The Elfinkind Digest

From Otherkin Wiki

The Elfinkind Digest was a mailing list for elves founded and managed by R'ykander Korra'ti. It was on this list that the word otherkin was coined. It ran from 1990 to 2018.[1]

Format[edit | edit source]

The Elfinkind Digest was founded when the internet was still an emerging technology, and well before social media existed. A popular way of communicating about shared interests in this time was the mailing list: a system where a person could send a message to one email address to have it distributed to everyone subscribed to the list.[2] This technology was initially only available to most people through their universities; Korra'ti stated that she founded The Elfinkind Digest in 1990 because "that's when [she] got EDUNET access".[1]

The Elfinkind Digest was only available in digest form, meaning that members did not receive every message as it came in, but rather got a compilation of messages every so often.[3] Although this process is usually automated, Korra'ti made the digests manually.[4]

History[edit | edit source]

Korra'ti initially proposed the list on the alt.pagan Usenet group, as well as some others. She stated that before this, she was already privately corresponding with others on the topic.[3] The first digest was sent out on March 26th.[3][4]

Members of the list organized and held an offline gather in North Carolina at the end of 1990. The gather was described in Elfinkind Digest #183.[3]

While anyone could join the list, its existence was kept private for a long time. Only later would Korra'ti allow people to give out the address for the list freely. She herself advertised the list publicly for the first time on September 26th, 1991.[4]

Emergence of the word 'otherkin'[edit | edit source]

Korra'ti found that, although the list was created for elves, people with other identities also joined. The word 'otherkind' came to refer to everyone with such an identity. According to the Otherkin Timeline, the word first appeared in Elfinkind Digest #16, which was sent out on the 18th of April, 1990. It was attributed to Torin, a wolf and a centaur, who stated that he "got tired of typing elf/dragon/orc/etc.-kin and just used otherkin."[3] Arethinn aTinderel states that the first person to use the word was actually Elezar, an elf.[5] Both sources agree that Torin was the first to use the shortened form 'otherkin',[3][5] which the Timeline states appears in Elfinkind Digest #71.[3] Arethinn believes this usage to be a typo, and states that it took until April 1997 to overtake 'otherkind' in use. She suggests that only the 'otherkin' form spread to other mailing lists.[6]

The members discussed renaming the mailing list to The Otherkind Digest to account for the broadening demographics, although this never happened.[3]

Later years[edit | edit source]

In the last few years of the mailing list's existence, the rate of digests released slowed to only around five a year.[1] Sometime in January of 2018, a "last call" message was sent out to the list. The membership was asked for any final messages for the final digest to be sent out at the end of the month.[7] On the 20th of January, the text on the list's homepage was changed to refer to it in the past tense.[1][7]

Community[edit | edit source]

The list was mostly populated by elves, with a "significant minority population" of dragons.[1] Other species on the list included wolves, centaurs, faeries and dwarves.[8] In the standard welcome message sent to potential subscribers, Korra'ti stated that most members were neopagans.[4]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 R'ykander Korra'ti. (January 20th, 2018) "The Elfinkind Digest"
  2. Terri Oda. (February 26th, 2019) "What is a mailing list?" GNU Mailman - List Member Manual.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 3.6 3.7 Orion Scribner. (September 8th, 2012) "Otherkin Timeline: The Recent History of Elfin, Fae, and Animal People"
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 R’ykandar Korra’ti. (December 23rd, 1996) "An Introduction to the Elfinkind Digest"
  5. 5.0 5.1 Arethinn aTinderel. (June 6th, 2022) "Both Dara and Torin seem to have misremembered a bit ..." Comment on "For anyone who might not know this tidbit ...".
  6. Arethinn. (September 13th, 2021) "From reading archives of Elfinkind and doing keyword searches ..." Comment on "Anonymous asked: Do you know anything about the difference or history of -kin versus -kind?".
  7. 7.0 7.1 vagabond sun. (January 25th, 2018) "Anonymous asked: As an FYI, the original Elfinkind Digest mailing list - the one where the term "otherkin" was coined, and all that - has sent out a "last call" message."
  8. Arethinn aTinderel. (July 30th, 2018) "As far as I have seen from reading the archives ..." Comment on "fun fact: the reason otherkin are called otherkin ...".