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How to Search Today's Usenet For Programming Information? 230

Posted by timothy
from the it's-all-been-mined-out dept.
DeadlyBattleRobot writes "I've been using Usenet searches since about 1995 to get programming information, sample code, etc., mostly for those standard APIs that are never documented well enough in the official documentation. At first I used dejanews, and now Google Groups (Google bought dejanews). Over the last few years, I've noticed a steady decline in the quantity of search results on programming topics on Usenet from Google, increasing difficulty with their search UI and result pages, and today I find I'm completely unable to get a working Usenet search on their advanced group search page. I'm used to searching on 'microsoft.*' or 'comp.*,' sometimes supplemented with variations like '*microsoft*' or 'comp*.' As an example, try to find a post from the 1996-1998 time period on 'database' in either the comp.* or microsoft.* hierarchies, and if you can do it, please show your search expression. There should be thousands of results, but I'm getting the result 'Your search — database group:comp.* — did not match any documents.'"
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How to Search Today's Usenet For Programming Information?

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  • by StudMuffin (167171) on Sunday November 09, 2008 @05:12PM (#25697117) Homepage

    Usenet had groups that didn't have *.sex.* or *.beastiality.* in it? Man, I missed a LOT during the 90's...

  • Ask Kibo (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday November 09, 2008 @05:14PM (#25697141)

    Kibo seems to know how find stuff on usenet.

    • by dougmc (70836)

      And in realtime, no less.

      Actually, scanning posts as they come in for something is remarkably easy. What Kibo did (find posts mentioning his name) wasn't hard at all. (Responding to them all and making it funny, that's a lot harder, but then it's not really a technical problem anymore.)

      Either way, I think Kibo has moved on ...

  • Unfortunately... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday November 09, 2008 @05:15PM (#25697147)

    Usenet is more or less dead with respect to technical discussions. They have all moved to disparate Web forums, the most offensive of which put freely-given advice from volunteers behind a paywall [expertsexchange.com].

    There actually are a couple of good forums for Win32 advice, such as CodeProject [codeproject.com], and Google is still the best way by far to search MSDN, by adding site:microsoft.com to your query.

    But Google's handling of Usenet, including (but not limited to) their unauthorized alteration of message content by mangling email addresses, has not been healthy for the venue.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Cylix (55374)

      Actually, it's more like mercenary exchange.

      You provide answers to earn credits so you can access more answer to your own questions. The problem is that the compensation kinda sucks for the expert.

      I tried it out briefly when I had some cisco specific questions and the answer was mostly there. Just out of boredom I answered a few questions and even wrote some simple scripts.

    • by biglig2 (89374)

      Oh man, do I hate Experts Exchange - I'm going to have to think of a way to not have them pop up in Google searches...

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        Use the CustomizeGoogle extension to add filters. I filter out mister-wong and javacio.us.
        Anyway, you *can* read the answers at ExpertsExchange, they are at the very bottom of each website (below the huge list). It is a funny read sometimes ...
        For reference the en.wikibooks are sometimes a good hint (Haskell, Latex, ...).

        • Easy (Score:2, Informative)

          by RulerOf (975607)
          It's very easy to tell your google you want good ol' Expert Sexchange to fuck off:

          -inurl:experts-exchange.com

          Add that to your search query.  Most of the time I like having their results come up, but every now and then, the results are so polluted that I need them gone.  Rule of thumb is that if an Expert Sexchange result comes up, your problem is either *that* stupid, obvious, or uncommon.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by socsoc (1116769)
        Or you could just scroll to the bottom of the page and see all the content...
      • Re:Unfortunately... (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Miamicanes (730264) on Monday November 10, 2008 @12:24AM (#25700055)

        I used to LOVE Experts Exchange back in 2000, but lost interest in them when they made it nearly impossible to make meaningful use of the site without paying REGARDLESS of how many expert points you'd racked up over the years, or how many "best answers" you'd earned. I'll be damned if I'm going to spend hours of my time building value for them only to be subjected to petty annoyances when I finally need to have one of my OWN questions answered. The fact is, I'd say a majority of the useful answers there are (or at least WERE) contributed by a fairly small core group of users... a group they totally alienated and drove away by their refusal to let that small group "earn its keep" and earn enough points to usefully use the site through barter alone so they could bring in the BULK of the users who just wanted to pay and get their questions answered.

