corporations at all, really. The web (web pages) sort of existed, but there weren’t many pages, they were mostly text, and it was difficult to find things.

Usenet bears a striking resemblance to what we call forums today, except it was designed around the (at the time reasonable) idea that everyone on the internet was a responsible, well-adjusted adult that knew how to behave. Imagine your typical forums like many websites have today. Now imagine that there is just one forum for the whole internet, and that anyone can post under any name at any time to as many sub-forums as they like without ever needing to create an account or to verify their identity.

My first exposure to the ‘net was in November of 1992. I was working at Taco Bell and one of my coworkers had access to Usenet. He would bring me a hardcopy of the Star Trek TNG groupI’m not sure if the group was based in Usenet or a mailing list. Either way, it used a format that isn’t really part of the internet we have today. that discussed episodes as they aired. He’d bring me a stack of green bar printouts that represented a week worth of postsWhich means my first usage of the internet was via hardcopy..

I know the date because I specifically remember reading everyone’s reactions to A Fistful of Datas. I’d kind of grown indifferent to the show in the last year or so, but these discussions rekindled my interest in all things Trek.

tng_fistful_of_datas.jpg

Here were a bunch of academics and students having these long scientific or literary discussions about each episode. Everyone was friendly and polite and they all knew each other by their real names and signed their messages with their email addresses. There were no trolls, no spam of consequence, no need for powerful moderators. No “first post”ing. No empty “me too” posts. Everything was written coherently. No thread-jacking. No image spam. No porn. No inane memes. No advertisements. No security worries. No worries that crawlers were harvesting emails. No fear of viruses, hacks, scams, or phishing.

They didn’t know it at the time, but they were living in the Garden of Eden.

September was a big deal for the internet back in those days. As you can imagine, etiquette was important in a world where there were no moderators and everyone was on the honor system. Every September a flood of college freshmen would be given internet access for the first time in their lives. Then they would blunder online and make a mess of things by posting things to the wrong place, or typing in all caps, or failing to read the FAQ. They didn’t know how it worked and they didn’t know what all these new acronyms meant. So every September was this chaotic time where the net had to assimilate a few thousand newcomers all at once, and it usually took about a month for things to calm down again.

Then 1993 happened. September 1993. The September that never ended.

zombies_dawn_of_the_dead.jpg

Online services like AOL gave regular folks at home access to this new internet thing. New users flooded the net like a ceaseless horde of ignorant cross-posting, flaming, bickering zombies. They didn’t read the FAQ. They asked questions without leaving contact info so you could reply, and then they’d show up the next day to rant about the lack of help and send it to the wrong people. They didn’t understand how URLs worked, they didn’t recognize email addresses, they didn’t know how to find things and they didn’t know what they wanted.

Instead of becoming a part of the existing internet culture, they eclipsed it and overshadowed it through sheer numbers. And they just kept coming.

I joined the internet in 1994, and went looking for that Star Trek discussion group I’d followed a couple of years prior. I found many groups, but none of them were as educated, articulate, or insightful. Instead of talking about the literary symbolism or comparing the work of one writer to another, they were engaged in tedious fan-wank shipping It wasn’t called shipping back then, but it was the same idea: Long arguments about which characters “should” be a couple. debates, and arguing about the Trek technology in agonizingly uninformed ways. They were rude and they didn’t proofread and the group was so big it was hard to have a focused conversation. I hopped from group to group, trying to find those fun people I’d discovered back in 1992.

The idea of the eternal September was first used by Dave Fischer in a January 26, 1994, post to alt.folklore.computersthis is how Usenet was organized, by terms of increasing specificity, separated by periods.:

It's moot now. September 1993 will go down in net.history as the September that never ended.

They were gone. Long gone. The original Trek-posters had vanished into the crowd and their voices were lost in a sea of noise. The number of internet users had jumped by an order of magnitude in just a couple of years, and the original internet culture was wiped away by a never-ending army of colonialist morons. And I was one of them.

I started this website nine years ago this month. It was a modest project. And while I didn’t mean to do so, we seem to have re-created that long-gone idyllic internet village of yesteryear. Everyone is nice, everyone proofreads, [nearly] everyone has something smart to sayBut sometimes Josh posts., and everyone is on the honor system.

Thanks to Josh, Chris, Rutskarn, and Mumbles for being part of this. And thanks to all of you for showing up, having smart things to say, and even supporting me directly. It’s been an honor.

We have a good thing going here. Here’s to another nine years.

 

Footnotes:

[1] I’m not sure if the group was based in Usenet or a mailing list. Either way, it used a format that isn’t really part of the internet we have today.

[2] Which means my first usage of the internet was via hardcopy.

[3] It wasn’t called shipping back then, but it was the same idea: Long arguments about which characters “should” be a couple.

[4] this is how Usenet was organized, by terms of increasing specificity, separated by periods.

[5] But sometimes Josh posts.



From The Archives:
 

176 thoughts on “Twenty Sided is Nine Years Old

  1. Rick says:

    I’m glad you updated the post with “We have a good thing going here. Here's to another nine years” because I was worried there for a moment.

    Love you all.

    1. ET says:

      Although without that last two sentences, it is ambiguous, I dare say that Shamus wouldn’t up and quit tomorrow, since this is more or less a paying job for him now. :)

  2. Ingvar M says:

    You know, it is posts like this that make me feel insta-old. I was running a UseNet server on behalf of the university I was sysadmining for, in September 1993. And it did not help that the original Green Card Spam happened around the same time, on the same UseNet.

    Thank you Shamus, for providing a safe and sane haven.

    1. Groboclown says:

      You are not alone.

      We will forever remember the joys and pains of Gopher.

      Let’s raise a glass to remember Kibo.

  3. Adam says:

    This makes me happy and sad at the same time. Thank you, Shamus, for giving us sane folks a corner of the web we can call home.

  4. Geebs says:

    I didn’t even know there was an internet until about 1999 (3 years after I found out about email). I’m not sure I even really believe in the primeval, polite, intelligent internet – after all, it must have been full of academics, and those guys can be vicious.

    1. Tizzy says:

      Yes, we can be vicious, but mostly when we’re on the clock. Most of us know to leave that behind as soon as we let our hair down, kick back and relax.

      1. Geebs says:

        Sorry, no offence meant! I was really just trying to express how much more mortifying it is when the person calling me an idiot is actually qualified to do so :D

        1. blue_painted says:

          The academics I lost Usenet debates against would savage my arguments, destroy my mistaken facts, shred my unstated assumptions and beat my broken logic into the dirt … but they never attacked me.

          1. Deoxy says:

            If most academics were like that, “academic” wouldn’t be a pejorative term to so many people.

            1. crossbrainedfool says:

              At least to me, academic doesn’t carry a ‘mean asshole’ aspect, more of a ‘lost in the clouds’ thing.

    2. Joe Informatico says:

      Well, it wasn’t completely rosy. Usenet had its dark corners just like any medium for human social activity does. In high school, around 1994-5, I went to a history symposium on the Holocaust where this man was the keynote speaker, and he’d been refuting the arguments of Holocaust deniers on Usenet since about 1988. Then again, given his recollections of the people he dealt with, for all their faults, they were probably more articulate and thoughtful than your typical frothing-at-the-mouth internet ignoramus these days.

    3. Cybron says:

      It wasn’t, really. The terms trolling and flaming both originate from Usenet discussions.

      The key difference is that the standard of conversation pre-Eternal September was much higher.

    4. Kingmob says:

      That reminds me of my first experience with the internet. I was always interested in physics and was too much of a wise-ass. It must’ve been around that year that I started using usenet using my father’s dial up to his work.
      I complained on one of the big science boards that my teacher was full of crap and wrong, but I wanted to be sure before I went to him. It was about mass at relativistic speeds and I’d had a string of replacement teachers in high-school that got progressively worse.

