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Story of an Internet List - ivy-subscribers

This is the story of the Internet list ivy-subscribers, written by the man who ran it for the whole of its life. Possibly the best person to write it.

The background is important to understanding ivy-subscribers, and the background has three main parts:

  • My understanding of Scientology

  • The changing possibilities for international communication within (relatively) small groups.

  • The magazine which was the Internet lists "mother".

I'll take these first, and recommend reading them carefully, especially the first one, for I believe a lot of the list's success was based on my understanding of Scientology. For although communication media change,and the type of Internet list I ran is getting outdated the basic principles of life (of which communication is an important part) do not vary, though ones understanding increases with experience. So I offer this as something you can use to increase positive communication in your area of interest with the days communication media.

My understanding of Scientology

When I came into Scientology I did a professional auditor course (HPA course) which did not really give me anything, apart (perhaps) from the fact that I learned the Scientology axioms by heart. Fairly soon afterwards I heard of something called teaching by agreement which (somehow) inspired me, and I got the chance to practice it for half a year when I was Director of the American College of Personal Efficiency in Dublin. I ran what was called the Personal Efficiency Course, which consisted of basic Scientology data one could use in life, the most important being communication, reality and affinity (what for a time became called the CRA triangle, mostly known as the ARC triangle), the tone scale and the cycle of action. By this method of teaching, I had to draw out of people basic data such as what was reality, and when one person had told me (his reality on reality!) I would asked another member of the 5 to 15 people there if they agreed, got another viewpoint and continued asking for viewpoints until there was some sort of consensus. Doing this with a different set of people every week, gave me an understanding of these basics, which is difficult to explain - you have to do it (for a few months with different groups!).

That was number one vital area of understanding for running a list. Number two came almost immediately afterwards, when Hubbard was researching "how to reach the lowest possible case" and came up with the CCH processes. (There is a little success story of my using them at http://scientolipedia.org/info/Antony_A_Phillips) The important data there was that CCH aligned with CRA, and reached "further" than CRA. Hubbard studied control about that point and came up with the importance of positive control, and (rather forgotten later) of the importance of leaving things uncontrolled (which relates to granting beingness – also a vital factor in running a list or other group). In fact he came up with a now forgotten process for practising leaving something uncontrolled, which, in a group auditing session he ran at a congress gave the command "make your hand go "flip-flop" where you held your hand up and made it move "uncontrollably" around.

Other Scn data I used were the three bands of controlling others, as found in the book Science of Survival and data from How to Live Though an Executive, and Dianetics 55 particularly the different ways a communication line can be killed. I don't know whether you can call it "Scientology data" but the idea of exchange, something for something, played a part in my thinking and planning.

I can't think of more specific Scientology data I used. The creation and supervision of the list was very much based on what I understand to be the spirit of Scientology. I came to think of the phrase, once rather popular: In Scientology everyone wins.

The changing possibilities for international communication

The background is important. Although Internet's origin was in the early 1970s, it was not until 1993 that USA federal legislation allowed it to open to commercial users and also in 1993 the first browser became available. Thus IVy (the magazine) started before the Internet was publicly available. There was not (usable) Internet when IVy started. The Internet and digital technology generally revolutionised the make-up and administration of IVy, and it introduce what were called Internet Lists. However, a little before Internet Lists (described later in this article) became available there was another form of public person to person Internet communication available, known as News Groups, and there were quickly newsgroups for a vast number of different areas of interest. One was set up for Scientology called alt.religion.scientology This was shortened to ARS - many newsgroups had the beginning alt., possibly meaning alternative. This important communication medium for all Scientologists and interested people became rather sullied by "fights" and rudeness between proponents of Scientology and those antagonistic, and also small personal vendettas. At that time Homer Smith, a Scientologist, possible a university student, or lecturer, who worked with (forget name – mathematical ways of forming many different types of abstract coloured picture patterns) set up a private Internet list to which I was invited (I think there were 30 or 40 on the list) which was also confidential. It was called os123-l@lightlink.com, lightlink being a service provider that Homer started. The first message I can find on os123 is the 11th January 1991. (There is a date disagreement here, but it may be due to the fact I belonged to a "private", amateur email serve, Fido Net.). Homer was also dissatisfied with the "enthetary" state alt.religion.scientology was in, and set up a second newsgroup calling it alt.clearing.technology, clearing being an alternative name for Scientology, for use in areas where the word Scientology had its bad reputation. There were thus now two public areas for Scientology: ARS and ACT. Forget Blogs, message boards and Forums because they were later in time.

