Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
The Internet Communications Education Social Networks News

Duke To Shut Down Usenet Server 273

Posted by kdawson
from the nail-after-nail-in-the-coffin dept.
DukeTech writes "This week marks the end of an era for one of the earliest pieces of Internet history, which got its start at Duke University more than 30 years ago. On May 20, Duke will shut down its Usenet server, which provides access to a worldwide electronic discussion network of newsgroups started in 1979 by two Duke graduate students, Tom Truscott and Jim Ellis." Rantastic and other readers wrote about the shutdown of the British Usenet indexer Newzbin today; the site sank under the weight of a lawsuit and outstanding debt. Combine these stories with the recent news of Microsoft shuttering its newsgroups, along with other recent stories, and the picture does not look bright for Usenet.
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Duke To Shut Down Usenet Server

Comments Filter:
  • by Eternal Vigilance (573501) on Wednesday May 19, 2010 @04:00AM (#32262344)
    Those were good times. Thanks guys.
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by creimer (824291)
      Usenet was my first introduction to online porn. *sniff*
      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Sniff?

        Didn't realise that Usenet pron was THAT advanced!

    • by twisteddk (201366) on Wednesday May 19, 2010 @05:23AM (#32262732)

      Agreed. I love(d) the days of the newsgroup.

      But in all fairness, back then the internet was totally free. And everyone pretty much put up servers for altruistic, informational, educational or other similar non profit purposes. Today with the current economic climate and focus on spending policies, everyone is cutting down. And there just really isn't a viable business model for usenet that I can think of (not that I'm a doctorate in economy, but still).
      So I guess Usenet now just goes the way of Gopher and becomes once again a prduct of love and devotion, rather than business. I kinda like usenet that way, so I dont really mind.

      Does that make me a geek now ? ;)

      • by toby (759) * on Wednesday May 19, 2010 @05:49AM (#32262842) Homepage Journal

        back then the internet was totally free

        It was? Funny, I remember my ISP wanted to be paid...

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by twisteddk (201366)

          And exactly what services did your ISP provide ? I doubt they happen to have their own dedicated newsserver, and if they did, kudos to them. Most ISPs back then would provide you with a shared homepage server, a mail service, and IP access to the internet. If you were lucky.

          The INTERNET was free, some places however you might have to pay for access to it. You still do today. The difference being today, hardly a single page, server or service goes up without someone profiting from it. Even good old /. has ba

          • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

            by Anonymous Coward

            Err what sort of crappy ISP where you with "I doubt they happen to have their own dedicated newsserver...", I don't know what rock you where living under then but at least in North America(eg Canada and the US) if your ISP didn't have a news server you where getting your dial up from one of those ad supported places and even most of them had news. No real ISP does not come with news, of course I used to be able to check my email with pine and had shell access, of course that was 4 or 5 years ago, never mind

            • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

              by mattack2 (1165421)

              Uhh, you can still check your email with pine.. but alpine is better (essentially pine 5.0) since it supports Unicode (spam won't screw up your terminal screen for one).

          • by Lumpy (12016) on Wednesday May 19, 2010 @07:30AM (#32263470) Homepage

            I ran a very small dialup service in 1992-1996 and we ran a usenet server. I also allowed users to run perl scripting for their websites and gave them a shell login.

            It's crazy that today you cant find an ISP that gives you 1/4 of the services I used to give users. I bailed when 56K modems became popular as my cost as an ISP went through the roof..

            • by zevans (101778) <zacktesting @ g o o g l e m a i l.com> on Wednesday May 19, 2010 @09:36AM (#32264944)

              It's crazy that today you cant find an ISP that gives you 1/4 of the services I used to give users.

              Effect...

              I bailed when 56K modems became popular as my cost as an ISP went through the roof..

              ...cause?

              (ObGetOffMyLawn moment: trn / Usenet a hell of a lot more efficient and consistent than reading fifty different websites with fifty different ideas on what makes a good interface.)

              • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

                by Lachryma (949694)

                (ObGetOffMyLawn moment: trn / Usenet a hell of a lot more efficient and consistent than reading fifty different websites with fifty different ideas on what makes a good interface.)

                Where's my NNTP interface to web forums, people?

          • by shiftless (410350) on Wednesday May 19, 2010 @02:44PM (#32268994) Homepage

            The difference being today, hardly a single page, server or service goes up without someone profiting from it. Even good old /. has banners and adds.

