Usenet ( // ) is a worldwide distributed discussion system available on computers. It was developed from the general-purpose Unix-to-Unix Copy (UUCP) dial-up network architecture. Tom Truscott and Jim Ellis conceived the idea in 1979, and it was established in 1980. Users read and post messages (called articles or posts, and collectively termed news) to one or more categories, known as newsgroups. Usenet resembles a bulletin board system (BBS) in many respects and is the precursor to Internet forums that are widely used today. Discussions are threaded, as with web forums and BBSs, though posts are stored on the server sequentially. The name comes from the term "users network".
UUCP is an abbreviation of Unix-to-Unix Copy. The term generally refers to a suite of computer programs and protocols allowing remote execution of commands and transfer of files, email and netnews between computers.
Tom Truscott is an American computer scientist best known for creating Usenet with Jim Ellis, when both were graduate students at Duke University. He is also a member of ACM, IEEE, and Sigma Xi. One of his first endeavors into computers was writing a computer chess program and then later working on a global optimizer for C at Bell Labs. This computer chess program competed in multiple computer chess tournaments such as the Toronto chess tournament in 1977 and the Linz tournament in 1980. Today, Truscott works on tools that analyze software as a software developer for the SAS Institute.
James Tice Ellis was an American computer scientist best known as the co-creator of Usenet, along with Tom Truscott.
A major difference between a BBS or web forum and Usenet is the absence of a central server and dedicated administrator. Usenet is distributed among a large, constantly changing conglomeration of servers that store and forward messages to one another in so-called news feeds. Individual users may read messages from and post messages to a local server operated by a commercial usenet provider, their Internet service provider, university, employer, or their own server.
An Internet service provider (ISP) is an organization that provides services for accessing, using, or participating in the Internet. Internet service providers may be organized in various forms, such as commercial, community-owned, non-profit, or otherwise privately owned.
Usenet is culturally significant in the networked world, having given rise to, or popularized, many widely recognized concepts and terms such as "FAQ", "flame", and "spam".
An FAQ is a list of frequently asked questions (FAQs) and answers on a particular topic. The format is often used in articles, websites, email lists, and online forums where common questions tend to recur, for example through posts or queries by new users related to common knowledge gaps. The purpose of an FAQ is generally to provide information on frequent questions or concerns; however, the format is a useful means of organizing information, and text consisting of questions and their answers may thus be called an FAQ regardless of whether the questions are actually frequently asked.
Flaming is the online act of posting insults, often laced with profanity or other offensive language on social networking sites. These insults may turn into flame wars where two or more individuals unite to exchange or unite against a third party with verbal attacks. Many attribute the emergence of flaming to the anonymity that internet forums provide. Anonymity can lead to disinhibition, which results in the swearing, offensive and hostile language characteristic of flaming. More than just anonymity contributes to the offensive behaviors of flaming such as lack of social cues, less accountability of face-to-face communications, textual mediation and deindividualization are also probable factors.
Usenet was conceived in 1979 and publicly established in 1980, at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Duke University,over a decade before the World Wide Web went online and the general public received access to the Internet, making it one of the oldest computer network communications systems still in widespread use. It was originally built on the "poor man's ARPANET", employing UUCP as its transport protocol to offer mail and file transfers, as well as announcements through the newly developed news software such as A News. The name Usenet emphasized its creators' hope that the USENIX organization would take an active role in its operation.
The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC), also known as UNC-Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, North Carolina, or simply Carolina is a public research university in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. It is the flagship of the 17 campuses of the University of North Carolina system. After being chartered in 1789, the university first began enrolling students in 1795, which also allows it to be one of three schools to claim the title of the oldest public university in the United States. Among the claimants, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is the only one to have held classes and graduated students as a public university in the eighteenth century.
Duke University is a private research university in Durham, North Carolina. Founded by Methodists and Quakers in the present-day town of Trinity in 1838, the school moved to Durham in 1892. In 1924, tobacco and electric power industrialist James Buchanan Duke established The Duke Endowment and the institution changed its name to honor his deceased father, Washington Duke.
The World Wide Web (WWW), commonly known as the Web, is an information space where documents and other web resources are identified by Uniform Resource Locators, which may be interlinked by hypertext, and are accessible over the Internet. The resources of the WWW may be accessed by users by a software application called a web browser.
The articles that users post to Usenet are organized into topical categories known as newsgroups, which are themselves logically organized into hierarchies of subjects. For instance, sci.math and sci.physics are within the sci.* hierarchy, for science. Or, talk.origins and talk.atheism are in the talk.* hierarchy. When a user subscribes to a newsgroup, the news client software keeps track of which articles that user has read.
