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Another Nail In Usenet's Coffin? 482

Karamchand writes "Today news.individual.net in an email to its more than 250.000 registered users announced that they won't be able to continue offering free Usenet access. While it provided text-only groups many people relied on individual.net's service to take part in one of the Internet's older services. In a time were a working news server is not a selling point for ISPs and most internet users never heard about this service, will this be another nail in the coffin of Usenet?"
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Another Nail In Usenet's Coffin?

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  • Google Groups (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 15, 2005 @07:33PM (#11683566)
    No, for text usenet group access, Google Groups is fine. For binary access, well, you probably have to pay but it is worth it.
    • Re:Google Groups (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Old Wolf ( 56093 ) on Tuesday February 15, 2005 @07:41PM (#11683689)
      Google groups, fine? What planet are you on.

      It's beyond me how they can't hire a programmer who knows how to make the text that the poster types, appear without being mangled! (newlines inserted, newlines deleted, lines of the new post interpreted as quoted text from the old...

      Also it's annoying to see a reply listed in the tree view as the parent of the post that it's replying to, or a reply listed as a child of a previous reply to the same parent.

      Not to mention the un-intuitive user interface which encourages posting without quoting the parent.

      • It got worse when they went into their new beta. In thread listing mode, I can't find a way to jump to the next ten posts without scrolling through the left-hand pane to find the right one to click on.
      • Re:Google Groups (Score:3, Insightful)

        by nocomment ( 239368 )
        That's not even the worst part, the fact it takes 12 hours for what you say to show up, and by then you have gotten 30 replies. and the thread is dead. It's fine for the 3 times a year I use usenet.

        You really think Usenet is dying? Anyone got the link to netcraft?[tt]
      • Re:Google Groups (Score:5, Interesting)

        by bigberk ( 547360 ) <bigberk@users.pc9.org> on Tuesday February 15, 2005 @08:16PM (#11684037)
        Not to mention the un-intuitive user interface which encourages posting without quoting the parent.
        I agree with you, Google's groups service (the beta) really isn't impressive at all. There is no quoting of parents, and the threads are difficult to navigate. I still use the old groups system [google.ca], which was far superior. If it ain't broke, don't fix it. I really hope Google reverts to their old interface.
    • Re:Google Groups (Score:5, Insightful)

      by ari_j ( 90255 ) on Tuesday February 15, 2005 @07:58PM (#11683882)
      I have to disagree. Google Groups is great for reading anything over a week old, but for keeping up-to-date or having any kind of discussion, it is abysmal at best. What took me less than 24 hours when I had Cox cable internet with Usenet access in Phoenix can take upwards of two weeks using Google Groups.

      But it is phenomenal for read-only access to things a week or more old, and by "or more" I mean back to the Pleistocene era.
      • They could use a Pleistocene sort option so you can find the oldest threads first.
      • Re:Google Groups (Score:3, Insightful)

        by smchris ( 464899 )
        Agreed. Google is "ask the genie". But usenet is where you have a serious ongoing conversation.

        I guess it depends on the ISPs target market and your needs. I would never use an ISP without usenet and I wouldn't recommend it for anyone with a tech interest in particular.

        But for the cheapie ISPs? Grandma wants web and mail for $6/month? How is an ISP going to do that and be full service? Doubly smart for cheapie ISPs in poor "red state" markets. Porn? Never! Not on our servers, praise Jesus!

        If use
    • Re:Google Groups (Score:4, Informative)

      by drsquare ( 530038 ) on Wednesday February 16, 2005 @05:58AM (#11687137)
      Google groups is fucking awful. For example:

      1) There's no way to follow threads properly. When you go into a group, it doesn't mark which ones you've already read or not, so you have to go through the entire lot.
      2) It doesn't show long posts all at once, you need to click on 'Read the rest of this message' to read it all, which is fucking torture on long threads.
      3) You can't change your settings once you've signed up.
      4) Frames.
      5) Different threads with identical subjects are lumped together.
      6) Posts with no-archive set don't appear at all, making a lot of threads completely unreadable.

      And that's just with the old version. The new version is a hundred times worse. They haven't fixed the problems with the old one, but they've taken away all the GOOD bits instead. The previously simple, compact thread-list which made browsing the newsgroup pretty easy, is now replaced with a completely bloated list which takes up EIGHT lines per thread, rather than the usual ONE.

