Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Communications Microsoft Social Networks Spam

Spam Causes Microsoft To Kill Newsgroups 157

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the good-bye-.die.die.die dept.
eldavojohn writes "Some 2,000 public and 2,200 private newsgroups devoted to and managed by Microsoft support are going to be phased out in favor of forums because of newsgroup spam. The Register calls it 'killing newsgroups' but Microsoft eloquently calls it 'the evolution of communities.' Always managing to spin it in a positive light! Let's hope the spam posts and voting bots in their forums remain controllable."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Spam Causes Microsoft To Kill Newsgroups

Comments Filter:
  • by bondsbw (888959) on Wednesday May 05, 2010 @09:36AM (#32097144)
    Microsoft is obviously choosing a path where they can control spam posting more easily. I don't see how this is bad. Not everything the company does is bad.
    • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Agreed. Forums are the evolution of news groups,

      • by mdwh2 (535323) on Wednesday May 05, 2010 @09:56AM (#32097432) Journal

        Whilst I think it's fine for MS to choose what's best for their own groups, I don't see web forums as an evolution. The biggest problem is that you're now restricted by what software the website runs, rather than running your own client (and websites are typically far more limited - have you seen one with a killfile? Even basic things like threading elude most webforum software).

        Worse, decisions are made by admins for the decision of all when they should be a user option. Most notably, the "Lock thread" feature of a certain popular webforum software, which inevitably gets used by power crazy admins for "I'm bored of reading this thread now".

        Slashdot is pretty good in terms of forum software, but most are far worse. And Slashdot still seems to have problems on every browser I've tried...

    • by SCHecklerX (229973) <thecaptain@captaincodo.net> on Wednesday May 05, 2010 @09:40AM (#32097204) Homepage

      The problem, in general, is the move to forums regardless of company.

      I miss being able to just read my subscriptions, along with using a scorefile/killfile. Now I have to create accounts on dozens of web pages and monitor them all separately, without being able to rank based on what I'm interested in. Each web page has its own formats and options. Yes, there are rss feeds, but that doesn't help much if you are an active poster in the community.

      We've gone backwards.

      • Re: (Score:1, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Like you actually read Microsoft's usenet forums..

        Put up or shut up, post your kill file.

        Otherwise it didn't happen.

      • by NevarMore (248971) on Wednesday May 05, 2010 @10:01AM (#32097496) Homepage Journal

        To be fair your argument doesn't hold water if you regularly visit official Microsoft sites or even have a Hotmail account. If you do you already have a Live Passport (I think thats what its called) that should work. Microsoft is big enough that it is actually a convenience to have a single login to all of their services and resources.

        I'll even go so far as to say that the big *nix distros should get together and support OpenID universally across all their sites for a similar effect.

        • by Speare (84249) on Wednesday May 05, 2010 @10:51AM (#32098226) Homepage Journal

          if you regularly visit official Microsoft sites or even have a Hotmail account ... the big *nix distros should get together and support OpenID universally across all their sites for a similar effect.

          You make it sound like all that anyone ever wants out of their newsgroups is about the operating systems. Do you know just how many hobbies and topics there are on a real newsgroup server? Do you realize how many separate stand-alone "you-host-em" bulletin board services are out there? There's at least two competing boards for pretty much any major hobby or special interest. There's probably five or six just for radio-controlled-aircraft discussions, then another couple for motorscooters, several for do-it-yourself-electronics, and more for anime, audiophiles, cooking, you name it.

          The world of discussion has gotten so fragmented, and everybody's got to authenticate on each service independently. Unless phpBB and the other popular forum software kits start supporting a third-party authentication (hah!), the problem is just going to get worse. Far worse.

          • by NevarMore (248971)

            Fair point. I cited some wide ranging categories or vendors that could collaborate and bring things together.

            I think its wise to target places like *nix forums, StackOverflow (already does OpenID), and other large admin/developer/power user venues for a consolidated login FIRST. You want to get the power users using it, providing feedback to the developers and getting the admins comfortable with it.

            Once they embrace it, they'll be prepared to deploy it and MAKE the normal users start using OpenID instead of

          • by dangitman (862676)

            The world of discussion has gotten so fragmented, and everybody's got to authenticate on each service independently.