Fido Net

All that is a bit theoretical, and a bit of it taken from Wikipedia. What I experienced was as follows – and I can't remember dates and precise sequence. I heard about Internet, and it sounded good. But the only Internet Provider in Copenhagen was some University and it cost a lot of money. But there was an alternative (email only) – Fido. Fido was a global chain of eager amateurs that offered an email service. It used telephone lines, which could be a bit shaky (and slow with the technology of the time). You had software (this was done in DOS before Windows came along). When the software was installed, you could (with the computer connected to your phone line) ring up your local Fido terminal. The software automatically sent any email you had and downloaded any mail to you. You would then ring off, and look at any mail you had (which was entirely text based – pictures were done with the use of /\| -_ etc.). This way I received a certain amount of Danish stuff; I remember there was one thing you could join which where participants sent jokes in Danish. But Fido was international. You had an address which included your geographical location. If for example, I wanted to send to Homer Smith's private list my local point (which was called WinBoss) would send, possibly with vias, to the point in Denmark that sent (via transatlantic telephone) to USA, and then through relay points in USA to its destination. At one point I got hooked up to (I think) ACT – or was it Homer's confidential list and got perhaps once a month an enormous amount of emails –until I was politely asked if I could reduce the quantity, because of the transcontinental phone costs for it. I paid nothing more than my phone costs to my local Fido hub.

Internet did get local commercial service providers, and I think the University, or what ever it was that had the monopoly in Copenhagen was not heard any more of. But in the beginning those service providers (if I remember rightly) used DOS, and exchanged messages similarly to Fido, through a telephone line and modems.

Action Definition: An internet list is a place where members of a specific list write into the list, and their mail is resent to all members (each of whom can respond in the same way).

The magazine which was the Internet list's "mother" and ivy-subscribers

ivy-subscribers internet list arose out of the FriScientology magazine, International Viewpoints(shortened to IVy) which ran from 1991 to 2008. FriScientology means Independent Scientology (Fri in Danish means without limitations or legal restrictions, such as "fri abort", which was apparently a new thing in Denmark when I first came her).

IVy was started in 1991, as a sort of English daughter to the Danish magazine, Uafhængige Synspunkter (Independent Viewpoint). Since it was started by other people than me, I had come to take over a large amount of the work with the Danish Magazine Uafhængige Synspunkter, and sent some copies to friends abroad. By that time, apart from Free Spirit, the other English language FriScientology magazines had stopped being issued, and I was requested (or encouraged, or even beseeched) to start an English magazine. I had prepared material about Ron Hubbard for his birthday for inclusion in Uafhængige Synspunkter, although he was dead, thought of publishing a single English translation, but eventually planned to do an English magazine, starting with an introductory issue (material mostly for people who had recently left the "Church"), and made the LRH commemoration issue issue 2.

I had lots of help with the new English language magazine, most essential being distributors in other countries, and a largish donation from the English distributor. Apart from the first issue which was free, and sent to all addresses that had been collected the magazine only went out to people who had paid the modest yearly subscription. The articles were a mixture of what people sent in , and some which I asked people to write, including some regular contributors.

In 1995 and 1996 a number of Internet lists had been set up by people associated with Scientology, for example Hiedrun Beer, set one up called family-l (the -l was added to the names f many lists at that time to avoid them, in an email address, being confused with a single person). I think there were about 15 which had some sort of connection with "free Scientology". So far as I know they were all free. Some of them had a specific subject. I can see names like prosperity, astrologist-l, Clear-l, formerscio, peatworld, pnohteftu-L, spirit-l, Techs4reality, Accept-L .

Apart from the confidential one which Homer Smith set up, the most or all of the extant Internet lists were open to any one to join. They were all free, with the person running them paying for them (although Homer, and later Flemming Funch came to supply people who wanted it with a free Internet list from the servers they had access to). As with the two newsgroups, ARS and ACT, there was a certain amount of rudeness.

