The story behind the domain name

People sometimes ask me why I (Wietse Venema) chose the name for my network site. The answer that I give depends on circumstances. Normally I give only the official story. If conditions are appropriate (like a friendly audience in a pub) I also give the unofficial story.

The official story

When I came to the USA late 1996 as a visiting scientist, I wanted to run my own internet site where I could receive my own email, just like I had done in the Netherlands for the past 10 years. I chose the name because it reminded me of Europe. At the time, every little country in Europe had its own little regulations. Needless to say, making progress in anything was painful, and the process reminded me of porcupines making love (Auch! Sorry! Careful!). And thus I chose the domain name for my site in the USA.

The true story

Years later I found out that I may have made an embarassing mistake. Reportedly, mating porcupines are not quite as gentle as many believe. Here is a story on how porcupines make love (and here is a copy in case the original is unavailable). By the time I found out about this, it was already too late to revisit my domain name choice. The USA had become my home country, had become the email address by which everyone knew me, and giving up the domain name was no longer a practical option.