A Usenet newsgroup is a repository usually within the Usenet system, for messages posted from many users in different locations using Internet. They are discussion groups and are not devoted to publishing news. Newsgroups are technically distinct from, but functionally similar to, discussion forums on the World Wide Web. Newsreader software is used to read the content of newsgroups.
In most newsgroups, the majority of the articles are responses to some other article. The set of articles that can be traced to one single non-reply article is called a thread. Most modern newsreaders display the articles arranged into threads and subthreads.
When a user posts an article, it is initially only available on that user's news server. Each news server talks to one or more other servers (its "newsfeeds") and exchanges articles with them. In this fashion, the article is copied from server to server and should eventually reach every server in the network. The later peer-to-peer networks operate on a similar principle, but for Usenet it is normally the sender, rather than the receiver, who initiates transfers. Usenet was designed under conditions when networks were much slower and not always available. Many sites on the original Usenet network would connect only once or twice a day to batch-transfer messages in and out.This is largely because the POTS network was typically used for transfers, and phone charges were lower at night.
The format and transmission of Usenet articles is similar to that of Internet e-mail messages. The difference between the two is that Usenet articles can be read by any user whose news server carries the group to which the message was posted, as opposed to email messages, which have one or more specific recipients.
Today, Usenet has diminished in importance with respect to Internet forums, blogs, mailing lists and social media. Usenet differs from such media in several ways: Usenet requires no personal registration with the group concerned; information need not be stored on a remote server; archives are always available; and reading the messages requires not a mail or web client, but a news client. The groups in alt.binaries are still widely used for data transfer.
Many Internet service providers, and many other Internet sites, operate news servers for their users to access. ISPs that do not operate their own servers directly will often offer their users an account from another provider that specifically operates newsfeeds. In early news implementations, the server and newsreader were a single program suite, running on the same system. Today, one uses separate newsreader client software, a program that resembles an email client but accesses Usenet servers instead. Some clients such as Mozilla Thunderbird and Outlook Express provide both abilities.
Not all ISPs run news servers. A news server is one of the most difficult Internet services to administer because of the large amount of data involved, small customer base (compared to mainstream Internet services such as email and web access), and a disproportionately high volume of customer support incidents (frequently complaining of missing news articles that are not the ISP's fault). Some ISPs outsource news operation to specialist sites, which will usually appear to a user as though the ISP ran the server itself. Many sites carry a restricted newsfeed, with a limited number of newsgroups. Commonly omitted from such a newsfeed are foreign-language newsgroups and the alt.binaries hierarchy which largely carries software, music, videos and images, and accounts for over 99 percent of article data.
There are also Usenet providers that specialize in offering service to users whose ISPs do not carry news, or that carry a restricted feed.
See also news server operation for an overview of how news systems are implemented.
Newsgroups are typically accessed with newsreaders: applications that allow users to read and reply to postings in newsgroups. These applications act as clients to one or more news servers. Although historically, Usenet was associated with the Unix operating system developed at AT&T, newsreaders are available for all major operating systems.Modern mail clients or "communication suites" commonly also have an integrated newsreader. Often, however, these integrated clients are of low quality, compared to standalone newsreaders, and incorrectly implement Usenet protocols, standards and conventions. Many of these integrated clients, for example the one in Microsoft's Outlook Express, are disliked by purists because of their misbehavior.
With the rise of the World Wide Web (WWW), web front-ends (web2news) have become more common. Web front ends have lowered the technical entry barrier requirements to that of one application and no Usenet NNTP server account. There are numerous websites now offering web based gateways to Usenet groups, although some people have begun filtering messages made by some of the web interfaces for one reason or another.Google Groups is one such web based front end and some web browsers can access Google Groups via news: protocol links directly.
A minority of newsgroups are moderated, meaning that messages submitted by readers are not distributed directly to Usenet, but instead are emailed to the moderators of the newsgroup for approval. The moderator is to receive submitted articles, review them, and inject approved articles so that they can be properly propagated worldwide. Articles approved by a moderator must bear the Approved: header line. Moderators ensure that the messages that readers see in the newsgroup conform to the charter of the newsgroup, though they are not required to follow any such rules or guidelines.Typically, moderators are appointed in the proposal for the newsgroup, and changes of moderators follow a succession plan.
Historically, a mod.* hierarchy existed before Usenet reorganization.Now, moderated newsgroups may appear in any hierarchy, typically with .moderated added to the group name.
