The History of Hellas List according to Spiro Lioli, and the help of Nikos George, Michael Kolios, Nick Kontodimos, Vartan Narinian, Nick Triandos, and Thanos Voudouris.
The HELLAS List Story ----------------------
HELLAS was established in 1988 as a replacement to GREEK-L, which was managed by Spyros Bartsocas. GREEK-L didn't last long because of disagreements among the members of the list regarding the content of postings. Some members of GREEK-L wanted the list to be a place where they could chit-chat and comment on current events while on the other hand other members wanted to use it as a forum for scientific discussions without any mention to politics, sports or any other topics that could provoke disagreements among them.
Kostas Piperis, from the University BKLYN of New York, decided to continue this electronic communication among Greeks by creating HELLAS with the help of his friend Panteli Tzwrtzakh who was sysadmin of CREARN at Univrsity of Crete. The difference between HELLAS and GREEK-L was that in HELLAS there were no subject limitations. Political, social and sports news were always acceptable. The first node serving HELLAS was GREARN at the University of Crete. HELLAS became a modern coffee-shop where everybody would exchange opinions on various subjects. Modern in the sense that in anormal coffee-shop environment everyone exchanges opinions face to face, whereas in HELLAS communication is made possible via computer systems.
The first HELLAS technical managers (listowners) were Panteli Tzwrtzakhs, Kostas Piperis and Kostas Antonopoulos. It is estimated that initially HELLAS had somewhere between 30 to 40 members. Since many HELLAS members were from North America, it was proposed that a second node be established in the U.S.A to accommodate them. Alexander Couloumbis, a friend of the HELLAS technical managers, volunteered to manage the second node (peer) which was established at the American University (AUVM). The problem was that most of the subscribers and most of the load (90%) were processed via AUVM and soon this listserv was over- loaded. It was evident that a new host was needed to divide the work. Spiros Mpartzokas then, found another node at BROWNVM. Once the new node opened, the postings the number of members immediately increased causing HELLAS to become widely known.
In 1989, HELLAS started the distribution of its mail into USENET and NETNEWS so it became more widely known.
After some resignations, Kostas Piperis from Brown University, Alexandros Couloumbis from the American University and George Kavallieratos, were the list managers. The resignations took place because of the managers' heavy workload, who were at the time also burdened with setting up the network in Crete. Day by day the subscriptions increased and membership was of the order of two hundred, while Usenet statistics suggested that HELLAS was being followed by over 1000 people around the world. Of course, not all of them were active participants.
As time passed, a small problem developed. The programs that managed HELLAS got incompatible between nodes. There was LISTSERV for the US and LISTEARN for Europe and each time there was a new release the incompatibilities grew. Thus, it was decided to shut down the Crete node. The reasoning was that most subscribers were from North America anyway and they would be better served if they used nodes in the USA. The decision was taken and implemented in 1990. The technical managers for HELLAS remained the same but membership was now at 300+.
1990 was also the year of the first big meeting between HELLAS subscribers, in the outskirts of NY. The meeting took place in June and around 40 members attended. One surprising fact was that one subscriber travelled all the way from Australia for the sole purpose of attending the meeting. The event was christened PORKY. This became a tradition and now every big members' meeting is called PORKY and is followed by a number.
In early 1991, Alexandros Couloumbis invited volunteers to become listowers of the HELLAS list. There was a need for them because times had changed and some owners had full-time jobs, others had left and others were simply too tired.
Spyros Antoniou, Spiros Liolis, Leonidas Irakliotis and Nikos Gavrielatos volunteered for the posts. Leonidas Irakliotis decided, for personal reasons, to leave after the second month. The second gathering of the HELLAS members (PORKY II) took place in the summer of 1991. Even more people attended this time.
The last quarter of 1991 was a peculiar one for the list. This was the period in which "Dimitris Karakolis" made his appearance. Dimitris Karakolis was a non-existent person with a fake account that would constantly joke around. He sent his first messages in 1990 but it was in 1991 that he became a popular and controversial figure. Many people, including one of the listowners, were uncomfortable with the idea of a fake person and account. This resulted in a dispute that almost forced the closing down of the list. However, the expulsion of the actual person responsible for these postings saved the list from certain death.
