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How to Search Today's Usenet For Programming Information?

timothy posted more than 5 years ago | from the it's-all-been-mined-out dept.

Programming 230

DeadlyBattleRobot writes "I've been using Usenet searches since about 1995 to get programming information, sample code, etc., mostly for those standard APIs that are never documented well enough in the official documentation. At first I used dejanews, and now Google Groups (Google bought dejanews). Over the last few years, I've noticed a steady decline in the quantity of search results on programming topics on Usenet from Google, increasing difficulty with their search UI and result pages, and today I find I'm completely unable to get a working Usenet search on their advanced group search page. I'm used to searching on 'microsoft.*' or 'comp.*,' sometimes supplemented with variations like '*microsoft*' or 'comp*.' As an example, try to find a post from the 1996-1998 time period on 'database' in either the comp.* or microsoft.* hierarchies, and if you can do it, please show your search expression. There should be thousands of results, but I'm getting the result 'Your search — database group:comp.* — did not match any documents.'"

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230 comments

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Have you tried a stand-alone client? (0, Offtopic)

glitch23 (557124) | more than 5 years ago | (#25697105)

Have you tried using a stand-alone news client and its own specific search functions? Something like Thunderbird's or any other news client may be of use to you.

Re:Have you tried a stand-alone client? (1)

glitch23 (557124) | more than 5 years ago | (#25697121)

One caveat I should mention with my recommendation is it only works for current news articles and not for usenet archives so if you are strictly needing archival searching then my idea is of no use to you.

Re:Have you tried a stand-alone client? (0, Redundant)

larry bagina (561269) | more than 5 years ago | (#25697213)

As an example, try to find a post from the 1996-1998 time period on 'database' in either the comp.* or microsoft.* hierarchies, and if you can do it, please show your search expression

Ask /.: How do I [insert well-understood thing]? (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25697397)

Wow, another shitty Ask Slashdot where some helpless loser asks millions of Slashdotters for advice on how to use a goddamned search engine. Well it's real simple, you see. You type in the search terms and you fucking press enter! Then you read the goddamned results! There, I just summed up all past and all future Ask Slashdot sections. Seriously, I've yet to see an Ask Slashdot where it turned out that asking Slashdot was better than asking Google. Ah well, some people just gotta have their lil hands held during the process of conducting the most basic research. You're welcome.

You can mod me flamebait now since the mods here have a real hard time dealing with truth when it's not the truth they wanted to hear ("but we made so much ado about Ask Slashdot, surely it must fulfill a useful function!" I can hear you say), so feel free to take out your impotent frustrations on me. Yes, -1 Flamebait. There there. Doesn't that make you feel better now, like you really accomplished something? I knew it would you little bitch.

Re:Ask /.: How do I [insert well-understood thing] (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25697445)

His question isn't "how do I do it?", dumbass. It's "why doesn't it work?"

Wait.. what? (5, Funny)

StudMuffin (167171) | more than 5 years ago | (#25697117)

Usenet had groups that didn't have *.sex.* or *.beastiality.* in it? Man, I missed a LOT during the 90's...

Re:Wait.. what? (2, Informative)

maxume (22995) | more than 5 years ago | (#25697233)

Nearly the entirety of the alt.bin hierarchy lacks those keywords yet manages to contain a great deal of interesting content.

Re:Wait.. what? (0, Redundant)

IHateEverybody (75727) | more than 5 years ago | (#25697869)

Yes, it also has a wealth of pirated music and video.

Re:Wait.. what? (3, Interesting)

PCM2 (4486) | more than 5 years ago | (#25697489)

The funny part is that "beastiality" is a misspelling. The correct spelling is "bestiality." And yet ... there really are 13 groups under that spelling. I think you may have inadvertently given away more than you intended. ;-)

Re:Wait.. what? (4, Funny)

B3ryllium (571199) | more than 5 years ago | (#25697669)

No, the correct spelling is:

alt.startrek.wesley.crusher.die.die.die.beastiality

Re:Wait.. what? (1)

IHateEverybody (75727) | more than 5 years ago | (#25697893)

No, the correct spelling is:

alt.startrek.wesley.crusher.die.die.die.beastiality

Correct. If I'm not mistaken that newsgroup's charter originally called for Wesley Crusher to be raped and killed by Klingon Kougers.

Re:Wait.. what? (2, Funny)

B3ryllium (571199) | more than 5 years ago | (#25698041)

Death by interspecial snu-snu.

Where did you get that idea? (4, Funny)

pjt33 (739471) | more than 5 years ago | (#25697981)

What regex library do you use which precludes a match for microsoft.* also being a match for *.beastiality.* ?

Tomek Z. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25697127)

Use stackoverflow.com, you will get precise answers in a few minutes

Ask Kibo (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25697141)

Kibo seems to know how find stuff on usenet.

Unfortunately... (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25697147)

Usenet is more or less dead with respect to technical discussions. They have all moved to disparate Web forums, the most offensive of which put freely-given advice from volunteers behind a paywall [expertsexchange.com] .

