From: The L-Space Cabal <>
Subject: [FAQ] The Domain
Summary: This FAQ provides information about the domain and the services it provides.
Followup-To: poster
Organization: L-Space
Keywords: Pratchett Discworld FAQ L-Space Cabal
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X-Archive-name: pratchett/lspace-faq
X-Posting-Frequency: monthly (on the 7th)
X-Last-modified: 23 January 2005
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Archive-name: pratchett/lspace-faq
Posting-Frequency: monthly (on the 7th)
Last-modified: 23 January 2005
URL: <>

Changes:  + Fixed a broken link.
          + Reformatted to 65 characters/line.
          + Removed empty promise of future expansion in Q4.


This FAQ consists of the following sections:

1.  What is
2.  What is the L-Space Cabal?
3.  Why do people keep telling me: "There Is No Cabal"?
4.  What services are available from
5.  Does the L-Space Cabal maintain all services?
6.  Who are all these people with e-mail addresses?
7.  So if I want an address myself, I should just write
    a good Web page or volunteer to do something?
8.  Are people with addresses all close friends? Do
    they have any special powers on a.f.p.? Does the Cabal?
9.  What do I do if I have a complaint about
10. Should I be scared of approaching the L-Space Cabal? They
    have been around so long! They know so much! They are so
    wise! I've heard they flame people! I am such a newbie! Won't
    they flame *me*? Or laugh in my face?


        "Mass distorts space into polyfractal L-space, in which
         Everywhere is also Everywhere Else. All libraries are
         connected in L-space by the bookwormholes created by the
         strong space-time distortion in any large collection of

                 -- (Terry Pratchett, The Discworld Companion)

1.  What is
    ------------------- is an Internet domain name. It was formally
    registered with the InterNIC in December 1995, and went
    on-line in January 1996.

    In October 2001, the domain name was also
    registered, but this is not actively being used yet.

    Registering an Internet domain allows the owners to assign
    arbitrary computer host names (such as or and e-mail addresses (such as or within that domain.

    The domain name was chosen with Terry Pratchett's
    permission, but beyond that he has no further personal
    involvement with us. Nothing we do is in any way official or

2.  What is the L-Space Cabal?
    -------------------------- is owned and administered by Robert Collier, Leo
    Breebaart, Mike Knell and Colm Buckley, collectively known as
    The L-Space Cabal.

    Despite the ".org" extension, is *not* an actual
    organisation, legal entity, or, heaven forbid, commercial
    enterprise. The only money involved here is the money we
    spend to keep everything up and running. Had .info domains
    been available in 1995, we would have used
    instead of straight away to make this clear.

    'L-Space' is just a convenient name for a virtual construct
    that consists of four friends running a domain and various
    services, because they think this is (a) great fun, and (b)
    quite useful.

    2a.  What do you mean, "fun"?

    All four of us are technically inclined people (the word
    "geeks" has been mentioned) with many years of computer,
    sysadmin, and Internet experience between us. Having your own
    domain to play around with is tremendous fun to a techie.
    It's as simple as that.

    2b.  What do you mean, "useful"?

    All four of us were active in on-line Terry Pratchett fandom
    long before came into being. In fact, we met and
    became friends (first virtually, later in real life) through
    the Usenet newsgroup

    Each of us had been involved in running and maintaining
    popular Pratchett-related resources such as web sites, FTP
    sites, mailing lists, moderated newsgroups, and Frequently
    Asked Questions documents. All these services were run from
    many different machines, using many different, occasionally
    changing, contact addresses.

    What we wanted to do with was bring all our
    Pratchett-related resources under one Internet roof, making
    it easier for people to remember the addresses and host names
    and people involved.

3.  Why do people keep telling me: "There Is No Cabal"?

    Calling ourselves the L-Space Cabal was a tongue-in-cheek
    reference to the legendary Usenet Backbone Cabal: a
    supposedly elite group of powerful sysadmins, who were
    accused by various conspiracy theorists of secretly running

    The Usenet Backbone Cabal *really* did not exist, and this
    was written down in a FAQ of the period as: "Usenet Rule #0:
    There is no Cabal". Over time, both concept and phrase became
    part of Usenet folklore.

    When the L-Space Cabal first revealed itself, experienced
    a.f.p. Usenetters were quick to pick up on the reference, and
    a ritual running gag was born that to this day has not died
    out: any mention of the Cabal *must* immediately be followed
    by the phrase "There Is No Cabal" ("TINC", for short), and
    much subsequent hilarity ensues, particularly if the ritual
    successfully manages to confuse the uninitiated.

4.  What services are available from

    The main entry point for everything we have to offer is our
    WWW site: The L-Space Web <>.

    Note that the web site L-Space Web is not the same thing as
    the domain, despite the former's relative
    importance and high visibility, and despite a tendency for
    people (even ourselves, occasionally) to use the terms

    Other popular services we provide include the publicly
    accessible news server (which holds the last
    90 days of all the Pratchett newsgroups traffic), and the
    chat server irc.lspace.

5.  Does the L-Space Cabal maintain all services?

    No. It started out that way, but over the years on-line Terry
    Pratchett fandom has expanded to include much more than just
    the resources created or maintained by the members of the
    Cabal. Many people from all over the world have spent time
    and effort trying to make new resources available, and/or
    help improve the quality of existing ones.

