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The Internet Communications

Requiem for Usenet 498

xoip writes "Jack Kapica at The Globe and Mail reports that '[Canadian ISP] Rogers is removing [Usenet] service without changing its rates, suggesting subscribers turn to portal technology controlled by Rogers/Yahoo, or to subscribe to an outside Usenet service -- at extra cost.'" From the article: "Aside from being based on the written word, which many game-playing kids would rather not make the effort to compose, Usenet is deeply flawed. Its democratic dream offers no defence against viruses, spammers, criminals, hucksters or deranged individuals. Rummaging about in Usenet is like slumming through the tenderloin district during the plague years -- your chances of catching a computer virus or a handful of invitations to unspeakable sexual acts is much greater than finding what you were looking for in the first place."
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Requiem for Usenet

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  • What if... (Score:5, Funny)

    by sprouty76 ( 523155 ) <stephen_douglas&yahoo,com> on Friday November 18, 2005 @12:07PM (#14062994) Homepage
    I'm looking for invitations to unspeakable sexual acts?
  • The way (Score:5, Interesting)

    by suso ( 153703 ) * on Friday November 18, 2005 @12:07PM (#14063000) Homepage Journal
    your chances of catching a computer virus or a handful of invitations to unspeakable sexual acts is much greater than finding what you were looking for in the first place.

    Most of the time when I'm using usenet, I'm not looking for something. I am looking to get hit with random content like what other people think is good or interesting. Its fun to explore the mp3 newsgroups and just download some random mp3s and learn about new music.
  • by Scrameustache ( 459504 ) on Friday November 18, 2005 @12:07PM (#14063001) Homepage Journal
    your chances of catching [...] a handful of invitations to unspeakable sexual acts is much greater than finding what you were looking for in the first place.

    I think they're missing on what people are looking for on usenet in the first place ;- )
    • They've never had their news servers work properly anyway.
      I watch the local forsale groups, but I can't post because they never set up the moderation properly.

      That and I can't be bothered to read all the information available. I've switched to IRC and mailing lists.
  • So... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by cdrudge ( 68377 ) * on Friday November 18, 2005 @12:07PM (#14063005) Homepage
    Aside from being based on the written word, which many game-playing kids would rather not make the effort to compose
    Many of those game-playing kids would probably be better off learning how to read/write those written words instead of the 1337/IM $p3k wair u h4a 2 d3c!p3r wh47 1$ $4!d

    Its democratic dream offers no defence against viruses, spammers, criminals, hucksters or deranged individuals. Rummaging about in Usenet is like slumming through the tenderloin district during the plague years -- your chances of catching a computer virus or a handful of invitations to unspeakable sexual acts is much greater than finding what you were looking for in the first place.
    So...in other words, Usenet is like the rest of the internet where there is good, valuable information as well as bad, useless (to some at least) information?

    I've been hanging out in various usenet groups for years and yet to have picked up a virus that infected my system and wasn't picked up my Norton AV. I've received more viruses via e-mail then I've found in Usenet, so does that mean we should also get rid of e-mail?

    Why don't we just call Roger's actions what they really are, a cost saving measure. They aren't doing it to protect the children, they are doing it to save a few cents per customer.
    • Re:So... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Xiaran ( 836924 ) on Friday November 18, 2005 @12:44PM (#14063405)
      Agreed with the what the hell is picking on USENET when everything else4 is just as bad sentiment. Also from this quote

      Usenet eventually gained a reputation as a refuge for pre-civilized thugs with a penchant for imbecile grammar and vicious talk. The antics of juveniles and troubled people started scaring off others -- democracy still needs laws, after all, so that its mechanisms are not hijacked by people in serious need of psychiatric help. I recall one incident, in which a bunch of high-spirited kids decided to invade another newsgroup as a prank. The prank effectively destroyed the target group.

      Is it just me or does this guy kinda sound like he was once kill filed by an entire USENET group. I still use USENET. some of the comp.* and sci.* groups are great. I also go there for the entertainment value of reading the raving of net kooks. You get a fantastic quality of net kook on USENET because it takes effort to post mind numbing ramblings(as opposed to a blog or whatever).
    • Re:So... (Score:5, Funny)

      by corbettw ( 214229 ) <corbettw.yahoo@com> on Friday November 18, 2005 @12:51PM (#14063472) Journal
      1337/IM $p3k wair u h4a 2 d3c!p3r wh47 1$ $4!d

      There are times when I think "I'm not that much of a geek." Then I read something like that with ease and realize, yes, yes I am.
    • Re:So... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by MightyMartian ( 840721 ) on Friday November 18, 2005 @01:12PM (#14063715) Journal
      I've been hearing "Usenet is dead" for about six or seven years now. It's this oft-repeated bit of nonsense, sometimes used by ISPs justifying why they're cutting their Usenet feed, and sometimes by people who, for some odd reason, think that web forums are superior.