There actually are a couple of good forums for Win32 advice, such as CodeProject [codeproject.com] , and Google is still the best way by far to search MSDN, by adding site:microsoft.com to your query.

But Google's handling of Usenet, including (but not limited to) their unauthorized alteration of message content by mangling email addresses, has not been healthy for the venue.

Re:Unfortunately... (2, Insightful)

Cylix (55374) | more than 5 years ago | (#25697509)

Actually, it's more like mercenary exchange.

You provide answers to earn credits so you can access more answer to your own questions. The problem is that the compensation kinda sucks for the expert.

I tried it out briefly when I had some cisco specific questions and the answer was mostly there. Just out of boredom I answered a few questions and even wrote some simple scripts.

Re:Unfortunately... (1)

biglig2 (89374) | more than 5 years ago | (#25697633)

Oh man, do I hate Experts Exchange - I'm going to have to think of a way to not have them pop up in Google searches...

Re:Unfortunately... (2, Interesting)

buchner.johannes (1139593) | more than 5 years ago | (#25697771)

Use the CustomizeGoogle extension to add filters. I filter out mister-wong and javacio.us.
Anyway, you *can* read the answers at ExpertsExchange, they are at the very bottom of each website (below the huge list). It is a funny read sometimes ...
For reference the en.wikibooks are sometimes a good hint (Haskell, Latex, ...).

Re:Unfortunately... (1)

buchner.johannes (1139593) | more than 5 years ago | (#25697891)

Anyway, you *can* read the answers at ExpertsExchange, they are at the very bottom of each website (below the huge list).

That only seems to be true when google is your referer.

Re:Unfortunately... (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25698077)

Or when you disallow cookies from Expertsexchange.com. Works like a charm.

Easy (2, Informative)

RulerOf (975607) | more than 5 years ago | (#25698331)

It's very easy to tell your google you want good ol' Expert Sexchange to fuck off:

-inurl:experts-exchange.com

Add that to your search query.  Most of the time I like having their results come up, but every now and then, the results are so polluted that I need them gone.  Rule of thumb is that if an Expert Sexchange result comes up, your problem is either *that* stupid, obvious, or uncommon.

Re:Unfortunately... (1)

larry bagina (561269) | more than 5 years ago | (#25697905)

you probably don't want an amateur sex change.

Re:Unfortunately... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25697989)

like this [userscripts.org] ? :)

Re:Unfortunately... (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25698065)

Just an FYI, Experts Exchange is free. You just need to keep scrolling after you *think* the pay answers are done. Past the massive ``footer'', they have uncensored answers.

Something about Google not liking it when they can find and index the answer but their customers not being able to see the answers. Alternatively you could probably use the Google cache for the answers.

Re:Unfortunately... (1)

TheSpoom (715771) | more than 5 years ago | (#25698111)

I'm surprised, actually, that they haven't just told Google not to cache the answers but blocked normal users from accessing them via a combination of robots.txt and the user agent tag.

Very, very evil, of course, but then I try to avoid Experts Exchange whenever possible. Maybe it's just that they can't get good developers to code obfuscation methods that would screw with the community. Imagine that.

Re:Unfortunately... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25698193)

Screw that. Just block their cookies and the answers pop up when you scroll down. If you can't join 'em, beat 'em.

Re:Unfortunately... (3, Informative)

socsoc (1116769) | more than 5 years ago | (#25698625)

Or you could just scroll to the bottom of the page and see all the content...

Not forums, mailing lists and IRC (2, Insightful)

CarpetShark (865376) | more than 5 years ago | (#25697645)

Pros do NOT use forums. Forums are slow & inefficient (having to visit sites individually, regularly, unless they provide decent feeds). They're also centralised, which is bad in technical circles when you know stuff can go wrong, and that people can become dictators. Generally speaking, forums tends to be haunted by younger people who grew up thinking the web was the net, and started by people who care more about building a name for their site and advertising revenue than building a functioning discussion community. Also, the moderation on forums tends to either be limited, or heavy-handed.

The rest of us use mailing lists which feed directly into our mail clients (read: not webmail), and let us search/reply/archive at will. That works out very similar to usenet, is more practical now with decent mailing list software, and so it's an obvious transition. We also like IRC which allows real-time, moderated conversation, combined with online logs of those conversations.

Re:Not forums, mailing lists and IRC (5, Insightful)

chis101 (754167) | more than 5 years ago | (#25697951)

My webmail lets me search/reply/archive at will...

Anyway, it seems naive to completely rule out forums as a source of information. It seems like it's much less efficient to store tons of information you will never need in your local mail client's archive in hopes that the answer to a question you may have down the road will be in that archive.

Us non-pro's who don't exclude any source of information, such as forums, often get good, quick answers to all of our questions by doing a quick Google search.

