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Early Objectivism Newsgroup Efforts

Since 1996, there have been two Usenet newsgroups for the discussion of Objectivism. The older of the two, alt.philosophy.objectivism, has existed since 1992. But prior to its creation, there were a number of other attempts to establish an Objectivism newsgroup.

Discussion of a possible newsgroup about Objectivism began in earnest in January of 1990. Two competing proposals were put forth. The first proposal was for a group to be called talk.philosophy.objectivism. Shortly thereafter, the alternative name of sci.philosophy.objectivism was also proposed.

The original proposal for t.p.o indicated it would be moderated. However, it was quickly shown that the idea of a moderated group was unpopular, so the proposal was revised.

The issue of how to name the group triggered a great deal of controversy. Although there were existing philosophy groups in the sci.* hierarchy, critics objected that Objectivism was not a science. Others argued that a placement in talk.* (especially without a moderator) was simply an invitation for flame wars. Some called for a new top-level hierarchy to be created. Specific suggestions were made for a philosophy hierarchy or a humanities hierarchy. (The latter would eventually be created, but not for several more years.) The alternative of using the existing soc.* hierarchy was also proposed. A joke proposal for rec.humor.objectivism was even discussed.

Despite extensive discussion of alternatives, the issue of the name continued to stir controversy, with the result that two separate proposals were pusued simultaneously. A call for votes was issued for s.p.o on February 2, 1990. A call for votes on an unmoderated version of t.p.o was issued a few days later, on February 7. Finally, a legitimate call for votes on the rec.humor.objectivism joke was issued on February 8.

The vote results for sci.philosophy.objectivism were announced on March 9, 1990. The proposal had been defeated, with 221 NO votes against 174 YES votes. The rec.humor.objectivism proposal also failed. No result was announced for the t.p.o proposal. What may have happened to that vote is unclear.

The issue of an Objectivism newsgroup lay dormant until November 1992, when a new proposal was made for a talk.philosophy.objectivism group. It immediately drew opposition. The Call for Votes on this latest proposal was issued on December 1, 1992. On January 6, 1993, the vote results for talk.philosophy.objectivism were announced. The proposal failed to pass. Although t.p.o had received 173 YES votes against just 78 NO votes, this was insufficient to pass, because the rules required at least a 100-vote margin for the group to be approved.

Despite the failure of t.p.o, Usenet would not go without an Objectivism newsgroup. In late 1992, the newsgroup alt.philosophy.objectivism was created. Because anyone was allowed to create alt.* newsgroups, no vote was required. This group became the primary Objectivism newsgroup until humanities.philosophy.objectivism was created in 1996. The creation of h.p.o is its own story, documented elsewhere on this site.

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The philosophy of Ayn Rand, a twentieth-century novelist and philosopher, is known as Objectivism. The Objectivism Reference Center provides resources about Rand, her ideas, her works, and places where those are discussed and debated. Visit the Site Information page for details on site policies. Suggestions for additional materials or additional links are welcomed.

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