      I first accessed Usenet from a BBS in 1992, and got my own small UUCP of my favorite groups a year later. I'm still a regular on some Usenet forums, and paid my thirteen bucks to the German individual.net. Not the greatest retention, but carries all the groups I care about. Groups like talk.origins are as busy as ever, with damn little spam. The groups that seem to be dead or dying are mainly the vanity groups like alt.barney.die.die.die.

    • history, not vision (Score:4, Interesting)

      by PMuse ( 320639 ) on Friday November 18, 2005 @01:40PM (#14064096)
      from TFA: Its democratic dream offers . . .
      It's a democratic reality.
    • Re:So... (Score:3, Insightful)

      by PMuse ( 320639 )
      Why don't we just call Roger's actions what they really are, a cost saving measure. They aren't doing it to protect the children, they are doing it to save a few cents per customer.

      Not to mention to make a few cents per customer. Usenet has always, always suffered from not generating any revenue for the hosts that carry it. How much better if for the company if they can move their users over to a paid or advertising-supported forum! Yekch!
    • Re:So... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Arandir ( 19206 ) on Friday November 18, 2005 @03:00PM (#14064976) Homepage Journal
      I've been hanging out in various usenet groups for years and yet to have picked up a virus that infected my system and wasn't picked up my Norton AV.

      I'm still trying to come to terms with the concept of catching a virus from a plain text usenet post. I realize most of usenet is 7-bit text, but it would still take a damned smart hacker to hide a virus in those remaining eighth bits...
  • Duh (Score:5, Insightful)

    by SLot ( 82781 ) on Friday November 18, 2005 @12:09PM (#14063026) Homepage Journal
    Rummaging about in Usenet is like slumming through the tenderloin district during the plague years -- your chances of catching a computer virus or a handful of invitations to unspeakable sexual acts is much greater than finding what you were looking for in the first place.

    Isn't that the *point*? I like usenet just the way it is, TYVM.
  • Bull (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Jarlsberg ( 643324 ) on Friday November 18, 2005 @12:09PM (#14063030) Journal
    Rummaging about in Usenet is like slumming through the tenderloin district during the plague years -- your chances of catching a computer virus or a handful of invitations to unspeakable sexual acts is much greater than finding what you were looking for in the first place."

    It's all bull. I've used Usenet for over ten years, and I have never "caught" any viruses or gotten any invitations to unspeakable sexual acts (maybe I hang out in the wrong groups...). Usenet is not as big as it was, but it's still a great resource for information.
    • Re:Bull (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Morgon ( 27979 ) <jmy@NOSPAm.morgontech.com> on Friday November 18, 2005 @12:15PM (#14063110) Homepage
      Exactly - I was going to post the same thing, but figured someone already did.
      This is absolutely true. I've NEVER had a problem with Usenet.

      You know why? Because it's also a community, like any other.

      Anytime someone posts something shady, there will always be a post in which someone calls it out, right in the subject line. So if someone posts a virus, 20 minutes later, someone's replied warning you of it.

      You only catch viruses on Usenet the same way you do in email - by not using your head.
      • Yes, but you have to admit that the signal to noise ratio has gotten pretty bad. Not to fall into a "things were better in the old days" mode, it does seem that useful/interesting info is more often found on other forums these days. What good discussion *is* going on, is usally lost in the troll spew and political trashing.
        • Re:Bull (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Gulthek ( 12570 )
          No, actually I don't admit that at all. The groups I frequent (a few fiction groups, programming, etc.) have very, very good discussions without troll spew or political trashing, or trashing in general.
        • Re:Bull (Score:5, Insightful)

          by indifferent children ( 842621 ) on Friday November 18, 2005 @12:47PM (#14063430)
          Not to fall into a "things were better in the old days" mode

          Things have gotten worse. We took a network full of college students (geeky college students at that), and opened it up to grandmothers, pre-teens, and (the source of all spam:) businesspeople. Usenet got a lot more noise and very little more signal.*

          * I'm not saying that we shouldn't have opened-up the Internet, just that that decision had some negative consequences in addition to its positive consequences.

        • Re:Bull (Score:3, Insightful)

          by timeOday ( 582209 )
          Web forums are useless to me, because they're closed. If I can't search *all* of them in one place, it's too hard to find what I want. If I have to sign up with a new user account for every different topic I want to post about (because they're all on different web forums), I don't bother.

