I love Google. It’s a great service. And at one time all they were known for was search. And as far as I was concerned, that was a good thing.
At one time all Yahoo! was known for was a (very good) directory. Not search, but a directory. They still have the directory but they practically keep it a secret. Why? Because Google is best known as the place for Internet search. Yahoo! would rather people use Yahoo! instead (perfectly understandable).
But I digress….
Both Yahoo! and Google have mostly great services that are unrelated to what they’re best known for (that being Internet Search). But sometimes they do get it wrong.
This is about one of the ways Google got it wrong and in a very big way.
Once upon a time there was an awesome website known as DejaNews.com. Their sole purpose was to provide a web interface to Usenet Newsgroups. You could read them and post to them via the site. But the best feature was the archive. They had archives going back for years. It was a very handy way to research stuff (or a great way to dig up dirt on that jerk in the newsgroup you frequent).
DejaNews fell on hard times and changed their name to Deja.com. They began offering reviews. Consumers could post reviews of things much like you’d see on a site like Epinions. But at least the Usenet service remained in tact as everyone was accustomed to.
Well that wasn’t enough to save Deja.com and they were acquired by Google. And that was the beginning of Google Groups.
The best Google Groups has ever been was at the very beginning, before they decided messing up a good thing was a good idea.
You can still access all newsgroups today via Google Groups. You can search them back even farther than Deja ever could. You can post to newsgroups.
The problem is, they’ve mixed malling lists with newsgroups and call everything “Google Groups”. You really have dig hard to find a Usenet-only search(?). In fact, the last time I tried it I was unsuccessful and gave up. They insist on mixing all the mailing lists…er groups with Usenet.
I don’t mind the mailing lists. Yahoo! Groups is the same thing. But at least Yahoo! doesn’t throw Usenet into the mix and imply it’s all the same.
I even have a few of my own Google Groups that I use for personal/private invite-only lists. They’re very good at that. But Usenet? They suck. And it’s really too bad. Because I’ve not found anything better.
I’m not one to post to newsgroups from the web. I use a newsreader. But I do search groups from time to time. Google makes it far more difficult than it has to be.
Now they have “new and improved” Google Groups (which is in beta). And it is better than before. But the Usenet aspect is the same. It still sucks.
Sometimes these sites listen to the consumer and make improvements (albeit by word of mouth – just try to actually reach someone at Google or Yahoo!…). Perhaps one day Google will bring back a decent web-based Usenet interface. One as good as or better than the old DejaNews.
One can only hope…