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R.I.P Usenet: 1980-2008

CmdrTaco posted about 6 years ago | from the we-hardly-knew-ye dept.

The Internet 625

CorinneI writes "In a way inconceivable in today's marketplace, Usenet was where people once went to talk — in days before the profit-centric Internet we have today. The series of bulletin boards called 'newsgroups' shared by thousands of computers, which traded new messages several times a day, is now a thing of the past."

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Usenet is dead... (4, Funny)

Notquitecajun (1073646) | about 6 years ago | (#24419139)

Netcraft confirms it!

It's about time. (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24419153)

Think of the children who read alt.startrek.furrydom.localgettogethers

Re:It's about time. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24419567)

Oh, he is thinking of that. Thinking of it very intently indeed. ;)

Hmm...Giganews and other services are still there (5, Insightful)

sgant (178166) | about 6 years ago | (#24419775)

Oh, and look, they have all the alt.* forums there too!

So, unless the entire Usenet network gets taken offline..which is unlikely, then no, it's far from dead.

Re:Hmm...Giganews and other services are still the (5, Insightful)

Lord Apathy (584315) | about 6 years ago | (#24419965)

Holy Shit! Usenet is dead. For some reason my Xnews, open right now, seems to not have noticed.

Death Of Usenet has been predicted since its birth. Nothing to see here.

Google Groups (5, Insightful)

Shuh (13578) | about 6 years ago | (#24419185)

Just like MTV is now Youtube, USENET is now Google Groups.

Same thing, different name.

Re:Google Groups (4, Insightful)

LWATCDR (28044) | about 6 years ago | (#24419333)

Or yahoo groups or Myspace groups or ......
Just not the same thing to be honest. The real problem for usenet and the Internet in general is that it is just to easy.
A lot of the good stuff from usenet has now migrated to mailing lists and online forums but it still isn't the same.. Ahh the good old days.

Re:Google Groups (5, Informative)

brunes69 (86786) | about 6 years ago | (#24419841)

Actually Google Groups *is* the same thing as Usenet, because that is exactly what it is, a easy to use web front end to Usenet.

That is why Google Groups is infinitely better than Yahoo groups and the others you mention.

this was never about porn (5, Interesting)

night_flyer (453866) | about 6 years ago | (#24419195)

it was about alt.binaries.mp3s

Re:this was never about porn (5, Funny)

waffledoodle (1070284) | about 6 years ago | (#24419383)

Dude, be cool!!!

Re:this was never about porn (2, Interesting)

aesiamun (862627) | about 6 years ago | (#24419539)

If you can find out who's contributing to Andrew Cuomo's campaign so far, you'll be able to verify this. I have a feeling that you are right though.

Re:this was never about porn (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24419669)

mp3s? you youngster!

Web 2.0 ftw (4, Insightful)

aredubya74 (266988) | about 6 years ago | (#24419199)

"Usenet was where people once went to talk â" in days before the profit-centric Internet we have today."

Internet company profits have zero to do with the decline of USENET as a discussion forum. In its heyday, it was the only Internet-wide forum. It's been supplanted by web forums of every conceivable niche. Web 2.0 beat it out, plain and simple.

Re:Web 2.0 ftw (5, Insightful)

Hatta (162192) | about 6 years ago | (#24419489)

Except that no Web 2.0 forum comes close to matching the features that any decent USENET client had 15 years ago. Things like real threading, filters, kill files, etc.

Re:Web 2.0 ftw (5, Insightful)

squiggleslash (241428) | about 6 years ago | (#24419525)

I don't think either explanation really matches reality. Usenet started to seriously deteriorate to the point most people I knew who were regulars started to drop it around 1995-1998. At that time, while there were web forums, they were still in the teething stage and no replacement for Usenet. That, for me, is the time Usenet "died". It began to be re-invented as a binaries distribution network shortly thereafter.

Why did it die? Spam. Spammers began to make swathes of Usenet unreadable. After a few managable carpetbombs, the serious spammers first attacked in earnest the hierarchy (it's an interesting fact that comes as a surprise to many that back in the early nineties, contained some of the most respected newsgroups in Usenet., for example, was originally started after a prank revealed massive interest in such a group, and it became one of the more respected groups thereafter.) The groups became unusable within two years, with a few migrating to "safer" areas out of the alt.* hierarchy. After that the rest of Usenet started to get similarly hit.

