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AOL To Discontinue LISTSERV

Soulskill posted more than 2 years ago | from the yes-aol-still-exists dept.

America Online 80

alphadogg writes "On December 1, AOL will shut down its free LISTSERV-based mailing-list hosting operations, the company has told mailing list administrators. 'If your list is still actively used, please make arrangements to find another service prior to the shutdown date and notify your list members of the transition details,' an email notice sent out by AOL stated. At the peak of the service's popularity in the late 1990s, AOL was the third-largest provider of mailing lists, serving more than a million users."

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This is huge news! (5, Insightful)

MyLongNickName (822545) | more than 2 years ago | (#37946448)

I didn't even know AOL was still in business...

Re:This is huge news! (5, Funny)

nospam007 (722110) | more than 2 years ago | (#37946494)

For you young whippersnappers, before you were born, listserv was/is like Twitter, just without any size limits.

You just send an email to a server sign up^h^h^h^h^h^h^h follow someone or unfollow.

Re:This is huge news! (3, Insightful)

acidradio (659704) | more than 2 years ago | (#37946648)

Young whipper-snappers won't and don't understand the significance of ^H either.

Re:This is huge news! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37946718)

Maybe you could explain what it is, for us, who are, obiviously,not as good as you?

backspace (4, Informative)

jabberw0k (62554) | more than 2 years ago | (#37946800)

Control-H, character 8, is the ASCII code for Backspace, see the ASCII chart. [wikipedia.org]

Re:backspace (1)

Canazza (1428553) | more than 2 years ago | (#37946956)

Could be vi they're referencing, and in that case why they just don't do ^W is beyond me

Re:backspace (1)

mcavic (2007672) | more than 2 years ago | (#37949488)

No, it's a Unix terminal reference. Some terminals use backspace, and some use the delete character. If your terminal is misconfigured and you press the backspace key, it'll print the ^H instead of backspacing.

Re:backspace (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37947520)

Thanks!

Re:This is huge news! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37949518)

How can you not know this? You're on slashdot, dude.

Re:This is huge news! (1)

omnichad (1198475) | more than 2 years ago | (#37947112)

GP didn't understand it either. Unless he meant to say: You just send an email to a server follow someone or unfollow.

More likely, he meant ^W, and still forgot one ^W: You just send follow someone or unfollow.

Re:This is huge news! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37948788)

> More likely, he , and still forgot: You just send follow someone or unfollow.

I'm not sure I understand what you have written my good sir!

Re:This is huge news! (4, Insightful)

Hatta (162192) | more than 2 years ago | (#37946688)

Yes. And USENET was just like web fora, except with all your forums under one powerful interface. And IRC was just like IM, except, well no IRC is exactly like IM.

Why did we need to invent twitter, web fora, and IM when we had Listserv, USENET, and IRC?

Re:This is huge news! (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37946730)

Yes. And USENET was just like web fora, except with all your forums under one powerful interface. And IRC was just like IM, except, well no IRC is exactly like IM.

Why did we need to invent twitter, web fora, and IM when we had Listserv, USENET, and IRC?

Because if something doesn't have a flashy web interface people are somehow too retarded to use it, the question is how were AOL users able to use these things?

Re:This is huge news! (1)

Dishevel (1105119) | more than 2 years ago | (#37947458)

AOL used to give them large pictogram buttons to push to make it work.

Re:This is huge news! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37953230)

Because if something doesn't have a flashy web interface people are somehow too retarded to use it, the question is how were AOL users able to use these things?

Because AOL users were less retarded than today's average web user. Now everyone can get on the internet. Those AOL 'tards were the cream of the crop 'tards. Their highest functioning.

Re:This is huge news! (4, Insightful)

Zoxed (676559) | more than 2 years ago | (#37946938)

> Why did we need to invent twitter, web fora, and IM when we had Listserv, USENET, and IRC?

The few USENET groups I used to follow basically died due to trolls.
The "real" users migrated to Web Forums, sometimes funded by advertising, which usually have some degree of Moderation.

