Telecom Digest and Telecom Archives are compilation-copyrighted by the estate of Patrick Townson, 1996-2007, and by Bill Horne , 2007-2020.
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at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

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Telecom Digest History/New Reader Help
Welcome To Comp.Dcom.Telecom And The Telecom Digest! This is the "Introductory" page for readers of comp.dcom.telecom and the Telecom Digest, where we introduce the publication, and tell you a little about our philosophy as Moderators.
To find out how to submit an article for publication, please read the list of Frequently Asked Questions (the "FAQ"), which describes the process in great detail.
Telecom Digest was started in August, 1981 by Jon Solomon as a mailing list on the old ARPA network. It was an offshoot of the Human Nets forum intended for discussion of telephones and related communications topics.

Pat Townson moderated the Digest from 1996 until he suffered a stroke in 2007, and Bill Horne has been the Moderator/Editor/facilitator of the Digest since then. The moderator works through accounts provided by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, MA.

Telecom Digest is not strictly speaking part of Usenet. It is an official Internet mailing list publication. A decision was made at some point in the past to 'port' the Digest to the Usenet news group 'comp.dcom.telecom', in order that Usenet readers would be able to participate in the Digest. I became Moderator of comp.dcom.telecom in 2007 in addition to being Moderator of Telecom Digest. For all practical purposes, the messages in comp.dcom.telecom are identical to the messages which appear simultaneously in The Telecom Digest, although readers of The Telecom Digest have the option or receiving an actual digest, i.e., they can sign up to receive all of the posts for a single day combined in a single email.

Both comp.dcom.telecom and Telecom Digest are *moderated*. This means that unlike many Usenet groups, messages must be channeled through the Moderator's mailbox to be considered for publication. Like other moderated groups on Usenet, the reason for this is to reduce the flow of traffic on the net; to reduce the number of postings which essentially say nothing new; and to group or collect the messages in a logical and convenient to read way. Moderators have the duty of weeding through duplicate messages; standardizing the output; making minor changes to correct spelling, grammar and punctuation; 'repairing' header information and subject title information as needed to cause messages to 'thread' correctly, and otherwise helping to maintain the flow of traffic on the net and the attractive appearance of their group.

Moderators are entitled to have opinions of their own on the topics of discussion, but should make an effort to keep the discussion balanced with all sides permitted to express their opinion. In the event of such a heavy flow of traffic that not all -- or only a small portion -- of the messages received can be used, the Moderator is expected to balance the flow as evenly as possible. Quite obviously this is more of a judgment-call than anything else at times.

In Telecom Digest and comp.dcom.telecom my specific guidelines are these:

We receive dozens of messages from readers each day. I try to print as many as possible, which sometimes means that I allow controversial opinions and slightly-off-topic threads. The salary they pay me for doing this doesn't require me to work more than three hours per day on telecom discussions.

When several messages appear from various people saying almost the same thing, I will limit the traffic to those with the most interesting views, the most original content, and/or whatever seems to me the best balance of opinion and content.

A Moderator is not required to print all submissions received and is in fact encouraged not to do so. It comes down many times to simply a judgment call by the Moderator to accept one and not accept another. Based on the number of messages I publish per day (depending on the time I can devote that day) versus the number I actually receive, I'm not able to publish every submission.

In the past, submissions were automatically sent a reply. That was discontinued some time ago, since so many submitters obfuscate their email addresses to prevent them being harvested by spambots. If you submit something to the Digest, and it doesn't appear within a week, then it has been rejected and you didn't get the notice, or it was marked as "spam" by the spamassassin software, and I never saw it.

If I do not wish to use your submission I attempt to do one of two things: If it is a lengthy piece and obviously required work to prepare it, I will attempt to return it. If it bounces once, then I will discard it. If your article was a short piece -- just a few lines of response or similar -- I will often times simply discard it and answer you with a note of my own. Again, if it bounces, I have no resources or time to track down your address ... not and publish the Digest every day as well.

Yes, I can lose things, but my record is pretty good for not losing submissions. Any large moderated group will have technical problems from time to time, but I am trying my best on this end to make the Digest and comp.dcom.telecom one of the best groups on the net.

I cannot -- will not -- publish messages which in my estimation are intended only as flames, deliberate attacks on myself or other users, or which are calculated to throw the Digest up for grabs and cause a big backlog of meta-discussions about the operation of the Digest itself. I trust none of the long-time readers here will ever claim that I refuse to publish all sides of an issue, or that I refuse to publish opinions contrary to my own. If anything, I permit too many rebuttal messages; but I want all sides to be aired here, save my few 'blind spots' if you wish to call them that: I won't publish phreak/cracker messages which jeopardize the security of this net or the telephone network; anonymous messages will be a rarity here; persons abusing network hospitality and/or lacking basic 'net etiquette' by sending messages with fake names and addresses or by forging the required headers to break into comp.dcom.telecom will find no kinship with me. I do not acknowledge or respond to the individuals who send such messages.

The Digest is 'wide-open' for conversation on all aspects of telephony: there is no practical way these days to separate the technical aspects from the politics involved, or vice-versa. Both telecom 'heavyweights' and inexperienced users are welcome here subject to the few rules of courtesy which should apply in any forum.

Comp.dcom.telecom is not 'just another Usenet group' ... it is intended to be one of the best, and I sincerely thank all of you who have helped to make it that way.

Messages are frequently interchanged, or cross posted between the Digest and other mailing lists, many of which also appear in their own 'Usenet' groups.

Bill Horne
Telecom Digest Moderator / comp.dcom.telecom


Telecom Digest is an electronic journal devoted mostly but not exclusively to telecommunications topics. It is circulated anywhere there is email. It is also gatewayed to Usenet where it appears as the moderated newsgroup "comp.dcom.telecom".

Telecom Digest is a not-for-profit, mostly non-commercial educational service offered to the Internet by Bill Horne. All the contents of the Digest are compilation-copyrighted.

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