The Making of :-)

I may not be a big-time pro, but I am proud of my major contribution to the sport, the first foosball discussions on the internet, then more importantly the idea and creation of the, or RSTS, newsgroup that is now well-known among promotors and pro players especially in North America. This is the story of how RSTS came to be, and what came before it.

Oct 19, 1994, RFD: Request For Discussion

Dec 1, 1994, CFV: Call For Votes (1 of 2)

Dec 14, 1994, CFV: Call for Votes (2 or 2)

Jan 5, 1995, Vote Result Includes a list of who voted YES and NO

What are these files? How is a newsgroup created?

The four files linked above are the four postings to the Usenet which enabled the creation of

Briefly: the creation of a new newsgroup in one of the primary categories requires a formal Net-wide voting procedure. Such a vote failed in 1993-1994, because there were so few foosers on the Net to vote. But as ASF ( grew a little, I decided to try again, and restarted the process after the mandatory six-month waiting period. The voting procedure began once more, and RSTS was officially created in January 1995!

The real action occurs in the moderated group news.announce.newgroups (NAN).

The first step is a "Request for Discussion" (RFD) in which we publicly announce our intentions and allow any debate. Our RFD was posted to NAN, and cross-posted to and If there are no serious objections, and after any corrections in the charter and name, the vote begins. We used the services of the Usenet Volunteer Votetakers (UVV) which is a group of neutral 3rd party volunteers who officiate voting on NAN.

Hence it wasn't myself, but Ron Dippold of the UVV who posted two "Call for Votes (CFV)," and the "Vote Result" for us.

To win, we needed 2/3 majority and at least 100 more YES votes than NO. On January 5, 1995, RSTS's vote results were in 200 YES to 36 NO, we won, and we were in business!

Who voted NO and why? What does subbuteo have to do with table-soccer? Why did we choose the name "table-soccer" instead of "foosball"?


Most of the NO votes were people who just vote no to all such votes on NAN out of principle so that the newsgroup hierarchy does not needlessly grow large. They didn't know, or really care, what any of the newsgroups up for vote were about. Also, a few foosers voted no, some because they didn't want Subbuteo discussions on the newsgroup, and some because they wanted the name

Subbuteo is a tabletop soccer game which is not foosball in any way. Soccer figurines are flicked by the fingers and players take turns flicking while strictly observing many of the rules of actual soccer play. It's very very different! ASF received a few inquiries from Subbuteo players (none of us even knew what Subbuteo was at the time!) and we realized that we could get some much-needed votes from the Subbuteo community because we knew the vote would be close, especially since we had already been defeated in a vote in early 1994. Furthermore most newsgroups on Usenet are quite varied and the most popular have unrelated groups of people carrying on separate discussions because there is so much going on! These newsgroups were designed as broad-based to help as many people as possible. If discussions grew too numerous in the future, there was always the possiblity of subdividing the group hierarchy, so we weren't cornering ouselves into a locked situation; hence we could always create if the number of subbuteo posts began to outnumber foosball posts. So far (1999), that doesn't seem to be the case and there's every reason to stay friendly with people who voted with us to help make RSTS possible.
Table-soccer was chosen as the name after discussion of everyone in ASF because of the international recognition of the word-- although other nations call soccer "football," the word soccer is very well established on the Net because of the hugely popular and international newsgroup, that has been on the Net for many years. Other countries have their own terms for foosball, such as "pebolim," "tischfussball," and "futbolin." However as English is the lingua franca, everyone in the world who is on-line can figure out what "table-soccer" means; we chose it because it's a universally recognizable name. Also, on a semantic note, was similarly not named Most of all we felt that although discussions on ASF were from the United States, we knew the new newsgroup in "rec" would grow, and we wanted to look forward to RSTS having some of the popularity evident in in the form of lots of participants from all sorts of international foosball backgrounds and interests. Foosball was exciting and we wanted to encourage everyone to post, from anywhere.