    • Pros do NOT use forums. Forums are slow & inefficient (having to visit sites individually, regularly, unless they provide decent feeds). They're also centralised, which is bad in technical circles when you know stuff can go wrong, and that people can become dictators. Generally speaking, forums tends to be haunted by younger people who grew up thinking the web was the net, and started by people who care more about building a name for their site and advertising revenue than building a functioning disc

      • by chis101 (754167) on Sunday November 09, 2008 @06:50PM (#25697951)
        My webmail lets me search/reply/archive at will...

        Anyway, it seems naive to completely rule out forums as a source of information. It seems like it's much less efficient to store tons of information you will never need in your local mail client's archive in hopes that the answer to a question you may have down the road will be in that archive.

        Us non-pro's who don't exclude any source of information, such as forums, often get good, quick answers to all of our questions by doing a quick Google search.
      • by yttrstein (891553)
        I've been a pro for twenty years, and I've always used usenet, and still do to this day. What pros are you talking about?
      • Why limit yourself, though?

        The ruby-talk list is a mailing list, a newsgroup, and a forum, all at once. I use the mailing list, but there's no reason you have to, and the forum is a much lower barrier of entry.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by xaxa (988988)

        Gmane.org [gmane.org] provides an NNTP interface (and a web one) to many mailing lists, and also a search function.

    • by Nermal6693 (622898) on Sunday November 09, 2008 @06:24PM (#25697723)

      I am so not going to a site called expert sex change.com :o

    • Re:Unfortunately... (Score:4, Informative)

      by chis101 (754167) on Sunday November 09, 2008 @06:46PM (#25697901)
      An often overlooked fact about ExpertsExchange is that, although at the top of the page they show the answers blurred out, if you scroll to the VERY bottom of the page, past what you would think is the footer, you will find the answers in the clear (most likely so search engines will pick it up)
    • by Strilanc (1077197)

      Experts exchange puts all the responses at the bottom of the page, so they still come up in searches, but you're not likely to see them.

      Get the aardvark and remove-it-permanently extensions for firefox and RIP all the clutter in the middle and it'll look just like any other forum.

    • Expert sex change dot com has a paywall?

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      No, there are plenty of active forums. But people have to contribute to them to make them rich in good answers, and alternative approaches. And the Weblogs for specific projects, or bug reporting tools like Bugzilla hosted at Sourceforge, provide a lot of the service that Usenet formerly did, so Usenet is seriously reduced.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Urza9814 (883915)

      experts-exchange (there's a hyphen in that) is actually rather useful. Because they want their solutions to be found by google. So if your referrer says you are coming from a google search page or something, you can view the answers - just scroll down to the bottom of the page. If you find one from their main site you want to view, simply go to google and search for that URL, then scroll down to the answers.

    • by dougmc (70836)

      Usenet isn't quite dead for technical discussions. Some technical groups are alive and well. Others are not.

      Your post is basically accurate -- it's just not quite as bad as you make it sound. Almost, but not quite.

      Which is really a shame. Archived Usenet posts are a great resource for solving problems. Web forums are OK, but there's a huge `you have to know where to look, and it's different for every topic' factor there that wasn't there with Usenet.

      • by Tacvek (948259) on Monday November 10, 2008 @12:57AM (#25700199) Journal

        Indeed, of note, the comp.c++ and the moderated equivlent are still very much alive. I'm pretty sure the USENET Oracle is still alive too. The comp.sys.hp48 group is still be the best place for questions about HP RPN calculators, etc.