But I really miss the functionality associated with the single interface to all USENET groups, (although you could of course chose *which* tool to use).
Some people tried to write plugins that converted web forums to pseudo USENET groups, but I think they all failed (I had tried one ages ago to read Slashdot in Xemacs/Gnus.)

Re:This is huge news! (2)

operagost (62405) | more than 2 years ago | (#37947050)

AIM didn't have netsplits.

Re:This is huge news! (2)

residieu (577863) | more than 2 years ago | (#37947260)

Yeah, remember when you could have online discussions with decent thread management?

Re:This is huge news! (4, Informative)

CarsonChittom (2025388) | more than 2 years ago | (#37947438)

I've recently gone back to USENET, using the Eternal September [eternal-september.org] service (since it's free). The newsgroups have nowhere near as much traffic as they used to, of course. But there are still some decent discussions going on.

Or, for nostalgia, there's always olduse.net [olduse.net] .

Re:This is huge news! (2)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | more than 2 years ago | (#37947628)

Why did we need to invent twitter, web fora, and IM when we had Listserv, USENET, and IRC?

People do not know how to use their computers, that's why. Prior to Google Groups most people have no idea how to access Usenet, and most still have no idea that half the groups they access via Google are on Usenet. Listservs annoy people because they have no idea how to create message filters and their webmail client (probably Gmail) has some horribly broken method of displaying threaded discussions. Decent IRC clients require some time to learn, and using something like Pidgin makes IRC seem even worse than it really is (and let's be honest, IRC is just terrible).

These thing were developed by highly sophisticated users, to be used by other sophisticated users. In an age where the most common help desk resolution is, "Is it plugged in?" is there any surprise that these systems are so obscure?

Re:This is huge news! (1)

Hatta (162192) | more than 2 years ago | (#37948714)

and let's be honest, IRC is just terrible

What's wrong with IRC?

Re:This is huge news! (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37949986)

Can't you read? It's just terrible.

Re:This is huge news! (1)

Millennium (2451) | more than 2 years ago | (#37954770)

Something about stealing 40 cakes back in the 1990s, if I recall.

Re:This is huge news! (2)

Klync (152475) | more than 2 years ago | (#37947698)

> Why did we need to invent twitter, web fora, and IM when we had Listserv, USENET, and IRC?

Because corporate firewalls blocked everything except port 80. So, everything moved onto port 80.

As an aside, ten years ago I predicted to my colleague that one day we'd see DNS over HTTP, and probably even TCP over HTTP. I've recently seen *both* of those come to pass via /. stories, although I don't have the links handy atm.

Re:This is huge news! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37947790)

Why did we need to invent twitter, web fora, and IM when we had Listserv, USENET, and IRC?

Two reasons shared by all of those are that a) people were fed up with BOfH-type admins and b) that all of these systems had informal hierarchies based on technical knowledge instead of social status.

Most web forums still have a BOfH, but there are many to choose from. There isn't just one canonical group per topic.

The web did not have an "eternal september". Instead of deriding and excluding "lusers", it had a place for them called Geocities. The elitist systems got what they deserve, a slow decline to insignificance.

Re:This is huge news! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37953032)

I think someone was banned from a few to many times...

Thanks giant corporations ! (1)

bd580slashdot (1948328) | more than 2 years ago | (#37949900)

Because then giant corporations can control and profit from them? Unlike the totally distributed and federated nets.

Needed to set up and maintain a fiefdom. (1)

jbn-o (555068) | more than 2 years ago | (#37955732)

Nobody needed to, but people did so they could set up their fiefdom more effectively. It's the same sentiment that drives various "app stores" and other attempts at monopoly. It's not easy to impose ridiculous rules when one has to build on systems like email and NNTP. It's apparently more effective to develop one's own system with preposterous rules and play to a naive sense that says popularity is more important than anything else.

Re:This is huge news! (1)

cthulhu11 (842924) | more than 2 years ago | (#37955898)

Maybe because LISTSERV was an artifact of the batch-orientation of BITnet? Even the truncated name was a BITnet artifact.

