Adding commercial access to Usenet

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Larry W. Virden

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Feb 7, 1989, 3:26:00 PM2/7/89
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I am wondering what the net's thoughts are on the future (possibly not too
far) addition of commercially based article distribution services such
as Compuserve, BIX, etc. to the USENET community.

For instance, currently there are gateways for Fidonet and ProLine systems
to receive and post articles both on their local systems and the articles
flow back onto the net or from the net into their private distribution
networks. There may in fact be other such networks gatewayed at this time.

The other day I believe that I saw a posting from a system manager type from
BIX asking a unix-y question. I think that I remember his site name as being
bix. And I know of one or two folks who are working very hard to be able
to get articles fromCIS into a /usr/spool/cis/forum type format and replys
back to CIS, so once that is in place I can easily see where one would find
other groups flowing in both directions.

I am not promoting a positive or negative reaction here - just curious to
see what those who are running and using the net think of this. Is this
environment, which in the past has been very particular about commercial
announcements, etc. going to 'permit' the addition of such groups? I
certainly remember the ruckus as stargate made announcements about restrictions
on data flowing thru their service; I think that I would be overly optimistic
to believe that such issues wouldnt come up when commercial services start
using existing data and contributing.

Finally, we must remember that usenet is more than internet, bitnet, etc. that
there are folks out here using uucp and modems and thus are not restricted by
previously signed contracts NOT to perform such a gateway service; thus, it
should not be considered certain that anything CAN be done about it.

I am just hoping to change the subject around here just a little bit ;-)


--
Larry W. Virden 674 Falls Place, Reynoldsburg, OH 43068 (614) 864-8817
75046,606 (CIS) ; LVirden (ALPE) ; osu-cis!n8emr!lwv (UUCP)
osu-cis!n8emr!l...@TUT.CIS.OHIO-STATE.EDU (INTERNET)
The world's not inherited from our parents, but borrowed from our children.

Dave Mack

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Feb 9, 1989, 2:51:00 PM2/9/89
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In article <7...@n8emr.UUCP> l...@n8emr.UUCP (Larry W. Virden) writes:
>I am wondering what the net's thoughts are on the future (possibly not too
>far) addition of commercially based article distribution services such
>as Compuserve, BIX, etc. to the USENET community.

It's a moot point. Portal is a for-profit outfit, as are many of the
public access sites. Aside from size, I see no difference between
CIS, BIX and Portal. And if The Source bought a full feed from
uunet, I don't see that we could do anything about it.

If someone is dumb enough to pay for something they could get for
free, that's not my problem.

Of course, if CIS were to start charging a fee for reading articles
originating there, I would feel a bit differently about it. Particularly
if they started doing a monthly sendsys worldwide to determine who to
bill.

Frankly, I'm a bit surprised that CIS would be interested in joining
the net. They make their money from connect and storage fees. I would
think that their users would leave in droves after finding
out that Usenet is available for free/cheap. While people would still
dial in to access their other services, I would expect it to mean the
end of the CIS forums.

--
Just another uninformed opinion from Dave Mack

Joe Buck

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Feb 10, 1989, 12:52:49 PM2/10/89
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In article <45...@inco.UUCP> ma...@inco.UUCP (Dave Mack) writes:
>If someone is dumb enough to pay for something they could get for
>free, that's not my problem.
>
>Of course, if CIS were to start charging a fee for reading articles
>originating there, I would feel a bit differently about it. Particularly
>if they started doing a monthly sendsys worldwide to determine who to
>bill.

Oh, come on, Dave. Let's say CIS did such a thing and mailed you a
bill. Would you pay it? Of course not. None of us signed anything
when we joined Usenet. We are under no obligation to pay up on dubious
claims. The act of posting an article gives that article to every site
on the net, period, whether CIS posts it or Brad posts it or whatever.

The pay services can attach to Usenet if they want, as long as they
realize we're not going to pay them. It's up to them to decide who
they want to bill. Just as long as they don't pretend they own what
they do not own.
--
- Joe Buck jb...@epimass.epi.com, or uunet!epimass.epi.com!jbuck,
or jbuck%epimass...@uunet.uu.net for old Arpa sites

Life is not a dress rehearsal.

The Cat in the Hat

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Feb 10, 1989, 4:12:34 PM2/10/89
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l...@n8emr.UUCP (Larry W. Virden) said:
-I am wondering what the net's thoughts are on the future (possibly not too
-far) addition of commercially based article distribution services such
-as Compuserve, BIX, etc. to the USENET community.

If they're willing to pay/do their share it doesn't bother me.

The most important feature would have to be the ability to mail back to
the person who sent the message. Currently there is no convenient way to
get mail to BIX or Compuserve using conventional uucp methods. (If I'm wrong
about this, please let me know...I've got some mail I want to send...)

Accountability is just about all I'm asking for. I'll let others ask for
copyright protection.

--
David Bedno (aka The Cat in the Hat) Now appearing at: dav...@sco.COM -OR-
.!{uunet,decvax!microsoft,ucbvax!ucscc}!sco!davidbe -OR-
At home: 408-425-5266 At work: 408-425-7222 x5123 (I'm probably here...)

I've given you a pretty good answer.
Unfortunately, it has nothing to do with your question.

Ben Smith

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Feb 11, 1989, 11:22:34 PM2/11/89
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It is true that BIX is considering posting some of the NetNews articles
in a conference for just that purpose. The reasoning as follows:
(1) Many BIX users do not have access to UseNet but are interested
knowing what is going on.
(2) The articles are editited to include only valuable article of
interest to BIX readers (this may be considered either a service
or a limitation, depending on your point of view.
(3) NetNews may seem to be free, but someone is actually having to
pay the phone bills, the disk space, the administration time.
The idea that the news is free is very naive. BIX is actually
an inexpensive system for individuals.

However, if there is an overwhelming negative reaction to net users about
the possibility of having their articles appearing on one more machine
after being transmitted to tens of thousands around the world, we would
not pursue the plans to bring NetNews to BIX.