Re:Not forums, mailing lists and IRC (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25698045)

Pros do NOT use mailing lists. Mailing lists are slow & clunky (trouble with attachments, etc.). They're also centralized (someone runs the mail server*), which is bad in technical circles when you know stuff can go wrong, and the server admin is a dictator. Generally speaking, mailing lists tend to be haunted by older people who tell you to get off their lawn when you mention something about GUIs. Also, the moderation on mailing lists tends to be nonexistent.

The rest of us use forums which feed into our web browsers, and allow us to search/reply/archive simply by hitting a button on the website. This works out somewhat differently from usenet, but similarly to old BBSes. IRC is irrelevant, it serves a separate purpose.

Re:Not forums, mailing lists and IRC (1)

yttrstein (891553) | more than 5 years ago | (#25698453)

I've been a pro for twenty years, and I've always used usenet, and still do to this day. What pros are you talking about?

Re:Unfortunately... (5, Funny)

Nermal6693 (622898) | more than 5 years ago | (#25697723)

I am so not going to a site called expert sex change.com :o

visit Pen Island.com--free pens! (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25697737)

expertsexchange.com?

Sorry good sir, not falling for it.

Re:Unfortunately... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25697751)

Expert sex change :D. Just scroll down and and read the answer without paying.

Re:Unfortunately... (4, Informative)

chis101 (754167) | more than 5 years ago | (#25697901)

An often overlooked fact about ExpertsExchange is that, although at the top of the page they show the answers blurred out, if you scroll to the VERY bottom of the page, past what you would think is the footer, you will find the answers in the clear (most likely so search engines will pick it up)

Re:Unfortunately... (1)

Strilanc (1077197) | more than 5 years ago | (#25698091)

Experts exchange puts all the responses at the bottom of the page, so they still come up in searches, but you're not likely to see them.

Get the aardvark and remove-it-permanently extensions for firefox and RIP all the clutter in the middle and it'll look just like any other forum.

Re:Unfortunately... (1)

Steve Franklin (142698) | more than 5 years ago | (#25698265)

Expert sex change dot com has a paywall?

Re:Unfortunately... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25698593)

Then please explain why the python group has over 200 posts a day?

Re:Unfortunately... (2, Informative)

Antique Geekmeister (740220) | more than 5 years ago | (#25698721)

No, there are plenty of active forums. But people have to contribute to them to make them rich in good answers, and alternative approaches. And the Weblogs for specific projects, or bug reporting tools like Bugzilla hosted at Sourceforge, provide a lot of the service that Usenet formerly did, so Usenet is seriously reduced.

Works for me just fine. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25697157)

database group:microsoft*

Results 1 - 10 of about 97,400 from Jan 1, 1996 to Jan 1, 1998 for database group:microsoft*

I've noticed the same thing... (2, Insightful)

IonOtter (629215) | more than 5 years ago | (#25697169)

Usenet used to be HUGE, but now it seems to be fading away. It's like all the hard-core admins who used to maintain everything are getting tired of it all.

GoogleGroups used to be good for searching stuff like this, but that too, seems to be suffering from "data rot".

Admittedly, nearly half the "content" itself could fall under the category of "rot" even when it was new, but that's for another thread...

Bug (5, Informative)

interiot (50685) | more than 5 years ago | (#25697243)

There's a bug in the advanced search form. After you do the advanced search and it gives you the did not match any documents [google.com] , just click on the "search" button on that second page. (alternately, removing the lr=selected parameter makes it work also) [google.com]

Re:Bug (5, Interesting)

b4dc0d3r (1268512) | more than 5 years ago | (#25697529)

Interesting. "lr" is the language dropdown.

<table cellspacing=0 cellpadding=2><tr><td class=label><label> Language:</label></td><td width=74%><select class=sef name=lr ><option value= selected>any language</option><option value=lang_ar >Arabic</option>....

Re:Bug (1)

cheater512 (783349) | more than 5 years ago | (#25697647)

Wow thats a pretty shocking bug. Good find.

Re:Bug (1)

marcansoft (727665) | more than 5 years ago | (#25698137)

Sounds like they're missing some quotes there. Mod parent up.

Re:Bug (2, Interesting)

fatphil (181876) | more than 5 years ago | (#25698121)

Google have been dicking around with that form in the last week or so. They _removed_ the date range search functionality, for example. They put it back again when they realised they'd been brainless idiots. However, that bug illustrates that 10000 Ph.D.s can still be appear to be brainless idiots. One thing that annoyed me was the fact that they removed the message-id search. Given that message-ids are the PRIMARY KEY of Usenet, that demonstrates google have lost the plot when it comes to Usenet.

Feel free to bookmark, use, and suggest improvements to:
http://theanna.org/goog.html [theanna.org]
http://theanna.org/goo.html [theanna.org]
(They're both practically the same, one's old-school 90s HTML, the other a little less-so; both will be maintained.)

yoRu moronsz. (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25697317)

hi, you must be noob to the internets. this usenet thing went the way of horse drawn buggies and panning for gold. I would suggest you use the web that is world wide (www). this will help you significantly. thank you sir.

