Usenet is Dead! Long Live Usenet!

from the nostalgia dept

The NYTimes has an article talking about all the companies who put Usenet on the web these days, and goes into a discussion of “old-timers” and such. They also talk (briefly) of how these companies are trying to use Usenet simply as the basis of larger ideas. As someone who abandoned Usenet many years ago in favor of private email groups and the web, these companies always seem strange to me. I have a natural inclination to look down on anything that is “usenet” based as a waste of time, but maybe that’s wrong…

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Comments on “Usenet is Dead! Long Live Usenet!”

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Jon Acheson says:

USENET is still useful, for tech support, at least

Try to find a solution for a problem with Microsoft Word sometime. You could either waste your life using the search engine on Microsoft’s site, if it’s working today, and if they haven’t pulled the problem you’re searching for from their database without fixing it, or you could do a DejaNews power search and find 20 other people with the same problem and workarounds.

It’s like night and day.


Mike (profile) says:

Re: USENET is still useful, for tech support, at l

Interesting… of course, that’s a completely different use for Usenet than what I used to use it for (to much use of the word “use” there ;). Usenet, to me, was for discussion. Now I wouldn’t dream of using it for such, but more for fact finding or solving a problem, like you said.

Jon Acheson says:

Re: Re: Those were the days...

I do remember the days when USENET was a really good place to go for online discussions, back in the late ’80’s (dinosaur alert!). The bar to get online was simply a lot higher then, which I think weeded a lot of the idiocy and venality out of the conversation.

That, and the fact that everything was so much smaller, and that made it a lot easier to get rid of the 5% of people that created 90% of the worthless noise.

I think that it was inevitable that things began to break up in the manner that they did: a group can only get so big before human fractiousness and politics breaks it up, or the sheer size of it makes people look for a more manageable flow of messages. Now things seem to be headed towards private mailing lists and web digests like this one or Slashdot, which create manageable-sized groups for discussion, and also provide moderation to weed out abuse. Of course, when the mailing list inevitably fills up with people or the website gets too popular, you go back to having problems of scale again.

Still, we live in interesting times…


Mike (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Churn...

I agree. The cycle is definitely present. The only mailing list I’ve been really happy with is one that has remained private (it was basically an offshoot of a usenet group). Basically no one besides those on the list has much knowledge of the list. Every once in a while someone brings on someone new, but otherwise the list has done well. Other lists I’ve been on (especially public ones) tend to get clogged and cluttered.

Not that I think it’s definitely going to happen, but sometimes I wonder what would happen if Techdirt started attracting more posters. 🙂 I think right now it’s still a little weak (though there are, of course, folks like Jon who make sure to post all the time), and so there’s plenty of room for improvement, and (hopefully) plenty of time left where it will be a fun useful resource.

I guess if it ever got too big I could try to figure out what the hell Rob over at Slashdot is doing with all his moderation stuff. Sometimes it’s nice to follow someone else’s footsteps. In the meantime I just have to worry about the same issue I had when I used to radio DJ: is there anyone actually listening??? 🙂

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