one more response

Mon Sep 9 14:56:08 UTC 2002

        Usenet is a system of posting messages on electronic bulletin boards known as newsgroups.  There are literally thousands of newsgroups, with more being added every day.  Usenet is often considered part of the Internet, but it predates the modern Internet and originally used a different protocol (and may still, for all I know).  Most text Usenet messages over the past 20 years have been archived at, where you can search for them by clicking on Groups.

        Many early computers used only capital letters.  By the time Usenet became popular, though, computer keyboards with both upper and lower cases were widely available.  Most people seem to find it easier to read lower case text, which may account for its popularity over the past 12 centuries or so.  I don't have any formal research backing that up, but there's vast amounts of anecdotal support for it.  The "shouting" convention became a way of discouraging users from using all upper case text.  I still see writers discouraged from "shouting," so I think it's current practice to avoid all upper case posts.

John Baker

-----Original Message-----
From: RonButters at AOL.COM [mailto:RonButters at AOL.COM]
Sent: Monday, September 09, 2002 10:33 AM
Subject: one more response

Thanks for the historical information. This is exactly the sort of thing I
hoped to find out about. I don't even know what "Usenet" is, and I have been
using e-mail for nearly ten years. I agree that most people know that some
folks associate caps with anger on the part of the writer; still, what some
nameless person posted in 1985 is not binding on people today (cf. the 18th
century prescriptivist "rules" for SHALL & WILL), especially not in the
simplistic way that MM indicated in his posting. What evidence is there, by
the way, that "All-caps messages are harder to read than a mixture of caps
and lower-case" and that "they do seem ... aggressive"? Some of us have
learned to read them as aggressive under certain circumstances, but that does
not mean that they are inherently so.

Finally, while one could probably make a case for saying that "by 1992, it
was receiving widespread and regular condemnation," I'm interested in what
the situation is NOW, ten years later.

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