            I know, right? I ran a web forum from 2004 to recently. It wasn't huge, 1,000 or so members, but it was a sizeable and active community. I paid $20 a month to run this service and another $7/year for the domain. I never put a single advertisement of any kind on my site as there was no need. I ran Simple Machines Forum and later phpBB and both were completely free. Nowadays "the big lie" is that it costs a lot to run websites. It doesn't, yet every small-time webmaster on Earth will argue they "need" those ads to afford to run the site, and that they "need" that VBulletin license, and this and that. I guess it's because 90% of webmasters are college kids who think $20 is a lot of money.

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward

          "back then" predates you even having an ISP. USENET was around a long time before the internet was made available to commercial interests (including ISPs selling access to the internet itself).

        • by commodore64_love (1445365) on Wednesday May 19, 2010 @06:47AM (#32263172) Journal

          I accessed Usenet through a local BBS, and the guy charged nothing for it.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          back then the internet was totally free

          It was? Funny, I remember my ISP wanted to be paid...

          Some places had free access - Georgia had Peachnet for example that was accessible via dialup.

    • Agreed. Good times.

      *Jeff bows his head in reverence*

      -JJS

    • by Maestro4k (707634) on Wednesday May 19, 2010 @06:31AM (#32263078) Journal

      Those were good times. Thanks guys.

      I don't think Usenet's in much trouble, it's just that the huge level of traffic, and usage relative minority among all Internet denizens is making it into a more specialized area that you have to pay to access. Take for example Giganews [giganews.com], they've been around for quite some time, and they keep upping their retention. Right now they offer 650 days binary retention, 2,522 days text retention, 109,000+ newsgroups and have servers in North America, Europe and Asia. They also just recently added a VPN service free for the top tier accounts, which also get unlimited downloads and SSL encrypted Usenet traffic. All that for $30 a month, the VPN alone is probably worth that, much less all the other stuff. To pull all that off they have to have invested tremendous amounts of money into storage alone, so they're apparently not hurting for money any.

      And Giganews isn't alone in offering paid access to Usenet, there's tons of other companies doing it, and it seems that new ones pop up every day. So I think saying Usenet's dying is premature. It may die eventually, but it's not happening now.

      • by commodore64_love (1445365) on Wednesday May 19, 2010 @06:51AM (#32263180) Journal

        Usenet would be dirt-cheap to operate if, for example, Duke chose to stop carrying the binaries groups. (Like Google Groups today.) Then they'd just be handling the Text messages in groups like rec.arts.tv which requires very little bandwidth.

        This is yet another example of throwing-out the whole Baby, when all you really need to do it remove the bathwater (binaries). There's no reason to completely stop carrying Usenet.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by bmo (77928)

          This is why AT&T and Verizon dropped Usenet at the very mention of child pornography by Eliot Spitzer. Eliot was grandstanding and everyone new it. It was the best excuse to drop the expense of Usenet altogether. They could have simply dropped the binaries. Now everyone is following suit. Comcast, and Cox have, and are (Cox in June) dropping Usenet. I predict that within 2 years, ISPs carrying Usenet will be ancient history.

          It is the small number of users involved in copyright infringement that use

          • by Kjella (173770) on Wednesday May 19, 2010 @08:24AM (#32264034) Homepage

            But what exactly was the main point of Usenet? Well, that it was distributed and clients only go over the local link, because long distance bandwidth was precious. Today you spend the bandwidth of 100 usenet messages going half way around the world loading the front page of one online news site, so who really cares if your local ISP cuts it as long as "there are many nntp servers out there that offer text-only for free" according to you?

            The whole concept of usenet is out of date, you can argue back and forth about the nntp protocol versus the http protocol but today it is far more practical to have one group on one server and have everybody access that. It guarantees that everybody sees all messages (not everything would propagate well), you can have captchas to prevent spam, moderators (without premoderation like usenet), search (without downloading everything) and so on. If people don't like a server, move the community to a different one.

            Sure, it would be neat if you could standardize on a discussion protocol and use the tool of your choice but I think it'd be almost easier with a screen scraper than doing it by committee. There's honestly not that many different discussion board servers in common use.

            • by commodore64_love (1445365) on Wednesday May 19, 2010 @08:53AM (#32264382) Journal

              >>>clients only go over the local link, because long distance bandwidth was precious.

