Usenet (/ˈjuːzˌnɛt/) is a worldwide distributed discussion system
available on computers. It was developed from the general-purpose 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".
One notable difference between a BBS or web forum and
Usenet is the
absence of a central server and dedicated administrator.
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.
Usenet has significant cultural importance in the networked world,
having given rise to, or popularized, many widely recognized concepts
and terms such as "FAQ", "flame", and "spam".
2 ISPs, news servers, and newsfeeds
2.2 Moderated and unmoderated newsgroups
2.3 Technical details
2.5 Binary content
2.5.1 Binary retention time
2.5.2 Legal issues
3.3 Public venue
Internet jargon and history
Usenet traffic changes
5.1 Archives by
Google Groups and DejaNews
6 See also
6.2 Usenet/newsgroup service providers
8 Further reading
9 External links
Usenet was conceived in 1979 and publicly established in 1980, at the
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Duke University,
over a decade before the
World Wide Web
World Wide Web was developed 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
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 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.
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.
Usenet has diminished in importance with respect to Internet
forums, blogs and mailing lists.
Usenet differs from such media in
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.
ISPs, news servers, and newsfeeds
Internet service providers, and many other
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
Usenet servers instead. Some clients such as Mozilla
Outlook Express provide both abilities.
Not all ISPs run news servers. A news server is one of the most
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
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
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
With the rise of the
World Wide Web
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
Google Groups is one such web based front end
and some web browsers can access
Google Groups via news: protocol
Moderated and unmoderated newsgroups
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
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.
Creation of moderated newsgroups often becomes a hot subject of
controversy, raising issues regarding censorship and the desire of a
subset of users to form an intentional community.
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
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 "Big Nine" hierarchies of Usenet
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
comp.* – computer-related discussions (comp.software,
humanities.* – fine arts, literature, and philosophy
misc.* – miscellaneous topics (misc.education, misc.forsale,
news.* – discussions and announcements about news (meaning Usenet,
not current events) (news.groups, news.admin)
rec.* – recreation and entertainment (rec.music, rec.arts.movies)
sci.* – science related discussions (sci.psychology, sci.research)
soc.* – social discussions (soc.college.org, soc.culture.african)
talk.* – talk about various controversial topics (talk.religion,
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
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,
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
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.*.
A visual example of the many complex steps required to prepare data to
be uploaded to
Usenet newsgroups. These steps must be done again in
reverse to download data from Usenet.
Usenet was originally created to distribute text content encoded in
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,
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
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
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
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.
Binary retention time
This is a list of some of the biggest binary groups. With 1341+ days
retention, the (binary)
Usenet storage (which binsearch.info indexes)
is more than 33 petabytes (33000 terabytes).
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
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 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.
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
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
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
headers are easily falsified so as to obscure the true identity and
location of the message source. In this manner,
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.
Usenet Logical Map — June 1, 1981 / mods by S. McGeady
November 19, 1981
pdp phs grumpy wolfvax
sii reed dukgeri duke34 utzoo
bmd70 ucf-cs ucf andiron
alice whuxlb utah-cs
hocsr +=+=============+=/ cbosg---+
: mhuxa mhuxh mhuxj mhuxm mhuxv
ucbcad ihpss mh135a
(UCB) : (Silicon
ucbarpa cmevax menlo70--hao
- / + = Uucp sdcsvax=+=======+=+======+ intelqa
o jumps sdcarl phonlab sdcattb
Usenet Logical Map, original by Steven McGeady. Copyright© 1981,
Bruce Jones, Henry Spencer, David Wiseman. Copied with permission from
Usenet Oldnews Archive: Compilation.
Newsgroup experiments first occurred in 1979.
Tom Truscott and Jim
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. In 1980,
Usenet was connected to
ARPANET through 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
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
could contribute to ARPANET.
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
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
the BBS community was facilitated by the introduction of
made possible by MS-DOS implementations of UUCP, such as UFGATE (UUCP
FidoNet Gateway), FS
UUCP and UUPC. In 1986, RFC 977 provided the
Network News Transfer Protocol (NNTP) specification for distribution
Usenet articles over TCP/IP as a more flexible alternative to
Internet transfers of
UUCP traffic. Since the
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
Geoff Collyer and
Henry Spencer at the University of Toronto, was
B News in features but offered considerably faster
processing. In the early 1990s,
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
Marc Andreessen announced the creation of the Mosaic browser
and the introduction of the image tag, which revolutionized the
World Wide Web
World Wide Web by turning it into a graphical medium.
Internet jargon and history
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
State of New York opened an
investigation on child pornographers who used Usenet, many ISPs
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".
Usenet access in 2005. In May 2010, Duke University,
whose implementation had kicked off
Usenet more than 30 years earlier,
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
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (news.unc.edu) was retired
on February 4, 2011.
Usenet traffic changes
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:
In 2008, Verizon Communications,
Time Warner Cable
Time Warner Cable and Sprint Nextel
signed an agreement with
Attorney General of New York
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
in early 2005, citing the growing popularity of weblogs, chat forums
and on-line conferencing. The
AOL community had a tremendous role
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
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
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
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 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
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.
Google Groups and DejaNews
Web-based archiving of
Usenet posts began in 1995 at
Deja News with a
very large, searchable database. In 2001, this database was acquired
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
Google by the
University of Western Ontario
University of Western Ontario with the help
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
DejaNews (later Deja), which was purchased by
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/newsgroup service providers
EasyNews (since 1994)
Giganews (since 1994)
Altopia (since 1995) 
Astraweb (since 1997)
Highwinds (since 2002)
Usenet.Farm (since 2015)
UsenetExpress (since 2017) 
Usenet spam filter)
List of newsgroups
Usenet Death Penalty
Legion of Net.Heroes
Scientology and the Internet
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
Gene (Spaf) Spafford
Mary Ann Horton
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Wikimedia Commons has media related to Usenet.
Usenet information, software, and service providers at Curlie (based
IETF working group USEFOR (USEnet article FORmat), tools.ietf.org
A-News Archive: Early
Usenet news articles: 1981 to 1982., quux.org
UTZoo Archive: 2,000,000 articles from early 1980s to July 1991
"Netscan". Archived from the original on June 21, 2007. Social
Accounting Reporting Tool
Internet A comprehensive history of the Internet, including
Usenet Glossary A comprehensive list of
Great Renaming (1987)
Eternal September (1993)
Meow Wars (1996–1998)
Usenet Death Penalty
Newsreaders (List, Comparison)
This list is incomplete.
Social network service
Virtual learning environment
Electronic mailing list
Bulletin board system
Internet Relay Chat
Voice over IP
Voice chat in online gaming
advertising and products
animation and comics
Web syndication technology
Feed URI scheme
RSS Advisory Board—Usenet: .net
World Wide Web
World Wide Web + (-let)
Glossary of blogging
Pay per click
Spam in blogs