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The Almighty Buck

AltaVista Gives Up On E-mail [Updated] 127

One krow (and a flock of others) wrote with this news: "According to this article, AltaVista is ceasing to provide e-mail (stranding a million users who use the service). So what does it say that a company the size of AltaVista calls it quits with a service like e-mail?" One thing is sure: old e-mail addresses, like old physical addresses, are a pain to reconcile with everyone who wants to send you (flowers / letters / bills). Update 0819 US EST by Roblimo: As a number of readers have pointed out, Altavista is terminating its free (ad-supported) ISP service, not its email service. If you have an Altavista email account, relax. We regret the error.
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AltaVista Gives Up On Email

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  • I've given up on AltaVista!
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 05, 2000 @09:52PM (#578930)

    We all know what most large companies like to do with personal information these days. Sell Sell Sell.

    This was happening with all the free services already. Not only do they sell your personal information, but some even force you to fill out forms, etc. They constantly display advertising.

    tanstaafl. For those of you who don't read Heinlein, that means "there ain't no such thing as a free lunch". Just because you aren't paying them in cash doesn't mean you aren't paying them. They are getting money from displaying ads to you, selling your personal information, etc.

    Obviously in this case, they weren't getting enough money from doing it. But if they were getting none, they wouldn't have done it in the first place.

    Personally, I'd much rather pay an ISP in cash than deal with more online spam, snail-mail spam, and telemarketers. And even advertisements. I hate banners ads.

  • [AltaVista] is pushing to become a challenger to popular rival search services such as Google and
    Is it just my imagination, or does the writer for CNet not even realize that Google was the upstart challenger to AltaVista, not the other way around?
  • Alternatively, use the text only version. It still has banner ads, though.
    av text search []
  • I'm not criticising the banner ads, but I find it curious that a text only search inserts graphical banner ads into the page. I guess it snoops for the user agent, and if your user agent can display an image it will. I'm not dissing banner ads, as I tend to ignore them anyway.
    With av, I have no need to know the top three generic boy bands, or be able to apply for a mortgage, I just need an input box, a search button and somewhere to display the results.
  • just testing
  • by sumengen ( 230420 ) on Wednesday December 06, 2000 @12:25AM (#578935)
    I was using altavista internet access for the last 6-7 months and I can say that their service was more reliable and faster than MSN. They had a great service with no busy signals. The ads never bothered me at all. After a week, you learn to ignore them anyway.
    I am a big fan of free ISP's. First of all, you can have multiple ISP accounts without paying anything. If one of them has network problems, just use the other one.
    Second of all, you don't need to give personal information and more importantly credit card info.
    Third of all, they are easy to use. Install the software and you are ready to go.

    It is very sad that Altavista gave up, but there are other free ISPs anyway. I don't see any point of paying $21.95 for MSN. I used MSN for one month. After one week I noticed that none of my emails are delivered. Their smtp server was erasing emails from non-msn email addresses silently, no warning at all. So you need to send emails from your msn address. I send an email to tech support complaining how they screwed up my emails and business. They replied with a standard temlate telling me how they are sensitive about spams, and that I was spamming. After some more replies and three weeks, they understood the problem and gave me a new smtp sever address to use. And I cancel my account... So you don't get always what you pay for.

  • Should you really trust free services like this ?

    of course not, if you aren't paying for a service, you can't expect it to be there all the time.

    if altavista has indeed scrapped its free e-mail service, tough. The net has been going through a phase where everyone and their brother offers free access + mail + gold bullion on sign up.

    Buy your own domain, with a web based configuration and set it to divert all mail received to * to your free ISP e-mail. When it goes out of business, pick a new provider and divert to that instead... problem solved.

  • Doesn't take a genius to understand that AltaVista email service was flawed. How hard can it be for them to just copycat Hotmail or Yahoo ?
    I think AltaVista is doing the big mistake of not really following users' needs. As far as I know nobody liked the look change happened a few months ago. Why don't they just ask to the users ??!
  • avoid misleading any other people who may not see the correction at the bottom of the paragraph.
  • And I was so dumb to believe the headline..
  • I've got quotes for PRI lines as low as 300 per month (If I'm in the telco's building) that's a little over 12.50 per month per dialup line, not including equipment, staff, tax, rent, internet backhaul, caffeine, etc.

    The 7-9 figure is probably correctly stated per user.
  • > What the hell is up guys? Now that you got paid do you just not give a damn?

    Actually, I kind of like the current arrangement. Now when someone blasts me for not reading the article before posting, I can come back with the defense, "I figured the article was going to be wrong, so I didn't see any reason to read it."

  • If you had an account there, can you get it forwarded to another account for a year?


  • Many of us moderate activiely. This is not only a way to make the system work but to contribute to the site. Our comments contribute to the growth and popularity of the site. It means we feel involved with the site. Many of us are insulted that the staff cannot take a minute to VERIFY trivial facts, recheck their spelling and grammar, and take the time to edit a mistake (Big kudos to timothy, he's about the only regular article poster that updates). We feel that our involvement is marginalized. The OSS thing is based on community. The same thing that makes 'us' feel like a 'community', the same thing that leads to protest lies, the same thing that makes us hold software and companies to higher standards drive us to criticize the Slashdot staff. They don't take pride in their work. They are hypocritical and their behavior is at odds with the general ethics of the OSS philosophy. Theoreticaly this is where we should start having a massive fork. I've started asking friends what other sites offer good tech discussion.