Re:yoRu moronsz. (3, Funny)

Smallpond (221300) | more than 5 years ago | (#25697711)

The web? Oh, the thing where we were going to link together all of the world's information? Sorry. You can't link to dynamic pages and you might get sued for linking to someone else's content. The web doesn't exist. Just a lot of separate island websites.

Re:yoRu moronsz. (1)

TheSpoom (715771) | more than 5 years ago | (#25698131)

lolwut?

Hey, check it out. I totally just linked to a dynamic page. [google.ca]

Google exists because the web does link together all of the information within it; without that linking, PageRank simply wouldn't work.

Re:yoRu moronsz. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25698153)

uh, I'm not even sure how to answer this... you are saying that the internet does not exist? as proof that you are wrong, please see the internet. it's the thing you are on right now. pages linked together. stuff working. pages linking to dynamic content and static content alike.

Abysmall Google Groups search? (1)

4D6963 (933028) | more than 5 years ago | (#25697341)

Am I the only one who finds that the search function in Google Groups sucks abysmally? I mean, you've got 10 duplicate results for even thread returned all over the place which makes looking for results from threads you haven't read from yet impossible.

Too much spam (2, Informative)

whereiswaldo (459052) | more than 5 years ago | (#25697391)

I used to heavily use the newsgroups as well but for years there has been too much spam on the newsgroups to make them very useful.

Instead I rely on web based forum posts which are indexed by Google and others.

No, it depends on the server (3, Informative)

harmonica (29841) | more than 5 years ago | (#25698261)

Get a well-maintained news server and there'll hardly be any spam. Unfortunately, such a thing is hard to find, there isn't really any money in text newsgroups, and regular ISPs continue to give up on Usenet altogether and recommend Google Groups (which is a cruel joke). Individual [individual.net] seems to be one of the remaining good servers, for EUR 10 per year, but it has a dedicated team behind it. For technical things like programming languages or databases, Usenet groups in comp.* are still great.

Learning to search? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25697407)

Using the daterange tools was successful in finding posts with the word "database" in them.

http://groups.google.com/groups/search?hl=en&safe=off&q=database+group%3Acomp.*&btnG=Search&as_mind=1&as_minm=1&as_miny=1996&as_maxd=1&as_maxm=1&as_maxy=1998&as_drrb=b&sitesearch=groups.google.com
  994 results

http://groups.google.com/groups/search?hl=en&safe=off&q=database+group%3Amicrosoft.*&btnG=Search&as_mind=1&as_minm=1&as_miny=1996&as_maxd=1&as_maxm=1&as_maxy=1998&as_drrb=b&sitesearch=groups.google.com
993 results

I agree that something is off, but I can't put my finger on it.

---------------------

Ah, more info:
http://groups.google.com/groups/search?hl=en&safe=off&q=database+group:comp.*&as_mind=1&as_minm=1&as_miny=1996&as_maxd=1&as_maxm=1&as_maxy=1998&as_drrb=b&sitesearch=groups.google.com&num=100&filter=0&sa=N&start=800&scoring=d
yields 553 results, none from before March 1997. I should be getting at least 450 more results.

http://groups.google.com/groups/search?hl=en&safe=off&q=database+group:comp.*&as_mind=1&as_minm=1&as_miny=1996&as_maxd=1&as_maxm=1&as_maxy=1997&as_drrb=b&sitesearch=groups.google.com&num=100&scoring=d&sa=N&start=900
gives 606 results, now with 1996 results. Hmm.

Agreed, something's not right with the results. Maybe this entered in with the new "search all Internet forums" feature, I'm not sure.

- Stiletto

Code Search (4, Informative)

FornaxChemica (968594) | more than 5 years ago | (#25697411)

Google Group seems boring, not really Google's fault but whenever I browse a topic, I never find anything relevant. Maybe bad luck. Anyway, for code samples, why not using Google Code Search [google.com] ? You can limit your search to specific languages, which is very convenient.

Re:Code Search (1)

syousef (465911) | more than 5 years ago | (#25698023)

Google Code Search is also fun for searching for unprofessional and frustrated abuse in code. Phrase like "what idiot" and "this is bullshit" always amuse.

Works for me (1)

value_added (719364) | more than 5 years ago | (#25697427)

My search results [google.com]

Small values of work, of course. I specified the microsoft.public hierarchy but ended up with a variety of other groups.

Sorry, but I've never been a big fan of Deja News, or what Google has done in the area generally. I've maintained my own archives for as long as I can remember (both usenet and email), but don't keep anything that old. I think most usenet providers will provide at most a year's worth of postings for the text-only groups, so you're asking a lot.

Maybe check on Microsoft's site to see whether they retain any significant history for their own groups? If you do, be sure to use Google. Microsoft' search is even lamer than what you're up against. ;-)

What the hell is Usenet? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25697443)

I'm sure Kremvax has a lot to say about Java.

groups poorly maintained; link on front page 404 (1, Insightful)

anwyn (266338) | more than 5 years ago | (#25697459)

Google groups has to be poorly maintained. There is link on google group's front page [google.com] labeled "Take the tour". It points to "http://groups.google.com/intl/en/googlegroups/tour3/index.html?lnk=hptt#" which is 404. A 404 link on a front page clearly indicates that google does not care about google groups.

