The Death of Usenet

(at least as I once knew it)..

The overwhelming majority of you
who are reading this now probably have no clue as to what I’m writing
about here.  That in and of itself is probably the biggest reason why Usenet (a/k/a: "Usenet Newsgroups", NetNews" or simply "Newsgroups") is dying.

When I first discovered the Internet (in 1994), the World Wide Web was just starting to take off.  So text-based services like Gopher and WAIS were quite popular.

And then, there was Usenet.

Some of you who don’t know Usenet may be actually familiar with it via Google Groups.
Although Google (much to my disdain) does one hell of a job of masking
the fact that Usenet even exists (in part because they chose to mix
Usenet feeds with Mailing List feeds).

Many of us "Old Timers" long for the early days of  Google Groups.  It was a much
more unuseable service then.  They had just acquired DejaNews and thus,
Google Groups was born.

A
number of "Old-timers" on Usenet are also unhappy with Google because
it does such a good job at hiding the fact that people are posting to
newsgroups.  The end result being that "newbies" have no clue as to
Usenet customs and etiquette, thus disrupting a lot of the groups they
post to.

This has only been made worse by the fact that two of
the largest providers of  Usenet (MSN and later AOL) discontinued
regular access.

AOL discontinued access early this year.  I just learned this today (I need to get out more) and that’s what inspired what you are now reading.

When
AOL first offered Usenet access the result was much like what has
happened with Google Groups.  A lot of clueless people irritating the
masses of old-timers.

This is not to say that all users of
AOL (and certainly not Google) are clueless. However, they are both
widely popular services. The sheer numbers of users combined with ease
of access was bound to bring masses of clueless people with them.

One
of the nice things about Google Groups is the fact that it archives
most all newsgroup posts going back for over a decade (well before
Google even existed).   I found my very first newsgroup post there
(from 1994), archived for eternity. 😉

I’d love to share that
post with you, but unfortunatly back then, I was somewhat clueless
myself and used my real name online.  Several years and a number of
flame wars and online psycho encounters later, I abandoned that
practice.

As a side note, part of my inspiration for my "angrykeyboarder" moniker was due to the fact that I’ve gotten so good at pissing people off over the years.

But I digress…….

Usenet
(for me) is still a great way to communicate.  And unlike web-based
forums and bulletin boards, you can keep much better track of posts,
thread them easily and even save them to your hard drive.  It’s not as
"sexy" as the web, but for what amounts to text-based discussion, it’s
far more efficient.  And unlike mailing lists, it’s very simple to
"subscribe" and "unsubscribe".  And when it comes to high-volume, high
volume mailing lists can overwhelm your mail server or just your
mailbox and therefore be more difficult to manage.

Since newsgroups are accessed via a different server than your email, that problem doesn’t exist.

I
have to admit though, in recent years my use of newsgroups has
plummeted due to the popularity of web based discussion as well as
blogging/journaling.   There are only so many hours in a day (even for
people like me, with no life and nothing else to do but be online all
day).

In any event, I still think newsgroups have their place
and I hope that the remaining big ISPs that carry them, keep carrying
them.  Thankfully,  my provider (Cox.net) still does.

If you’ve made it this far and want to know more about Usenet.  My beloved Wikipedia has a good article on it and good links for more information.

To read it right, don’t use Google.  Use regular newsreader
software.  There are some excellent ones out there. They come in all
shapes and sizes.  The most popular (but not quite as good) ones are
integrated with email programs.  You may have one of these now and not
realize it offers Usenet access.  Among them are Mozilla Thunderbird,  The Mozilla Suite and *cough*Microsoft Outlook Express*cough.

Check it out.

And thanks for humoring me by making it to this sentence.

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Posted in Computers, General, Internet, Usenet. Comments Off on The Death of Usenet
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