The official WOB-L History
by Jon Freivald
really understand the character of the WOB-L mailing list, you
have to know a bit about
it's history. Where did it come from? Who are it's members?
What does WOB-L stand
is the history of the creation and evolution of WOB-L as
recollected by me, the list creator and maintainer, with a little
help from my friends...
is Jon Freivald. Back in 1989 I was an active duty Marine Staff
Sergeant who became the Network Manager for the 1st Marine Corps
District. Through various circumstances, I became best friends
with Tim Millis. At the time, Tim worked for Trellis Network
Services as a Banyan Engineer. This was wonderful for me because
in late 1989 we were going through a conversion process from
3Com's 3+ to Banyan VINES. Tim was the one who convinced both
me and my superiors that the cost of attending the ABUI (Association
of Banyan Users International) conferences would be money well
spent. I attended my first ABUI conference in Orlando Florida
At this ABUI, Shirley Rogers (University of Akron) announced
that she was creating an e-mail discussion list to allow Banyan
users to carry on near real-time conversations about VINES.
I was one of the first subscribers to the new list. This technical
discussion list was an absolute boon to the Banyan user community.
LOTS of good information was shared there - Banyan would make
announcements there - you could ALWAYS get a question answered
- even at 3am in the middle of a server upgrade! People have
stipulated, and I tend to agree, that the Banyan-L mailing list
is one of the best things to happen to the Banyan community.
Banyan-L grew to a very large subscriber base. In the course
of my travels to my remote offices I was able to meet a few
(such as Bob Brydia, who worked in State College, PA, and Kari
Larson and Mike Punsky, who both worked in Boston). Over the
years of going to ABUI conferences I was able to meet more.
(It was customary to have a "Banyan-L night" at one
of the local watering holes during each ABUI.) Many friendships
were formed (Pat Salmon, Debbie Dickerson, Mike Mandulak, Kris
Holloway, Shirley Rogers, Jim Fralix, Steve Wolfe, Paul Beaver
and many others...). Herein lies the problem...
on Banyan-L got to know each other personally, there tended
to be a lot of "chit-chat" type messages, jokes, and
other non-Banyan related messages going out to the list. People
started to complain...
a while, the whiners forced a bit of a compromise: Any message
that wasn't specifically related to Banyan would have a subject
prefaced by "Off Topic", and messages that weren't
computer related at all would have a subject prefaced with "WOB",
standing for "Waste of Bandwidth." This seemed to
work for a while.
passed, the "crew" of friends on the list grew, and
the "chatter" intensified. It wasn't long before the
number of WOB messages outnumbered the legitimate Banyan related
messages. People started complaining again... Discussion (to
put it politely) ensued. A LOT of discussion ensued... Pretty
soon, between the WOB's and the talk about WOB's, there was
a signal-to-noise ratio so low that you really had to hunt for
messages that were within the original charter of the list..!
Things started to get ugly. (If any of you knew about or can
recall, it was reminiscent of the GT Power network "Turkey
stepped in. She effectively banned WOB's. This lasted for a
while, but then the WOB's started reappearing. Feelings had
been hurt in the previous "discussions", so now people
were REALLY complaining. Several people gave up in disgust and
left the Banyan-L. Things were getting ugly (again).
to another ABUI (ironically, again in Orlando - April of '95),
and had a long chat with Shirley. She was really frustrated
with the situation - so frustrated that she was contemplating
an announcement shutting down the Banyan-L! I expressed my sincere
distress, and she agreed to give it a little more time for a
solution to appear (her emphasis on little time!). I discussed
the problem with my friends Mike Mandulak and Kris (then Holloway,
now Jacobs). It was agreed that what was needed was another
forum for all of the friends to move their chit-chat to -- another
this isn't the kind of thing that anyone's company would likely
be willing to devote resources to, it basically came down to
me... At that point in time I had an Internet connection at
home, was running a UNIX host, and already had list management
software going because of a couple other private lists I was
hosting. I informed Shirley of my intent, and she agreed not
to kill Banyan-l. She asked what I was going to name the new
list. We had tossed around some ideas, but had not come up with
a name. Shirley jokingly stated that since it was a list for
all the WOB messages, we ought to call it the WOB-L. I loved
it! The name stuck... (It was, after all, my list..!)
soon as I got home from ABUI, I set up the list and got Mike,
Kris and Bob Brydia signed up to test things out. As soon as
things were running smoothly, I announced it to the Banyan-L.
We got a dozen subscribers in the first week, WOB traffic on
Banyan-L dropped to near zero (there's still an occasional WOB
out there, but not enough for anyone to complain about any more),
and life was good again...
original subscribers to WOB-L were also subscribers to Banyan-L.
It continued this way for a while. We didn't really have a "charter"
(other than to move the WOB's off of Banyan-L!), and my only
rule was that I wouldn't tolerate any abusive behavior. As the
repoir of the list members grew, and the character of the list
formed, several people mentioned that they had friends or acquaintances
that were not from the Banyan community that they thought would
"fit in" with the existing group. Our consensus was
that Banyan-L membership wasn't a prerequisite to WOB-L membership
(though, to this day, the majority of the members of WOB-L either
are or were members of Banyan-L). And the list grew... Today
we even have members on the list that aren't even in the computer
field (I "met" Ann Harrell on the Zaurus forum of
Compu$erve where she was always getting hounded by the sysops
for posting her jokes..), and it continues to grow in diversity.
The list is full of personality, and is not for the "feint
of heart" or those easily insulted or offended, but is
a whole lot of fun. You even see an occasional technical question
- a real WOB!
winter of 1996, a few of the "WOBbers" got together
and went on a ski trip to Vermont. It was a great success and
allowed several of the members to put faces to names and have
a great time in the process. It was hosted by Kari Larson at
her family's cabin.
Labor Day 1997, Kris Jacobs hosted a get-together (dubbed "WOBCon
II") at Schlitterbahn in New Braunfels, Texas. Many more
WOBbers attended, and this, too, was a great success with a
wonderful time being had by all (except, perhaps, those whose
undies ended up in the freezer!). Such a great time was had,
that a pact was formed by those present that this should be
repeated each year over Labor Day weekend. It was also the means
to share the many photos and stories that was the original reason
to dedicate a web site to a mailing list!