There has to be some kind of timeline that a newbie follows when they decide to get into p2p. They start off with one program and then move on to better p2p programs. Do you remember the first program that you used to download files with? Do you realize that it sucks now? Here is the timeline that i think MOST people follow when they decide to get in to p2p.
Stage 1: Kindergarten. They've heard about KaZaA (or Napster back in the day), they download it, use it, and they are happy as clams. But all those pop-up ads are starting to get annoying.
Stage 2: Elementary & middle school. They hear about KaZaA Lite from a savvy friend. They download it, use it, and now they are, once again, happy as clams. But all those fake files are starting to piss them off, and they can't often get a good fast connection for most files.
Stage 3: High school. They have heard about bit torrent, emule, soulseek, shareaza, and the other alternatives to KaZaA, and they want to try them. They get less fake files, they use peerguardian, they feel like they know what they are doing, and they are mostly right. They are getting what they want with less bullcrap like fake files and viruses. They learn how to burn ISO images and BINs and CUE files to a CD. Nero, Alcohol 120%, and DAEMON tools become their favorite software programs.
Stage 4: University. IRC... you knew all about it in stage 3, but you thought it might be too much effort to learn and to use. After all, those IRC groups are all elitists, anyway. But you look around, and find some good IRC guides (THANKS, ADSTER!!!) and put them to good use. You get a good connection, and a relatively high degree of safety. One problem: queues. You agonize over your 4 hour wait to get the latest release, only to have your seeder bot die in the middle of your download. You know there's something better than IRC, but you've barely heard much of it. When you see it in a random post, you just skip over it. You saw the dinky little forum for it on filesharingtalk.com a few months ago, and you decided that it must not be a big deal, since so few people seemed to be interested in it. You know it is a complicated way to download, but you decide to give it a try...
Stage 5: Graduation. Newsgroups, bitch! The most complicated form of downloading pirates' booty. You are immediately bombarded with TMI: too much information! NZB files, PAR1 files, PAR2 files, SFV files, news servers, retention times, completion rates, articles, binaries groups, servers, repairing damaged or incomplete files, and don't forget the programs you use to actually download your files... and if you want to contribute files to the newsgroups, you'll need even more info! And furthermore, if you want to get a good connection, you need to PAY FOR IT! Yes, you do! So you spend a while learning how to use newsgroups, you find some good guides (THANKS, REALITY!!!), and after shelling out $15 or so, you are in business. And you cannot stop! You download so much so fast that you can't believe your eyes. Every file needs only ONE seeder. One seeder can serve millions of people and not even be connected after they upload to the newsgroup; the news server does it all! You feel confident that you are virtually free from "the man" (RIAA, etc) because you don't download from a random anonymous person, you download from the news server that YOU pay to download from. Your only concern is making sure your ISP can handle you (my ISP, Cox, allows 40GB/month). You download a 4.75GB DVD movie in 3 hours, and you are, once again, happy as a clam. Now if only someone would post an NTSC version of the Blues Brothers... I'm on a mission from God.
Stage 6?: Underground. I thought about including close "inner circles" in the timeline, such as people becoming members of a release group, or some small, close-knit closed bit torrent group, but so few pepole do that, and you never know if the 1337Cyb3rd00d you are close friends with online is really a cop. And if you REALLY want to get into the scene, you need either some serious hardware to help them or some serious FAST coding skillz to crack for them. If you ARE a member of the scene, more power to ya! Being in the scene isn't really a p2p service for the masses, so it's not really appropriate to include it in the list
Anyone else follow this timeline?