      My parents recently pointed me to the fact that if you google me, this post is one of the top results, google saved it for eternity somehow. Reading it back I’ve realized several things:
      1. I was really sure of myself even though I knew so little.
      2. Everyone completely dismissed me and was actually quite condescending.
      3. I was right (I have a degree in Astrophysics now).

      I now know that this was exactly the wrong way to behave towards academics, and as you say, they were vicious. Probably extra so since they saw me as one of the mentioned horde of new users that doesn’t use the old etiquette.

  5. Destrustor says:

    “we seem to have re-created that long-gone idyllic internet village of yesteryear. Everyone is nice, everyone proofreads, [nearly] everyone has something smart to say, and everyone is on the honor system.”

    This is exactly why I like this site; I couldn’t have said it better myself.
    Thank you Spoiler Warners indeed, and keep up the good work, all of you.

    1. Burning says:

      Twentysided has not recreated the nice days of Usenet, because the nice days are a myth. Twentysided is much better. While I never saw as much profanity as I see today in some video game forums, there was no shortage of nastiness and hostility.

      I recall a poster on a physics discussion group that would routinely mock and berate anyone who posted a question he thought too basic. If anyone would attempt to take him to task for this, the other experienced users, including the moderators, would defend his behavior on the grounds that “He really knows his science.” I think you’d have to go to pretty dark corners of the internet today to find a place where such poisonous behavior officially sanctioned by the people who are supposed to be keeping the peace.

      1. Joe Informatico says:

        We can also note that Godwin’s Law originated on Usenet around 1990, meaning there were enough occurrences of the behaviour on Usenet at the time that Mike Godwin felt the need to coin an adage about it.

      2. Cybron says:

        Don’t think it’s quite fair to generalize like that. Generalizing about usenet is like generalizing about all IRC channels or something. It’s not a single community; it’s many different communities. There were open and welcoming communities, there were cliqueish communities, there were places people went to relax and be friendly, and there were places that were horribly elitist. It all depended on where you were.

        The only problem they really had in common were the fact that they all had names and had the same reg-date waving issues all such forums tend to have.

        1. Burning says:

          Sure, that’s fair. I’m just pointing out that viewing Usenet as a golden age of civility is also a generalization. I did not intend to suggest that there were not civil, welcoming, and nurturing Usenet groups. There certainly were, and the people who made them that way deserve credit. But the bullies and the trolls were there as well, and sadly I’m not convinced that they were much rarer then than they are today.

          I’d rather close this on a positive note. There have been people who put out a real effort to make the web a nice place for others since the beginning, and they have always managed to carve out places where that ideal holds. Kudos to Shamus for upholding that tradition.

          1. Cybron says:

            Agreed. And also agreed that we need to thank Shamus for maintaining such a wonderful community.

    2. LCF says:

      Make the world into the world you want to see.
      Thank you all.

      (Illustrating Eternal September track: “Wordclock – And then the dawn “)

    3. Deoxy says:

      “we seem to have re-created that long-gone idyllic internet village of yesteryear. Everyone is nice, everyone proofreads, [nearly] everyone has something smart to say, and everyone is on the honor system.”

      This is exactly why I like this site; I couldn't have said it better myself.

      Exactly this.

      OK, well, I would have used blockquote instead of just quotes, but otherwise exactly this. :-P

  6. silver Harloe says:

    I was on the net from fall 88 to spring 92 as a privilege of being a CS major at UT. Turns out in addition to usenet, the nascent internet also had networked games. I think I was supposed to be using those lab workstations for classwork or something. I sorta failed a bunch of classes and, at the last “minute,” changed major to barely scrape by with my BA in Math.

    Identity verification did exist, just not in the way it exists today. Identity verification at the time meant “because you have access to the internet at all, some system administrator at a minimum had to look at your student ID, and very probably knows you personally from all your visits to the computer lab.”

    1. Shamus says:

      I love the idea that the internet was basically administrated by digital bouncers.

      “Yeah. You seem okay. You can go in.”

      1. TouToTheHouYo says:

        As horribly impractical as it now seems, we could probably use more of that.

        1. Felblood says:

          Parents, at least, could stand to give a little more consideration over whether their offspring are ready for unsupervised internet use.

          Even if you don’t care what your kids get into on reddit, have some consideration for the rest of us.

          1. Mephane says:

            Nice idea, but it’ll fail precisely the moment the parents themselves are the type of moron that prevents us from having nice things.

            1. Flock Of Panthers says:

              Additionally, with the best will and education, they just don’t have the time to maintain that level of supervision. If both parents work outside of the house, constant supervision isn’t really feasible once a kid is old enough to make their own sandwich.

              You know what sounds good though? Some kind of totalitarian digital passport that literally disbars you from grown-up social media and forums until you’re 16-18.

              I mean, yeah, the Orwellian dystopia would be rough, but ten year olds not being on twitter/tumblr/facebook?

              I for one welcome our new overlords.

              1. syal says:

                Maybe I’m just out in the boonies, but is it that hard to turn off your internet connection where you live? Here, it’s a box with a plug in the wall. You don’t need constant supervision when there’s limited availability.

                1. Nimas says:

                  You *can* do that, but I believe that is now considered child abuse ;).

                2. Bubble181 says:

                  A) a 12-year-old will know better than you how to turn it back on
                  B) there’s internet in libraries, schools, etc
                  C) if the kid’s got anything WiFi capable (this includes things like a 3DS, most phones, some cameras, MP3 players,…), in many areas it’s trivial to be always-online through hopping on free and unprotected networks
                  D) Most TV sets can be used on line without further trouble these days
                  E) Even besides all those, there’s always “at a friend’s place”.

                  Unless you want to deny your child pretty much anything people had since the ’80s – portable music, a (portable) gaming console, a phone, free access to a TV, free access to a library, the freedom to go over to a friend’s house etc, it’s nearly impossible to prevent them from going on line once they know how.

                  Still, the first place I saw porn, personally? School, computer lessons. Which you can’t, and honestly, shouldn’t, try to avoid these days.

                  Good parenting these days isn’t about keeping your children off the net – it’s becoming more and more impossible and certainly impractical – but steering them so they see the better sides of what the world has to offer.

        2. Paul Spooner says:

          It’s not that hard, as user accounts basically do the same thing now-a-days. If that’s not free enough, you could always implement a personal whitelist based in IpV6. If it’s accountability you’re looking for, we could always start charging more for internet access. Money keeps the rif-raf out, which is basically what this boils down to.

          1. Flock Of Panthers says:

            I disagree about charging more. Internet, for those who have it, isn’t regarded as a luxury but a utility. I can’t really imagine applying for a job and not having an email address. You need internet for reasons, not because of an urge to troll, but once you have it you can feed that urge.

            Raising prices wouldn’t keep asshats out, it would keep poor people out.

            If you want accountability you just want accountability, ie less anonymity.

            I joked about it earlier, but I’d be terrified of actual real name digital passport things. But (given google is buying everything) if you had to use your google account for basically everything you do? If one couldn’t make a new youtube/twitter account to harass people with zero consequence? Like, maybe instead there was an approval period (I wanted to say a couple of days, but frankly 2 hours would discourage a lot of human garbage) and a minimum amount of account activity (so you can’t have dummy accounts in reserve)?

            I dunno. I only use this username, wherever I am. I certainly like to think it’s not just fear of repercussion that makes me not a jerk, but keeping the moniker helps that it makes me feel like… I’m in a public space? So I’m considering what I say as if I was talking at a train station, not in a private room? The urge to actually follow an argument into personal attacks is mostly by not wanting to talk to this person anymore.

            1. Flock Of Panthers says:

              Though one thing bugs me about opting out of internet arguments.

              It’s petty as hell, but it’s strange how it works. In bailing out of a face to face argument, saying “I have chosen to be the bigger man. The Bigger Man, sir. moral highground checkmate” is incredibly pretentious and deplorable. But there is this nice understated “Right, whatever mate” that makes a nice disengage.