    As I've said before, Slashdot feels more and more like using Windows. Money making owners who don't give a damn about their users (that's how I and many others feel). I feel dirtier and more frustrated the more I use it, but most of the alternatives aren't that attractive.
  • How is this Off-Topic?

    AltaVista began life as a search engine that tried to become a portal and then had aspirations of AOL-hood.

    Google came along with a superior search engine and a vision of just doing that. And doing it better than anyone else.

    Since Google came along I've given up on AltaVista. Perhaps that is why AltaVista has given up on FreeISP -- they recognize their dilution and are refocusing on their original mission.

    Not Off-Topic at all. Rather, it's +1 Insightful!
  • If it costs $7-9 per month to provide the service, why aren't there companies that CHARGE $7-9 to cover COSTS, and run ad banners to provide PROFITS? That way they wouldn't LOSE money (even if they didn't make much). I certainly would prefer to pay $10/month with ads instead of $20/month to a "full service" ISP.
  • I find [] to be much better.

  • ...and I thought that I was the only one to notice that.
  • the actual internet access was provided by So Alta Vista isn't the one pulling the plug. has gone belly up like so many other money burning dot coms. Personally I don't blame Alta Vista for deciding to stay out of the free internet access foray at this point in time. was the only free access provider who had a decent privacy policy and dependable service. I have been a happy user for a long time and am now left out in the cold.

    Guess it's time to stop being so cheap and just get that darned cable modem even though I'm not fond of our local provider. I think Alta Vista and both deserve a lot of credit because out of all of the free access services I've seen theirs was by far the best. Both from a privacy standpoint and a service standpoint. I wish my free email provider was as reliable as my free access provider has been.

    <emotional and teary eyed> Good Bye, you guys gave it a shot and did a heck of a good job in the process.</emotional and teary eyed>
  • The Email service was sold to IName in 1998. Now IName of course is running out of cash. First they spammed their users. Then they started the popup windows. Then they had auto-raising windows. Why is it that mainstream websites seem foretold by what the warez sites did years ago?
  • It's not just e-mail -- they're dropping free dialup services altogether. This makes a hell of a lot of work for me... I've sent every member of my family and half of the people over 50 that I know a disk with the AV stuff on it and they're all using it.

    Next week, I'm suddenly going to be the AltaVista help desk while everyone I know calls me to ask why their 'net is down. Dammit.

  • I think a major point that's been missed is that it's not only Altavista that will be severing their tie to free dial-up service. Their provider, 1stup is going out of business..This affects many free ISP 'brands' that currently exist (Lycos, Excite,, et al).
  • I was using FreeAV for a while, and the service worked quite well.

    Then on a whim I tried K-Mart's free service, (Blue Light, blue tooth, somethin?) and it seems to be the same or better. The banner ad nicely docks itself to the bottom of the screen. Also, as a Yahoo mail user, it kicks ass because it set's my default home to (which is what I used anyway).

  • Who was ever going to believe that free ISP service is going to last forever?

  • by SDrifter ( 120878 ) on Tuesday December 05, 2000 @10:00PM (#578954)
    Yes. I guess that you could say that Slashdot has become much like the US Patent Office then, and just passing along anything that anybody puts under it's nose, probably without reading it.
  • just remember, you are more intelligent than 90% (give or take a bit) of the rest of the U.S. -- most sheeple will fill those things out...accurately..and wouldn't know how to use junkbusters if their lives depended on it.

    Jeez, I think I woke up on the cynical side of the bed this morning.
  • Right now there is a choice as to which company you give you information to. Therefore a choice to what is done with the information you provide.

    Also, as far as I know, there are some companies that do not sell your information. But generally, the larger companies always like to, and those are the only people that might be running these free services.
  • You can do it cheaper and easier than that - redirection []services run about $20/year including registration, allowing you to forgo the server _and_ NSI...
  • Why actually pay money for a domain when you can use [] ? The email address probably won't be as cool, but a donation to dyndns every once in a while is probably a lot cheaper.

    For example, you could get the domain, and always map that to your machine however it was connecting to the net at the time; then you could bounce around from free ISP to free ISP as they went under, keeping the same permanent email address. Of course, you have simply moved the stability issue from the free email provider to, but is a little better I think -- it I expect it will be around longer, and you have a little bit of control over it in terms of being able to donate money to them.

  • I moderated up to a +3 the Bruce Perens comment you are referring to. And you are right that Slashdot editors do make a lot of mistakes. And as another poster so already stated, you do have the most awesome slashdot id in the world.

    On the other hand I think CmdrTaco's comments about Bruce Perens "stints" at one thing or another are valid. Let's take a look:

    1] First he was involved with Debian but then he quit because it wasn't getting newbie friendly and it wouldn't adopt the rpm package manager.

    2] He started Software in the Public Interest. But he quit.

    3] Then he was involved with the OSI but he quit because ESR allowed O'Reilly to use the word open source at a comvention even the the rest of the OSI board voted not too.

    4] Then he started LSB but quit because it wasn't moving fast enough.

    5] Then he started this venture capital group but now he's quiting that too.

    To me this represents a series of "stints." A fairly dang freaking awesome series of stints. But "stints" none the less.

  • if ever a comment deserves more than 5 mod points, it's now. slashdot is broke.
  • I think your idea has a lot of merit, but there are a lot of wrinkles to work out. First of all, it couldn't be done on a federal level. That much overhead of buying the capital, and maintaining it would be tremendous. It could never be done overnight. That being said, it could be outsourced, but who would want to automatically give every citizen an email address? The name collisions would be horrendous. One solution to this is to start something grassroots in your own community, especially if you live in an affluent community. Maybe the idea will spread to others. Plus there is also the fact that only half the country has a computer. half the population would be alienated. It only costs 30 dollars to buy a mail box, but several hundred to buy something that is capable of email, not to mention the phone bills. The security would be nice, but we are definitely not there yet. Hopefully some congressperson is a slashdot reader and proposed the idea.
  • Heh heh. That's pretty funny.

    Next, you'll be hearing "Ask Jeeves is pushing to become a challenger to popular rival search services such as Yahoo and CNet"...

    PS: does anyone else find the MySimon.commercials to be incrediby moronic?
    pb Reply or e-mail; don't vaguely moderate [].
  • Why the heck did someone just mod the above as offtopic?

    It is very pertinent and was meant very seriously. If you own your own domain name you can recover in a couple of days from your provider going down.

    All you do is get a different provider and change your DNS - and any provider will be happy to change the DNS for you.

    If, however, you don't own the domain name that your email is delivered to, like, say,, and it either goes out of business or decides the service doesn't suit its business model anymore, then you're fucked.

    Michael D. Crawford
    GoingWare Inc

  • Nothing's for free. I hate people who complain, I don't wanna change my e-mail... big deal. You gonna keep the same snail mailing address forever too?
  • See this slashdot story from the end of July, l []

    While the msnbc link is no longer good, if I recall correctly it was the proposed naming system that was the catch. The email address was going to be related to your meatspace address in some way and in the .us TLD. Like

    Personaly, I would rather just buy my own domain and manage my email myself.

  • But dyndns can also stop its services. So, it does not solve anything.


  • No thanks. I for one do not want the government to run my email service. The governments buracracy would never be able to get the technology together to do it. When hard drive space runs out, I doubt they'd immediately run out and get some more cheap Gigabytes for the sake of letting our mail boxes be a bit bigger.

    IMO, I'd rather register a domain name and use that as a permament email. If your email is really that important to you, you'll make sure your own email address is working.

    I'm sorry, but the government running anything technelogical in my life is something I want to stay away from.

  • What personal information? Most of the information gathered on me will tell them stuff like i`m a 45 year old female from Afghanistan - dont think i *ever* put accurate info into any form i`ve ever filled in onscreen, and i`m running junkbusters. But if someone finds that information useful enough to sell and base business plans etc on then go for it!
  • Yes, and I don't understand how can slashdot (timothy) can title AltaVista Gives Up On Email when the original article is entitled AltaVista pulls plug on free Net access.

    Its subtitle is even more clarifier: "AltaVista is terminating its free Internet access service, making it the latest company to exit the market".

    Obviously the poster (krow) and timothy didn't read the article before broadcasting this mis-information. I think slashdot editors must take its job/hobby more seriuosly.


  • by Pseudonymus Bosch ( 3479 ) on Wednesday December 06, 2000 @01:44AM (#578970) Homepage
    but we don't pay. We get this for free.

    We (at least some) contribute work in posting stories, commentaries and moderation. I think this gives us the right to at least protest. The editors also contribute. But the site needs both types.
  • out $35 a year plus another $100 or so for a server...
    Is that $100 annually for a server? Damn, where'd you find a deal like that? I'd move my domain in a hot minute!
  • I also have used FreeAV for a few years, loved it, and will miss it. But I'll move on to Juno or NetZero. Or Yahoo. Or... FreeWWWeb bit the dust this year, too. I suspect that, like me, otherfree-ISP customers just migrate from one provider to another. But if free ISPs die off faster than new ones are started, does that mean that all us cheapskates will be on one or at most two free ISPs? If so, that suggests a large number of us suckers will be at the mercy of market forces at the same time -- an example of lots of eggs in a single basket. It's enough to make a guy bite the bullet and go back to paying for access.
  • I know Netzero and Bluelight are still offering free dialup. Anybody else? How do they compare? According to their websites, Bluelight supports Windoze and Mac, while Netzero supports only Windoze. Any other diffs? How obnoxious are the ads, etc.?

    My wife and I have been using Altavista as backup for our cheap but not very reliable local ISP, so this is important to us.
  • There are more than a few services that do charge $10 a month, but they dont get a ton of press. I cant think of them offhand, but I know I referred more than a few customers to them..

  • I know that I depend on a free e-mail account so that if my ISP changes I don't have to worry about switching my e-mail. I really can't afford to be stranded from my web-based e-mail.
    This is a bad sign for those depending on this.
  • But wait, my spam address for Slashdot was an altavista address! Now all those offers to sell me free toner will not get delivered? For every one Jon Katz rant I received 50 pieces of spam, it seemed like a fair punishment to keep my posting at a minimum. I suggest all trolls follow a similar procedure.

    Ack, what a sad day this is.
  • was the company that Altavista (and others like them) were co-branding the free-dialup ISP with. 1stup's parent company is selling 1stup, so Altavista (and these other companies) are left out in the cold. They had no choice.
  • by plam ( 123263 ) on Tuesday December 05, 2000 @09:32PM (#578978)
    Looks like the article is about free net access, not email, two rather different things.
  • they gives up on their free internet access service. This is much bigger news than just giving up free email sservice.

    Giving away free internet access was an interesting move, maybe the fact that they didn't succed shows that offering a (somewhat costly) service with revenues based solely on advertising doesn't work.

    It seems it's just another of those dot-com gamble that didn't pay off.


  • I have my email vectored through, and so I can change ISPs at a moment's notice, and not have to change my address. I recommend this service!

  • Does this mean that other free services will soon be dropping like flies as well?

    Since the main requirement for providing a free service is that you ALREADY have money to work with, I can see some of the larger companies taking over providing free services.

    We all know what most large companies like to do with personal information these days. Sell Sell Sell.
  • I think it's Net Access, not email.

    I think we need to pour hot grits down Timothy's pants.
  • Why doesn't /. ever fix the headline instead of just putting [Updated] next to it?

  • by DoorFrame ( 22108 ) on Tuesday December 05, 2000 @09:34PM (#578984) Homepage
    Two years ago I bought myself a domain. Ok, sure, it's a lot more expensive than using the free stuff that AltaVista gives you, but as long as I'm willing to shell out $35 a year plus another $100 or so for a server I don't need to worry about my provider cutting out on me. If the server host does, I can always change hosts.

    So, if you do need email, the solution is simple: buy yourself a domain and give yourself whatever silly email addresses you like. I personally am a big fan of
  • Is it me, or does nothing in the article even metion e-mail? It's all concerning their netzero-ish free ISP service.
  • Just so that everyone knows, there aren't that many free/cheap Internet providers out there.

    NetZero recently got shut down. They did this because one of their biggest customers, SpinWay, defaulted on payments.

    SpinWay sold to people like Altavista, who were supporting their model through adds, adds and more adds.

    Altavista actually bought direct from NetZero, but obviously, they had to shut down when NetZero could no longer offer service.

    I figure there is actually about 20 million users less than reported because of all these double reports due to wholesaling.

    Gotta love it...

  • >First off, 66666 is a damned good slashdot id.
    My sig referred to this fact for a little while, and then I heard the quote that is in my sig now, and it just made me die of laughter. I had to see how many trolls would reply to it.

    Oddly, none have (yet).

    >But to the real point

    >Slashdot gets a bad rap in the comment sections a lot of the time...
    >Sure, if we were paying for it we'd have the right to yell and scream, but we don't pay
    Wrong. Its a community site. We get the right to bitch. They have just as much right to reply, or mod it down, or delete the post, or turn the thing off.

    >this website is much more than I'm paying for it.
    But is it? You *do* pay for it by viewing it, by commenting in it. Thats what makes the site popular, and thats what gets more ad revenue for them, which is what keeps them paid by OSDN.

    >be patient and say thank you CmdrTaco and Hemos once in a while

    This is the one thing I will really agree with you about. Despite my general bitching (and I did label it as such), it doesnt change the fact that I come here, and often too. I post regularly, I have enough karma to approach the cap.

    I earn them good money. :)

    My point isnt that I hate the site and that Cmdr, and Rob are jerks. Far from it. I love the site. I just strive to push them to raise it back up a level. I really have seen a decline lately.

  • AltaVista was one of many big names who subscribed to this service offered by another ISP (forgot the name- this is kinda old news). The ISP has ceased operations (bankrput, I seem to recall). AltaVista and the others have no choice but to stop operations.

    I think that many of the services you find on the internet are not actually provided by the people who seem to offer them. If you depend upon them it might be wise to investigate.
  • by pb ( 1020 ) on Tuesday December 05, 2000 @09:38PM (#578989)
    I liked altavista back when they were just a damn good search engine, and not a cheesy portal site. If I wanted a cheesy portal site, I'd go to "Yahoo!".

    At least Google has managed to handle everything tastefully so far; I definitely respect them more for it. Heck, they don't even have banner ads, unlike some other sites []...
    pb Reply or e-mail; don't vaguely moderate [].
  • I posted this story yesterday with the correct information, that Altavista is cancelling it's free ISP service and my story was rejected. I understand that the moderators have to sift through tons of stories but if a number of people submit this story it seems like they could post one that is correct.
    Please slashdot, don't conform like all the rest of the media and just tell the sensationalized news!
  • In addition,'s free dialup, provided by, also went belly-up this week. We've been told that our accounts will be terminated RSN.
  • by Moosifer ( 168884 ) on Tuesday December 05, 2000 @10:06PM (#578992)
    1) How many dotcom MBA's are surprised by the fact that a vast majority of internet users are willing to pay ~$20.00 a month for Ad-Free browsing/email?

    2) A what? A revenue model? What the heck is that? Stockholders? You mean we have to earn money and be profitable? I thought the .com appendage absolved of that nasty little obligation.
  • I believe the /. summary is in error. The article only specifies that Altavista is cancelling their free ISP service "Free AV" through

    This is probably not going to affect Altavista email. Other free ISP's can be found at: Free ISP List [http]

  • I have a Hotbot mail account [] I picked up just as they started giving them out - a good 4 years ago now. Hence I got a meaningful name on there - instead of some stupid nickname with a "74" on the end.

    Anyway, Hotbot now belongs to Lycos, and they stopped giving away e-mail accounts ages ago. Then the other day I got e-mail saying they're shutting down all the addresses, and telling everybody to head over to Lycos. To quote the e-mail: MUST READ: YOUR HOTBOT ACCOUNT WILL BE DISCONTINUED ON JANUARY 31, 2001

    I know it wasn't a popular mailer, still, it's the first one I've known of which has actually pulled the plug.

  • Yes, but what if the redirector goes out of business? If Altavista can decide it's not worth it, so can the redirector. At least with the Server and the Domain, I know I've got no chance of being cut off. Unless, of course, NSI goes out of business and takes their database with them.... but then again, if that happens, I guess we're all screwed.
  • by Animats ( 122034 ) on Tuesday December 05, 2000 @10:07PM (#578996) Homepage
    So get your own domain name. Domains are portable, although in practice moving a domain from one ISP to another takes several days.
  • by goingware ( 85213 ) on Tuesday December 05, 2000 @10:10PM (#578997) Homepage
    I discuss the critical importance of owning your own domain name in Market Yourself - Tips for High-Tech Consultants [], giving this as the very reason.

    I use Yahoo mail in my example but I think this proves my point.

    Each individual email recipient on earth should have their own domain name.

    That way, if your provider goes down - whether it's a web-based service like Yahoo or AltaVista, or an ISP service, or if you just move geographically and don't want to keep paying for connectivity you don't use anymore, it just takes a couple days for changes to your DNS to take effect and your back up.

    I got my own domain name [] after my ISP was down for a week. And they've been bought out so many times it's amazing they still serve the old domain anymore.

    The big pain for me now is going to be moving all the web pages that are hosted at my old ISP. Some of them are important ones that people have linked to from other sites. If I'd owned my own domain in the first place, there'd be no problem. Instead I'll put placeholders will META REFRESH tags in them to point at all the pages on the new sites and keep paying their bill another year or so.

    Michael D. Crawford
    GoingWare Inc

  • Maybe it has something to do with the shotgun school of journalism Slashdot subscribes to these days.

    You know: *BLAM*! "I think there's some news in that buckshot! We'll just put it all on the page."


  • is the $7-9 per month to service and maintain per user? If that's the case, I hope they would have discontinued service a long time ago. I'm guessing it's per line which hopefully would be much less than 7+ million/month.
  • by DoorFrame ( 22108 ) on Tuesday December 05, 2000 @10:12PM (#579000) Homepage
    First off, 66666 is a damned good slashdot id.

    But to the real point, Slashdot gets a bad rap in the comment sections a lot of the time. I know because I run a webpage that's got a similarly vocal clientel from time to time. You've got to understand that even though these guys may be getting paid to run this website by somebody out there in the real world, it is not by any of us. Sure, if we were paying for it we'd have the right to yell and scream, but we don't pay. We get this for free.

    Even with the grammar and spelling errors, even with the repeat stories, even with the poorly checked links, this website is much more than I'm paying for it.

    As much as it's annoying to see the same story twice, it's not a big deal. The same thing goes for a story that doesn't quite boil down the essence of the link perfectly. Sure, ok, they made a mistake here. So point it out on the talkback zone here, but there's no reason to attack the owners of the site personally. If it's incorrect, tell us what's right, don't act as if you're so high and mighty.

    It's a mistake, treat it as such.

    Slashdot fans... be patient and say thank you CmdrTaco and Hemos once in a while. It's not often on the web that you find something anywhere near as wonderful and useful as Slashdot, and when you do you should appreciate it. Attempting to tear it down piece by piece just shows how little respect you have for this service.

    Thank you Slashdot folks, I appreciate the hard work you do and thank you for your effort.
  • Yes, Slashdot is a wonderful resource - the sheer number of users is proof of that. Being the number 1 news provider (of its kind) is a large responsibility. Stories from Slashdot get reposted on smaller sites all over the world. That's why a Slashdot article has to be correct. Don't spread false information.

    Of course, Slashdot wouldn't be what it is today if it was just a plain, boring news site. Informal articles, humorous stories and rumours all make a good recipe. But when it comes to news, check and double-check that your information is correct. Today's AltaVista and Opera stories were embarassing for Slashdot.