Re:groups poorly maintained; link on front page 40 (3, Informative)

OverlordQ (264228) | more than 5 years ago | (#25697671)

INVALID WORKSFORME.

Re:groups poorly maintained; link on front page 40 (1)

Cacadril (866218) | more than 5 years ago | (#25698089)

Agreed, but for the record: The link has a typoo, try to make the last part ?lnk=http# instead of ?lnk=hptt#. Of course that does not change the point, a faulty link on the front page is discouraging.

Here's a better suggestion (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25697471)

Go browse alt.binaries.multimedia.erotica.*, after a few minutes (give or take) you'll either be "released" from your programming stress and free to write beautiful code, or you'll be ready for a cigarette and a nap :D

Wrong question (5, Informative)

filenavigator (944290) | more than 5 years ago | (#25697493)

The question you ask is wrong...since people are no longer answering questions on usenet. The proper question is...where can I find answers to programming questions.

Answer:
www.stackoverflow.com [stackoverflow.com]

Re:Wrong question (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25697637)

I'll second that, at least the general part. While I don't know the site you mention and can't say whether it's any good, saying "I want to find programming information on X" instead of just "I want to find programming information" is wrong.

Put another way, you've got to decide what's important to you: getting results or using Usenet?

Also consider WHY you want to use Usenet: it's because you used to get results there. But if that's not the case anymore today, there's no reason to stick with it "just because" - don't cling to a useless resource just because of what it used to be.

Use all resources that are available to you. Only when you can't find information at all should you wonder whether your modus operandi for searching is itself flawed.

Re:Wrong question (1)

TonyToews (1221386) | more than 5 years ago | (#25697777)

Incorrect. There are a hundred or more questions and answers regarding Microsoft Access daily in the newsgroups using NNTP protocol.

wrong answer (5, Insightful)

sentientbrendan (316150) | more than 5 years ago | (#25697835)

>The question you ask is wrong...
>since people are no longer answering questions
>on usenet.

Some communities use usenet almost exclusively (the c++ community is basically built around comp.lang.c++.moderated and comp.lang.std.c++). Furthermore, a lot of programming mailing lists are mirrored to usenet.

The problem the poster had was that google's search for usenet sucks, which I have to agree. In general, google groups has deteriorated since they started adding non-usenet groups to the service.

>Answer:
>www.stackoverflow.com [stackoverflow.com]

Stackoverflow is great, but it has nothing to do with usenet or newsgroups.

Usenet is a place for communities of people to have discussions. Basically, it is a unified distributed bulletin board system, with boards for discussions of all topics *ever*. It is also a convenient place to mirror mailing lists, so that they can be browsed in a unified manner without having to subscribe to a million different mailing lists, or go to lots of different websites.

See: gmane.org

Stackoverflow is a question answer service.... basically the same as yahoo answers except that it is focussed on answers to programming questions. Basically, it is a FAQ generation system.

Re:Wrong question (4, Insightful)

GreatBunzinni (642500) | more than 5 years ago | (#25697953)

The question you ask is wrong...since people are no longer answering questions on usenet.

Oh really? Then could you explain how exactly did comp.lang.c managed to receive today, a sunday of all days, until now no less than 78 posts, all regarding subjects like call by reference, duff's device and shared pointes? Could you explain how a medium that "people are no longer answering questions on" happens to get over 700 posts a week discussing a single programming language alone?

Do you happen to work for that site you just advertised?

Re:Wrong question (2, Insightful)

kaens (639772) | more than 5 years ago | (#25698699)

comp.lang.c is the exception. Quite a few of the usenet groups that still have useful content are mirrors of mailing lists.

With the explosion of the web, a lot of people got into programming that never heard of usenet. Saying "people are no longer answering questions on usenet" is obviously false, but for a lot of "modern" programming languages, the usenet group is just a mirror of the mailing list - and a lot of people using (for instance) python have probably never heard of usenet.

I don't think that usenet is dead, but I don't think that it's necessarily the best place to turn to for an answer off the bat anymore.

Also, I doubt that the GP is employed by stack overflow. I think that site is ran by two guys, and is more of a "let's try to provide a useful service" type of thing than a "let's turn a crazy profit" type of thing.

This has been really ticking me off as well (3, Insightful)

TonyToews (1221386) | more than 5 years ago | (#25697553)

I completely agree that Google has been royally screwing up this search page. I also don't see how Google could foul up this search so badly. As you point out I just want to limit my search to microsoft.public.acccess* and it doesn't work. See http://msmvps.com/blogs/access/archive/2008/08/17/google-search-is-becoming-more-and-more-useless.aspx [msmvps.com] for my blog on this topic as well. And click on the Google complaints tag.