Please direct and comments to me (bixpb!bensmith), the sys and news admin
at this site, or to bixpb!gbond, the editor-in-chief of BIX. (Actually,
I'm not really sure of George Bond's title, but it is his departments
UNIX machine that we are using.)
--
Ben Smith - technical editor | (603) 924-2575 | uunet!bixpb!bensmith
BYTE Magazine | | uunet!bixpb!smith!ben
One Phoenix Mill Lane | |
Peterborough, NH 03458 | | BIX: bensmith

Joe Buck

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Feb 13, 1989, 12:43:58 PM2/13/89
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In article <206@bixpb> bens...@bixpb.UUCP (PUT YOUR NAME HERE) writes:
>It is true that BIX is considering posting some of the NetNews articles
>in a conference for just that purpose. The reasoning as follows:

See Ben's article for his reasons. Ben, I have no objection to Usenet
articles appearing on BIX, PROVIDED that it is also OK for BIX users to
take some of the best BIX articles and post them on Usenet. I'm told
that in the past, you objected to this or forbid this. I'm in favor
of anything that leads to greater interchange of useful information.
My only objection is to people who would take only and not give back.

pri=-10 Stuart Lynne

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Feb 13, 1989, 3:17:51 PM2/13/89
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In article <206@bixpb> bens...@bixpb.UUCP (PUT YOUR NAME HERE) writes:
>
>It is true that BIX is considering posting some of the NetNews articles
>in a conference for just that purpose. The reasoning as follows:

Personally I think that that would be a good thing.

> (2) The articles are editited to include only valuable article of
> interest to BIX readers (this may be considered either a service
> or a limitation, depending on your point of view.

I think that it is important that retain *all* information in the body of
the article, without change.

Further there should be an easy to use mechanism that allows your readers to
reply either by mail to the author of an article; or with a followup news
article.

If you don't have a bi-directional flow of information I don't think the net
will be interested in having you join.

> (3) NetNews may seem to be free, but someone is actually having to
> pay the phone bills, the disk space, the administration time.
> The idea that the news is free is very naive. BIX is actually
> an inexpensive system for individuals.

I think that it is simply a tradeoff, an expensive 286/386 with Unix vs. a
pc with procomm plus line charges. Kind of like the difference between
buying and renting. I have no problem as long as BIX is not charging a
surcharge for access to this type of information.

>However, if there is an overwhelming negative reaction to net users about
>the possibility of having their articles appearing on one more machine
>after being transmitted to tens of thousands around the world, we would
>not pursue the plans to bring NetNews to BIX.

As long as you are not restricting how the articles are forwarded by your users there shouldn't be any problem.


--
Stuart...@wimsey.bc.ca {ubc-cs,uunet}!van-bc!sl Vancouver,BC,604-937-7532

Peter da Silva

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Feb 13, 1989, 3:33:35 PM2/13/89
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In article <45...@inco.UUCP>, ma...@inco.UUCP (Dave Mack) writes:
> Frankly, I'm a bit surprised that CIS would be interested in joining
> the net. They make their money from connect and storage fees. ...

> I would expect it to mean the end of the CIS forums.

Nonsense. The CIS forums supply at least two services that Usenet can't:

Conferencing.
Huge numbers of binary downloads.

It's just these services I, for example, call CI$ for. And I have the net.
--
Peter da Silva, Xenix Support, Ferranti International Controls Corporation.
Work: uunet.uu.net!ficc!peter, pe...@ficc.uu.net, +1 713 274 5180. `-_-'
Home: bigtex!texbell!sugar!peter, pe...@sugar.uu.net. 'U`
Opinions may not represent the policies of FICC or the Xenix Support group.

jeff daiell

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Feb 13, 1989, 3:41:41 PM2/13/89
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In article <45...@inco.UUCP>, Dave Mack writes:

> ... I'm .. surprised that CIS would be interested in joining
> the net. .... I would
> think that their users would leave ... after finding
> out that Usenet is available for free/cheap. ...
> I would expect it to mean the end of the CIS forums.


Another entry in the net history:

Imminent death of CIS forums predicted.

Para un Tejas Libre,


Jeff Daiell

--

PUNSTERS MAKE BETTER LOVERS!

karl lehenbauer

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Feb 13, 1989, 5:35:33 PM2/13/89
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Dave Mack writes:
>And if The Source bought a full feed from
>uunet, I don't see that we could do anything about it.

>If someone is dumb enough to pay for something they could get for
>free, that's not my problem.

Agreed. If the bigtime pay networks want to open the Pandora's box to get
access to that juicy 4 MB/day of traffic represented by Usenet, fine.
Once their news-oriented users find out they can get Usenet for less, or for
free, they'll probably migrate away from the more expensive pay systems.

Let's hear from BIX:

In article <206@bixpb>, bensmith@bixpb (Ben Smith) writes:

> It is true that BIX is considering posting some of the NetNews articles
> in a conference for just that purpose. The reasoning as follows:
> (1) Many BIX users do not have access to UseNet but are interested
> knowing what is going on.
> (2) The articles are editited to include only valuable article of
> interest to BIX readers (this may be considered either a service
> or a limitation, depending on your point of view.

Ah ha, pre-edited in advance, that means (certainly a "limitation" in this
spud's opinion) no Amiga/Ridge/Sequent/Sun/Cray/hockey/woodworking/scuba/bizarre
coverage, eh? ...and nothing sufficiently ugly, like your users finding out
enough about Usenet to discover they could switch to it for less money.

> (3) NetNews may seem to be free, but someone is actually having to
> pay the phone bills, the disk space, the administration time.
> The idea that the news is free is very naive. BIX is actually
> an inexpensive system for individuals.

Fine, owning your own Unix system and running it as a news site isn't free
and may not be cheap compared to Bix. However, news actually *is* free to
a great many people, such as all the users of sugar, killer, and many other
no-charge public-access systems, as well as to a lot of people whose employers
pay for it, and nearly free to all the users of the flat-monthly-fee systems
like Portal. How can Bix compete with that? ... don't talk about it too much
and just carry a "best of" section, I guess.
--
-- uunet!ficc!karl "An expression of deep worry and concern failed to
-- ka...@ficc.uu.net cross either of Zaphod's faces." -- Hitchiker's Guide

j eric townsend

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Feb 13, 1989, 6:33:46 PM2/13/89
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In article <206@bixpb>, bensmith@bixpb (Ben Smith) writes:
> It is true that BIX is considering posting some of the NetNews articles
> in a conference for just that purpose. The reasoning as follows:
> (3) NetNews may seem to be free, but someone is actually having to
> pay the phone bills, the disk space, the administration time.
> The idea that the news is free is very naive. BIX is actually
> an inexpensive system for individuals.


