Net Scouts Home Page

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The Net Scouts are a bit like the Boy Scouts or the Girl Scouts, but for people who are nerdy enough to use the Internet. Indeed, they could have been called the Nerd Scouts, but Net Scouts just sounds so much better. Like those other austere organizations, Net Scouts have several stages through which they go. All scouts start off as Newbies, which is more like a Webelo than 2nd class.

With some acquisition of skills, and the knowledge to keep their mouth (or keyboard) shut most of the time, they advance to the rank of Surfer Class. At this level, they take part in activities like emailing chain letters to their friends and surfing web pages. Most Surfer Class are wise enough to only enter Usenet discussions in the most tolerant of groups.

After demonstrating fluidity in these basic net skills, posting a time or two to Usenet without getting flamed, and getting rid of their AOL accounts for a real account on the Internet, they advance to a rank of Lurker Class. At this rank, scouts may email more important stuff to friends, or even reply to a Usenet post by email. They may get more bold and begin to lurk in some of the more auspicious groups on the Usenet, and maybe create a web page of their own at one of the free sites. Most scouts discover IRC and ICQ or AIM at this level.

After demonstrating proficiency in a wide variety of Internet applications, and creating a set of web pages containing at least two forms of media, scouts advance to the rank of Ween. A Ween uses the internet daily. If he goes several days without using it, he experiences withdrawal, and piles up dozens of email messages, not counting the spam. Activities include all facets of net use (web, usenet, IRC, ICQ, telnet, FTP, you name it), and several forms of content creation for the net in terms of both applications and data.

After creating a fan site of some sort and at least two net applications, the scout advances to the rank of Oldbie. At this point, they know many of the standard net tricks like fake-mailing, Usenet newbie trolling, and how to create new Usenet groups. A large portion of an Oldbie's time is dedicated to producing content for the net, and they actually start making some revenues from their web pages. Now even the most inbred and stubborn of newsgroups don't intimidate them, and they post freely with the knowledge that they will only rarely get flamed. People they have never heard of frequently read their output and comment on it (often favorably!).

The highest rank of the Net Scouts is Net God, of which there are but few. To become a Net God, a scout must demonstrate the utmost proficiency in all aspects of the Internet. They can post to any group with full knowledge that any flames will either be redirected into alt.test and rec.pets.cats or will be cancelled automatically. They can selectively route their IP packets, block spam emails, and write Java, JavaScript, and Perl cgi scripts in their sleep. They own their own domain, of course, and spend little time in the real world (only when necessary to obtain new data for the net). Eventually, they will all be immortalized as loas of the Internet.

Specific requirements for advancement in scout rank may be obtained in the Net Scout Handbook.

Net Scouts Merit Badges

flaming merit badge The Flaming Merit Badge

A Net Scout must show proficiency and diversity in his flaming ability to obtain the flaming merit badge. The following requirements must be fulfilled:

  1. A grammar flame (or "Gooley") - Find a post with one or more spelling or grammatical errors in it, and followup to it, indicating to the poster the correct English.
  2. A FAQ flame - Find a post which asks a frequently asked question, or FAQ. Follow up to it, flaming the poster for a) not consulting the FAQ file before asking, and b) being so stupid as to not know the answer in the first place. Do NOT answer the question. Use of the acronym RTFM is encouraged.
  3. A political flame - Find a post with a social or political view that differs from your own. Followup to it, indicating to the original poster what your position is, and why you're right and they're wrong.
  4. A name-calling flame - Choose any post and flame it's author strictly by name-calling techniques. For this requirement, you needn't refer to the original post in any way.
  5. A wrong-group flame - Find an article that is irrelevant to one or more of the groups it is posted to and flame the poster for his lack of consideration for wasting bandwidth.
  6. An insider flame - Become a regular in some group, and when someone posts an idea you don't like, followup and indicate to them that their posts are inappropriate to the group and they should go away.
  7. An idiot flame (or "Abian") - Find a post which posits ideas which so ridiculous that you and all your friends laugh out loud reading them. Flame them mercilessly. Use any of the techniques above, or any others you can come up with.

