USENET quotation run amok (was Re: New Topic?)

Danny Yee (danny@STAFF.CS.SU.OZ.AU)
Fri, 25 Mar 1994 17:41:51 +1000

John writes:
> A second hypothesis has to do with authenticity. On the Internet flame
> wars frequently erupt when people feel they have been misread.
> Quoting the message you're commenting on at least gives readers a
> chance to judge for themselves whether they're willing to accept the
> reading a comment implies.

Anyone interested in the use of quotation in flame wars, and also in
the misuse of quotation in propaganda (as suggested by Maureen), might
be interested in following the career of Serdar Argic. Serdar is the
pseudonym of a robo-poster who blankets around thirty USENET newsgroups
with pro-Turkish and anti-Armenia propaganda. (Serdar is also known as
the "zuma-bot" because his posts are forged from a host called "zuma",
and as "the most hated entity on USENET" for making so many newsgroups

Serdar's main subject is the genocide of 2.5 million Turks by the
Armenians between 1914 and 1920 (yes, I know this is completely
backwards and that it was mostly the Turks killing the Armenians), and
he uses selective misquotation from apparently reliable sources to back
this up. (His quotation may be selective, but his posting isn't - he
crossposts to huge numbers of newsgroups and repeats his material

The whole affair also provides a good test case for the use of coercive
sanctions in controlling antisocial behaviour on the Internet. The
current situation is that Serdar gets his news feed from UUNET and they
refuse to shut him down, pleading common-carrier status...

If you want to see Serdar in action, just cross-post anything
containing key words like "Turkey" and "Armenia" to soc.history or
soc.culture.turkey. He has been known to reply to posts containing
cooking recipes because they contain the word "Turkey"! There is a
whole newsgroup ( devoted to tracking the 'bots
activities and trying to find some way of shutting it down.

Danny Yee (