back to article AT&T jettisons the last of its Usenet

AT&T has dealt another blow to the internet relic known as Usenet. Sometime next month, the American telcom giant will terminate its entire newsgroup service. "Please note that on or around July 15, 2009, AT&T will no longer be offering access to the Usenet netnews service," reads a note sent to AT&T and posted on the company' …


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  1. Anonymous Coward

    No big loss

    Haven't read NetNews in years.

    Flames. That one big thing I don't miss about NetNews.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down


    So much for my being able to help folks on alt.comp.virus from time to time.

    "Bad people use ______ so in order to stop them, we need to remove access to ______ from everyone."

  3. BlueGreen

    newsgroups got hugely spammed but...

    ... there were some real treasures like comp.arch (wish I had time to read it, if it's not dissolved into viaqqra ads) and many more, some quite specialised.

    Also one charming and very english NG locked in a kind of Douglas Adams-esque eternal breakfast time, impeccably mannered and welcoming to all; alt.2eggs.sausage.beans.tomatoes.2toast.largetea.cheerslove.

    NGs - magic stuffed screwed over by flamethrowing idiots and spammers.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    So I'll be getting a discount then?

    Since AT&T are reducing their services to me I'll be getting a discount ... odd that they've not mentioned this to me yet?

    At one point AT&T were nice to deal with and reasonably priced but since they've bought all the regional baby bells they are getting to be a real pain. Unfortunately - at least if I want wired phone and internet service - they're the only game in town... that is unless I want to deal with COX (rhymes with?) who are even worse than AT&T.

    You have a choice ... with Vaseline or without.

  5. Al

    Another politico moron

    New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo is a headline grabbing moron of the highest quality. Like getting rid of the groups are going to get rid of those posting. All he’s done is to drive them into hiding and make the actual job of catching these perverts more difficult. But then when have we heard of any Ags doing anything these days that doesn’t generate them big headlines so they can further their political careers.

  6. Nexox Enigma

    Will anyone miss this?

    I haven't used AT&T's newsgroup service, but ISPs tend to offer truly horrible retention and completion, plus they frequently have a tiny bandwidth cap.

    Anyone who actually downloads files would already have third-party service, since the ISP stuff is so broken. So nothing has actually changed here.

    Shame that the distant threat of child porn is such a strong force. Apparently anyone (that knows how to grab a binary from newsgroups) has access to kiddie porn, and it wouldn't be terribly hard to plant it somewhere, tell a DA, and get whatever you want shut down.

    The question is: Who will win the race to slap some on the NY DA's web page?

  7. . Quirkafleeg .

    “and posted on the comany's Usenet servers”

    … and spread worldwide from there. Somebody there slipped up and showed them to be a bunch of multi-posting clueless…

  8. Disco-Legend-Zeke
    Paris Hilton

    Bad news for Botnet upgrades

    Diehard Newsgroup addicts can still subscribe to vastly superior News Servers, but this will have a side effect of preventing a lot of really evil things being perpetrated on the innocent.

    Paris... speaking of innocent.

  9. Kwac

    @ac 17:26

    So you don't use it - that means it must be shite?

    Personally, I use it a fair bit, prefer 'uk.rec.sheds' & ''.

    Strangely neither of these (not being binary) have the pictures you might see on '' (which does exist) or 'alt.bin.kiddieporn' (which doesn't).

  10. Gareth

    Binaries destroyed Usenet

    Usenet was a pretty useful and entertaining part of the Internet back in the day, when the Internet was just a bunch of nerds. Just like how SMTP was a pretty good e-mail protocol.

    After all, who needs features like accountability and authentication when everyone knows that there's strict etiquette to be followed and you risk getting flamed if you should violate those unwritten rules...

  11. This post has been deleted by a moderator

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I remember...


    I once posted something on that and got a deaththreat

    If it walks like a twat, quacks like a twat then its a twat

  13. Robert Moore


    YOu have to admire the way they pulled the alt.binaries groups. Tell the world you are shutting it down because there is kiddie pr0n there. No no one can complain, because the only people who would want the alt.binaries groups are pedos.

    It is brilliant, worthy of a golf clap.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    Almost enough to make you wonder...

    if the computers at the MPAA, RIAA, and State Attorney General offices were checked, if the source of the pre-pubescent binaries might be found there. Poisoning the well...

  15. Brian Morrison
    Thumb Up

    MIss it?

    Why ever would I miss it, it's accessible in many other ways and I use it daily.

    What would be great is to get Usenet back into the state it was in pre-1992, with lots of excellent helpful people who knew stuff backwards as well as forwards and who were merciless in exposing those that couldn't fit in and quote and post properly.

    Maybe one day....

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    "Beware the Four Horsemen of the Information Apocalypse: terrorists, drug dealers, kidnappers, and child pornographers." - Bruce Schneier

  17. Herby

    Of course, there will always be an alternative.

    One of these days, NNTP will be new and improved, where spam can be tracked and eliminated at the source. Hopefully IETF will assign a new port to NNTP2, and we will all point newsreaders there. The posts will be thoughtful and intelligent, and helpful.

    Until then we must coexist with the "tragedy of the commons", where the bad brings down the good. (*SIGH*).