Re:This has been really ticking me off as well (2)

drDugan (219551) | more than 5 years ago | (#25697673)

I completely agree that Google has been royally screwing up this search page. I also don't see how Google could foul up this search so badly.

Just follow the money. Google makes most of their money off search - not off Google groups search - but from general web searches. Google is also the only viable game in town on Usenet search. This leaves two reasons why the focus is not put on making this an excellent service: first, the effort is going toward growing, protecting, and expanding existing revenue streams, not on groups/Usenet search. I see nothing sinister here or conspiratorial, or even intentionally making the groups search poor - just business reality that the resources in a large company go toward revenue generating divisions. Second, (and this one is subtle) Google now has mostly a monopoly on search on Usenet, and like all monopolies, there is a strange benefit that arises from poor service. When you have to make several searches, they serve you more ads. There are no viable alternatives to force them to focus on making the results better than the competition.

Re:This has been really ticking me off as well (2)

nathana (2525) | more than 5 years ago | (#25697833)

Yeah, that's great and all, and you may be right that this is the reason why they aren't sinking time and resources into making it "excellent," but the LEAST they could do is not BREAK crap that was previously working just fine. Google Groups used to return great and relevant search results through Advanced Search. The only explanation for the fact that it doesn't work anymore is that they changed something.

If what they changed broke it, for heaven's sake put it back the way it was before so that it is at least useful again.

I'm done ranting now...

-- Nathan

Re:This has been really ticking me off as well (2, Informative)

DougWebb (178910) | more than 5 years ago | (#25697741)

It's bad that they've got an bug that's gone ignored, but there's another way to search a group which seems to work ok.

  1. Go to http://groups.google.com/ [google.com]
  2. Enter microsoft.public.virtualpc in the Search for a group box, then click on the group name in the results.
  3. Enter vista explorer crash in the search box in the upper right, and click on Search this Group.
  4. Enjoy your three targeted search results.

I'm not sure if these results will actually address your problem, but maybe your problem hasn't been addressed in that group. In any case, it's certainly possible to search within a particular group, within the context of the group display, which is the way most web forums work too. So you've got a workaround which isn't awful, unless you want to search many groups at once.

Re:This has been really ticking me off as well (1)

CronoCloud (590650) | more than 5 years ago | (#25697935)

doesn't entering:

searchterm group:microsoft.public.access

in the main google groups search box work?

Re:This has been really ticking me off as well (1)

illegalcortex (1007791) | more than 5 years ago | (#25698003)

No, they broke it.

I'm trying not to be too sarcastic, but why didn't you actually try this before posting? If you did, you'd see the first returned result was a posting in alt.religion.scientology that has nothing to do with microsoft.public.access.

Re:This has been really ticking me off as well (1)

CronoCloud (590650) | more than 5 years ago | (#25698229)

I did try it, or I wouldn't have posted.

when searching for:

database group:microsoft.public.access

This is the first result:

RE: ADO & Switching from one Database to another
microsoft.public.access

http://www.google.com/url?q=http://groups.google.com/g/8657fef8/t/1e9af11f19fa1c26/d/65bc0d19e409fde2&usg=AFQjCNEciAW1FZvFaWqW-qGhPwiEQuUERw [google.com]

This is the second:

Re: I lostd my database!!!
microsoft.public.access

http://www.google.com/url?q=http://groups.google.com/g/8657fef8/t/51b836652c22a9e/d/9541b7ccfce22e0&usg=AFQjCNFXC-m_3UAK_cXXMozsKzFa3oBJfA [google.com]

I'm not seeing any result from alt.religion.scientology on the first results page, or the second, or the third.

When searching:

database group:comp.*

The first result is:

Re: DBPITR and ORA-16005 Error: database requires recovery.
comp.databases.oracle.server

http://www.google.com/url?q=http://groups.google.com/g/b067ff05/t/7995accaaef8e12a/d/cc6559df912af20d&usg=AFQjCNG5lanQMKIAOxrtyS1fwJm2oW-guQ [google.com]

And I'm seeing results from:
comp.databases.oracle.server
comp.lang.php
comp.databases.ms-access
comp.databases.theory
comp.databases.ibm-db2
comp.lang.tcl

noise overwhelms actual information on USEnet (1)

Ritz_Just_Ritz (883997) | more than 5 years ago | (#25697597)

Unfortunately, that's the bottom line and it has been that way for a number of years. USEnet was a great resource in its time, but these days I'd say you're much better off doing a google search on the web which might point you towards one of the thousands of programming sites that may have that nugget of info you're after.

Cheers,

Usenet is dying (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25697613)

...but BSD is OK!

Simple answer: you don't. (4, Insightful)

acroyear (5882) | more than 5 years ago | (#25697621)

Nobody really reads much usenet anymore, and during the decline earlier in this decade, the problem was that the poster would post but the replies would come in private email. So yes, the question might get answered, but the answer never got shared.

The reason? Spam. Usenet posts became the #1 source of email addresses to spam because anybody could easily and cheaply hook up to a usenet feed and just gobble them up. So nobody posted anymore 'cause nobody wanted their address to end up on a spam list from hell.