Re:This is huge news! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37966154)

So the powers that be could have centralized monitoring and control.

Re:This is huge news! (1)

bryan1945 (301828) | more than 2 years ago | (#37946752)

And for you.. whatever... pen and paper was like communication. You just send it over TCP-BuggieCarriage (RFC -031).

Re:This is huge news! (3, Funny)

CarsonChittom (2025388) | more than 2 years ago | (#37947366)

And for you.. whatever... pen and paper was like communication. You just send it over TCP-BuggieCarriage (RFC -031).

I think you mean RFC 1149 [ietf.org] , "A Standard for the Transmission of IP Datagrams on Avian Carriers."

Re:This is huge news! (1)

bryan1945 (301828) | more than 2 years ago | (#37964112)

Yeah, I was trying to go older school, lol. I actually put 1149 in one of my presentations during grad school- the confused looks I got from my classmates was disturbing. At least my prof got the joke.

Re:This is huge news! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37946578)

They are still and making a turnaround i believe. just not the isp stuff .

Re:This is huge news! (1)

obergfellja (947995) | more than 2 years ago | (#37946790)

A... O... L? I remember something like that, back when the internet was untame and they tried to make something of it.

Re:This is huge news! (3, Interesting)

Chrisq (894406) | more than 2 years ago | (#37947300)

I remember AOL UK suggesting that the towns Scunthorpe and Pensitone change their names [independent.co.uk] to Socnthorpe and Pennistone because people could not register using them (they caught in the primitive obscenity filter). The absolute anger of citizens of these towns was really amusing I remember one person pointing out that thir town was much older than America, let alone America Online and they were buggered if they would change their name.

Another classic of cultural insensitivity was when they told people on the Wales regional forum that they had to post in English and Welsh was banned!

Re:This is huge news! (1)

desdinova 216 (2000908) | more than 2 years ago | (#37949232)

the only problem I could see with welsh is that no one else would be able understand anything.

Re:This is huge news! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37951336)

especially the welsh

Re:This is huge news! (0)

Gripp (1969738) | more than 2 years ago | (#37947226)

lol, exactly what I came here to say!

Re:This is huge news! (1)

cashman73 (855518) | more than 2 years ago | (#37948634)

Not only are they still in business, but they still have 3.5 million dialup customers [msn.com] ! Apparently, the 1% still uses AOL dialup. For once, I feel fortunate to count myself among the 99%.

Re:This is huge news! (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37949896)

I didn't even know AOL was still in business...

Me too!

Re:This is huge news! (1)

UnknownSoldier (67820) | more than 2 years ago | (#37953934)

Going to get modded down ... but you know the really old joke ...

American
On-line
Losers

How people could actually _pay_ to use that crap is beyond me ...

Subscribed to a few lists (0)

ggeens (53767) | more than 2 years ago | (#37946476)

Back when I was in college (1995), I subscribed to a few LISTSERV mailing lists. Over the years, they moved to other platforms or disappeared.

I can't even remember which lists.

Re:Subscribed to a few lists (1)

Trepidity (597) | more than 2 years ago | (#37946686)

I'm still on quite a few. For whatever reason, most of the "serious" discussion groups I'm in (working groups, academic discussions, etc.) don't seem to have moved from listservs to webforums, whereas most of the "hobby" groups I'm in (music fan listservs, etc.) have long since abandoned mailing lists.

Re:Subscribed to a few lists (1)

Anrego (830717) | more than 2 years ago | (#37946966)

I've noticed this too.

Mailing lists still have a weird aura of seriousness around them that doesn't transfer over as well to web forums and IRC.