Usenet newsgroups in the Big-8 hierarchy are created by proposals called a Request for Discussion, or RFD. The RFD is required to have the following information: newsgroup name, checkgroups file entry, and moderated or unmoderated status. If the group is to be moderated, then at least one moderator with a valid email address must be provided. Other information which is beneficial but not required includes: a charter, a rationale, and a moderation policy if the group is to be moderated.Discussion of the new newsgroup proposal follows, and is finished with the members of the Big-8 Management Board making the decision, by vote, to either approve or disapprove the new newsgroup.
Unmoderated newsgroups form the majority of Usenet newsgroups, and messages submitted by readers for unmoderated newsgroups are immediately propagated for everyone to see. Minimal editorial content filtering vs propagation speed form one crux of the Usenet community. One little cited defense of propagation is canceling a propagated message, but few Usenet users use this command and some news readers do not offer cancellation commands, in part because article storage expires in relatively short order anyway. Almost all unmoderated Usenet groups have become collections of spam.
Usenet is a set of protocols for generating, storing and retrieving news "articles" (which resemble Internet mail messages) and for exchanging them among a readership which is potentially widely distributed. These protocols most commonly use a flooding algorithm which propagates copies throughout a network of participating servers. Whenever a message reaches a server, that server forwards the message to all its network neighbors that haven't yet seen the article. Only one copy of a message is stored per server, and each server makes it available on demand to the (typically local) readers able to access that server. The collection of Usenet servers has thus a certain peer-to-peer character in that they share resources by exchanging them, the granularity of exchange however is on a different scale than a modern peer-to-peer system and this characteristic excludes the actual users of the system who connect to the news servers with a typical client-server application, much like an email reader.
RFC 850 was the first formal specification of the messages exchanged by Usenet servers. It was superseded by RFC 1036 and subsequently by RFC 5536 and RFC 5537.
In cases where unsuitable content has been posted, Usenet has support for automated removal of a posting from the whole network by creating a cancel message, although due to a lack of authentication and resultant abuse, this capability is frequently disabled. Copyright holders may still request the manual deletion of infringing material using the provisions of World Intellectual Property Organization treaty implementations, such as the United States Online Copyright Infringement Liability Limitation Act, but this would require giving notice to each individual news server administrator.
On the Internet, Usenet is transported via the Network News Transfer Protocol (NNTP) on TCP Port 119 for standard, unprotected connections and on TCP port 563 for SSL encrypted connections which is offered only by a few sites.
The major set of worldwide newsgroups is contained within nine hierarchies, eight of which are operated under consensual guidelines that govern their administration and naming. The current Big Eight are:
See also the Great Renaming.
The alt.* hierarchy is not subject to the procedures controlling groups in the Big Eight, and it is as a result less organized. Groups in the alt.* hierarchy tend to be more specialized or specific—for example, there might be a newsgroup under the Big Eight which contains discussions about children's books, but a group in the alt hierarchy may be dedicated to one specific author of children's books. Binaries are posted in alt.binaries.*, making it the largest of all the hierarchies.
Many other hierarchies of newsgroups are distributed alongside these. Regional and language-specific hierarchies such as japan.*, malta.* and ne.* serve specific countries and regions such as Japan, Malta and New England. Companies and projects administer their own hierarchies to discuss their products and offer community technical support, such as the historical gnu.* hierarchy from the Free Software Foundation. Microsoft closed its newsserver in June 2010, providing support for its products over forums now. Some users prefer to use the term "Usenet" to refer only to the Big Eight hierarchies; others include alt as well. The more general term "netnews" incorporates the entire medium, including private organizational news systems.
Informal sub-hierarchy conventions also exist. *.answers are typically moderated cross-post groups for FAQs. An FAQ would be posted within one group and a cross post to the *.answers group at the head of the hierarchy seen by some as a refining of information in that news group. Some subgroups are recursive—to the point of some silliness in alt.*[ citation needed ].
Usenet was originally created to distribute text content encoded in the 7-bit ASCII character set. With the help of programs that encode 8-bit values into ASCII, it became practical to distribute binary files as content. Binary posts, due to their size and often-dubious copyright status, were in time restricted to specific newsgroups, making it easier for administrators to allow or disallow the traffic.
The oldest widely used encoding method for binary content is uuencode, from the Unix UUCP package. In the late 1980s, Usenet articles were often limited to 60,000 characters, and larger hard limits exist today. Files are therefore commonly split into sections that require reassembly by the reader.
With the header extensions and the Base64 and Quoted-Printable MIME encodings, there was a new generation of binary transport. In practice, MIME has seen increased adoption in text messages, but it is avoided for most binary attachments. Some operating systems with metadata attached to files use specialized encoding formats. For Mac OS, both Binhex and special MIME types are used.
Other lesser known encoding systems that may have been used at one time were BTOA, XX encoding, BOO, and USR encoding.
