As you log in to ARS, you may see quantity of nonsense messages. These aren't genuine posts but "sporgeries". Here is a quick FAQ about it.
What you witness is the effect of "spam" attack across several newsgroups. It has been going on since about September 1998. Spams are repetitive messages sent in large quantity in order to disrupt the newsgroup and drown useful discussions. In this case, however, the spam is doubled by a forgery, i.e. real headers (title, author, etc) with text from other newsgroups or nonsense text. They are therefore called "sporgeries", a name, coined by Tilman Hausherr, and made of the combinaison of "spam" and "forgeries".
The nonsense text is produced by an advanced type of Steganography program (algorithmically generated, grammatically somewhat correct rando-text) such as this one (and probably using something like HipCrime's notorious NewsAgent to spread them around (I used to have a link to HipCrime's agent at http://www.hipcrime.com/ but a gentle reader told me that it loads the scanalizer virus through an active X element. Be warned before you go there and fire up your anti-virus program)(anyway, the link does not work anymore)). Normally this kind of software is used to code texts, but sporgeries donít necessarily lend themselves to decoding running a reverse process.
Using such this type of softwares, dozens of sporgeries are automatically generated for each legitimate post. This means that posters who post a lot are sporged a lot, threads that are very long get sporged more, and newsgroups where several hundreds of posts are made each day can receive several thousands of sporges every day. This leads some people to assume that because some posters, threads or newsgroups are more sporged than others, they are more particularly targetted, while it often is, in fact, a mere mathematical consequence.
For accessing usenet, the sporgers are using multiple throwaway accounts fraudulently opened with bogus information. The account is used until the ISP finds out about it and close it down. The sporgers then quickly hop to another ISP. They have shown a certain skill with finding ill-managed ISPís which can help them keep accounts alive longer. About 200 different ISPs have been used to the last count.
Who is doing this?
There are several theories about who is doing it. Some posters from the alt.religion.scientology newsgroup donít hesitate to affirm that the Church of Scientology is behind it as if this was a proven facts. It isn't. The truth is that even if there exist elements that may indict the CoS, neither this theory nor any other ones that have come to light have been proven so far. The question, therefore, remains open.
Unfortunatedly, many so-called "critics" of Scientology are higly partisan people with major axes to grind. Their primary interest is to use the sporgery wave to further their anti-Scientology agenda by blaming the CoS for it. Whether their accusation is true or not doesn't seem to concern them, as long as they can get people's attention and make a fallacious post hoc ergo propter hoc ( "it happened after so it was caused by") argument, based on previous deeds blamed, rightly or wrongly, on the notorious church. Why this is important to note is not only because it is dishonest on the part of critics, but also because their systematic campaign of unsubstantiated accusations may be getting in the way of the discovery of the truth. It may even be, in fact, one of the major reasons why sporgers almost systematically crosspost to the alt.religion.scientology newsgroup.
Technically, it seems that very little can be done for the moment to foil the onslaught, since many net savvy people have been busy for more than a year to try and find out who is behind the attack. They have been quite unsuccessful so far. The only thing that can be done at the present stage is to gather information, cancel the sporgeries and close the fraudulent accounts being used. There are multiple "bots" around the net issuing cancels for the sporgeries almost as fast as they are injected, but not every servers accept cancels. Fraudulent accounts of sporgers are being shut down as soon as they are being discovered, but until now the sporgers have always managed to find new ones about as fast as the old ones were terminated.
Legally, it seems that little can be done as well, at least until the real culprits have been caught. One may argue that the sporgery wave is a form of denial-of-service, but this usually applies to systems rather than persons. As for free speech legislation, it tends, quite on the contrary, to support uncensored public expression, no matter how idiotic, rather than suppress it.
How can I filter the sporg?
There are several ways to filter the sporg if your server doesnít accept cancel or if you read the newsgroup before the sporges are canceled.
Are the sporges archived on Deja.com?
Yes. When a forgery is made in your name, it also is archived by http://Deja.com. Anyone searching for your posting history will therefore bump into them and, not knowing it is a fake, may think that you are somewhat wacko. As a collateral damage, it also makes any search through Deja difficult. It therefore is a good idea to nuke these sporgeries made in your name.
How can I nuke the sporges from Deja.com?
To nuke a sporg, go to http://www.deja.com/forms/nuke.shtml and follow the instructions. Note that if you didn't use your email address when you posted, this would not work since you will have to reply to a confirmation message sent to you by Deja.
If you made a a large amount of posts, this procedure may be rather tenuous. To speed it up a little, you can use a shortcut. Make a Power Search using something unique in your posts that distinguish it from the sporgeries and choose the posts that do not have this line. For example, your .sig line. When you execute it, the URL line may look something like this:
Now add this line: "&ST=PS&purpose=nuke_msg". Your query will at present look like this:
This will give you the same list as before but containing only the sporges. However, segments of long legitimate posts may be included too, so you will have to check the list one by one anyway. It should speed up things nevertheless, especially since you can save this query and use it again later.
Good luck - and beat the Sporgs!
P.S. Here are some wise words, worth keeping in mind:
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