  • Unless, of course, NSI goes out of business and takes their database with them.... but then again, if that happens, I guess we're all screwed.

    huh? you're only screwed if you keep your domain at NSI. There's a bazillion registrars nowadays. pretty much all of them provide better service and less restrictive terms than NSI, and dotster, for instance only charges $15 per year.

    "I will gladly pay you today, sir, and eat up

  • I hate to advocate more governmental involvement of any sort, but honestly, my email account is by far more important to my life than my physical mail address. The nature of the capitalist market itself rules out the sort of stability that email requires, and only a government can really provide any sort of long-term guarantee that I believe we need.

    Maybe you need it. I don't. I deal with the Government provided mail service often, to a rural town in TN. It doesn't work. I keep trying. I'm a moron, I keep hoping. My mother's a state employed librarian. Go figure, I'm a natual liberal.

    What gets through it UPS, FedEx, or a bank transfer. The last one is what happens here.

    If you think the federal State ensures reliable delivery, well, send an imortant letter to someone in backwoods TN.

    Hm. Maybe I'm a bit more in to free market operations than yer typical liberal after all.


  • I work for a company that works with AltaVista's Channels. The word is that they are leaving the portal market altogether and they are going to cease providing any source of content.
    It seems that most of the people their are fairly disgruntled after waiting and waiting for the supposed IPO that is right around the corner. These guys are heading straight for the toilet. At least that's my oppinion.
  • If you think you have a better idea for making these companies profitable, you can make millions. Licensing technology is only a viable solution if the licensee has a way of making the money back on that! Since banner ads support search engines and licensed search engine sites only make money through banner ads, too, ... hmmm. Banner ads seem to be the only way to make money ... still.
  • I use a bunch of free web access services for ...backup, and I got the message from AV recently: "We regret to inform you that AltaVista's free Internet access will terminate service on December 10th. AltaVista has been forced to discontinue this offering because the company who provided the service and telecommunications infrastructure for it, 1stUp Corp., is going out of business. This change will not affect the availability of our search services at" still provides access for Freelane [freelane.e...mtargetnew] , Excites's free sevice, though, and uses the same dialup numbers locally. I haven't heard anything from them yet. Theres still Juno, and Netzero, and a few others, (sadly none of which work with Linux since the demise of FreeWWWeb), but I think this market has a low saturation point, and it looks like it pretty much there now.
  • Or maybe they just figure a banner ad won't bother people using text-only browsers and target the banner at people who use the text interface for other reasons (like avoiding the ads :-)
  • Even with the grammar and spelling errors, even with the repeat stories, even with the poorly checked links, this website is much more than I'm paying for it. yes, slashdot is a very good service. at the same time, putting out information in the context that it would be accurate is a disservice and hurts in the internet and the readership.
  • Yea they better just stick to spending money on $300.00 hammers or $10,000 toilet seats. Let the military suck up the money and what's left over we can give to farmers for not farming, ranchers so we can pay more more for beef and dairy, loggers so that they can cut more of our trees and miners so they can level a few more mountains. The govt has better things to do with our money then to actually deliver a service for most citizens.
  • How is Google not a portal as well? Try []. The only difference that I see is that AV's portal links are displayed on the page.
  • Now they'll be a little less SPAM/Bulk e-mail flying around the Internet
  • They're ending their free isp service, not webmail...

  • >1] First he was involved with Debian but then he quit because it wasn't getting newbie friendly and it wouldn't adopt the rpm package manager
    Package uniformity is hands down one of the BIGGEST problems facing the linux distros today. Its also affecting the BSD's, but they have the balls and intelligence to do something about it. []

    I dont think thats a bad thing. It certainly made a point that resonated with me. However, that isnt the only reason he left from my understanding of posts at the time.

    >2] He started Software in the Public Interest. But he quit.
    (everything is this post is simply my understanding of the matter, btw..)
    This was because he saw a bigger value proposition in OSI, from what I understood.

    >3] Then he was involved with the OSI but he quit because ESR allowed O'Reilly to use the word open source at a comvention even the the rest of the OSI board voted not too.
    Much as ESR is hailed for standing by his beliefs, why should you be a part of a group that doesnt stand by it's decisions. BP was doing IMHO, the moral thing, and showing the same level of integrity that ESR has.

    >4] Then he started LSB but quit because it wasn't moving fast enough.
    And its not. Its a laughing stock. They should already have a working standard for package management, desktop WM's, and kernels. They dont even have THAT. Its *RIDICULUS*.

    >5] Then he started this venture capital group but now he's quiting that too.
    Because he can make better money elsewhere, and because it has served its purpose.

    >To me this represents a series of "stints."
    When the cook stumbled upon chocolate chip cookies by accident, just because it took a short period of time, was that a stint?

    The word has more meaning than just 'short period of time'. It has a very negative connotation, and thats what I was objecting to.

    IMHO, they werent stints, they were logically concluded movements in his life, and in public life.

    I stand by my statement about Mr. Perens. (Why does everyone call ANYONE in the open-source movement by their first name like they have known them for years personally?)

  • Not All ISPs are equal!
    I tried the free ISP thing for a while, however due to my phone lines I could only connect at a top speed of 26.4K

    exciting huh?