Was there anything about foosball on the Internet before RSTS? (Long History of Foosball on the Internet)

Circa 1992, before RSTS and ASF, there was really no where to post about foosball in Usenet. You could try or, or the intensely crowded But it was hopeless, I would post and no one would reply, again and again. Clearly no one was talking about foosball *anywhere* on the Internet!
I managed to find a few people eventually, by posting to these groups and groups on other "bar-games" such as billiards, darts, and pinball. This marked the first time ever that three or more people ever had a discussion about foosball on the Internet! Back then, this was progress.
We started a mailing list and just e-mailed each other and this grew to encompass about twenty people... we operated this mailing list manually (no mail listserver) and just replied everything to everyone on the list. This group included early participants such as Jim Waterman (Maryland promoter) and Marv Puha (N. Cal player). This went well for many months as we slowly gathered more people, but in those days, not many people were on the internet compared to today.
One person in our group of foosers, Ron Schnell, had access to a news server and created (ASF), but propagation of newsgroups in the alt. hierarchy has no guidelines which means anyone can create a group, and therefore most individual news server admins do not accept new alt. groups easily. Therefore, ASF was created but most of us on the mailing list didn't actually get it; i.e., it didn't exist for most of us! When I finally got ASF, I met up with other early ASF participants such as Michael Archer of Texas and Rocky Willson of Seattle, who helped me with the early versions of the very first playing-locations file which I had started (today maintained by The Foosball Source). At about this time, I began writing a set of introductory FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) Files, intended for the casual fooser who had never heard of local tournament play, much less the existence of the USTSA. Conrad Nobili, who had access to a machine at, set up for me an FTP site as a home for these FAQ files, another first for Foosball resources on the Internet. Of course back then, websites were not on our mind at all, since the web as we know it didn't exist other than mainly a few dozen experimental science sites branching out from a prototype "hypertext" site at a European physics lab (CERN), and the primary browser was the text-only Lynx. Back then, Net denizens got peeved if anyone used bandwidth transmitting images, sounds, and especially commercial advertisiements (things have sure changed!).
Through Jim Waterman's contacts at Tornado, I obtained permission to post the USTSA Rules of Play on-line, so we typed the whole darned thing in, and turned it into a FAQ. Any versions you see on the internet today were probably originally copied and pasted from that original FAQ. To increase distribution of these FAQs, I researched the arcane rules involved in posting these FAQs to the news.answers.* newsgroups, and soon the FAQs were automatically posted and archived at the primary FAQ archive at (read the f... manual), which is mirrored by hundreds of servers around the world. This is why if you do a search engine lookup for foosball today, you get so many hits of versions of the FAQ around the world. These FAQs for beginners covered topics such as the pull shot, rollover, brush passing, learning foosball, the USTSA Rules, and a glossary of terms, as well as the playing locations file. More importantly, the FAQs informed casual foosers that there was a bigger world of competition foosball out there. Also with Jim Waterman's help, in 1993 or 1994 we wrote and published an article in the USTSA newsletter "Table Talk" telling our fellow foosers about these resources on the internet, the ASF newsgroup and the FTP site at It was still very unsual to see an internet URL in a regular article, but happily the article was published and the information was out there.
To solve the distribution problem of ASF, we knew we needed to get legitimacy in the form of a group in the "big" hierarchy of rec., so that it would be easily distributed around the world. As described in great detail above, after two tries we eventually did succeed in creating, and foosball finally had a home on the Internet.
At first (1995), so few people were on the internet at all, and fewer still who were on line and played foosball, that we had to try hard to generate discussions on RSTS, and our same, small group of people, mostly the group of twenty or so from the mailing list, posted stuff every week, for if we didn't, any newcomers would surely turn away from an empty newsgroup! Now, I hardly ever post (twice a year maybe, not including those automatic FAQ postings) because there is so much going on, so many discussions, so much progress when it is all out in the open for the entire foos community to see. Previously, foosers were only able to meet and talk a few ties a year ( at Tour events ), and now on the internet, the productivity of these discussions were greatly increased. This was my goal, to get everyone talking in the open so that the whole community would be informed, and we would make fast and accelerated progress on all relevant issues.
Today of course, we have many participants and many more lurking on RSTS (casual foosers who will be lured to local DYPs), as well as many websites, the first major one being Clay Gump's The Foosball Source, which started out as a smaller "Foosball Home Page." Soon, he was demonstrating his webpage at the 1995 USTSA World Championships in Dallas, TX. Now today in 1999, everyone seems to know about RSTS and all the major websites (even VIFA has a site now), and indeed most of us take these valuable resources for granted... and that's just fine. We've already seen rule-changes and tournament operations debated repeatedly on RSTS, as well as several attempts at a player-based, rather than a manufacturer-based, foosball association. One player-based organization, NATSA, seems to have garnered the interest of a lot of the biggest names in foosball play and promotion, and I wish them the best. Finally in the past year or two, we've seen the rise of international discussions of foosball on RSTS on platforms such as Garlando, Bonzini, as well as (largely due to Bruce Nardoci) domestic french-style foos discussions.
If you've read this far, please see also my (short) Net Foos Manifesto.

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