A few attempts were made to protect Usenet, from serious attempts to hold ISPs to account for their users (which caused more damage than it helped, as the legitimate customers of those ISPs were cut off from Usenet too and as a result drifted away, reducing the S/N ratio even further) to attempts to introduce various forms of moderation that, ultimately, also caused more damage.

People just gave up. Even the spammers started to give up after a few years largely because it wasn't worth their time any more, but by that time Usenet was dead anyway.

What's dying today isn't Usenet, at least not the network in operation back from 1980. It's a binaries distribution system, the one that took over from the mid-nineties onwards.

And frankly, I don't know about you, but I don't care about that one.

e-mail and YouTube to follow (4, Interesting)

Quadraginta (902985) | about 6 years ago | (#24419811)

I think the same thing is happening to e-mail, at least e-mail over public mail servers. With the advent of new communications methods, it's just getting less and less worth the energy required to cope with the parasites (spam and such). People can still exchange interesting stuff via YouTube, but I bet that gets destroyed by spam soon enough, too.

It's probably some rule of evolutionary biology: if you create a pool of low entropy, a cloud of parasites will spontaneously arive, like maggots to meat, to eat it and destroy it. Then I guess you move on to the next thing, huh?

Pity we don't simply hunt down and destroy the parasites in our own midst, so that we can spend less time and cleverness keeping ahead of them.

Re:Web 2.0 ftw (4, Insightful)

jandrese (485) | about 6 years ago | (#24419853)

A lot of the more respectable groups started moderation systems back when the spam onslaught started, but they were afterthoughts on a system not designed for them. The problem with moderator systems is that it requires a small handful of trusted moderators, and what do you do when they grow tired of the subject and leave? Electing a small group of moderators (technically, it's rarely an election, they're usually self appointed) always seems to start the slow death of a newsgroup.

It's really a shame because as people have pointed out, the tools built into your average usenet client completely blow away most web forums for features, especially with threading, scoring, tracking, etc... Plus, the Usenet is fast, being a simple text protocol with built-in multicasting you can support communities of millions with virtually no drain on your personal resources. Web forums frequently crash and burn when they start to become popular because the centralized hardware requirements and the fact that you have to run a database means that once you start getting more than a few readers per second you have to start looking at specialized solutions or lose your community to database overload crashes and general slowness. Unfortunately, it is this feature that guarantee that any two bit joker with an internet connection could clobber a group with spam.

As it is so often true in life, we can't have nice things because some jackass will always try to mess it up.

Re:Web 2.0 ftw (2)

Black-Man (198831) | about 6 years ago | (#24419897)

AOL users jumping in was strike 1... spammers was strike 2... and that was all it took for me to take my ramblings elsewhere. I think its been dead for most people since the 90s.

Re:Web 2.0 ftw (1, Insightful)

Dynedain (141758) | about 6 years ago | (#24419631)

Web 1.0 and IRC beat it out. No need to blame the current crop of AJAX websites. Other than filesharing and spam, Usenet has been dead for a while.

wrong (1)

unity100 (970058) | about 6 years ago | (#24419783)

forums were there long before web 2.0. popular scripts and communities built on phpbb, invision date much earlier than the bullcrap buzzword that is the '2.0'.

what the hell is 2.0 i STILL dont have an absolute idea, despite i am doing web development for a living.

WHAT? (5, Informative)

olliec420 (1023207) | about 6 years ago | (#24419201)

I use it all the time!

Re:WHAT? (4, Interesting)

ClaraBow (212734) | about 6 years ago | (#24419399)

So do I! It is still a great place to exchanges ideas and stuff. Just because mainstream internet providers are dropping it doesn't mean it is dying. Usenet is immortal, like Dracula, it will never die.

Re:WHAT? (1)

olliec420 (1023207) | about 6 years ago | (#24419557)

IRC will live forever also!

Re:WHAT? (4, Funny)

Man in Spandex (775950) | about 6 years ago | (#24419837)

Hmmmm, so we have to stake Usenet through its heart, or at least hurt it with garlic?

Re:WHAT? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24419625)

Ack! Pedophile!!!

yellow journalism at it's worst (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24419205)

please stop posting the opinions of bloggers as fact.

Re:yellow journalism at it's worst (5, Insightful)

SQLGuru (980662) | about 6 years ago | (#24419243)

A rumor repeated often enough eventually becomes fact......or at least a Wikipedia edit.


