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Thread: AOL Pulls Plug on Newsgroup Service

  1. #1
    AOL Pulls Plug on Newsgroup Service
    By Brian McWilliams, Guest Columnist
    January 25, 2005, 9:50 AM
    PERSPECTIVE The world's largest ISP is cutting off direct access to one of the oldest, coolest -- and strangest -- parts of the Internet.

    America Online has quietly announced that it will discontinue providing member access to Usenet newsgroups next month. In recent days, AOL subscribers who access keyword "Newsgroups" are greeted with a pop-up message informing them of the change: "Please Note: The AOL Newsgroup service will be discontinued in early 2005."

    According to a notice on AOL's Web site, the newsgroup shut-off will occur in February, severing subscribers from the thousands of discussion groups that make up Usenet.

    AOL officials weren't immediately available to explain the newsgroup shutdown. The ISP's pop-up message advises subscribers that newsgroup services are available from third-party providers. The message also notes that users with separate high-speed connections may be able to arrange newsgroup access through their broadband provider. AOL users can read newsgroups over the Web using Google Groups, the message said.

    The Usenet dates back to around 1980. Now that blogs and instant messaging have supplanted older Internet technologies such as newsgroups and IRC, it's unlikely that AOL users will create much of an uproar over the decision. But the event nonetheless represents a milestone in Internet history.

    The AOL newsgroup shutdown comes almost exactly eleven years after the service first unleashed its members on the Usenet. In early 1994, seasoned newsgroup participants complained of the sudden influx of AOL newbies, who appeared to know little of Usenet etiquette. One dismayed user likened AOL members to drunk drivers on the Information Super Highway.

    Others compared the stream of AOL users to freshmen arriving at college in autumn, and described the resulting decline of newsgroup discourse as the Eternal September. Perhaps not coincidentally, the first Usenet spam -- known as the Green Card Lottery spam -- appeared right around the same time.

    Besides text-based discussions, Usenet newsgroups today are also used for the distribution of binary data, including images, MP3 music files and software programs. But the technology is much slower and more cumbersome than peer-to-peer networks for accessing such data. As a result, copyright holders and associations such as the RIAA and MPAA have been less aggressive about policing piracy on Usenet.

    It's not clear whether such legal issues led to AOL's decision. Last summer, the ISP settled a long-running lawsuit brought by author Harlan Ellison. The science fiction writer had complained that AOL was partly to blame when one of its users posted digital copies of his published work in Usenet newsgroups. AOL argued that, under the DMCA, its liability for the actions of members was limited.

    AOL's Usenet implementation was non-standard from the start. The service doesn't allow members to connect directly to its network news transfer protocol (NNTP) servers. Thus, AOL subscribers are forced to use the service's internal and poorly designed newsgroup reader rather than the array of better third-party programs.

    But AOL did help to launch scores of local-interest newsgroups known as AOL Neighborhood Newsgroups. The future of those newsgroups, which contain job listings and personals ads, is unknown.

    The newsgroups flame wars will certainly continue without the assistance of AOL members. And alt.barney.dinosaur.die.die.die and all the other bizarre newsgroup forums will no doubt survive the loss of participants from the big ISP. But the Usenet will nonetheless become a smaller, less interesting place once AOL turns off its newsgroup servers.
    Last edited by RealitY; 01-26-2005 at 08:31 AM.

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  3. Newsgroups   -   #2
    vivitron 15's Avatar Poster
    Join Date
    Jan 2003
    North East England, UK
    funny that should happen - my ISP is about to limit monthly transfer to 15GiB to/from their NG. I have noticed many more people getting into them lately - i reckon its the future of p2p...ignore all of this kazaa/emule/BT rubbish, this is the way it's going to be tomorrow!
    <insert signature here>

  4. Newsgroups   -   #3
    rrtn's Avatar Poster
    Join Date
    Feb 2003
    im surprised aol currently offers newsgroups at all.
    oh well, add it to the feature list on the aol car
    The AOL Car!

