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AOL Kills Usenet Access 576

Posted by Hemos
from the bad-times dept.
Numair writes "BetaNews is reporting that AOL is about to terminate Usenet access for its users. Now, before everyone starts rejoicing ... where is the Usenet community going to find another large media company to protect it from frivolous copyright lawsuits?"
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AOL Kills Usenet Access

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  • Wow. (Score:5, Funny)

    by kalidasa (577403) * on Tuesday January 25, 2005 @12:46PM (#11469532) Journal
    It looks like September did end, after all.

    Sorry folks, couldn't help it.
    • Re:Wow. (Score:5, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 25, 2005 @12:56PM (#11469690)

      It looks like September did end, after all.

      For those who don't get it:

      http://catb.org/~esr/jargon/html/S/September-that- never-ended.html [catb.org]

    • Re:Wow. (Score:5, Funny)

      by HiredMan (5546) on Tuesday January 25, 2005 @12:58PM (#11469707) Journal


      Me too!!!!!!!!

      =tkk
      • (editor note - let's do this right. This is the authentic way that these 'mee too' threads were perpetuated. A favorite hottie of the world of 1994 was the underage star Alicia Silverstone.)

        >>If you want your pictures of Alicia
        >>Silverstone naked,
        >>just post "me too" on this thread and
        >>I will e-mail them to you.

        >Me too!!!!!!!!

        me too.

        • Re: Me too (Score:3, Funny)

          by Stavr0 (35032)
          *plonk*
        • Q: How many AOLers does it take to screw in a lightbulb?
          A: One.... and
          >>>>>>>>me too!!!
          >>>>>>>me to!!!111!!
          >>>>>>me too
          >>>>>me t00!
          >>>>me too!!!!!!
          >>>me too!!!!!
          >>mt!
          >me to!
          me too!!!!

          The best description I ever heard of unleashing AOLers on the web was something like: "On a highway of most hobbyists and homebuilt cars AOL is the giant bus belching smoke and fumes as the crazed passengers that curse a
  • Good for AOL (Score:4, Informative)

    by slashnutt (807047) on Tuesday January 25, 2005 @12:47PM (#11469543) Journal
    AOL users got their bad name by posting too many ME TOO!, what is a.b.misc, and reply:01/99 - can you repost 2-99.

    Giganews and other big name vendors will gladly sell you Usenet service and best yet you can change the port in which you connect with; say port 80 and AOL cant block as they cant figure out if your using HTTP or NTP; they could block the IP address but then again you could use an anonymous proxy and the battle continues. That being said, I hope people know that there are other ISPs that are willing to have you as a customer. If the law suites go after say Giganews then I bet there is some Swiss news account (ok ok when I say Swiss accounts I mean services that wont divulge any information to anyone no matter who's asking).
    • Re:Good for AOL (Score:4, Insightful)

      by pjt33 (739471) on Tuesday January 25, 2005 @12:52PM (#11469623)
      you can change the port in which you connect with; say port 80 and AOL cant block as they cant figure out if your using HTTP or NTP
      It's not that hard to look at the first line of a request and see whether it contains the string " HTTP/". They may not want the expense of figuring it out, but it's certainly technically possible.
    • Re:Good for AOL (Score:3, Informative)

      by pla (258480)
      Giganews and other big name vendors will gladly sell you Usenet service and best yet you can change the port in which you connect with; say port 80 and AOL cant block as they cant figure out if your using HTTP or NTP

      Alternately, you could just RTFA... "The ISP's pop-up message advises subscribers that newsgroup services are available from third-party providers."

      They don't care if AOL subscribers access USENet. They just don't want to provide it as a free service anymore. And, even as an old-timer (fr
  • From the article:

    One dismayed user likened AOL members to drunk drivers on the Information Super Highway.

    Hm, for the most part, they're still just exactly like that. Nothing's changed in 11 years. Unfortunately, this isn't going to kill AOL, as one other person suggested. Somehow, as badly as AOL sucks, they manage to continue to survive. Maybe it's all those CDs they keep distributing everywhere. Want an AOL CD? Go to Burger King! They make half-decent frisbees...

    But I'll take anything that reduces AOL's Internet presence as a good thing for the Internet.

    Oh, and the frivolous lawsuit was against AOL, not Usenet. You can't sue Usenet. It's too decentralized.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    The september that never ended is... ending?!
  • by garcia (6573) * on Tuesday January 25, 2005 @12:48PM (#11469563) Homepage
    Comcast effectively "killed" Usenet access when it told you that you can get it through a third party (which charges after what 2GB?)