Eventually with little proof online that anybody was reading the questions, people just stopped posting them.

Usenet was a wonderful thing when it was needed. Today, while the idea of a central yet open (re: infinitely cloned) repository of all topics of conversation may seem nice, it'll never happen again so long as spam is a problem.

This is par for the course (5, Insightful)

sentientbrendan (316150) | more than 5 years ago | (#25697749)

If you think about it, most google apps have a few really cool and flashy features (which is why I like to use them), but then tend to have lots of UI bugs. Also, it's pretty much impossible to actually report bugs to google. At best you'll find some google group on the product that no engineer ever looks at.

Aside from the one mentioned google groops had lots of basic bugs. Until recently reading comp.lang.c++.moderated on google groups caused all sorts of problems because they weren't properly handling the escape of the ++ characters in the url (every time I clicked on a link I'd have to edit the url manually to get it to work). It took them years to find out about that and fix it. Although it was a daily annoyance to me, I had no way to get it into any kind of bug tracking system.

Even worse I've *never* been able to use google gears or google docs without major bugs and error messages, no matter what browser I used (including chrome).

Gmail, google reader, and basic search are probably the only google web apps I've seen that don't have lots of bugs. I actually have a higher opinion of their desktop apps.

Reader, which is awesome and you should check out btw, used to be very bug ridden, but it's massively improved over the last year and a half.

Search actually is kind of problematic in that the basic search works fine, but lots of the extensions are broken. Last time I tried subscribed links was broken. As in, it didn't work *at all* and there was no workaround.

I think honestly that while they obviously have high quality engineers, they just have sucky QA. I think that they focus too much on unit tests, and have forgotten that a lot of basic bugs can only be detected by someone hammering on the interface of the production system and logging bugs.

Also, I think they've basically destroyed their ability to have beta software, by making all of their software beta. Now, user have no way of distinguishing what is truly production ready software from stuff that clearly isn't, except by trying it and getting burned.

Re:This is par for the course (2, Insightful)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 5 years ago | (#25698385)

Also, I think they've basically destroyed their ability to have beta software, by making all of their software beta. Now, user have no way of distinguishing what is truly production ready software from stuff that clearly isn't, except by trying it and getting burned.

They've decided to go wide instead of deep. They throw ideas on the wall and see what sticks. If something becomes popular, they then focus more resources on it. It's sort of like ants spreading out to look for food. If some ant dude finds something, then bunches of ants are sent back there as reinforcements.
         

groups requires login? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25697789)

And why is it that every time I go to groups front page [google.com] , I get redirected to a fancy shmancy welcome page [google.com] which tries to force me to login with my google account to just read groups? I don't want to post, I just want to read.

Re:groups requires login? (1)

CronoCloud (590650) | more than 5 years ago | (#25697975)

It's some kind of bug, happened to me a few times, then stopped.

History (0, Offtopic)

Idiomatick (976696) | more than 5 years ago | (#25697805)

It isn't that usenet has changed its the people. Back in the early 90s and before pretty much only nerds were online. So there were many insightful posts on codeing and all kinds of nerd related stuff. Signal to noise ratio was good. Now insightful nerds make up about 5% of the online population and have a ratio about equaling the real world. The real world voted in bush twice and believes it was created by an invisible man in the sky. Really back when we had control of the internet instead of making it usable and fast we should have been designing a system to keep the internet to ourselves, damn nerd tendancy to improve things. Its depressing to me that when we make a feasible ai it'll be owned by some rich oil selling hick be controlled by marketing folks and dissed worldwide for nerds playing god creating abominations. You know what I hope the mafiaa and special interests fucking breaks the internet. That way only nerds could use it properly ignoring how slow it may become. .... Man I really went off on an unrelated rant...

Re:History (1)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 5 years ago | (#25697847)

It isn't that usenet has changed its the people. Back in the early 90s and before pretty much only nerds were online.

Prove that.

codeing

Okay, point taken.

Wrong search terms ... (0, Troll)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 5 years ago | (#25697827)

I'm used to searching on 'microsoft.*' or 'comp.*,' sometimes supplemented with variations like '*microsoft*' or 'comp*.' As an example, try to find a post from the 1996-1998 time period on 'database' in either the comp.* or microsoft.* hierarchies, and if you can do it, please show your search expression.

Here, try this alternate syntax and you may have more luck:

I'm used to searching on 'm$.*' or 'comp.*,' sometimes supplemented with variations like '*m$*' or 'comp*.' As an example, try to find a post from the 1996-1998 time period on 'database' in either the comp.* or m$.* hierarchies, and if you can do it, please show your search expression.

More generally why USENET is dying (2, Insightful)

JohnBlueMO (1403531) | more than 5 years ago | (#25697921)

Yes, it's true that USENET has lots of spam and Google Groups has a poor web interface. But that does not address the underlying problem. Fact is, USENET had tons of spam in the late-90s also. And the web interfaces were never anything to be thrilled with.

