11-23-1989

Bears

On this date the NATURAL BEARS CLASSIFICATION SYSTEM was unveiled on a Usenet group. The NBCS or “bear code” is a set of symbols using letters, numbers and other characters commonly found on modern, Western computer keyboards, and used for the self-identification of those who self-identify as “bears” in the sense of a mature gay or bisexual man with facial or substantial body hair.  This classification scheme was created by Bob Donahue and Jeff Stoner, and was based on the way in which star and galaxy classification systems used characteristics of an object to derive a classifying identifier.

The format of the NBCS is a sequence of space-separated descriptions that each take the form, “XMme” where X is a letter indicating some trait; M is an optional magnitude indicated by either a number or a sequence of + or – characters (the former are used for rankings that have a broad, but discrete range while the latter is used for more comparative measurements); m is an optional modifier such as “v” which indicates variability of the trait; and e is any extra (such as a parenthesized magnitude that indicates a range from the magnitude outside the parentheses to the magnitude inside).

The format includes physical traits such as “B” for beard density/length, “f” for body hair (or “fur”), “t” for height (or “tallness”), and “w” for weight. It also includes personality traits such as “d” for “the daddy factor” and sexual preferences such as “k” for “the kinky factor.”

A sample bear code is: B4 s- m g++ w d+c t+ f+ k+ r e+(+?)

Translation: (in no particular order): Reasonably thick beard, cub tendencies, definite Daddy, (endowment) gets attention, above average fur, loves groping/pawing/touching, (Kinkiness) loves most things, (Muscle) some definition/Blue collar, spends some time outdoors, (sex) plays under special circumstances, tall, bear with a tummy