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End of endless September
January 25, 2005 5:19 PM   Subscribe

The end of the endless September. "America Online on Tuesday confirmed that it will stop supporting access to newsgroups." Thus ends what many labeled the greatest plague upon the Internet, the (triple posting) barbarian horde that descended upon Usenet when AOL added Usenet access for its members.

This is when Usenet returns to utility, readability and civility. Right?
posted by NortonDC (53 comments total)

 
Returns? You mean there was an August?
posted by turaho at 5:22 PM on January 25, 2005


alt.binaries.thank.jeebus.aol.is.fucking.gone
posted by mr_crash_davis at 5:29 PM on January 25, 2005


It's a win/win.
posted by VP_Admin at 5:35 PM on January 25, 2005


Oh come on, there's a lot to be said for the descent of barbarian hordes. The Internet is supposed to be a populist enterprise at heart, right?
posted by jonmc at 5:35 PM on January 25, 2005


It's the end of an error.
posted by Johnny Assay at 5:45 PM on January 25, 2005


HeY, j0nm2--wH3r c@n i g3t sVm W@r3z?!! w00t!

[Subtext: this is good news. Let Darwin's principle of internet resource access prevail.]
posted by squirrel at 5:46 PM on January 25, 2005


Yes, and MetaFilter was better with 1952 members.
posted by briank at 5:50 PM on January 25, 2005


> alt.binaries.thank.jeebus.aol.is.fucking.gone

alt.binaries.thank.jeebus.aol.is.fucking.gone.gone.gone

Rather.
posted by NewBornHippy at 5:55 PM on January 25, 2005


When do we block AOL users from Metafilter?
posted by rushmc at 6:01 PM on January 25, 2005


Can we block netzero and netscape, too? Those commercials are annoying.

Hey, let's block anyone using Internet Explorer, too.

... I'm serious.
posted by zerolives at 6:03 PM on January 25, 2005


AOL is not the problem with Usenet.

Rather, the influx of ignorant weenies from AOL coincided with the influx of assholes from everywhere. The fact that AOL sucks just made them an easy scapegoat.

Usenet will still suffer when AOL-ers are gone, because most of the useless junk clogging newsgroups doesn't come from AOL, it comes from spammers.

There was a time when usenet newbies were annoying, but not the end of the world. We're STILL in that time now. Spammers & advertisers, on the other hand, ARE close to being the end of the world, as far as newsgroup usability is concerned.
posted by spincycle at 6:07 PM on January 25, 2005


1994 HERE WE COME!
posted by Steve_at_Linnwood at 6:07 PM on January 25, 2005


Most any asshole who wants a way will find a way.
posted by Wulfgar! at 6:15 PM on January 25, 2005


Me too.
posted by Zonker at 6:16 PM on January 25, 2005


Wulfgar!, you think AOLers can figure out how to use an alternate news server?

Your faith in humanity is never-ending, my friend.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 6:26 PM on January 25, 2005


Wankers..

I'd rather be in the company of the mewling masses than self important whining snobs.

Oh wait, what the fuck am I doing here.

Sadism, I guess.
posted by PissOnYourParade at 6:43 PM on January 25, 2005


Ask what it is enough and they'll decide you don't need it.
posted by sled at 6:45 PM on January 25, 2005


Was there ever a civilized medium on an uncivilized planet?!
posted by homodigitalis at 6:51 PM on January 25, 2005


You know, for all the years we joked about "Death of Usenet imminent". And then it happened, about in 1997, and no one noticed. Between the Web, message boards, IM and Email lists there are now many venues for conversation on the Internet.

The fact that 99% of Usenet traffic is dubious binary files doesn't help the case for keeping it around.

--ogicse!reed!minar
posted by Nelson at 6:54 PM on January 25, 2005


Reminds me of this gem.
posted by zardoz at 6:57 PM on January 25, 2005


Is it just me or does Usenet have an intense air of cold impersonality to it? I don't know what it is, whether it's that all you have to do to make a community is to grab a topic name that will be popular, or the lack of moderation, or what.
posted by abcde at 7:09 PM on January 25, 2005


I miss Usenet. Through Usenet, I have found places to live, writers I liked, learned everything I ever wanted to know about gun control, made some lifelong friends.

And that was just rec.motorcycles
posted by TeamBilly at 7:13 PM on January 25, 2005


Usenet is moderated. In moderation.
posted by NortonDC at 7:14 PM on January 25, 2005


What? No mention of WebTV users injuring Usenet? Hell, even AOLers made fun of WebTVers. Good times, good times.
posted by NoMich at 7:32 PM on January 25, 2005


So does anyone have any links to current measurements of non-spam Usenet traffic? Forgive me for not believing an AOL flak who says it's "pretty minimal." Last I checked, the main newsgroups in the North Carolina heirarchies were as active as they'd ever been - far more active than the comments in many NC blogs, and, it seems from here, more active than most other Web-based forums.

