Backbone Cabal

What Does Backbone Cabal Mean?

In IT, the term “backbone cabal” is used to describe a group of administrators active on the Usenet forum during the 1980s. This cabal is credited with performing the Great Renaming, a massive renaming of Usenet groups, and other kinds of control and development of the internet during the Usenet era.


Techopedia Explains Backbone Cabal

The Usenet forum exploded at the end of the 1970s, and system administration became rather complex. Administrators organized lists of Usenet sites and tried to collaborate and manage this massive internet forum.

Part of the reason that the term “backbone cabal” was used is that users were able to identify a sort of backbone of connected machines that seemed more active and had longer operational hours than other parts of the Usenet network.

Another aspect of the term “backbone cabal” is its use to describe a shadowy or mysterious group, or in some cases, a hypothetical one. Although some administrators talked about collaborative activities during the 1980s, much of the structure for administrating Usenet disbanded after that time. People still mentioned the cabal as an underground group with power to control the internet. By contrast, during the time that the backbone cabal was supposedly active, part of the culture of Usenet was to deny that such a group ever existed, and the phrase “there is no cabal” became widely used. The term “backbone cabal” is in some ways synonymous with a more primitive and imaginative era of internet use in the 1980s, when the technology was new.


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Margaret Rouse

Margaret is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical business audience. Over the past twenty years, her IT definitions have been published by Que in an encyclopedia of technology terms and cited in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine, and Discovery Magazine. She joined Techopedia in 2011. Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages.