Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Usenet killed by Time Warner

Shed a tear for Usenet. It is one of the oldest parts of the internet, as old as email. The world wide chat room. In the old days computer geeks swapped programming tips and software work arounds on Usenet. Communities of real experts formed groups to discuss every subject under the sun, technology, politics, history, literature, religion, cooking, carpentry, writing, and many more. In the 80's and 90's much good information and humor was available there on. Being an original part of the internet, created in a more reasonable age, Usenet had no security. Anyone could sign on and say what ever he liked. The spammers got their start on Usenet but a hard hitting combination of system administrators pretty much drove the spammers off. CancelMoose was a famous anti spammer capable of making any post disappear with a few keystrokes.
Then the trolls moved in. They posted provocative messages which were outrageously successful at lighting off flame wars. The signal to noise ratio dropped to the point that serious individuals got tired of sorting thru the flames looking for serious content.
Usenet was never pre installed on computers, the user had to be technically savvy enough to configure his web brower to receive Usenet messages. Between the difficulty of getting onto Usenet and the infestation of trolls the serious users disappeared. Yesterday the lid of the coffin slammed shut. TimeWarner stopped carrying Usenet. Rest in Peace.

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