horndogging merit badge The Horndogging Merit Badge

A Net Scout must show a range of desire, desperation and occasional lack of good taste to obtain the horndogging merit badge. The following requirements must be fulfilled: *

  1. Personals - Find a post in one of the personals groups (e.g. alt.personals) of a member of the gender you are attracted to (if you're a heterosexual male, this may take a few months). Send the poster mail telling them how much you'd like to mate^H^H^H^H meet with them.
  2. Sex - Find a post to one of the sex groups (e.g. which describes some technique or event that arouses you. Send mail to the poster telling them they turn you on. Tell them exactly what positions you'd like to try with them, and ask for a date.
  3. Comp - Find a post in a computer science group (e.g. comp.os.linux) by someone who sounds interesting to you. Send mail to the poster telling them how interesting and intelligent you find them (e.g. complement them). Ask them how much RAM they've got, what their disk size is, and how fast they are.
  4. Sci - Find a post in a science group (e.g. sci.physics) by someone who sounds interesting to you. Send mail to the poster telling them how interesting and intelligent you find them (e.g. kiss their ass). Ask them where they got their degree, whether they think asexual or sexual reproduction is better, and if they've ever "done it" by the scientific method.
  5. Talk - Find a post in a discussion type group (e.g. talk.bizarre) by someone who sounds interesting to you. Send mail to the poster telling them how interesting and intelligent you find them (e.g. spread their buttocks and smooch). Ask them their marital status, sexual preference, and measurements.
  6. Followup - Find a post in any group by someone who sounds interesting and desireable. Followup to their post and tell them and the rest of the world how you feel about them. To fulfill the requirement, the original poster must be someone you've never met before.

* - note: If the horndogged party responds in kind when fulfilling any of these requirements (yeah, right), it is at the scout's discretion whether to proceed with the interaction or not.

trolling merit badge The Trolling Merit Badge

Trolling is a useful skill to have both on the net and in real life (for those of you who have one). To obtain the trolling merit badge, the following requirements must be fulfilled: *

  1. A Kibo troll ** - As Kibo generally responds to any article with his name in it, this is one of the simplest of trolls. For a slight challenge, post the troll to a group with limited distribution.
  2. A newbie troll - Make a post that is designed to catch newbies. Generally, this means the topic matter should be recognizable to regular users as a trolling post. Your ScoutHackerMaster will advise you on appropriate topics.
  3. An idiot troll - Post to a group which you feel is primarily read by IQ challenged people. CARASSO popularized this technique by trolling country music groups. Be sure to redirect the followups to groups which will be most incensed by the intrusion.
  4. A political troll ** - Post to a group with a political theme (e.g. soc.culture.israel) with an idea that is obviously offensive to the majority of the readers of the group. You must get at least 5 different responses by either email or followup, and at least one of them has to be a followup. You may not use any of the following words: Nazi, fag, dictator, communist, socialist, nuke, suckweasel.
  5. A horndogger troll ** - Post to a talk or sex group as a member of the opposite gender who's looking for some action. Describe your outstanding physical characteristics and how you prefer nerdy computer types to those people who have a life. Do NOT give out your phone number (unless it's actually the number of someone else, like Chevyn or CARASSO).
  6. An oldbie troll ** - Post something with such wit and inspiration that even oldbies feel compelled to follow it up. To fulfill the requirement, none of the follow ups or email responses may be flames.
  7. A famous person troll ** - Post to a group that is frequented by someone famous (e.g., Marvin Minsky) and get the famous person to respond to your post. Net celebrities (e.g. Kibo, Poskanzer) don't count; it must be someone whose celebrity is not derived from the net.

* - Note 1: In order to fulfill each requirement, you must catch at least one person in the category of the requirement with either a followup or an email response. Any others you catch are a bonus.

** - Note 2: Redirecting followup is optional for these requirements. For all other requirements, misc.test is required, and other groups are at the scout's discretion.