    They gave a viable alternative by pointing people to Google Groups. At least they didn't shut off free access then start charging their users for it.

    AOL has a large userbase of morons. How many of those morons read Usenet anyway? It's likely that it is a tiny group of their overall base. Why support something that no one uses and that you can get through other sources anyway?
    • Comcast just "outsourced" the news to someone who knows what they're doing - GigaNews. Why should Comcast deal with running news servers and the bandwidth, feeds, and disputes involved in what feeds to distribute, when they can just point their users to a slimmed down GigaNews account?

      Sure, if you're downloading a lot of binaries, you're going to hit the wall pretty fast. But if you're just doing text, the Comcast/Giganews partnership gives MUCH faster access, MUCH longer article retention, and a MUCH wide
    • Actually they restarted the program again (I just started using it again yesterday). They are still using Giganews, and there is still a 2GB monthly limit. 2GB is more than enough for any reading of Usenet, and it's also enough for small downloads (random MP3's and files).

  • by AutumnLeaf (50333) on Tuesday January 25, 2005 @12:49PM (#11469570)
    I was there when AOL enabled usenet access. The flood of users with no netiquette or, as it seemed to me at the time, common sense, drove me out of almost every newsgroup I followed.

    And now they are leaving.

    Irony.
  • So what's Usenet?
  • Uh oh... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by TychoCelchuuu (835690) on Tuesday January 25, 2005 @12:50PM (#11469585) Journal
    Is it good because it cleans up Usenet? Or does it just mean there will be an influx of idiocy to everywhere else? I'm scared!
    • /. subscriptions suddenly spike by 5000%. Could this be related to AOL shutting down it's Usenet groups?


      Post submitted by: CmdrTaco0195004294012
  • by dcw3 (649211) on Tuesday January 25, 2005 @12:50PM (#11469589) Journal
    ...the final nail in the coffin for me. The only reason I've stuck with them is because I've had an account dating back over a dozen years, and didn't want to give up that e-mail address. Between this, and the 33% price increase I saw when they did away with their 2 yr. plan, I see little reason to stay with them anymore...rat bastards.
    • I sympathise about the old/valuable email addr. I do believe that AOL has a ~$5/mo service to fwd your mail elsewhere.

    • by cdrudge (68377) * on Tuesday January 25, 2005 @01:01PM (#11469751) Homepage
      The only reason I've stuck with them is because I've had an account dating back over a dozen years, and didn't want to give up that e-mail address.
      See. This is why we should demand e-mail address portability. Your e-mail address should follow you, not have to stay tied to one isp. We already have it for phone numbers, so it shouldn't be too hard for e-mail right? I mean, why should you have to give up your "identity" just because your ISP has decided to charge more for less?
      • Because my email@yahoo.com should be portable to say hotmail but remain email@yahoo.com? It is simply not the same thing as a phone number. The yahoo.com identifies a particular organization - 1) i doubt one company wants to promote/support another company - which you don't get with phone numbers and 2) an e-mail address (afaik) works a bit differently then a phone number. Remember, when you send an e-mail it looks for the location after the @ symbol first. Then your specific account name. So think of
      • > See. This is why we should demand e-mail address
        > portability. Your e-mail address should follow
        > you, not have to stay tied to one isp. We already
        > have it for phone numbers, so it shouldn't be too
        > hard for e-mail right? I mean, why should you have
        > to give up your "identity" just because your ISP
        > has decided to charge more for less?

        Anybody who had the vaguest clue how the Internet, and in particular DNS and SMTP work would not have written the above.

        If you want portable email ad
      • This is done by registering your domain and hosting it, or getting your email through someone who does this for you. Forcing every domain to forward for you in perpetuity would be cumbersom e at best . . .

        hawk
    • Good luck canceling you account. They kept me on the phone for about 30 minutes trying to stay with them. The lady was very angry with me because I just kept saying, "No, I just want to cancel." There is no easy way to cancel and AOL account other than by phone, although I guess you can write them a letter and send it snail mail, but that could take months.
  • by Fr05t (69968) on Tuesday January 25, 2005 @12:50PM (#11469596)
    "I felt a great disturbance in the Usenet, as if millions of alt.binary.xxxporn images suddenly
    cried out in terror and silenced at once"
  • by Enry (630) <`enry' `at' `wayga.net'> on Tuesday January 25, 2005 @12:52PM (#11469624) Journal
    Usenet died not long after Canter and Siegel. The amount of spam and crossposting just made the signal-to-noise ratio too much.