What tended to happen in practice (also with the newsgroups) was that with anyone being able to join in, you would get irrelevant post, rude posts and posts destructive in other ways. You also got situations where a list would be lively at the beginning, but traffic would die out and the list would be dead. Before I started ivy-subscribers (on January 1st 1997) I looked over the scene as I experienced it with the two newsgroups and a number of Internet lists. So I set it up planning as carefully as I cold to avoid the problems I had seen on ARS, ACT and various Internet lists. How it went is the subject of the next section.

Incidentally, on the subject of lists it is possible to simulate a list using the Cc: facility of a standard email programme. You send to a number of people with their addresses either on the To: line or the Cc: line, they all receive it, and any one of them can press "reply all" or a similar thing, and their message goes to all on the To: or Cc: of the original message. The Pilot did this when he was still anonymous, I was one of the people, and he accepted my offer to run a "proper" list for him, as Flemming Funch was willing to supply me with list software and server space for free.. This was a confidential list with only the people The Pilot approved on. (I use something similar, but using the Bcc: facility, so it is a one way affair in that I can send to many, but the receivers can only reply to me. If you are familiar with an area of computer software you can do some weird things!)

Setting up ivy-subscribers

ivy-subscribers was the name I gave to the Internet list I ran for people who subscribed to the magazine I started and ran from 1991 to 2008. The Internet list I started 1st January 1997 and ran to December 2013.

I had watched how the two newsgroups ran and some of the early lists. What was common to both the two newsgroups and the lists I was aware of was that you paid nothing to join, and there were messages on them which were destructive. Some of the lists were moderated (meaning the list owner or a deputy had to approve each entry) and this caused some problems because where an entry was rejected the sender sometimes felt badly done by and objected, sometimes to the degree that others were in agreement and quarrels of varying proportions occurred on the list which were sent to all members of the list or newsgroup, further degrading it from being constructive. In other words the list became a minor hotbed of ARC breaks! On ivy-subscribers I handled that problem by saying that any subject was OK so long as it would be of interest to the sort of people who read the magazine Ivy.I handled the problem of destructive people entering messages by insisting that only people who were subscribers to IVywere allowed on, and these had all paid a subscription to IVy (subscriptions were renewable with the turn of the new year, and I took people off the list if they did not renew their subscription to the magazine).

A certain amount of control was applied in that I formulated some rules for orderly behaviour, and (after a warning) excluded people who broke those rules. With the first software I used I was only able to take them off the list (or put every member on moderate which would have involved me reading every message that came through – too much work) but with later software, donated by Flemming Funch, I was able to put members on moderate individually. Putting them on moderate individually was a lighter treatment, in that they still received messages (Ron once talked of a gradient scale of ethics). See the end for two different versions of the rules I made (which I changed many times to try and make them as simple and easy to understand and apply as possible – they were based on Scientology data).

At various times I set up subsidiary lists dealing with specific subjects, for instance ivy-pdc for a study of Ron's PDC tapes. The list got fairly busy at time, and Angel did a champion piece of work by publishing every week a selection of the items on ivy-subscribers for the past week.

There is no available archive of the entries to ivy-subscribers (or the subsidiary lists – I have most on my computer, but my flat is not open for people to use my computer to look at them). I did get permission to publish some longer entries (amounting to articles) and you can find them at http://articles.ivymag.org/articles.html. This was a job I did not maintain, so the articles there are from fairly early days in the lists life. My grateful thanks to Mike Hunsakker for preparing that archive site.

Rules for ivy-subscribers

This is where there was a form of light control in ivy-subscribers. I formulated basic rules, and if some one broke them, after a warning I either (in the early days) took them off the list for a week or later when I could do so, put them on moderate.

The rules were totally based on Scientology data and on the first of every month I published them on the list (just to remind folks that it was not a "free for all" fighting list) . All the time I published the rules I was modifying them to make sure they communicated easily, and there were basically two forms, long and short, and I publish the most recent versions of both here. I consider the gentle reminder that there was some one in control was a good idea.

