The Great Troll Wars of 1994

How delightful! It’s troll hunting season on Dkos!We must have a large number of new users, because troll hunting is again a popular past-time. It makes me smile, it really does. I’ve been battling trolls since 1992.

[Tip To All: CHILL. It’ll be ok. Really.]

Join me below the fold, for a trip down memory lane as I recall the Great San Francisco Troll Wars of 1994.

Update: pontificator’s compiled a list of The Great Kossack Wars

It reminds me of the great San Francisco Troll Wars of 1994, before the intramanet killed off the BBS scene. In those days rogue bands of trolls terrorized dozens of dial-up bulletin boards in the 415, 707, 510 and 604. It was a glorious season for sysops and and their assistants, as we tried to distinguish between foolish AOL users (who had suddenly discovered how to use modems) and vandals from the 31337 (“ELEETE”) underground.

They came in slowly over a week or two, setting up multiple accounts each, and laying in wait. Then squad leaders provoked flame wars and when the community responded, the legons lying in wait began to swarm upon us. With rudimentary automated scripts, they crapflooded whole databases with bad noise.

We armed ourselves with caller-ID boxes, hacked to block their phone numbers, and that worked for awhile. But they moved on like locusts. Then they got their hands on re-dialers (or built their own) and jammed the phone lines so that only the most heavily capitalized multi-line BBS could stay online.

We fought back, and eventually found their nest. A vengeful phreaker from our ranks broke open a telephone box and – using a Harris Handset – made bomb threats from their dedicated phone line (every cause needs its dedicated psychopaths). The police raided a young man’s bedroom in the hills above San Rafael, and once they and his parents had read the contents of the 31337’s discussons, no protest of innocence was going to be credible. He was grounded, his computers were seized as evidence and his friends were put under on notice by juvenile officers.

The Great Troll Wars were over, but we’d lost the battle.

Our community was worn, and while we fought back the onslaught AOL, Prodigy, Compuserve and Netscape had joined the field. It was the beginning of the Dot-Com, and the end of the BBS. It would take years before Open Source software again made community software accessible to the masses – The Birth of the Bloggers.