              That is still true today. It's still cheaper for an ISP to store all the Usenet messages locally, and have users access that store, then to setup long distance connections. The concept is not obsolete.

              Another advantage of Usenet is that it served a global community, so that everyone was seeing the same identical posts, whereas web forums only serve a few hundred people and they are fractured. With usenet I can visit just one group (example: rec.games) and see all the posts at once, but with web forums I have to read across about 10 different gaming forums to catch up. It's less convenient.

            • by bmo (77928) on Wednesday May 19, 2010 @09:06AM (#32264538)

              >But what exactly was the main point of Usenet?

              A store and forward messaging system. The Internet's BBS.

              >Today you spend the bandwidth of 100 usenet messages going half way around the world loading the front page of one online news site

              Not when those articles consist of rips from BluRay disks encoded as 7-bit ASCII.

              >The whole concept of usenet is out of date,

              Just because it's misused doesn't mean it's out of date. It was just never meant to carry binary data. This is evident because every binary attachment has to be encoded as 7-bit ASCII. If you don't understand this then I don't know what to say.

              >far more practical to have one group on one server and have everybody access that.

              What? And what happens when that one server goes down, or the owner can no longer pay for the bandwidth costs because everyone worldwide is contacting that one server? Eh? 'Splain this to me. How many websites do you know of that go back to the beginning of the Web besides CERN?

              >I think it'd be almost easier with a screen scraper

              You're kidding, right? Every web page owner that relies on ads to keep his machines up and the bills paid is raging at you right now.

              >Argument against having standards

              LOL U TROLE ME.

              --
              BMO

          • by Xest (935314) on Wednesday May 19, 2010 @08:26AM (#32264058)

            I don't think you can really blame the pirates, because there's not enough decent performance free usenet servers out there that actually do offer binaries.

            Everyone I know personally that uses usenet to download files has an account with the likes of Giganews, certainly I don't know anyone whose managed to find a decent free usenet server that holds all binaries and provides decent download speeds.

            I don't even think I've had an ISP in the UK for years now that's had binary newsgroup access, only text. I think it was about 2003 since I was last with an ISP that provided binary newsgroup access.

            Really, I think as is often the case with these sorts of things, the only real blame lies with the corporate greed machine that tries to seek out every single penny of profit it can, regardless of the goodwill it costs the company.

            I'm not sure what you mean about Usenet not being suited to large binary file transfer though, that doesn't make a lot of sense, because, well, it is, hence why people use it for that. It's generally far more efficient for the job than the likes of P2P in fact.

            • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

              by bmo (77928)

              >I don't even think I've had an ISP in the UK for years now that's had binary newsgroup access, only text. I think it was about 2003 since I was last with an ISP that provided binary newsgroup access.

              That's the difference.

              Here, in the US, ISPs had carried all of Usenet. Even the binaries. What is happening now is that the binary groups have become so large they dwarf the text groups and the bulk of the cost is for those.

              So rather than simply dump just the binary groups, ISPs in the US are dumping all o

              • by Xest (935314) on Wednesday May 19, 2010 @10:22AM (#32265604)

                "Here, in the US, ISPs had carried all of Usenet. Even the binaries. What is happening now is that the binary groups have become so large they dwarf the text groups and the bulk of the cost is for those."

                But again, the UK ISPs ditched them with the same excuse years ago, when usenet was far less used for piracy because BitTorrent was at it's peak. It's a business decision based on increasing profits by dropping an unpopular service, it's really just as simple as that. No one signs up to an ISP because it does or doesn't offer usenet anymore, they haven't for years, most people don't even know what it is. It's cheaper for the ISP to just to ditch it.

                "By the way, when the number of binary-carrying Usenet servers declines to just a handful of companies, expect Giganews et alia to be sued into oblivion by the media companies never to appear again."

                Except usenet is already fairly well protected by legal precedent. Newzbin wasn't a Usenet provider, but was an indexer, it performed a similar role to The Pirate Bay. Besides, your assertion that Giganews advertises itself as a gateway to infringement is outright false, it does nothing of the sort, in fact, on the contrary, it states quite clearly on it's site in multiple places that copyright infringement is a breach of terms of use of their service. Usenet can fairly easily be hosted in countries with less hostile IP laws too- whilst places like Sweden were willing to stretch to attacking the likes of The Pirate Bay, it's almost a certainty that a Swedish court wouldn't rule to close down a usenet provider.

