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line eater
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messaging 1. A bug in some now-obsolete versions of the
Usenet software that used to eat up to BUFSIZ bytes of the
article text. The bug was triggered by having the text of the
article start with a space or tab. This bug was quickly
personified as a mythical creature called the "line eater",
and postings often included a dummy line of "line eater food".
Ironically, line eater "food" not beginning with a space or
tab wasn't actually eaten, since the bug was avoided; but if
there *was* a space or tab before it, then the line eater
would eat the food *and* the beginning of the text it was
supposed to be protecting. The practice of "sacrificing to
the line eater" continued for some time after the bug had been
nailed to the wall, and is still humorously referred to.
The bug itself is still (in mid-1991) occasionally reported to
be lurking in some mail-to-netnews gateways.