January 25, 2005 1:18 PM PST

AOL shutting down newsgroups

America Online on Tuesday confirmed that it will stop supporting access to newsgroups, a once-popular feature on the Internet that has since become overshadowed by message boards and blogs.

The Internet giant has begun informing users that its AOL Newsgroup interface will be discontinued as early as February, according to a notice posted on the site. AOL users will still be able to access newsgroups through Google Groups or by using a third party reader such as Mozilla's Thunderbird, the notice adds.

AOL's decision to scrap newsgroup support comes as other forms of online community have taken favor, according to company spokeswoman Jaymelina Esmele.

"We are seeing that traffic on newsgroups is pretty minimal at this point," she said. "With features like message boards, chat rooms and AOL Blogs, the majority of our members are turning to these to engage in topics of interest to them."

The newsgroup shutdown was first reported on Spam Kings, the Web log of writer Brian McWilliams.

AOL's newsgroups have led to some trouble for the Internet provider. Earlier this year, AOL settled a lawsuit with writer Harlan Ellison, who sued the company for copyright infringement. Ellison claimed AOL violated copyright laws because his works appeared on newsgroups available through the service.

Usenet newsgroups were once a primary destination for Internet users to chat about interests and issues with people around the world. During the early days of the Internet before the Web took off, AOL and other ISPs viewed newsgroup access as a feature to appeal to new customers and retain existing ones.

But the birth of the Web created new forms of online community that offered more splash than the text-based newsgroup. Web publishing in the form of blogs and personal home pages and other forms of online chat rooms have become a more popular way for people to interact.


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Yes but...
USENET is the ultimate leveller when it comes to free speech. BLOG's message boards and chat, while great tools, are all run by companies or individuals with their own personal agendas and objectives. USENET isn't "owned" by anyone and is truely still the leader of the free speech frontier, and is one of the last remaining bits of the internets "Wild West" days. Not even this board is willing to tolerate or risk the kind of behavior that sometimes occurs there, and for good reason.

AOL is making a mistake by taking this service out of their portfolio, but AOL has been systematically gutting its own community features
for a while now, so this isn't too surprising. They seem to be trying to turn themselves into just another ISP. As our business has gained considerable marketshare because of it, I can't complain too much.

Jeff Barringer
OnlineHobbyist.com, Inc.

CNET News.com edited the content of this message because its long list of commercial URLS violated the CNET Terms of Use. For more information, lease visit: <a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.cnet.com/html/aboutcnet/editorial/terms.html" target="_newWindow">http://www.cnet.com/html/aboutcnet/editorial/terms.html</a>

[Edited by: admin on Jan 25, 2005 4:46 PM]
Posted by (5 comments )
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Lots of good content ...
There's lots of good content in the newsgroups and I know of no other places onthe net where you can get immediate answers in such a cooperative and knowledgable environment (such as news://comp.arch.fpga or news://alt.www.webmaster ).

Maybe AOL think their subscribers are so dumb (or so brilliant) they don't need it, and maybe in the "Post NippleGate world", they fear being sued for not censoring the alt.sex newsgroups.
Posted by My-Self (242 comments )
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AOL doesn't get it, and never has.
This is just the old AOL mentality cropping up again. AOL used to say people wouldn't want to use the WWW because it was chaotic, and would choose their "organized content" over it. They have systematically denied every popular element or development of the Internet was, or would be, then caved in after being proven wrong.

They aren't trying to be an ISP, they are still trying to be a glorified BBS. Their dial-up business will die faster and faster with each year. Their content will become more moot to the common user. In time, unless they truly innovate, which typically they don't, even their broadband business will die.

What keeps them alive now is simply people not wishing to give up their email address. As more people blog-something AOL doesn't do-they will have a fixed point on the net that will alleviate the concern over dropping old email address'.

I've messed with AOL since it was still Q-Link, but I have never "liked" using it.

As for the Usenet, it isn't that big a deal anymore, but I still don't see any point in restricting access to it. Granted you can access Usenet THROUGH it, but making people do so, only helps train them to look at AOL as a simple ISP which they can replace cheaply.

<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.NWLbnet.blogspot.com" target="_newWindow">http://www.NWLbnet.blogspot.com</a>
Posted by NWLB (326 comments )
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