              Somehow, it really really bugs me that there isn’t an equivalent to that in a forum. Posting any kind of “right, I disagree, but it’s not worth my time anymore” message falls into the first category, because of the actual effort and time required to post that. It’s an overt demonstration of disengaging, that sort of belies the fact that you aren’t disengaging.

              But. Simply leaving… Means that the forever preserved record of your communication… seems to show the very wrong person winning the argument.

              And whether that’s how THAC0 works or a discussion of symbolism in Blade Runner… That sort of stings.

              Is it just me? Is it the difference between not really caring what some random person thinks about X, but being unable to let future generations grow up learning a faulty interpretation of Opportunity Attacks from the historical documents?

              Or am I irredeemably mad

              1. Paul Spooner says:

                I can tell from the content of your two posts that we disagree on a number of topics, some of which fall under the “do not discuss religion or politics” rule. Therefore I have chosen to be the bigger man, etc.

                1. The Rocketeer says:

                  Good, finally. You clearly don’t understand THAC0 anyway.

                2. Flock Of Panthers says:

                  Right, whatever mate.

              2. syal says:

                The idea that people will see the other person as having won is the idea that everyone on the internet is an idiot who believes the last thing they read regardless of presented logic. You just have to trust people to be smarter than that, and actually think about the arguments presented, despite your lack of proof that they are doing so.

                And if they don’t, why should you care about who they think won? They’re idiots.

                1. Flock Of Panthers says:

                  Because I am really passionate about THAC0?

                  Or because something deeply permeating human nature snarls at the idea of backing down from any real or percieved aggression.

                  I really hope it’s the the THAC0.

                  1. MichaelGC says:

                    I think it’s a fairly natural human thing to want the last word, even when it’s quite obvious to all concerned that one won the argument several comments ago, and any further additions would just be pig-wrestling.* Sense o’ closure, and all that fun stuff.

                    However, whenever you find yourself not dropping the comment equivalent of “Right, whatever mate,” you can think of it as “the punch Ali never gave Foreman when he was going down.” (West Wing) It has certainly worked for me!

                    * “Never wrestle with a pig. You both get dirty but the pig enjoys it.”
                    –Noidea McGoogleit

          2. Cybron says:

            I can’t wait for IPv6 to take off. I’m all for internet anonymity in pretty much everything, but at the same time in order to enforce a degree of order you need to be able to disbar people who are unduly disruptive. IPv6 is pretty much the dream as far as that goes.

  7. Cinebeast says:

    Thanks for it all, Shamus. I can’t remember when I first stumbled across Twenty Sided, but it was at least two years ago. I’m glad I found this place, and I’m proud to be a part of the community here.

  8. Akri says:

    Future anthropologists studying ancient internet societies are going to be extremely confused when they find this place.

  9. fdgzd says:

    stop making me feel old!

  10. KingJosh says:

    Hey, I’ve only posted 2-3 times! I mostly just lurk.

    1. MichaelGC says:

      I’m betting you were smartly lurking with nicely proof-read thoughts, though.

    2. Warrax says:

      I’ve been visiting daily for at least 4-5 years and I don’t think I’ve posted more than a dozen times or so.

      I feel like I know everyone here but no one really knows me, it’s really weird :)

      1. Phill says:

        Likewise. I found this place in ’06 or ’07 – before DM of the rings was completed anyway – and have been a daily visitor ever since. And must have posted 3-4 times in the comments at various times….

        Three (quiet) cheers for the silent majority.

        1. Felblood says:

          It was several years before I started posting regularly, but once I got rolling, I couldn’t stop.

          Jo~in u~s~…

          1. Daemian Lucifer says:

            One of us,one of us,gooble gobble!

        2. Ithilanor says:

          Much the same, though I comment occasionally…not often, though. Spent loads of time here over the years.

    3. KingJosh says:

      Yeah. I don’t remember how long ago I found this site, but I visit it daily. And I devour most everything Shamus posts!

      (I was joking about Shamus’s “but sometimes Josh posts” note.)

      1. Daemian Lucifer says:

        “And I devour most everything Shamus posts!”

        So thats why half the archive is missing.

        1. KingJosh says:

          Indeed. I get very hungry, sometimes!! On days off, I might check here, Enworld, and chocolatehammer 5-10 times a day. Don’t want to miss anything, after all.

    4. The Rocketeer says:

      I read this website for a long time before I started posting. Now I chip in if I think I can help anyone.

  11. Antonio says:

    I was born on September 1st, 1993. I have to say, this puts my date of birth in a whole new perspective.

    Keep up the good work, Shamus!

    1. Daemian Lucifer says:

      So are you now thinking of legally changing your name to internet?

      1. Paul Spooner says:

        I was thinking The People’s Republic of Internet, as it has that common-man vibe along with the lovely clear overtones.

        1. Flock Of Panthers says:

          The Internets Rupublic Front? Or the Republic Front of Internet?

          They could never get along.

          1. Wide And Nerdy says:

            Oh please! Apart from facilitating communication, enabling new forms of content consumption, bringing minds together from all over the world, funding the arts, and lowering the barrier of entry for creators, what has the internet ever done for us?

              1. Wide And Nerdy says:

                SOD OFF!!

                1. Wide And Nerdy says:

                  . . . thats what he says in the movie right? I’m just doing a bit, not actually saying “Sod Off” to you.

                    1. Wide And Nerdy says:

                      I can’t watch that where I am right now. I know that I’m substituting “Sod” for another word.

                      The original word has lost some of its shock value plus since I wasn’t sure about the actual line that came next, I was afraid he’d think I was serious and “Sod” seems appropriately British (please forgive my American ignorance) hopefully signaling my intent.

                    2. MichaelGC says:

                      @Wide and Nerdy
                      I’m not sure if it’s used in that scene, but ‘sod off’ is very very British indeed! I thought briefly that you must be British…

                      So, top hole, squire!

                      *sips tea*

                  1. Daemian Lucifer says:

                    No worries.That is why I joined in with that comment after all.

              2. krellen says:

                I once played a city building game where the description of the aqueduct was “What have the Romans ever done for us? This, that’s what.”

  12. Phill says:

    Some of the quiter corners of the internet managed to retain civility long after 1993 (including twenty sided obviously). But they tended to be low traffic areas that most new people were slower to discover. Moderated usenet groups also tended to do much better than the average. Moderate groups in fact still tend to do okay, despite the inevitable complaints about oppressive moderation. The fact is that some poeple will complain loudly about any attempt to curtail their ‘right’ to be a-holes on the internet.

    Moderation creates its own problems of course. One is that if the rules are very seubjective, people will get their pants in a twist about perceived bias, and moderators *will* make mistakes or very unpopular decisions if they are based on their subjective evaluation. If the rules are clear, the a-holes will become experts at staying within the letter of the law while flouting the spirit of the law.

    And more practically, moderation doesn’t scale well as you add more users to the forum. Moderators get burned out or overwhelmed. I think Shamus has been extremely fortunate to only attract well-mannered geeks for the most part ;) But if the site increases its viewership, moderation will become a larger and larger burden on whoever has to do it. It is probably something worth considering solutions to before it becomes a problem, rather than when Shamus is already cursing the existence of the sire for eating up 6 hours a day doing admin before he even gets around to thinking about new content.

    And after that stream of rambling incoherence, thanks to Shamus, Rutskarn, Josh, Mumbles and Chris for providing so much great content for us.

    1. MadTinkerer says:

      I once was a moderator and briefly administrator for a Final Fantasy fan site. The site was originally founded on an exodus of users from another site (slightly less than a year before I discovered either site), and the general culture was respectfully anti-authoritarian with the mods mostly being comprised of people who were pissed off at the behavior of the old site’s mods and determined not to act in the same way.