By this time, Alexandros Couloumbis and George Kavallieratos had to go back to Greece for their military service leaving Spiros Liolis and Spyros Antoniou as the only owners. Hellas at this stage had approximately 400+ members and was being served by two nodes. The list was becoming very busy so by the end of 1991 another node was added at the University of Georgia at Athens, USA (UGA). This addition resulted in a more even distribution of members and reduced the load on the other nodes. Hellas now had over 500 members and statistics indicated that it was read by over 7000 people worldwide.
The next year (1992) was rather tame. There were of course the usual passionate arguments and quarrels, but this time people got to know each other better in various meetings of the Hellas members. The PORKY gathering of this year (PORKY III) was held in Washington, D.C. The end of 1992 was highlighted by the decision to have an additional PORKY in Athens, Greece. It was very successful and more than 70 people attended . It was said that it was the warmest and the biggest gathering of the list members.
Everything was smooth until the summer of 1993, when a certain individual (who shall remain nameless) from the "Democritus Research Center of Physical Sciences" in Greece attempted to close down the list, accusing members of using it for dissemination of libel against him. The owners decided to temporarily suspend all list operations to prevent uncontrollable flamewars. After 2 months and lots of e-mail exchanges between the owners and the postmasters of the 3 nodes that supported HELLAS, it was decided that the node at BROWN university be closed, since there was no local listowner. Immediately though, a new node was added at Penn State University by Nikos George who had become a listowner a few months earlier. The node at the American University was only serving to gateway articles to the USENET newsgroup bit.listserv.hellas. In the beginning of 1994 Eleftherios Hazapis was added as a local listowner, opening the node to subscribers again.
1993's Porky (IV) took place in New Jersey where a large number of people attended and it was very successful. Surprisingly enough a couple of members flew from England for this event. Porky V (1994) took place in Saint Louis, Missouri, and even though not so many people attended, it was successful and brought the members back together for a nice and warm gathering.
In September of 1994 some list members took the initiative of designing this Web page. The idea was to get HELLAS into the audio-visual environment of the internet. Now HELLAS enjoys wider exposure and is more easily accessible to people around the world. In addition, there is the opportunity to showcase the wonders of our country to non-Hellenic people via this multimedia environment by including a travel page, many pictures and links to many other Hellenic Web sites.
It is estimated that HELLAS has 600+ members and approximately 10,000 more read and post via USENET despite the low propagation of bit.listserv.hellas.
Members of HELLAS come from all parts of the world. From Europe we have subscribers from Germany, UK, Italy, France, Belgium, Holland, Spain, Portugal, Greece and Cyprus. The US, Canada, Brazil, Japan, Australia and Singapore are also represented.
HELLAS does not only serve as our coffee-shop, but it also helps to unite us. HELLAS has many times organized complaints against organizations that have written antihellenic articles in newspapers or magazines. HELLAS is where Greeks who live abroad, mainly students, can hang out. It is the best way to keep up-to-date with sports, politics and social events.
Many interesting acquaintances have been made through HELLAS and every year, as a tradition, a feast is held somewhere in the US, with people coming from all over to meet in person all those with whom they have been communicating all this time from behind a terminal. In fact, one such acquaintance led to a wedding (1989/90). HELLAS, like any coffee-shop, has its misgivings. Political, social, and sports discussions often degenerate into petty arguments and fights; nevertheless, all of them are short-lived and whenever someone needs some help, everyone is willing to lend him/her a hand.
This history has been written on the basis of some old statistics and events that the author, a HELLAS member since 1989, remembers.
Sincerely, Spiros Liolis
NOTE: As always, Hellenic teamwork helped in the translation of this Hellas List Story originally written in Greek by Spiros Liolis. Job well done to: Nikos George, Michael Kolios, Nick Kontodimos, Vartan Narinian, Nick Triandos, and Thanos Voudouris.
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