  18. Antti Roppola

    Enclosure of the Commons

    It's a real pity. Much of the valuable discussion on UseNet has moved to web forums. You don't miss posts, the interface is slicker and there's a landlord to deal with bad citizens, but it's ultimately made us digital sharecroppers.

    No-one's going to be interested in fixing UseNet any time soon or creating a modern equivalent. The flood of binaries groups was the beginning of the end, making it harder and harder for my ISP at the time to keep a reasonable volume of discussion.

  19. Dick

    Once upon a time

    UseNet was a great resource, but now it's the cloaca of the internet .

  20. BlueGreen

    @Herby, @Antti Roppola : decent NGs can and still do exist, they just need mods

    A great example is comp.compilers, moderated by John Levine, and apparently (IIRC) the longest moderated NG in existence. A lot of real experts post there (and a couple of mine I hope to forget). Very, very good - if you have the time, of course.

    Having a committed mod is key but that means either an employed, salaried position or an unusually public-minded person; a rare bird.

    @AC 20:22 re. alt.2eggs... Unlucky. I only lurked for a while and saw nothing of that.

  21. Kurt
    Thumb Down

    F them

    I was thinking about switching to AT&T dsl. Forget that, I'll just keep my cable internet now.

  22. Steve Mueller
    Dead Vulture

    prodigy killed Usenet in 2001

    The Irony!!

    I went to work for SBC, back in 1998, and my first assignment, was Usenet. I went to California, built a new for a while... it was really fun!

    saturating the first gigabit ethernet interfaces, with "usenet" traffic.

    When they finally put an OC-12 between NorCal and SoCal... it got flooded with "usenet" traffic too.

    I still have some e-mails and posts (flames)... from when I put the bandwidth limits on the server.

    I think it's kinda ironic... in May 1998, I build ran it for a while.

    a decade later, as I resign from at&t, they kill Usenet.

    The fellas in White Plains, killed it. Prodigy... ick!

    It's a cost as far as at&t sees it... the don't/can't make money off it...

    Sadly, in 2000, before I split out of the Usenet team... we were exploring a subscription (fee) based service offering, that didn't suck.

    Just be happy, AT&T got rid of NCR, back in 1990... Otherwise, the 'new' at&t... would be CRa.P

    Cash Registers and Phones


    may your 1200 day uptime, be remembered, fondly.

  23. Michael Mounteney

    Triumph of technical mediocrity

    I was musing the other day ... NNTP is being replaced by the technically inferior, but much more trendy, RSS and Atom. Inferior, because each poll requires downloading the entire cache of items, and because polling has to be sufficiently frequent to avoid gaps in the item 'window'. Shame.

  24. JohnG

    from Steve Mueller "...they don't/can't make money off it..."

    I think that's the key - ISPs can't see a revenue stream from Usenet and many of their customers have never used it.

    Binaries are not really a problem - if an ISP doesn't like binaries (either due to volume of traffic or their questionable content and associated legal issues), they don't carry those groups or they adjust the retention times of high volume groups to reduce storage requirements. They can also shape usenet traffic as they need - they don't need to provide a specific bandwidth or response time to users (because they won't have made any rash promises about their Usenet service).

  25. jake Silver badge
    Thumb Down

    Death of Usenet, photos at 11.

    Gareth scrive: "Binaries destroyed Usenet"

    No. Binaries have always been a part of Usenet. It is idiots posting inappropriate binaries that are getting close to killing Usenet. It's a "tragedy of the commons" thing ... spam in email is part of the same problem.

    Somewhere, the ghost of Knaresborough Forest is crying ...

    Usenet will survive, though. Even if it has to go back to dial-up.

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    UK Usenet on the way out also

    My UK based ISP has dropped Usenet also. Handed out a years free subs to a 3rd party supplier. Only comment they made was to reduce support and costs. Not saving me any money though!

  27. Dave Bell

    Watching the trolls complain

    I'm also seeing the story through a long-established newsgroup.

    The people making the fuss haven't made an on-topic post in several years. They're making ludicrous claims about the importance of Usenet.

    They're the people who made the newsgroup almost useless.

    There are newsgroups that are still worthwhile, but maybe only because they're obscure.

  28. Steve Kay
    Thumb Down

    Eternal September

    When I were a mere strop of a lad, first discovering the newsfeed, there were a collection of about 100 alt. groups named alt.o.o.o.X.o.o.o.X.o.o.X and alt.o.X.o.X.o.o.o.o.X and so on and so forth.

    I spent ages wondering wtf these pretty much empty groups were for, until I looked at my wee green-screen terminal sideways and scrolled back and forth in the active list and the Xs spelled out


    Who's laughing now, Usenet??! Oh....

  29. Publius Valerius Publicola

    Just another reminder....

    Aggregate intelligence of the species is an invariant. The population has grown more than sixfold in the last 200 years. Witness (I actually typed 'Witless' twice) not merely those like Cuomo, Coulter, Lee and so on, but the too-easily-distracted masses that don't simply ignore them and their ilk.

    Mine's the one with the "Intelligent design could never have led to THIS" lapel pin...

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