My personal cost: $1500 for my computer (AT&T 3b1) and $25/mo for an extra
phone line. I had the extra phone line before I bought the computer, and
$1500 is low for a development machine with a compiler and other stuff.
Ie: The average computer freak spends a grand or so on their computer
and buys an extra phone line.

If you're a student at the University of Houston, or at many other college
campuses, you can get a Usenet account for free. You just fill out a form
and promise to be nice. You don't have to own a computer or dumb terminal,
or have even one phone line.

I can't afford BIX, Compu$erve, GEnie etc because of their high hourly rates.
Even if I dropped by second line to pay for the service, I'd only get 5 or 6
hours of access time per month.

Usenet, for many of us, *is* truly free.

--
J. Eric Townsend | "When I was a boy, we didn't have MTV.
uunet!nuchat!flatline!erict | We had to take drugs and go to concerts..."
..!bellcore!texbell!/ 511 Parker #2 |EastEnders Mailing List:
BITNET: cos...@uhnix1.EDU Houston,Tx,77007 |east...@flatline.UUCP

news aka randy

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Feb 14, 1989, 12:17:03 AM2/14/89
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In article <206@bixpb> bens...@bixpb.UUCP (PUT YOUR NAME HERE) writes:
>It is true that BIX is considering posting some of the NetNews articles
>in a conference for just that purpose.
>...

>However, if there is an overwhelming negative reaction to net users

Few would consider me overwhelming, but please count me as one vote
vehemently against this. My objection to BIX, a for-profit enterprise,
exploiting for profit folk's pro bono publico efforts.

--
..!{mcvax!uunet,tektronix,sun!nosun}!oresoft!m2xenix!news (Randy Bush)

Ross M. Greenberg

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Feb 14, 1989, 1:25:42 AM2/14/89
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It seems obvious to me that you've not taken a trip over to BIX, Karl.

Matt Trask would love to have you join his boating conference, for example.
I don't recall who the scuba conference moderator is, but there is a
conference for this, too. In fact, there are probably more conferences
on BIX than there are newsgroups on USENET.

I used to be the moderator for a consultants conference, a conference on
the IBM PS/2 series of computers and another for software authors.

BIX is a *big* place. And pretty friendly. Well, mostly friendly: there
are some folks there who tend to be a little rude, but he's only one
BYTE columnist, anyway. :-)

And, for the most part, has a full history of the last 'n' years of operation
(Ben, how many years has it been?). This means that you can scan a
considerable knowledge base rather rapidly and rather inexpensively. Somebody
else provides the [virtual] unlimited disk space, flames are pulled out of
the message stream, foul language and advertisments are pulled.

Not to imply there is censorship, though: just a coupla ground rules which
make BIX a pretty pleasant place to visit. At about $6/hr, it can get a
tad expensive if you stay on-line all day. Of course, many people simply
download all outstanding messages and keep upto date off-line. It takes
about ten minutes per day for most people to work this way. Not so much
for what you get, in my opinion. I used to belong to 84 conferences, each
averaging eight topics. My daily download took 15 minutes.

My affiliation with BIX, currently, is that of a happy user. I moderate
a closed conference, so maybe I'm still a little biased: moderators do
not pay for their on-line time.

Simply because BIX charges a coupla bucks doesn't mean that they're somehow
money-sucking-scum-buckets. You get a pretty good value for your dollar.

I suggest that you take them up on their freebie trial offer before you put
them down.....you might be surprised to find that they complement USENET
pretty darn well. Heck, each of the pay services serves a particular class
of user/customer - just as USENET does.

Ross M. Greenberg
UNIX TODAY! 594 Third Avenue New York New York 10016
Review Editor Voice:(212)-889-6431 BBS:(212)-889-6438
uunet!utoday!greenber BIX: greenber MCI: greenber PCMagNet: 72241,36

Ben Smith

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Feb 14, 1989, 9:19:38 AM2/14/89
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Everyone's comments have been very helpful for us to find out what feelings
are out there about the idea of posting NewsNet articles in BIX. I have
received far more criticism than support. The one thing that everyone seems
to been in consensus about is that the information flow both ways.

The other response of note is the value of a two-way mail link between
the net and BIX. Rick Adams and many others feel this would be far more
easy and cost effective.

So, the direction seems to be away from netnews links and towards the mail.
Now that the editors of BYTE have access to the Net, we won't give that up.
It doesn't look as though BIX will be posting your articles without first
checking with the author. (I have noticed that some BIXers will bring some
things over from the net, but that is expected on every BBS. See discussion
in news.admin.)

We are always looking for good authors. Please direct any ideas to my
mailbox on the net.

We are also always interested in feedback (both negative and positive).
If you are going to turn on the flame throwers, give me warning so as I
can don my asbestos suit.
-ben


--
Ben Smith - technical editor | (603) 924-2575 | uunet!bixpb!bensmith

BYTE Magazine | | uunet!bixpb!smithbs!ben

D. W. James

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Feb 14, 1989, 12:15:09 PM2/14/89
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In article <206@bixpb> bens...@bixpb.UUCP (PUT YOUR NAME HERE) writes:

)It is true that BIX is considering posting some of the NetNews articles
)in a conference for just that purpose. The reasoning as follows:
) (1) Many BIX users do not have access to UseNet but are interested
) knowing what is going on.

No gripe with this. I don't have access to BIX, but I'm interested
in what is going on there. Does reverse reasoning apply?


) (2) The articles are editited to include only valuable article of
) interest to BIX readers (this may be considered either a service
) or a limitation, depending on your point of view.

Whoops, here I see a problem. Could you post an example of an
article editited in the way you mean? I can see that I would have
serious problems with some ways BIX could edit articles, but I'd like to
see what you have in mind before I try to make a decision.

) (3) NetNews may seem to be free, but someone is actually having to
) pay the phone bills, the disk space, the administration time.
) The idea that the news is free is very naive. BIX is actually
) an inexpensive system for individuals.

