Serdar Argic

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Serdar Argic was the alias used in one of the first automated newsgroup spam incidents on Usenet, with the objective of refuting the Armenian Genocide.

Contents

Usenet posts

For a period of several months in the first half of 1994, the Internet user under the pseudonym of "Serdar Argic" (with the address sera@zuma.uucp) posted messages in any Usenet newsgroup thread involving the country of Turkey, arguing that the Armenian Genocide had not occurred or that Armenians had committed genocide against Turks.

Serdar Argic, who apparently managed to run a daily search on all of Usenet for mentions of Turkey, and followed up all such messages with lengthy and historically inaccurate diatribes about genocide against the Turks.[1]

Argic's postings soon numbered in the tens of thousands, and averaged over 100 posts per day,[2] the highest post count of any single Usenet entity at the time. He posted to several newsgroups, especially soc.history, soc.culture.Turkish, and misc.headlines. Because of the posting volume, repetitiveness and minimal responsiveness to follow-up posts, most observers concluded that it was the output of a program, or "bot", which scanned for any new appearances of the keywords "Turkey" or "Armenia" in certain newsgroups and replied with saved pages of political text.[3] The bot would automatically post a reply even if the original message had simply mentioned a Thanksgiving turkey but was cross-posted to a soc.* group. The posts sometimes contained direct responses to specific statements indicating some human intervention.

Response

Internet users sent a barrage of complaints to UUNET, the Internet service provider hosting the account of Serdar Argic. UUNET never took any action based on the complaints, a first sign that spam would become an increasingly common problem on the Internet in the years to follow. UUNET's justification was that Serdar Argic was posting from a host downstream from the host they fed (anatolia!zuma) over which they had no control. Serdar Argic became known as the Zumabot due to the name of his host.[4]

At the time, there was a fear of the free use of third party cancellations, as it was felt they could set a precedent for the cancellation of posts by anyone simply disagreeing with the messages. Cancellations were rarely performed at the time, because spam had not become the problem it became in subsequent years.

The Serdar Argic posts suddenly disappeared in April 1994, after Stefan Chakerian created a specific newsgroup (alt.cancel.bots) to carry only cancel messages specifically for any post from any machine downstream from the "anatolia" UUNET feed which carried Serdar Argic's messages. This dealt with the censorship complaints of direct cancellations, because carrying a newsgroup was always the option of the news feed, and no cancellations would propagate unless the news administrator intentionally carried the alt.cancel.bots group. If sites chose to carry the group, which most did, all of Serdar Argic's messages were removed from all newsgroups.

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