        I will note that Google's Groups Usenet searching is at least partially broken. There are some search terms I've tried in a single group search context, where I got only one or two results, when I know for a fact that there are over 100 results for that query in the archive.

        What this means is that the world's largest USENET archive does not have a properly working search feature, which is a real shame. So much of the early history and culture of the Internet is in that archive... If only Google were serious about trying to fill in the archive gaps, and keep a good search interface for it.

    • by Dan541 (1032000)

      I love Usenet largely due to it's lack of moderation and open nature. (Less censorship/better uptime/immune to DoS attacks)

      but I do hate the way google group users assume that I am also using google groups.
      I also hate the way some webforums leech content from usenet and try to hide it as a part of their site.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by JCSoRocks (1142053)
      I don't believe that he wants a *current* discussion. He's looking for older information (1996 - 1998) in which case his best bet probably *is* searching old usenet forums. I can barely find what I want when I'm looking for info on current technologies. I couldn't imagine trolling MSDN or CodeProject for stuff that's 10 years old... Goodluckwiththat.
  • Usenet used to be HUGE, but now it seems to be fading away. It's like all the hard-core admins who used to maintain everything are getting tired of it all.

    GoogleGroups used to be good for searching stuff like this, but that too, seems to be suffering from "data rot".

    Admittedly, nearly half the "content" itself could fall under the category of "rot" even when it was new, but that's for another thread...

    • by IvyKing (732111)

      Admittedly, nearly half the "content" itself could fall under the category of "rot" even when it was new, but that's for another thread...

      Just "half"??????

      Methinks that the "rot" fraction can be much higher than 50% - though the best groups do manage a decent signal to noise ratio.

    • by rhyder128k (1051042) on Sunday November 09, 2008 @09:01PM (#25698911) Homepage

      I'm an old Usenet hand and I think that it's had its day. A lot of it comes down to the great unwashed being allowed on my lovely, geeky Internet.

      Firstly, unless you run a moderated group, there's nothing you can do about trolls. I've seen entire, vibrant groups taken down by one or two determined individuals and the idiots that feed them.

      Secondly, a lot of the smaller, niche groups are dying out because people won't obey the rules anymore. They post off topic stuff on the more popular groups rather than taking the time to hunt down the proper one.

      That said, one of the things that has diluted the usefulness of the Usenet archive does come from nerds, and that the posting of junk like changelogs and sourcecode.

      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by bXTr (123510)

        I'm an old Usenet hand and I think that it's had its day. A lot of it comes down to the great unwashed being allowed on my lovely, geeky Internet.

        I'm pretty sure people on the Internet back then were unwashed to begin with.

        • by dougmc (70836) <dougmc+slashdot@frenzied.us> on Sunday November 09, 2008 @11:56PM (#25699905) Homepage

          I'm pretty sure people on the Internet back then were unwashed to begin with.

          Yes, they were, but they learned. Septembers were bad, of course, but October was a lot better, and November better still. And if they didn't learn, the emails to their admins would often get them kicked off entirely until they learned.

          Now, there's no penalty for failing to obey the rules on Usenet (you said Internet earlier, but I'm talking more about Usenet.) Some NSPs will kick you off for abuse (most will kick you off for blatant spam, but few will do it today for simple trolling or off-topic posts) but when that happens they just move to another one.

          At least with a forum if somebody causes trouble the admins can kick them off. The problem with this is that some admins run their forums with an iron fist and go way too far ...

      • Can people who insist on having mailing lists that are pinged for every damn check-in *please* add them to some robots.txt so they dont show up in my search results? Pretty please?

        Or, somebody please give me a simple way to filter them out in google?

      • by quenda (644621)

        A lot of it comes down to the great unwashed being allowed on my lovely, geeky Internet.