What does this have to do with the above? I'm not argueing its
truth, just its relevance to the discussion. It seems to be that you are
proposing that since you are spending money on getting USENET that you
have the right to do with it what you please. This is probably true,
but lets look at two other questions.
First, does your expense enhance USENET? If your site becomes a
black hole, absorbing information and contributing nothing back, then is
it an advantage to USENET to let you do so? Basically, you say that USENET
is not free. Fine, but how does your money make it better?
The second question is related to the first, we can see what USENET
is going to do for you, what are you going to do for USENET? You see,
different sites contribute to USENET in different ways. Sometimes it just
provides a link. Sometimes it supplies LOTS of links, and archiving, and
other services. Some sites maintain and develope software for the whole
net. Even the smallest sites make a contribution... the time and thoughts
of those who read news there, via postings to the net and replys to posters.
What is BIX going to provide? It has the posibility of adding something
significant, besides the thoughts of its users and subscribers, such as
a channel into the press via BYTE. (Example, would a realistic description
of the JEDR/R.H.F. incident, as opposed to the presentations we've seen from
the media have helped? I think so.) But are your users going to be able to
share things with us?


)However, if there is an overwhelming negative reaction to net users about
)the possibility of having their articles appearing on one more machine
)after being transmitted to tens of thousands around the world, we would
)not pursue the plans to bring NetNews to BIX.

I depends on the factors I'd described above, at least in my case.
None of the other sites (to my knowledge) is preparing to edit postings...


)Ben Smith - technical editor | (603) 924-2575 | uunet!bixpb!bensmith
)BYTE Magazine | | uunet!bixpb!smith!ben


--
Later Y'all, Vnend Ignorance is the mother of adventure.
SCA event list? Mail? Send to:vn...@phoenix.princeton.edu or vn...@pucc.bitnet
Anonymous posting service (NO FLAMES!) at vn...@ms.uky.edu
Love is wanting to keep more than one person happy.

D. W. James

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Feb 14, 1989, 12:22:45 PM2/14/89
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In article <30...@ficc.uu.net> pe...@ficc.uu.net (Peter da Silva) writes:
)In article <45...@inco.UUCP>, ma...@inco.UUCP (Dave Mack) writes:
)> Frankly, I'm a bit surprised that CIS would be interested in joining
)> the net. They make their money from connect and storage fees. ...

)> I would expect it to mean the end of the CIS forums.

)Nonsense. The CIS forums supply at least two services that Usenet can't:

) Conferencing.

For clarification, I believe that Peter is refering to chats,
what communications people refer to as synchronous conferencing. (As
opposed to asynchronous conferencing, which describes the net and
aspects of CIS as well.) Chats being multi-user, realtime computer
communications.


) Huge numbers of binary downloads.

Isn't this available from the net as well? And sources too usually?

Dave Mack

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Feb 14, 1989, 5:41:58 PM2/14/89
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In article <28...@epimass.EPI.COM> jb...@epimass.EPI.COM (Joe Buck) writes:
>In article <45...@inco.UUCP> ma...@inco.UUCP (Dave Mack) writes:
>>If someone is dumb enough to pay for something they could get for
>>free, that's not my problem.
>>
>>Of course, if CIS were to start charging a fee for reading articles
>>originating there, I would feel a bit differently about it. Particularly
>>if they started doing a monthly sendsys worldwide to determine who to
>>bill.
>
>Oh, come on, Dave. Let's say CIS did such a thing and mailed you a
>bill. Would you pay it? Of course not. None of us signed anything
>when we joined Usenet. We are under no obligation to pay up on dubious
>claims. The act of posting an article gives that article to every site
>on the net, period, whether CIS posts it or Brad posts it or whatever.

Can you pronounce "hyperbole", Joe? Yes, I thought so.
I've gotta remember to start putting those damned smileys in.

Dave
just for practice: -)

Peter da Silva

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Feb 15, 1989, 12:00:12 PM2/15/89
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In article <63...@phoenix.Princeton.EDU>, vn...@phoenix.Princeton.EDU (D. W. James) writes:
> In article <30...@ficc.uu.net> pe...@ficc.uu.net (Peter da Silva) writes:
[ CI$ has... ]

> ) Huge numbers of binary downloads.

> Isn't this available from the net as well? And sources too usually?

Only if you are on the Internet. Most of the stuff on the net is sources,
but most freeware on PCs is binary-only. Alas, but there it is.

Patrick A. Townson

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Feb 15, 1989, 11:21:27 PM2/15/89
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In article <63...@phoenix.Princeton.EDU> vn...@phoenix.Princeton.EDU (D. W. James) writes:

>)Nonsense. The CIS forums supply at least two services that Usenet can't:
>
>) Conferencing.
>
> For clarification, I believe that Peter is refering to chats,
>what communications people refer to as synchronous conferencing. (As
>opposed to asynchronous conferencing, which describes the net and
>aspects of CIS as well.) Chats being multi-user, realtime computer
>communications.

And actually, chat, or CB, or 'meetings' (in Portal parlance) is available
in hundreds of public systems across the United States. If you think $10
per month is too expensive for unlimited chat on Portal, then try any
number of TBBS multiline BBS programs which are usually free. At last count
there were also several dozen DiversiDial programs running. Chicago area has
3 or 4 DD's which always have great turnouts every night. One of them here
charges *ten dollars per year* for a password. Mercy! How would we ever
survive without the $6 per hour chats ofered on CIS and others like it. And
of course, that's not $6 per hour TOTAL, it is $6 per hour per user, meaning
you and your new friend for the evening pay $12, plus local connect charges
of course. Of course!

Regards Ben Smith, I also wrote him a note and said (regarding Telecom
Digest/comp.dcom.telecom) that if bix wanted to use it, we would first need
to have a long, very candid conversation about TWO WAY SHARING. I told him
I was not interested in a one way feed he resold to the users there.

--
Patrick Townson
pat...@chinet.chi.il.us / US Mail: 60690-1570 (personal zip code)
FIDO: 115/743 / AT&T Mail: 529-6378 (!ptownson) / MCI Mail: 222-4956

Rich Salz

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Feb 16, 1989, 11:45:41 AM2/16/89
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In <77...@chinet.chi.il.us> pat...@chinet.chi.il.us (Patrick A. Townson) writes:
>I told [Ben Smith the guy who runs BIX] ...

>I was not interested in a one way feed he resold to the users there.

