Yearly Archives: 2001

April fools, 1992. Back at’cha

In 1992, one of the april fools forged postings was a posting forged in my name, bitching about the recurring april fools postings I forged in Spaf’s name.

I never found out who did this, but I’m surprised it took this long for someone to turn around the forgeries back at me. I know it wasn’t spaf. he’d never do something like this. Nope. Not him. Never.

but it was about this point that the spaf forgeries were retired. Purely coincidental…

From boulder!agate!!gatech!mcnc!duke!wolves!apple!
Mon Mar 30 14:02:43 MST 1992
Article: 13 of news.announce.important
Path: boulder!agate!!gatech!mcnc!duke!wolves!apple!
From: (Chuq Von Rospach, mostly-retired net.deity)
Newsgroups: news.announce.important
Subject: The Spafford forgery
Message-ID: <0-812-53167-1@ISBN.Apple.COM>
Date: 27 Mar 92 01:10:45 GMT
Expires: Fri, 10 Apr 1992 08:27:02 GMT
Organization: Aaab bcc cc Ddeeeee’e eeeeeff, ghh hi Iiikkll’l llmm-
nnnnnooo oooopp, rr rrssss sss tttttt tt tuuu veex.
Lines: 37

This is an unauthorized announcement, posted in the public interest by
Chuq Von Rospach’s network-interface AI software.

On April 1st, 1989, an article was posted to USENET over the “signature” of
Eugene Spafford at Purdue University. “Spafford” purported to warn everyone
that April Fools Day is a popular time for people to post forged USENET
articles. “Spafford” mentioned several of the more famous (or infamous)
forgeries, and described ways in which a forged article could be told from
a real one.

The article by “Spafford” was, of course, a forgery, and bore all of the
telltale signs of being one. Spaf himself didn’t know anything about the
article until after it was posted.

On April 1st, 1990, some person or persons other than the original forger
dug out copies of the forged forgery-warning, changed the date and message
ID slightly, and reposted it. The same thing happened in 1991. As a result,
the 1991 article was a duplicated clone of a forged forgery-warning.

Enough is enough. It’s not funny any more. The joke was witty the first
time, half-witted the second, and drizzle-witted the third. We don’t need
to see it again this year.

If you have a copy of the Spafford forgery, and were thinking of re-posting
it sometime in the next couple of weeks: please don’t. It’s been done
and the joke is old.

If somebody does post it, ignore it. Don’t bother writing spaf to tell him
that he’s been forged. He knows. Don’t bother writing Chuq, either… he
has retired from the net to pursue other goals, and I read all of his
mail for him.

Chuq “IMHO” Von Rospach, Enterprise Products Support | GEnie:CHUQ & MAC.BIGOT | ALink:CHUQ
Book Reviewer, Amazing Stories =+= Member, SFWA
Editor, OtherRealms =+= #include <standard/disclaimer.h>

April Fools, 1989 (not mine)

This isn’t mine. but one of the first classic usenet april fools hacks was a posting from Russia (with love). So it’s not surprising that when the USSR collapsed, we’d hear about it on the net…

From apple!vsi1!ubvax!kremvax!gorby Sun Apr 2 22:28:29 PDT 1989
Status: R

Article 3007 of news.misc:
Path: apple!vsi1!ubvax!kremvax!gorby
>From: gorby@kremvax.mosc.cccp (Mikhail Gorbachev)
Newsgroups: news.misc,talk.politics.misc,talk.politics.soviet
Subject: Beyond Perestroika
Message-ID: <3982@kremvax.mosc.cccp>
Date: 1 Apr 89 01:18:05 GMT
Reply-To: gorby@kremvax.mosc.cccp (Mikhail Gorbachev)
Organization: Soyuz Sovietskaya Socialistika Respublik
Lines: 51
Xref: apple news.misc:3007 talk.politics.misc:37179 talk.politics.soviet:1475

This is a difficult message for me to send to the peoples of the
world, but recent events in the Soviet People’s Republics and elsewhere
have made it something that can no longer be avoided.

For some time it has been apparent that Socialism is a dismal
failure. I am convinced that the fundamental internal contradiction of
Socialism lies in Marx’s famous dictum “From each according to his
abilities, to each according to his need.” So simple. So humane

And so fundamentally evil.

