GROGGS was a distributed discussion board system on the Cambridge University Data Network, open to all users. It aimed to enable users to discuss a wide variety of subjects, ranging from computing to serious social and political issues. "Humour, poetry, advertisements and advice are also welcome; in fact we welcome anything which is likely to be of interest."

GROGGS was a single-system discussion system on the University's mainframe, Phoenix. It had a long and murky history. Phoenix closed on September 1st 1995, and GROGGS migrated to run on a Unix system.

The Unix version of GROGGS closed on August 25 2020. Information below is provided for historical interest only.

GROGGS is different from Usenet news in a number of ways. Its concept of items provides much stronger threading than news has. Its centralised nature means that quoting of text is unnecessary and the format encourages well-thought-out replies rather than one-liners. Perhaps most importantly, there are a set of rules and editors to enforce them; this ensures a higher signal-to-noise ratio in serious items.

You can read GROGGS simply by downloading and building the software (or by using that already installed on your system by the staff or other users, if there is any). At present you can read GROGGS through the web using yarrow (see below) and this is probably the method of accessing GROGGS used by most readers.

In order to post items and replies to GROGGS you must use the client software to apply for posting access. (For legal reasons this is technically application for membership of the Society.) Access is automatically granted to people in the domain. Others may apply, and will be given access at the discretion of the editors. In general, we expect that only people with some connection with Cambridge or the University will want accounts.

New users should look at the rules of GROGGS (currently unmodified from the Phoenix GROGGS rules). The GROGGS Jargon file, largely as it was on Phoenix, is also available.


An on-line archive of Phoenix GROGGS items is available. Registration is required and access is currently only available to former users of Phoenix GROGGS.


Contributions of code (esp. clients for non-Unix systems) are greatly appreciated. These clients are also available by anonymous ftp from, in the directory /pub/groggs .

Technical data

The Distributed GROGGS system uses a central server containing all the items. The items are accessed using the Reverse Gossip Transfer Protocol, which is a TCP-based command-response protocol similar to Internet SMTP or NNTP. RGTP has been allocated port number 1431 by the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority.

The RGTP server for the Cambridge GROGGS system listens on port 1431 on You should not use any name except this alias, as the service may have to move.

Ian Jackson and Martin Hardcastle, pp. the GROGGS editors.