Why not? How does adding more readers hurt you? Sure, having more
contributors is better, but what's wrong with having readers you otherwise
wouldn't have?

Yes, I agree that there is something about "reselling" Usenet that makes
people feel uneasy. Me too. Still and all, if the ultimate goal is the
widespread dissemination of information (area codes, jokes, sources), why
should you care if person A reads it at BBN where news is free via NNTP
links over the Internet, or Person B reads it at a medium-sized company
with a $500/month phone bill, or Person C reads it on a home system with a
$100/month phone bill, or Person D reads it on a commercial provider with
a $50/month fee?

/rich $alz, proud non-copyright holder
--
Please send comp.sources.unix-related mail to rs...@uunet.uu.net.

Patrick A. Townson

unread,
Feb 16, 1989, 10:26:29 PM2/16/89
to
In article <15...@fig.bbn.com> rs...@bbn.com (Rich Salz) writes:
>Yes, I agree that there is something about "reselling" Usenet that makes
>people feel uneasy. Me too. Still and all, if the ultimate goal is the
>widespread dissemination of information (area codes, jokes, sources), why
>should you care if person A reads it at BBN where news is free via NNTP
>links over the Internet, or Person B reads it at a medium-sized company
>with a $500/month phone bill, or Person C reads it on a home system with a
>$100/month phone bill, or Person D reads it on a commercial provider with
>a $50/month fee?

You cannot compare reselling of Usenet with the fact that some people
read it at sites with large phone bills. Everyone has phone bills; goddess
knows I have enough of them every month.The person who reads the 'free
news'via NNTP still had to pay a phone bill, same as the person at home
who calls into the dialup of some small public site like chinet.

And if was purely a matter of getting more readers that interested me, then
I would exchange with a network similar to Usenet, such as Fidonet. In
fact, a couple of Fidonet sysops now receive [Telecom Digest] via the
gateway with Usenet. At least with Fido we are talking about system operators
and users who share the same general attitude about networking we have.

If it is really just additional readers that you want, then why not make a
deal with some cable TV company to use one of their idle channel to scroll
Usenet messages across the screen all day and night. Now if someone found
a cable company willing to do that, and share the revenue from a 'pay per
view' type arrangement, then they could make a fortune.

T. William Wells

unread,
Feb 17, 1989, 2:36:53 AM2/17/89
to
In article <15...@fig.bbn.com> rs...@bbn.com (Rich Salz) writes:
: In <77...@chinet.chi.il.us> pat...@chinet.chi.il.us (Patrick A. Townson) writes:
: >I told [Ben Smith the guy who runs BIX] ...
: >I was not interested in a one way feed he resold to the users there.
:
: Why not? How does adding more readers hurt you? Sure, having more
: contributors is better, but what's wrong with having readers you otherwise
: wouldn't have?

One basic notion underlying Usenet is that it is a cooperative. We
all contribute according to our abilities and inclinations and we all
benefit from the contributions of others. (And yes, the bulk of
Usenetters never post, but that is OK: that they are on the net and
might, conditions permitting, make a positive contribution is
sufficient.)

To put this personally, I spend my time and effort writing these
postings not, perhaps unlike others, because I like to hear myself
talk but because I believe that I am contributing to a society from
which I will receive benefits in return.

I do feel that my efforts should be taken advantage of only by those
who are in a position to make some kind of contribution to the net.

It is for this reason that I am opposed to people being on the net
who are prevented from posting, and thus to services that provide a
one-way link to the net.

---
Bill
{ uunet!proxftl | novavax } !twwells!bill

Chuq Von Rospach

unread,
Feb 17, 1989, 12:30:01 PM2/17/89
to
>One basic notion underlying Usenet is that it is a cooperative.

Having been on USENET for going on ten years, I disagree with this. The
basic notion underlying USENET is the flame. Whatever cooperation that does
go on with USENET is there simply to make it easier for people to rip each
other to pieces....

>We
>all contribute according to our abilities and inclinations and we all
>benefit from the contributions of others.

Actually, the USENET population breaks down into four audiences: there
are the readers -- by far the largest group. From what I can tell, for
every poster in a newsgroup there are at least 50-100 readers. Maybe
more. There are the conversationalists -- the majority of the posters
who have some knowledge and like to sit down and talk. There are the
experts -- the few people with the knowledge that are willing to take
the time to answer questions and spread the word. Every group has it's
own set: Jeff Meyer in comics, Spaf and Rick Adams in the news areas,
Dan Allen in hypercard, lsr in comp.sys.mac, etc. Finally, there are
the idiots -- self-proclaimed experts who's lack of knowledge is
exceeded only by their ability to abuse anyone who attempts to disagree
with them.

Every group has a couple of experts. And every group has at least one idiot.
Thus are balance and harmony (and discord) maintained. It's sometimes hard
to remember this in the bulk of the flamewars that all of the hassle and
pain is generally caused by one or two highly-motivated, caustic twits.

Gee, I woke up cynical this morning....

Chuq Von Rospach -*- Editor,OtherRealms -*- Member SFWA
ch...@apple.com -*- CI$: 73317,635 -*- Delphi: CHUQ -*- Applelink: CHUQ
[This is myself speaking. No company can control my thoughts.]

Signature quotes? We don't need no stinkin' signature quotes!

Erik E. Fair

unread,
Feb 18, 1989, 6:33:52 PM2/18/89
to
There has been some discussion of whether commercial information
providers (e.g. BIX, CompuServe, The Source, GEnie, the WELL, Portal
Communications Corp.) should be "allowed" on USENET, and to what extent
they should participate (the double quotes around "allowed" are there
because, realistically, there is little we can do to change whatever
level of participation they choose in our network, so long as they can
find at least one site to talk to). This article is my "take" on the
question.

There are a number of ways for these organizations to participate:

1. As a mail-only site. They would exchange Email between their
subscribers and any other reachable address out in the Matrix
(the world computer network consisting of the Internet, BITNET,
the UUCP network, and the FidoNET [and probably some I forgot]).

2. Installing netnews alongside whatever forums, conferences, or
whatever-term-you-like that they already have, but without any
kind of cross linking or gatewaying. This is what exists on the
WELL in Sausalito, California; their subscribers may partake of
both the local conferences, and netnews, but the material that
the users post in the local conferencing system stays on the
WELL (and the stuff they post in netnews goes out to where ever
it goes).

