Lumber Cartel

What Does Lumber Cartel Mean?

The “lumber cartel” is a legend or “meme” from the early days of the internet, popularized by users of USENET newsgroups in the 1980s and 1990s. According to popular legend, the lumber cartel was composed of lumber companies who were secretly funding anti-spamming efforts, because spam email threatened the proliferation of paper bulk mail.


Techopedia Explains Lumber Cartel

Some users took it upon themselves to promote the idea that the lumber cartel did not exist, either sincerely, or humorously with the tag line “There is no Lumber Cartel” (TinLC). Others propagated the idea of the lumber cartel, or used it in their online signatures. In large part, the idea of the lumber cartels went the way of USENET newsgroups as they diminished in the late 1990s. However, some websites dedicated to the idea still exist.

The idea which was often used as a joke, actually looks critically at the relationship between email and paper communications. Some websites now in use that talk about the lumber cartel are trying to limit not only bulk paper mail for its environmental effects, but email spam for the effect that has on the user community.


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Margaret Rouse
Technology Expert

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.