Let me explain.

What this dictum accomplishes is to turn all standards of human
worth and dignity upside down. Ability, competence, diligence, skill,
intelligence: All of these are made into liabilities for their
possessor. After all, greater skill does not increase one’s need for
food or housing, does it? Of course not. But since the standard is
“From each according to his ability”, more is demanded of such a
person. More productivity, more work — but no incentive, no
compensation for it.

Worse, the other side of this tarnished coin, “To each according to
his need” makes need — real or feigned — into an asset. The
combination of the two has proved deadly. Such a system penalizes
skill and intelligence, and rewards fecklessness and incompetence.

And we have thus, in the 72 years since The Revolution, reaped the
bitter weed that must inevitably spring from the bad seed of Marx’s
flawed thought. What was supposed to be a classless society is instead
a system of class privilege even more exploitive of the working people
than the regime of the Czars.

Accordingly, in the wake of The People’s Counterrevolution of this
past week, I have taken the following steps:

The Soviet State shall divest itself of all properties held by
collective farms. The land will be sold at auction to the residents.
Members of the Communist Party will not be eligible to bid.

The Soviet State shall divest itself of all factories and other
means of production. These shall also be sold at auction, and again,
Party members are not eligible to participate.

All forces of the Soviet Union will be withdrawn from areas outside
of Russia. The Warsaw Pact countries are encouraged to follow our
example, but whether they do or not is entirely their own decision.

Secretary General of the Soviet Union
Mikhail Gorbachev

The Canonical April Fool USENET posting

This is the classic April Fools forged posting — the classic forged posting warning folks to be wary of forged posting. I started posting this to usenet in the early 80’s, and repeated it every year until Gene Spafford threatened to kill me if I didn’t stop, because it was (of course) forged in his name, and he got all of the mail from people who didn’t Get It (or worse, did, and wanted to know if he knew it was being forged in his name…)

My favorite April Fools piece, by far…

Path: amdahl!walldrug!moscvax!perdue!spaf
From: spaf@cs.purdue.EDU (Gene Spafford)
Newsgroups: news.announce.important,news.admin
Followup-To: news.admin
Subject: Warning: April Fools Time again (forged messages on the loose!)
Message-ID: <>
Date: 1 Apr 89 00:00:00 GMT
Expires: 1 May 89 00:00:00 GMT
Organization: Dept. of Computer Sciences, Purdue Univ.
Lines: 27
Approved: spaf@cs.purdue.EDU

Warning: April 1 is rapidly approaching, and with it comes a USENET
tradition. On April Fools day comes a series of forged, tongue-in-cheek
messages, either from non-existent sites or using the name of a Well Known
USENET person. In general, these messages are harmless and meant as a joke,
and people who respond to these messages without thinking, either by flaming
or otherwise responding, generally end up looking rather silly when the
forgery is exposed.

So, for the few weeks, if you see a message that seems completely out
of line or is otherwise unusual, think twice before posting a followup
or responding to it; it’s very likely a forgery.

There are a few ways of checking to see if a message is a forgery. These
aren’t foolproof, but since most forgery posters want people to figure it
out, they will allow you to track down the vast majority of forgeries:

o Russian computers. For historic reasons most forged messages have
as part of their Path: a non-existent (we think!) russian
computer, either kremvax or moscvax. Other possibilities are
nsacyber or wobegon. Please note, however, that walldrug is a real
site and isn’t a forgery.

o Posted dates. Almost invariably, the date of the posting is forged
to be April 1.

o Funky Message-ID. Subtle hints are often lodged into the
Message-Id, as that field is more or less an unparsed text string
and can contain random information. Common values include pi,
the phone number of the red phone in the white house, and the
name of the forger’s parrot.

o subtle mispellings. Look for subtle misspellings of the host names
in the Path: field when a message is forged in the name of a Big
Name USENET person. This is done so that the person being forged
actually gets a chance to see the message and wonder when he
actually posted it.

Forged messages, of course, are not to be condoned. But they happen, and
it’s important for people on the net not to over-react. They happen at this
time every year, and the forger generally gets their kick from watching the
novice users take the posting seriously and try to flame their tails off. If
we can keep a level head and not react to these postings, they’ll taper off
rather quickly and we can return to the normal state of affairs: chaos.

Thanks for your support.

Gene Spafford, Spokeman, The Backbone Cabal.

April Fools, 1989

Early in the history of USENET, the annual April Fools usenet posts were something people looked forward to (and looked for) — there was never a formal contest, but there probably should have been.

In 1989, I couldn’t come up with anything I thought was funny — so I cancelled April Fools day, which was funny. Of course, it was a forgery in someone else’s name, which was even funnier…

Path: amdahl!walldrug!kremvax!aims!hao!encar!woods
From: (Greg Woods)
Message-ID: <>
Organization: Scientific Computing Division/NCAR, Boulder CO
Newsgroups: news.announce.important,news.admin
Followup-To: news.admin
Subject: April Fools called off!
Date: 1 Apr 89 00:00:00 GMT
Expires: 1 May 89 00:00:00 GMT
Lines: 27

It was announced today that the annual USENET April Fools Competition has
been called off. Officials for UGH, the USENET’s Group for Humor, called off
the annual competition after they found that there was no USENET activity
that deserved parodying. This is the first time since the creation of USENET
that this event has been cancelled.

“Look at it from the point of view of a professional parodist,” stated Greg
Woods, honorary chairman of UGH and the official Backbone Cabal
representative to the organization. “I think it’s a symptom of the growth of
the net. Everyone takes everything much too seriously these days. You can’t
poke fun at someone who has no sense of humor. USENET itself has lost that
sense of fun that it used to have back in the good old days.”

Woods, a tall, balding man with a cherubic face continued “Look at the
last year, and what parody candidates do you see? Brad Templeton and
rec.humor.funny. A natural, right? Except the situation went out of
control and now we have a free speech/censorship hassle. It’s not funny
when it’s on the front page of the Boston Globe. JEDR would be a natural for
a parody, but I refuse to take advantage of a man without the ability to
understand the joke, much less appreciate it. Besides, he’d probably sue me
for being abusive to nerds or something. So he’s out.

“I like a good joke with the rest of them. Ask anyone — my sense of
humor is legendary on USENET. I always get asked to do the opening
monologue at the Usenix BOF. Last year, a group of people got together
and wanted to do a roast at Usenix for me, but for some reason it never
happened. I spent two hours in the conference room and nobody showed.
Must have been the weather or something.”

“Anyway, we looked really hard at Salman Rushdie. That should have been
a natural. There should be *dozens* of people making Iran jokes. Are
there? Not when you’re worried about someone coming and killing your
dog. We thought long and hard about doing an Ayatollah piece, but I
value my life too much. I’d rather ask Mark Ethan Smith out for a date.
Or spend an evening with Weemba in a gay bar. Or spend an evening with
Weemba *anywhere*, for that matter.

“What’s that leave us? The Backbone Cabal announced its retirement.
What happened? Nothing. How do you parody silence? It shows how useful
the Backbone really was, but it’s not parody material. MES? The
Brahm’s Gang? Tim Maroney? There is no challenge in parodying what is a
parody to begin with. Chuq didn’t even once announce the impending
death of the net! He did go to work for Apple, but it’s hard to tell
whether that means we should make fun of him or of Sun. Spafford’s at
Purdue now, but making fun of *that* is like throwing a bucket of water
on a drowning man.

“We were getting really desperate! We even thought about cross-posting
a “Car for Sale” ad between nj.wanted and news.announce.important, but
we decided nobody would notice. So we finally just called it all off.

“Face it. USENET just isn’t fun any more. How can you parody something that
won’t get the joke? We talked about this during the Backbone Cabal BOF and
Orgy at Usenix, since we were worried even then, but nothing came of it.”

In a related announcement, Woods announced the first USENET Computer
Network Parody Annual. “Rather than repeat them on the net, (or waste
$10 posting a message asking, ‘does anybody have…’) you can get these
jokes in book form. The 1988 Annual has around 800 parodies, and costs
$9.95 + S/H. (USD) Send mail to parodybook@looking.UUCP for details on
how to order.”