No, what killed USENET for most technical subjects is a social one: there was no social cost for posting, thus every uneducated random wanderer posted on it. Not just spam, but also posts from real persons who only had a vague notions of what whatever subject the group was about. Literally, but putting all discussion in one heirarchy was one of its biggest faults.

So where is such discussion now? Some of it, as had been said already, is in specialized web sites; most of those are moderated. But for many subjects, it has moved to old-fashion email lists. One has to be willing to risk filling your inbox with unwanted messages to even see the list much less post to it. So, few people do. Only the folks truly dedicated to that subject take that risk...and that is good. Now the discussion is between committed insiders and the signal-to-noise ratio improved greatly.

So, if you are willing to commit to your subject, find the narrow mailing list that covers it and subscribe. (Disclaimer: not all subjects have these hard-core lists, do a Google search first.)

Try StackOverflow.com (1)

perry64 (1324755) | more than 5 years ago | (#25697939)

Joel Spolsky (of Fog Creek software) has recently launched a new web site for programming questions, http://stackoverflow.com./ [stackoverflow.com.] It has lots of good answers to questions, and is well designed to be very easy to search and find results.

Not to state the obvious... (1)

pongo000 (97357) | more than 5 years ago | (#25697977)

...but since no one else has: I find all the code examples I need with a search engine. I gave up on Usenet many years ago. You should do the same. You might be surprised at the number of relevant items you get returned on a Google search.

3,000 responses enough? (1)

jd142 (129673) | more than 5 years ago | (#25698029)

I don't see what the problem is. It works fine.

1) Go to http://www.google.com
2) Click the More menu at the top of the page
3) Select Groups
4) Enter your search term: database group:comp.*
5) Get back about 3,000 responses

Usenet Killed (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25698039)

Google killed Usenet

Not the only thing Google killed today (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25698149)

Anyone else having Google Calendar simply getting stuck in a cycle before it loads, and never getting anywhere beyond that except giving you a flickering tab title? Firefox 3/Linux.

TTTSNBN (1)

muridae (966931) | more than 5 years ago | (#25698197)

Just come out and admit it, you want to find the thread that shall not be named from a.s.r. If you just asked directly, I would tell you that Google has it archived at vgiJgfe9$fu3+++carrier lost+++

Use the Source (0, Offtopic)

Pope Raymond Lama (57277) | more than 5 years ago | (#25698467)

Seriously!
Why botter with programing APIs whose owners don't wnat your programing for then at all?

Start porgraming only for APIs for which you have the public source code available,, in plain sight, nad not hidden in years-old usenet posts. If the docuemtnation is not enough, you can always check the source code, and help improve the documentation yourself.

I see nosense in adding value (i.e. contributing working code) to a system whose owner does not want me to add value to to start with.

(btw, if you didná get a clue, that almost excludes *microsoft* - though I e heard they e published the API's on some of their latest hyped-up stuff, so that their drones at Novell can create a multi-platform implementation for them)

gmane (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25698477)

You can also use gmane for searching. It also indexes mailing lists and gives rss feeds. http://www.gmane.org

Searched gmane.gmane.comp.* for database
Around 1,476,851 matching articles. Results 1-10.
61,729,119 articles searched in 7.346229 seconds.

A job for Obama! (0, Flamebait)

Baldrson (78598) | more than 5 years ago | (#25698579)

Hey, since we're going all socialist and everything, how about just letting the Library of Congress maintain a complete archive of everything from Usenet as well as the Web? It's not like search technology to actually find stuff and return a list is so advanced that a government bureaucracy can't do it better than Google has(n't) been doing it.

Google has ruined Usenet (1)

jmcbain (1233044) | more than 5 years ago | (#25698607)

Discussion forums, much like primetime television in the US, has become fragmented over the last decade. Usenet groups such as comp.lang.java.programmer and comp.lang.c++ used to be the definitive places to get help and information. Now, everyone's off to their separate forums, and it's harder to find a centralised place to get quality info.

The same thing happened to network television. Except for the Super Bowl or series finales, viewership on the major networks has declined since there are so many cable networks.

In both cases it comes down to capitalism. Everyone wants to open up that great new website or that hot new cable network to make money. Websites for programming are incredibly splintered into individuals' blogs and small communities. Heck, even 7chan has a section on programming.

Who's to blame? It's clearly Google. AdSense is making everyone money-hungry and eager to open up new websites to draw users to get clicks and thus ad money for the website owner. With quality content all fragmented, it's no wonder Usenet information has declined. F U Google.

Usenet? (1)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 5 years ago | (#25698643)

But wait, i'm a comcast user... what is this 'usenet' you speak of?

All kidding aside, usenet isn't what it used to be, i don't know if it really is worth looking for something of value out there. Sad to say it, but its pretty much true.

MarkMail (1)

AnnualSparrow (807796) | more than 5 years ago | (#25698729)

It isn't Usenet - rather mailing lists. But there's quite a bit of crossover. http://markmail.org/ [markmail.org]
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