          All the cruft on Usenet doesn't bother me too much. If I'm searching for specific info on groups.google.com, I never see most of the junk. If I'm just "channel surfing" to see if anybody has any interesting thoughts,

    • Re:Bull (Score:4, Interesting)

      by MrBandersnatch ( 544818 ) on Friday November 18, 2005 @12:23PM (#14063215)
      "Usenet is not as big as it was, but it's still a great resource for information."

      Actually, its bigger than even given that average daily traffic has grown from 4.6GB in 1996, to 2TB today! (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Usenet [wikipedia.org])
  • Why lower prices? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by dada21 ( 163177 ) * <adam.dada@gmail.com> on Friday November 18, 2005 @12:10PM (#14063042) Homepage Journal
    ISP serviced Usenet is a waste of money (as is, IMO, ISP serviced web hosting). Just because they're not lowering their prices doesn't mean the user is losing out.

    Usenet requires tons of bandwidth and storage, and serving it needs decent server hardware. I'm not sure anyone I know still uses it.

    What will the ISP do with thr money saved? Because of competition, they'll spend it on service quality improvements for services their customers do use. If they pocketed it, they'd lose business.

    Being an ISP today means giving the user the most bandwidth, the least downtime and the cheapest cost. Value added services such as e-mail accounts, web home, Usenet and even security utilities is better served by third parties.

    Competition in pricing requires some minority features to go bu-bye.
    • Re:Why lower prices? (Score:3, Informative)

      by gowen ( 141411 )
      Usenet requires tons of bandwidth and storage, and serving it needs decent server hardware.
      That's true if your carrying binaries, but by modern standards, you don't need a huge amount of storage to serve the text groups, even if you take an unhealthy amount of alt.* groups.
      • by frost22 ( 115958 )
        Yep. Running a decent Usenet Server without binary groups is a breeze - even for a large ISP.
        Bandwidth and processing power requirements are quite moderate.

        We do that - the only real cost is the part of the work time of a reaosnable qualified Usenet admin to run that. And with a commercial package like dnews, even that is not that huge.
    • Re:Why lower prices? (Score:4, Informative)

      by infochuck ( 468115 ) on Friday November 18, 2005 @12:23PM (#14063209)
      Usenet requires tons of bandwidth and storage, and serving it needs decent server hardware. I'm not sure anyone I know still uses it.

      Then you obviously don't know anyone worth knowing.

      Being an ISP today means giving the user the most bandwidth, the least downtime and the cheapest cost. Value added services such as e-mail accounts, web home, Usenet and even security utilities is better served by third parties.

      News flash: your ISP probably ALREADY (as I'm sure did Rogers) outsources your usenet access. Go ahead: ping news.myisp.com and see where it ACTUALLY goes. They buy a corporate subscription that is nowhere NEAR the cost of maintianing their own usenet servers.
    • Usenet requires tons of bandwidth and storage, and serving it needs decent server hardware. I'm not sure anyone I know still uses it.

      Exactly. And the vast majority of Usenet content is spam, porn, and warez. Why bother with it for the small fraction of users who would use it? A commercial usenet service is just the ticket for those who do want it.

      A few years ago I worked at an ISP and we decided not to offer usenet for exactly this reason. Very, very few customers complained.

    • Usenet requires tons of bandwidth and storage, and serving it needs decent server hardware.

      My ISP (Comcast) farms out their Usenet service (to giganews, I think). I use my Comcast user account and password to access the news server.

    • by woolio ( 927141 ) * on Friday November 18, 2005 @12:33PM (#14063300) Journal
      Because of competition, they'll spend it on service quality improvements for services their customers do use. If they pocketed it, they'd lose business.

      Being an ISP today means giving the user the most bandwidth, the least downtime and the cheapest cost.


      I thought the American trend was for the CEO to pocket half and spend the other half on mindless advertising to further brainwash customers that they are in fact better than their competitors.

      I'm not sure about your second point either. Most ISPs just seem to want to brainwash the customer in to thinking they are getting a ton of bandwidth. THE ISPs real plot is to sell the user as many services as possible for a monthless fee... (Such as "wireless" APs, "pop-up blockers", and the rest of the host of items that they charge monthly fees for fixed-cost items). Of course, these are considered "Value-Added" because they add value to shareholders, not to the customer.

      So, please don't try to deceive yourself or other readers about what is really happening. This ISP is just trying to find a way to increase their profits... The customer will not benefit from the removal of usenet service.