This message is copyright The USENET Community Trust. If you read this
message, you are in violation of our copyright and owe us a royalty. You can
absolve this violation in one of two ways: buy our book or send $2.95 to
the “USENET Defense Fund, C/O Rick Adams, Box 13459-27A, Honolulu, Hawaii,

You can copy and distribute this in whole or in part in electronic
form, as long as you don’t try to read it, or pretend that you are the
one who came up with the idea.

April Fools: 1988

I enjoy April Fools, when I have time to do it.

Here’s a piece that got foisted on USENET back in 1988. almost all of the people mentioned are real, and in most cases, are being poked fun at in some way. and unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately), the rather snide comment I made about setting up a uucp link to sneak data across the border has become a basic reality of the new global village of the net — just look at the US’s futile attempts to control encryption technology…

Path: inhp4!reserch!dmr
From: drm@reserch.uucp (Dennis Ritchie)
Newsgroups: news.announce.conferences
Subject: First International Conference on Secure Information Systems
Message-ID: <6.0225x10toda23@reserch.uucp>
Date: 1 Apr 88 00:00:00 GMT
Expires: 1 May 88 00:00:00 GMT
Sender: taylor@hplabsz.HPL.HP.COM
Organization: AT&T Bell Labs, Unix Research
Approved: taylor@hplabs


The System Security Society of Southern Saskatchewan and the University
of North Saskatechwan, Hoople campus announce the First International
Conference on Secure Information Systems. This conference will feature
a star studded panel of security and system experts from across the
computing spectrum giving boring papers and comparing notes on
security problems and possible solutions for existing and future operating
systems ane networking environments.

Papers that will be given at the conference include:

Richard Brandow, MacMag magazine: Computer Viruses as a form
of social terrorism

Dennis Ritchie, AT&T: Trojan Horses: Security Hole or Debugging Aid?

Richard M. Stallman, Free Software Foundation: Passwords are a
Communist Plot, or Give Me Access to Your Computer, Dammit!

Chuq Von Rospach, Fictional Reality: A Secure USENET, an Exercise
in Futility.

Greg Woods, NOAO: Benign Dictatorships in Anarchic Environments: A
Case Study

Peter Honeyman, University of Michigan: Security Features in
Honey-DanBer UUCP, or Why a Flat Name Space is Good.

John Mashey, MIPS Computers: RISC security risks on Usenet

Peter G. Neumann, SRI: The RISKS Of Risk Discussion, or
Why This Conference Should be Classified.

William Joy, Sun Microsystems: Unix is Your Friend.

Donn Parker, SRI: Breaking Security for Fun and Profit: A Survey

Lauren Weinstein, The Stargate Project: Stargate Encryption;
Turning Free Data into Revenue.

Mark Horton & Rick Adams, The UUNET project: Security Aspects
of Pay for Play on USENET.

C. Edward Brown, National Security Agency: How to get USENET
feeds when you don’t exist, A Case Study.

Gordon Moffett, Amdahl Corp.: The USENET anarchist’s cookbook;
An alternative to the backbone cabal

John Quarterman, University of Texas: The USENIX social agenda
and national security; A summary of Usenet discussions
from Star Wars to Tar Wars.

Landon C. Noll & Ron Karro, Amdahl Corp.: Public Key Encryption
in Smail3.1; How to send E-mail that the NSA can’t read

A. I Gavrilov, KGB, North American Information Bureau: Exporting
American Military Information via Encoded USENET Signatures,
Theory and Practice.

The Conference will be held March 2 through 4, 1989 on the campus of the
University of North Saskatechwan in Hoople, Saskatechwan, Canada. Registration
is $195 until December 1, 1989, $295 afterward. For more information please
contact Professor Peter Schikele, Department of Computer Science, University
of North Saskatechwan, Hoople, Saskatechwan, Canada 1Q5 UI9.

Note: This conference is a rescheduling of the conference originally
scheduled for October, 1988 but cancelled after the United States Department
of Commerce decided that the material was too sensitive to allow
non-American citizens to read (including the material written by the
Canadians on the committee). Because of this, the conference has been moved
to Canada, which doesn’t have a complete Freedom of Speech written into it’s
constitution, but has better things to do than worry about ways of
circumventing civil rights. Americans having trouble getting their papers
cleared for distribution at the conference should contact Professor Shikele
about setting up a direct uucp link for the troff source.