The usenet newsgroup
which is intended to be a forum
for discussing Scientology
As with most things in life, though, it’s not quite that simple. Practicing Scientologists are allegedly provided with filtering software to prevent access to anti-Scientology sites, which means that very few posters are pro-Scientology.
The few who do post make the most noise through a unique method – sporgery. Around 75% of messages on the group are sporged, crafted by bots which create mails that at first glance seem to be normal, but on closer inspection turn out to be meaningless gibberish. Most threads fail to get past 7 or 8 replies before being swamped by sporgers. Obviously, these attacks are carried out anonymously, although it’s unclear whether they have the backing of the Church itself. The Church denies any involvement.
Perhaps the most interesting thing about this group, though, is the way it demonstrates how effective the internet is for disseminating information. Scientology is an especially interesting cult, as it thrives so much on secrecy. Information is hoarded jealously, and any attempts to publishing disparaging material are frequently met by large lawsuits. ARS and associated web sites provided a forum for people to spread documents and secrets they had discovered, but could not publish through normal channels (in spite of the status of Scientology as a religion, it’s writings and doctrines are covered by the same laws as industrial secrets). Most famously the Xenu writings, including gifs of Hubbard's hand-written notes, have been spread rapidly around the world, and have played a large part in discrediting the religion.