In an attempt to reduce file transfer times, an informal file encoding known as yEnc was introduced in 2001. It achieves about a 30% reduction in data transferred by assuming that most 8-bit characters can safely be transferred across the network without first encoding into the 7-bit ASCII space.
The most common method of uploading large binary posts to Usenet is to convert the files into RAR archives and create Parchive files for them. Parity files are used to recreate missing data when not every part of the files reaches a server.
Each news server generally allocates a certain amount of storage space for post content in each newsgroup. When this storage has been filled, each time a new post arrives, old posts are deleted to make room for the new content. If the network bandwidth available to a server is high but the storage allocation is small, it is possible for a huge flood of incoming content to overflow the allocation and push out everything that was in the group before it. If the flood is large enough, the beginning of the flood will begin to be deleted even before the last part of the flood has been posted.
Binary newsgroups are only able to function reliably if there is sufficient storage allocated to a group to allow readers enough time to download all parts of a binary posting before it is flushed out of the group's storage allocation. This was at one time how posting of undesired content was countered; the newsgroup would be flooded with random garbage data posts, of sufficient quantity to push out all the content to be suppressed. This has been compensated by service providers allocating enough storage to retain everything posted each day, including such spam floods, without deleting anything.
The average length of time that posts are able to stay in the group before being deleted is commonly called the retention time. Generally the larger Usenet servers have enough capacity to archive several years of binary content even when flooded with new data at the maximum daily speed available. A good binaries service provider must not only accommodate users of fast connections (3 megabit) but also users of slow connections (256 kilobit or less) who need more time to download content over a period of several days or weeks.
Major NSPs[ clarification needed ] have a retention time of more than 4 years. This results in more than 33 petabytes (33000 terabytes) of storage.
In part because of such long retention times, as well as growing Internet upload speeds, Usenet is also used by individual users to store backup data in a practice called Usenet backup, or uBackup.While commercial providers offer more easy to use online backup services, storing data on Usenet is free of charge (although access to Usenet itself may not be). The method requires the user to manually select, prepare and upload the data. Because anyone can potentially download the backup files, the data is typically encrypted. After the files are uploaded, the uploader does not have any control over them; the files are automatically copied to all Usenet providers, so there will be multiple copies of it spread over different geographical locations around the world—desirable in a backup scheme.
While binary newsgroups can be used to distribute completely legal user-created works, open-source software, and public domain material, some binary groups are used to illegally distribute commercial software, copyrighted media, and obscene material.
ISP-operated Usenet servers frequently block access to all alt.binaries.* groups to both reduce network traffic and to avoid related legal issues. Commercial Usenet service providers claim to operate as a telecommunications service, and assert that they are not responsible for the user-posted binary content transferred via their equipment. In the United States, Usenet providers can qualify for protection under the DMCA Safe Harbor regulations, provided that they establish a mechanism to comply with and respond to takedown notices from copyright holders.
Removal of copyrighted content from the entire Usenet network is a nearly impossible task, due to the rapid propagation between servers and the retention done by each server. Petitioning a Usenet provider for removal only removes it from that one server's retention cache, but not any others. It is possible for a special post cancellation message to be distributed to remove it from all servers, but many providers ignore cancel messages by standard policy, because they can be easily falsified and submitted by anyone.For a takedown petition to be most effective across the whole network, it would have to be issued to the origin server to which the content has been posted, before it has been propagated to other servers. Removal of the content at this early stage would prevent further propagation, but with modern high speed links, content can be propagated as fast as it arrives, allowing no time for content review and takedown issuance by copyright holders.
Establishing the identity of the person posting illegal content is equally difficult due to the trust-based design of the network. Like SMTP email, servers generally assume the header and origin information in a post is true and accurate. However, as in SMTP email, Usenet post headers are easily falsified so as to obscure the true identity and location of the message source.In this manner, Usenet is significantly different from modern P2P services; most P2P users distributing content are typically immediately identifiable to all other users by their network address, but the origin information for a Usenet posting can be completely obscured and unobtainable once it has propagated past the original server.
Also unlike modern P2P services, the identity of the downloaders is hidden from view. On P2P services a downloader is identifiable to all others by their network address. On Usenet, the downloader connects directly to a server, and only the server knows the address of who is connecting to it. Some Usenet providers do keep usage logs, but not all make this logged information casually available to outside parties such as the Recording Industry Association of America.The existence of anonymising gateways to USENET also complicates the tracing of a postings true origin.