      Frankly, I'm still amazed that home cable/DSL users are still getting their own IP address... I figured long ago, they would have put everyone on a private network and used NAT and/or WWW proxies for access... Despite the financial cost, I suspect there are technical motovations for not doing this. (Such as scalability).
    • by mike449 ( 238450 ) on Friday November 18, 2005 @12:33PM (#14063308)
      What will the ISP do with thr money saved? Because of competition, they'll spend it on service quality improvements for services their customers do use. If they pocketed it, they'd lose business.

      This might have happened if Rogers weren't a monopoly in its market. In my area, DSL has much lower coverage and Rogers is the only choice for high-speed Internet.
      Yes, they will pocket the money and will not lose business. In fact, they have just increased their rates from 45 to 50 CAD/month for their 5Mbit service.
    • "What will the ISP do with thr money saved? Because of competition, they'll spend it on service quality improvements for services their customers do use."

      bwahahahahahahahahahahahaha hahahahahaha

      ok ok im good now its just that- AHAHAHAHAHAAHAHAHAHAHAHA

      hahahahahahahahahahahaha
      oh mercy.. that was a good one.

      "I'm not sure anyone I know still uses it."
      with this statement i can discern the following facts:
      1) you have n00b friends
      2) you are also probaly a n00b
      3) you dislike porn, warez, high quality hdtv rips, et
  • As a recent "joe-job" victim [google for my gmail address in google groups] I totally agree. There just isn't sufficient guarantee that usenet posts are authentic. It's too easy to joe-job people.

    I've received phone calls, letter mail and calls from the police [the last joe-job against me had kiddie porn in it]. While it hasn't been seriously traumatic it is enough of a nusiance.

    However, the ideal solution would be a usenet like service where your headers aren't arbitrary [e.g. IPs are listed in the head
    • "As a recent "joe-job" victim [google for my gmail address in google groups] I totally agree. There just isn't sufficient guarantee that usenet posts are authentic. It's too easy to joe-job people."

      So that makes it kind of like SMTP then. Why aren't we cancelling everyone's Email access?
      • To be honest, SMTP is flawed as well. Why can someone not from rogers.com send email to your server claiming to be rogers.com? For the most part though SMTP is easier to track because most servers do store the senders IP. That makes it easier to tell if it's fake or not [e.g. if it's not gmail.com it isn't me].

        I *AM* for improvements in mail as well. Hashcash is one thing I'm all for. It can be added to the existing framework *without* changing the servers AT ALL only the clients [and even then it woul
  • Is this news? (Score:2, Insightful)

    I mean, really. Everyone at /. has known this for some time that USENET has degenerated into a steaming pile. Hell, if you go to Google Groups and browse around Buddhist newsgroups, you'll find lovely spam for things involving "Clitoral Mound Orgasming Chemicals."

    If you want to lament the passing of net tech, pick something geeky sexy like Gopher [wikipedia.org]! It's been a long time since anybody cared about USENET, especially since the advent of web forums and competent WWW searching. Rest in peace, USENET. We'd mis
    • Rest in peace, USENET. We'd miss you, except you have no use anymore

      $sys$ How about alt.binaries.*?

      You're quite right, USENET is entirely useless and wholly devoid of any material of interest.

  • insert head up ass (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Lawrence_Bird ( 67278 ) on Friday November 18, 2005 @12:14PM (#14063093) Homepage
    maybe the author should keep out of the alt.sex.* groups?   there are still many,
    many useful usenet groups with reasonable signal and not much spam.
    • Really? I find most of the sci.* and comp.* groups to be fairly light on content and heavy on the flamewars. Hell just my NAME can insight a flamewar [even if I'm being totally agreeable at the time]. Moderated groups may be better but they're often even more dead than their freely accessible counterparts.

      The best solution I think is a properly moderated email list. It's hard to joe-job or spam and the content is on-topic.

      Try reading sci.crypt or comp.compression for two weeks. Most of the posts are of
  • by Anonymous Brave Guy ( 457657 ) on Friday November 18, 2005 @12:14PM (#14063095)
    Its democratic dream offers no defence against viruses, spammers, criminals, hucksters or deranged individuals.

    And yet it's still easier to find informed technical help on many subjects, or to compare notes with peers, via Usenet than via any of the wannabe web forums full of people with too many letters on their CV and too many buzzwords in their brain. It's also one of the best places to find interesting discussion on many hobbies. Contrary to apparent popular opinion, not all of Usenet is binaries groups where people can rip material illegally if P2P is too hard for them to understand. Also contrary to apparent popular opinion, it is possible not to read all the virus/spyware/whatever posts!