            That, and the way forums are implemented is a massive pile of recycled smeg. Terrible interfaces, lack of threading, you name it. Slashdot is pretty terrible, but compared to most other forums, it seems good. And what the fuck is up with that BBcode shit? Is HTML so hard you have to invent something else that's just as cumbersome, but non-standard?

      • by GreatBunzinni (642500) on Wednesday May 05, 2010 @10:06AM (#32097558)

        Exactly.

        Moreover, a migration from usenet to web forums is made at the cost of increased bloat, complexity and a degradation of the user experience. I mean, in order for a web forum to provide the simplest features available in any usenet client for decades it has to force the user to download tons of javascript/silverlight scripts each time it refreshes a page. Meanwhile, with NNTP [wikipedia.org] you only download an extremely small text-only message which regularly doesn't even go near 1kB and with that web 2.0 shit you are forced to download more than that in any HTML header, let alone the entire page. Moreover, there is yet to be developed a way to organize a discussion in tree form in a web forum that is remotely decent, let alone capable of competing with what usenet clients have been providing for more than a decade.

        So, what exactly are they trying to achieve? Obviously this isn't being done to fight spam. Why does Microsoft hate it's customers?

        • by El Lobo (994537)
          OMFG!!! Slashdot doesn't have a usenet group!!!!!!
          • No, but nntp access to Slashdot is something that has been asked about for quite some time. :-)

          • It would be relatively simple to tack onto Usenet the ability to send replies which contain up- or down-votes and a description (although newsreader support would be an issue, obviously), and a moderation bot (the Scary Devil Monastery uses one, this can be a more complex version) could ignore any moderation posts to the /. groups which are not from current mods. THis would be tricky to do with a public group, but if each article were a group hosted on /.s own server. Thus this article might be slashdot.tec

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by Myopic (18616)

          So, what exactly are they trying to achieve?

          They are trying to achieve a reduction in spam. Didn't you even read the title of the article?

          • by Bakkster (1529253)

            They are trying to achieve a reduction in spam. Didn't you even read the title of the article?

            I also don't see how, according to the GP, the user experience can possibly be degraded if it was already overrun with spam. If the simple usenet solution is overrun with spam, the only way to prevent it may require an increase in complexity. Simple solutions only solve simple problems, and spam is anything but.

          • by GreatBunzinni (642500) on Wednesday May 05, 2010 @11:37AM (#32099078)

            So, what exactly are they trying to achieve?

            They are trying to achieve a reduction in spam. Didn't you even read the title of the article?

            But it's impossible to get a reduction in spam by cutting Usenet. Web forums clean up their spam by relying on moderation and on registered accounts. You have usenet newsgroups which have been moderated and accessible under registration way before the dotcom bubble burst. In fact, some ISPs restricted the access to their usenet servers exactly the same way as they restricted access to their email servers.

            So, to put it short: no, you don't get a reduction in spam by cutting Usenet. And it's idiotic that someone suggests that as a reasonable means to fight spam.

        • by neokushan (932374)

          I know! Heaven forbid that we actually use all that extra bandwidth, processing power and memory that we have just lying around these days. Oh Lordy, it will be a disaster having to download a few hundred kbs on your ~4Meg connection, especially compared to downloading 1kb on a 56k modem of old.

          And if that bout of sarcasm wasn't enough, how about a bit of Irony to go with it? You're moaning about the switch from newsgroups to a web-based system ON a web-based commenting system that shares all of the same as

        • by eln (21727) on Wednesday May 05, 2010 @11:27AM (#32098892) Homepage
          Why is it so obvious that it isn't being done to fight spam? Virtually all of the newsgroups out there, outside of the moderated ones, have been completely overrun with spam. There is no really effective spam-control device for Usenet other than moderated groups, and it's virtually impossible to maintain a good conversational flow in a moderated forum.

          Usenet was great in its time, but its fatal flaw turned out to be an inability to keep out spam. We fought it for years, but the fact is the spammers have won, and it's time to move on to technologies that are better able to control it, like web forums. Yes, Usenet was much nicer back in the old days before the Internet exploded, but a lot of things online were nicer then. NNTP was developed for a world where common courtesy and community policing were sufficient to correct bad behavior, but those days are gone now as the overall population of the 'net has increased exponentially and the technology of spammers has improved so that a few of them can easily drown out the many who are willing to abide by basic netiquette rules.

