> I am interested in railroads and railroading and for several years I
> participated in that particular newsgroup. It became more and more
> merely flame posts between passionate advocates of these two
> positions. I finally dropped out because, as you say, little about
> railroads was included in the posts and there was nothing but an
> endless iteration of the same arguments by the same people on both
Unfortunately, posts about non passenger rail never seemed to generate
as much interest and responses.
I gave up on the urban transit newsgroup because that got particularly
The roads newsgroup has gotten a number of whacko comments mixed in
with politics from crossposting and that's contaminating it as well.
I believe participation on a newsgroup requires a basic belief in that
newsgroup's overall theme. For example, IMHO it is inappropriate for
someone to espouse atheism on a religious newsgroup. On the railroad
newsgroup, there were some reasonable critics of some aspects of psgr
rail operations or carriers which is fine. But others would respond
to each and every post on psgr rail with a "broken record" of absurd
statements. Probably the best thing would've been for such posters to
be ignored but nobody does that.
Many "utopian" advocates of computer communication (first BBSs and
then the Internet) strongly believed and encouraged no moderation and
full freedom of posting, believing that was the key to the best
discourse. Unfortunately, real life and society doesn't work that
It seems ever since BBS's and cable TV came out advocates have been
talking about a utopian world of free communiations (free of charges,
free of controls, full of wonderful information). Of course many of
those advocates were and are self serving trying to sell hardware or
software products that really don't deliver as claimed.
The Internet, as it has evolved to this day, is a useful powerful
tool. But like any power tools, it must be carefully used or it
will make things worse or even hurt someone, just like a chainsaw or
After WW II, people bought cars like crazy in the U.S. Then people
began to get killed from all those new cars in large numbers. There
was a way too long time lag until known safety measures were
implemented and much remains to be done. The automakers had to be
pushed to include safety gear in cars and drivers have to be pushed
hard to drive safely 50 years later.
The Internet is similar. Advocates are in total denial of the risks
of bad information, predators, fraud, hidden costs, etc. I think the
general public should be more aware of those risks and advocates
challenged (especially commercial entities) for their lofty promises.