Sunday, July 22, 2012

Usenet: it's time to put a stake in it

Google has rebooted Google Groups for Business. I'd was surprised by the reboot, so the announcement brought me back to my old Groups account.

I found Google had me listed as a member of Yes, a usenet group. Google inherited them when it rescued the DejaNews usenet archive from oblivion [1].

There are still posts to the group that pass Google's spam filters -- one every few weeks. Alas, even they look like spam. I saw some older posts from a year before.

Wikipedia tells us that most of the usenet traffic now is spam and "binaries" newsgroups. The article gives the impression that those binaries range from illegal software to child porn. Most ISPs don't carry usenet any more; I'm sure Google doesn't index the binaries and I suspect it filters most of the spam.

It's time to put a stake in usenet. At the funeral, we should consider the lessons it taught us.

[1] I was a keen DejaNews user. I used to 'tag' my usenet posts with a unique string to enable retrieval and review (for example). I'm tempted to add this search string to my Google Custom Search engine, but I'm a bit leary of breaking the engine.

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