Newsgroup experiments first occurred in 1979. Tom Truscott and Jim Ellis of Duke University came up with the idea as a replacement for a local announcement program, and established a link with nearby University of North Carolina using Bourne shell scripts written by Steve Bellovin. The public release of news was in the form of conventional compiled software, written by Steve Daniel and Truscott. UC Berkeley which had connections to both Usenet and ARPANET. Mark Horton, the graduate student who set up the connection, began "feeding mailing lists from the ARPANET into Usenet" with the "fa" ("From ARPANET" ) identifier. Usenet gained 50 member sites in its first year, including Reed College, University of Oklahoma, and Bell Labs, and the number of people using the network increased dramatically; however, it was still a while longer before Usenet users could contribute to ARPANET.In 1980, Usenet was connected to ARPANET through
UUCP networks spread quickly due to the lower costs involved, and the ability to use existing leased lines, X.25 links or even ARPANET connections. By 1983, thousands of people participated from more than 500 hosts, mostly universities and Bell Labs sites but also a growing number of Unix-related companies; the number of hosts nearly doubled to 940 in 1984. More than 100 newsgroups existed, more than 20 devoted to Unix and other computer-related topics, and at least a third to recreation.As the mesh of UUCP hosts rapidly expanded, it became desirable to distinguish the Usenet subset from the overall network. A vote was taken at the 1982 USENIX conference to choose a new name. The name Usenet was retained, but it was established that it only applied to news. The name UUCPNET became the common name for the overall network.
In addition to UUCP, early Usenet traffic was also exchanged with Fidonet and other dial-up BBS networks. Widespread use of Usenet by the BBS community was facilitated by the introduction of UUCP feeds made possible by MS-DOS implementations of UUCP, such as UFGATE (UUCP to FidoNet Gateway), FSUUCP and UUPC. In 1986, RFC 977 provided the Network News Transfer Protocol (NNTP) specification for distribution of Usenet articles over TCP/IP as a more flexible alternative to informal Internet transfers of UUCP traffic. Since the Internet boom of the 1990s, almost all Usenet distribution is over NNTP.
Early versions of Usenet used Duke's A News software, designed for one or two articles a day. Matt Glickman and Horton at Berkeley produced an improved version called B News that could handle the rising traffic (about 50 articles a day as of late 1983).With a message format that offered compatibility with Internet mail and improved performance, it became the dominant server software. C News, developed by Geoff Collyer and Henry Spencer at the University of Toronto, was comparable to B News in features but offered considerably faster processing. In the early 1990s, InterNetNews by Rich Salz was developed to take advantage of the continuous message flow made possible by NNTP versus the batched store-and-forward design of UUCP. Since that time INN development has continued, and other news server software has also been developed.
Usenet was the first Internet community and the place for many of the most important public developments in the pre-commercial Internet. It was the place where Tim Berners-Lee announced the launch of the World Wide Web,where Linus Torvalds announced the Linux project, and where Marc Andreessen announced the creation of the Mosaic browser and the introduction of the image tag, which revolutionized the World Wide Web by turning it into a graphical medium.
Many jargon terms now in common use on the Internet originated or were popularized on Usenet.Likewise, many conflicts which later spread to the rest of the Internet, such as the ongoing difficulties over spamming, began on Usenet.
"Usenet is like a herd of performing elephants with diarrhea. Massive, difficult to redirect, awe-inspiring, entertaining, and a source of mind-boggling amounts of excrement when you least expect it."— Gene Spafford, 1992
Sascha Segan of PC Magazine said in 2008 that "Usenet has been dying for years".Segan said that some people pointed to the Eternal September in 1993 as the beginning of Usenet's decline. Segan believes that when pornographers and software crackers began putting large (non-text) files on Usenet by the late 1990s, Usenet disk space and traffic increased correspondingly. Internet service providers questioned why they needed to host space for pornography and unauthorized software. When the State of New York opened an investigation on child pornographers who used Usenet, many ISPs dropped all Usenet access or access to the alt.* hierarchy.
In response, John Biggs of TechCrunch said "As long as there are folks who think a command line is better than a mouse, the original text-only social network will live on".
AOL discontinued Usenet access in 2005. In May 2010, Duke University, whose implementation had kicked off Usenet more than 30 years earlier, decommissioned its Usenet server, citing low usage and rising costs.After 32 years, the Usenet news service link at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (news.unc.edu) was retired on February 4, 2011.