    The scope of has also changed to reflect this
    growth. For example, the L-Space Web now includes many
    sections maintained by (or containing content submitted by)
    other fans (such as the Games pages, or the Filk archive),
    and there are a number of mailing lists and other 'special'
    e-mail addresses (such as or we provide the hosting for.

    Also, both and the L-Space Web profit immensely
    from a dedicated and ever-growing band of volunteers
    (typically, but not necessarily, with their roots in the newsgroup community) who help us keep
    everything going.

6.  Who are all these people with e-mail addresses?

    The L-Space Cabal are no longer the only ones with personal e-mail addresses. The widespread and international 'family' is growing slowly but steadily (with
    about 70 members at the moment of writing).

    Most of the people we offer an address to can be
    found among the aforementioned volunteers active in on-line
    Pratchett fandom in general or maintenance in

    Inviting these people to join is both a way to
    make it easier for their 'customers' to remember contact
    addresses, as well as a way for us to say "thank you" or "we
    really like what you are doing".

7.  So if I want an address myself, I should just write
    a good Web page or volunteer to do something?

    No, it's not that simple.

    To begin with, it should always be understood that the "do
    something worthwhile -- get an address" guideline
    is just that: a guideline that the Cabal has chosen to
    kind-of-follow because it struck our fancy, rather than a
    cast-iron rule or contract the outside world can somehow
    demand that we abide by,

    For another thing, Terry Pratchett is a very popular author,
    and these days the world of on-line fandom is huge. If we
    offered an address to everyone who maintained a
    popular web page or other service, the resulting explosion of
    the namespace would cause us administrative and
    technical problems we simply do not have the time or
    inclination to tackle.

    Finally, we strongly dislike the idea of an
    address being something that can be "bought" merely by
    following an appropriate sequence of steps. If you want to
    get involved in Pratchett on-line fandom, do it for the right
    reasons: because it's fun, because it's useful, and above all
    because you want to do it *for its own sake*. Anything after
    that is just icing on the cake. There are no guarantees.
    Explicitly asking us for an address is one of the surest ways
    of predisposing us against giving you one.

    All of the above may sound a little arbitrary -- tyrannical
    or elitist, even -- but we are putting this extra forcefully
    because it's something we do need people to understand very,
    very clearly. is *not* a public commodity run by
    the Cabal on the users' behalf. It is our own private sand
    box that we have *chosen* to run as a public commodity for
    the reasons outlined in question 2. And we reserve the right
    to make, break, change, or decline to have any rules.

8.  Are people with addresses all close friends? Do
    they have any special powers on a.f.p.? Does the Cabal?

    No, no, and no. If someone has an address, this
    means exactly one thing: that at one point in time, the
    L-Space Cabal saw reason (usually, but not always, having to
    do with fandom involvement) to offer that person an address.

    Having an address (or, indeed, being a member of
    the Cabal) does not necessarily make you a personal friend of
    any other lspacer. It does not bestow wisdom or intelligence,
    politeness or tact, power or abilities, beyond what you
    already have. It does not mean you have signed a contract or
    made a promise to uphold certain values or act a certain way.

    Among the crowd you will find people who don't
    know of each other's existence, people who have come to hate
    each other's guts, people who are close Internet or real life
    friends, and even people involved in serious relationships
    with each other up to and including marriage and procreation.

    Lspacers who maintain a specific service do control that
    service, of course, and this does make the Cabal in
    particular a rather "powerful" entity, but that is not
    intrinsically related to the presence of an
    address, and any such power certainly stops at the newsgroup
    or IRC channel border.

    If there is any extra respect that the Ankh-Morporkian crew
    of individuals may have been getting around the
    net; any inclination from folks to sit up and pay closer
    attention when one of us says something, then that is based
    solely on the personal track record, expertise, and general
    worthiness of the lspacer in question, never simply on the
    fact that they are using an address to sign their

9.  What do I do if I have a complaint about

    Complaints form the other side of the respect coin mentioned
    in the previous question. In both cases, care should be taken
    not to confuse with the individual people in its
    "address space".

    In the words of the standard disclaimer: the L-Space Cabal
    can not be held responsible for any individual lspacer's
    actions or words. If there is a problem, take it up with them
    privately first, or try to find other ways of resolving your

    However, if you feel the Cabal really does need to know about
    the problem or complaint in question (which would typically
    only be the case if it also directly involved one of the services themselves), you should always feel free
    to send us a note about it at <>, and we will
    address the issue to the best of our capabilities.

10. Should I be scared of approaching the L-Space Cabal? They
    have been around so long! They know so much! They are so
    wise! I've heard they flame people! I am such a newbie! Won't
    they flame *me*? Or laugh in my face?

    Nope. True. True. Well, if you say so. Not as the Cabal. So?
    No. Never!

    See also the answer to question 7.

    If you have *any* questions or suggestions or comments,
    please do not hesitate to contact us in e-mail. Be assured we
    will always look forward to hearing from you.


The L-Space Cabal  <>:
    Robert Collier (London, UK)    Leo Breebaart (Delft, NL)
    Mike Knell (London, UK)        Colm Buckley (Dublin, IE)