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September 19th, 2002

Usenet — More Signal, Less Noise?

The Usenet’s been around the block… it started somewhere shortly after 1979 and is still going strong. Google Groups has an archive of over 700 million posts, dating back to 1981. I started using Usenet in 1992, well before the web, and still check it out occasionally to see what’s happening in that somewhat forgotten corner of the ‘Net.

For a while there, it seemed like the Usenet’s signal-to-noise ratio was just too high (particularly in the alt.* groups) and it just was failing to be useful amongst all the spam. However, things seem to have come back around: the Usenet is becoming a useful place for discussion and research, even the alt.* groups. I’ve noticed in the last six months that there seems to be very little spam in unmoderated groups, which is definitely a good thing. Perhaps it’s just gotten harder for spammers to mass post and hide their identity, versus e-mail, where it’s still very easy. Whatever the case, I’ve found myself looking to Google Groups on more than a few occasions as of late.

Do you still use the Usenet? Did you ever?

Posted in Technology

FROM: jk
DATE: Thursday September 19, 2002 -- 12:08:47 am
Wow, I did not know it was still around. I had a progressive prof in 1989 who posted some of our writings there, and I found one piece I wrote there! Just waiting to be plaigerized by today's students! No, I had no clue it was still active.

FROM: Chris [E-Mail]
DATE: Thursday September 19, 2002 -- 9:20:13 am
I haven't used it for anything lately - however searching it for old email addresses was great fun. I found posts on from 1994. Luckily, I did not find anything likely to embarress me in the future!

FROM: Paul
DATE: Thursday September 19, 2002 -- 3:48:43 pm
Like you, Ryan, I've been finding Usenet to be slightly more useful as of late. A lot of the crap is subsiding, and more information of value is available - especially with the Google front-end.

That said, I think for now a myriad web boards might be a better resource for some things (ie, programming info.)

FROM: Logic 3:16
DATE: Saturday October 12, 2002 -- 10:55:29 pm
Usenet's as popular as ever! Sure, it's subject to a lot of spam, but it's still not as commercialized or heavily regulated as the web, and it requires a bit more expertise to use which helps keep the number of idiots using it to a minimum. And on Usenet, you can find absolutely ANYTHING; but try putting up a website with controversial content these days, and you're liable to have corporate lawyers and government goons coming down on your ass.

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