          The world changed. You can either adapt to it or sit back and complain about how things were so much better then, and how kids have no respect for people's lawns anymore. Web forums may have a long way to go before they can match the feature set on Usenet 15 years ago, but they beat the hell out of today's Usenet in terms of signal to noise ratio, and for many of us that's the more important thing.
          • by GreatBunzinni (642500) on Wednesday May 05, 2010 @02:34PM (#32102460)

            Why is it so obvious that it isn't being done to fight spam? Virtually all of the newsgroups out there, outside of the moderated ones, have been completely overrun with spam. There is no really effective spam-control device for Usenet other than moderated groups, and it's virtually impossible to maintain a good conversational flow in a moderated forum.

            First of all, your allegation that "virtually all of the newsgroups out there", except the moderated ones, "have been completely overrun with spam" is as true as claiming that all email has been completely overrun with spam. You only happen to see spam hitting a newsgroup if you happen to rely on a usenet service provider which, quite blatantly, doesn't employ the most rudimentary spam filter available. There are quite a fair share of usenet service providers, including free ones such as aioe [aioe.org] that do a good job filtering spam to an extent that in practice you will never come across spam.

            Then your allegation that it's virtually impossible to maintain a good conversational flow in a moderated forum doesn't hold water. After all, all web forums are moderated in some form or another, including slashdot, and that never stopped people from participating. In some extreme cases you may get a bit of lag getting your post to appear available but that doesn't happen in practice. For example, Trolltech's newsgroup server requires a registration and I believe is moderated but still my posts are made available faster than they appear in "regular" usenet groups such as comp.lang.c, which is open to all.

            Moreover, Microsoft's case is one of providing technical help regarding their products. Good conversational flow doesn't quite apply there, does it?


            Usenet was great in its time, but its fatal flaw turned out to be an inability to keep out spam. We fought it for years, but the fact is the spammers have won, and it's time to move on to technologies that are better able to control it, like web forums. Yes, Usenet was much nicer back in the old days before the Internet exploded, but a lot of things online were nicer then. NNTP was developed for a world where common courtesy and community policing were sufficient to correct bad behavior, but those days are gone now as the overall population of the 'net has increased exponentially and the technology of spammers has improved so that a few of them can easily drown out the many who are willing to abide by basic netiquette rules.

            I can't possibly see how the "spam has won" if I never come across a spam post on the dozens newsgroups I subscribe to. If your problem is spam then you solve it by blocking it. Or did you stopped using email altogether due to spam?

            And more to the point, I find email spam, which is similar to NNTP spam, to be less intrusive than some of the animated banners that some sites shove in our screen, which means that being forced to suffer through banner ads is also an inconvenience. You can always rely on plugins such as adblock but yet, you never see anyone claiming that "the web's suffers from a fatal flaw: the inability to keep out ads".


            The world changed. You can either adapt to it or sit back and complain about how things were so much better then, and how kids have no respect for people's lawns anymore. Web forums may have a long way to go before they can match the feature set on Usenet 15 years ago, but they beat the hell out of today's Usenet in terms of signal to noise ratio, and for many of us that's the more important thing.

            That may be true in a couple of years from now but I have to tell you that you don't quite know what you are talking about. It's true there are already some technically-oriented sites which are boasted as being such great sources of technical insight but in practice they all suck and are still way behind what some newsgroups continually provide. For example, stack overflow

          • by jschrod (172610)
            I would recommend to change your Usenet provider. Maybe take one where you have to pay a bit for it and who provides better service than your current provider.

            With my provider [individual.net], I don't see spam in the newsgroups that I subscribe to. I see less technical users leaving for their beloved Web fora, but that's actually a good thing. S2N ratio in many newsgroups almost returned back to the time before the AOL-me-too folks appeared.

        • Forums let the hoster:

          1. Archive messages with policies they define.

          2. Moderate messages (in particular, remove them).

          3. Enable features such as polls or comment moderation by the community.

          Unfortunately, a lot of people these days expect some or all of those, and few even know what NNTP is. There are simply too few users using the latter to make maintaining it viable.

          It does make me sad personally, though, as I did prefer the newsgroups for all the reasons you've listed (I was mostly hanging out at microso

      • The Internet's missing link.

         

      • by gstoddart (321705)

        We've gone backwards.

        Back in the mid 90's, a former co-worker opined that the web had put user-interface design back by at least a decade -- it may have been attributable to someone else, not sure.