Over time, the amount of Usenet traffic has steadily increased. As of 2010 [update] the number of all text posts made in all Big-8 newsgroups averaged 1,800 new messages every hour, with an average of 25,000 messages per day. However, these averages are minuscule in comparison to the traffic in the binary groups. Much of this traffic increase reflects not an increase in discrete users or newsgroup discussions, but instead the combination of massive automated spamming and an increase in the use of .binaries newsgroups in which large files are often posted publicly. A small sampling of the change (measured in feed size per day) follows:
|Daily Volume||Daily Posts||Date||Source|
|4.5 GiB||1996 Dec||Altopia.com|
|9 GiB||1997 Jul||Altopia.com|
|12 GiB||554 k||1998 Jan||Altopia.com|
|26 GiB||609 k||1999 Jan||Altopia.com|
|82 GiB||858 k||2000 Jan||Altopia.com|
|181 GiB||1.24 M||2001 Jan||Altopia.com|
|257 GiB||1.48 M||2002 Jan||Altopia.com|
|492 GiB||2.09 M||2003 Jan||Altopia.com|
|969 GiB||3.30 M||2004 Jan||Altopia.com|
|1.52 TiB||5.09 M||2005 Jan||Altopia.com|
|2.00 TB||2005-03-11||Various sources|
|2.27 TiB||7.54 M||2006 Jan||Altopia.com|
|2.95 TiB||9.84 M||2007 Jan||Altopia.com|
|3.07 TiB||10.13 M||2008 Jan||Altopia.com|
|4.65 TiB||14.64 M||2009 Jan||Altopia.com|
|6.00 TB||2009 Dec||Newsdemon.com|
|5.42 TiB||15.66 M||2010 Jan||Altopia.com|
|8.00 TB||2010 Sep||Newsdemon.com|
|7.52 TiB||20.12 M||2011 Jan||Altopia.com|
|8.25 TB||2011 Oct||Thecubenet.com|
|9.29 TiB||23.91 M||2012 Jan||Altopia.com|
|11.49 TiB||28.14 M||2013 Jan||Altopia.com|
|14.61 TiB||37.56 M||2014 Jan||Altopia.com|
|15.50 TB||2014 Feb||Newsdemon.com|
|17.50 TB||2015 Jan||Newsdemon.com|
|17.87 TiB||44.19 M||2015 Jan||Altopia.com|
|23.50 TB||2015 Nov||Newsdemon.com|
|23.87 TiB||55.59 M||2016 Jan||Altopia.com|
|27.80 TiB||64.55 M||2017 Jan||Altopia.com|
|37.35 TiB||73.95 M||2018 Jan||Altopia.com|
|60.38 TiB||104.04 M||2019 Jan||Altopia.com|
In 2008, Verizon Communications, Time Warner Cable and Sprint Nextel signed an agreement with Attorney General of New York Andrew Cuomo to shut down access to sources of child pornography.Time Warner Cable stopped offering access to Usenet. Verizon reduced its access to the "Big 8" hierarchies. Sprint stopped access to the alt.* hierarchies. AT&T stopped access to the alt.binaries.* hierarchies. Cuomo never specifically named Usenet in his anti-child pornography campaign. David DeJean of PC World said that some worry that the ISPs used Cuomo's campaign as an excuse to end portions of Usenet access, as it is costly for the Internet service providers and not in high demand by customers. In 2008 AOL, which no longer offered Usenet access, and the four providers that responded to the Cuomo campaign were the five largest Internet service providers in the United States; they had more than 50% of the U.S. ISP marketshare. On June 8, 2009, AT&T announced that it would no longer provide access to the Usenet service as of July 15, 2009.
AOL announced that it would discontinue its integrated Usenet service in early 2005, citing the growing popularity of weblogs, chat forums and on-line conferencing.The AOL community had a tremendous role in popularizing Usenet some 11 years earlier.
In August 2009, Verizon announced that it would discontinue access to Usenet on September 30, 2009.JANET announced it will discontinue Usenet service, effective July 31, 2010, citing Google Groups as an alternative. Microsoft announced that it would discontinue support for its public newsgroups (msnews.microsoft.com) from June 1, 2010, offering web forums as an alternative.
Primary reasons cited for the discontinuance of Usenet service by general ISPs include the decline in volume of actual readers due to competition from blogs, along with cost and liability concerns of increasing proportion of traffic devoted to file-sharing and spam on unused or discontinued groups.
Some ISPs did not include pressure from Attorney General of New York Andrew Cuomo's aggressive campaign against child pornography as one of their reasons for dropping Usenet feeds as part of their services.ISPs Cox and Atlantic Communications resisted the 2008 trend but both did eventually drop their respective Usenet feeds in 2010.
Public archives of Usenet articles have existed since the early days of Usenet, such as the system created by Kenneth Almquist in late 1982.Distributed archiving of Usenet posts was suggested in November 1982 by Scott Orshan, who proposed that "Every site should keep all the articles it posted, forever." Also in November of that year, Rick Adams responded to a post asking "Has anyone archived netnews, or does anyone plan to?" by stating that he was, "afraid to admit it, but I started archiving most 'useful' newsgroups as of September 18." In June 1982, Gregory G. Woodbury proposed an "automatic access to archives" system that consisted of "automatic answering of fixed-format messages to a special mail recipient on specified machines."