      So a few years after I left, I came back and posted a topic that the old regime would not have ever considered a problem. I foolishly assumed the site’s culture had remained more or less the same, but it turns out that things had changed drastically. In this case, it turns out that posts about a particular subforum are not technically on topic for that forum, and thus no longer tolerated. Also, it doesn’t matter if you are a former administrator, you don’t deserve any respect or consideration. It was even worse behavior than had been alleged by the site’s founders about the site they left, and would not have been tolerated by them if they were still around.

      Now, I am not entirely unsympathetic. The new mods were dealing with an influx of “gamers” (the term had been popularized at this point) who were attracted to the site by the common interest of Final Fantasy at it’s most popular. However, when you have a former admin come to the site, and their first post unintentionally breaks the current rules and the mod of the forum just deletes the post (no warnings) and tells the former admin that complaining about it is “not helping your case”, multiple things have gone very, very wrong.

      I started using the Internet in February 1993, a couple years before there was much worthwhile on the World Wide Web. At one point I was involved in another message board where anyone could log in as anyone else and it actually lasted almost a year before passwords and moderation became necessary. Going from that to “you’re not helping your case” from a zygote who had taken over my old forum was almost enough to give me whiplash. The Internet changed a lot between 1993 and 2003 and things have only gotten worse eleven years after that.

      Well, except for Twenty Sided. Twenty Sided is a pretty good site.

      1. Paul Spooner says:

        “…a couple years before there was much worthwhile on the World Wide Web.”

        I think this is a crucial point. Sure, Usenet was polite before the 1993-09 but there’s only so much information they managed to accumulate, and much of it was strictly non-professional. Eternal September may have brought us the screaming masses, but it also made Wikipedia possible, along with all of the mass data culture that has arisen since then. Would the sys-admin oligarchy have produced the same or better data for free in the same amount of time? We’ll probably never know.

      2. The Rocketeer says:

        Oh wow, way to take me back there: some of my first recollections of the Internet are as a zygote discovering Final Fantasy fan forums and realizing that you can totally use the Internet to geek out about stuff.

        I wasn’t one of those people who “never realized there were other fans;” far from it, it was the late nineties, finding people to talk about video games in school wasn’t hard, and of course me and my brother shared the same tastes by dint of sharing all the same games.

        But thinking about it now, I ended up on a very tiny forum in the last stages of death. The last active moderator quietly abandoned the forum not long after I joined, and it was mostly me and enough posters to count on your hands using the forum for basically whatever we felt like with no direction. Well over a decade later I wonder how that, as my first introduction to Internet forums, might have steered me.

    2. Bryan says:

      Shamus has actually talked about his moderation strategy before.

      http://www.shamusyoung.com/twentysidedtale/?p=19709

      *So far*, it seems to be working pretty well. That last small group is still a problem, of course, and the more commenters show up the worse it’ll be (as an absolute time requirement anyway), but if you can manage to keep the Mr. Rogerses around, and keep the Jack Nicholsons banned, then the vast majority of Harrison Fords end up coming up to the level of the Mr. Rogerses.

      Which is not a sentence I ever expected to write, but there you go.

      1. I use the same principle Shamus does in a large forum I run (over 2,000 people, all with very different ideas of what the two aspects of the group mean). However, about 500 peo-ple ago we found that we had the choice between having moderation be a 40 hr a week job for all 12 mods OR hold all posts in a queue and admins have to allow them for them to be posted. That worked a magical miracle. We also had to force people to stay mostly on topic- people adore posting debate topics. And we require that we have at least one moderator available to babysit the post if it does get posted, if it is just trolling it is out even if it might work elsewhere.

        1. Phill says:

          How well does the moderation queue system work? I assume that if it is to keep the volume of posts down to a manageable level (i.e. you don’t need more moderators spending more and more time on it) then it is basically keeping the number of posts per day that get through more or less constant. Which as you add more people to the group, would seem to mean that each person on average gets a smaller and smaller ‘quota’ that they can post.

          I suppose one result would be that a lot of the smaller, chatty posts (or off-topic ones) get dropped, since people aren’t going to bother writing a 2 line reply that will take 24 hours to appear. So people would naturally limit themselves to more substantive posts.

          One idea I’ve seen used with some success is to put people on moderator auto-approval once they’ve passed a certain threshold. After that their posts don’t go in the moderation queue, they go straight to the forum. (Actually, in the case I remember that did this, they still got passed through the moderator bot which looked for certain words – usually profanity or sexual ones – and kept those for manual moderation (since non-troll posts may still have good reason to use ‘forbidden’ words). Anyone who didn’t have a post rejected by the moderators for a month got set to auto-approval. Anyone on auto-approval who later had a post rejected (after the moderators looked at posts someone complained about, or that the moderator bot put in for manual confirmation) got put back on manual for a time, or just banned, depending on the offence).

          It has the advantage of scaling much better than manual moderation for everything, since most of the work is dealing with new arrivals until they reach auto-approval status, and hopefully new arrivals turn up at a more or less constant rate, so the workload doesn’t keep increasing.

          All you need is someone with the technical know-how to set up such a moderation system in the first place…

          1. Any form of “vetting” system is usually optimal for a particular community.

            For example in GridStream Productions new members (for staff positions, be it DJ or other areas) goes through a vetting process. The application is the first impression, if people can’t spell or write or are way to terse those are flags to be raised.

            Likewise the questions asked and answered are also key, not only does it allow technical insight into whether their systems can be used for DJing at all, but other questions allow the members of GSP to guesstimate if the person might be a fit or not. If applying as a DJ then a voice sample must also be supplied.

            Once members have voted on an application it (depending on the vote) get rejected or approved, if approved it goes to a step #2 which involves a live chat. A transcript of that is them provided to the members and another vote is cast. If approved then a training process is gone through as well as audio setup testing etc.

            Anyone who are rejected are allowed to apply again at a later time.

            It may seem like it’s dam hard to become a member but it is, but not for the reasons one might think.
            In a small tight-nit community the members must work together, and while drama has not been absent over the years for the most part the system has worked, not only is vetting done out of concern for existing members but for new members as well, the last thing anyone want is for a new member to feel like an outcast.

            Ideally a new member feels like just one of the gang as if they’ve always been, everything is very casual as well in GSP despite having a large pile of rules/advisories.

            This vetting process has existed in one form or another since pretty much the start of GSP, and it seems to work for he most part, especially considering that GridStream is as far as I know the oldest MMORPG radio station still active in the world (non-stop broadcast).

            I have no idea what if any vetting process Shamus has here. (or rather his forum which I for some reason do not frequent yet)
            But my guess is that any vetting list has “Don’t be an ass!” among the top ten items. :)

            Then again, it depends on the community. GSP consists almost entirely of a bunch of misfits or people who think differently, or some other nerd classification. *shrug*

      2. Kingmob says:

        It is interesting when someone else can somehow explain my own believes back to me in a more insightful way than I ever could. I love how Shamus can analyse these things so effectively.

        This is basically what I’ve always believed, but never could properly vocalize. I’m going to steal this explanation for future reference ;-)
        Incidently, this has more impact than just the internet. I notice all around me how news and even politics is now more or less guided by the ‘Jack Nicholsons’ of this world, due to the nature of social media.

        Especially Twitter appears to enhance this greatly. The worst behaviour is often generalized to the ‘Harrison Fords’, just because they react to it. Or extreme voices are given weight in discussions like the sexism debate, where frankly they shouldn’t be given any at all. There’s very little meaning in a sexist leaving sexist remarks I’d say.

  13. krellen says:

    My first foray on the internet was my Junior year in high school, which coincidentally would have been roughly September of 1992, meaning I got in just before the wave. Though my first experience was with IRC and MUDs, directly online, instead of hard copy prints of usenet.

