Goodbye Deja.
February 12, 2001 8:52 AM   Subscribe

Goodbye Deja. Hello Google Groups.
posted by danwalker (32 comments total)
That's just a lot of fun to say: Google Groups. Google Groups. Google Groups.
posted by bradlands at 9:09 AM on February 12, 2001

If they will just restore access to the full archive (rather than the messages from the last few months) this will be a cool thing.
posted by rdr at 9:11 AM on February 12, 2001

If anyone needs me, I'll be quietly sobbing in the corner, mourning the loss of thread viewing within search results, searching across newsgroup names (a search for "win2k" in *windows* newsgroups just netted a result of zero?!), and the overall deja interface (which wasn't as simple as google, but offered a lot of powerful options).

posted by mathowie at 9:12 AM on February 12, 2001

The help page says that this is just a beta, and we should get all the feature goodies sometime in the not-too-distant future.
posted by aaron at 9:15 AM on February 12, 2001

If there is any company out there that I trust those Usenet archives with, it's Google. I can't help but think that Google will treat them better than Deja has.

Rough times for a while, but I doubt Google will try to bind product sales to the archives.
posted by cCranium at 9:21 AM on February 12, 2001

Excellent, or, terrible, depending upon whether you made some rash USENET postings in 1996 which you hoped would vanish forever, but which now not only will be preserved, but will be a search result when someone Googles you.
posted by MattD at 9:23 AM on February 12, 2001

Google said that eventually you will be able to request nukes of archived posts.
posted by aaron at 9:25 AM on February 12, 2001

AHA! I was wondering what was up - I talked to my brother-in-law (the lawyer for Google) this weekend, and he said some deal had been signed Friday, and that something would be announced Monday.

This is very cool. In fact, I suggested this awhile back, but uh, I won't try to pretend that they did it because of me. :)
posted by beth at 9:59 AM on February 12, 2001

Interesting, indeed. A quick search and I can't find anything, but I distinctly remember Google bigwigs saying they wouldn't be getting into other services, and wouldn't become a portal.

To me, it seems like they're blurring this line--they look like they're lining up to be a searching portal. Weird.
posted by gramcracker at 10:28 AM on February 12, 2001

Dunno if anyone here used it or even heard of it but RemarQ used to have a pretty clean UI for usenet newsgroups via the web which even included live decoding of attachments which deja never did and which I *wish* that google would try to plug in.
Damn large bandwidth & storage hogs though, I imagine.
posted by minjungkim at 10:51 AM on February 12, 2001

I have been concerned about the ultimate fate of DejaNews for a long time, so I'm happy that they ended up at Google. Outside of donating the collection to the Internet Archive, this was about the best case scenario. Google rocks.
posted by tranquileye at 11:03 AM on February 12, 2001

Agreed, tranquileye. This is going to kick serious ass. I hope, anyway.

Google has a lot of positive mojo these days, but if they screw this up, they could lose (a lot of) it.

But I'm not really that worried...
posted by beth at 12:03 PM on February 12, 2001

RemarQ used to have a pretty clean UI for usenet

Yes, I used Remarq and loved it. When they were around I never went to Deja. Mostly I loved that each thread was expanded on one page. Catching up on a thread in RemarQ was a matter of "click, scroll..." On Deja it was click, click, read, click, click, read, click, click read, click, click read ad infinitum...

I hope some Google engineers also saw RemarQ when it was alive.
posted by Tubes at 1:14 PM on February 12, 2001

Remarq still offers usenet access, it's just not available to the masses like it used to be.
posted by gluechunk at 1:26 PM on February 12, 2001

I sent e-mail yesterday to Deja tech support. Here's what I got back today from Google Groups:

Thank you for contacting Google about our new Usenet service. We are reading all incoming emails and suggestions about ways in which to improve the site's usability. However, because we are focused on completely reformatting the Usenet database archive and implementing the changes our users have suggested, we are not able to respond to each email personally.