                I know you're enjoying continuing your rhetoric about how pirates are to blame, but let's face it, the reality is you're just pissed off at finally losing a service that was being provided to you via subsidy from the majority of other subscribers to your ISP. Certainly your subscription alone wouldn't have covered the cost of running the usenet servers. If you don't want to pay your fair share, then tough shit, either pay up, or complain to your ISP for not being willing to use income from other users to subsidise usenet servers for you and the handful of others that use it on your ISP.

                Blaming pirates though who are almost in their entirety using paid for newsgroup services instead simply because you don't want to pay for a service yourself is just comical. You really can't see the hypocrisy in that?

          • by Hatta (162192) on Wednesday May 19, 2010 @09:02AM (#32264480) Journal

            Don't blame the pirates. Pirates were doing ISPs a favor by using USENET. Something pirated over USENET only travels over the public internet once. Then every user of the ISP can download it on the ISPs network at no cost to the ISP. Kill USENET and those pirates go back to P2P where every download goes across the public internet at least once per user.

            No, it wasn't pirates. It was spam. Binaries and discussion coexisted very well on USENET for many years. It was the spam that killed the discussion, and drove most people away. If people could still use USENET instead of web forums, no ISP would be killing USENET.

            • by IntlHarvester (11985) on Wednesday May 19, 2010 @09:56AM (#32265250) Journal

              It wasn't just the spam, Usenet survived the spam onslaught of the 1990s. What put the final dagger in Usenet was the unstoppable kooks and trolls which infest the place. Seriously, the quality of discussion there just sucks, its flaming and stalking 24x7. Usenet killed Usenet.

              Both spam and trolling are symptomatic of central problem of Usenet -- most people just do not want to participate in unmoderated forums. If someone had come up with a moderation option for Usenet that actually worked maybe it had a chance at survival.

            • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

              by pclminion (145572)

              Don't blame the pirates. Pirates were doing ISPs a favor by using USENET. Something pirated over USENET only travels over the public internet once. Then every user of the ISP can download it on the ISPs network at no cost to the ISP. Kill USENET and those pirates go back to P2P where every download goes across the public internet at least once per user.

              "Your honor, I did not facilitate massive copyright infringement, I just provided network access... Well, I guess in a sense you could say I acted as a cac

        • Just use one of the freely available text-only Usenet servers, like news.eternal-september.org [eternal-september.org], or choose to support a cheap one, like the excellent individual.net [individual.net] which costs just 10 euros (15 US dollars) per year.

          Usenet is consolidating. It's not dying. Services like these continue to provide a spam-free, binary-free, high-quality Usenet feed.

    • by elrous0 (869638) * on Wednesday May 19, 2010 @08:22AM (#32263994)

      Especially sad because Usenet is the first and last place you can go on the internet for truly uncensored discussion--with no moderators, with no company or organization in charge. Of course, this led to a lot of flamewars, spam, and people calling each other "fag." But it also meant that everyone always had at least one place to go where they didn't have to walk on eggshells and worry about offending the honchos in charge.

      Call me silly, but I think that Usenet is something we NEED. It's the one true free speech zone on an increasingly corporatized/moderated/censored internet.

  • by Zarhan (415465) on Wednesday May 19, 2010 @04:01AM (#32262348)

    Best web forums are somewhere on par with late 1980's news readers. I mean, even *threading* is something that you really don't see at too many places. Not to mention the fact that you have to create a separate account for every forum. And each forum looks just a tad different.

    One thing I like about Gmane mailing lists is that you can access them via your newsreader at nntps://snews.gmane.org/.

    At my old company they had a discussion board in their intranet that was ran in same fashion as Gmane - simple web Interface and also access via newsreader. It got replaced with a "fancy" Phpbb forum at some point....and that was called progress.

    • by sakdoctor (1087155) on Wednesday May 19, 2010 @04:16AM (#32262436) Homepage

      Google killed news groups for me. This might sound a bit of a stretch, but I really loved dejanews, and all the time google group search was orange, and on the main menu, it was an excellent search tool for usenet.

      Then one day it turned into a shitty blue forum that nobody uses.