        Fifteen years later, and I still find myself using a lot of web-based software and wondering what went wrong.

      • by pclminion (145572)

        I miss being able to just read my subscriptions, along with using a scorefile/killfile. Now I have to create accounts on dozens of web pages and monitor them all separately, without being able to rank based on what I'm interested in. Each web page has its own formats and options. Yes, there are rss feeds, but that doesn't help much if you are an active poster in the community. We've gone backwards.

        You call it going backwards, I call it an opportunity for somebody to step in and provide a software solut

      • by Darinbob (1142669)
        Agreed. I loved usenet, and I hate forums. But spam killed usenet. Instead of a one-stop-shopping for all info and discussion that was the hallmark of usenet, now I have multiple web based forums with badly designed interfaces.
      • The trick is to not bother with the forums directly. Use a couple sites like reddit or hacker news. When something worthwhile shows up in forums, someone will post a link to reddit or HN (and a week later to Slashdot...). If you want to discuss it, discuss it on reddit or HN. The threading is better than most forums and the discussion is generally better.
    • by jedidiah (1196) on Wednesday May 05, 2010 @09:40AM (#32097218) Homepage

      Newsgroups had facilities for controlling spam before Microsoft was even aware of the Internet.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Inda (580031)
        I'm just amazed to learn that people can post text messages on Usenet!

        In all my years of navigating a.b.*, I have never seen one!
    • by GreatBunzinni (642500) on Wednesday May 05, 2010 @09:58AM (#32097444)

      How exactly do you control spam posting more easily by abandoning usenet and stick to a web forum? After all, usenet is nothing but an interface to the data. There are plenty of cases where organizations, including private companies, manage fending off spam just fine although they offer support through not only newsgroups but also mailing lists and web forums. For example, Trolltech offers usenet and mailing list access to it's discussion forum [trolltech.com] and you don't get a drop of spam on it. So why does Microsoft declares itself incompetent and ignorant by claiming that spam is forcing the company to drop support for usenet access?

      • by Steauengeglase (512315) on Wednesday May 05, 2010 @11:13AM (#32098636)

        Because if you want to get something off of a forum you just send a DMCA notice and it is gone. Also you can buy out someone's forum and easily wire that info into whatever social networking service you plan on building. From a top-down, birds eye view, forums are more easily viewed as assets (in other words, a good thing for everyone but the consumer), while Usenet is like some kind unseen Vole's den.

    • It is bad when they do not want to invest in getting the job done properly, so newsgroups which have always been there for ever, to help support certain aspects of user group livelihood, is now being set aside because M$ responsible for having buggy systems that allow such attacks to succeed, is now saying, because we cant fix it and are too lazy, it is easier for us just to take out the back end of the attack vector, no newsgroups, no newsgroup attacks....
      why don't they just remove windows altogether, and

  • by jra (5600) on Wednesday May 05, 2010 @09:37AM (#32097154)

    I don't see that this means they're *actually* going to die, however.

    That's precisely the difference between implementing them as newsgroups, and as Microsoft-"hosted" fora, in fact.

    It will be interesting to see the results.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 05, 2010 @09:37AM (#32097158)

    Forums are spammed to death too. The difference here is that NNTP is archived, and searchable by third parties, a web forum can be dumped at a moments notice.

    • by gad_zuki! (70830)

      Really? I stop by the technet forums all the time and have never seen spam.

      • by macshit (157376)

        Really? I stop by the technet forums all the time and have never seen spam.

        ... and I read netnews via news.individual.net, and have never seen spam.

        The point being, both technologies can be spammed, but largely eliminating spam is also possible with both.

        Thus by saying they're making this change "to control spam," MS shows that they're either incompetent, or dishonest.

    • by Darinbob (1142669)
      Newsgroups allowed anyone in. All forums I have ever seen require you to subscribe (often they're stupid enough to require you to subscribe merely to read them). So spam can be dealt with by blocking the account and all forums I've used have active moderators. Of course a spammer can open a new account (often needing a new throw-away email address to do so), but it takes time. With usenet there was no filtering up front, anyone could post anything as fast as they wanted. Of course servers could put in
  • Yeah... right... (Score:5, Informative)

    by Spazztastic (814296) <spazztastic@NOSPaM.gmail.com> on Wednesday May 05, 2010 @09:38AM (#32097186)

    "Let's hope the spam posts and voting bots in their forums remain controllable."