    • by Shotgun ( 30919 ) on Friday November 18, 2005 @12:47PM (#14063432)
      The main reason it's easier to find the information is that the web forums destroy the simple Usenet format. Plain text, subjects threaded, and all in my mail reader.

      Vs. Log in to multiple websites (like I think bullshit sessions are important enough to have a username and password for each), wade through pages of advertisements and flashing icons, for a few snippets of signal.

      Give me the text only Usenet groups any day.

      And before anyone points out the obvious, I consider Slashdot to be a different animal due to the article submission and moderation mechanisms.
  • by bcrowell ( 177657 ) on Friday November 18, 2005 @12:14PM (#14063096) Homepage
    What alternate reality is this reporter living in? The usenet groups I follow (currently comp.lang.perl.tk and rec.music.makers.bowed-strings) have extremely high signal-to-noise ratios. That's also been my experience with pretty much every other group I've ever subscribed to, except that rec.music.makers.jazz did pass through a period of trolling and flamewars for a 6 months or so. And viruses -- !?!?!? What is he smoking? How the heck do you get a virus from usenet? You'd have to be totally brain-dead. I mean, sure, if you spend a lot of time surfing alt.binaries.warez.freefreefree, and blindly running everything with a EXE on the end....

    To me, usenet represents the safe, traditionalistic, slow-moving side of the internet. It's mostly populated by older people who know each other.

    • Same here. alt.callahans and alt.religion.kibology are two fine, enjoyable groups, as good or better than anything you'll find on the web. I think it's rude to turn the lights out while people are still having a good time.
      • Ashamed to say (Score:3, Informative)

        While I agree that "it's rude to turn the lights out while people are still having a good time", it's been a long while since I used USEnet natively.

        I've been using GoogleGroups quite extensively for my (albeit read only) access for some time. (While I used to used DejaNews, that was mostly for the archives. I think that Google killed off a lot of the usefullness of the archives, but it's still nice that it's searchable.)

        I guess I have used some private NNTP services, now that I think on it. But in gener

    • Well, yeah. Warez and porn groups might be a bit dodgy, but so are warez and porn sites, for that matter. I don't think web sites obsolete Usenet any more than they obsolete FTP sites or e-mail. They're different modes of accessing information, differently useful for accessing different sorts of information.
    • right on, most of the comp.language.* news groups are of the highest quality, and I've learned very useful things in them over the last 10 years. Not to mention groups devoted to various fan fiction for fun. most of the good stuff is on free news servers that carry only the the text groups. Usenet exists because a huge number of people want it.
  • What I'd do... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Otter ( 3800 ) on Friday November 18, 2005 @12:17PM (#14063139) Journal
    I haven't touched Usenet in years except for searching archives, so maybe this what ISPs already do, but -- I'd start by ditching all the binaries groups. What's left isn't *that* big, even with the spam, you keep your handful of Usenet-posting geezers, and if you lose the w4r3z crowd, well, they were probably costing more in bandwidth usage and subpoena nuisance than they're worth.

    On the other hand, they can't really advertise Usenet as a feature to users who aren't familiar with it. It's too complicated, and too much of a sewer nowadays.

    Spammers just suck. They showed up in this environment (that admittedly was already buckling under the load of new users), left it a smoking ruin and moved on. How much money could they even have made?

  • They're not alone (Score:4, Insightful)

    by uradu ( 10768 ) on Friday November 18, 2005 @12:18PM (#14063154)
    Comcast has done something similar with outsourcing Usenet access. As a side effect, there is a monthly free download quota (1GB?), beyond which you have to pay. Lucky for me that doesn't affect me much, since my main use of Usenet is as a programming reference, for which Google Groups is almost perfect (though their search syntax could certainly be more powerful). But that's just me, and it certainly sucks that Usenet is being deprecated in such subversive ways. Its main strength from my point of view is that it concentrates so much information in one seamless repository. Once it's gone, you have to rely on a disparate collection of forums and hope that Google can search them all equally efficiently, which is currently certainly not the case.
  • ???

    I mean Godzilla, PurlGurl, and all it's other names. That whole Abigail thingy.

    USENET rocks like Gilbralter.

    Besides where else can you download the entire Howard Stern Show without commercials?
  • useless? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by skinfaxi ( 212627 ) on Friday November 18, 2005 @12:20PM (#14063177) Journal
    The article didn't make a lot of sense. He says:

    [it's full of thugs, imbeciles, etc...] "All this is true mostly of the Alt newsgroups, which were designed to have few inhibitions. Other groups, such as Comp, Sci, Soc and Humanities, fare much better, largely because they can be moderated. They contain lots of valuable stuff.