      You can go to the old version at groups.google.co.uk, but they've crippled it so you can't reply to a post. When you try to reply, it gives an error about not being able to retrieve the post you're replying to. I mean come on, all those fucking genius PHDs and master-programmers, and they can't get something right that Deja was doing right ten years ago? I can't believe that a company that constantly boasts how clever and talented they are, can actually make an interface go BACKWARDS.

      The motive is obvious: profit. If they dumb it down, fuck over all the 'old' users, and try to attract the drooling masses with a bloated cartoon interface, they can get more ad-hits. Bollocks to usability or functionality, bollocks to the integrity of one of the Internet's oldest services, nothing is sacred from the latest dot-com raping it for profit.

      People are always saying how great the gmail interface is, but I don't see how that can be when google groups is so poor, unless they're concentrating all their resources on gmail, because it's the new 'glamour' service. Although I suppose eventually it will go the same way as google groups: They'll come out with a new and improved 'beta' version, with a crippled awful interface ten times worse than the original, then put some bug in the old one so people can't go back to it.

  • What? (Score:5, Funny)

    by jim_v2000 ( 818799 ) on Tuesday February 15, 2005 @07:33PM (#11683569)
    What's this Usenet thing again?

  • by winkydink ( 650484 ) * <sv.dude@gmail.com> on Tuesday February 15, 2005 @07:34PM (#11683574) Homepage Journal
    I've been hearing this, since, oh, just after The Great Renaming, which was when? '85, '86?
  • by MillionthMonkey ( 240664 ) on Tuesday February 15, 2005 @07:34PM (#11683579)
    ...and takes with it those stupid posts to alt.drugs I wrote in college...
  • Free Usenet via web (Score:4, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 15, 2005 @07:35PM (#11683584)
    Check out http://www.talkaboutnetwork.com/ [talkaboutnetwork.com]
  • No. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Trillan ( 597339 ) on Tuesday February 15, 2005 @07:35PM (#11683592) Homepage Journal

    Those who like it, like it a lot. Enough, say, to find another Usenet feed. It just ain't that big a deal.

    At the moment, I'm using the google groups beta. If they'd add reply quoted, I'd probably stick with it. As it is, I'll probably get an account with supernews or something sooner or later...

    • Re:No. (Score:2, Interesting)

      by luxis ( 240935 ) *
      Might want to check out Talk About Network [talkaboutnetwork.com] which offers free web access to usenet groups. Nothing like having RSS on your favorite group :)
    • Re:No. (Score:3, Informative)

      by Hal_Porter ( 817932 )

      At the moment, I'm using the google groups beta. If they'd add reply quoted, I'd probably stick with it

      Click on Show Options at the top of a post, then click on Reply.

      Then you get a text box with the quoting done.
  • by Ckwop ( 707653 ) * <Simon.Johnson@gmail.com> on Tuesday February 15, 2005 @07:35PM (#11683597) Homepage
    Usenet will be here for another 20 years.. These stories about the "death" of these things are hugely over-rated.

    Next it'll be that AIM, Yahoo Messenger, MSN messenger are killing IRC.

    There are plenty of good groups on usenet with loyal posters - it's like trying to kill fortran - it'll only happen over dead bodies..

  • Finding web forums (Score:5, Informative)

    by yahyamf ( 751776 ) on Tuesday February 15, 2005 @07:36PM (#11683603)
    Web based forum software offer a lot more features than newsgroups. However they are not indexed by centralized servers like Usenet, so it's as easy to find web forums. It would be nice if the most popular forum software like phpBB, VBulletin etc, have some sort of common standard that allows them to be listed by topic, indicating some statistics like number of members, posts, activity so people can quickly choose a forum.
    • by arose ( 644256 )
      Web based forum software offer a lot more features than newsgroups.

      Like "reading trough a web browser", "no threads" and "you remember what you have read, not your computer"?
      • by aardvarkjoe ( 156801 ) on Tuesday February 15, 2005 @07:55PM (#11683844)
        Web based forum software offer a lot more features than newsgroups.
        Like "reading trough a web browser", "no threads" and "you remember what you have read, not your computer"?
        Here's [highprogrammer.com] a good article on this subject. Even the worst of newsreaders -- say, OE -- still beat out the best of the web forums. I keep on thinking that it would be nice to write a Slashdot->news program, but I've never found time to do it.
        • Two things:

          In my personal experience, most usenet programs (especially OE) were fine for getting me registered in groups and posting, but I'll be damned if I'm going to retread everything to find one little post I made that I want to read the replies to. Point being, if Usenet (or, more specifically, a usenet client) had some sort of feedback a la Livejournal's emailed replies, that would make it more of a contender in my book.

