The New Usenet

The New Usenet

Are you expecting an article on the newest craze on the internet? The next new thing after blogs, Twitter and Myspace?

How about a twist on the oldest social networking venue on the web — usenets?

It was just a year ago we were reading articles on how the usenet was dead. About how forums and blogs have taken over the usenets’ usefulness. All through last year the big usenet providers were countering these claims with articles about how they are still here and will continue being here into the future.

Even so, legal issues, copyright issues, and child pornography issues cast a dark shadow over the usenet. How can there be a “new” usenet amid all the doom and gloom about usenets?

After all, what would the usenet be without a free mp3 or a copy of last months Playboy centerfold? What about a web-based usenet? Can this solve all the problems associated with the old usenet?  and what exactly is web-based usenet? A vast majority of the population does not even know what usenet is but, you mention twitter and they will tweet you to death.

Just after the invention of the internet wheel, educators at universities began to communicate via their computers. This was the beginning of a huge network that soon included pictures, videos and software.  The “Usenet” was born.

Who puts these items up on the usenet? You do, we do, your neighbor does. If I wanted to show off my restored 34 high boy, I might just take a picture of it and post it in for everyone in the world to see.

Usenet can boast that it has a forum for everyone, that nothing is left out, including illegal photos, videos and pirated software. The big usenet providers claim their service is “uncensored” as an out for the illegal content they provide. They have no control over what is posted by usenet users and the content is stored encoded at their server and is not in any useable format anyway. In other words, just look the other way folks; what is in there is in there and it is not going away any time soon.

In  todays’ society, we get bombarded with so much new technology and so many gadgets that you just can not spend all day learning how to use the new phone you just got because the ring on the other one annoyed your dog and he finally ended it. Todays’ gadgets need to be more intuitive and simpler to use than yesterdays gadgets. But this trend toward intuitive simplicity is far from the case with standard usenet. Just google “usenet tutorial” and see what happens. No wonder the usenet was flat-lining; with 2 million tutorials available, it can’t be that easy for everyone to set up usenet.

I found out about usenet back when I was in college. It was a large school, with large classes and few teacher aides so, if your little clique of study mates didn’t know the answer and you could not get to the teachers aides for help, what did you do? I found many helpful usenet-ers in alt.sci.chemistry and alt.eng.chemisty and learned so much by reading their posts. This became a great educational tool in all my classes. Truly, the usenet does have a topic for everyone and probably the answer to any question.

So, there are a lot of pluses and minuses to the usenet… and web-based is the fix? Not completely, but it is a start. Being web-based definitely fixes the complexity issue.

Web-based Usenet

Anyone who has been on the internet can go to an address in their browser and log on; that is all it takes with web-based usenet. Most web-based usenet servers carry only a fraction of the newsgroups that the large providers carry and the web-based usenet providers carefully select the newsgroups that they support. 

Several of the web-based usenet servers boast of having filters in place to filter out child pornography. Sure, a pedophile could disguise the file name to “restored_34_high_boy” and it could really be child pornography and no filter would catch it; even so, filters are definitely a step in the right direction. You will also already find, all over the internet, websites that do not support any “warez” content, another step in the right direction toward morality and legality issues for web-based usenet.

Since it is up to the web-based usenet provider what content will be made available to their users , how do you as a user find a usenet that suits your needs? On close inspection of them, you will find that web-based usenet providers seem to be very specialized. 

If you are looking for forum-type discussions about particular topics you really can not beat Google groups. If you are looking for pictures or videos, a search for “usenet browser” or “web-based usenet” on your favorite search engine will get you a good list.

Use your own judgement when choosing a web-based usenet provider. If they carry warez groups or groups with disguised names for child pornography such as “lolita”, it is probably not the usenet provider for you. Usenet is still alive and web-based usenet will increase in popularity in the future as more people discover it. No one would want to lose the vast amount of information that can be found or is stored on the usenet currently; it forms a highly valuable archive. In many ways, usenet “is” the internet. 

Unfortunately, it seems everything including usenet needs to have a moderator to keep the creeps, pedophiles and pirates out.


Gregg Fikes runs a web based usenet browser designed for PC and mobile access opening in August 2010.

usenet browser