    But the rise in the signal-to-noise ratio among the Alt groups has made combing through the chatter a tedious process. So useless has Usenet's reputation become..." [blah, blah, blah]

    Is he talking about alt. groups or not? Why make a distinction and then act like usenet is nothing but alt.* ? Does he think it's like an ocean and you have to wade through all the alt groups to get to the moderated ones?

    I read usenet groups pretty much every day. I've never gotten a virus from usenet but then I don't download binaries, either.

    For instance: I like reading alt.horror for the goofy posts and pointers to movies I've never heard of. There are hundreds of posts there every day. Now I am a fan of Takashi Miike and Dario Argento, two great directors I'd never have heard of otherwise.

    When I'm stumped on a technical problem, whether computer or automobile related, and web searching doesn't help, often I can find the problem already solved on usenet. Or I can find a group to post to and get help.

    • Re:useless? (Score:3, Informative)

      Is he talking about alt. groups or not? Why make a distinction and then act like usenet is nothing but alt.* ?

      Strictly speaking, "Usenet" doesn't include the alt.* hierarchy at all. The term classically refers to the "Big Seven" hierarchies for newsgroups: comp.*, sci.*, misc.*, rec.*, soc.*, talk.*, and news.* (with humanities.* being an eighth and recent addition).

      A more appropriate term for the full set of hierarchies, including alt.*, k12.*, and all the other arbitrary designations, would be simply "ne
  • I thought the article was describing IRC, where these "many game-playing kids" hang out a lot, and where they are even more likely to be explicitly propositioned.

  • I used to love Usenet. It was a great place to find answers to computer problems and to help others with their problems. What killed Usenet for me were the newbs. Those morons who wanted answers but refused to do any work to solve the problems themselves. E.g., "My computer won't start, what's the problem?" Or, "I want to buy a video card, which is the best?"

    It got to the point where it simply wasn't fun because as the more experienced people were pushed away the groups were left with arrogant people w
  • by sosume ( 680416 ) on Friday November 18, 2005 @12:22PM (#14063201) Journal
    Don't talk about usenet!
  • by digitaldc ( 879047 ) * on Friday November 18, 2005 @12:23PM (#14063206)
    ...and villainy, a horrid mob of pre-civilized thugs - slumming through the tenderloin district in pursuit of unspeakable acts.

    I must admit I laughed at his description of a sullied usenet:

    "Usenet eventually gained a reputation as a refuge for pre-civilized thugs with a penchant for imbecile grammar and vicious talk. The antics of juveniles and troubled people started scaring off others..."

    Sounds like the state of most chat rooms today.
  • your chances of catching a computer virus or a handful of invitations to unspeakable sexual acts is much greater than finding what you were looking for in the first place.

    Uhh. yeah. Why do you think it's so popular?
  • Not Unlike WWW? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by EXTomar ( 78739 ) on Friday November 18, 2005 @12:27PM (#14063248)
    Its democratic dream offers no defence against viruses, spammers, criminals, hucksters or deranged individuals. Rummaging about in Usenet is like slumming through the tenderloin district during the plague years -- your chances of catching a computer virus or a handful of invitations to unspeakable sexual acts is much greater than finding what you were looking for in the first place.


    Not like the web supported internet at all right? Web pages offer defenses against virus, spammers, criminals, cheats, liars and swindlers! All web pages offer clear and concise information! You can never catch a virus from the web! And the web is chalk full of explicit stuff?

    Err...wait, what are they complaining about again that they want to get rid of Web..er..I mean Usenet? It seems to me both are different implementations that exhibit the same problems. If one wants to complain that offering Usenet is an expensive service they can no longer offer at cost that is one thing. It is something silly to suggest that Usenet has to be sacked because it offers the same problems the Internet in general features.
  • by kahei ( 466208 ) on Friday November 18, 2005 @12:28PM (#14063257) Homepage

    alt.fading.usenet.dwindles.declines.ain't-what-it- was
    alt.remote.past.!dead.!gone.!forgotten
    alt.sacred.format.preserve.continue.cherish
    alt.noble.cry.resound.ring.echo:
    "alt.adjective.noun.verb.verb.verb!"

  • Usenet is deeply flawed. Its democratic dream offers no defence against viruses, spammers, criminals, hucksters or deranged individuals. Rummaging about in Usenet is like slumming through the tenderloin district during the plague years -- your chances of catching a computer virus or a handful of invitations to unspeakable sexual acts is much greater than finding what you were looking for in the first place.