    *sigh* I remember the days where I could catch up on 50 newsgroups in under an hour, reading most of the threads too.

    If I need information now, I hit google. If I want to ask a question, I find the appropriate mailing list and send it.
    • Yes and I can remember 1991 when I was able to download
      a nearly full feed (including porn..er binaries) from uunet
      overnite on a Trailblazer modem.

      It was clearly unreasonable to expect it to stay a nice small
      place with thousands of new inet users every day. But of
      course the spam, incessant cross posting, and general blather
      was more than most bargained for. Its somewhat symptomatic
      of society as a whole. People don't give a fuck what they do
      or who they piss off. In fact, God forbid you point out
      what they have
  • What about bit-torrent like access to usenet?
    A torrent for each newsgroup, and sub torrents for the articles.
    Then I can pull down what I like and not what I dont.
    And it will come blazingly through my asymetric broadband internet connection.

    no. I dont do AOL.
    I did once use the "free 9000 hours" when I was between jobs back in 96 but that was it. - and it took 6 months to get them to frigin close the account and stop billing me!!

  • by kaustik (574490) on Tuesday January 25, 2005 @12:53PM (#11469646) Homepage
    Not trolling here, but...
    I remember the old days of dialing into my shell account and using my little news reader ('tin' was it?) to read through my favorite groups. I even remember downloading multiple posts, linking them together, and using some archaic app (binhex, maybe) to turn them into little binary apps like hangman. I was a big fan of USENET back then - good discussions, helpful people, uncensored pr0n...
    I tried to visit some groups recently and was sad to see more spam than a hotmail account, one-sentence off-topic posts, etc. Does anyone actually know of any more useful groups?
    • by CDS (143158) on Tuesday January 25, 2005 @12:59PM (#11469723)
      There are still some very good groups out there. They tend to be very highly-policed (either as officially moderated groups, or via a cadre of regulars who keep things firmly ontopic.)

      comp.lang.c is a great example of this. I owe them a LOT regarding my growth in understanding of C.

      • having been there since before the septembers started . . .

        The "imminent death of the usenet" *did* happen. Most of it is now a post-apocalyptic wasteland.

        The grops tha surived pretty much consist of those that were one or more of
        1) moderated,
        2) had many regulars complaining about every spam and troll,
        3) stayed with the traditional method of flaming nonconforming newbies to a crisp, in wpite of the whines of "netcop."

        hawk
      • alt.sysadmin.recovery - then its all worth it.

    • Add your email address to this thread and we'll get back to you.


    • I've been an avid usenet reader for many years. asides from mail lists this has been my primary means of finding technical info. however in the last year it has been inpossible for me to download groups and not get infected. now since I have to use MS at work and the only MS reader that i use is express. it's next to impossible to not get infected. any one know of a good reader example text only that does not get infected ?
  • by Canthros (5769) on Tuesday January 25, 2005 @12:54PM (#11469652)
    My alma mater shut off their news server a year or so ago. I have the strangest feeling the Usenet is finally dying its rather long-deserved death.

    Like everyone else, though, I can't but view the removal of AOL from Usenet except with joy. I don't see how it could really hurt the old newsgroups.
    • I went with my ISP **because** they provide newsgroups. There are lots that don't - and I don't mind paying slightly more for an ISP that sees that porn and warez, I mean Usenet access is a part of what an ISP should provide. Usenet and IRC - the original P2P and IM.
    • by Viol8 (599362) on Tuesday January 25, 2005 @01:22PM (#11470051)
      "Usenet is finally dying its rather long-deserved death."

      Whats deserved about it? I still find it a useful discussion forum. Just because some groups are full of spam spouting imbeciles doesn't mean they're all useless and just because you obviously don't use it doesn't mean that there arn't hundreds of thousands if not millions of people out there who still do.
  • by Atrax (249401) on Tuesday January 25, 2005 @12:54PM (#11469655) Homepage Journal
    ... screw it. The Market will deal with it. If users want usenet access, they'll leave and find a better ISP.

    But I'm rapidly coming to the conclusion that this is not the case, because most consumers just don't think that way. So by extension the whole self-regulating market thing is immediately dead in the water.

