The Meow Wars were epic Usenet battles that took place back in the mid 1990s that gave rise to trolling/flaming culture on the Internet. Largely fueled from a flag of unfettered freedom of speech, those who once called themselves Meowers once spammed the whole of the Internet to a grinding halt by shelling out "meow" messages on such a grand scale it wound up drowning hundreds of networks in feline fuckwittery.
The Meow Wars were the first large scale viral social action unleashed upon the Internet, long before Habbo Hotel invasions and 4Chan raiding parties, the collective Meow Army reigned supreme across dozens of newsgroups, from alt.flame to alt.usenet.kooks to their original war prize alt.fan.karl.malden.nose, back during an era when the concept of "banning" didn't even exist. At best users could police their own feeds with filters or "plonk files", but it did little good against the sand pooper party cats who name shifted and slang posted their way around such counter-measures.
The bulk of the war lasted over 45 weeks, largely targeting Harvard based hangouts and servers; initially spurred by an uppity ivy league college kid by the name of Matt Bruce who got the bright idea to suggest the training pants yuppies try and troll one of the more popular Usenet groups at the time, alt.tv.beavis-n-butthead. As you might imagine, this did not go over well for the privileged pukes from Harvard who very quickly found themselves outnumbered and outclassed.
They wound up with a taste of their own trolling attempt and immediately broke down crying, claiming it was all just a "joke". When this excuse didn't deter them they started making outright threats against the problematic posters, which in turn collectively enraged the whole of Usenet and kicked off the war.
Meowers Are Conceived
As the Harvard fucks left the newsgroups, the Beavis and Butthead fans trickled in. They became known as the Meowers, a rather poorly organised group of trolls that had little contact with each other, let alone other human beings. They got the name "Meowers" when one of the Harvard posters, Chuck Truesdell, placed “meow meow” (a reference to Henrietta Pussycat of Mr. Roger's Neighborhood fame) in many of his posts as a sort of calling card, as his initials spell “C.A.T.”.
The Meowers, though not being well organised, managed to methodically pour into many newsgroups without any real rhyme or reason, spamming groups with ASCII cats and "MEOW". Newsgroup readers would place "Meow" in their killfile, but to no avail. The sly catfuckers subtly changed subject headings from "Meow" to "Mew", and other similar words and phrases. Fucking GENIUS. These ingenious tactics thwarted the attempts to shut the Meowers out of their lives, and destroyed groups by the dozens. People tried to UDP (usenet death penalty) the Meowers, but it was deemed to be a violation of free speech.
The Meowers did not restrict their activities to Usenet. Oh no. They also spammed the shit out of email accounts, rendered servers useless, and just all around fucked the internets.
Dozens of newsgroups perma-fucked into smoking, smoldering craters. People burnt at the stake. Epic lulz. What else can you ask for?
A new form of Usenet spam attack was formed as a result of the meow wars, called a "cascade" attack. It usually involves taking over an existing thread with two or more people replying back and forth to each other continually for dozens and sometimes even hundreds of posts. Sometimes these attacks are very simple, such as stating, "Meow?" back and forth, other forms seek to be more creative, sometimes involving rhyming patterns, limericks, story constructs and other forms. Another popular form is the "SNUH cascade" in which the originator starts off by saying, "Snuh?" and then those who reply do variations on the word like, "Buh?", "Cnuh?", "Vnuh?", always leaving the "uh?" part in. In some ways cascading was one of the first true memes of the Internet.
- Wikipedia doesn't care about internet history
- Flame War
- The One True History of Meow... apparently
- Memories of the Usenet Wars
- Twenty Years Ago, Trolling Was Repeatedly Posting ‘Meow’ in Usenet Groups
- Vintage Meow Posts
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