    At any rate, the banner ads were so heavy that it killed my browsing speed. Granted it IS free so I shouldn't complain about that. The other thing I noticed was that it seemed like all the free services DNS was about four days behind the rest of the world. Maybe that's not the case, but perception is reality to some.

    $19.99 a month is not too much to pay for decent service. Folks pay more than that, some pay less, but service is the key. MSN I personally wouldn't trust for all the obvious reasons. AT&T was just weird, mindspring/earthlink were great, and there are a ton of local and regional shops which do their thing just as good or better than their nationwide counterparts.

    ...and some that don't...

    Now I work for an ISP, I get free service that all our customers pay $19.99 for. It's a nice perk, but I'll shell the 20 spot out rather than watching ad banners any day.

  • by cetan ( 61150 ) on Wednesday December 06, 2000 @06:12AM (#579015) Journal
    Yes, the free internet access is being terminated. I have provided the text from the email I received from them below:

    Dear Member,

    We regret to inform you that AltaVista's free Internet access will terminate service on December 10th. AltaVista has been forced to discontinue this offering because the company who provided the service and telecommunications infrastructure for it, 1stUp Corp., is going out of business. This change will not affect the availability of our search services at

    AltaVista thoroughly investigated finding another supplier to provide a free Internet access service. However, we were unable to find a company that was able to meet the needs of our Members.

    Special No-Risk Offer: 3 Months Free from MSN
    We have made special arrangements with MSN to assist U.S. based AltaVista Members who would like to transition to the MSN(R) Internet access service. For a limited time, users who sign up for MSN will receive three months free of unlimited Internet access. Thereafter, the cost of the MSN service will be $21.95 per month. Your MSN subscription will include:

    - MSN Explorer, the new all-in-one software from Microsoft that makes it easy to get more from the Web
    - 24/7 toll-free support
    - Support for up to nine users, each with their own settings

    Or you can choose to get MSN HighSpeed access with MSN DSL service and get a free modem and installation at no extra charge with a one-year term commitment. Certain offer restrictions apply. Click on the below link for details.

    Note: Three-month free service offer does not apply to MSN HighSpeed access.

    To take advantage of these special offers, please click on the following link:

    Please be advised that AltaVista has no affiliation with MSN and does not assume any responsibility for its availability, quality or terms of service.

    AltaVista Search
    We look forward to continuing to provide you with our patented Search technology for finding information on the Web and product research through our shopping-comparison guide at:

    On behalf of all AltaVista employees, we thank you for choosing AltaVista.


    Ken Neibaur, Vice President, Marketing
  • What you want is [] or [].
  • STFU, Impostor.

    I already saw this 50,000 UIDs before yours, and it was stupid then.

    Could someone *please* go through his history and mod his posts down to -837,425 for me?
    pb Reply or e-mail; don't vaguely moderate [].
  • My mistake, not a full server. Just a cheapo host [].
  • Flamebait? What -- I was taunting myself?

    Perhaps I was explaining why I made a silly subject line: I was trying to produce the effect of a 4 year-old on the playground saying a taunting cliche.

    It's funny. Laugh.

    Now, that the parent's parent was marked Off-Topic is just stupid!
  • Companies are finding that free ad-subsidized services are not that profitable.

    This is only the tip of the iceberg; soon, I am willing to bet, we are going to see other companies like Juno and Netzero follow suit.

  • Let's hope for NetZero. I have found there service to be painful to use. Once every 15 minutes or so you get a pop-up dialog box (not a browser window, but an actual program dialog box) that says either:
    1. "Hey, if you click on the banner in our banner portal you could get cool stuff!" or
    2. "You will be disconnected in 30 seconds if you don't click ok" This last one is done regardless of the current activity. Even if you're not idle, you get this message.

    Frustrating. But, one gets what they pay for
  • by iamsure ( 66666 ) on Tuesday December 05, 2000 @09:42PM (#579023) Homepage
    First, I'll comment on the editorial question "what does this mean"..

    Them ending free dialup means that they obviously learned that it wasnt worth it. The average dialup costs around $7-9 per month to service and maintain (I worked at a national isp, thats the numbers we had).

    With those numbers, with a million users, they were spending $7 million roughly PER MONTH. Thats a nice fat national television ad run. Its an easy choice to stop services like that when budgets are tighter.

    Now, some bitching.

    The first line on the page of the article, IN BOLD was:

    "update AltaVista is terminating its free Internet access service, making it the latest company to exit the market."

    NOT email.

    In the last two weeks, we have seen over eight stories that were old submissions with NO changes, three that were updates of old submissions that didnt mention the original (sony walking robot), and plenty of spell-checking problems, and crap like this.

    Not to mention the Bruce Perens article that practically insults him. Now, I dont get around much, but in my limited dealings with the OS/FS/Linux community, he has been wonderful, open, and very accomodating.

    What the hell is up guys? Now that you got paid do you just not give a damn?

    Now, dont get me wrong, I am not saying "Its not like the old days", cause I wasnt on then. :)

    However, in the last year, I can definitely say that they dont do nearly as much editorial checking.