Re:Subscribed to a few lists (2)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | more than 2 years ago | (#37947468)

For whatever reason, most of the "serious" discussion groups I'm in (working groups, academic discussions, etc.) don't seem to have moved from listservs to webforums

Probably because the interface to web forums is so terrible when compared to a well developed mail client. I have seen serious discussion lists try to switch to web forums, and the result has usually been on of the following three outcomes:

  1. The entire group falls apart because they prematurely kill the mailing list, and nobody is motivated to rejoin.
  2. Nobody ever goes to the forum, everyone keeps posting to the list.
  3. The forum becomes a place for people who are less serious, while the serious discussions remain on-list. This is basically what happened with the Fedora mailing lists; Fedora Forum has a few serious discussions but is mostly new users asking for help (and thankfully receiving it) while the mailing lists are where highly technical discussions tend to occur.

What we really need is something like Google Groups, which allows less serious users to read and post to Usenet newsgroups. If there were a way to get mailing lists and web forums to interoperate, people who just prefer to use web interfaces would not be excluded from the discussions.

This doesn't affect me in the slightest (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37946590)

I moved all my stuff to Compuserve last year.

Re:This doesn't affect me in the slightest (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 2 years ago | (#37946608)

I moved all my stuff to Compuserve last year.

Except AOL owns CompuServe. Or was that the joke?

Re:This doesn't affect me in the slightest (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37946798)

I hear Prodigy is a better choice... maybe Genie.

Re:This doesn't affect me in the slightest (1)

Megane (129182) | more than 2 years ago | (#37946954)

Seriously, though, SBC--er, I mean AT&T--still uses prodigy.net domain names for some of its internal e-mail servers. (for outbound mail, I think).

Re:This doesn't affect me in the slightest (1)

Myopic (18616) | more than 2 years ago | (#37946976)

Compuserve is for fogies. I like eWorld [wikipedia.org] .

Re:This doesn't affect me in the slightest (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37949302)

You hipsters with your eWorlds. Give me The Source (https://secure.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/wiki/The_Source_%28online_service%29) or give me death!

The end of an era (3)

Ixne (599904) | more than 2 years ago | (#37946616)

Next you'll tell me that FidoNet is going away!

Re:The end of an era (1)

Antarius (542615) | more than 2 years ago | (#37946840)

Good ol' Fidonet.

I still remember my node (I ran a BBS), all these years later. (3:800/428)

Now you've made me miss GoldEd on my old OS/2 box. =(

Re:The end of an era (1)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | more than 2 years ago | (#37947392)

Fidonet is still operation, and there are still dialup and shortwave links between BBSes. It is particularly popular in rural regions of Asia.

Re:The end of an era (1)

satsuke (263225) | more than 2 years ago | (#37948232)

Yeah, amazing how a system tailor built for non-persistent network connections (store and forward) can be adapted to regions without persistent network connections.

Last I looked at it, it was still very popular (relatively) in Africa and SE Asia, with the actual nodelist being bigger now than it was in it's heyday .. though the observance of zonemail hour is probably nil and I have no idea if echomail or netmail is reliable in any sense.

I just find it funny that there is still a couple nodes left on my old local 1:280 , one of which appears to be a zombie BBS with the last user listed as logged in being myself from a year or more previously.

Re:The end of an era (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37953578)

Wait until all those laptops are airdropped on them, there will be some heavy network congestion then

Re:The end of an era (1)

Uncle Warthog (311922) | more than 2 years ago | (#37949794)

I still remember my node (I ran a BBS), all these years later. (3:800/428)
 

I had one of those too. Mine didn't have a colon or slash in the number though.......

Re:The end of an era (1)

Antarius (542615) | more than 2 years ago | (#37950368)

If it didn't then it wasn't on Fidonet [wikipedia.org]

Re:The end of an era (1)

_Shad0w_ (127912) | more than 2 years ago | (#37956582)

I was a CoSysOp on a BBS, back in the day. I used to run as a point node off it (and a couple of others). Shamefully I can no longer remember my node numbers though. Used to use FrontDoor for grabbing my mail and doing file transfers.