Short version of ivy-subscribers rules

Date: Sat, 01 Dec 2012 06:29:47 +0100

To: ivy-subscribers-1@lists.worldtrans.org

From: "ListAdmin: Ant Phillips"
Subject: [IVy-subs-1]              Monthly advice :-)

**                                   ivy-subscribers-1
        Started January 1997
Relaying positive communication to participants.
**
Here is the last time round! Enjoy! Ant


--* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

The purpose of the list is to facilitate
communication amongst subscribers toIVy. The
basic principle is that communications should be
enhancing, rather than dominatingor nullifying.
(this is enlarged upon in the book Science of Survival).

Basically we hope list members use their thinking
power (which may have been damaged by "Church"
membership) in applying the above, and the
following are guidelines. Communicating to many
people, some of whom are silent, and you can't
see their reactions, is a little more demanding
than communication to one person in their
presence.

The allowed subject matter on ivy-subscribers is things which would
interest people who would pay to receive
IVy if it still existed. That is a large area.
**

And: It is a private list, and you should not post to another list without the permission of the original poster.
**
**
Originations, comments, to the list, send to ivy-subscribers-1@lists.worldtrans.org
Home Page:http://www.ivymag.org
**
Long version of ivy-subscribers rules

Date: Wed, 01 Aug 2012 05:19:00 +0200

To: ivy-subscribers-1@lists.worldtrans.org
From: "ListAdmin: Ant Phillips"
Subject: [IVy-subs-1]           Monthly advice :-)

**                                   ivy-subscribers-1
Started January 1997
Relaying positive communication to participants.
**

--
Dear individual, member of the elite ivy-subscribers-1 list.

Here is my periodic "Tr3".    I am giving the full version (expanded, as in "expanded grades" :-)  ) as we have new members on the list since last time.

Take your time studying please. This gives a small idea of the barriers within the large freedom this list has. Have a fun game on the list.

All the best,

Ant

--

Would old and newlist members pleaseread/reread.

All best wishes,
Ant
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

[This is sent out monthly, just to give a
reminder about how to communicate on
ivy-subscribers. This first bit is added 26th June 2008]

The purpose of the list is to facilitate
communication amongst subscribers to
IVy.The
basic principle is that communications should be
enhancing, rather than dominating or nullifying.
(this is enlarged upon in the book
Science of Survival).

Basically we hope list members use their thinking
power (which may have been damaged by "Church"
membership) in applying the above, and the
following are guidelines. Communicating to many
people, some of whom are silent, and you can't
see their reactions, is a little more demanding
than communication to one person in their
presence. So suggestion is you read the following
now and again, sending it monthly gives you a
chance (we also suggest reading Science of
Survival,
now and again, makes a nice bedside book).

***************

FIRST SENT: Date: Wed, 05 Sep 2001 11:15:49 +0200-
Additions written 2003-May. and Nov 3. 2006


Dear ivy-subscriber,

I have been in individual communication with some people on
ivy-subscribers as well as studying postings.
Seems like some clarification is needed.

As of now.

The allowed subject matter on ivy-subscribers is things which would
interest people who pay to receive
IVy. That is a large area.

The purpose is to facilitate communication amongst us who subscribe
to IVy. Onlycommunications which discourage [positive - added
060130]communication are frowned upon. This would include
impoliteness, attempts to help or change which were not requested,
well as overt attempts to control (meaning stop) communication and
messages that you dislike someone or his/her actions. What was called
"out of ARC" communications.

Unfortunately I am the boss, and even more unfortunately, I am not
perfect and have made mistakes in the past. Fortunately there are
other lists, and you are free to join them.

But look at it only in the present. Now.

Help create continuously a list which is interesting, which gives
viewpoints which may be novel, may help one or more of us to greater
spiritual freedom and understanding.

I guess that we are all looking for greater freedom, and it goes on
flows. Are you willing to give your fellow ivy-subscriber freedom?
You are free not to read messages, and it is possible to filter out
into trash messages from a specific person via a specific list. So if
some one "pushes a button" on you, you don't have to see his/her messages

I think this is simple. There is no "party line" to follow.

Subject matter, almost unlimited.
Frowned upon, anything which discourages communication.

Have fun. Extrovert.