In 1985, two news archiving systems and one RFC were posted to the Internet. The first system, called keepnews, by Mark M. Swenson of The University of Arizona, was described as "a program that attempts to provide a sane way of extracting and keeping information that comes over Usenet." The main advantage of this system was to allow users to mark articles as worthwhile to retain.The second system, YA News Archiver by Chuq Von Rospach, was similar to keepnews, but was "designed to work with much larger archives where the wonderful quadratic search time feature of the Unix ... becomes a real problem." Von Rospach in early 1985 posted a detailed RFC for "archiving and accessing usenet articles with keyword lookup." This RFC described a program that could "generate and maintain an archive of Usenet articles and allow looking up articles based on the article-id, subject lines, or keywords pulled out of the article itself." Also included was C code for the internal data structure of the system.
The desire to have a fulltext search index of archived news articles is not new either, one such request having been made in April 1991 by Alex Martelli who sought to "build some sort of keyword index for [the news archive]."In early May, Mr. Martelli posted a summary of his responses to Usenet, noting that the "most popular suggestion award must definitely go to 'lq-text' package, by Liam Quin, recently posted in alt.sources."
The huge site http://asstr.org archives and indexes erotic and pornographic stories posted to the Usenet group alt.sex.stories.
Today, the archiving of Usenet has led to a fear of loss of privacy.An archive simplifies ways to profile people. This has partly been countered with the introduction of the X-No-Archive: Yes header, which is itself controversial.
Web-based archiving of Usenet posts began in 1995 at Deja News with a very large, searchable database. In 2001, this database was acquired by Google.
Google Groups hosts an archive of Usenet posts dating back to May 1981. The earliest posts, which date from May 1981 to June 1991, were donated to Google by the University of Western Ontario with the help of David Wiseman and others,and were originally archived by Henry Spencer at the University of Toronto's Zoology department. The archives for late 1991 through early 1995 were provided by Kent Landfield from the NetNews CD series and Jürgen Christoffel from GMD. The archive of posts from March 1995 onward was started by the company DejaNews (later Deja), which was purchased by Google in February 2001. Google began archiving Usenet posts for itself starting in the second week of August 2000.
Google has been criticized by Vice and Wired contributors as well as former employees for its stewardship of the archive and for breaking its search functionality.
Usenet as a whole has no administrators; each server administrator is free to do whatever pleases him or her as long as the end users and peer servers tolerate and accept it. Nevertheless, there are a few famous administrators:
Spamming is the use of messaging systems to send an unsolicited message (spam), especially advertising, as well as sending messages repeatedly on the same site. While the most widely recognized form of spam is email spam, the term is applied to similar abuses in other media: instant messaging spam, Usenet newsgroup spam, Web search engine spam, spam in blogs, wiki spam, online classified ads spam, mobile phone messaging spam, Internet forum spam, junk fax transmissions, social spam, spam mobile apps, television advertising and file sharing spam. It is named after Spam, a luncheon meat, by way of a Monty Python sketch about a restaurant that has Spam in every dish and where patrons annoyingly chant "Spam!" over and over again.
The newsgroup alt.religion.scientology is a Usenet newsgroup started in 1991 to discuss the controversial beliefs of Scientology, as well as the activities of the Church of Scientology, which claims exclusive intellectual property rights thereto and is viewed by many as a dangerous cult. The newsgroup has become the focal point of an aggressive battle known as Scientology versus the Internet, which has taken place both online and in the courts.
alt.binaries.slack is a Usenet newsgroup created for the purpose of posting pictures, sounds, and utilities related to the Church of the SubGenius, making them available for everyone to see and hear. Because the Church of the SubGenius is well known for encouraging sick and twisted humor, the newsgroup is also home to artists who post humorous artwork of all sorts. A fair amount of the pictures on alt.binaries.slack are adult-oriented, and may be considered offensive by some viewers. The denizens of the newsgroup state that they enjoy deliberately offending those who are too easily offended.
Serdar Argic was the alias used in one of the first automated newsgroup spam incidents on Usenet, with the objective of denying the Armenian Genocide.
The Spam Prevention Early Warning System (SPEWS) was an anonymous service which maintained a list of IP address ranges belonging to Internet service providers (ISPs) which host spammers and show little action to prevent their abuse of other networks' resources. It could be used by Internet sites as an additional source of information about the senders of unsolicited bulk email, better known as spam.