      • by GreatBunzinni (642500) on Wednesday May 19, 2010 @06:30AM (#32263070)

        No, that isn't a stretch. Google bought out dejanews to kill it off. Nowadays google groups doesn't work at all, with them not even bothering with spam (i.e., they don't do anything about the countless complaints regarding Google spammers and spam in google groups) along with them burying any search result that involves Usenet from their groups search. This has become so bad that Google's top search hits on programming topics frequently consists of sites that shamelessly mirror Usenet content to try to pass it off as their own forums, while it completely ignores any hit from the very same newsgroup.

        Then there's Google's inability to find even popular newsgroups such as comp.lang.c++ [google.com] when you even when you explicitly search for the group [google.com]

        If that wasn't enough, Google's newsgroup archive has since been eroding, which is a major blow to one of Usenet's most valuable use, humanity's best and most successfull attempt at an expert system [wikipedia.org].

        So it isn't a stretch to claim that Google is the one responsible for killing newsgroups. The company eliminated the established service for newsgroup search, it has gradually destroyed the service and has been actively hiding Usenet from the public.

    • by Yvanhoe (564877) on Wednesday May 19, 2010 @04:24AM (#32262476) Journal
      This is my current pet-peeves : flat forum and phpBB are killing the art of internet discussion.
      • by Eternal Vigilance (573501) on Wednesday May 19, 2010 @05:00AM (#32262656)

        This is my current pet-peeves : flat forum and phpBB are killing the art of internet discussion.

        Oh, how painfully, painfully true.

        I feel like I've departed the internet age of letters and found myself in the age of tweets.

        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by Anonymous Coward

          This is my current pet-peeves : flat forum and phpBB are killing the art of internet discussion.

          Oh, how painfully, painfully true.

          I feel like I've departed the internet age of letters and found myself in the age of tweets.

          Anonymous Coward likes this.

        • by arth1 (260657) on Wednesday May 19, 2010 @06:37AM (#32263112) Homepage Journal

          I feel like I've departed the internet age of letters and found myself in the age of tweets.

          Unfortunately, I have to agree. Not only has the communication become parodically terse, but it has also become imperative to answer as quickly as possible. If you actually re-read what you wrote, take time to correct errors, and perhaps add a new point or two, i.e. spend some time on improving your post, it won't be seen by many if any.

          And I hate to say it, but I think slashdot has played its part in steering posting fora towardes this decline. Slashdot has also done some things to try to stem it, like the grading of both articles and posts, but it's an afterthought that doesn't solve the problem, but created karma whores instead.
          The moderators too are unlikely to see good posts deep into a thread that isn't on the front page, no matter how good they are. So they never get moderated up to the point where others see them either.

          • TLDR (Score:5, Insightful)

            by illumnatLA (820383) on Wednesday May 19, 2010 @06:59AM (#32263230) Homepage

            TLDR...

            The moderators too are unlikely to see good posts deep into a thread that isn't on the front page, no matter how good they are. So they never get moderated up to the point where others see them either.

            Agreed. Or the moderators only read (at best) the first couple of sentences of a post and rate based on that rather than the content of the whole comment. The attention span seems to have gotten so short that anything more than 140 characters is indigestible.

            Given the current state of mods lately, this post will be tagged 'Troll' or 'Flamebait' based solely on the first line of this comment rather than reading the point I was trying to make.

      • Re: (Score:2, Troll)

        by arth1 (260657)

        Slashdot too, unfortunately, is a forum based on short-lived commenting.

        In Usenet, I can come back from vacation, post a reply, and all the readers of the group will see my reply. Heck, I can even reply to five year old posts. And there's no redacting the group after the fact. I don't have to trust the forum owner, not even the news server owner. Because it's distributed.

        There's no doubt in my mind what kills Usenet: warez flooders.
        The 1% of the bandwidth taken up by actual discussions isn't why ISPs c

      • There was actually a forum revolt over at AudiWorld when they switched from Kawf (older threaded view forum software and open source) to vBulletin. The problem was quick one line subject posts don't translate very well on vB/phpBB style forums. That and I guess a lot of Usenet junkies frequented Audiworld (most now post at a spin off site called quattroworld... which uses Kawf).

        Internet Brands (who owns Audiworld and vB) managed to hack in a threaded view on vB and use it at Audiworld. It works, but is awkw

  • combinations (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Threni (635302) on Wednesday May 19, 2010 @04:02AM (#32262350)

    > Combine these stories with the recent news of Microsoft shuttering its newsgroups, along with other recent stories, and the picture does not look bright for Usenet.