3. Doing a full blown gateway between their local conferencing system
and netnews (or throwing away the local conferencing system in
favor of basing it on netnews).

Participating in the existing worldnet presents a variety of problems
to these organizations, depending upon how they view themselves. If
they go whole hog and their services exactly match the USENET, then
they should worry about the potential for erosion of their subscriber
base, and how they might continue to differentiate their service (and
justify its cost) from what the typical netnews reader has at his
disposal on a UNIX system. The first three areas that come to my mind
for doing that are:

1. Extra information services that are only available on the
particular system (not transmitted to USENET for reasons of
copyright or contractual restriction, e.g. UPI news wire, or a
moderation service [i.e. you can read netnews raw, or someone
else's interpretation of what is most interesting]).

2. Superior user interfaces which have capabilities that netnews and/or
our mail system don't have, perhaps including better
information presentation, multi-media documents,
sorting/filing/filtering tools, etc.

3. Strictly interactive services (e.g. games, simulations, and
real-time conferencing).

It is interesting to note that a number of small information services
now exist within USENET and are basically profitable: UUNET, Portal
Communications Corp. (netnews from outside their system seems to be the
largest portion of the information that they offer, and they are doing
just fine), and the WELL (which, as noted above, has its own local
conferencing system that has not suffered from co-existence with
netnews; netnews was there at the start of the service about four years
ago, and it has been more of a draw than a subscriber base erosion causer).

It should be fairly clear why the larger information services are
beginning to show interest in joining us - if you believe Brian Reid's
arbitron numbers, the USENET is about equal in size of the biggest
information service in the U.S.: CompuServe, at 400,000 subscribers.
I believe that USENET is now large enough, and generates enough useful
information that a smaller information service must offer netnews to
their subscribers, in order to compete effectively with the bigger
services.

In my opinion, the move by various information services to join USENET
is a good thing, if they really do go all the way. I despair when I see
lists of hundreds of bulletin board systems, some or all of which might
have some interesting bit of information on them that I'll never see,
because I don't have time to dial up and examine each one on a daily
basis. USENET brings information to me (and to all of you, too), rather
than forcing me to go to the information, and that's how worldnet ought
to work.

I'm glad to see that BIX is thinking of joining us, and I hope they
decide to participate fully. Welcome to the wider world!

Erik E. Fair apple!fair fa...@apple.com

Brad Templeton

unread,
Feb 18, 1989, 11:11:42 PM2/18/89
to
While I don't see anything wrong with the participation of commercial
online services in usenet, as long as it is done in cooperation, I don't
think full bidirectional feeds would be desirable from our end.

This is because all the online services I have seen (Compuserve, Genie,
Bix, Delphi, The Source(long ago)) still have vestiges of their BBS
related roots.

In particular, their forums/sigs/round tables/conferences/groups all
are full of messages like this:

From: JOE to: FRED
Subject: 2gs

Thanks Fred, I will look into it.

ie. personal replies and mail messages. This comes from the fact that
the earliest BBS systems didn't even have EMAIL, and this was how you
replied to somebody. This is encouraged today by the fact that most
of the services still implement the concept of an open message "to"
somebody. On usenet, messages are all "to all" and people get flamed
when they violate this rule too much. (Not that usenet is perfect.)

Anyway, any link with the online services would have to make sure these
messages didn't get through. One could start simply by only taking
messages that are "to: all", but the reply facilities on these services
make that true only of original messages. No followups would come through.
(Maybe that's a good idea.)

I think the best idea is moderated gateways, that allow the best from
each network to flow. If RHF ever expands to other nets, this is how
I would set it up.

Let's face it. Most groups are quite big enough -- we don't need more
random input in them. Expanding them without editing serves little
purpose. (I often think a good idea for USENET would be to split into
regions where the groups are of a manageable size, and have only moderated
groups cross regions.)
--
Brad Templeton, Looking Glass Software Ltd. -- Waterloo, Ontario 519/884-7473

Erik E. Fair

unread,
Feb 19, 1989, 1:40:24 AM2/19/89
to
Brad, I am in favor of full, unmoderated exchange with any and all
other information sources that we can reach. I realize fully that this
attitude means that we will drown in information (and drivel, for
whatever your personal definition of drivel is) if we do nothing.

However, I also believe that there are a variety of techniques, which,
when added/applied to our software, will make it possible to comb the
oceans of information that USENET generates, with a minimum of effort,
and a maximum of effect. The problem will present itself to us sooner
or later, and I'd rather have it solved sooner. If I can cause good
solutions to appear sooner by making the problem more apparent to more
people, so much the better (and there's neat new information for me to
look at in the mean time).

I also realize that there will be a period of culture shock for any
other network joining the wider world. I expect that the FidoNET
community is undergoing this culture shock right now, as their network
gets more widely gatewayed to USENET (if you didn't know, there is now
a package available to transparently gateway both Email and netnews
to/from FidoNET's Fidomail and Echomail, such that the Fido looks like
just another UUCP node to the USENET site). This is a normal part of
(dare I say it?) "growing up" in the worldnet.

Robin Pickering

unread,
Feb 20, 1989, 4:50:46 AM2/20/89
to
In article <26...@apple.Apple.COM> fa...@Apple.COM (Erik E. Fair) writes:
> I realize fully that this
>attitude means that we will drown in information (and drivel, for
>whatever your personal definition of drivel is) if we do nothing.
>
>However, I also believe that there are a variety of techniques, which,
>when added/applied to our software, will make it possible to comb the
>oceans of information that USENET generates, with a minimum of effort,
>and a maximum of effect.

It is worth remembering that there are more issues associated with the
overloading of usenet that just the inconvenience of combing out useful
information from it. It may not seem that way to sites on high bandwidth
networks like the internet or who are a local trailblazer call away from
their newsfeed, but even these transport methods have a *finite* capacity.
This doesn't even take into consideration the local storage capacity problems
many sites have with news.

I am not against the importing of as much information as possible to the
usenet but S/N ratio's must be taken into account. If for example the
amount of [information | drivel] doubled as a result of these proposals
and the actual useful information content increased by 10%, a proportion
of existing networks/sites would either keel over and drop off the usenet
entirely or would seriously restrict the number of newsgroups propogated
(at present the only way of affecting S/N). This would be very detrimental
to the usenet as a whole.