        Internet? Lovely? Usenet was working perfectly well over UUCP, until the Internet came along and ruined it.

  • Bug (Score:5, Informative)

    by interiot (50685) on Sunday November 09, 2008 @05:24PM (#25697243) Homepage
    There's a bug in the advanced search form. After you do the advanced search and it gives you the did not match any documents [google.com], just click on the "search" button on that second page. (alternately, removing the lr=selected parameter makes it work also) [google.com]
    • Re:Bug (Score:5, Interesting)

      by b4dc0d3r (1268512) on Sunday November 09, 2008 @05:58PM (#25697529)
      Interesting. "lr" is the language dropdown.

      <table cellspacing=0 cellpadding=2><tr><td class=label><label> Language:</label></td><td width=74%><select class=sef name=lr ><option value= selected>any language</option><option value=lang_ar >Arabic</option>....
      • Wow thats a pretty shocking bug. Good find.

      • Sounds like they're missing some quotes there. Mod parent up.

      • by Ant P. (974313)

        Yay for premature optimisation!

        Hint to google: the logo on your front page would be 0.6KB smaller as a PNG, but you knew that already.
        How many people still use a browser that supports gif but not png? Is the extra bandwidth use from every user really worth it just to avoid reminding a handful of them they're stuck in the past?

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by fatphil (181876)

      Google have been dicking around with that form in the last week or so. They _removed_ the date range search functionality, for example. They put it back again when they realised they'd been brainless idiots. However, that bug illustrates that 10000 Ph.D.s can still be appear to be brainless idiots. One thing that annoyed me was the fact that they removed the message-id search. Given that message-ids are the PRIMARY KEY of Usenet, that demonstrates google have lost the plot when it comes to Usenet.

      Feel free

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday November 09, 2008 @05:34PM (#25697317)

    hi, you must be noob to the internets. this usenet thing went the way of horse drawn buggies and panning for gold. I would suggest you use the web that is world wide (www). this will help you significantly. thank you sir.

  • Am I the only one who finds that the search function in Google Groups sucks abysmally? I mean, you've got 10 duplicate results for even thread returned all over the place which makes looking for results from threads you haven't read from yet impossible.
  • Too much spam (Score:3, Informative)

    by whereiswaldo (459052) on Sunday November 09, 2008 @05:42PM (#25697391) Journal

    I used to heavily use the newsgroups as well but for years there has been too much spam on the newsgroups to make them very useful.

    Instead I rely on web based forum posts which are indexed by Google and others.

    • by harmonica (29841) on Sunday November 09, 2008 @07:35PM (#25698261)

      Get a well-maintained news server and there'll hardly be any spam. Unfortunately, such a thing is hard to find, there isn't really any money in text newsgroups, and regular ISPs continue to give up on Usenet altogether and recommend Google Groups (which is a cruel joke). Individual [individual.net] seems to be one of the remaining good servers, for EUR 10 per year, but it has a dedicated team behind it. For technical things like programming languages or databases, Usenet groups in comp.* are still great.

  • Code Search (Score:5, Informative)

    by FornaxChemica (968594) on Sunday November 09, 2008 @05:44PM (#25697411) Homepage Journal
    Google Group seems boring, not really Google's fault but whenever I browse a topic, I never find anything relevant. Maybe bad luck. Anyway, for code samples, why not using Google Code Search [google.com]? You can limit your search to specific languages, which is very convenient.
    • by syousef (465911)

      Google Code Search is also fun for searching for unprofessional and frustrated abuse in code. Phrase like "what idiot" and "this is bullshit" always amuse.

  • My search results [google.com]

    Small values of work, of course. I specified the microsoft.public hierarchy but ended up with a variety of other groups.

    Sorry, but I've never been a big fan of Deja News, or what Google has done in the area generally. I've maintained my own archives for as long as I can remember (both usenet and email), but don't keep anything that old. I think most usenet providers will provide at most a year's worth of postings for the text-only groups, so you're asking a lot.