          Secondly, Slashdot is already experimenting with an NNTP based feed ... but I'l
          • In my personal experience, most usenet programs (especially OE) were fine for getting me registered in groups and posting, but I'll be damned if I'm going to retread everything to find one little post I made that I want to read the replies to.

            Any newsreader worth its salt should be able to find your own articles at the push of a button. This is something I like doing, too.

            Secondly, Slashdot is already experimenting with an NNTP based feed ...

            Really? Where? The FAQ entry still says its not going to ha

        • by sploo22 ( 748838 ) <dwahler AT gmail DOT com> on Tuesday February 15, 2005 @08:28PM (#11684175)
          It looks like the author of that article never used a really well-designed web forum like Invision Power Board. Now I can't speak very much from an administrator's perspective, but having used a number of forums based on IPB and its contemporaries (mainly vBulletin and phpBB) most of the issues raised in the article seem to be not only groundless, but in any case very superficial.

          • On a typical web forum, messages are linearly displayed, as a result different topics are intermingled. It's impossible to be sure who is responding to who. True, most web forums are linear, but that doesn't make it confusing at all. On the contrary, it tends to encourage discussions to stay on track and keeps outdated posts from being brought up over and over again.
          • There is no way to look at an old thread and only see new messages. Click the "See New Posts" icon.
          • There is no way to filter out topics and people you're not interested in. Click the "Ignore" button.
          • Every piece of popular forum software feels the need to replace traditional text smileys like :-) with little yellow graphics. It seems like a good idea, but a screen full of little yellow dots draws your eye away from the text, making reading a page straining. Click the "Disable Emoticons" checkbox.
          • Users are also typically allowed to include graphics in their posts. While sometimes useful, it's all too often used to include their favorite two or three megabytes of pointless, self-aggrandizing graphics. The administrator can disable images.
          • Of course, no forum supports actually hosting the graphics themselves... Most of them provide attachment capabilities, if enabled by the administrator.

          And the list goes on. Honestly, this is just a pure troll.
          • by arose ( 644256 )
            "See New Posts"
            Next to useless. A "See Unread Posts" button is needed.
          • by dougmc ( 70836 ) <dougmc+slashdot@frenzied.us> on Wednesday February 16, 2005 @12:52AM (#11686050) Homepage

            On the contrary, it tends to encourage discussions to stay on track and keeps outdated posts from being brought up over and over again.

            Who are you to decide when a post is outdated? If people want to bring it up again, they should.

            As for staying `on track', the only reason web forums stay `on track' is because the moderators will usually smack you down if you don't. (A double edged sword, more on that later.)

            Click the "See New Posts" icon.

            Assuming that this particular software has it, and it works as you expect. Every one is different. Also, none of these options that you list work *at all* unless you actually register with the site and log in.

            Click the "Ignore" button.

            Assuming that this particular software has it, and it works as you expect. Every one is different. And often this option isn't available unless you pay for an account (more on that later.)

            Click the "Disable Emoticons" checkbox.

            Assuming that this particular software has it, and it works as you expect. Every one is different ...

            The administrator can disable images.

            Assuming that this particular software has it, and it works as you expect. And assuming that the administrator has actually done this -- it doesn't seem to happen very often.

            Most of them provide attachment capabilities, if enabled by the administrator.

            Most is a stretch. Some is probably more accurate. And generally they don't offer you that unless you actually pay them for an account. Which makes sense, as images do suck up the bandwidth.

            Paying for an account to get access to the features that Usenet has given me for decades is even worse. I wouldn't mind paying $5/month or so, but that $5/month only covers one board. Alas, I don't just follow one group in Usenet, but instead a few dozen. If these all moved to web forums, that would be probably be like $100/month just for some of the functionality I have now with Usenet.

            Honestly, this is just a pure troll.

            No, I don't think your (you = sploo22) post is pure troll. You've brought up some useful points, but it seems that maybe you just haven't gotten used to a good Usenet newsreader, or have forgotten how functional they are ...