Rob Pickering, Software Development Group, Inmos
JANET: R...@UK.CO.INMOS | ARPA: rob%uk.co...@nss.cs.ucl.ac.uk
UUCP: r...@inmos.co.uk (...uunet!mcvax!ukc!inmos!rob)
(... opinions expressed are my own ...)

Peter da Silva

unread,
Feb 20, 1989, 1:56:25 PM2/20/89
to
Unnecessary. It's already split up... on subject lines. Geographical areas
are of less and less relevence as time goes on.

--
Peter da Silva, Xenix Support, Ferranti International Controls Corporation.
Work: uunet.uu.net!ficc!peter, pe...@ficc.uu.net, +1 713 274 5180. `-_-'
Home: bigtex!texbell!sugar!peter, pe...@sugar.uu.net. 'U`
People have opinions. Companies have policy. And typos are my own business.

Evan Leibovitch

unread,
Feb 21, 1989, 10:32:56 AM2/21/89
to
In article <31...@ficc.uu.net> pe...@ficc.uu.net (Peter da Silva) writes:
>Geographical areas
>are of less and less relevence as time goes on.

I have to disagree. About 18 Toronto-area sites post their news/mail
stats each day to tor.news.stats. It helps point out local backlogs
to/from one's uucp neighbours. The number of sites posting to this
group (and thus its traffic) has been growing steaily, just as the
number of sites in the area has been growing.

Local groups here have included discussions of area radio stations,
restaurants, singles gatherings, club meetings and so on. Newsgroup
creation is a far less formal procedure than on Usenet as a whole,
and the groups are mostly devoid of flame wars because many of the
posters have met face-to-face.

Would YOU have any interest in seeing Toronto UUCP stats? Or discussions
of our radio stations? Or Atlanta's or Stockholm's, for that matter?

I feel more comfortable about the distribution of such limited-value postings,
knowing that nobody has to pay long-distance charges for their transmission.
That doesn't make them less relevant than mainstram groups.
---

Evan Leibovitch, SA of System Telly, located in beautiful Brampton, Ontario
ev...@telly.on.ca / {uunet!attcan,utzoo}!telly!evan / (416) 452-0504
You can lead a herring to water, but you have to walk really fast or he'll die

Jean Marie Diaz

unread,
Feb 21, 1989, 6:12:33 PM2/21/89
to

From: r...@inmos.co.uk (Robin Pickering)
Summary: usenet S/N means more than just time taken to read news

[If the S/N ratio drops much farther] a proportion


of existing networks/sites would either keel over and drop off the usenet
entirely or would seriously restrict the number of newsgroups propogated
(at present the only way of affecting S/N). This would be very detrimental
to the usenet as a whole.

"Imminent death of the net predicted." This is already happening, has been
for years. Sys files are larger, some sites aren't here that might be
otherwise, but the net still exists.

AMBAR
am...@oracle.com {uunet,pyramid}!oracle!ambar

Paul A Vixie

unread,
Feb 22, 1989, 2:47:56 AM2/22/89
to
## This would be very detrimental to the usenet as a whole.

# "Imminent death of the net predicted." This is already happening, has been
# for years. Sys files are larger, some sites aren't here that might be
# otherwise, but the net still exists.

For once, I don't think the first person I quoted was predicting the
imminent death of Usenet. He was pointing out a fact I agree with:

This Network Sucks. And It Has Gotten Worse Over Time.

Too many people, and they all want to contribute their two bits. (Me, for
example.) Jean, you're right -- some sites aren't here that might be other-
wise. Someday one of those sites will be UMD or UCB, finally dropping out
because they can't deal with the drivel anymore and nobody who's left will
much care.

Uunet proved an interesting point -- people will _pay_ for this garbage.

But as time goes on, the people I want most to read, don't write. They go
on and find something else to do with their entertainment time, since Usenet
leans more and more toward only being entertaining if you like to flame.

No, Usenet won't die. Sometimes I think that's the problem, not a virtue.
--
Paul Vixie
Work: vi...@decwrl.dec.com decwrl!vixie +1 415 853 6600
Play: pa...@vixie.sf.ca.us vixie!paul +1 415 864 7013

Chuq Von Rospach

unread,
Feb 22, 1989, 12:54:07 PM2/22/89
to
> [If the S/N ratio drops much farther] a proportion
> of existing networks/sites would either keel over and drop off the usenet
> entirely or would seriously restrict the number of newsgroups propogated
> (at present the only way of affecting S/N).

>"Imminent death of the net predicted.

Rumors of my death have been greatly exaggerated.

As someone who has been around USENET for a while, let me just point out
that the imminent death of USENET has been predicted many, many times (I've
done it more times than I want to admit at this point).

When USENET volume hit a megabyte a month, the sky started falling
When USENET volume hit a megabyte a week, the net wasn't going to last
another year.
When USENET volume hit a megabyte a day, it was a crisis that needed
immediate attention.

The reality is that USENET is amazingly flexible and responsive to traffic.
It's been written off as dead more times than I can name. The funny thing
is, while us 'experts' have been ranting and raving about the death of the
net, the net just sort of goes on and proves us wrong.

It changes over time. But dead? The net is a *lot* more robust than anyone
wants to give it credit for.

Mike Van Pelt

unread,
Feb 22, 1989, 7:36:09 PM2/22/89
to
From: r...@inmos.co.uk (Robin Pickering)

>[If the S/N ratio drops much farther] a proportion of existing
>networks/sites would either keel over and drop off the usenet entirely
>or would seriously restrict the number of newsgroups propogated (at
>present the only way of affecting S/N). This would be very detrimental
>to the usenet as a whole.

This is certainly a problem, and (obligatory "Death of Usenet" warning
:-) is bound to get worse as more PC's and Fido gateways get added to
the net.

I've long wanted a program that could filter out the chaff and just
give me the few kernels of wheat. Perhaps some kind of program could
be written, which would after each message ask the user to rate it from
1 to 10. Ultimately, it would figure out that user's criteria for
rating, and stop giving him the 1's, 3's, or whatever. I would like
to be able to change the "squelch" value, raising it to 6 or 7 if
I'm busy and there's backed-up news, or dropping it to 2 or 3 if I'm
exceptionally bored.