    Like that will actually do anything. Spamming is just as much of a problem on forums as it is on newsgroups, maybe not as bad since they use captcha. Even then, captcha has been defeated time and time again. This is just a ploy to force people to register with them.

    • gotta catch em all! You can't do much targeted marketing to newsgroups.

    • Microsoft has decided that upon registering for any of their forums, you must complete and pass a turing test. Twice.

      • > Microsoft has decided that upon registering for any of their forums, you
        > must complete and pass a turing test.

        So only AIs that can successfully masquarade as human will be allowed on the "forums"? How will that cut down spam? Who do you think posts most of it?

  • Meh. (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Pojut (1027544)

    Chances are it's because the forums will be more easily moderated, whether it be because of forum software or other tools that are available.

    Does TFA mention anything about which forum technology they will be using? Or are they going to write their own?

  • So essentially Microsoft is 10 years behind the curve? Why hasn't MS had forums? Why aren't they exploring crowdsourcing and open bug trackers?

    • by TimSSG (1068536)
      You must understand that bug tracking for
      Microsoft might have issues. What is the normal
      max number of bugs per application; I can see MS
      exceeding the normal range tested in Open
      Source Bug tracker. Tim S.
    • by El Lobo (994537)
      Hmm.. many people are screaming because evil MS now have forums. Another half is crying because evil MS now have forums. Great!
      • by El Lobo (994537)
        OK, I fucked my post out... many people are screaming because evil MS now have forums. Another half is crying because evil MS did not implement forums earlier. Great!

        I'll better post about how come evil slashdot doesn't allow post editing, year 2010. What's this, Usenet?

    • So essentially Microsoft is 10 years behind the curve? Why hasn't MS had forums?

      It does. For a while, there has been both forums and newsgroups. I believe that they are even connected via a bridge.

      Why aren't they exploring crowdsourcing and open bug trackers?

      It's there [microsoft.com] for some products, though not all (mostly for developer-related stuff).

  • as subject, cos I can't talk about nntp

  • Control (Score:5, Insightful)

    by wowbagger (69688) on Wednesday May 05, 2010 @09:50AM (#32097358) Homepage Journal

    It's about control - you can control a forum, you cannot control a newsgroup.

    This has good aspects: with control you can kill spam, bounce griefers and trolls, and generally promote a more thoughtful discussion.

    This has bad aspects: with control you can kill dissent, bounce critics and whistleblowers, and generally promote a more "corporate" discussion.

    In the modern business environment, business managers are conditioned to seek control - it's no different Microsoft or Apple or IBM or RedHat, it's just a matter of degree.

    • Re:Control (Score:5, Interesting)

      by GreatBunzinni (642500) on Wednesday May 05, 2010 @10:19AM (#32097752)

      Newsgroups can be moderated and have been moderated for ages and if you really want to you can just as easily put up a usenet server that requires the users to register an account. It has been done in the past and it is still being done up to this minute. As usenet is nothing but an interface to access discussion data, obviously it doesn't offer any disadvantage. In fact, web forums have been continuously failing to provide the very basic functionality any usenet client has been providing for ages and every little feature that is implemented in a web forum ends up being terribly bloated (i.e., relying on tons of scripts whose code must be downloaded each time someone accesses the site) and terribly underwhelming.

      So, if usenet doesn't bring any disadvantage in that oblivious fight against spam, it has been superior to web forums since it's inception and doesn't take any control out of the provider then what can possibly be driving this measure?

      • by pclminion (145572)

        Newsgroups can be moderated and have been moderated for ages and if you really want to you can just as easily put up a usenet server that requires the users to register an account.

        Quite a few people, myself included, find moderated groups offensive. It has a ring of "Papers, please" to it. Yeah, there are a lot of spammers out there. But assuming I'm a spammer until you can prove otherwise? Fuck you.

    • by sznupi (719324)

      Though, at some point, the change in degree of control becomes qualitative, not merely quantitative. And heck, we have just fine CentOS/Scientific Linux plus RedHat funds and links to Fedora from its homesite.

  • I can't blame them (Score:5, Interesting)

    by MBGMorden (803437) on Wednesday May 05, 2010 @09:53AM (#32097396)

    As a former very avid Usenet user, I really can't blame them. The medium is falling out of favor precisely because most of the groups are filled with junk.