            I can add to the list of web forum deficiencies as well :

            It's not easy to run a spell checker. Perhaps they offer some java one, but what if you don't let your browser run java? And every forum is different ...

            (For example, I suspect I mispelled deficiencies. I before E, except after C?) I could grep /usr/dict/words for it, but I think I'll just write this paragraph instead.)

            I guess I could type my post up in emacs, run my spell checker, then post it to the forum ...

            How do you save a thread to your disk? Make a bookmark? That might work for a week or two, but sooner or later, the forum will get upgraded, or moved, or shut down, or the content will be expired -- and the link you saved is dead. Same goes for trying to keep a record of everything you've posted. With Usenet, it's trivial.

            Suppose you recall seeing something on a forum a year ago. But don't recall exactly where. How will you find it? It's probably expired off the forum, if the forum still exists at all. If so, google probably won't find it. The Internet Archive might have a copy, but that's iffy. With Usenet, you just hit google and enter some phrases and you'll probably find it quickly enough.

            Suppose the forum administrator doesn't like you or your views. So he deletes your posts, or worse -- edits them. And there's nothing you can do about it but go somewhere else. Perhaps open your own competing forum?

            Of course, I'm typing this into a web forum now. (In

      • Like "reading trough a web browser", "no threads" and "you remember what you have read, not your computer"?

        You forgot the best part about many web forums. The post itself may only be one word like 'Bump!', but the .sig is 2 inches high with 5 blinking gifs of a woman's tits.

        If it's a well-designed web forums, you can turn off .sigs , but you need to do that for every friggen web forum.

        4 line sigs! 4 LINE SIGS!! JUST USE A SMALL SIG!!! Arggg.....,
    • by Phurd Phlegm ( 241627 ) on Tuesday February 15, 2005 @07:48PM (#11683764)
      Web based forum software offer a lot more features than newsgroups.
      Yeah, like you can attach cute smileys to your posts.

      Well, I guess that's the only clear advantage I've ever seen. Maybe after sixteen years on USENET I'm just set in my ways, but with careful kill file management, you can still find interesting stuff to read and interesting people to interact with.

      It has not escaped my notice that Slashdot is a web-based forum. I can't really say that it offers "a lot more features than newsgroups." The only extra feature it offers is moderation, which on USENET is done on an individual (or I should say in-duh-vidual) basis. That way, I make my own decisions about who to ignore, instead of relying on possibly-biased moderators. Not necessarily better, just different.

    • by matthewn ( 91381 )

      Web based forum software offer a lot more features than newsgroups.

      Please mod parent "on crack." The rise of Web forums to replace usenet is perhaps the biggest bummer of the popularization of the Internet. (Well, okay, the second biggest bummer -- after spam.) I used to read forty or so usenet groups every day, all in one nice interface that kept track of what I'd read. Now I'm expected to click all around the Web to various forums (fora?), each of which requires me to register in order to post, each of w

  • by whoever57 ( 658626 ) on Tuesday February 15, 2005 @07:36PM (#11683605) Journal
    there are more newsgroups than ever. This is just one free service. There are still other free services -- just because one company can't compete does not mean the medium is dying.
  • If Usenet falls... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by brucifer ( 12972 )
    ...and no one is around to hear it, will anyone care?
  • its been dead (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Suburbanpride ( 755823 ) on Tuesday February 15, 2005 @07:38PM (#11683634)
    I've been using the internet since 1994 (well, 193 is you count comp-u-serve) and I remember Usenet fondly. It was a great source of information and discussion, but the signal to noise ratio got way to high. By 1999 it was eaiser to do a HotBot search to find relavent information than it was in the spam and troll infested usenet, save for a few good groups. I really doubt that anyone who got online in '97 or later ever used the usenet at all.
    • Re:its been dead (Score:2, Interesting)

      by PepeGSay ( 847429 )
      I've used newsgroups since around the same time as you. And I still use them for the core of any troubleshooting searches. The signal to noise *is* too high unless you use some form of search tool though.
    • by StateOfTheUnion ( 762194 ) on Tuesday February 15, 2005 @07:53PM (#11683823) Homepage
      I remember Usenet fondly. It was a great source of information and discussion, but the signal to noise ratio got way to high.

      If the signal to noise ratio gets high, you get lots of (presumably good) signal and relatively little noise. I think that what was meant was that the signal to noise ratio got too low . . . unless spam postings and AOL newbie pollution from Usenet in the 90's is considered signal and original and thoughtful postings from individuals is considered noise.