    While that's close to the case when it comes to some unmoderated newsgroups, some newsgroups are m

  • The good old days (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Billosaur ( 927319 ) * <wgrotherNO@SPAMoptonline.net> on Friday November 18, 2005 @12:30PM (#14063280) Journal

    I first used USENET in 1985 and I was frankly astounded. It was like having a club, but instead of being local it was world-wide. The topics were so numerous and the opinions so wide-ranging. I began to think it would be the start of some kind of global democracy, where everybody got to have a say.

    But even then the signs were there. My first introduction to a flame-war was quite unintentional for a neophyte, but I quickly learned this was more like the Wild West than High Tech. You could have your fair share on intelligent discourse but there were many traps for the unwary and pretty soon you were being bombarded from all sides. It wasn't spam back then, but it was the idea. You learned to give out minimal information and never gave out your email address to anyone you didn't think you could trust.

    The came the Web and suddenly everyone and his uncle who could afford an Internet connection could join in and USENET lost its quiet charm. Anyone who used it for a while got annoyed at the same questions being asked 1000's of times and the FAQs became a joke because no newbie would bother reading them. Sanity only seemed to be maintained in the moderated groups, but it was lawless fun in the alt.* groups. Pretty soon they were being overrun by the first generation of spammers and at that point I got out.

    They say you can't go home again. True, but it seems the spirit of USENET lives on anyway, in places like Slashdot, and the Internet as a whole. When you think about, blogging is nothing more than having your own moderated newsgroup, and any website can become a focal point for discussion and dissemination of information to the like-minded. USENET is far from dead, but its legacy is well established, and a few of us hope that its spirit never truly dies.

  • free forums (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Spamalope ( 91802 ) on Friday November 18, 2005 @12:31PM (#14063290)
    Usenet is a discussion forum free of direct corporate control. In the comp.databases.*yourdatabase* group, critical messages don't disappear. Often the folks who wrote key parts of a system will answer technical questions. There are no flash ads, no shockwave, and no popups blocking your view of the content.

    Bandwidth is not an issue for a large ISP. Having a local server reduces the need for bandwidth, if your users use the local server. Of course if you don't inform new users anything about the service, much less provide client software or a web client, of course average folks will never find out about it.

    This is about control, not cost. Yahoo forums are controlled by Yahoo and generate Yahoo ad revenue. Yahoo posts won't be in Google groups. This is about Yahoo, the other comments are excuses.

  • by mccalli ( 323026 ) on Friday November 18, 2005 @12:32PM (#14063296) Homepage
    Its democratic dream offers no defence against viruses, spammers, criminals, hucksters or deranged individuals

    ...and also offers no opportunity for centralised authority to be exercised. Web forums simply cannot offer the same protection.

    Cheers,
    Ian

  • Its still probably the best place to get and share serious computer info. It'll be too bad if more of these yahoo's try to jump ship.
  • I use Usenet Heavily (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Master of Transhuman ( 597628 ) on Friday November 18, 2005 @12:54PM (#14063523) Homepage
    I use SBC's Usenet service. I get tons of ebooks from there, I get tons of babe pictures from there, I get tons of tech info from there (less so recently due to time pressures).

    The only problem with Usenet is that unless the newsgroup is a niche group like alt.comp.freeware or a thoroughly technical group, or a moderated newsgroup, it will be inundated with porn and other spam shortly. But even some of the babe newsgroups are easily usable. If somebody bothered to put a spam filter on newsgroups, most of the spam could be eliminated, but that'll never happen.

    Viruses? Never seen one in three years. I've seen a handful of posts from people who have said, "Don't download this, it's a virus." That's it.

    Other problems? Same as in real life - morons are everywhere. Deal with it (we Transhumans are going to in due time.)

    The ISP is simply lying and trying to save a couple bucks. I would expect SBC to follow suit, since their Usenet service is crappy to begin with - their retention sucks. I'm convinced they deliberately damage the binary newsgroups because their completion rate is hideous in almost all of them - virtually NO multipart binary - at least if it's an MP3 or other media - gets through. Fortunately a lot of ebooks do get through. I've been meaning to get a subscription to a real Usenet service for some time.

    In short, there's nothing seriously wrong with Usenet that a spam filter wouldn't solve, but using your ISP to access it is not the best idea.
  • by Hosiah ( 849792 ) on Friday November 18, 2005 @01:02PM (#14063614)
    Usenet isn't dead...but it is smelling funny!

