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Van.General is Nuttier than Ever

So I’m wrapping up a long day of work (today it went from 9:30am to about 5 mins ago, with a couple of meal breaks), and I was bored. I decided to check out the newsgroup van.general (for vancouver.general), to see if it was any worse than the last time I checked it out – about 2 years ago.

Yep, it’s worse.

See, I used to post quite heavily to van.general, as far back as 1994 when I first got on the Internet. For a while it was quite a good place to “hang out”, share some tips and tricks about living in Vancouver, and have general discussions and debates. They got heated at times, but mostly the “regulars” were okay. I even made a few friends with folks in van.general, and Wayne, my lead programming guy, knew me from the newsgroup.

Around 1996 or maybe 1997, the newsgroup really started to go downhill. I trace it to four things:

  1. a few racist bastards discovered the newsgroup. One I remember well is someone (a guy, I’m 100% sure on), using the name “Karen Gordon”. Others filtered in and out, but more in than out. Too many van.general “regulars” and newbies fell for their bait. I probably did more times than naught, but within a month or two of Gordon’s arrival, I had it killfiled. Unfortunately, others didn’t.
  2. around the same time, a bunch of bible toting, anti-abortion, gay bashing, mens-rights types also discovered the group. Wow, fascists and right wing religious zealots, at the same time – who woulda thought.
  3. a couple of the regulars, including a guy with the initials MM, started exhibiting their slide into complete weirdness. By the end of 1997, it got so bad that MM was attacking many of the regulars (including myself) with verbal slurs, insults, and really strange arguments. His fave tactic? Posting new threads saying something like “Chris Jones is a lying bastard who steals for a living” or something to that effect (yes, he used real names). Preserved for posterity, of course, in DejaNews (and now Google Groups).
  4. Many of the more rational “oldbies” started leaving. I left too (not to say I was one of the rational oldbies :))… I think I hung around until early 1998, but then I gave up. I think MM, who by that time felt he “owned” van.general, proclaimed triumphant that he chased me off. Oh well, delusions are great.

Anyway, like any addiction, from time to time after I “quit” the newsgroup, I couldn’t help but drop in to check out the headers. They kept sliding downhill. So eventually I lost all interest. About 2 years ago was the last time I checked the NG out in any sort of regular way.

Tonight, I stopped in, saw some 2000 posts archived on my newscene server, and downloaded them. I saw message headers like:


Wanted : Racists…


High incidence of mental illness among gays: study


What’s worse is most of these idiotic, baiting, trolling, hate-filled posts have many, many replies to them. And many of the old “regulars” whose names (or nicknames) I recognize are participants.

Sure there’s genuine threads here and there about actual Vancouver stuff, some questions about the city, where to go, where to get something fixed, where to buy something, etc, but the newsgroup is ovewhelmed by the very things that made me leave it years ago. And it is much worse today.

I even saw Karen Gordon’s name as a poster about 300 times. But hey, no MM! Maybe he changed his nickname…

It’s really too bad (not his absence, but the NG in general)… it used to be such a good place to hang out virtually…



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