    Phew. Good job I'm not from the right wing, or else my entire worldview may have been shattered right there
  • by doublem (118724) on Tuesday January 25, 2005 @12:55PM (#11469677) Homepage Journal
    I'm happy to see the AOL Morons leave Usenet once and for all. I've had my news reader delete all posts involving @aol.com addresses for years.

    Me Too!
  • by Karamchand (607798) on Tuesday January 25, 2005 @12:56PM (#11469680)
    While it does not provide access to binary groups (for understandable reasons) it works really well for normal text groups. And it's free, all you have to do is registering: news.individual.net [individual.net]
  • by d_jedi (773213)
    As if there were any reason to use AOL - which there wasn't - how does offering less services make them any more useful to their subscribers?

    In other news:
    SPAM and general stupidity on newsgroups declined by 99.5% after this announcement.
  • by British (51765) <british1500@gmail.com> on Tuesday January 25, 2005 @01:04PM (#11469795) Homepage Journal
    I remember seeing the infamous "green card" spamvertisement on EVERY usenet group.I was slighly in awe that they went through the effort to put it on EVERY freakin' newsgroup.

    Now within the last 6 months, I see the same 1 or two spam posts on every single usenet group I'm subbed to. Sad, really.

    I would say spam has claimed a victory here. i do find some good usage out of local groups like mn.general(which is generally spam free, but not political cook free), and the grand-theft-auto newsgroup.

    But with the playstation2 group, it's 99% cross-posted-to-other-groups flamewars between ps2 and xbox users. *sigh*. Never bothered with the binary groups since I just could not figure out the obfuscated mess that is FreeAgent.

    Comcast supposedly moved everyone over to giganews, which is a paid service with either 1 or 2 gigs a month. Wow, 2 gigs of spam per month! Sign me up! Thankfuly their old server still works, but they keep it quiet.

    But with the poor s/n ratios of newsgroups, I can see why ISPs are jumping ship.
  • News Clients (Score:3, Insightful)

    by MightyMartian (840721) on Tuesday January 25, 2005 @01:04PM (#11469796) Journal
    Can't AOL customers simply use a news client like Outlook Distress (heaven forbid) or Free Agent, and then just subscribe to a newsgroup hosting service? If it's text-based groups that you're interested in, there is News.Individual.NET which is free.
  • We'll survive. Thanks. Buh-bye AOL.
  • by bADlOGIN (133391) on Tuesday January 25, 2005 @01:06PM (#11469824) Homepage
    ...with thousands of mouth-breathing morons lacking any sense of netiquette, usenet wouldn't need "protection" from frivolous copyright lawsuits.

    "Me too! Me too!"
  • by FusionDragon2099 (799857) <fusiondragon2099@gmail.com> on Tuesday January 25, 2005 @01:10PM (#11469875)
    "In headlines today, the dreaded killfile virus spread across the country adding 'aol.com' to people's Usenet kill files everywhere. The programmer of the virus still remains anonymous, but has been nominated several times for a Nobel peace prize."
  • Truly there is no better definition of sucks than the Usenet service in AOL. Imagine their built-in email client but ten times worse, unloved, frozen in time, built around an ancient Compuserve-style chat forum. That's AOL Usenet.


    Anyone who uses it should just shoot themselves and be done with it.

  • Big frappni deal.... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Chanc_Gorkon (94133) <gorkon@g m a i l .com> on Tuesday January 25, 2005 @01:13PM (#11469916)
    they still have access to Usenet....just use Google....DUH. Also, they likely dropped it because only people who surf Slashdot even know what Usenet is. Besides, as of late, Usenet is just a place for spam.
  • by salesgeek (263995) on Tuesday January 25, 2005 @01:16PM (#11469947) Homepage
    Wow. My killfile will shrink!

    Has been predicted before. It's still going. Loosing AOL will hurt... a little. I'm willing to bet any Usenet users on AOL will change ISPs to maintain access to their groups. It will take a long time for usenet to die - especially groups getting 10's of thousands of text posts per day.

  • Are they port blocking? Or just not making it available through AOL itself.

    I could understand AOL wanting to cut support (so it's not so easy for amatures to visit and say "hey, why is there pornography here?").

    Though I wonder if AOL will block ports for it's dialup users.

    Either way, google groups will be around.

    So I don't think it will be such a big deal.

    As for a "large media organization to protect it". Don't think that's necessary. The groups stand for what they contain. As long as users use the
  • by dpbsmith (263124) on Tuesday January 25, 2005 @01:20PM (#11470012) Homepage
    This is a Bad Thing. It is simply another indicator of USENET's decline. And that's a Bad Thing, because the alternatives (the web-based forums, many of them excellent--let me plug bikeforums.net as a superb example) are all under corporate, rather than community control. They are simply not committed to the same degree of openness and free-as-in-freedom that USENET is.