And, FWIW, count me among those who feel that threaded Usenet discussions always felt more personal and alive than the stiff, stilted formats found at most Web sites. Present company excepted, naturally.
posted by mediareport at 7:43 PM on January 25, 2005


BBS -> Usenet -> Blog .. that's my story .. what's next?
posted by stbalbach at 8:12 PM on January 25, 2005


Usenet dies when posters give up on it. I stopped paying attention to it probably 5 years ago. I don't miss it. It was a nice place back in 1994, but most people have found other ways to communicate.

There's something romantic about it, but the rest of the world upgraded to other solutions.

USENET is by its nature too insecure. The fact that you don't need an ID to get on, and can clog thousands of servers up with a single post seem to be a weakness to me. Forming a (there is no) USENET cabal to police it doesn't seem like a good solution either...

Then again... I did get a kick out of actually helping people at alt.clueless.newbie.whine.whine.whine.
posted by bugmuncher at 8:14 PM on January 25, 2005


Wulfgar, freenews.maxbaud.net can't be found. Maybe you meant to point the Usenetting AOLer Mefites here?
***

POYP wrote: "I'd rather be in the company of the mewling masses than self important whining snobs."

Uh, me too.

"Oh wait, what the fuck am I doing here.

Sadism, I guess."


Damn, we have the same excuse too. If we start agreeing about too much I'll have to file a formal complaint. My senator or yours?
***

On preview I see bugmuncher whined: "USENET is by its nature too insecure. The fact that you don't need an ID to get on"

Uh-huh. Elitism trying to masquerade as "concern for security" again.
posted by davy at 8:29 PM on January 25, 2005


I would agree that Usenet is more or dead for text traffic, but (self link, sorry) as I noted on my blog only yesterday, the MP3 groups are alive and kicking, and with a decent client like Unison it has become one of the best places to download music for free on the internets.

As for the porn group hierarchy, there is some very ugly spam in those groups and I wouldn't be at all surprised to discover that was the real reason for a big player pulling out of Usenet access.
posted by pascal at 8:48 PM on January 25, 2005


*wipes nostalgic tear* Does this mean I can return to those sunny long-ago days when I used to read every post in alt.music.alternative?

...and I like the 'crankyoldtimers' tag, I must say.
posted by jokeefe at 10:22 PM on January 25, 2005


Its amusing and disgusting that it appears the bulk of spammers on usenet are there to advertise their own SPAM FREE websites, as an escape from the spam of usenet. I find that bandwidth and my sorting ability win over spam. Its gone so fast I hardly notice it was there.
posted by Goofyy at 10:28 PM on January 25, 2005


one of my first introductions to the internet as a medium for discussion on various topics was through usenet via AOL.


Ok, most of the AOL people on usenet are morons, but they eventually evolve into decent net users.

It is more likely cutting AOL members out from usenet will be the death of the medium than introducing them will be...well...since they were introduced so long ago and usenet is still alive.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 2:33 AM on January 26, 2005


usenet is not dead, it just smells funny ... someone's not changed fluffy's litterbox ... meow
posted by pyramid termite at 5:00 AM on January 26, 2005


one of my first introductions to the internet as a medium for discussion on various topics was through usenet via AOL.

Me too. I was briefly on AOL years ago and the only thing I really did with it was read and post to usenet. AOL's usenet interface is horrible though (at least it was when I was on, don't know if it's improved) and I think this led to a lot of problems for AOL users. It was so much like every other AOL section that it seemed like just another AOL message board. Indeed, quite a few AOL members automatically assumed that only AOL users could access the newsgroups, leading to a lot of hilarious TOS threats. But AOL didn't do much to inform its users exactly what usenet was so they really didn't know any better. And newsgroup snobs who hated AOL usually ridiculed newbies as opposed to educating them, exacerbating the problem.

There is a LOT of stupid on usenet, not nearly all of it from AOL users. But AOLers became easy targets.

It was quite educational for me. Hearing what other newsgroup posters said about AOL led directly to me dumping it and getting a real ISP.

Not all of usenet is dead though. I lurk the interactive fiction groups (rec.games.int-fiction and rec.arts.int-fiction) and they're quite lively, with a minumum of spam and trolls.
posted by LeeJay at 6:25 AM on January 26, 2005


"Hearing what other newsgroup posters said about AOL led directly to me dumping it and getting a real ISP."

Did you actually and honestly care about people who judged you by your Internet access?

It's not as if people who have AOL won't still have access to newsgroups, you know. They can use Google Groups, which AOLers can get to through their browsers (and which has a better interface than AOL's native newsreader). Motivated AOL members, in other words, are not likely to abandon newsgroups just because AOL is shutting down its newsreader.

(Standard disclaimer: AOL pays me money to write an AOL Journal -- in which today I wrote about how AOLers can still access newsgroups if they want, as a matter of fact.)
posted by jscalzi at 7:05 AM on January 26, 2005


There are still a few relevant and active text groups...I'm an avid reader of rec.games.pinball and rec.games.video.arcade.collecting

Both of these communities have resisted the move to a web forum and are still going strong. Most of the posters who were getting access through AOL have been informed they can still get access through http://groups.google.com

Even if AOL does away with newsgroups, Google groups will be there to fill the void for those who can't configure a newsreader.
posted by cosmicbandito at 7:07 AM on January 26, 2005


bugmuncher is spot on.