    • by fsh ( 751959 )
      It's only been around since '97.

      Oh, wait, I thought you were talking about slashdot.
  • by XanC ( 644172 )
    Note that the date of the change is April Fools' Day. Plus, nobody being serious could write "April 1th" as they did.
  • The title [catb.org], as well as this story, seem to me to be random, fear-mongering speculation. Yep, it's not free anymore. Is this a big surprise? No. The volume of USENET is immense, and it costs real money to provide a feed. There are still and will be for the forseeable future plenty of news sites that provide full access for a reasonably low monthly fee, and even most of the small ISPs (around here, anyway) provide newsgroup service through the simple means of contracting a larger, usenet-oriented provider
  • Valued Service (Score:5, Insightful)

    by DrKyle ( 818035 ) on Tuesday February 15, 2005 @07:39PM (#11683646)
    As long as there are people using usenet to download movies, music, tv shows, games, applications, ebooks, and just about anything else that can be posted on usenet, there will be companies willing to let us pay for that access. Maybe you won't be able to get it bundled with your ISP anymore, but I for one will always have a use for it.
  • Ouch (Score:5, Insightful)

    by DNS-and-BIND ( 461968 ) on Tuesday February 15, 2005 @07:39PM (#11683656) Homepage
    Ooo, this hurts. I've used this service for years to read news. Used to be, your ISP would provide a news server the same way that it provides a mail server, web server, etc. Then binaries groups became highly popular, and the cost of a news server skyrocketed. This was seen as an outsourcable expense.

    Well, what's next? You used to be able to take for granted there were public news servers out there. This service was the best one, and only offered text groups, which was all I wanted anyway. Now...I don't know. There's just no beating reading real submariners discuss the USS San Francisco (hit an underwater mountain at full speed recently) on sci.military.naval.

    • Re:Ouch (Score:5, Informative)

      by Tackhead ( 54550 ) on Tuesday February 15, 2005 @07:48PM (#11683763)
      > You used to be able to take for granted there were public news servers out there. This service was the best one, and only offered text groups, which was all I wanted anyway.

      A full binary feed is about 1.2TB per day; not within the reach of the home user (Joe Sixpack), nor within the reach of the dedicated amateur (The top 1% of Joe Sixpacks who have a 19" rack in their closet) nor even the Really Generous Corporate Sponsor (Hi, OSDN! Thanks for Slashdot!).

      A full feed of text groups, however, is probably only about 2 GB per day - a server that can provide 90-day retention of text groups is well within the (bandwidth and hardware cost) reach of the dedicated amateur who lays out $100-200 or so a month for his or her hobbies.

      Because USENET is a store-and-forward network, and because bandwidth and hardware are getting increasingly cheap, there'll always be an open text server or two out there. Worst comes to worst (or is it best comes to best?), there may not be any one open text server that "everyone" uses, but a diffuse network of hundreds of 'em, one or two in every city.

      • Re:Ouch (Score:3, Insightful)

        by DeepHurtn! ( 773713 )
        The fact that usenet is so decentralised is my favourite thing about it. Webforums, for example, are entirely under the control of a single entity (whether an individual or a company), and the forum is at that individual's mercy. They can pull the plug (or get hacked, or exceed their bandwidth, or...) anytime. Try to take out a newsgroup, though! You'd have to find every jackass running a usenet server and whack the box with a baseball bat.
  • by vandrad ( 853436 ) on Tuesday February 15, 2005 @07:40PM (#11683667) Homepage
    Between the decline of Kazaa (possible logging of downloads. RIAA lawsuits) and AOL terminating Usenet access [slashdot.org], I can't help but think that Usenet might make a comeback among geeks now that it's off the mainstream radar.

    Sucks about Individual.net, but network services ain't free to provide. I'm quite happy with a Supernews account at $5.95 a month.

  • Keeping a news server around keeps the internet transfers in-house, instead of sending packets who-knows-where to a news server on the other side of the country. People will be using newsgroups for some time to come, and the sheer speed from my ISP (Verizon still carries news) tells me that they definitely have a beefy news server a couple branches up the tree of communications. Instead of paying money on a per-gigabyte basis to transfer data into and out of their network, they keep most of it inside wher
  • I've seen the term in Thunderbird but what is it? If I haven't seen it, it is very oldfashioned, so good riddance!? Seriously, if there is a better alternative, bye-bye Usenet! It just struck me - is Usenet sort of a mailing list(round robin), a forum, what? Billy
    • Re:What IS Usenet? (Score:2, Informative)

      by Pfhorrest ( 545131 )
      You got modded "funny" but I'll try to answer you seriously, just in case you're actually curious.

