Campaigning on Usenet

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Campaigning on Usenet

There are a large number of usenet newsgroups that could use a little of the "wisdom and enlightenment" that our community generates. Staff in national offices, as well as grass-roots memberships, should consider it part of their daily or weekly political activity to netsurf and troll for thread and flame to get our word out.

In 1995, roughly a third of US households have home computers, and several million have some type of link to internet. Within a few years, one might expect a roughly ten-fold increase in the usenet audience (with AOL/Prodigy/Compuserve rolling out netbrowsers, and with Bill Gates putting net access in Windows 95).

As with many aspects of the internet, statistic on the extent of usenet readership are controversial. According to the Usenet Bible, most of the military-related newsgroups have estimated audiences of between 5,000 and 20,000. But the numbers according to the more recent Brian Reid's Revised Usenet Arbitron. are roughly five times higher. Thus one might expect that within a year or two, one could reach a potential audience of 50,000 to 200,000 in individual newsgroups, and as much as 1,000,000 in these various newsgroups combined.

This is obviously what is driving the commercial spamming fast-buck artists, who in the end will not succeed. But if even a small fraction of the national staff or local members of our community got out on usenet, we could have a really big impact. In general, it is estimated that there are 100 readers for every poster on a newsgroup. Most newsgroups have a few dozen (or at most a couple of hundred) currently active posters. So our national staffs could make a really big impact in some of the more specialized groups, and local activists could substantially influence even the largest groups. This would be a highly leveraged way of influencing public opinion.

Organizations with primarily a national or analytical focus could use usenet to "publish" articles analyzing current developments as they happen, without having to bother to go to the printer or publisher. Generally the information content of most usenet postings is pretty low, and with our information value-added we would really stand out in the crowd. In addition, through the miracle of hyperlinks, we could embed the URL of our organizational homepages in each posting, which would provide a means of drawing the usenet audience to our community and its messages.

General Usenet Resources

Topical Usenet Resources

We see usenet as both a teaching tool and a learning tool. Our approach to usenet is based on the recognition of an exciting opportunity to build mind-share, by feeding high value-added content into that medium. And we have found in practice that some of the threads [say on] have a level of discourse that matches anything one would find anywhere else.

We have enjoyed substantial success with this model. Through promotions of our webpages on usenet, we have built our webspace up to being our primary distribution mode [with a "circulation" greater than all our hard-copy stuff put together].

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Maintained by John Pike
Upated Thursday, August 22, 1996 - 4:15:10 PM