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SubjectRe: CML2 1.3.1, aka "I stick my neck out a mile..."
David Emory Watson <demoryw@pacbell.net>:
> Oh. Well in hindsight, I guess your are right. After all I wouldn't
> want to be a luser, much less associated with AOL. Gosh I never
> realized. Maybe I just didn't read the right standards manual when I
> started using the internet. Where did you learn all of this? No,
> nevermind I don't care. I'm sorry for contributing to this silly flame
> war.

Time for me to put on my hacker-folklorist hat...

Actually, Al is sort of half-right here. There used to be a 4-lines-or-less
convention on USENET, back in the days when bandwidth was expensive. I
adhered to it then, because it mattered.

Nowadays it doesn't -- at least not at that level. Huge sigs with
embedded ASCII graphics and the like are still best avoided, but merely
because they're tasteless and distracting.

I don't think I've heard anyone invoke the 4-line rule since about
1992, though. I didn't start generating short random quotes into my sig
until about 1996, well after the "standard" was effectively dead.

Despite the demise of the 4-line standard, I have a pretty definite
impression that the average size of sigs actually dropped in the 1990s.
The main thing that formerly inflated a lot of them was the need to
list multiple bang-path addresses and other forms of contact info.
Reliable @-addressing pretty much eliminated that pressure.

Even back in its day this "rule" was frequently abused as a socially
acceptable way to attack people whose opinions or style one disliked.
This is doubtless one reason it failed to survive the bandwidth boom.

Hmmm. Maybe this should be a Jargon File entry...
--
<a href="http://www.tuxedo.org/~esr/">Eric S. Raymond</a>

The politician attempts to remedy the evil by increasing the very thing
that caused the evil in the first place: legal plunder.
-- Frederick Bastiat
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