    Hell, Bruce submitted his story HIMSELF, TWICE, and it was rejected, but then it was submitted with that rude editorial attached.

    I just .. dont get it.

    Wake up guys, RUN YOUR SITE!

  • I wonder if we could get an annotated digest of these painfully long and sleep-inducing tickers. Something like a Kernel Traffic digest...

    I assume it's posted because of some awesome revelation or admission -- but I haven't the patience tonight to wade through it.

    Cliff notes version, anyone? (How's that for an Ask /. sub-ref?)
  • by American AC in Paris ( 230456 ) on Wednesday December 06, 2000 @03:29AM (#579042) Homepage
    Even with the grammar and spelling errors, even with the repeat stories, even with the poorly checked links, this website is much more than I'm paying for it.

    I agree completely with that statement; it's one of the fundamental reasons I love the whole concept of Free software and Open Source.

    That said, one of the greatest problems I see with the Free mindset is that people use that freedom as an excuse for mediocrity. When one begins to excuse mediocrity, what happens to the drive to improve? If the Linux team responded to bug reports with a curt "Hey, you get what you pay for," what do you think the state of Linux would be today? If Slashdot really is the labor of love I percieve it to be, Taco et al. should be (and likely are) constantly searching for ways to make Slashdot even better. Excusing mediocrity does not contribute to the improvement of the site.

    It's a mistake, treat it as such.

    If I grab a paper grocery bag by one handle and pick it up, causing it to tear and spill it's contents, I've just made a mistake. I apologize to the guy next to me for dropping a can on his foot, gather my stuff, put it in a new bag, and carry it (by both handles) out of the store.

    If I do this once or twice a year, it's no big deal. People do indeed make mistakes. However, if I do this every time I go to the grocery store, it becomes a problem. I'm not learning from my mistakes, I embarrass and delay myself every time I go to the store, and the store staff generally roll their eyes at me and make jokes about me behind my back.

    On average, Slashdot makes at least one glaring error (spelling/grammar mistakes, recent reposts, gross editorial inaccuracies) on their front page blurbs on an almost daily basis, sometimes three or four times in the course of a single article blurb. This has been going on for months now. If Slashdot has been learning anything from these mistakes, it has yet to manifest itself on the site.

    If I didn't care whether or not Slashdot looked foolish every time this sort of thing happened, I wouldn't be making noise about it. As it is, though, I really like Slashdot and want to see it get even better. This means helping to identify and point out the problems I see. One of the most glaring problems I can see is the general lack of editorial quality; thus I make a point of it when I see it. I consider it my contribution to the improvement of Slashdot.

    I thank you, Slashdot team, for all of your obvious hard work and dedication to what I think is a really good geek news resource. That said, though, there are things that are in dire need of attention, and the editorial quality has been too low for too long for me and many others to keep quiet about it. Make it a rule that editors must spell-check every blurb before posting; make it a rule that editors must triple-read or quadruple-read posts before setting them live; make it a rule that editors must read and fully understand related links before commenting editorially on the submission. Build a SQL statement that queries against all the links in the story database to search for sites and articles that have already been posted in other stories. Restrict editorial comments and titles to stories posted under editorial sections. Make editorial quality a priority. If there really is a copy editor, as the FAQ claims, then that individual sure as heck isn't doing their job. At all.

    I can think of precious few cases where Faster but Wrong is better than Slower but Right. Slashdot, do it Right first, Fast second.

    $ man reality

  • I've moved 1/2 a dozen times in the past 5 years, but I've always kept the same main email address. Still, however, it feels less "permanent" than any physical address I've ever had. The company could go out of business at any time for any of a wide variety of reasons.

    For better or worse, in this country the USPS is fully responsible for your mail. As a quasi-governmental agency it will always be as strong as the nation itself. Baring significant political upheaval, I always know my mail will (usually) end up in the right place as long as I fill out the change of address forms. And if the government ever does go tits up, where my credit card statement goes will probably be one of my least worries.

    Why can't we have something similar to the USPS for email? With this current hodge-podge of ISP's practicing collective anarchy, there are no real guarantees. When a huge company like Altavista shuts down the accounts it serves as a chilling wake-up call to the ephemerality of our most basic online communications.

    I hate to advocate more governmental involvement of any sort, but honestly, my email account is by far more important to my life than my physical mail address. The nature of the capitalist market itself rules out the sort of stability that email requires, and only a government can really provide any sort of long-term guarantee that I believe we need.

  • by Dominic_Mazzoni ( 125164 ) on Tuesday December 05, 2000 @09:44PM (#579050) Homepage
    What do you expect them to do? The company that was providing the free net access is going out of business. It's not like this is the first free net access company to bite the bullet recently.
  • Using an alias is a great way to get around this. By giving your alias out rather than a specific address, if one e-mail account is shut down/spammed/broken into/ect, you just change the forwarding address on your alias, and those e-mailing you at the alias never know the difference.

    I know for sure that if you are an IEEE member they give you an alias...

Sigmund Freud is alleged to have said that in the last analysis the entire field of psychology may reduce to biological electrochemistry.