    Maybe check on Microsoft's

  • Wrong question (Score:5, Informative)

    by filenavigator (944290) * on Sunday November 09, 2008 @05:53PM (#25697493) Homepage
    The question you ask is wrong...since people are no longer answering questions on usenet. The proper question is...where can I find answers to programming questions.

    Answer:
    www.stackoverflow.com [stackoverflow.com]
    • wrong answer (Score:5, Insightful)

      by sentientbrendan (316150) on Sunday November 09, 2008 @06:39PM (#25697835)

      >The question you ask is wrong...
      >since people are no longer answering questions
      >on usenet.

      Some communities use usenet almost exclusively (the c++ community is basically built around comp.lang.c++.moderated and comp.lang.std.c++). Furthermore, a lot of programming mailing lists are mirrored to usenet.

      The problem the poster had was that google's search for usenet sucks, which I have to agree. In general, google groups has deteriorated since they started adding non-usenet groups to the service.

      >Answer:
      >www.stackoverflow.com [stackoverflow.com]

      Stackoverflow is great, but it has nothing to do with usenet or newsgroups.

      Usenet is a place for communities of people to have discussions. Basically, it is a unified distributed bulletin board system, with boards for discussions of all topics *ever*. It is also a convenient place to mirror mailing lists, so that they can be browsed in a unified manner without having to subscribe to a million different mailing lists, or go to lots of different websites.

      See: gmane.org

      Stackoverflow is a question answer service.... basically the same as yahoo answers except that it is focussed on answers to programming questions. Basically, it is a FAQ generation system.

      • by ROBOKATZ (211768)
        stackoverflow is supposed to be a question answer service, except that it is actually flooded with hypothetical and rhetorical questions meant to provoke discussion. For example, I checked there briefly earlier today, and saw the question "Is reverse engineering evil?". Then respondents are down-modded for answering with questions of their own, because the discussion is not in the form of an answer.

        That site is like some perverse techy-oriented Jeopardy.

    • Re:Wrong question (Score:5, Insightful)

      by GreatBunzinni (642500) on Sunday November 09, 2008 @06:50PM (#25697953)

      The question you ask is wrong...since people are no longer answering questions on usenet.

      Oh really? Then could you explain how exactly did comp.lang.c managed to receive today, a sunday of all days, until now no less than 78 posts, all regarding subjects like call by reference, duff's device and shared pointes? Could you explain how a medium that "people are no longer answering questions on" happens to get over 700 posts a week discussing a single programming language alone?

      Do you happen to work for that site you just advertised?

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by kaens (639772)

        comp.lang.c is the exception. Quite a few of the usenet groups that still have useful content are mirrors of mailing lists.

        With the explosion of the web, a lot of people got into programming that never heard of usenet. Saying "people are no longer answering questions on usenet" is obviously false, but for a lot of "modern" programming languages, the usenet group is just a mirror of the mailing list - and a lot of people using (for instance) python have probably never heard of usenet.

        I don't think that usene

        • comp.lang.c is the exception. Quite a few of the usenet groups that still have useful content are mirrors of mailing lists.

          It appears that there are a whole lot of exceptions on usenet. For example, comp.lang.c++ received over 600 posts from last monday up to today and mind you, just like comp.lang.c, it is only a group among many that cover that language. Other languages like Python has comp.lang.python, which carried nearly 1000 posts since last monday. Java has comp.lang.java.help, which got a tad over 500 post but it is only a specific group among 12 other Java groups. Ruby, on comp.lang.ruby, received no less than 1494 pos

    • by bcrowell (177657)

      The question you ask is wrong...since people are no longer answering questions on usenet.

      How about (a) toning down the arrogance, and (b) not making statements that are demonstrably untrue. I ask and answer questions on usenet pretty much every day of my life.

