Usenet

Bruce Simpson writes on Aardvark about Usenet:

Usenet newsgroups used to be one of the cornerstone parts of the internet.

What started out as a relatively small collection of NNTP-based message exchange groups quickly grew into a massive list numbering over 100,000 separate areas of special interest.

Back in the early to mid 1990s, when usenet was at its peak, I used to spend at least an hour a day trawling through my favourite newsgroups discussing things such as guns, engineering, science and other subjects.

Indeed, I made many very long-lasting friendships through usenet and the information I gathered there was invaluable.

But I’ve been awfully busy for the last few years and hadn’t really spent any time in the newsgroups until last week when I decided to revisit my old haunts.

What a horrible shock I got.

Gone is the wealth of friendly discussion, gone are many of the old faces, gone is the useful information that used to proliferate. All of this wonderful stuff seems to have been totally eclipsed by an incredible tide of spam. So much spam in fact, that I doubt I’ll ever use usenet again.

It used to be that anyone posting spam to a usenet newsgroup would immediately be pounced on by system admins and dealt with in a very short space of time.

Now it appears as if nobody really cares.

Usenet looks to have become a ghost-town.

The occasional on-topic post appears, like a ball of tumbleweed rolling through a sea of decaying infrastructure and snake-oil salesmen.

I was also a Usenet regular from 1996 to 2004. More than a regular. I helped set up some new nz.* groups, took part in efforts to fight against spammers and other Usenet vandals, and even helped newbies by answering questions in the new users group. And met some very fine people through Usenet. I used to spend almost as much time on Usenet as I now spend blogging.

But once I found blogs, I started to use Usenet less and less as the signal to noise ration was so much higher on blogs than in Usenet.  And one day I suddenly realised I had not been into Usenet for over a month.  Today I only check it out a couple of times a year.

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