Alt.fan.warlord

alt.fan.warlord is a Usenet newsgroup dedicated to the dissection and flaming of signature files (sigs) used in other Usenet groups. The newsgroup was best-known during the early and mid-1990s, but can no longer be considered active. In its time, it was a notable "underground" Internet phenomenon.

For the most part, alt.fan.warlord targeted sigs that violated a principle of Usenet netiquette known as the "McQuary limit" — i.e., the rule that a sig should be less than 80 columns wide (preferably 72 or less), and no longer than four lines. This limit kept Usenet messages reasonably short, conserving bandwidth, and ensured that an 80-column terminal — the most common display type — could display the sig properly without text wrapping to the following lines. The McQuary limit, sometimes referred to as the "McQ limit" and often misspelled "McQuarry," was named after George F. McQuary, a frequent contributor to alt.fan.warlord.

Signatures in violation of the McQ limit sometimes stretched to hundreds of lines in length, including things such as ASCII artwork or long collections of favorite quotations — but no relevant information. In extreme cases, a signature could be several times as long as the post to which it was attached.

A Usenet user with the handle "Death Star, War Lord of the West" became infamous among certain circles in the Usenet community for possessing such a sig. The process of mocking this signature became known as "warlording." This usage was later extended to the dissection and mockery of any excessive signature block. The newsgroup alt.fan.warlord was established as a forum for warlording, and its regulars continued to mock or flame any Usenet sigs they found ugly or impractical.

Although warlording was sometimes little more than flaming, regulars of the group considered a "good warlording" to be one which contained sardonic humor or vicious wit. Common targets of mockery were BUAGs (Big Ugly ASCII Graphics) and BUAFs (Big Ugly ASCII Fonts) prevalent in newbie sigs. The BUAGs most often ridiculed on alt.fan.warlord included: ASCII images of Bart Simpson, stick figures on bicycles, immense swords, and, in the case of Australian Usenet denizens, maps of Australia (often with the city of Perth marked with an asterisk).

One should note that the Jargon File's description of "Warlord" (sic) as a "B1FF-like newbie" is inaccurate in light of his postings viewable in the Google Groups archives.

Entries in the Jargon File

* [http://catb.org/~esr/jargon/html/W/warlording.html Warlording]
* [http://catb.org/~esr/jargon/html/M/McQuary-limit.html McQuary limit]
* [http://catb.org/~esr/jargon/html/B/BUAF.html BUAF]
* [http://catb.org/~esr/jargon/html/B/BUAG.html BUAG]

Other external links

* [news:alt.fan.warlord alt.fan.warlord]
* [http://linkchecker.stacken.kth.se/warlord/ alt.fan.warlord web page]
*RFC 1855, an IETF standards document from October 1995 which explicitly mentions the four-line limit with regard to email (Section 2.1.1 on page 5)


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