Hi,

Ant

----------- Nov 3rd. 2006

When you comment on an earlier posting to the list, or answer a
question, only include that part of the first letter relevant to what
you want to express. In this connection,
Flemming Funch wrote the
following when this subject came up for discussion on the list:
"It is what most mailing lists and discussion groups ask for, and I
agree with them. It would even get you thrown off of quite a few
discussion lists if you repeatedly post other people's long messages
in full, just to add a little something at the end, or at some point
in the middle.
"Not including any reference to what you're answering is considered
just as bad, of course. So, the most commonly found agreement is that
one includes just the specific part one answers, clearly marked as
being part of a previous message."

added 070115: Of course politeness, and making your communication
easily duplicatable are good basic stable data

Added: 060221 don't hesitate about writing to the list. What you say
may not get a physical universe reply or acknowledgement but...
This appeared recently:
  >The other thing I wanted to say on a more personal note is that
  >sometimes - in my lesser moments! :))- I feel like giving up on posting to
  >the various lists. Usually composing my posts takes some time, and more
  >often than not they seem fall into a black hole, perhaps because what little
  >I have to say isn't in step with others. So it's easy for me to think:
  >"Oh, just don't bother!" But then, I know that's a temporary reaction, and
  >I also know that when something comes up that resonates I will respond...
  >Again! :) And again! :))


Added 30 June 08 Jim Rowles wrote (28.06.08):

Hi Ant,

Your cogitating has gotten me to do a bit also. The term that first came
to mind was 'ad hominem'.

The phrase generally means an argument that ends up directed at or to
'the man' instead of the idea, concept or point-of-order on the table.
It is a classic diversion in debates to shift from the point being made
to the person making the point, something about the person or their
personality.

When a person has not prevailed by artful oratory or logic of reasoning,
and they cannot accept defeat, they may fall down into an overt hostility
by attacking the opponent with 'ad hominems'. The entire political game
in the USofA seems to be 'ad hominems'.

To my mind this list is better served if you constrain 'ad hominems', and
I can go along with that restriction of my freedom to speak on the list.
I view that you have given us an eight lane highway to drive on.
If the
occasional driver cannot keep their vehicle (postings) within the
boundaries of the road, maybe they should be reminded, remanded, or
retreaded on your road rules (policies) (guidance).

Best, Jim

[]Merriam Webster's Collegiate Dictionary says
ad hominem
Etymology: New Latin, literally, to the person
Date: 1598

1 : appealing to feelings or prejudices rather than intellect
2 : marked by an attack on an opponent's
character rather than by an answer to the contentions made .
**
**
Originations, comments, to the list, send to ivy-subscribers-1@lists.worldtrans.org
Home Page:http://www.ivymag.org

 **

[End of two version of rules]

 Postscript

I could add that when I wrote anything, and this included when I sent out the "rules", I examined everything I sent to make sure it communicated, and reread it trying to see how different people would interpret it, and making sure to express it in a clear way (advice I got from Ron somewhere). One of the traps in my writing was that I wrote something using a pronoun (it, he, she etc) and then expanded the sentence there could come uncertainty as to what the pronoun referred to. I kept an eye out for all sorts of ways what I wrote was unclear.

There is an important final message. There is a facet of this that is unchanging, and there is a facet that is changing all the time.

Unchanging are the various principles with regard to communication; ARC, reality, what overloads a comm line, the tone scale - you could say "etc.etc."  You can always understand these better, and realities alter, but the principles of life don't change (though one's understanding of them should increase with use).

Changing are the methods of communication.  When I came into Scientology Internet was not known. When I ran ivy-subscribers Internet News Groups (for my purposes ACT and ARS) were not so popular and Internet lists were used for group intercommunication within groups.  Now Internet list are not so much heard of (though there is a Yahoo list which was set up to replace ivy-subscribers) and Blogs and Forums, not to speak of Twitter, Facebook and Instagram are (as they say) all the rage. And it is a good idea to try and see what the future holds.

It is a challenge to run a group communication function, perhaps concentrating on the better principles of Scientology (or a special form of chiropody - anything positive).  If what I have tried to communicate here inspires anyone, I am very happy.  And if anyone has any questions (or suggestions or criticisms) I will be very glad to receive them: use the Contact Ant button on the left at the top of this page.

Thank you for reading this. You may go out and have a bun and a cup of tea now.