    What if you combine those stories with the fact that there are millions more people using Usenet groups today thanks to Google's web interface? Does it look brighter than 10 years ago?

    Maybe, though, Usenet is an idea whose time has been and gone. There are other ways of sharing information now, which don't suffer the same intractable problems of spam etc.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by wwwald (1452511)
      And those ways are? And in what way are they superior?
      • It's amazing how few people see that Usenet has not in any way been superseded.

  • by catmistake (814204) on Wednesday May 19, 2010 @04:09AM (#32262390) Journal
    Notable, because Duke was first, and sad, if a sign of things to come. But it's a global server peer network. Duke can't turn it off.
  • by Thanshin (1188877) on Wednesday May 19, 2010 @04:10AM (#32262396)

    First they closer Limewire

    First they closed the usenets.

    When they came for my router, it was to replace it with a FTTH.

    And it was good. ...

    Wait... I think I fracked up that one. What were we talking about?

    • by Tackhead (54550) on Wednesday May 19, 2010 @09:12AM (#32264592)

      First they closer Limewire
      First they closed the usenets.
      When they came for my router, it was to replace it with a FTTH.
      And it was good. ...
      Wait... I think I fracked up that one. What were we talking about?

      First they shut down TPB, but I didn't care because I had USENET.
      Then they shut down Limewire, but I didn't care because I had USENET.
      Then they shut down Newzbin, but I didn't care because I could still download the headers and summarize them with a shell script.
      Then they shut down USENET, and when I finally got fiber to the home, there was nothing left to download.

  • While it's sad that this great part of Internet history is fading into obsolescence, I'm more worried that the proper care is made to archive the data for future generations. As long as we can still access the text of the discussions I think it's an acceptable and inevitable side effect of progress...

    • by Thanshin (1188877) on Wednesday May 19, 2010 @04:31AM (#32262506)

      I'm more worried that the proper care is made to archive the data for future generations.

      I wonder how unlikely it would be to lose all history of the internet culture in a giant magnetic wave that deleted all hard drives.

      It'd be the modern burning of the Library of Alexandria.

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        It'd be the modern burning of the Library of Alexandria.

        Who cares? Humanity as a whole is too dumb to learn from history anyway. Even with all those documents still here, we repeat the same crap over and over again.

        You could destroy every historic record older than a few decades and nothing would change. Humans for the most part are short-sighted idiots.

      • by jibjibjib (889679)
        Inside the hard drive case itself are the magnets that move the read/write head. They're probably stronger than almost every other magnet you've played with. They sit a few centimetres from the disk all the time and it still works.

        Everything outside the case is further away from the disk and shielded by the case.

        The point is, for an external magnetic field to suddenly erase all the world's hard drives it would have to be extremely strong. Like, strong enough to make your paperclips jump off your desk an

        • They sit a few centimetres from the disk all the time and it still works.

          How far? With most discs made in the last decade that's be outside the case.

  • and lets face it, where there's porn, there's no shortage of enthusiasts.
  • by Viol8 (599362) on Wednesday May 19, 2010 @04:14AM (#32262432)

    Anyone who still uses usenet regularly like me knows they're just as alive as ever so the slow closing down of usenet has nothing to do with declining usage, but in my slightly paranoid opinion I suspect it has everything to do with it not being self funding. Ads simply don't work on usenet (probably because of its text based nature) unlike with web sites and no revenue = no reason to keep the service going.

    When it does eventually die I'll miss it since as yet I haven't seen an alternative that works nearly so well and has so many different topics under one roof so to speak.

  • Obsolete (Score:2, Insightful)

    by kieran (20691)

    ... And nothing of any importance was lost.

    (fond memories remain intact)

  • by clickclickdrone (964164) on Wednesday May 19, 2010 @04:24AM (#32262478)
    Google Groups was great when it just included old Usenet posts but when they folded in any other forums they could find, the signal to noise ratio dropped hugely. Yes, if you can cite a specific usenet group in the search, you can get good results but you can't issue a search just for usenet groups only. I can't remember the last time I got anything useful from Google groups. Heck, I can't remember the last time a search even showed any usenet group entries.
    • by Phoe6 (705194)

      This is quite true. I wonder why Google wanted to meddle with usenet. But I think, they still are in position that, if they want to rewamp it for good, they can do it. After they will get money through advertisements which will be aplenty in usenet.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Undead NDR (1252916)

      you can't issue a search just for usenet groups only.