    I think this also means I’ve been a fan, commenter, and follower of Shamus for over half the life of his blog. That’s kind of neat.

    1. Tizzy says:

      Back in the 90s, I did print quite a few things from the net, since most of the contents was text anyway (usually raw, too) and between the fact that I had only lab access and that reading on a crt screen really sucks, it made a lot of sense. It felt a little bit silly, but now I realize that most of the stuff I printed would be, at best, very hard to track down, if not outright impossible.

      1. Chuk says:

        I used to read an SF zine that was distributed as PostScript files — the only way I could read it was to print it.

  14. Chris says:

    Did you intentionally choose to have a zombie image from a movie that was filmed so close to you? That screencap is from the Monroeville Mall.

    1. Hahahaha. I doubt it. Shamus does not consider Monroeville Mall close to us or at least never has before. :)

  15. Doomcat says:

    I would like to thank you Shamus for having a site like this, I only found it relatively recently compared to some other people here (Last year just about) but I’ve made this place my homepage simply because I enjoy it, I enjoy what you post, I enjoy other peoples comments, and I enjoy spoiler warning. I think its partially because I don’t like the mass stream of information I find on most ‘popular’ forums or sites…I can’t stand the escapist forums for example.

    Thank you for what you give us here!

  16. tzeneth says:

    It’s posts like this that make me feel so YOUNG. Your site has been around within a few years of half the time I’ve been alive. I can’t even remember how I stumbled across DM of the Rings and the laughter that filled me from that webcomic. It’s also been interesting to go back and watch old Spoiler warning episodes to see the improvement and changes of the show. Good Luck Shamus and I hope you keep this site running for another 9 years.

    1. Tizzy says:

      I bet a lot of people remember finding this site because of DMotR. But, like you, I cannot remember *how* I was linked to DMotR. By now, this site has been a part of my daily internet dose for so long that I struggle to remember where I used to go before.

      1. krellen says:

        I remember how. It was mentioned on the Giant in the Playground forums.

        1. Tizzy says:

          funny: I traveled that road in the other direction…

          1. krellen says:

            I’m opposite from a lot of people. I learned of the Escapist from Shamus (and have since retreated).

            1. Ambitious Sloth says:

              In a similar way to Tizzy, that’s the road I came in on. I think I first showed up on the Escapist trying to follow a flash series called Unforgotten Realms. From there I found Shamus and then after reading the Pixel City posts I decided to stick around.

            2. urs says:

              Same here (and same here, too)

        2. The Rocketeer says:

          I used to be an active member of those forums, too, until one day I suddenly realized I couldn’t stand them.

          Years later, when Rutskarn started making references to stuff he was doing with Jibar, I instantly made the connection and thought, “Hey! Jibar is that muffin with the cat ears!”

      2. IFS says:

        I found DMotR via tvtropes (long after it was completed) read the whole thing and then didn’t really come back for some time until tvtropes once again linked me to Spoiler Warning. Now I check the site at least once a day and comment occasionally.

        1. Cybron says:

          I think I also found this site from TVTropes.

          I’ve long since stopped visiting TVTropes but Twenty Sided remains a place I look forward to updates from.

      3. Daemian Lucifer says:

        For me,it was through irregular webcomic forum.

    2. The Rocketeer says:

      I remember quite well. Some adoring fan of the comic was flooding tvtropes with entries from the comic, and I finally checked it out, read the website for a bit, and forgot all about it. Then later, I started checking the blog more often when Shamus first started writing for the Escapist, where I had been drawn, like everyone else, by the advent of Zero Punctuation, and I realized, “Oh, it’s that guy, cool.”

      Then Spoiler Warning began, and I got hooked on the series somewhere around Noveria. After that, I had something bringing me back to the site often enough to realize, “Oh wow, I like basically everything on here. This blog is amazing.” And then I binged on every last thing in the site’s archive.

      To this day, the only thing on the site that I haven’t actually read is the D&D campaign that the website was created to chronicle. Funny.

      1. Tizzy says:

        Well, that DnD campaign is worth reading if you get the chance…

    3. Wide And Nerdy says:

      A few years ago, I was really in a bad way emotionally just hating myself and my life and just wanting to implode. I can’t remember how I stumbled across it but I found DM of the Rings and I read almost all of it that night (didn’t sleep) just laughing my ass off again and again. I suppose it could have been any really funny thing but this comic made me realize that I still had the capacity to feel joy and life still had things worthwhile to offer that I had not discovered yet.

      Now, again, I suppose it could have been any number of things that might do that for me under those circumstances but the comic was really good, really funny and connected me with good things. So I guess I’ve had probably the most extreme experience with it of anyone on this site.

  17. Otters34 says:

    Thank you for having us, Mr. Young. Here’s to another near-decade of interesting ideas and unique personalities. I’ve rarely been at my best or brightest when posting here, and thank you for your patience.

    Maybe for the eighteenth anniversary, we could get a retrospective on Freespace!

  18. Galad says:

    *Looks at his first tab, a Twitch HS tournament, with its retarded spammy chat, which isn’t even nearly the worst possible chat you can have with 30k viewers*

    Yep, times have changed, but it doesn’t have to feel apocalyptic and all. Among the mindless stupid spam there’s occasionally truly amusing lines.

    And then of course there are well-mannered communities like this one.

    My first foray with the Internet was back when I was in 6th grade, so around 13 years ago. I was just interested in games back then though.

  19. Nalyd says:

    My first forays onto the internet were more than a decade after yours, in 2004, when I was ten years old. However, my experience was pretty much your Garden of Eden reborn, if on a smaller scale. I loved video games but never had a console, and my first computer (well, the family computer) was a Macintosh, so mainstream gaming was effectively off-limits. So when I went on the internet to search for the things that I liked doing it was for niche indie games(though I didn’t know it at the time), because they were largely the only ones that bothered making things for Macs. Specifically, the community I found was Spiderweb Software‘s forum. And it was a lot like what you describe – a high concentration of highly educated professionals that know each other personally and engaged in detailed, civil, intelligent discussions about all manner of things. It’s changed a lot now and most of that is gone but it was still my first experience with the internet, and I still can’t tolerate the sludge pits Reddit or 4chan or Tumblr, and for that I am incredibly thankful.

  20. gresman says:

    Dear Shamus and everyone else here!

    I am mostly reading the articles and comments and very rarely I will leave a comment myself. Following all these nice stories about when people came in contact with this site and the net I felt it appropriate to share my own stories here.

    My first experience with the net must have been somewhere around 1996. The net was a weird place back then if I remember correctly. Searching using Yahoo and Altavista. Furthermore using weird programs for downloading like GetRight or the annoying mess that was RealPlayer. I used the net mostly for ICQing. That was the way I met my best friend. Weird times. :)

    I think I found Shamus’ blog somewhere around the time I was studying for my BSc. So it must have been somewhere around 2006 or 2007 I think. Since then I will come by everyday to read what is written on here. Sometimes it gets me thinking and inspires work. For example Shamus’ musing about procedural generation inspired my Master’s thesis and some other study works.

    Lastly: Thanks to everyone involved for this great offering of civilized discussion and other stuff. Keep the good stuff coming and I will come back often.

    Good night everyone!

  21. Daemian Lucifer says:

    Wow.9 years.So much has happened in those 9 years.Ubisoft has ruined mheroes of might and magic for me.Ea has ruined dungeon keeper for me,as well as command and conquer.Bethesda came really close to ruining fallout for me(but obsidian saved in the last moment).Looking forward to the joy that the next 9 years will bring!

  22. Eruanno says:

    Aww. This made me both sad and happy at the same time. Hugs to everyone!

  23. arron says:

    This is a great place to be. I’ve been here since the Bioshock Spoiler Warning season and it’s like a bit of the internet where sanity, respect and reason seems to coalesce into a good community in which I have many friends.