    1. The AOL car would have a TOP speed of 40 MPH yet have a 200 MPH speedometer.

    2. The AOL car would come equipped with a NEW and fantastic 8-Track tape player.

    3. The car would often refuse to start and owners would just expect this and try again later.

    4. The windshield would have an extra dark tint to protect the driver from seeing better cars.

    5. AOL would sell the same model car year after year and claim it's the NEW model.

    6. Every now and then the brakes on the AOL car would just "lock-up" for no apparent reason.

    7. The AOL car would have a very plain body style but would have lots' of pretty colors and lights.

    8. The AOL car would have only one door but it would have 5 extra seats for family members.

    9. Anyone dissatisfied could return the car but must continue to make payments for 6 months.

    10. If an AOL car owner received 3 parking tickets AOL would take the car from them.

    11. The AOL car would have an AOL Cell phone that can only place calls to other AOL car cell phones.

    12. AOL would pass a new car law forbidding AOL car owners from driving near other car dealerships.

    13. AOL car mechanics would have no experience in car repair.

    14. Younger AOL car drivers would be able to make other peoples AOL cars stall just for fun.

    15. It would not be possible to upgrade your AOL car stereo.

    16. AOL cars would be forced to use AOL gas that cost 20% more and gave worse mileage.

    17. Anytime an AOL car owner saw another AOL car owner he would wonder, M/F/age?

    18. It would be common for AOL car owners to divorce just to marry another AOL car owner.

    19. AOL car owners would always claim to be older or younger than they really are.

    20. AOL cars would come with a steering wheel and AOL would claim no other cars have them.

    21. Every time you close the door on the AOL car it would say, "Good-Bye ."

  5. Newsgroups   -   #4
    asmithz's Avatar Hi-Definition
    Join Date
    Jun 2003
    AOL users deserve it, there are plunty of isp's out there that are cheaper and offer features like newsgroups with no extra charge. For the price of AOL (not aol broadband) i have highspeed and unlimited use of newsgroups, thats sad.

  6. Newsgroups   -   #5
    that's always nice, not too sure many newsgroup users are on aol anyway. prolly why they pulled it.

  7. Newsgroups   -   #6
    Well, that lasted all of 5 minutes

    I came on to the Newsgroup forum to find out about this side of filesharing,
    I've not a clue about it, had a good read of RealitY's thread "NewsGroups Guide For GrabIt " excellent stuff.
    Downloaded the software ok,
    clicked on the link "ISP's that support News"
    ~Just my luck~
    AOL Don't

    So at this time no support,
    I just hope that now Newsgroup filesharing is becoming more popular that AOL will bring it back into service, well I hope so.

    I could change my ISP, but at the mo I get 8MB for 25 per month with no knock off.
    The only way to get it cheaper on AOL is after the years contract has finished, say you want to cancel and they will make you an instant offer,
    mine was with a speedtouch wireless router this year,
    not used yet as i'm still using last years Speedtouch 4 port router.

    well, hope to join you sometime down the line
    Thanks all for the info
    The idiosyncratic syntax of riddles interests me

  8. Newsgroups   -   #7
    Chewie's Avatar Chew E. Bakke
    Join Date
    Feb 2004
    Don't hold your breath because AOL has traditionally used a proprietary technology to deliver newsgroups/usenet.
    In other words, normal newsgroup software wouldn't work with it.
    There isn't a bargepole long enough for me to work on [a Sony Viao] - clocker 2008

  9. Newsgroups   -   #8
    Quote Originally Posted by CELEBS
    I get 8MB for 25 per month with no knock off.

  10. Newsgroups   -   #9
    yeh i didnt get taht either 8mb downloading speed is too fast for AOL .. i dont think its possible.

  11. Newsgroups   -   #10
    Ok, next october I'll get a proper ISP

    4 years is way too long anyway
    The idiosyncratic syntax of riddles interests me

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