      Actually, you can: by restricting the query to a whole hieararchy. Just add, e.g., group:comp.* to your search.

      Lately, though, I've found the results to be incomplete (by searching for my own posts).

  • by mrpacmanjel (38218) on Wednesday May 19, 2010 @04:33AM (#32262518)

    Anyone (feeling brave enough) can host their own Usenet server - open protocols and that malarky is still possible.

    As a massively connected "network" of information and easily understood protocol writing software to parse it is straightforward.

    Maybe political pressure is being exerted to shut the Usenet servers down. Media companies are aware of it's existence and will encourage it's extinction ("good luck with that").

    Modern BBS-type systems are fine but are self-contained and do not encourage sharing of information (more accurately "replication") of nodes and data.

    I don't think Usenet will ever go away - people are still using gopher today and some modern browsers still support it!

    As long as the underpinnings of the Internet are open and free then anyone can create there own "protocol" and transmit data.
    This is a fundemental right of the Internet.

    Can you imagine if all this was created by a commercial entity - we just would not have the freedom we have now.

    As long as some geeks run and admin their servers - there will always be an open and free way of transmitting data.

    Believe me our "governments" and corporate "sponsors" are trying to remove those freedoms.

    • by mykos (1627575)
      I agree with this. Freedom of speech is one of the most important things we have, and usenet is a great venue for that. A good example of a decentralized communications network.
  • Ahhhem (Score:2, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward

    First rule of usenet is we dont talk about usenet.

  • Pros and cons (Score:3, Insightful)

    by notrandomly (1242142) on Wednesday May 19, 2010 @05:19AM (#32262716)
    There are pros and cons to newsgroups. I personally have found myself drifting away from newsgroups because of all the cons.

    For example, there's no moderation. Crazy people all over the place. You would have to start maintaining kill filters and all that.

    Web forums can be accessed from anywhere. Newsgroups, well, you could using certain web interfaces. But they were usually sub-par.

    Newsgroup readers are usually very complex. I personally ended up relatively comfortable using one, but it's much easier to just dive in and use a web forum.

    I really like the threading and all that in newsreaders, but in the end, I found that web forums were much more convenient and useful for me, especially because there was someone around to kick out spammers and abusers.

    • by Viol8 (599362)

      "Crazy people all over the place."

      Can't say I noticed. You get a few rude types but if you can't deal with a bit of rudeness then you have bigger problems than where to go for online discussions. If it really bothers you there are plenty of moderated groups but in general usenet isn't for children , never has been and never will be and I personally wouldn't want some dumbed down , sanitised , disneyland version of usenet to keep delicate little wallflowers happy.

  • by MrCrassic (994046) <deprecated.ema@il> on Wednesday May 19, 2010 @05:25AM (#32262736) Journal
    Kind of sucks Usenet's going the way of the dodo, but evolution isn't always a forgiving process. I found lots of useful and hard to find information on newsgroups, but I've found the same level of information on forums as well. In my opinion, forums are way better: moderation, software-agnostic, etc.
    • by RoboRay (735839)

      Moderation is a double-edged sword, and in what ways are Usenet servers not software agnostic?

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by swordgeek (112599)

      If you think that forums are way better than usenet, then you misunderstand usenet.

      1) Usenet is software-agnostic--there are dozens of news readers encompassing every OS available. Web forums require a web browser.
      2) Usenet is centralized. ALL groups come through one interface (of your choosing). Forums have different interfaces with different rules, and you have to register for each one individually.
      3) Usenet is DE-centralized. Data is distributed worldwide, with no central authority or repository. Forums

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 19, 2010 @05:28AM (#32262748)

    There's a silent war on usenet. The piracy-argument is just a cover. The real issue is about editorial control. Usenet remains as one of very few information channels which can not be censored by any single entity, and with decentralised storage as one of its main features. Free speech advocates should really get on top of this.

