Death of Newsgroups

By Xah Lee. Date: . Last updated: .

Microsoft is closing down their newsgroups.

Newsgroups: microsoft.public.windows.powershell
From: n…@microsoft.com
Date: Thu, 01 Jul 2010 12:35:29 -0700
Local: Thurs, Jul 1 2010 3:35 pm
Subject: Final Reminder - Microsoft Responds to the Evolution of Community

What is Happening?
This message is to inform you that Microsoft will soon begin discontinuing
newsgroups and transitioning users to Microsoft forums.

Why?
As you may know, newsgroups have existed for many years now; however, the
traffic in the Microsoft newsgroups has been steadily decreasing for the
past several years while customers and participants are increasingly finding
solutions in the forums on Microsoft properties and third party sites. This
move will unify the customer experience, centralize content, make it easier
for active contributors to retain their influence, mitigate redundancies and
make the content easier to find by customers and search engines through
improved indexing. Additionally, forums offer a better user and spam
management platform that will improve customer satisfaction by encouraging a
healthy discussion in a clean community space. To this end, Microsoft will
begin to progressively shift available resources to the forums technology
and discontinue support for newsgroups.

In addition to offering a compelling online browser experience, for those
users who prefer to use an NNTP (newsgroup) reader to participate in the
newsgroups community, we have developed a solution called the NNTP Bridge
which allows a user to connect a variety of supported NNTP readers to the
forums they would like to participate in and continue having the NTTP reader
functionality. You can find instructions on how to download and set up the
NNTP Bridge here: http://connect.microsoft.com/MicrosoftForums/

Which Newsgroups Are Affected by this Shutdown?
All public newsgroups will eventually be closed between June 1, 2010 and
October 1, 2010. Microsoft will be closing newsgroups in a phased approach,
starting with the least active newsgroups and moving eventually to more
active ones throughout the course of the next six months.

Where Should I go with the Closure of this Newsgroup?
Effective July 1, 2010, this newsgroup will be closed.

In an effort to enhance and improve your experience, this newsgroup is scheduled for closure in the upcoming months and we would like to invite you to participate at http://social.technet.microsoft.com/Forums/en-US/winserverpowershell/threads forum(s). An exact date will be posted in advance as plans are finalized.

Should you want to visit the other Microsoft Forums, please go to
http://www.microsoft.com/communities/forums/default.mspx

Who Should I Contact with any Questions?
Send any questions about the process, recommended forums and timing to
NN...@microsoft.com

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 now.

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.

comp.lang.perl.misc is dead few years ago. It's filled with just snippet of FAQs that's posted by machine. There's perl.beginners since 2002, and it's a moderated group.

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, 1997 to 2006. 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 are not a regular user of newsgroups in the 1990s or earlier, i suppose newsgroup has been dead since perhaps 2002.

Much of public discussion 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 since about ~2001, does not have a newsgroup, but it has official discussion forum and wiki, besides many unofficial ones. And lately there's [ Stack overflow ] [ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stack_overflow ], a mostly Q and A forum for any programing lang or computing tech. It has become quite popular. And there's also [ Math Overflow ] [ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Math_Overflow ] for math.

It's somewhat sad. Because newsgroup once was the vibrant hotbed for uncensored information and free-speech, with incidences that spawned main stream public awareness, policies debate and change, or change of nations. (exposure of 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. (for a recent example of major social impact from Wikipleaks, see: Leaked Video US Helicopter Killing Video.)