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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I swiped this from Usenet, and though it talks mostly about Usenet newsgroups, I think the main message of the text is very appropriate to this board.

Q. Where did the term "FAQ thumper" come from?

A. When I first encountered these strange people who could quote their

newsgroup's FAQ verbatim and did so at every chance that presented

itself, I was instantly reminded of the born-again Christian types

I've known throughout my time. Like "Bible thumpers" who can recite an

appropriate verse from Scripture for almost any topic of conversation

that they are presented, the FAQ thumpers exhibit the same skill and

fervent zealotry as their Christian zombie brethren in embracing and

quoting their hallowed FAQs.

Q. Who appointed/elected the FAQ thumpers?

A. Nobody! It's a job they took on by themselves. These wanna-be

dictators of cyberspace don't even enjoy popular support in most

newsgroups they infest.

Q. Why do they take on their self-appointed roles?

A. Mainly to enjoy the illusion of power. There are other reasons

(covered later), but the desire for some measure of authority is the

essence of their motivation. Chances are excellent that this tiny

minority of aspiring cybercops have little in the way of power in

their real lives so they desperately attempt to fill that void on the


Q. Do they have any real authority? In other words, do they present

any threat to me?

A. None whatsoever. Despite their threats about complaining to ISPs,

they realize that no ISP is going to dump a paying customer on the

basis of some self-righteous twit lodging a complaint about your

violation of an FAQ. It would be a different situation if you were

posting porn someplace where it doesn't belong or spamming a newsgroup

with commercial ads, but any reputable ISP would promptly dump any

complaint about anything as utterly trivial as posting requests or

questions anywhere. Furthermore, complaints about newsgroups of

"questionable" repute are almost universally dumped by ISPs regardless

of what sort of so-called abuse is taking place within them.

"Questionable" newsgroups are those which are magnets for people

engaged in the distribution of either pornography or copyrighted

materials such as "warez," or media products which have been digitally

copied (mp3, mpeg, wav, jpg etc.). Complaints from such newsgroups are

viewed by ISPs as the proverbial "pot calling the kettle black" types

of indictments and are generally sneered at,... if they receive any

attention at all.

Q. Why do they use such threats if they can't really get action from

most ISPs?

A. Simple. Such threats are very effective when leveled at novice

internet users. The FAQ thumpers are essentially cyber versions of

schoolyard bullies without the muscle to back them up. Since a

newcomer to the newsgroups has no idea of how things work until

they've been around for awhile, if someone pounces on them and makes

ominous-sounding threats, until they learn they really have little to

fear, they acquiesce to the bully's demand... at first. A good

analogy is to watch the way someone who has never been stung by a bee

or wasp reacts when one flies around them as opposed to how someone

who has been stung reacts.

Q. Are their any types of complaints other than spamming or posting

pornography inappropriately that are taken seriously by ISPs?

A. Yes, but the effectiveness of the complaint is nearly always

dependent upon the content of the newsgroup it concerns. In other

words, if you post messages containing profanity in a newsgroup which

contains "adults only" content such as those newsgroups dealing with

pornographic images or texts dealing with sex acts, your complaint

will be given no attention whatsoever. On the other hand, if you post

that same kind of profanity in a newsgroup dealing with intellectual,

family-oriented or religious subjects, a complaint against you has a

much better chance of getting you warned or summarily dumped by most

ISPs. Usually, you'll receive a warning e-mail before any decent ISP

dumps your account though. Any ISP that terminates your account

without first giving you a chance to present your side of the story

isn't one you want to pay your hard-earned money for, so if you do get

summarily dumped, consider it a favor from the dunces who run such an


Q. I've seen claims on the part of FAQ thumpers that their activities

act as a bulwark against the newsgroup being overrun by spam. Is that


A. Not at all. Spammers generally aim their efforts at newsgroups

based on how germane to what they are peddling the content of the

newsgroup is. A small amount of spam is therefore the norm in just

about every newsgroup on Usenet. The only time spam "overruns" any

newsgroup is if it proves lucrative for the spammers to advertize

their products and services in it. For instance, you see little, if

any spam in the newsgroups dealing with "warez" and other copyrighted

materials because the last thing a software maker or media artist

wants to do is attract attention to their products in areas where

their product might wind up being freely distributed without any

generating any revenue.

Q. Do FAQ thumpers have any positive effects whatsoever in the NGs

they try to control?

