Death of Newsgroups
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Death of Newsgroups
Xah Lee, 2010-07-13
Microsoft is closing down their newsgroups. See: microsoft.public.windows.powershell.
I use comp.lang.lisp, comp.emacs since about 1999. Have been using them pretty much on a monthly basis in the past 10 years. Starting about 2007, the traffic has been increasingly filled with spam, and the posters are always just the 20 or 30 known faces. I think perhaps maybe no more than 100 different posters a year. Since this year or last year, comp.lang.lisp is some 95% spam.
comp.emacs is pretty much just me.
gnu.emacs.help is not much better. It's pretty much the same developers and the same few elisp coders, with perhaps 1 new face with once-per-lifetime post every few days. It is doing a bit better because it is connected to FSF'S mailing list.
The one newsgroup that i use that's still healthy is comp.lang.python. Part of the reason it's healthy because it's connected to a mailing list, and python has become a mainstream lang. Though, it is also infected by a lot spam in late years.
I did a study of language popularity in 2006 by graphing newsgroup traffic thru the years. See: Computer Language Popularity Trend. I thought about updating it now and then, but it's useless if the majority of posts are machine generated spam.
For vast majority of people who is not a regular user of newsgroups in the 1990s or earlier, i suppose newsgroup has been dead since perhaps 2002.
Much of public dicussion for programing happens in email forums and web forums. For example, Microsoft has technet, Apple has dozens of mailing list of its tech on its site, Google has too many of its own tech discussion groups, each with a mailing list, blog, web feed, and whatever new communication tech they are inventing. PHP, one of the top 5 most popular lang, does not have a newsgroup, but it's discussion forum and wiki. And lately there's Stack overflow, a mostly Q & A forum for any programing lang or computing tech, which become quite popular. And there's also Math Overflow for math.
It's somewhat sad. Because newsgroup once was the vibrant hotbed for uncensored information and freespeech, with incidences that spawned main stream public debate on policies, or change of nations. (scientology being one famous example, then there's Cindy's Torment censorship, then i remember also several cases of political dirty secrets being released in newsgroups ) These days, much of this happens in the blogs and there's Wikileaks.