= B =
backbone cabal n.
A group of large-site administrators who
pushed through the Great Renaming and reined in the chaos of
Usenet during most of the 1980s. During most of its lifetime,
the Cabal (as it was sometimes capitalized) steadfastly denied its
own existence; it was almost obligatory for anyone privy to their
secrets to respond "There is no Cabal" whenever the existence or
activities of the group were speculated on in public.
The result of this policy was an attractive aura of mystery. Even
a decade after the cabal mailing list disbanded in late 1988
following a bitter internal catfight, many people believed (or
claimed to believe) that it had not actually disbanded but only
gone deeper underground with its power intact.
This belief became a model for various paranoid theories about
various Cabals with dark nefarious objectives beginning with taking
over the Usenet or Internet. These paranoias were later satirized
in ways that took on a life of their own. See Eric Conspiracy
for one example.
See NANA for the subsequent history of "the Cabal".
--The Jargon File version 4.3.1, ed. ESR, autonoded by rescdsk.