The Demise of Usenet: The End of an Era


Usenet, the once-thriving discussion platform, is coming to an end, with Google Groups announcing the termination of Usenet support. The news has sparked mixed reactions among users, with some expressing relief due to the heavy spam and annoyance that plagued the platform, while others mourn the loss of a unique and valuable communication medium.

Usenet: A Brief Primer

For those unfamiliar with Usenet, it was a distributed peer-to-peer platform that served as a precursor to modern social networks and forums. It offered a text-based, threaded discussion format, allowing users to post messages on various topics within different newsgroups. Usenet was widely used before the rise of the World Wide Web, serving as a primary means of information dissemination and exchange.

The Evolution of Usenet

Over time, Usenet has experienced a decline in activity, with many groups becoming inactive carcasses. However, several groups like comp.misc,, and sci.misc managed to maintain their regular user base. Usenet enthusiasts cite the benefits of smaller, more focused groups where discussions remain high-quality and engaging.

The Challenges of Usenet Hosting

While Usenet provided a unique and efficient discussion UI, its hosting and access posed challenges. Usenet required specialized newsreader software to connect to NNTP servers and participate in discussions. The rise of the web and advancements in other communication platforms, like social media sites and forums, led to a decline in interest in Usenet. Many Internet Service Providers (ISPs) stopped offering Usenet access, creating a market for paid Usenet access providers.

To understand the dynamics and workings of Usenet, it is beneficial to compare it to other platforms. One user aptly analogized Usenet to a federated Reddit, drawing parallels to Lemmy as a similar platform. However, unlike modern federated systems, Usenet operates as a gossip protocol, with nodes sharing all available content. The integration within the Federated Universe, on the other hand, is limited to following users and basic interactions.

Usenet: A Lifestyle Choice?

The question arises for newcomers: is it worth delving into Usenet? Opinions differ, with some advocating for the experience of efficient discussion UI and others recognizing the availability of alternative platforms. Usenet enthusiasts often compare the choice to engaging in a hobby like ham radio. While it offers a unique lifestyle and sense of community, it may not be the most practical choice for everyone.

The Legacy of Usenet

Usenet holds historical significance as one of the early communication mediums on the internet. It played a role in disseminating information and fostering discussions before the web took center stage. Usenet also popularized the idea that “the internet never forgets anything,” before concerns about privacy and data retention became prevalent.

Usenet’s End and the Future of Communication

As Google Groups announces the end of Usenet support, we bid farewell to an era of decentralized, low-bandwidth, text-based discussions. While some find solace in the demise of Usenet due to the spam and annoyance it attracted, others mourn its loss as a unique platform for engaging conversations. This shift raises questions about the future of communication platforms, centralized vs. decentralized networks, and the influence of algorithms in shaping our online interactions.

Although the curtain is closing on Usenet, the impact it had on shaping internet culture and online discussions is undeniable. As we bid adieu to Usenet, we must contemplate the shifts in technology and communication and how they impact our online experiences.


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