A better approach would perhaps be to at least start off with some
explicit criteria. Maybe the news-reader could have a "Why are you
bothering me with this CRAP?!" key, like rn's "K" key, which could
perhaps ask the user for what is wrong with this particular message,
and drop the 'usefulness rating' of any message matching those
criteria in the future.

Of course, if this works reliably, at some time in the future backbone
sites may start to run some such filter on the usenet traffic that
passes through them. Hopefully this would be set low, to just filter
out the real zero-content messages. I'm not entirely sure what I
think of this possibility. But it beats dropping off the net entirely.
--
Mike Van Pelt Video 7 ...ames!vsi1!v7fs1!mvp
"... Local prohibitions cannot block advances in military and commercial
technology.... Democratic movements for local restraint can only restrain
the world's democracies, not the world as a whole." -- K. Eric Drexler

Peter da Silva

unread,
Feb 23, 1989, 9:53:31 AM2/23/89
to
In article <7...@telly.UUCP>, ev...@telly.UUCP (Evan Leibovitch) writes:
> In article <31...@ficc.uu.net> pe...@ficc.uu.net (Peter da Silva) writes:
> >Geographical areas are of less and less relevence as time goes on.

> I have to disagree. About 18 Toronto-area sites post their news/mail

> stats each day to tor.news.stats... [ more about local area groups ]

True, but that's not what's being discussed.

The suggestion was that usenet be split into (say) east coast, west coast,
and central divisions, with only moderated groups going from one division
to the other. I think this is a bad idea, because *for the majority of the
groups* geographical area is not relevant. You don't have a tor.sys.amiga,
do you?

Besides, we get fed from the east coast but we're in the central region...

T. William Wells

unread,
Feb 23, 1989, 3:23:20 PM2/23/89
to
In article <2...@v7fs1.UUCP> m...@v7fs1.UUCP (Mike Van Pelt) writes:
: I've long wanted a program that could filter out the chaff and just

: give me the few kernels of wheat.

It's called a moderator. :-)

---
Bill
{ uunet | novavax } !twwells!bill

Brad Templeton

unread,
Feb 23, 1989, 10:25:33 PM2/23/89
to
Of course geography is (largely) irrelevant. The point is, so is everything
else, except some mystical criterion you might call "only the best people."

Since we can't really enforce such a criterion, all the other criteria
are just about the same, and geography was suggested because it's the
easiest to work with.

Let's face it. Sometimes having too wide a membership spoils a group.
How many of you participate in small local groups and find them far
more enjoyable than similar large net groups? They are more
manageable and understandable. And they are quieter. Of course
you don't get every opinion but you sometimes don't want every
opinion.

Certainly in areas like politics, religion and many others, this is
the case. After all, these are (according to worldwide polls 8-))
the most popular discussion topics in the world, yet their netwide
groups have relatively low readership compared to other things.
After all, who has time for the netwide political groups?

Peter da Silva

unread,
Feb 24, 1989, 4:17:12 PM2/24/89
to
In article <28...@looking.UUCP>, br...@looking.UUCP (Brad Templeton) writes:
> Of course geography is (largely) irrelevant. The point is, so is everything
> else, except some mystical criterion you might call "only the best people."

> Since we can't really enforce such a criterion, all the other criteria
> are just about the same, and geography was suggested because it's the
> easiest to work with.

But it isn't. As I pointed out we get a lot of stuff from the east coast,
uunet to be precise, and we're certainly not in their geographical area.
If people started trying to implement this, I for one would just tell
uunet to feed us the rest regardless.

And certainly a comp.lang.c with dmr@alice's postings never getting out of
the northeast US wouldn't be the same. A comp.sys.amiga missing the CATS
people. A rec.arts.sf-lovers without Chuq.

What a poor net it would leave.

Evan Leibovitch

unread,
Feb 24, 1989, 5:43:27 PM2/24/89
to
In article <31...@ficc.uu.net> pe...@ficc.uu.net (Peter da Silva) writes:
>In article <7...@telly.UUCP>, ev...@telly.UUCP (Evan Leibovitch) writes:

>> >Geographical areas are of less and less relevence as time goes on.

>> I have to disagree. [reasons...]

>True, but that's not what's being discussed.

>The suggestion was that usenet be split into (say) east coast, west coast,
>and central divisions, with only moderated groups going from one division
>to the other. I think this is a bad idea, because *for the majority of the
>groups* geographical area is not relevant.

Sorry. Didn't see the original proposal.

I read your original posting as saying that local groups weren't
relevant anywhere. I bristled with the thought of internationally
posted Amiga-for-sale ads or nightclub assessments.

Never mind :-).

P{r Emanuelsson

unread,
Feb 26, 1989, 2:48:46 PM2/26/89
to
Peter da Silva wrote:
>The suggestion was that usenet be split into (say) east coast, west coast,
>and central divisions, with only moderated groups going from one division
>to the other. I think this is a bad idea, because *for the majority of the
>groups* geographical area is not relevant. You don't have a tor.sys.amiga,
>do you?

Actually I wouldn't be surprised if they had. In Sweden we have the following
*.sys.* groups:

swnet.sys.amiga
swnet.sys.dec
swnet.sys.dnix
swnet.sys.hp
swnet.sys.ibm.pc
swnet.sys.mac
swnet.sys.ncr
swnet.sys.sun

Granted, they don't show much traffic compared to their USENET counterparts,
but I feel it's the way it should be. Breaking USENET up in geographical
divisions could be a remedy for the low signal/noise ration, provided
that the competence exists in all the divisions. E.g. if I have some
SUN questions I always post to swnet.sys.sun instead of comp.sys.sun.
The SUN competence is very high in Sweden and virtually no noise exists
in the group.
The moderated groups could provide USENET-wide communications, filtering
the noise to an acceptable level. I think the idea has some merits.

Probably no action or "split" is needed. I see USENET moving away from
world-wide communications to smaller geographical areas. It will
happen by itself, I think.

/Pell
--
"Don't think; let the machine do it for you!"
-- E. C. Berkeley
Dept. of Electrical Engineering ====>>> pe...@isy.liu.se
University of Linkoping, Sweden ...!uunet!enea!isy.liu.se!pell

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