Re:yellow journalism at it's worst (5, Funny)

Randwulf (997659) | about 6 years ago | (#24419879)

I've heard the number of Usenet users has tripled in the last six months.

Re:yellow journalism at it's worst (1)

jedidiah (1196) | about 6 years ago | (#24419591)

What opinion? That the bigwigs in New York state are pushing around ISPs?

Sure, today it's only ALT. Are you really naieve enough to believe it will end there?

nothing to see here, move along... (1, Interesting)

bigdaddyhame (623739) | about 6 years ago | (#24419211)

Giganews FTW - how long will they hold out against regulators, I wonder.

Bullcrap (5, Insightful)

fnj (64210) | about 6 years ago | (#24419215)

Stupid headline. Usenet is still there. Stupid idiots who are slaves to only what their ISP spoon feeds them may drop off. So what.

Re:Bullcrap (5, Informative)

Roberticus (1237374) | about 6 years ago | (#24419309)

Certainly misleading. Between the headline and the summary, I assumed this was a story about some official cancellation of Usenet. Instead, it's someone pining for the good ol' days (of free pron, if I understood right after skimming TFA).

Re:Bullcrap (5, Insightful)

saschasegan (963148) | about 6 years ago | (#24419517)

No, I'm pining for the really good ol' days before the binaries groups suffocated the rest of Usenet.

Re:Bullcrap (2, Interesting)

Free the Cowards (1280296) | about 6 years ago | (#24419779)

Is there even an organization which could officially cancel it? The whole point of the thing is that it's decentralized, after all.

Re:Bullcrap (1)

OmegaBlac (752432) | about 6 years ago | (#24419451)

True. I mean I am right now as I type downloading "stuff" from the alt.binaries.* which is still carried by premium newsgroup service providers. Yea I have to pay, but if you wanted quality USENET service in the past couple of years you usually have to fork over some money instead of relying on the subpar service (caps, low retention, and bad completions rates) your isp provided. I still have access to the Big 8 hierarchies with Verizon and if they drop that I still can read those discussions at google groups and there are plenty of free USENET providers too. USENET as a discussion medium has been declining somewhat in the past decade due to web forums and message boards, but it is not dead and will continue to survive.

It deserved to die (1, Insightful)

lpaul55 (137990) | about 6 years ago | (#24419225)

The world moved on and left this protocol behind.

Re:It deserved to die (3, Interesting)

saschasegan (963148) | about 6 years ago | (#24419641)

I don't disagree. But there's a place in the world for nostalgia. In my case, it's nostalgia for a centralized/decentralized discussion system that nobody owned and nobody controlled, but that everybody went to and behaved relatively well in. I was just writing an email to someone about how basically, this column is about being a little wistful that the small town I grew up in is now a big city. The big city has many advantages but it's still valid to miss some of that small town charm. The hammer - I mean the town - is the Internet, by the way.

That's Interesting... (4, Informative)

feyd-rautha (1256602) | about 6 years ago | (#24419255)

My 1+ year subscription to EasyNews [] would indicate otherwise...

Re:That's Interesting... (1)

MrPerfekt (414248) | about 6 years ago | (#24419913)

Thank you for the advert, it's prevented me from having to do it. :D

Premature (4, Informative)

clang_jangle (975789) | about 6 years ago | (#24419257)

The obit is premature. Usually when a service "dies" it would mean it's no longer available, but anyone can still buy usenet access here [] , here [] , here [] , here [] , here [] , here [] , here [] , or here [] .
And that is by no means a complete list. If anything, usenet may actually return to a more usable medium again, now that it won't be free for all the spammers and trolls anymore. Then again, it may well not -- it's not like all the illegal traders will just give up and go away, so I guess it depends on how much money the **IA, the BSA, and the morality police want to spend on "eradicating the problem".

Re:Premature (3, Informative)

Sarcasmooo! (267601) | about 6 years ago | (#24419397)

You forgot Astranews [] , which probably belongs in the middle there somewhere. (I like it anyway).

Re:Premature (1)

OmegaBlac (752432) | about 6 years ago | (#24419747)

You forgot Astranews , which probably belongs in the middle there somewhere. I like it anyway .

