(The following were the first two of three pieces New Scientist's "Netropolitan" column in the 18 March 1995 issue. "Netropolitan" is intended to give people pointers on how to survive in cyberspace, and where the interesting places to go are.)
THE ongoing war between the Church of Scientology and the other denizens of the Net (see This Week, 18 February) now has a Web page devoted to it.
The page is put together by Ron Newman, one of the Net's more persistent advocates of free speech. Impartial it ain't. Newman is not much in favour of the Scientologists and their efforts to censor the Net, as the page at [old Web address deleted -- it's now http://www.thecia.net/users/rnewman/scientology/home.html] shows. But it does provide a comprehensive primer on the saga so far.
THANKS to the row, the newsgroup alt.religion.scientology recently became a textbook example of why you need a "killfile" attached to your newsreader. Three particular pro-Scientologists have been flooding the newsgroup with hundreds of messages of arguable relevance. Anti- Scientologists say this is an effort to render the newsgroup useless by making it too big for people to trawl through.
But the solution is simple. If there is somebody not worth wasting time on, Netropolitan just puts their name into a killfile. The effect is to delete messages from that particular source without you ever having to see them.
You can also tune a killfile so that it will remove particular topics without you having to scan past them. That way you should always get a manageable, informative newsgroup to read.
No killfile? E-mail your system administrator to find out where you can get a program which does have it.