Eternal September

From Academic Kids

Eternal September (also Great September, September that never ended or, endless September) are Usenet slang expressions for the period of time beginning September 1993. The use of these expressions implies the belief that standards of discourse and behavior on Usenet have declined since 1993 due to an unending influx of new users.

Usenet originated among universities. Every year, in September, a large number of new university students got access to Usenet, and took some time to acclimate themselves to the network's standards of conduct and netiquette. After a month or so, the new users would (it is supposed) learn to comport themselves as normal Usenet users. September, thus, represented the network's largest regular influx of newbies.

In 1993, the online service America Online began offering Usenet access to its tens of thousands (now millions) of users. To many old-timers, these "AOLers" were far less prepared to learn netiquette than university freshmen. This was, in part, because AOL took few pains to educate its users about Usenet customs -- or even that these new-found forums were not simply another piece of AOL's service. But it was also sheer numbers. Whereas the regular September freshman influx would soon settle down, the sheer number of newbies now threatened to overwhelm the existing Usenet culture's capacity to inculcate its social norms.

Since that time, the dramatic rise in the popularity of the Internet has led to a constant stream of new users — in some people's view, drowning out the old Usenet entirely. Thus, from the point of view of the pre-1993 Usenet user, the regular "September" newbie influx never ended.

Software programs exist which display the date in accordance with this reckoning — for instance, September 4086, 1993 for the date November 8, 2004.

The gag is at times extended — for instance, the notional future date at which Usenet discourse will become sensible, mature, and educated has been called "October 1, 1993". An attempt to hurry the arrival of that date is being made by the proponents of Usenet II.

On January 25, 2005 (September 4165, 1993), AOL officially discontinued newsgroup access through its service[1] (http://www.theregister.co.uk/2005/01/25/aol_cutsoff_newsgroups/). September 1993 is thus, according to some, finally over. Others, however, feel that Google Groups, especially with its new user interface, has picked up the torch that AOL has dropped – and that Eternal September still has yet to end.

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