      First off, Wikipedia will probably tell you everything you might want to know about it and more: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Usenet

      In short, UseNet is what we had before the web was interactive and thus had things like forums - hell, before there was a web. It functions something like a mailing list. Basically, a big network of news servers all act as mirrors for a vast collection of categorized forums ("gro
  • free usenet (Score:3, Informative)

    by stel ( 781591 ) on Tuesday February 15, 2005 @07:43PM (#11683699)
    http://www.yottanews.com/ has been offering free 1GB per month accounts. There are plenty of other ones out there as well.
  • Binaries folk will still use Usenet as long as it is around. However, most real conversations stopped happening on Usenet a long time ago.
  • most internet users never heard about this service

    That is a bit of an understatement.

    I can't think of more than two people I know outside of academia that have ever heard of usenet or newsgroups. Use net has been dead along time. Yes, it still has many users. But theres still people out there browsing the web with netscape 4.1 too, that doesn't mean the old school netscape userbase is flourishing though.
    • Funny how USENET is the first place I go for answers to technical questions and I get an answer every time. If it hasn't been asked already, you can count on an answer within a couple hours. Add to that the high traffic music groups I read, the always entertaining alt.slack...

      Just because *YOU* are not saavy enough to derive any value from it, doesn't mean there is no value there. Do you know how many times a week I tell people at my office to "just search google groups" when they are stuck on a technic
  • by mz001b ( 122709 ) on Tuesday February 15, 2005 @07:43PM (#11683707)
    they also stated that they will discontinue gopher access, since this new world wide web thing looks like it may take off.

    seriously, usenet still is one of the best ways to exchange information with people on a specific subject. Some of the comp.lang ones are quite good.

    • Re:that's not all... (Score:3, Informative)

      by ari_j ( 90255 )
      comp.lang.lisp is fabulous. When I was involved there (lost my ISP with a good news server and have tried paying for a news server but demanded a refund due to absolutely terrible quality and desolate group population and message retention), I was really impressed not only by the community but also by some of the names that would show up to post from time to time.

      Slashdot sends interviews off to famous programming language architects once in a blue moon. On comp.lang.*, you occasionally discuss languag
  • Perhaps they're just proactive regarding April Fools day.
  • by StarWynd ( 751816 ) on Tuesday February 15, 2005 @07:44PM (#11683721)

    Okay, so people are now going to have to pay for a service that was once free. How is this a nail in the coffin? It seemed that Usenet was dying out until Google came along and included it via Google Groups.

    Even though I knew Usenet was out there, it really wasn't until Google Groups that I started using it heavily. I'm a casual Usenet user with a post here and a post there, but most of the time I just don't want all the traffic filling up my mailbox. Having it online in a nice form and easily searchable has made it much easier to work with and find exactly what you need and it's now much more available to folks who never knew it existed in the first place. (What's this little Groups link over here? ...)

    One free provider not being free any more doesn't change anything all that much other than being an inconvience for certain users.

  • Look if 80 percent of the freeloaders that cry how much they love usenet but cant be bothered to shell out a few bucks to use it go away you will have a much better service. If nothing else it will allow the system to rid itself of annoying trolls and advertising spammers. You won't see anyone flooding groups they dont like with garbage if it loses them access or if it costs them money.
  • by bonch ( 38532 ) on Tuesday February 15, 2005 @07:46PM (#11683740)
    Maybe the best thing for Usenet is to go "underground," so to speak, and have traffic die so the noise level diminishes, and at least a little bit of the former glory might return.
  • Just private school newsgroups and select "informative" ones. No alt, and especially no alt.binar*.