    I've left off most of my Usenet usage, basically because websites/forums/blogs give me most of what I was looking for information-wise, and Slashdot gives me all the geek twaddle I need. I have horded a few megs of more amusing Usenet archives (alt.sysadmin.recovery and the works of Kibo spring instantly to mind), just to save for reminiscence when I'm in the old geek's home. But Usenet has definitely waned in usefulness compared to other internet resources, and it *is* crawling with spam, anyway. (That virus business is bogus; Usenet's safer than IRC. And as for obscene sexual propositions...it's the net. What do expect, a cathedral?)

    I will say this, I still turn to Usenet if I can't find information on a subject *anywhere* else: it'll be there.

  • by Jerry ( 6400 ) on Friday November 18, 2005 @01:05PM (#14063645)
    "Usenet is deeply flawed. Its democratic dream offers no defence against viruses, spammers, criminals, hucksters or deranged individuals. Rummaging about in Usenet is like slumming through the tenderloin district during the plague years -- your chances of catching a computer virus or a handful of invitations to unspeakable sexual acts is much greater than finding what you were looking for in the first place."


    The author must be using Windows in the "Stupid Mode", without engaging his brain. Apparently he has never heard of "Kill files" and other blocking techniques to eliminate the trash from the UseNet data stream. One would get the impression that when he gets into his car he finds it impossible to avoid the "tenderloin" of San Francisco because he doesn't know how to steer away from that area. He probably stops for every "Why lie, I need money for booze" bum standing at the entrances to Walmart.

    Just like using email, one learns that messages from unknown senders, which get by spam blockers, are never opened. And when one is curiously impulsed to open an suspecious email they always have their anti-virus program engaged to scan it first. Duh!

    Because I program for a living I use UseNet at work via my W2K box to access other coders using the tools I'm using, and I've never had a problem. I never open msgs that offer "enhancement" products, pharms, or rollex watches, either. For the last eight years I've used Linux, dual booting at work and solely at home. When running Linux I've NEVER encountered any malware which was effective. I've installed Linux anti-virus programs, like f-prot, to scan my NTFS filesystem while running Linux just to be sure there aren't bugs which Norton hasn't found.

    What really burns me is that the author is just like the idiots who passed the "Patriot" Act. This guy thinks that curtailing freedom is the only way to guarantee safety. If there is no safety behind prison bars what makes him think that walling off society with "politically correct" bars will work any better?

  • by peter303 ( 12292 ) on Friday November 18, 2005 @01:15PM (#14063741)
    Google Groups is free and accessible from web browsers.
    The interface is a little kludgey.
    It limits 20 posts per six hour period. A Google post embeds your IP number so it is not truly anonymous.
  • by slavemowgli ( 585321 ) on Friday November 18, 2005 @02:01PM (#14064350) Homepage
    That's silly - the same thing could be said about email. I don't know about you, but I'm currently getting around 800 spam messages a day - and while most of it is caught by the filter, that's still an awful lot. Viri and invitations to "unspeakable" sexual acts (exactly what is "unspeakable", anyway? I know a lot of people who'd consider anything except missionary-style after-marriage with-the-intent-to-procreate sex to be "unspeakable", and some who'd view even *that* as unspeakable - a necessary evil) are certainly common, as are offers for cheap medication, body part enlargement and cheap M$ software, phishing, and all the other crap that gets spammed.

    Would any ISP use this as an excuse to turn off email for all customers? Of course not; the thought alone is ridiculous, and I think that shows that they're just looking for a convenient scapegoat. I'm not sure what the real reason could be, but it's probably money, in one way or another - turning off news servers means less bandwidth consumption, less hardware needed at the ISP, less administration overhead (i.e., less administrators), and so on.

    Given that, and also given that most people don't use seem to Usenet anymore (at least not in the traditional form, especially since web-based services like Google Groups became available), I can understand their decision to stop offering Usenet, but I wish they'd at least be honest about why they're doing so.
  • by Pedrito ( 94783 ) on Friday November 18, 2005 @03:09PM (#14065069)
    that hasn't been wrong with it for years.

    I use usenet on an almost daily basis. For programming related help, it's about the best source. In various newsgroups I can post questions and often get answers within an hour. That's far better than customer support with most software vendors, and I get it for a very low fixed monthly cost.

    I know there are lots of newsgroups infested with junk, but there are also a great number of very useful groups. It doesn't take a lot of effort to separate the wheat from the chaffe and the value of the content, at least for what I'm looking for, is far above the price I pay.

    Granted, not everyone will find what they want in usenet, but for some things, it's about the best source on the net.

One way to make your old car run better is to look up the price of a new model.

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