Just signed up recently myself due to that special deal they have. Cheap, fast and multiple (20) connections, good retention, nice completion percentage, SSL connections thrown in, and they have block accounts also. Great USENET service provider. Also finally signed up to newzbin; yes, I am aware of, but its cheap to pay for a subscription to newzbin. That combined with hellanzb makes grabbing binaries a breeze. Several of the big premium newsgroup providers, like giganews, are offering discount deals to AT&T, TimeWarner, Verizon, and Sprint users. Anyways the Astraweb deal is right here if anyone in interested: []

Re:Premature (3, Informative)

Lincolnshire Poacher (1205798) | about 6 years ago | (#24419547)

> now that it won't be free for all the spammers and trolls anymore.

Indeed, there are at least two Usenet providers that drop all posts originating from Google Groups, so that we can enjoy spam-free feeds today.

I previously paid for a feed from Giganews, but they did not support the NNTP commands required to drop GG at the server so I was paying for their downloads as part of my monthly quota.

I have subsequently found a free Swedish provider with an agreeable degree of snobbery...

Re:Premature (3, Interesting)

pecosdave (536896) | about 6 years ago | (#24419613)

Trolls were a part of usenet, just like they're a vital part of Slashdot (yes, I mean that). It's the whole Yin/Yang thing, a couple of trolls are good for comic relief and keeping things going. I'm not advocating turning EVERYTHING into 4chan, just a statement that trolls aren't so bad.

No, what killed usenet, at least for me, was spammers.

You didn't DARE use an email address you actually used anymore (being able to email individuals was sort of a feature back in the day). Every site got spammed by off topic spam, and yes, when you were looking in alt.titties.redheads there was always some jerk posting loads of homo's (beyond the reasonable troll that is).

Usenet was killed by the same thing that's currently killing email. Seriously, how bad is it when Facebook is a better way to communicate than a normal email address?

Re:Premature (1)

nine-times (778537) | about 6 years ago | (#24419627)

The obit is premature. Usually when a service "dies" it would mean it's no longer available, but anyone can still buy usenet access here [], here [], here [], here [], here [], here [], here [], or here [].

I haven't looked at the state of the usenet in a few years, but I've kind of assumed it was dead already. Maybe not "dead" in the sense you're talking about, but effectively dead for the purpose of discussion. I stopped looking there partially because most of what was there was spam and warez groups that were using usenet to stay under the radar. But it didn't really seem like people were having discussions anymore.

Re:Premature (4, Informative)

maztuhblastah (745586) | about 6 years ago | (#24419707)

Even better, I'd recommend Motzarella [] for totally free Usenet access. Well over 40K groups, and although they don't carry binaries, retention and fill on the text groups is outstanding. Oh, and they support SSL, even SSL on port 443 (for those at work behind "fascist firewalls.")

Pffft, been dying for years. (3, Insightful)

RyuuzakiTetsuya (195424) | about 6 years ago | (#24419273)

I worked in ISP support for years and USENET was dying well before child porn was a nail in it's coffin. Probably has something to do with message boards with much friendlier interfaces, or that ISPs never went out of their way to try to explain what usenet is.

Either way, the newsgroup support call was kind of a rare thing, like finding a Yeti or something.

people stopped caring, and now it's going away as essential from an ISP POV. There are still ways to get NNTP feeds, so it's not completely toast.

Re:Pffft, been dying for years. (5, Informative)

Rainer (42222) | about 6 years ago | (#24419439)

Probably has something to do with message boards with much friendlier interfaces

I'd say dumbed down interfaces. A good newsreader is much friendlier than a webforum. The problem is that you have to install it first.

Re:Pffft, been dying for years. (2, Informative)

xaxa (988988) | about 6 years ago | (#24419457)

I worked in ISP support for years and USENET was dying well before child porn was a nail in it's coffin. Probably has something to do with message boards with much friendlier interfaces,

IMHO a decent newsreader has a far superior interface. Threading, clearly marked unread posts, fast searching, ability to read and reply to messages off-line, consistent interface for all groups, choice of newsreader.

Having said that, I use Gmane, but I don't use Usenet any more -- mostly because everyone else seems to have moved to a forum.

Re:Pffft, been dying for years. (1)

wattrlz (1162603) | about 6 years ago | (#24419711)


Either way, the newsgroup support call was kind of a rare thing, like finding a Yeti or something.


I think it has more to do with the fact that people who use usenet are either already knowledgeable or are capable of looking stuff up for themselves.