  • We really are going to need some kind of federated shared login. The net is fragmenting into lots of smaller feuds like face***k and forums, all separate logins, formats, no more shared standards. that died when "netiquette" died, killed by lots of "gimme" spammers, trolls, warez, porn, etc. Anarchism and an etiquette of behavior were the rules, and they worked until too many came at once with a greedy free-for-all ignorance. No login was necessary for lots of things.
  • Damnit, I though this news item would be about Duke Nukem.

  • On the upside... (Score:4, Informative)

    by metacell (523607) on Wednesday May 19, 2010 @06:19AM (#32263012)

    On the upside, Freenet [freenetproject.org] contains a distributed Usenet server, which has so far been kept spam-free by the use of trust lists.

  • by Teckla (630646) on Wednesday May 19, 2010 @06:25AM (#32263036)

    Does anyone know if Google is starting to wind down Usenet support too?

    I only ask because sometime early last week, I stopped getting digest emails to the Usenet groups I'm subscribed to via Google Groups. It happened without warning: no reports of dropping support for digest emails or Usenet, no reports of problems they are working on, etc. It seems quite a few people are having this problem as well...

    Any information would be appreciated!

  • by jgreco (1542031) on Wednesday May 19, 2010 @06:40AM (#32263124)

    Death of USENET predicted! Film at 11.

    This has been predicted so many times all throughout the years, it's hard to take it seriously.

  • It's time to kick ass and browse Usenet, and we're all out of Usenet!

  • It's been a while since we had a Duke Nukem story on the front pa...Oh...that Duke...and they just shut it down and didn't nuke it...? Nevermind.
  • by jonwil (467024) on Wednesday May 19, 2010 @07:20AM (#32263390)

    Try and read aus.tv, aus.politics, aus.general or a number of other aus.* groups and you will see that far to many of the posts are garbage or SPAM vs legitimate postings.

  • Cost-benefit (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 19, 2010 @07:29AM (#32263450)
    I work for a small ISP, and we shut down our news servers about a year ago after 12 years of operation. It just wasn't economically viable to maintain the software, hardware, power, cooling, and network bandwidth required for a service used by less than 0.1% of our customers.
  • Kibo? (Score:5, Funny)

    by BenEnglishAtHome (449670) on Wednesday May 19, 2010 @07:59AM (#32263756)

    Are you there?

  • It's a shame... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by plazman30 (531348) on Wednesday May 19, 2010 @08:06AM (#32263840) Homepage

    The concept of Usenet is awesome. Think about taking every single web forums out there and sticking them all into a client om your desk, and having a single sign in for everything, and you'll understand why Usenet is still superior to web based forums in many ways. You go to ONE PLACE to find the info you want on hobbies, politics, news, etc.

    In the 90s, the Usenet FAQs were the best collection of knowledge on the Internet.

    Sadly, due to it's open nature, Usenet was also the first to get SPAM. I would love to see someone develop a newer version of Usenet with better security.

  • Usenet 2.0? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by liteyear (738262) on Wednesday May 19, 2010 @10:05AM (#32265366) Homepage

    To me, Usenet was the quintessential Internet protocol for revealing the power of collective thought. It never failed to amaze me what could happen if you grouped the passionate and learned practitioners of every common and exotic discipline known to man, and exposed a simple, textual communication interface. In one swoop you could be following a lively discussion on the new Giant downhill mountain bike, while your question on Fourier expansion edge cases spawns a bunch of responses.

    But one cannot deny that Usenet, like email, has fallen prey to challenges that were simply not on the radar in their genesis. The only difference is that the ubiquity and return on investment ratios for email supply a dirty life line to an already dead technology.

    What then, I earnestly ask, could replace Usenet? What's right and wrong with Usenet and what's right and wrong with phpbb et al? It seems to me that these features are essential:

    • One protocol. Not a thousand different forums with no hierarchy and no common interface.
    • Web access and client access. Web is critical for widespread adoption and access when the client is not available. Client access is critical for high volume users.
    • Options for moderation. If a group wants it, it can.
    • Distributed storage. There's too much traffic to expect every host to be a universal gateway. Perhaps storage could be hierarchal.
    • User registration required to post. Spam and bots are easier to manage that way.
    • Text first. Similar to the Twitter philosophy - it's the text that matters but multimedia solutions are easily integrated.

    As well as the significant technical issues, there are major governance issues in developing Usenet 2.0. But I am genuinely curious - what do you think the successor to Usenet should be, and where do you think it will come from?

Bus error -- driver executed.

Working...