A. On the contrary, they normally do far more harm than they do good.

Even the most casual examination of NGs where FAQ thumpers are most

active will reveal a much higher number of unproductive and genuinely

"off-topic" text posts taking up bandwith and making life miserable

for those seeking the kind of help or files the newsgroup is

presumably designed to provide. FAQ thumpers behave like packs of

wolves waiting to pounce upon the weakest members of the herd. Once

one does so, the rest pile on the targeted prey so that a single

alleged infraction of their revered FAQ generates dozens of "read the

#!!!$*&!! FAQ you #%$^!!!*{?!! newbie!" type posts. Inevitably, people

who don't take kindly to cyber-fascism chime in to defend the poor

novice the FAQ thumpers are gang-banging so that the initial flurry of

admonishments winds up generating an exponentially growing number of

counter responses. Egotists that they are, FAQ thumpers never let

anyone get in the last word besides themselves, so they invariably

respond with rebuttals to anyone who comes to their victim's defense.

Compounding the problem further is the fact that many FAQ thumpers are

very prodigious in their zeal to police their little domains. It's not

at all unusual for a single FAQ thumper to post over 50 messages a


Q. Do FAQ thumpers also contribute "on-topic" posts to the NGs they


A. One would think that those who profess to be most dedicated to the

well-being of a NG would also be amongst the most prolific

contributors of assistance and files, but alas, this is universally

not the case. In fact, FAQ thumpers are generally little better than

so-called "lurkers" when it comes to actually contributing content to

their NGs. Hypocrisy is an integral part of the psyches of most FAQ

thumpers. Their real interest in most NGs is to flex their imaginary

muscles by sniping at others.

Q. Being an FAQ thumper seems to be a huge expenditure of wasted time

and energy. There's just got to be more to their motivation than the

illusion of power. What else drives these creatures?

A. There are a lot of frustrated, lonely and secluded people in our

society. Many of the most active FAQ thumpers are likely to be

unemployed people living off of personal assets and/or government

assistance. It is entirely plausible that many are shut-ins who are

permanently disabled. This may seem like a cheap shot, but two things

are obvious about FAQ thumpers. They all seem to have far more time

to spend at their computer keyboards than most of us do and they all

carry around chips on their shoulders. Some disabled people remain

very bitter about the cards fate has dealt them and are in an ideal

position to devote large amounts of time to cyberspace. What better

way to feel connected while in seclusion than to participate in the

online community and what better way to experience the illusion of

being empowered when one is feeling otherwise helpless?

Those FAQ thumpers who are not shut-ins are almost necessarily loners

with little in the way of a normal social life. Think about it. What

time could such people possibly devote to socializing after working an

8 hour day and then spending so much time ferreting out as many FAQ

transgressors as they do on a daily basis?

In any case, FAQ thumpers are universally people with severe emotional

problems. You couldn't pay most of us to sit at a keyboard for hours

at a time every day with the sole task of composing messages that

almost always drip with sarcasm, condescension, anger and

self-importance. No mentally healthy person would dream of taking on

such an onerous chore of their own volition.

PARTING ADVICE. FAQ thumpers are irrepressible. Like death and taxes,

there's no escaping them. They have been with us throughout our lives

and will hound us to our graves. They were our kid brothers and

sisters who tattled to our parents about everything we did in an

effort to vent their frustration at being the weakest members of the

family. They were the teachers' pets in school who were keepers of

the erasers and appointed as class monitors (stool pigeons) whenever

the teacher had to leave the room. In high school they were the hall

monitors. In college, they began to find fewer outlets where they

could enjoy any sort of empowerment so they became the withdrawn

loners who went through four years or more of virtual invisibility to

most people on campus. As adults, they are the neighbors who peer out

from behind their curtains every time they hear so much as a car door

slamming. They are the people who call the cops at the most trivial

or imagined violation of their peace or property. They maintain

mental dossiers on all of their neighbors and are eager to share them

with anyone who gives them an opportunity to recite their gossip. As

coworkers, they are the boss's informers. They'll tell you how lazy a

coworker is and as soon as you are out of earshot, they will tell

someone else how lazy they think you are. If they outlive you, you can

be certain that they will have no qualms whatsoever about verbally

diminishing your existence before your corpse has even grown cold.

Given all the aforementioned, the best thing to do with FAQ thumpers

is to simply kill filter them. You can be sure that by doing so, you

wont miss any genuine content in whatever NG you're in.
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