Re:Pffft, been dying for years. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24419957)

Go back to third grade and learn the difference between its and it's.

First rule of Usenet (2, Insightful)

netscan (1028690) | about 6 years ago | (#24419277)

Nothing to see here.... Move along... ickstay otay hetay anplay acotay!

Nah... (1)

MrVictor (872700) | about 6 years ago | (#24419281)

It has certainly been marginalized. There are still plenty of pay-to-use Usenet providers around.

Plenty of big 8 and alt groups get traffic still (3, Insightful)

dtolman (688781) | about 6 years ago | (#24419283)

If they end up dropping the binary groups... who cares? Google hasn't announced that they are dropping their mediocre (but useful) usenet client service. There are plenty of usenet groups still active - usenet may be in decline.. but hasn't that but true for so long already its practically a joke? Lets face it - there is still a need for readily available, easily searched (and filtered), unmoderated discussion groups. (5, Funny)

kahei (466208) | about 6 years ago | (#24419297)





So what was your favorite newsgroup name? (5, Funny)

smellsofbikes (890263) | about 6 years ago | (#24419597)

Coz your post is dead accurate about the whole usenet sense of humor.

I loved:
and all the many alt.*.whilst.wearing.rubber.knickers groups.

Not that I ever *read* any of them, but it made my heart warm knowing they existed.

Re:So what was your favorite newsgroup name? (4, Funny)

$RANDOMLUSER (804576) | about 6 years ago | (#24419715)

alt.impeach.bush (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24419611)

Oh well done sir! God that brought back memories! A slashdot post for the ages!

Usenet thrives for those willing to pay (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24419305)

Usenet still thrives if you pay for good usenet service. It certainly beats hunting down ISO's and peers for any things.

Re:Usenet thrives for those willing to pay (3, Insightful)

imsabbel (611519) | about 6 years ago | (#24419385)

You are part of the problem

Re:Usenet thrives for those willing to pay (1)

$RANDOMLUSER (804576) | about 6 years ago | (#24419763)

No, I'm not posting your fills. Get a real news service n00b, and a real newsreader while you're at it. I posted all the PARs (in yEnc) that I'm going to. Go whine to your mommy.

Oh Really? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24419311)

It was back in 1983 when Usenet traffic on our server surpassed the whopping total of 5 MB per day. All via UUCP, and mostly (if not all) serial modems at around 2400 baud, IIRC.

Somehow I think Usenet's still alive and kicking. And using up far more than that today.

Let me know when traffic goes back down to that level. Then I might agree.

Article summary (5, Funny)

operagost (62405) | about 6 years ago | (#24419347)

"Before the Eternal September, but after the Great Renaming, I learned about sex on Usenet."

No need to read any further...

I didn't get on USENET until 1995 (1)

Legion_SB (1300215) | about 6 years ago | (#24419571)

... and yet I still "remember" the good ol' days before Eternal September! ;)

Re:I didn't get on USENET until 1995 (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24419903)


USENET always had a lot of porn (4, Informative)

CPE1704TKS (995414) | about 6 years ago | (#24419355)

Back in the early 90s, there was this one classmate who was a brilliant programmer. He wrote a pascal program that somehow continuously downloaded porn from newsgroups, ie.*. This was in the days of the 9600 baud modems, and before the Internet was even a household word. I didn't understand at the time what he was doing, or how he was doing it, but enjoyed the fruits of his labor. This was even before video on computers was prevalent, so it was all just images. Actually I remember downloading one "video" that was really just an ascii-fied version of a pr0no. sigh.. the good ol' days.

Glory days (5, Interesting)

Rob T Firefly (844560) | about 6 years ago | (#24419357)

One thing I love about reading old Usenet posts is how innocent and safe it all seemed before the Internet boom of the 1990s. People often had their full names and even phone numbers in their sigs. You could sign into a worldwide network and still be trading messages in your own little clique of a dozen or so people who shared an interest.

Then Eternal Spetember [] happened, and chased most of the decent discussion to quieter and more moderated email lists and web forums.

Usenet's current status as a haven for spam and pirated binar^H^H^H NOTHING ELSE is a far cry from what it used to mean to a lot of people.