    I don't get why the spammers even bother anymore though. People on Usenet tend to be experienced users - few people just accidentally wander there anymore. These type of users HATE spam. They can't possibly be getting much, if any, of a response from their efforts there. Why waste the effort in the first place?

    • by emurphy42 (631808) on Wednesday May 05, 2010 @09:58AM (#32097450) Homepage
      Because various web sites that echo Usenet thereby become link farms?
    • Low investment. You might as well ask why they spam at all.
    • by sznupi (719324)

      In the first place, the effort is very small; it takes little to spawn spam.

    • "most of the groups are filled with junk"

      Quite true. There are >40,000 groups in my .newsrc, but the handfull of groups I subscribe to have very little spam, and that is mostly easily filtered out. I think it just might depend on what groups one is familiar with. Certainly nobody cares about "most of them". Most of what is on the Web is junk, too.

      • > I think it just might depend on what groups one is familiar with.

        It also depends on who you get your feed from. Some providers are much better at filtering spam than others (with ISPs generally doing no filtering at all)

    • As a former very avid Usenet user, I really can't blame them. The medium is falling out of favor precisely because most of the groups are filled with junk.

      That doesn't make any sense. The perceived problem with usenet spam is exactly the same as the email spam, as it's a problem which grossly depends on the service provider. For example, if your ISP fails to filter yout the spam so that you get 10 spams a day then does that make email a "medium which is falling out of favour"? Obviously it doesn't.

      As Google does a decent job fighting spam on Google Mail, some usenet providers such as my ISP and even AIOE do a good job filtering the crap out of newsgroups.

      • by MBGMorden (803437)

        So, summing things up, if spam doesn't make email suck then why should it make usenet, a medium which is harder to attack, suffer more from it? It doesn't.

        You're not thinking the problem out. With email, each and every spammer that decides to spam you has to find out your email somehow. Sometimes they share, sometimes they don't, but the more spammers find out your email address, the more spam you get.

        Compare with Usenet - when you connect to a server, you can just ask for the list of current newsgroups and it'll give the whole list back (kinda necessary by the way it works). They don't have to discover anything.

        Also, Google and most other email filters pr

        • by macshit (157376)

          Trust me, even on a good dedicated Usenet server (I've used several - most recently Astraweb, but I've also used Teranews and Giganews in the past), any group that is not moderated is FLOODED with spam

          Try using news.individual.net, they do a great job of controlling spam -- there seems to be almost zero spam on any of the newsgroups I've read there (few of which moderated).

        • by jschrod (172610)

          even on a good dedicated Usenet server (I've used several - most recently Astraweb, but I've also used Teranews and Giganews in the past), any group that is not moderated is FLOODED with spam

          If they are FLOODED with spam, they may be dedicated, but they are not good. In the newsgroups of my Usenet provider [individual.net] appears virtually no spam.

      • by Comboman (895500)

        As Google does a decent job fighting spam on Google Mail, some usenet providers such as my ISP and even AIOE do a good job filtering the crap out of newsgroups.

        You're lucky to have a good ISP. Most ISPs treat usenet like a red-headed stepchild, many block binary and alt groups, have cut back on retention times/number of groups and some have even dropped support for usenet entirely, telling their customers to "use google groups".

        • by jschrod (172610)
          That's why I use a dedicated Usenet provider [individual.net] where I find virtually no spam in any newsgroups that I subscribe to. Of course, I have to pay for that added service, but that's a good investment.
    • For the same reason they spam in the first place - the cost to spam is virtually zero, so any result provides profit way out of proportion to the effort.

    • > As a former very avid Usenet user, I really can't blame them. The medium is
      > falling out of favor precisely because most of the groups are filled with
      > junk.

      Then why isn't the Web falling out of favor? Almost all Web pages and most Web forums are also filled with junk.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      Green Card Lottery 1994 May Be The Last One!
      THE DEADLINE HAS BEEN ANNOUNCED.

      The Green Card Lottery is a completely legal program giving away a
      certain annual allotment of Green Cards to persons born in certain
      countries. The lottery program was scheduled to continue on a
      permanent basis. However, recently, Senator Alan J Simpson
      introduced a bill into the U. S. Congress which could end any future
      lotteries. THE 1994 LOTTERY IS SCHEDULED TO TAKE PLACE
      SOON, BUT IT MAY BE THE VERY LAST ONE.

