Internet Oracle
25 Oct 2016 home : about : create : digests : bestofs : specials : priests 18:59:54 GMT

About the Internet Oracle

The Internet OracleTM (aka The Usenet OracleTM) is a collective effort at humor by the denizens of the internet. Questions mailed to the Oracle are forwarded to other Oracle users, who serve as an "incarnation" of the Oracle by providing a witty answer to the question. The funniest and cleverest answers are selected by the Oracular Priesthood for inclusion in the famous Oracularities, which are posted periodically to the newsgroup rec.humor.oracle. Discussion of the Oracularities occurs in the newsgroup rec.humor.oracle.d. Those who do not have access to usenet news can subscribe to the Oracularities mailing list.

Local oracle programs have existed in various places for many years. Most can trace their origin or influence to Peter Langston's <psl@acm.org> seminal oracle program which was written for the research V5 Unix system at the Harvard Science Center in 1975-76. As part of his "psl games" distribution, this original program spread to a number of sites, such as Murray Hill Bell Labs, Interactive Systems and Lucasfilm. Lars Huttar <huttar@occs.oberlin.edu> used a description of this program to write his oracle program, which was posted to alt.sources in August 1989. This program inspired the Usenet Oracle.

Steve Kinzler <steve@kinzler.com>, a systems administrator and graduate student at Indiana University, installed Huttar's program on silver.ucs.indiana.edu, where it proved to be quite popular. The best Oracularities were posted to in.bizarre, a group local to Indiana.

Ray Moody <moody@pittpa.cray.com>, a graduate student at Purdue University, after correspondence with Kinzler, wrote the core software for The Internet OracleTM, a mail-based oracle program to be run on iuvax.cs.indiana.edu for net-wide use, where it proved to be an immediate success. On 12 March 1996, it was renamed as The Internet OracleTM.

Kinzler continued development of the system, adding support for the Oracularities postings and ratings and, eventually, the Oracle Priesthood -- a hardy and loyal band of volunteers who read through the hundreds of questions and answers each week to choose the best for publication. Jon Monsarrat <jgm@cs.brown.edu> and Randal Schwartz <merlyn@stonehenge.com> also contributed to aspects of the software development. Michael Nolan <nolan@tssi.com> carried through the newsgroup creation process for the rec.humor.oracle newsgroups. Scott Panzer <stenor@pcnet.com> and David Sewell <dsewell@virginia.edu> developed and support the Oracle's presence on the World Wide Web via the Internet Oracle Resource Index.

Most of the above is excerpted from the help file.

What Isn't in this Index

The Internet OracleTM Resource Index is a humor archive related to the omniscient net.deity "The Internet OracleTM" (also "The Usenet OracleTM"), or more simply just "The Oracle", "The All-knowing Oracle", and to those who know him well, "Orrie". Here are some things that have little in common with Orrie except his name:

  • The defunct Oracle Humor Service. This was also a humor archive, but it is not to be confused with The Internet OracleTM.
  • Oracle Corporation, the database company. Orrie, being omniscient, knows everything about the company that was named in honor of him. However, if you have a serious question about Oracle databases, dmoz has a collection of Oracle database links that you should peruse.
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