    Look forward to many more years of Twenty Sided. Many thanks to Shamus and the rest of the Spoiler Warning team that makes this place what it is. :)

  24. Hitch says:

    Everyone is nice, everyone proofreads, [nearly] everyone has something smart to say, and everyone is on the honor system.

    I do my best. I’m only one man. I can only bring the level of discourse around here down so far.

    1. MichaelGC says:

      We apreciate ur efforts.

  25. Henson says:

    It’s really interesting to hear about the internet in a state which I never never experienced, one of Usenet and BBSs. We had a computer lab in our elementary school, but nobody ever used it except that one nerd who’s probably rolling in dough now. My digital life in the early ’90s was limited to our 486, the Commodore64 and RUN discs. How life has changed.

  26. Sean Conner says:

    One of the more unusual USENET groups was alt.hackers. It was moderated, but there was no moderator—the whole point was to figure out how to get your own posts past the non-existent moderator. Made for a very good signal-to-noise ratio, even after the start of the Eternal September.

    1. Paul Spooner says:

      That is a brilliant idea.
      It also seems to be how the 20-sided forums are run.

    2. Ithilanor says:

      Kind of reminds me of #xkcd-signal, where a bot mutes anyone that repeats anything that’s ever been said. Original blog post here, wiki page here.

  27. PAK says:

    I have checked Twenty Sided every day since March of 2007 when I accidentally stumbled onto your I Know Kung Fu posts. There is no other site I read or have read as religiously. I hope you keep going for many more years to come.

  28. Deadyawn says:

    Just another lurker here, letting my appreciation of this place known. Let us hope it shall forever remain a bastion of hope against the insanity of the internet.

  29. McNutcase says:

    I seem to recall some people considering September 1993 to be over, as of AOL dropping Usenet access (most ISPs these days don’t carry Usenet; it’s still there, just harder for non-technical people to get at). Be that as it may, I didn’t get online until 1999, which makes me part of the problem for the grognards of the internet. I hang out in various IRC channels, and I’m active on a mailing list for Volvo owners. Other than that, just about all my online activity is on the Web, and somehow my usual handle is never taken. I have no idea how that happens…

  30. Paul Spooner says:

    I was ten years old when Eternal September hit. I remember e-mail being a thing before then, but only because my Dad had a work e-mail. I don’t think he spent much time online, probably because he is dyslexic and both reads and types very slowly.

    So, my first real experience with the internet was three years later at the junior college, where the professor told everyone to sign up for an e-mail account. I chose hotmail, simply because it was the first on the printout of sites where you could get e-mail for free. It was an economics class, so I wanted to put “econ” in it. Of course, I started hunting around for a good pun on that, and settled for a prefix of “dude” for whatever reason.

    If I had known I would still be using that same account twenty years later, I probably would have given it more thought.

    I also made a page on geocities at some point, “Weirdpaulspooner” I think it was. It was ugly, but it got me started on web design, and would form the foundation for my website today. I also had friends who helped to carry me onto the internet, one of which currently hosts my website, and the other of which has written a good deal of code for it. These were all people that I knew in real life first though.

    I don’t make friends very often, and befriending someone on the internet is even harder than in person. It’s impossible to know who someone really is without a large body of experience to base an opinion on. In person, you can accumulate that experience pretty rapidly through all of the senses. On the internet it takes much longer.

    Which I guess is the point of this article. Thanks everyone for being my internet friends. And thanks Shamus for taking the time to carve this community out of the cliffs of insanity.

    1. Shamus says:

      I have always wondered. Thanks for that origin story.

      1. silver Harloe says:

        The Origin Story.

        so Econ Dude is a super hero? I’d read that comic…

        1. Shamus says:

          I’ve always read it as “Dude Con”. Like, a convention for dudes.

          Dude, where you you going?

          Dude, I’m headed for DudeCon.

          Dude! Me too!

          Typical cosplay would be guys like Jeff Lebowski, Bill and Ted, Wayne and Garth, and various 80’s surfers.

          Panels would be stuff like, “Who is the most Dude?” and “How Women Can Unlock Their Inner Dude” and “Dudes in the 21st Century.”

            1. Paul Spooner says:

              As soon as I get my evil mega-conglomorate off the ground I’ll see if I can do something about hosting the DudeCon… maybe at an abandoned strip mine somewhere?

  31. AlongComesASpider says:

    Hapy aniversiry gus! i’m really ha[py too heer abut the nine yers! I’v only ben round for a year myself bu I love the comunity her and cant wait to spen 9 moer wit all you fin folks!

    To another nine years of proof-reading!

  32. Ilseroth says:

    I’ll toss in my “glad to be here, origins, blah blah”

    Essentially I found the site through Fallout 3 series of Spoiler Warning purely on sheer random luck. The thought put behind the discourse in the show was staggering and actually changed how I perceived game narratives ever since.

    I will say, one of the reasons I love posting here is that if someone has an opposing opinion the result is usually a well thought argument or a simple “We can agree to disagree.”

    Between Spoiler Warning, Shamus’ wide variety of gaming, programming, life and lately music posts (really enjoying those btw) and not to mention waiting endlessly for the end of Josh’s Shogun playthrough this site is usually the first site when I check in the morning, and frequently, the last I check at night.

    You say “Another nine years” but personally I hope it lasts long past that.

  33. General Karthos says:

    And you survived a big tide of newcomers thanks to the “DM of the Rings” (as others have mentioned) and still things stay mostly civilized. And all these nice people keep contacting me and trying to sell me steam showers.

  34. IFS says:

    Wow I’d never actually heard of the Eternal September before, though I suppose that makes sense given that I was born the same year that it started. It’s really strange to think of the internet existing in the manner you described, almost sounds like an entirely different world from today.

    1. Zach Hixson says:

      There are many sites that still have small communities hidden among the floods of people.

      Allot of fan sites, such as MHQ have people that know each other, if only through forums and chatrooms. They gather every year to watch live streams and other events. During MHQathon 2014, around 10:00, once all of the random people throughout the day had left, the community of Internet Friends were the only ones left (and me of course, because I was up late working).

      It was strange to see civilized discussion where even days throughout the livestream people would remember you and keep up with running jokes that YOU started, or even people making the livestream got to know who you are, and you them.

      I hope we can bring that type of community back some day, although I fear it may never be possible.

      1. Galad says:

        Can you please link us to this MHQ civilised site you speak of?

      2. Zachtheperson says:

        The site went down after the MQHathon. They said that it was going to be up the next day with an overhauls and updated forum but it hasn’t happened yet (that was over a month ago). I really hope that it isn’t down for good

        Btw I am the same person as Zach Hixson, just a different account on my phone. Don’t know why it did that.

  35. MerryVulture says:

    As I mostly lurk, it seems a good time to come out and say thanks. To the next nine years!

  36. Dt3r says:

    You definitely did something right. This is one of the few sites were it’s actually worth it to read the comments.

    1. General Karthos says:

      Oh, yes…. I can’t read comments on news articles. For all the idiocy that YouTube comments contain, comments on news articles are even worse. It’s enough to make my blood boil. This is one of the few places on the web where it’s safe to read the comments.

      1. Tizzy says:

        Comments are more than just “safe”. They can be a big draw to the site. Proof: This post has been up for two days and I am still reading and commenting.

  37. Cyranor says:

    As a seven year lurker just want to say thanks Shamus for making this community so great.

  38. Fizban says:

    D’aww, I’m glad you managed to build what you were searching for. It’s nice when a positive trope comes to life.

  39. mookers says:

    Congratulations on the enduring success of this blog. This is one of the first blog-type sites I started reading, about a year after you started it, and it remains one of the highest quality in both content and reader contributions.

  40. Zach Hixson says:

    I know it would be a lot of work, but it would be neat to have a small forum on here. Like you said, recreate the time of the internet where everyone knew each other and was friendly and respectful. I think it might work, and if it does it could be really interesting to see.

