This paper examines the dynamics of centralization and decentralization of Usenet newsgroups. In doing so, it considers the similarities and differences between the organization of Usenet and the design principles for other self-organizing and self-governing Common-Pool Resource (CPR) institutions. The rise and fall of the Backbone Cabal and the birth of the "alt" hierarchy provides insight into the early conflicts between the centralizing and decentralizing processes of Usenet. Today's procedures for group creation in the big eight hierarchies and in "alt" hierarchy and the Usenet Death Penalty (UDP) show that earlier tensions are still extant.
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