My world's oldest "blog" is 20 years old tomorrow (Aug 7, 2007)


Twenty years ago Tuesday, I created the newsgroup rec.humor.funny as a moderated place for posting the funniest jokes on the net, as chosen by the editor. In light of that anniversary, I have written up a bit of history of the creation of RHF. From there you can also find links to pieces I wrote earlier about the attempt to ban RHF and how RHF led to my creation of ClariNet.

One reason people may pay a bit more attention to this anniversary is I think that RHF, with its associated web site has a claim at being the world's longest still-running "blog." Of course, there is much debate about the origins of blogging, and there are various contenders based on what definition you put to the word.

I provide more detailed examination of those definitional questions and the other contenders on a page about the world's oldest blog. In short, I contend that a blog is something that is:

  • Serial (a series of publications over time)
  • Done with a personal editorial voice (rather than being news reporting)
  • On the world wide web

While most agree with that last point (since personal journals, published diaries and columns existed long before computers) many forget that when Tim Berners-Lee defined what the web was, he was very explicit about including the many media and protocols he was tying together with HTML and HTTP, including USENET, Gopher, E-mail and the rest. So the web dates back well before HTML, and so does the weblog.

I personally point to mod.ber, a short-lived moderated newsgroup from 1983 as the first blog. It was clearly the boing-boing of its day. But it doesn't exist, so RHF may get to claim the title.

As you will know if you have followed RHF, while I continue to publish it and provide the software and systems, I only edited it for the first 5 or so years. After that Maddi Hausmann took over, and in 1995, Jim Griffith took the reigns to this day. He, however, is ready to retire shortly and we're looking for a replacement -- a note will be posted in RHF and here with more details after the anniversary.

As you'll see in the histories, the decision to start RHF changed my life in sweeping ways. It was one of those junctures that Clarence from "It's a wonderful life" could change if he wanted to show me a different path.

Happy 20th Birthday rec.humor.funny.


I remember this one, as well as the restaurant reports filtering software. A whole passel of good ideas and it led you to ClariNet.

But I'd never thought of it as a blog before.

The first thing I ever saw that looked like a blog was a hack at CMU back around 1980. There had been mailing lists before, but these were usually rather task or interest focussed, and while some individuals (e.g. Lauren Weinstein) would leave a personal footprint, they were not as personal as blogs.

The hack was basically a "plan" file aggregator. The internet finger protocol was used to locate users on various computers around the net. If the user wasn't logged in, the finger server would provide the plan file which was just a text file saying that the user was at a conference, or on vacation, or actually trying to get some work done, so slag off. At CMU, the various computer science graduate students would often put jokes, anecdotes or interesting facts in their plan files. This aggregator hack would snarf everyone's plan files, and whenever it noticed a change, it would post it to an aggregated news feed which would be sent out as an email to us subscribers. It was actually rather interesting, what with Dave Touretsky going on about flying, Mike Kazar about the anti-software bias in the CS department, Donna Marie Auguste talking about Black History Month and the CMU Cheese Cooperative. Often plan files would answer or expand on other plan files and lame jokes would get lamer.

I'm not sure if this was the first blog or what. It was extremely personal, unlike SF-LOVERS or the other mailing lists. (Lauren Weinstein was sort of a mailing list empire in and of himself). I remember a lot of the individuals, even today, the cheese transfer protocol, and wasting countless hours keeping up on with the commentary. It really was a lot like a blog.

Is there a web page about this aggregator? I do discuss "finger" blogging in the article on the earliest blog candidates, but I was not aware of a tool that mapped them to E-mail. I presume the people with the .plan files knew this was happening? And I presume it was not a single-machine thing, but used internet finger and internet mail? If so, I think it may knock out mod.ber from the title of earliest blog, so I would like to see some more references to document it better.

Note that E-mail's position in the "web" is a confusing one. Berners-Lee including sending E-mail as part of the web via the mailto: URL, but there has never really been a general way to read E-mail on the web (though of course in the mid 90s various webmail systems were built to let people access their own personal mailboxes.) Finger was certainly part of his definition of the web, so the tool would be a web tool, but the web was not used to read these updated messages.

Thank you for many interesting reads.

I just wanted to say thank you...I was never much of a fan of r.h.f (I got caught in alt.callahans) but I really appreciate all you work you and your buddies did to bring usenet to the world.



Now this is 21st years old :) WOWOWOWOWOW Congratulation

What is the URL of first website developed on internet?????


>What is the URL of first website developed on internet?????

In this Yule season, I'm hearing a carol in my mind... "The First URL"

Where TimBL was doing the initial web development.

even older now lol
don't ask how i ended up here in 2018

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