    • by 19061969 (939279)
      Even if they're not producing answers (which my favourite comp.lang.python still does), a lot of questions have already been answered. Usenet is a treasure trove of information. Though there is a lot of noise, I find the signal/noise ratio is better than other places. Many authoritative names have produced useful work in usenet over the years and IMHO it's worth using as a resource.
  • by TonyToews (1221386) on Sunday November 09, 2008 @06:01PM (#25697553)
    I completely agree that Google has been royally screwing up this search page. I also don't see how Google could foul up this search so badly. As you point out I just want to limit my search to microsoft.public.acccess* and it doesn't work. See http://msmvps.com/blogs/access/archive/2008/08/17/google-search-is-becoming-more-and-more-useless.aspx [msmvps.com] for my blog on this topic as well. And click on the Google complaints tag.
    • by drDugan (219551)

      I completely agree that Google has been royally screwing up this search page. I also don't see how Google could foul up this search so badly.

      Just follow the money. Google makes most of their money off search - not off Google groups search - but from general web searches. Google is also the only viable game in town on Usenet search. This leaves two reasons why the focus is not put on making this an excellent service: first, the effort is going toward growing, protecting, and expanding existing revenue streams, not on groups/Usenet search. I see nothing sinister here or conspiratorial, or even intentionally making the groups search poor - jus

      • by nathana (2525) *

        Yeah, that's great and all, and you may be right that this is the reason why they aren't sinking time and resources into making it "excellent," but the LEAST they could do is not BREAK crap that was previously working just fine. Google Groups used to return great and relevant search results through Advanced Search. The only explanation for the fact that it doesn't work anymore is that they changed something.

        If what they changed broke it, for heaven's sake put it back the way it was before so that it is at

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by DougWebb (178910)

      It's bad that they've got an bug that's gone ignored, but there's another way to search a group which seems to work ok.

      1. Go to http://groups.google.com/ [google.com]
      2. Enter microsoft.public.virtualpc in the Search for a group box, then click on the group name in the results.
      3. Enter vista explorer crash in the search box in the upper right, and click on Search this Group.
      4. Enjoy your three targeted search results.

      I'm not sure if these results will actually address your problem, but maybe your problem hasn't been addressed in t

    • doesn't entering:

      searchterm group:microsoft.public.access

      in the main google groups search box work?

  • Unfortunately, that's the bottom line and it has been that way for a number of years. USEnet was a great resource in its time, but these days I'd say you're much better off doing a google search on the web which might point you towards one of the thousands of programming sites that may have that nugget of info you're after.

    Cheers,

  • by acroyear (5882) <jws-slashdot@javaclientcookbook.net> on Sunday November 09, 2008 @06:09PM (#25697621) Homepage Journal

    Nobody really reads much usenet anymore, and during the decline earlier in this decade, the problem was that the poster would post but the replies would come in private email. So yes, the question might get answered, but the answer never got shared.

    The reason? Spam. Usenet posts became the #1 source of email addresses to spam because anybody could easily and cheaply hook up to a usenet feed and just gobble them up. So nobody posted anymore 'cause nobody wanted their address to end up on a spam list from hell.

    Eventually with little proof online that anybody was reading the questions, people just stopped posting them.

    Usenet was a wonderful thing when it was needed. Today, while the idea of a central yet open (re: infinitely cloned) repository of all topics of conversation may seem nice, it'll never happen again so long as spam is a problem.

    • by dougmc (70836)

      Fewer people read Usenet today than ten years ago, yes, but it's way more than nobody.

      Spam was a big problem. It's not so much anymore. As for people harvesting email addresses, that's pretty easily foiled by obfuscating your email address, or using an entirely fake one (which I don't like, but I understand why people do it.)