Re:Glory days (1)

jedidiah (1196) | about 6 years ago | (#24419693)

No. Some people are just idiots. There was nothing "safe"
or "innocent" about online in those days. Certain people
just tended to be pretentious about being willing to put
a big "kick me" sign on themselves and look down on the
rest of us who weren't as naieve.

Plenty of people still do that... they're just not
sanctimonious asshats about it these days.

Real identities are still prevalent in the less frivolous groups.

Uh... (4, Insightful)

snarfies (115214) | about 6 years ago | (#24419359)

From TFA: "It's the porn that's putting nails in Usenet's coffin."

That would seem to fly in the face of everything I know about both human nature and the internet.

For me, the reasons my (once extensive) Usenet usage dropped off was 1) insane amounts of spam, and 2) ease of use of torrents (at least with regards to binaries).

bi2nat3h (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24419391)

all; in oRder to go need to scream that serves to reinforce downward spiral. In

I'm speechless (4, Interesting)

4D6963 (933028) | about 6 years ago | (#24419427)

Wow, I don't even know what to say to this. This is probably the most stupid, irritating and infuriating article I've ever not read.

Mind boggling. USENET. Dead. It doesn't even need an explanation as to why it's retarded, at least not to someone who has interesting (technical) discussions there on a regular basis.

This article is sensationalist crap (3, Insightful)

JustNiz (692889) | about 6 years ago | (#24419429)

Usenet is alive and quite well. Actually I was on it this morning (before I read this article).
The fact that less-informed internet users don't generally know about it is IMHO a good thing.

Please wait a little longer (1)

jmcwork (564008) | about 6 years ago | (#24419431)

I am recreating my entire collection of photos from a certain magazine and I am only through 2004.

How is Usenet dead? (1)

ZipprHead (106133) | about 6 years ago | (#24419443)

"Child-porn investigations have doomed one of the last remnants of a smaller, kinder Net."

Can some one please tell me what investigations have doomed Usenet and how?

Somebody's got to say it (5, Funny)

Oloryn (3236) | about 6 years ago | (#24419487)

"Imminent Death of the Net predicted. Film at 11."

RSS killed the Usenet Star (1)

molotovjester (1273662) | about 6 years ago | (#24419503)


Isn't it ironic (4, Insightful)

Mononoke (88668) | about 6 years ago | (#24419533)

This show of force by the morality police is actually going to help the pornographers make more money. How? Virtually all of the pornographic images posted to the .binaries groups were stolen from pay-to-view pornography sites, thus devaluing the images. Some of those who have had their 'free' source cut off will spend what it takes to continue their viewing habits.

Prohibition didn't work then, and it still doesn't work.

Re:Isn't it ironic (1)

gurps_npc (621217) | about 6 years ago | (#24419831)

I doubt it. Contrary to what content producers claim, people that are forced to give up free content do NOT suddenly decide to start spending cash. Instead they find other free content, some of it legal.

Considering the success of things like porntube, this is not that hard to do.

Re:Isn't it ironic (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24419931)

It has nothing to do with pr0n and everything to do with $$$.

Whats scary is that they were able to get this done. Protecting our children - pfffft. What's next? IRC? Blogs? Why not block net forums and anonymous postings period, Why not have a subscription Internet, where you have to pay to play.

If we don't speak up in a few years the Great Firewall of China will be put to shame by the Great Pr0nMoneyFilter of the US.

Irksome summary (5, Interesting)

Verdatum (1257828) | about 6 years ago | (#24419593)

I wish there was some indication in the summary that this isn't really news. It's just a lamentation of the bygone days of Usenet. The details about ISPs dropping alt.* have already been repeatedly reported on /.

As with all the other stories on this: Boo-hoo, ISPs aren't giving away free usenet. If you really want it, find a 3rd party usenet server. If my ISP took away email, I wouldn't notice because I use a different address. Verizon took away my usenet and I didn't notice, because I use a 3rd party usenet server.

And again if you haven't read it in the comments of previous postings on this story, a 3rd party usenet server is practically REQUIRED for anonymous viewing/posting of the illicit content they are trying to prevent. The pedos all sign up with offshore providers and pay for it with anonymously mailed money-orders, and access it through anonymizing proxies. The ones who don't are quickly and easily arrested with a single warrant to the ISP. The smart ones, who survive, and are thus the big-time posters, are not and can not be prevented in this manner.

alt.binaries.* isn't killed by ISPs, it's killed by spam and superior communication mechanisms.