    Does anybody know of a good news server offering relatively full USENET access for free?
  • And if you cant afford a 7$/m subscription to it, we seriously don't want you there.
  • Are you kidding me? (Score:5, Informative)

    by Zocalo ( 252965 ) on Tuesday February 15, 2005 @07:51PM (#11683802) Homepage
    Usenet is still thriving and there still many very active groups out there, some of which actually have comments in them as opposed to "erotica", although there's still plenty of that too, of course. Better yet, now that October [catb.org] is nearly here at last, the signal to noise ratio should go up too. Sure, many ISPs might be giving up their own Usenet servers, but if they don't outsource to a dedicated provider like SuperNews [supernews.com] or Giganews [giganews.com], you can always get an account with them yourself. Failing that, you can hunt around for one of the numerous free servers [maxbaud.net], and there's always Google Groups [google.com] of course, but they often don't carry as broad a selection of groups.
  • Why not create a nice p2p client for the usenet? Everyone hosts a bit of it, maybe even their favorite parts. It could run in the background a la freenet, except without the crypto-slowness.
  • Usenet is Small! (Score:2, Interesting)

    by entropy123 ( 660150 )
    IMHO the valuable portion of the usenet are the various groups which answer questions re: programming and review books and the like. When I was learning C++ a while back (on my own) I found the usenet groups/archives accessible through google groups to be invaluable. I, for one, respect those guys who maintain their own archives (is there a place where I may get a copy btw?...don't trust google) Amazon and other websites basically obtain the right to distribute content; at least shut down the servers with a
  • The fee: The fee for an account for News.Individual.NET is 10 EUR per year (annual payment), that converts to only 0.84 EUR per month. The price includes VAT at 16%.
    news.individual.net gives a decent reliable NNTP service, unlike the one provided by my ISP. 10 EUR sounds fine to me. Might even keep some of the riffraff out :p

    Although they'll probably continue to use the Google Groups Beta Abomination.
  • It is untenable that the Library of Congress doesn't have the most complete Usenet archive and provide a copy for the cost of duplication. Of course, it is untenable that there aren't multiple redundant copies the world over available for comparison to check up on damage to the archival records.

    How many DVDs could contain the entire Usenet archive if pruned to just text? I've gotten close to 30:1 compression ratios out of WinRK [msoftware.co.nz].

  • and make a real protocol?

    Why redundantly mirror articles (and I think binary usage of usenet is such a balls up - regarding protocol) to all servers, instead of distributed serving of articles.

    So alt.go.fuck.yourself.com is on yourself.com's server dns nameserver pointy thingy, and hosts an nttp port, but then, who owns the data?

    I see one reason was anyone could accept posts, but the servers were out of sync...

    forums do the same job in a nice carry round with you web interface.

    usenet was a global 'one
  • Home UseNet (Score:3, Interesting)

    by nurb432 ( 527695 ) on Tuesday February 15, 2005 @08:09PM (#11683973) Homepage Journal
    Well, how about running your own local server... And collect only what you are intrested in?

    A workable idea?
    • Re:Home UseNet (Score:3, Informative)

      by Cheerio Boy ( 82178 )
      Well, how about running your own local server... And collect only what you are intrested in?

      Only if you have a really fast connection or don't want binaries. The program you should Google for is Leafnode.

      The binaries groups are at least 200gig per day pushed from the main news server feeds.
  • by endus ( 698588 ) on Tuesday February 15, 2005 @08:16PM (#11684039)
    The only sad part about this story is that there may not be as many new users of USENET if ISP's aren't offering it for free. Other than that, it's just a bunch of crap.

    There are new and old people on USENET constantly. Why, exactly, do you think that this ISP decied not to offer USENET access anymore...because there was no one posting there? Uhm...no. The reason that they stopped offering it is that it is a monster to maintain because of all the traffic. USENET is the most valuable and the most underrated resource on the internet. Yes, I said it, and yes, I mean it. For detailed technical information and answers to tough questions there is nowhere else to go. Product reviews, information on music you want to check out, whatever. It's all there.

    Let's keep it real here, okay? Most internet users (including IT "professionals") are too dumb to figure out how to use a newsreader, and FAR too dumb to understand how to evaluate the quality of information you get from google groups. People whine about, "Ohhh, the quality of information on message boards SUCKS, you can't learn ANYTHING from them". What a load of shit. If you have a brain in your head and understand the idea of crossreferencing information before you commit changes on a server that a few thousand people are connecting to, then you can really get a LOT of information from USENET and solve a lot of tough problems quickly. I find good, solid solutions to technical problems CONSTANTLY through google groups. I don't think a week goes by that I don't search it at least 10 times for various things.