      Today, the reason that Usenet is on the decline is more about it not getting any new users, and existing users going where the talk is. New people know the web, and they go

  • by sentientbrendan (316150) on Sunday November 09, 2008 @06:28PM (#25697749)

    If you think about it, most google apps have a few really cool and flashy features (which is why I like to use them), but then tend to have lots of UI bugs. Also, it's pretty much impossible to actually report bugs to google. At best you'll find some google group on the product that no engineer ever looks at.

    Aside from the one mentioned google groops had lots of basic bugs. Until recently reading comp.lang.c++.moderated on google groups caused all sorts of problems because they weren't properly handling the escape of the ++ characters in the url (every time I clicked on a link I'd have to edit the url manually to get it to work). It took them years to find out about that and fix it. Although it was a daily annoyance to me, I had no way to get it into any kind of bug tracking system.

    Even worse I've *never* been able to use google gears or google docs without major bugs and error messages, no matter what browser I used (including chrome).

    Gmail, google reader, and basic search are probably the only google web apps I've seen that don't have lots of bugs. I actually have a higher opinion of their desktop apps.

    Reader, which is awesome and you should check out btw, used to be very bug ridden, but it's massively improved over the last year and a half.

    Search actually is kind of problematic in that the basic search works fine, but lots of the extensions are broken. Last time I tried subscribed links was broken. As in, it didn't work *at all* and there was no workaround.

    I think honestly that while they obviously have high quality engineers, they just have sucky QA. I think that they focus too much on unit tests, and have forgotten that a lot of basic bugs can only be detected by someone hammering on the interface of the production system and logging bugs.

    Also, I think they've basically destroyed their ability to have beta software, by making all of their software beta. Now, user have no way of distinguishing what is truly production ready software from stuff that clearly isn't, except by trying it and getting burned.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Tablizer (95088)

      Also, I think they've basically destroyed their ability to have beta software, by making all of their software beta. Now, user have no way of distinguishing what is truly production ready software from stuff that clearly isn't, except by trying it and getting burned.

      They've decided to go wide instead of deep. They throw ideas on the wall and see what sticks. If something becomes popular, they then focus more resources on it. It's sort of like ants spreading out to look for food. If some ant dude finds somet

      • by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 10, 2008 @02:50AM (#25700755)

        Sure it sounds great, what could be better then being an engineer in a company full of engineers with no management? Except odds are very good your special project will be released and never, ever maintained.

        I knew for a fact they'd never maintain Chrome. They'd toss out a beta and then walk away from it. Have they updated it at all?

        They'll do the same thing with Android. They'll release the first version and then walk away.

        They buy dejanews, a wonderful resource, and now most of the results are spam come from spammers who abuse their own "Google Groups" system!

        Even friggen Analytics has had Event Tracking in private beta for over a *year*. Their documentation never mentions the fact it is beta, but if you implment Event Tracking, you'll never see a change in your reports... why? Unreleased Beta.

        Google, if it expects to become a major player in the software industry, needs to grow up. It has no clue how to release quality software on time. It has no clue how to maintain said software.

        They need to decide if they are an advertising company or a software company. If they want to be both... good luck with that.

        I have very little faith in Google at this point. They seriously need to grow up if they want to survive in the long run. Right now, they are a bunch of kids trying to pretend they are adults.

  • Yes, it's true that USENET has lots of spam and Google Groups has a poor web interface. But that does not address the underlying problem. Fact is, USENET had tons of spam in the late-90s also. And the web interfaces were never anything to be thrilled with.

    No, what killed USENET for most technical subjects is a social one: there was no social cost for posting, thus every uneducated random wanderer posted on it. Not just spam, but also posts from real persons who only had a vague notions of what whatever s

  • ...but since no one else has: I find all the code examples I need with a search engine. I gave up on Usenet many years ago. You should do the same. You might be surprised at the number of relevant items you get returned on a Google search.

  • I don't see what the problem is. It works fine.

    1) Go to http://www.google.com
    2) Click the More menu at the top of the page
    3) Select Groups
    4) Enter your search term: database group:comp.*
    5) Get back about 3,000 responses

  • But wait, i'm a comcast user... what is this 'usenet' you speak of?