    It is one more sign that the Wild West days of the Internet are coming to an end and the Internet is coming more and more thoroughly under the control of business interests.
  • But since nobody owns Usenet--and people post from servers around the world--it's difficult to enforce copyright laws, says Bob Kruger, vice president of enforcement at the Business Software Alliance. The industry group is an outspoken foe of piracy. "It's very difficult to take action against newsgroups," he says. http://tinyurl.com/5uu7t/ [tinyurl.com] PCWorld.com
    Now this quote is from 2002, and it is still relevant and applicable.

    With the RIAA spoofing files,and sueing anything that moves, http://tinyurl.com/4af7y/ [tinyurl.com]
  • by spiritraveller (641174) on Tuesday January 25, 2005 @01:28PM (#11470130)
    I do wonder if this is a sign.

    Now that the largest member of both the RIAA and MPAA no longer has a stake in usenet, AOL can participate in a campaign to break it up, or at least to more heavily police it.

    A great feature of usenet for copyright violating is that you can leech all you want and noone will ever know except you and your usenet server.

    But that won't matter if they convince Congress to place burdensome requirements on companies that maintain usenet servers.

    Of course, there are plenty of good Constitutional and practical arguments against doing that. But who is going to make them. More importantly, who is going to have the kind of clout that's necessary to fight a lobbying effort by these people?
  • by jerkychew (80913) on Tuesday January 25, 2005 @01:30PM (#11470156) Homepage
    I used to access Usenet via netnews.comcast.net. About a week ago I noticed that I could no longer log in via that address. I jumped on Comcast's support site and found that they had outsourced their usenet access to Giganews. I had to change my reader to point to newsgroups.comcast.com, and was now required to use my username and password.

    The biggest policy change was that they only allow 2GB of data transfer per month. That sounds like a lot, but to a data addict like me, I can go through that amount of data in a day. Actually, I did, and now have to wait a month before my quota is reset.

    Right now I have a couple options if I want to continue to support my usenet addiction. I can subscribe to a monthly service like giganews for $25 a month (in addition to my $40/month Comcast bill), or I can switch to Verizon DSL for cheaper. I'm most likely going to jump on Verizon, but part of me wants to sign up with giganews and use Comcast's network to download ungodly amounts of data, just to say fuck you to them for shutting me off.
    • I am in a similar situation, here in South Carolina. I have great access through a local Telco, but they outsource to the local conglomorate ISP, out of Charlotte NC. They have almost no binaries on thier News Server. Luckily I maintained my old ISP account, and pay $29 a month. http//www.vnet.net [slashdot.org] and they have damn near all of the binary groups, I can think of, and best of all NO DATA LIMITS I split this access to myself and my father, and split the cost. Compared to Giganews or Supernews, this is as cost
  • by forand (530402) on Tuesday January 25, 2005 @01:56PM (#11470541) Homepage
    So I guess this means they won't be advertising their service as Unlimited Internet Access? Why is it that ISPs no longer actually provide a connection to the Internet but just a connection to port 80? Sorry this is slightly off topic.

    • I was going to comment on the same thing. Not only is it only a port 80 connection, but it's DOWNSTREAM ONLY.

      I curse you Adelphia, and your stupid rules. If the phone lines in my small town wern't so terrible as to even make 56k not an option, there is no way I'd shell out $57 a month for a nice fast line which is idle 20 hours out of the day.

      It sucks out loud that they could be held responsible if I ran some kind of illegal service. If I was selling illegal arms over the telephone could Verizon get in tr
    • "Internet" access, by its very name, is access to the Internet. You get an IP address (however fleetingly) and can send and receive IP packets to other computers. Email, Usenet, free hosting, and so on are just extra perks. Offering a dedicated Usenet host is not a core part of Internet access.

  • YEAH! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Nom du Keyboard (633989) on Tuesday January 25, 2005 @02:04PM (#11470652)
    I remember when AOL (you-know-what On-Line) users first hit Usenet.

    Now I can remember the day they left as well.

    W00t!

  • by jthayden (811997) on Tuesday January 25, 2005 @03:06PM (#11471413)
    Oh come on, I did a search for 'me too' on google groups and it only found 4,270,000 results. Stop your whining.

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