Google acquired the Usenet archive in early February 2001 and immediately put up the service you are currently using. This is not our idea of a finished product (hence the "Beta" tag), but is rather a quick fix so that you will have access to Usenet data. We are working as quickly as we can to optimize the full Usenet archive back to 1995 and to improve newsgroup browsing. We expect the end result will be far more comprehensive and easier to use than anything previously available. Please bear with us as we strive to make this vision a reality.

Thanks for taking the time to contact us.

The Google Team

posted by dhartung at 3:50 PM on February 12, 2001

Researchbuzz has a good overview and rundown of what's to come.
posted by mathowie at 3:57 PM on February 12, 2001

Wow, that was confusing. I entered the usual ~g and newsgroup name, hit submit, and got back what looked exactly like a normal google search. It was only a minute after I'd said "damn, I guess the usenet gateway is dead", closed the window, and gone on, that I even thought to go back and read the text to see whether the site listing it'd given me was actually a list of article titles. The Google search result appearance is that closely tied in my head to the idea of a web search.

I wonder what Jakob Nielsen would say about that.

posted by Mars Saxman at 5:08 PM on February 12, 2001

Oh. I see. ~g doesn't work anymore.
posted by Mars Saxman at 5:26 PM on February 12, 2001

Gah. I hate this. It may be OK for searches, but you can't actually read your newsgroups on a regular basis here. I know, most people didn't use deja for that, but most people don't put up with GVSU's IT... yeah, my "real" usenet servers stopped working. Now there's no more deja news. I guess there's no more newsgroups for me.
posted by dagnyscott at 7:48 PM on February 12, 2001

dagny, way too premature. They took the damned thing over this morning, and apparently rigged up a search system inside existing Google technology. If anybody has a chance at doing this right, it's these folks.

Give 'em longer than overnight before passing judgement, whydoncha.
posted by dhartung at 8:57 PM on February 12, 2001

Gah. I hate this. It may be OK for searches, but you can't actually read your newsgroups...

Beta beta beta beta beta beta beta beta beta beta beta beta beta beta beta beta beta beta beta beta beta beta beta beta beta beta beta beta beta beta beta beta etc.
posted by jkottke at 12:25 AM on February 13, 2001

If they end up integrating news searches into the standard web searches, I for one won't be happy. I've been the subject of an ongoing harassment/net.stalking campaign on one particular newsgroup, in which someone has posted my address and phone number, my work address and phone number, a lot of lies and misleading stuff, and threats to kill me and my family as well as to post child pr0n featuring my niece. If someone searching for information about me or my business brings up these posts, it could do quite a bit of harm to me in many ways.

(In addition, the newsgroup in question is one in which illegal activities are discussed -- I have nothing to do with the content of the newsgroup, but for some reason someone who frequents it decided to target me there. I wouldn't know except a random deja search led me to it. Anyway, I can just imagine a potential employer searching for info on me and finding my name connected with this newsgroup, and jumping to conclusions, and not giving me a job.)

Obviously, people could find this crap on deja before, which I was not happy with. But having this come up in a Google search when someone's just looking for my web page -- that's a lot worse.

I am not ashamed of anything I have personally posted on Usenet. Obviously, when you post, people are going to see it. But I have no control over this other stuff, and I really object to it being archived when it is dangerous to me and my family. So I hope that Google won't integrate Usenet posts with their standard searches.
posted by litlnemo at 2:20 AM on February 13, 2001

I wonder if they'd directly integrate Usenet searches with the web search, or if it'd be an advanced option. "Search the web" "Search the Usenet archives" or "Search Everything"

It seems to me they'd lose a whole lot of their accuracy if they integrate Usenet results with the web returns, since their ranking method (linkage) doesn't really seem to apply to Usenet posts.
posted by cCranium at 5:53 AM on February 13, 2001

Litlnemo: if Google won't voluntarily remove the posts (which are clearly illegal as an invasion of privacy) then get a court order. Google probably won't even show up in court, and will obey the order without any dilatory action. (Internet companies tend not to defend the freedoms of non-paying content...)