    All kidding aside, usenet isn't what it used to be, i don't know if it really is worth looking for something of value out there. Sad to say it, but its pretty much true.

  • Whilst I tend to use a normal Google search for queries on any modern tools/technologies, If I need to find out about something less than bleeding edge then the massive archive that is Usenet is a godsend. Or at least was a godsend until Google messed it up. The last few times I've used Google groups it was terrible - unrelated trash an almost impossible to get anything back from Usenet groups no matter what cunning tricks I tried. There's an awful lot of knowledge being lost there people :-(
  • by harlows_monkeys (106428) on Sunday November 09, 2008 @10:03PM (#25699269) Homepage

    Google has pretty completely fucked up in their handling of usenet archives. Some examples:

    1. I was searching for a particular post by message ID. It was a post from someone who used Google to post the damn thing, for God's sake, and Google still could not find it. It was definitely there, because if I went into that newsgroup in Google's usenet reader, and manually found the thread, and expanded it, I could see it. It just could not be found by a message ID search.
    2. I wanted to search for a post of mine. I did a search for my name, in quotes. It returned something like 6 posts. It used to return tens of thousands (I've been on usenet since 1984). I then searched for "bill gates". That returned a whopping 9 hits. I then tried some random troll's name, and got thousands of hits. It took several weeks before they fixed this, and "bill gates" and myself were back to a large number of hits.
    3. Now it's broken again. I get about 2000 results for myself, 3000 for Bill Gates, 3000 for Linux. I haven't found anything that gives more than 3200 now.
    4. The search display is almost completely worthless. They seem to be in the midst of changing this, so I will complain about both the old results and the new results. Old results first. Say a long thread has several posts that match. It shows one of the posts, and then shows indented other matches after that. Good. Except that it seems to do this for each matching posts. Net result is that many posts are displayed multiple times. I've seen cases where the first 10 pages of results are all from one thread, and there's no good way to skip that.
    5. Lately, it's been just showing one result for the whole thread, which you can click on to get the thread. That's better, but there doesn't seem to be any good way to go to the specific posts that match. When you open the thread, it will have highlighted a particular post, but there's no apparent way to then repeat the search in the thread to find other matching posts.
    6. If I find a post of mine, select options, and click the link to find more posts by this author, it is now only finding about 1000 posts. Similar results when I try this for other people's posts.
    7. They've fucked up dealing with their authentication server. If you are logged into your Google account when you go to groups, it sometimes takes up to 20 seconds or so for the page to appear. If you aren't logged in, it appears instantaneously.
    8. When you view the headers of a post, and click the "..." to expand the from address, it takes you to a page where you have to solve a CAPTCHA to get the full address. That used to work. Now after solving it, it just takes me back to where I was, without expanding the address.
    9. They are very inconsistent. I've asked other people about some of the above problems, and the usual result is that some people will be getting them, and some will not. As the problems go away for some, they start for others. It looks like they have multiple servers, and some are working better than others.

    We really need some competition for Google in this area. There's some very valuable stuff in the usenet archives, and that needs to be in competent hands.

  • I do not EVER again want to see CiteSeer, ExpertsExchange,
    etc.. Also, many "Review" sites that have no reviews.
    ie "no reviews, add your own now".

    There is GiveMeBackMyGoogle, but this is limited to
    20 "-"'s in the google query.

    So, I want a widget that fetches the results from google.
    Then iterates the returned hits, checking for URL's from
    useless sites. The remaining page is than passed to the
    browser.

    Thanks in advance, and sorry for the OffTopic,
    but I think others would be interested in this!

    • Those sites work great when free, but kill themselves the second they think charging will make them rich and keep their pool of contributors.

  • Google groups started going downhill after they added a Yahoo! groups clone.

Someone is unenthusiastic about your work.

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