      PERSONS BORN IN MOST COU

  • Repost? (Score:3, Funny)

    by erroneous (158367) on Wednesday May 05, 2010 @10:01AM (#32097494) Homepage

    I think this a repost from 1995.

    Didn't *everyone* stop using newsgroups about then?

  • I have the Google Reader widget on my iGoogle homepage. I'd recommend it to anyone as reading truncated story titles like "Spam Causes Microsoft To Kill" can really brighten up your day.

  • is all the godawful amounts of east european kiddie porn spam in the alt.binaries area

    you would have thought law enforcement would notice and would have shut down nntp on that fact alone. but i guess nntp still inhabits that technical area of the web beyond the average user, so i guess the media and the soccer moms with their awareness of facebook, twitter, and nothing else, they're just unaware there's this horribly huge amount of freely accessible anonymous kiddie porn spamming going on. freely accessible, i guess, if you know how to download a newsgroup reader and enter the name of your internet provider's nntp server in a dialog box. which i guess is all the "technical hurdles" you need to make nntp completely obscure to most people, certainly public awareness, even law enforcement

    don't click on ANY images in the alt.binaries area unless you want to unwittingly download child pornography onto your computer. its in completely unrelated groups, and it is purposefully mislabeled as something else

    baffling and frightening problem

    • "But officer, I downloaded those 500 megs of kiddie porn by accident! See, I even posted about it in slashdot!"
    • Complaining that NNTP should be shut down because you see east european kiddie porn spam in some newsgroups is exactly like complaining that HTTP should be shut down because you see european kiddie porn in some sites: it doesn't make any sense and you only succeed in coming out as an ignorant fool.

      And here's a tip: if you don't want to see east european kiddie porn then don't follow newsgroups/sites that post that sort of crap.

      • by colfer (619105)

        Difference is that NNTP binaries are stored at the ISP.

      • Consider the fuss if Comcast said tommorow that they would no longer serve data via HTTP to their userbase. Now consider the minor, tech site, nerdy fuss that would occur if they said the exact same about NNTP. That is the difference.

        Of course you can't shut down a protocol, but while I don't want it, it baffles me as well that any major ISP is running a news server in 2010. It would be like an airline still offering smoking in the cabin.

  • Not Just Spam (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Read directly from the source:

    http://www.microsoft.com/communities/newsgroups/default.mspx#ECB [microsoft.com]

    There are a myriad of reasons, and "spam" isn't even the top reason.

  • Fixing it... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by gjh (231652) on Wednesday May 05, 2010 @10:27AM (#32097864)

    Of course, it IS still just about possible for one of us to fix USENET. If we cared enough.

    - A distributed ratings system that works, and allows matching of your preferences to people with similar preferences.
    - A better standard for signing articles, and ownership of virtual websites where threads or subforums can only be started by the owner
    - Standards for structured documents and so on.
    - Incorporation and acceptance into multiple CMS's so that you can actually read existing forums through NNRP

    So far, in the 15 years since this has been an issue, noone has cared enough to fix it. Pity.

  • by GodfatherofSoul (174979) on Wednesday May 05, 2010 @10:27AM (#32097870)

    I was an avid newsgroup poster years ago, but the spam and typical lack of administration ruined it for me. Newsgroups were fun and I'll fondly remember downloading pics of Julia Taylor from alt.binaries.redheads or whatever, but time marches on.

  • by Culture20 (968837) on Wednesday May 05, 2010 @10:37AM (#32098012)
    Remember, a successful parasite doesn't kill the host, or make the host want to kill itself. Ramp down your spam relays or you're going to lose your host media. Eventually even email will become a burden again; I'm having to check three tiered spam filters for legit mail, and more spam is getting through all three while a little legit mail is getting caught in different filters.
  • ...but there are people who know how to actually work the knowledge contained in newsgroups, and these people will be be severely obstructed.

    I subscribe to a number of newsgroups covering many technical subjects I'm very interested in. Using just the Microsoft newsgroups as an example, I have scripts that allow me to input keywords and conceptual ideas, search all the newsgroups simultaneously, and then present the relevant posts and threads prioritized by content. This cuts my browsing for relevant info by

  • by night_flyer (453866) on Wednesday May 05, 2010 @10:56AM (#32098302) Homepage

    the web does things better than a BBS.

