hierarchy is a place on Usenet
to post and discuss erotic stories
. It has a long and somewhat colorful history, and today its archives
contain a large and occasionally very good collection of stories.
While there's no known beginning to the electronic erotic story tradition, these stories were probably the first form of internet pornography.
First available on the BBS scene, erotic stories were posted to alt.sex by the late 1980s. In March 1990 rec.arts.erotica was created specifically for the posting of stories. However, the group was bogged down with rules many felt were excessive. The moderators would reject the cruder porn which lacked any literary merit, and would even reject submissions for bad spelling and grammar.
Perhaps the world would be a better place had it stayed like that, but in May 1992 Alt.sex.stories and alt.sex.stories.d were created for the posting and discussion of any type of sex stories. Various subgroups would be created (such as for gay or bondage stories), and eventually spam would force the creation of a moderated group in alt.sex.stories.moderated.
Due to the nature of Usenet, it's virtually impossible to determine the real popularity of the group. Some informal surveys estimated its readership at 50,000+ in the mid 1990s, and it has certainly grown since then. The group does boast thousands of unique authors, and tens of thousands of unique stories.
While the web has proved competitive, with nearly all 'stories sites' simply being stolen alt.sex.stories material, the community has persisted and continues to produce as much new content as it ever has.
The alt.sex.stories Text Repository, or ASSTR, oversees the moderation of the groups and hosts a website at http://www.asstr.org/ that archives nearly all of the material ever posted to the group.