    Edit: I am relatively new here, and just recently started paying attention to the comments and realizing they were actually interesting unlike most youtube comments and such.

    I always recently watched MHQathon 2014, and one thing I thought was really cool was that after about 10:00 all of the random people cleared out of the chatroom, and all that was left was the few people that had been there every year, and knew each to a great extent just by talking with them through forums and other livestream chats throughout the years.

    While I have been using the internet for many years, my main exposure to the culture came later, and until very recently (last few years) I was under the assumption that aside from a few websites, it was just a flood of people, where what you say might get seen by one person, but then quickly pushed to the bottom by the hundreds of people after you.

    Some websites are trying to get back to this, and I hope that trend with continue and thrive in the future.

    Edit: found the forums, was looking in the side of the page instead of the top XD

    1. Paul Spooner says:

      Welcome to the future… or maybe the past?

    2. Ithilanor says:

      There is indeed a forum! See the link up in the page’s header.

      1. Zach Hixson says:

        I swear I looked for it! I guess I just didn’t look in the header, was mainly looking at the sides XD

  41. Neko says:

    Happy Birthday, Twenty Sided!

  42. Steve C says:

    I came in for DMoR right when Attack of the Show promoted it. I had no intention of using my real name in the comments. I remember Shamus asking people to use their real names without the requirement to do so. That was such a reasonable request how could I not? I also really liked the simple “Name” and “Email” fields to comment without the irritating verification process. Then I stayed for the quality comments.

  43. BitFever says:

    I have no memory of the September of 93 as I would have been 2 years old at the time and as such am in no position to say if you are viewing it through rose colored lenses or not:P
    What I do however know is this site has been a wonderful bastion of good natured and reasonable folks that has always made me feel welcomed and I’m happy for its existence and the community that supports it as well as yourself for running the show Shamus :)
    Here’s to 9 more years.

  44. AJax says:

    I discovered your website in my first year of college and I’ll be graduating next semester. Through-out the years, I’ve lurked and frequented the site because of the shocking atmosphere of positivity and safety compared to other sites. Let’s not forget the hilarious content.

    Thanks Shamus, the SW crew and everybody else for making this site such an awesome place. Here’s to another nine.

  45. Goodflow says:

    Dear Shamus,

    This is my very first comment in the last several years of being an avid reader. I can’t believe that I never got around to it before, it seems criminal now to speak up after so long lurking. I’ve followed almost all of your posts, and even though I have no other interest in programming I still devour them because of the personal touch and forthrightness of your descriptions.

    Particularly, I love the Diecast and Spoiler Warning series. It gets me through a slow work shift and makes me feel included up to the point where I want to interject and make a comment before realising that you guys are a recording, making me question my sanity.

    I wish you and your family well and hope the site continues to assimilate people into articulate, intelligent commenters for decades to come. Like the Borg but a force for good.

    Thank you for entertaining me, teaching me, and connecting me with this community.

    1. MichaelGC says:

      WE ARE THE 20 SIDED BORG

      POLITE ENGAGED RESISTANCE IS THE POLAR OPPOSITE OF FUTILE

      WE … WE COULD DO WITH SOME SNAPPIER SLOGANS CAN’T ARGUE WITH THAT NOW THAT YOU MENTION IT

      1. 4th Dimension says:

        YOU WILL BE … INCORPORATED INTO OUT FOLD

  46. Zaxares says:

    I don’t drink so I’ll pass on the toast, but you all are some truly excellent people, and it’s a pleasure to have your company. :)

  47. Mephane says:

    I must confess I joined the internet in the late 90s, so reading this thread really makes me feel like I missed out on all the fun.

    Also, 9 years old, so the blog started in 2005? Now, 2005 sounds like, wasn’t that just yesterday? Yet 9 years sounds like an eternity somehow. I mean, everyone thought when the year 2000 started we had finally reached the future, but we all know how ridiculous that claim was back then. I bet our claims that we are now living in the future will appear as stupid in another 9 years, but heck, we have Star Trek style touchscreen pocket supercomputers and spacecraft that can actually fly back home and land. I’ll be disappointed if there won’t be a proof of concept warp drive 9 years from now. (Just kidding; warp drive might be technically reachable within this century, but will probably simply not get funded.).

    *For the record, I found TwentySided much later, through the DM of the Rings comic (when it had already been finished for some time).

    1. 4th Dimension says:

      “Also, 9 years old, so the blog started in 2005? Now, 2005 sounds like, wasn't that just yesterday? Yet 9 years sounds like an eternity somehow.”
      Yeah, I too feel like 2005 wasn’t that long ago, and then I realize we have readers in here who weren’t even born during the 90s and I start to feel sooo ollld. Where did the time go?

  48. GiantRaven says:

    If anyone is interested in a good computer-y, hacking story set in those early days of the internet, I’d recommend reading Wizzywig.

    http://www.topshelfcomix.com/catalog/wizzywig/764

  49. D-Frame says:

    “Everyone is nice, everyone proofreads, [nearly] everyone has something smart to say, and everyone is on the honor system”
    …until someone writes a hilariously ironic Linux vs. Microsoft comparison and everything goes crazy.

  50. I remember, pre-AOL, thinking how awesome the Montana State BBS was, back when I was dialing in to talk about arcade games and BASIC programming. (not QBASIC, but APPLE BASIC because I am ancient.)

    I remember thinking, once I got AOL, that this was going to be the greatest thing ever, because if the state BBS was awesome, imagine how great it would be with millions more people!

    HA HA! ha! …haaaaah….

    Now I’m afraid to read facebook because all of my friends are arguing about the sex life of a female game programmer, and the ramifications of this on game journalism which are two words that automatically make me roll my eyes when I see them together like that.

    I miss the BBS.

  51. Tom says:

    I was nine in the September of 93, and still using an 8-bit computer (PCs were expensive and not yet a necessity of daily life, so my not-super-rich family took a long time to get one, and even longer still to get a modem. Weirdly, when they eventually did get a PC just a bit later – just in time for me to catch Myst and the Golden Age of LucasArts, fortunately – it seemed to be for absolutely no concete reason at all other than a vague perception that “everyone has to have one of these now.”), so I missed the September that never ended.

    But history repeats itself: I do remember the days when Facebook was basically the reserve of university students and academics, and I sorely miss the way it used to be before the Great Myspace Migration.

  52. Zak McKracken says:

    .. and now you have me longing for the good old days of Newsgroups again …
    those were (and still are, as far a they exist) so much more comfortable and nice to use than fora — there isn’t any chance that on your mission to save the internet you could set up a news server?

    For those who started internetting after 2000: It looks like mail but it’s a threaded conversation thing. The threads are kept on the server, and most e-mail clients (even to date) can fetch the messages and diplay them. You can search the messages for specific content, you can post via your mail client, send private messages, post anonymously, using an alias or with your proper e-mail address (the server can be configured to require user accounts or not)… and it’s pull only, meaning you don’t get flooded with stuff you’re not interested in, as with mailing lists; rather, your client fetches the new message (headers) whenever you want it to. And keeps them separate from your e-mail. What’s not to like?

    It’s probably time, though, that somene implements a moderation system and uses spam filters on it but the demand seems to be low. Me so sad! ;(

  53. Mersadeon says:

    I always love hearing about the early internet (and early programmers)- It’s so mystical. It feels lost and at the same time, stories can give that atmosphere left over from those times.

  54. Bubble181 says:

    Been here since shortly after DMotR started…I’ve been more or less lukry or posty as my time and availability fluctuated….

    Love the site, love the comments section, love most of the content, hope it’ll still be going stroing in 99 years time. Well, possibly with another content creator, but those Young kids looked interesting enough to take over someday.

    Congrats Shamus, and keep it up for as long as you enjoy it :-)

  55. Mechaninja says:

    “no porn”

    Shamus, you are so cute sometimes.