    - NewGroups/FIDO vs Web Forums... IMO Web win... the age of Bluewave mailer programs and its ilk are past
    - Download BBS Files vs Download files from the web... again the Web Wins, it susually easier to browese via google for the files you want (especially pictures) than to log onto a BBS to get the File_ID.diz info or even just some sysops description.
    - the only Area in which the BBSs win are with the door games, and only if you like text style games, otherwise the Web wins again.

    sometimes things just are just no longer useful

  • by jridley (9305) on Wednesday May 05, 2010 @11:13AM (#32098626)

    I used to follow several newsgroups, but gave up on them years ago because the spam was simply unbearable. In the groups I was hanging out in, probably 70% of the messages were spam.

  • by CohibaVancouver (864662) on Wednesday May 05, 2010 @11:16AM (#32098702)
    I can see why email spam persists - People are still lured in by offers of cheap software, pornography, 'free smilies' and whatever - But usenet spam remains a mystery to me. I just don't understand why spammers take the energy to bother spamming usenet. Presumably usenet users are a higher class of user. While email spam presumably continues to yield good results, I just can't imagine usenet spam yields a single sale... What's the point?
    • Its cheap (free) and easy. Even if there is *one* sale, its worth it.

    • by Culture20 (968837)

      usenet spam remains a mystery to me. I just don't understand why spammers take the energy to bother spamming usenet. Presumably usenet users are a higher class of user. While email spam presumably continues to yield good results, I just can't imagine usenet spam yields a single sale...

      What if it were a spam ad for "Super low interest rate mortgage. Buy your own place, get out of your mother's basement. Impress women!"? I'd google the company's name at least.

    • by koro666 (947362)

      As one commenter put it earlier, lots of websites scrape Usenet posts where it ends up on the web, making it "become a linkfarm" as the guy put it.

      That would be my guess as why...

  • Derp (Score:4, Insightful)

    by MikeURL (890801) on Wednesday May 05, 2010 @11:28AM (#32098920) Journal
    Spam and mentally ill trolls killed unmoderated groups a long long time ago. The long tail of mental illness meant that all it took was just a few really screwed up people to ruin an entire newsgroup. Further, there never was a good way to block users because the NNTP was never meant to be good at that kind of thing. So determined trolls could consistently get around even pretty sophisticated filters.

    And if you're going to opt for moderated then you may as well go to web-based because the tools have a lot more features.
    • Re:Derp (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Darinbob (1142669) on Wednesday May 05, 2010 @03:09PM (#32102892)
      No, I think usenet had much better tools than the majority of web based forums I've seen. Every single web forum has a different interface, the majority have bad interface, extremely few can accurately remember what articles you've read or not without getting confused, very few handle branching within threads, and the vast majority have huge amounts of wasted space around the actual text (user icons/avatars, signatures, side bars, etc). You have your own interface with usenet, you can choose what you think is best (even web based if you want), whereas with forums you have to put up with whatever interface they give you.

      Then there's the mere fact that I have to go to more than one forum in the first place that ignores me. One for game 1, one for game 2, ten for one tech topic, one for comics, 5 for a tv show, etc. I have to check each one to see if there's something new. If I want to join a temporary topic (new car for instance) I have to find the right forum to handle it, then remember to check it regularly to see if my question ever gets answers (most likely it won't). In usenet it was one place for everything.

      Usenet was also highly regarded and authoritative in many places - you could chat with J. Michael Straczynski or Terry Pratchett, argue with RMS about emacs features, get answers to obscure C questions from people who were on the standards committees, etc. Many well regarded FAQs came from usenet.
  • Ha! Now you guys know how us kermit users felt :p

  • If so, can you comment on why Google makes it so amazingly difficult to flag Usenet messages as spam? Why don't you include a "Report spam" button next to every post?

  • its their fault. after all these years one would think that people would have realized - never entrust anything with microsoft. theyll pull the plug on you if they think they are not having what they want, and it just needs decision of an mid upper level manager. they have got away with all the stunts they pulled up till today, so they are not hesitant in doing this over and over. they dont worry about PR at all.

    dont get worked up - noone needs to recount all the stunts they pulled on their partners and

Put no trust in cryptic comments.

Working...