Film at 11 (2, Interesting)

tskirvin (125859) | about 6 years ago | (#24419621)

Usenet will never die until the last news server goes down; it'll just fade away.

Even "fading away" is a little pessimistic. Usenet still has too many benefits for real discussion - consistent interface, a wide variety of tools, killfiles, newsrcs, universal access through the flood-and-fill protocol, spam fighting, the wide variety of cultural forces that Usenet introduced - and the world is slowly coming around to accept them in other protocols. Even if another article were never transmitted via NNTP/UUCP, the lessons of Usenet will be taught to the next protocols - or, if not, then the lessons will be re-learned after they are poorly implemented a few more times.

Me, I hope that a smaller (read: binary-free) Usenet might lead to a resurgence of popularity, as people realize that they can easily pull down a full feed of the text groups to their private machines and share them to the world, just like any web server in the world. It's a *little* quixotic, sure, but not insanely so.

get over it, people! (-1, Troll)

ILuvRamen (1026668) | about 6 years ago | (#24419633)

OMG people, we have php forums, get the hell over it! Usenet is ANCIENT! Are you still running DOS too? Upgrade already! I hope they demolish IRC too cuz that's a klunky, ancient technology too and not the cool Stargate type, the uncool, as old as the internet kind. We have real messengers now! Seriously, this is not the end of the world.

Re:get over it, people! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24419855)

OMG people, we have php forums, get the hell over it! Usenet is ANCIENT! Are you still running DOS too? Upgrade already! I hope they demolish IRC too cuz that's a klunky, ancient technology too and not the cool Stargate type, the uncool, as old as the internet kind. We have real messengers now! Seriously, this is not the end of the world.

You've obviously never used usenet or IRC. If you think MySpace messages are as efficient a way to communicate as either of those systems, well, you sir, are an idiot.

Re:get over it, people! (1)

HappySmileMan (1088123) | about 6 years ago | (#24419987)

I can't think of a single messenger service that comes close to IRC in terms of usefulness, all messengers I know about are designed for conversations with 2 people (they support more but it's a lot of hassle and involves inviting people to conversations, rather than people just joining)

Don't bother reading the article... (5, Insightful)

fprintf (82740) | about 6 years ago | (#24419649)

Don't bother reading the article. It is a non-interesting opinion/blog piece with very little supporting data.

My own little anecdote, I was on usenet (rec.windsurfing) earlier today. If it wasn't for the overwhelming spam, I'd continue to use some of the other groups as the people who are left are a pretty committed and knowledgable group.

Re:Don't bother reading the article... (2, Interesting)

abstract daddy (1307763) | about 6 years ago | (#24419925)

You don't like opinion pieces and you expect them to contain "supporting data," yet your own counter-argument consists of an anecdote entirely lacking "supporting data."

Not sure this author is credible (1)

leamanc (961376) | about 6 years ago | (#24419655)

From TFA:

... the glitz and glamour of MySpace...

Not sure this author is credible enough to be taken seriously if he thinks that MySpace is glitzy and glamorous.

Re:Not sure this author is credible (1)

saschasegan (963148) | about 6 years ago | (#24419787)

Guess sarcasm doesn't exactly come through to you, huh?

But, dropping into my sweater-vest "get off the lawn!" mode, many of teh kidz seem to want to post a lot of loud music and videos and pictures of themselves with no panties, all wrapped up in a giant, pulsating animated GIF background. Okay, that was also sarcastic.

To be totally unsarcastic, the younger generation nowadays seems to have a powerful desire to express themselves through multimedia that my cohort didn't have. I *liked* having no pictures. I don't *want* people to look at me. But traditional netnews won't satisfy kids who want to express themselves through multimedia.

2 points (3, Insightful)

circletimessquare (444983) | about 6 years ago | (#24419657)

1. the government anti-child porn crusade did not kill usenet. alt.binaries bloat, child porn included, killed usenet

2. if the government is more precise in what they shut down (ie, if they shut down just alt.binaries), then the effect will be counterintuitive: usenet can experience a rebirth

it wouldn't be that hard to remove all encoded material from usenet. just set up a simple rule and restrict by size. once you do that, and usenet becomes text only again, usenet can be reborn to satisfy what made it so great in the first place. its social networking lite

Just a bad summary (4, Informative)

fiannaFailMan (702447) | about 6 years ago | (#24419723)

TFA doesn't say Usenet is dead, just that it's past its best. It says:

It's hard to completely kill off something as totally decentralized as Usenet; as long as two servers agree to share the NNTP protocol, it'll continue on in some fashion. But the Usenet I mourn is long gone, anyway, or long-transformed into interlocking comments on LiveJournals and the forums boards on tech-support Web sites.