    There was always porn. They just had the decency to keep it where people would go look for it. alt.bin existed for a reason.

    (I’m not making a judgment about porn. I do think it would be better if it was harder to find accidentally.)

  56. Rob Headlam says:

    I also wanted to chime in here – I’m another professional lurker who also treats Twenty Sided as his homepage. I came in a few episodes into DMoTR from OOTS and have stayed ever since – for me the day hasn’t started unless I’ve checked the site.

    You know when you visit other places in real life and think “it looks fun and interesting, and was nice to visit, but I can’t imagine living anywhere else”? That’s how I feel about this site – it’s my internet home. (Which given my long standing lurking I guess makes me more of a squatter which…doesn’t feel quite right)

    I honestly do wonder what the lurker/poster ratio is here, and would imagine it’s pretty huge.

    Anyway, this site has given me more reading and listening pleasure in the past few years than any other source; internet, TV or otherwise. For as long as you guys and girls build it, I will come. Long may it continue.

  57. Peter H. Coffin says:

    The annual party held by the denizens of alt.gothic just finished voting for the host city for it’s 21st event. It’s been (and continues to be) an awesome run, even though most of the denizens don’t spend much time there anymore. But literally *hundreds* of friends for decades.

  58. Jonathan says:

    DM of the Rings is how I got here. I stayed for the well-written prose, theories, and explanations. I wish I were more active on the comments threads, and I’d probably enjoy the forums, but I only have so much time in my day.

  59. Thomas says:

    I don’t think I even really used the internet until 2003 (before then I think my only use for computers was playing that Encarta Mind Maze game). I find it so weird to think that I’m basically a child of the common internet.

    1. Ygor says:

      Same Here.
      I knew about it from about 2000 I guess, but since our country (Slovakia) had pretty crappy providers offering good, home internet at that time I started frequenting the internet around 2003 when I was 14 years old.

      As for this site, I think I started watching it more at the time of AC 2 season of spoiler warning- and I encountered it through one of the campaign posts of D&D as I googled for some written RPG play sessions.
      And I’ve been here ever since.

      Thanks for all the content you provide. And thanks for all you guys here and on the forums too, you’re a great community.

      1. 4th Dimension says:

        Something similar happened with me. I had access to the internet from 2001 I think when I got my first computer. But back then we used dialup which was timelimited, and you had to pay for more time once it ran out, so you tended only to go to internet if you needed something and not randomly thrawl it.
        I started using it more often once I went to university, and as for when I discovered TwentySided, I don’t really know. I know the comic played a part, and I’m confident I was here when first Randy SW season started but dates and time elude me.

  60. “everyone proofreads” I try, I also usually use the built in spell checker feature of the browser so glancing over what I’ve written I tend to fix or re-write anything marked red and sometimes I end up re-wording stuff in the process.

  61. I started with um… a Amiga and BBS, the phone bill (due to the frequent modem use) got huge.
    At one point I even ran a BBS myself and was administrator on another.

    Emails did not really exist yet, instead FIDO mail was used, BBSes acted like post offices.

    The web did not really exist either. I saw WWW browsing and E-mailing be born or get adopted.
    I’ve also had a website for um, is it 15 years now? I’ve lost count actually. So I’ve seen the growth of PHP, MySQL, Apache, SQLite etc.
    Lots of pioneer stuff.
    Seeing things evolve like that is something I find very valuable, I’m not sure future leaps in progress will be as ground breaking (they will be more iterative).

    Which is a real shame as I’d love to see a final frontier (a lil’ Star Trek TNG nod there) of a technology path some day where it has reached it’s max potential.

    1. MichaelGC says:

      Well, don’t despair, as we never know what the future may bring. It’s the undiscovered country… ;D

  62. Aaron says:

    well I, like everyone who posted before me, am happy to have been at least around to gaze at this bastion of the golden age of the internet that was long lost by the time i got to it.

    since it seems to be the thing: i didnt really use the internet outside of research projects until 2001-03 and cant remember when i came across this site…mostly since when I get bored I read the archives, but it would have been some time after that while looking for gaming articles

    so thanks Shamus and friends for making a great site with a ton of great content and keep it up

  63. Dude says:

    You make me feel old. So old. :D

  64. Galad says:

    Oh, I remembered to post this here. Will hopefully be exotically amusing to people.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g3sJB2tcoJY

    Star Trek mixed with some turbo folk and jazz.

    1. 4th Dimension says:

      LOL.
      I’ll say something I don’t often say:
      10/10 would folk again. ;)

  65. Anonymous says:

    Wow. Nine years is a lot of time for a blog to survive. Cheers to that, and I hope to keep reading your stuff (on and off, as I were) for much longer.

    I’m not a regular visitor to your blog, and I certainly haven’t digested all the content that nine years worth of posting has to offer, but I really like what you write. Every once in a while I’ll end up here and losing a few hours reading your stuff.

    As for the never ending September, don’t you think that maybe, even with the constant influx of people to the Internet, is ending? Internet culture is no longer a mystery, and there’s talk of webpages on TV somewhat commonly. Even if people aren’t really friendly, there can’t be said that ignorance reigns more than before. At the very least, it’s equal.

    Or maybe it’s just that in my corner of the Internet it isn’t that big of a problem.

    As for the lack of contacting information from users, it is grating when they ask to be helped. But if they’re not willing to involve themselves in the conversation long-term, then it makes sense for them not to post their mail. Especially if they’re posting in such a big forum where they’ll probably get thousands of replies to the same thing.

    But, of course, I’m not talking from 21 years of experience that you have, as I’m a fairly newcomer to this thing. Cheers to that, too.

    1. Cybron says:

      The larger context of the Eternal September was one of a shift from an internet dominated by academics and a few others, an exclusive network, to one available to the larger population.

  66. noahpocalypse says:

    I can’t believe nobody made a reference to Green Day’s “Wake Me Up When September Ends”. Worse, I can’t believe I didn’t see the connection when I read this post a few days ago.

    Here’s to another 9 years of humor, civility, and discourse.

  67. Cuthalion says:

    Super late to the party (but not 9 years late!), but commenting to say that I love the site and read almost everything Shamus writes, along with listening to the Diecast and occasionally watching Spoiler Warning!

    Congrats on making it 9 years with this blog. I’ve been here since 2007 or 08 and plan to stick around awhile.

  68. Garrett Carroll says:

    Many of the discussions I contribute to might be dead (for now, binging the blog by skimming, probably not a good thing), but I absolutely believe I have something worthwhile to say here.

    For a while there while I was in late high school I had always felt a sense of… how best to say it… unease. I had found that many people on the Internet and some “okay” friends had never really had much to say. It was at that point, however, that I began to notice a diversion for both myself and for most of my friends.

    While many people over the Internet began to scream and yell at each other, I began to realize how detrimental the effects of these people were on me, as I began to read these poeples wonderful (definitely not) thoughts. It began to hit me that if I wanted to find a group I enjoyed discussing matters with, I’d have to go a dig it out of the farthest reaches of the Internet.

    Unfortunately, most social media sites don’t have it. I posted a photo of the book Macroscope to my Instagram and was met with the following three comments: “amazing!”, “sweet”, and “pretty awesome”. That wasn’t quite the reaction I was looking for. Luckily I left that mess. Most social media sites are average when it comes to having a reasonable discussion with people, unless they are closed groups.

    Luckily, this has only been for about a year or two. I am twenty now, and after some exploring I managed to find the communities I had sought to join on my journey four years ago. Not just here on Twenty Sided (found within the last month), but also on other blogs and discussion forums. I’m slowly but surely moving away from the agonizing voices of “FUUUU!!” to the insightful comments of “well this character did this for this reason…”

    I lack examples in memory to further elaborate my point, but I now recognize that the best side of the Internet is the one that has informed reactions to things.

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