I am a Judgment Broker that writes a lot. This article is my opinion about why Usenet is declining.
Usenet has been around long before the (www) web. I have used Usenet servers almost daily, for at least 20 years. In the final days of 2011, I decided to pull the plug, and give Usenet up “cold turkey”.
Usenet is divided into two groups, text and binary. The text portion is an incredible array of discussion groups on almost any topic. The discussions are in “plain text”, and can be viewed with a wide variety of Usenet readers, and also some email programs.
The best feature of the text part of Usenet, is how it is often the best (fastest and the least frustrating) way to get a simple question answered. If you want to know what happened, or to get opinions on anything, you can get an intelligent answer quickly.
Over the years, there have been many questions that I could only find answers for, on Usenet. Usenet is almost always unfiltered, so one can also find certain people that would rather insult, correct, or chastise you; than to help you.
The binary Usenet groups has pictures, music, videos, program files, operating systems, and many software programs. The binary Usenet groups messages are encoded, so it looks like gibberish.
Usenet’s binary encoded groups require a separate conversion program, to convert them into the “binary” files that computers can understand. The conversion programs are either free or cheap, and easy to find.
Because of these advantages, I used Usenet for at least 20 years. In the last 18 years or so, the only part of the binary Usenet groups I used was the music sections.
Usenet’s binary music groups used to be amazing. The encoded music files were organized by decades from the 1920s to today. Historically, on Usenet, one could find music that could not be bought or found anywhere else.
For example, consider a 1925 song “Show Me The Way To Go Home” by the Golden Gate Orchestra band.
That song, can be found on the web. However, you would never think to search for it, except for this article, or if you were a long-time Usenet subscriber and downloaded the series of “drunk 1920’s songs” someone uploaded 15 years ago. That music series was from their private collection, which was and is, not available anywhere else.
Historically, Usenet access was included for free with internet accounts. Long ago, even providers such as Comcast, used to include it.
Every year, more Internet providers are dropping Usenet access. Most search engines are indexing it less or not at all, and more people now have to pay $10-$15 per month, to connect to Usenet servers.
Every year, as the number of Usenet subscriber decline, there is less good content getting uploaded or posted.
Every year, the value of a Usenet account declines. As blogs and online forums grow, there is less of a reason to keep paying for a Usenet account.
I will miss Usenet, however my Usenet reader program still retains many good discussions that I have saved inside it, that I might refer to years from now. Thank you Usenet, but I can no longer justify spending money on you.