Bob (3, Insightful)

bobjr94 (1120555) | about 6 years ago | (#24419743)

Funny, I was on there yesterday, some of the groups had 100,000 posts since the day before. When they say the newsgroups are dead, they are incorrect. They should have said real discussions on the newsgroups are moving to yahoo groups or google or specific forms or web sites. Actually that move to web based discussions happened about 4 or 5 years ago. So this article is rather late and meaningless.

USENET will be around for a long time to come (4, Insightful)

killmenow (184444) | about 6 years ago | (#24419771)

Hell, Gopher [] isn't even dead.

USENET is doing just fine (4, Informative)

Animats (122034) | about 6 years ago | (#24419871)

Usenet is doing quite well. The programming-related newsgroups are in fine shape. "comp.lang.python", "comp.lang.javascript", and "comp.databases.mysql" have heavy traffic from knowledgeable people, including developers of the underlying systems. It's much faster to see the day's updates on Usenet than to page through the inflated dreck on a half dozen PHP-based forum systems.

I was a bit disappointed when the C++ standards committee moved their discussions off USENET, but that committee isn't getting anywhere anyway.

oh come on (1)

juenger1701 (877138) | about 6 years ago | (#24419891)

ISPs have been nothing but a bane on Usenet allowing idiots free access anyone who seriously uses Usenet for anything learns fast to get an account from a dedicated provider not the pile of incomplete shit most ISPs have.

Shit like this just says they have no idea how to do what they say they are going to do i remember reading an article a couple years ago proudly proclaiming the success of a 3 year investigation into providers of kiddie porn that resulted in 5 arrests come on anyone with some decent Google skills can probably find more than that in an hour


Methinks the summary doth protest too much (1)

oDDmON oUT (231200) | about 6 years ago | (#24419911)

Reading the article left me with more of the sense that the author lamented the social aspects of USENET, now supplanted by more glamorous (and ad supported) counterparts.

It's the decline in peering, particularly at the ISP level, due to binaries that he points to as the final nail in the coffin.

While he decries the proliferation of binary traffic as anathema, the last paragraph sums it up thus: "It's hard to completely kill off something as totally decentralized as Usenet; as long as two servers agree to share the NNTP protocol, it'll continue on in some fashion."

And therein lies the truth. As long as some "old schoolers" refuse to be seduced by the web frontends for social ties, or insist on using text to distribute binary materials, you can be sure the USENET will be with us for some time to come, "child safety advocates" notwithstanding.

Who uses ISP usenet anyway? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24419915)

My local ISP only has 3 day binary retention, and a very poor selection of groups. Anyone using usenet for the binaries pays for a service like giganews.

As for the old usenet, where people had intelligent discussions, it has been dead for a long time. Private internet forums have replaced it.

Re:Who uses ISP usenet anyway? (1)

DragonTHC (208439) | about 6 years ago | (#24419967)

true. I used to use usenet all the time back in the day.

It was the only source for information and binaries. Now it's no longer necessary.

Though, I think that google should preserve the archives for posterity and searching.

The worst part is, it's stupid (1)

np_bernstein (453840) | about 6 years ago | (#24419947)

I would much rather there were an easily accessible forum where people who wanted to post pictures of naked children would go... seems like that would make it a heck of a lot easier to track them down. Now they're probably spread out over five thousand underground websites and it'll be twice as hard to catch them. Dammit. I shouldn't have said "twice as hard". Ick.

where have I heard this before? (1)

eli867 (300724) | about 6 years ago | (#24419977)

On Slashdot in 2000 [] ?

No, it was on USENET itself... in 1995 [] .

Mourning the end of September... (4, Insightful)

argent (18001) | about 6 years ago | (#24419983)

This bloke isn't mourning Usenet, he's mourning the end of the September that Never Ended.

Usenet's biggest problems really started when AOL joined Usenet. The other ISPs followed on from that... people said that September ended when AOL left... not so, it won't end until the last big ISP is gone. Then maybe it'll be time for Usenet 2.0...

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