Total legal fees and expenses, probably under $5,000, and you might be able to get free legal assistance from your local jurisdiction's child advocacy services, since they've threatened your (presumably) under-aged niece.

posted by MattD at 9:40 AM on February 13, 2001

dagny, way too premature. They took the damned thing over this morning, and apparently rigged up a search system inside existing Google technology. If anybody has a chance at doing this right, it's these folks.

They could have left the existing site up, then, which they didn't. I know all of you can afford to get newsgroups however the hell you want, but not everyone is that priviledged, ok?
posted by dagnyscott at 10:50 AM on February 13, 2001

They would have to remove any archived libelous posts, I would think, since they're not acting as a common carrier in that case. They're keeping ancient posts from a system designed to let posts disappear after a short period, and using them for monetary gain.
posted by aaron at 10:51 AM on February 13, 2001

BTW, while poking through the Googlization, I was unable to find any posts made after Sunday morning. Looks like they might have just yanked the storage drives from Deja, and haven't even gotten their own feed yet.
posted by aaron at 10:56 AM on February 13, 2001

aaron: As they've made clear, they have their own feed and have been archiving Usenet on their own pending the start of this service. The Deja archive is being imported into Google's Usenet data store; this is just an interim artiface to the Deja DB.
posted by nicwolff at 11:24 AM on February 13, 2001

I'd quibble with the (once again) overused term beta. The interface that's up now is far from feature complete, in fact, it's missing several mission-critical components. I wouldn't call what's up a beta of the search feature since it's neither buggy nor, likely, a proposal for the final form.

I will agree that not keeping the existing interface up while they work on theirs was ... a disappointment. The press release includes "software" and "intellectual property" in the list along with the Usenet archive. Deja effectively doesn't exist anymore, so there's no reason I can see to nuke the old stuff.

Dagny, I was forced off Deja due to a shaky ISP situation myself. This week I'm going on AT&T Worldnet's 7/7 program ($7/ monthly, unlimited dial-up, includes 7-cent long distance).
posted by dhartung at 12:15 PM on February 13, 2001

or simply "placeholder"
posted by gluechunk at 1:58 PM on February 13, 2001


Court order? $5000? Yikes. :-( One thing about this, though, is that it's ongoing. New posts keep appearing. I wonder if it's possible to get a pre-emptive court order that would take care of the harassment yet to be posted.


Yeah, I don't know if they are going to integrate Usenet with the rest, but some folks here alluded to the possibility, and the implications gave me chills. Usenet archiving is not really that good a thing, if you ask me. Though I used deja myself, I think in a lot of ways it would be better if the archive had just gone bye-bye.
posted by litlnemo at 2:57 PM on February 13, 2001

actually, they've only bought deja's archives, they aren't using them yet. the data that they've purchased isn't online yet; all they have online at the moment is what they've been archiving themselves, since august 2000.

and i suspect it's going to be awhile before we see the usenet archives back to anything even approaching their former glory -- since they've quite specifically only purchased the data, and the not the technology that was archiving it (trust me on this one, i've got insider info.)

i think the googlers might not realize how long it's going to take them to get back up to the speed with which deja archived; they invested years of time and energy in putting together a really impressive system, which google will now have to reinvent from whole cloth. pretty stupid of google, if you ask me, since it was a firesale and they could've taken pretty much everything, if they had wanted.

for example: deja could get a message from post to archive in under 20 seconds; google currently does it in, um, 36 hours. i watched several deja engineers optimize that down to 20 seconds -- it took them almost 2 years to get it that fast. is google going to be willing to invest that much time and energy, for something that isn't even their core product? what about all the time deja put into spam protection? gone. posting interface? gone. email services? gone. personalization software, saved groups, tracked threads? all gone. we can hope they'll reprogram it, maybe, but...

i just don't have as much faith in this purchase as i want to, based on the way google has managed it so far. hopefully, i'm wrong.
posted by monstro at 10:48 PM on February 13, 2001

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