Converting from LISTSERV (1)

joelsherrill (132624) | more than 2 years ago | (#37946626)

Out of inertia, a music mailing list I subscribe to is still on AOL LISTSERV. Does anyone know of any magic scripts or howto's on converting from LISTSERV to anything else? I would like to move the content and users over to GNU mailman on my server. I have the dump of all the messages which are not in mbox format so that appears to be the first challenge. :(

Re:Converting from LISTSERV (3, Interesting)

corbettw (214229) | more than 2 years ago | (#37946792)

Check and see if fetchmail can handle it, it does some converting from mail box types to others. Also, procmail might work for you.

Just make sure you don't accidentally start sending out those old messages all over again. Probably best to do the work offline, just to be safe.

Loss of archives is going to be bad (5, Interesting)

JoshuaZ (1134087) | more than 2 years ago | (#37946660)

From TFA:

ne list still somewhat active is the discussion list for AOLserver, AOL's open-source Web server software. The administrator for this list moved it to SourceForge, where the AOLserver code is housed. However, the administrator, Dossy Shiobara, noted that there was no immediate way to move the decadelong archives of this mailing list, along with related announcement lists, to SourceForge. Fortunately, much of the content is mirrored on other sites, however.

Not all of the lists are going to have their archives mirrored. This is going to mean that a fair bit of internet history is going to get lost, and contribute a decent amount of linkrot in the process. While I suspect that most of that will just be inane flamewars, it always saddens me when data that could be preserved isn't preserved. I do hope that someone finds a way to move the archives of the various lists somewhere.

Re:Loss of archives is going to be bad (1)

Siggy200 (721326) | more than 2 years ago | (#37947104)

Could the lists be archived on http://www.archive.org/ [archive.org] ?

Re:Loss of archives is going to be bad (2)

Paradoks (711398) | more than 2 years ago | (#37953050)

Some people from Archive Team (archiveteam.org) are working on it, which means that, most likely, some amount of data will eventually end up on archive.org.

Still, it'd be nice if AOL would say, "Here's all the data we have. Please save it." and present it to archive.org, rather than depend on a group of rogue archivists to not miss anything.

Re:Loss of archives is going to be bad (1)

omnichad (1198475) | more than 2 years ago | (#37947186)

Maybe they'll let Google archive it over on Groups. Or do they do that sort of thing? You'd think they would - more useful searches at Google.com as a benefit.

Re:Loss of archives is going to be bad (2)

omuls are tasty (1321759) | more than 2 years ago | (#37947476)

it always saddens me when data that could be preserved isn't preserved

Is that you, Mr. Zuckerberg?

What? (1)

kanguro (1237830) | more than 2 years ago | (#37946704)

AOL? LISTSERV? OMG We have entered a wormhole again. Don't tell me that IBM just launched a computer for personal use!

Re:What? (1)

Talderas (1212466) | more than 2 years ago | (#37946834)

No. We just recently broke the Enigma code.

Re:What? (1)

afabbro (33948) | more than 2 years ago | (#37948868)

No. We just recently broke the Enigma code.

No, I think they're still working on it [bytereef.org]

Re:What? (2)

Frenzied Apathy (2473340) | more than 2 years ago | (#37946900)

Yeah, supposedly they're trying to compete with some company called "Apple" and their own "Macintosh" personal computer.

Amazing times we're in...

September (2)

RMingin (985478) | more than 2 years ago | (#37946902)

Can it be? September will finally end?

It's too late, I think. The damage was done.

Re:September (1)

Gideon Wells (1412675) | more than 2 years ago | (#37947472)

Nah, September has moved on leaving only a retirement home and a few paleointernet-anthropologists behind.

Re:September (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37955878)

Now you can Like Eternal September on Facebook!

FreeLists would be happy to help (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37946986)

...Host their lists and import their archives. Sounds like no one out there really cares about the lists they still host though.

listserv (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37949388)

Now where am I going to find another CP/M users mailing list... -:)

what a joke (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37949422)

it is probably the one thing they should have invested and improved

Bilberry Extract (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37955782)

Nice posts you have here. Thanks for sharing. I’m subscribing to your blog...Bilberry Extract [herbscity.com]

AOL : run by idiots, for idiots. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37957890)

Enough said.

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