    Oh, but we have web forums! God forbid people should allow their words to convey their meaning rather than having pretty pictures and fancy emoticons to cover up for the fact that they are just stupid assholes who no one wants to hear from anyway. It's such a joke when you hear people complaining about how "rough" certain web forums are. They don't even know the definition of a "troll" and they think they invented flaming. (Can I get a rolleyes smiley here?).

    This is just crap, and everyone cosiging it in this post is an idiot. I'm sorry, but it's true. USENET is a one-stop-shop for all kinds of amazingly valuable information and if you don't see that, then you're missing out. Go download agent and get a clue.
    • Good to see that other people understand how powerful Usenet can be today. Weird technical problems that sound to rare to be documented? You'll find a solution. A good discussion on C++/AI/whatever? You'll find one, or a couple hundred. If this is a dead medium, then show me a real replacement of such size, depth and convenience.
  • As far as I'm concerned, USENET died when people started making searchable archives of it available. I had been using USENET since the 1980s, and, while it had some problems, it was a discussion forum where people discussed things freely and under their own names. USENET also was mostly a mix of academics, students, and corporate computer geeks. Binary newsgroups and postings were few, but the comp.sources newsgroups were the primary vehicle for the distribution of open source software. People got to kno
  • by stesch ( 12896 ) on Tuesday February 15, 2005 @08:19PM (#11684072) Homepage
    Hey, what's all the fuss about? It's only 10 EUR a year. That's 0.84 EUR a month, 0.18 EUR a week, or 0.03 EUR a day.

    Or maybe you just use the newsserver of your ISP. Some people have forgotten that there are still ISPs who care about Usenet.

  • by shanen ( 462549 ) on Tuesday February 15, 2005 @08:31PM (#11684206) Homepage Journal
    Actually, the newsgroups died quite a while ago. I think the historians of epistemology will eventually date it either to the first time the average SNR went negative, or perhaps the last time it touched positive territory. Trivial distinction.

    It's not just that the information content has become quite low, but that there is as much disinformation as actual positive content. Add in all the pure noise and various forms of spam, add in a little creamed troll (and I think all trolls should be pureed), and you have a pretty worthless thing.

    Since so much of the negative information is political propaganda, my guess would be that the SNR hits the deepest troughs during elections, and in combination with the arrival of perpetual September, I'd guess the first time the average SNR went negative was probably in 1996 or 1998, but without doubt it was dead by 2000, whichever metric you care to use. (Two main metrics would be number of posts or volume.) I suspect it is already in permanent negative SNR territory, though there are still tiny pockets of actual information scattered hither and yon.

    Why? I think abuse of anonymity is probably the single largest killer.

  • by nozzle! ( 748736 ) on Tuesday February 15, 2005 @09:29PM (#11684767)
    You can't stop me. I'll move to an even slower, more decrepit form of communication.
  • Digit (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Graymalkin ( 13732 ) * on Wednesday February 16, 2005 @05:58AM (#11687138)
    While it is disappointing to see ISPs dropping Usenet support doing so will hardly kill it. The awesome part of Usenet is it is a naturally distributed network of systems. It doesn't take much to carry the text-only traffic of Usenet, especially considering the price of processing power and network bandwidth anymore. Binary feeds take quite a bit more but if you want the basics the barrier of entry is relatively low.

    While web-based forums have gotten very popular in the past few years they simply do not have the advantages of Usenet groups. A forum is limited by a single server/cluster's capacity in terms of both bandwidth and processing power. An angry admin, hacker, FBI raid, or backhoe can take down even the largest of web forums. It would take a lot of doing to kill a newsgroup. A couple of yahoos with spare Linux boxes could keep a group going without much effort. Forums also fall down when it comes to availability. To access a thread on a forum you need to be connected to the web. A newsgroup's posts can be downloaded once and held onto for as long as you'd like. This is a feature mailing lists also have over web forums, the entire history of the list can be stored in your local mail spool. While a forum is likely to be public accessible the sum of its content is rarely available for anyone to mirror if they have the prerogative.

    Programs like Leafnode [sourceforge.net] allow you to create local mirrors of feeds while Usenet-Web [nihongo.org] can process those spools to make them available to anyone with a web browser. Emoticons and oversized picture signatures are little reason to use web forums in lieu of newsgroups.

"The number of Unix installations has grown to 10, with more expected." -- The Unix Programmer's Manual, 2nd Edition, June, 1972