Usenet was mind-blowing for me when I got to college, having come of age in the BBS era, where you had to, effectively, call up each group separately. But that was before the web, and blogs, and the explosion of phpBB and Google. Usenet is a quaint relic, a nice place to go if you're looking to meet someone who has an @well.com address.
posted by mkultra at 7:09 AM on January 26, 2005


Meh, I know more cool people who are still on AOL than still use UseNet.
posted by Hildago at 7:22 AM on January 26, 2005


>>Hearing what other newsgroup posters said about AOL led
>>directly to me dumping it and getting a real ISP.
>
>Did you actually and honestly care about people who judged
>you by your Internet access?

Probably not, since that not what she said. She cited Usenetters' opinions of AOL, not their opinion of AOL users.
posted by NortonDC at 7:30 AM on January 26, 2005


"She cited Usenetters' opinions of AOL, not their opinion of AOL users."

Uh-huh. And as we've seen from this thread, Non-AOLers are not judgmental of people who use AOL at all.
posted by jscalzi at 7:46 AM on January 26, 2005


Putting words in someone else's mouth hurts your post's persuasiveness. (just trying to help a n00b...)
posted by NortonDC at 7:56 AM on January 26, 2005


Heh. When I want your help, Norton, I'll say that you said I wanted it.
posted by jscalzi at 8:02 AM on January 26, 2005


"Hearing what other newsgroup posters said about AOL led directly to me dumping it and getting a real ISP."

Did you actually and honestly care about people who judged you by your Internet access?


What I meant was that usenet posters whose opinions I trusted took the time to point out some of the weak points in the way AOL managed users' internet access and suggested that switching to a less controlling (and cheaper) ISP might be an eye-opening experience for me. Which it was. Big time. I never switched back.

I'm not insulting current AOL users (although I don't particularly like the company itself) but, for me, switching from AOL was a good thing.

"She cited Usenetters' opinions of AOL, not their opinion of AOL users."

Uh-huh. And as we've seen from this thread, Non-AOLers are not judgmental of people who use AOL at all.


Where in my original post did I express any judgement whatsoever against AOL users?
posted by LeeJay at 8:39 AM on January 26, 2005


"Where in my original post did I express any judgement whatsoever against AOL users?"

It was a general statement, not relating to you specifically.
posted by jscalzi at 10:19 AM on January 26, 2005


Hey! If you joined two-and-a-half years ago, you are not a n00b, bucko!
posted by onlyconnect at 10:21 AM on January 26, 2005


How many AOL people even know what usenet is these days, anyways?

Hell, I'm pretty nerdy, and I haven't looked at usenet in about 6 years.
posted by kavasa at 2:16 PM on January 26, 2005


" How many AOL people even know what usenet is these days, anyways?"

They didn't know what Usenet was back then, either. AOL's interface to news was to make it look like just some more AOL message boards, so the AOL users treated it like it was just some AOL message boards. That's the whole point.
posted by majick at 5:15 PM on January 26, 2005


Motivated AOL members, in other words, are not likely to abandon newsgroups just because AOL is shutting down its newsreader.

Motivated AOL members will leave AOL. Once you realize that you've been playing with shadow puppets instead of living, you have to leave the cave.
posted by bingo at 5:45 PM on January 26, 2005


"Once you realize that you've been playing with shadow puppets instead of living, you have to leave the cave."

(rolls eyes)

Let me know when you get back from visiting 1996, Bingo.

I've had an AOL account for over a decade now, including during the times when AOL was not in fact paying me money to do stuff. I kept it even after I got my own domain and personal site. It's useful and dependable and it's ubiquitous, which came in handy for me when I moved to a small rural town a few years ago and the only local provider had a 9600 baud connection. These days the service offers free anti-virus and firewall software and parental controls and so on and so forth -- basically a whole lot of services for people who'd rather have their ISP deal with that sort of stuff.

So please do try to entertain the notion that people might choose to stay with AOL not because they're stupid and don't know any better, but because AOL is addressing their needs.
posted by jscalzi at 9:38 PM on January 26, 2005


And we're sure you're completely objective about that megacorp that pays you money, you know, the one you keep talking up. That is a very real conflict of interest, and yet another reason for people to be skeptical of your posts in this thread.
posted by NortonDC at 6:41 AM on January 27, 2005


Well, quite obviously the reason I noted that I work for them is that I'm not objective about them, and I think it's reasonable that people know that. I'm not a conservative columnist, you know. I'm happy to tell people where my conflicts of interest are.

However, neither am I stupid nor a corporate flack (I ride herd on their blogging initative and do some member communications for them). I just think the reflexive anti-AOL position is outdated and a bit stupid.

Now, if I genuinely thought AOL was an inferior product I would just take its money and go on about my business rather than wasting time talking about it here. AOL doesn't pay me for this, after all.
posted by jscalzi at 12:53 PM on January 27, 2005


it's so awesome to have nothing to do with AOL or usenet.
posted by nanojath at 7:57 PM on February 24, 2005


foiled
posted by shmegegge at 3:49 AM on February 25, 2005


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