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Objectivism Newsgroups FAQ

Note: This FAQ is displayed in the plain text format used for posting to Usenet. Because the alt.philosophy.objectivism newsgroup is now largely unused, the FAQ no longer serves any purpose and it not posted. It is retained here for historical interest only.

Last-modified: 2003/04/10
Posting-Frequency: occasional
Version: 2.0.3


Subject: 1. Introduction and contents

This FAQ is about the Usenet groups designated for discussing Objectivism 
and Ayn Rand, not about Ayn Rand or Objectivism in general.

Table of Contents:

1.  Introduction and contents
2.  General information
3.  Moderation and off-topic posts
4.  Additional information


Subject: 2. General information

2.0  Who is Ayn Rand and what is Objectivism?

Ayn Rand was a twentieth-century American novelist and philosopher. 
Objectivism is her philosophy. For more information about either, visit 
the Objectivism Reference Center at .

2.1  What newsgroups are designated for discussion of Objectivism and/or Ayn Rand?

There are two: alt.philosophy.objectivism (a.p.o) and 
humanities.philosophy.objectivism (h.p.o). No Usenet groups are 
specifically for discussion of Ayn Rand as a literary or historical 
figure, but such discussion is on-topic in either a.p.o or h.p.o.

2.2  Why are there two different newsgroups about Objectivism?

Having more than one newsgroup about the same topic is not unusual. At 
one time, a.p.o was the only Usenet group for discussion of Objectivism, 
but it had problems that led some participants to seek the creation of a 
new newsgroup. When h.p.o was created in 1996, many people began using it 
instead, so the volume of posts in a.p.o has dropped substantially from 
what it once was. However, people continue to use both groups.

2.3  Is everyone who participates in these groups an Objectivist?

No. Some are Objectivists, but others are not and may even be actively 
opposed to Objectivism. Readers should not assume that they cannot 
participate just because they are not Objectivists, nor should they 
assume that everything posted is a position or result of Objectivism.

2.4  Is Objectivism and/or Ayn Rand discussed in any newsgroups other than a.p.o and h.p.o?

Yes. There are a number of newsgroups in which such discussions might be 
on-topic. For example, issues related to Objectivism and/or Ayn Rand have 
been discussed in talk.politics.libertarian and rec.arts.books.


Subject: 3. Moderation and off-topic posting

3.0  What does this post about [subject] on a.p.o have to do with Objectivism or Ayn Rand?

Possibly very little. There are off-topic posts in a.p.o for a variety of 
reasons. First, a.p.o is subject to a lot of crossposting: many posts to 
a.p.o are actually by people in other newsgroups. These other groups are not 
about of Objectivism, so these threads may have little or no discussion of 
Objectivism in them. Also, like many Usenet groups, a.p.o gets its share of 
spam, trolls, etc.

3.1  Could a.p.o be moderated to stop off-topic posts?

In theory any newsgroup can be moderated, but it is hard to impose moderation 
on a group that is firmly established as unmoderated. There is no evidence 
that most current users of a.p.o want it to be moderated. Individual readers 
may use a filtering mechanism, such as a killfile, to screen the posts.

3.2  Why is h.p.o moderated, and how is the moderation handled?

One of the reasons h.p.o was created was to allow discussion without the 
crossposting, spam, etc., that caused a.p.o to receive numerous posts 
that are irrelevant to Objectivism. To stop these posts, h.p.o is 
moderated. The moderation policies and methods are described in the 
"humanities.philosophy.objectivism Administration FAQ," which is 
maintained by the h.p.o moderator. That FAQ is posted periodically and is 
also available at . The 
moderator of h.p.o is Tim Skirvin, .

3.3  I saw a spam/flame/troll/off-topic post on h.p.o. Why didn't the moderator stop it?

The moderation is handled using software that screens posts for specific 
requirements and indicators of off-topic content. Posts that pass these 
checks are normally approved without being read by a human moderator. 
Some items may be off-topic and still get approved by the software. 
Details of how the moderation of h.p.o is handled are provided in the FAQ 
mentioned under question 3.2. Concerns about how h.p.o is moderated 
should be either e-mailed to the moderator or posted to that group.


Subject: 4. Additional information

4.0  What are the differences between a.p.o and h.p.o?

They differ in a number of ways, including:

Hierarchy - In general, alt.* groups are not as widely propagated as 
humanities.* groups. Some news administrators refuse to carry alt.*. Others 
will only add alt.* groups that are requested by a user. In contrast, many 
servers carry all humanities.* groups by default. Some servers also store 
posts for humanities.* longer. However, the alt.* hierarchy is more widely 
known than humanities.* because it has a much larger number of groups and 
appears first in alphabetical listings.

Moderation - h.p.o is a moderated group, a.p.o is not (see Section 3).

Signal/noise ratio - a.p.o typically has a higher percentage of off-topic 
posts than h.p.o.

Volume - h.p.o typically has more posts per day than a.p.o.

4.1  Which newsgroup is better, a.p.o or h.p.o?

The answer depends on what you want, based on the differences discussed 
above. Those with access to both can participate in both, if they so choose.

4.2  Where can I find the charters for a.p.o and h.p.o?

Like many alt.* groups, a.p.o does not have an official charter. The charter 
for h.p.o appears in the h.p.o administrative FAQ (see Question 3.2) and is 
archived along with other newsgroup charters at several web and ftp sites.

4.3  What other sources of information about Objectivism are available on the internet?

Visit the Objectivism Reference Center at 
for more information on other internet resources related to Objectivism.

About the Objectivism Reference Center

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