Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Usenet services have been made unnecessary…

“…by the growing use of blogs, social networking sites and RSS feeds.”

Duke University, 2010

The end of an era.

Major ISP’s have been shedding their Usenet services for years, but when the originator of the service dumps it, the Internet really ought to mark a date on a global calendar somewhere.


  1. I agree, to an extent. The Pirate Bay has probably done more to obsolete Usenet than anything. I do hope there's a good archive of alt.sysadmin.recovery out there somewhere, though.

    As far as the protocol deathwatch goes, I will point out that gopher:// isn't exactly a font of knowledge anymore (and isn't even responding).

    Though I have to say I don't miss Bitnet.


  2. I'm surprised that's still running. They really ought to announce it's death, hold a funeral and move on.


  3. Will it also be unnecessary when people be on mars? The nice thing about usenet is that it is a large distributed system which can't be said about most rss feeds, blogs, etc.

    Usenet was and still is very cool technology and the same for regular http proxy servers which more and more ISP's seem to ditch.

  4. Ramon - good point. The store-and-forward nature of usenet would make it far more usable in high latency situations.

  5. "Necessity" has to be measured by the usefulness of the service, and, unfortunately, Usenet has grown close to useless. But blogs, social networking sites, and RSS feeds don't really replace what Usenet used to be: the multi-user messaging system for all Internet users.

    Once upon a time, at least before the Endless September, if you had a technical question, post to Usenet and have a reasonable chance of getting an intelligent answer, because anyone who knew the answer was also on Usenet. Now, you have to find the right blog or web messaging board (and good luck finding one where the denizens are intelligent and helpful). Usenet had massive positive network externalities back in the day, and nothing—not even Facebook—has managed to equal it.

    Of course, one could argue that Usenet was doomed in the post-Endless September world, and the properties that made it so useful are the reasons it couldn't recover from being overrun with spam and naughty binaries. But gods, was it wonderful back in the good old days.

  6. Jim -

    "because anyone who knew the answer was also on Usenet" is the part that I miss the most. That body of expertise is scattered about on random forums mailing lists and #irc channels, likely never to be so concentrated in one spot again.