A news server is a collection of software used to handle Usenet articles. It may also refer to a computer itself which is primarily or solely used for handling Usenet. A reader server provides an interface to read and post articles, generally with the assistance of a news client. A transit server exchanges articles with other servers. Most servers can provide both functions.
The alt.* hierarchy is a major class of newsgroups in Usenet, containing all newsgroups whose name begins with "alt.", organized hierarchically. The alt.* hierarchy is not confined to newsgroups of any specific subject or type, although in practice more formally organized groups tend not to occur in alt.*. The alt.* hierarchy was created by John Gilmore and Brian Reid.
A News, originally known simply as news, was the first widely distributed program for serving and reading Usenet newsgroups. The program, written at Duke University by Steve Daniel and Tom Truscott, was released on a tape given out at the June 1980 USENIX conference held at the University of Delaware. Steve Daniel from Duke offered a presentation on the then-new Usenet network and invited attendees to join.
Sporgery is the disruptive act of posting a flood of articles to a Usenet newsgroup, with the article headers falsified so that they appear to have been posted by others. The word is a portmanteau of spam and forgery, coined by German software developer, and critic of Scientology, Tilman Hausherr.
Laurence A. Canter and Martha S. Siegel were partners in a husband-and-wife firm of lawyers who posted the first massive commercial Usenet spam on April 12, 1994. This event came shortly after the National Science Foundation lifted its unofficial ban on commercial speech on the Internet, and it marks the end of the Net's early period in some views, when the original netiquette could still be enforced.
UUNET, founded in 1987, was one of the largest Internet service providers and one of the early Tier 1 networks. It was based in Northern Virginia and was one of the first commercial Internet service providers. Today, UUNET is an internal brand of Verizon Business.
alt.sex is a Usenet newsgroup – a discussion group within the Usenet network – relating to human sexual activity. It was popular in the 1990s. An October 1993 survey by Brian Reid reported an estimated worldwide readership for the alt.sex newsgroup of 3.3 million, that being 8% of the total Usenet readership, with 67% of all Usenet "nodes" carrying the group. At that time, alt.sex had an estimated traffic of 2,300 messages per month.
On Usenet, the Usenet Death Penalty is a final penalty that may be issued against Internet service providers or single users who produce too much spam or fail to adhere to Usenet standards. Messages that fall under the jurisdiction of a Usenet Death Penalty will be cancelled. Cancelled messages are deleted from Usenet servers and not allowed to propagate. This causes users on the affected ISP to be unable to post to Usenet, and it puts pressure on the ISP to change their policies. Notable cases include actions taken against UUNET, CompuServe, and Excite@Home.
Google Groups is a service from Google that provides discussion groups for people sharing common interests. The Groups service also provides a gateway to Usenet newsgroups via a shared user interface.
The Breidbart Index, developed by Seth Breidbart, is the most significant cancel index in Usenet.
A newsreader is an application program that reads articles on Usenet. Newsreaders act as clients which connect to a news server, via the Network News Transfer Protocol (NNTP), to download articles and post new articles. In addition to text-based articles, Usenet is increasingly used to distribute binary files, generally in dedicated "binaries" newsgroups.
Among the operators and users of commercial Usenet news servers, common concerns are the continually increasing storage and network capacity requirements and their effects. Completion, retention and overall system performance are the topics of frequent discussion. With the increasing demands, it is common for the transit and reader server roles to be subdivided further into numbering, storage and front end systems. These server farms are continually monitored by both insiders and outsiders, and measurements of these characteristics are often used by consumers when choosing a commercial news service.
Control messages are a special kind of Usenet post that are used to control news servers. They differ from ordinary posts by a header field named
Control. The body of the field contains control name and arguments.
Today, Usenet still exists, but it is an unsociable morass of spam, porn, and pirated software
Groups filled with spam, massive fights took place against spammers and over what to do about the spam. People stopped using their email addresses in messages to avoid harvesting. People left the net.
...many of the newsgroups have since been overrun with junk messages.
...Until authenticated cancels catch on, there are no options to avoid forged cancels and allow unforged ones...
Verb Doubling: Doubling a verb may change its semantics, Soundalike Slang: Punning jargon, The -P convention: A LISPy way to form questions, Overgeneralization: Standard abuses of grammar, Spoken Inarticulations: Sighing and <*sigh*>ing, Anthropomorphization: online components were named "Homunculi," daemons," etc., and there were also "confused" programs. Comparatives: Standard comparatives for design quality
|chapter-url=(help). Proceedings of the 1997 Usenix Winter Technical Conference. Experiences with GroupLens: Making Usenet useful again (PDF).
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