Tag Archives: Usenet

Google Groups: How Not to Run an Archive

by Kevin Alfred Strom

IT’S BEING acknowledged everywhere — now by Wired magazine and the SEO Theory newsletter. Google Groups is totally broken.

It began well. Google acquired the Deja News archive of Usenet postings from 1995 forward, and then added 1981-1994 material from Marc Spencer’s archive. If somebody said it in a newsgroup, you could find it by searching Google Groups. You could search by author, by keywords, by newsgroup, by date range, or by exact phrase. It was as it should be.

But then Google decided to kluge its own “discussion groups” onto Usenet, and began emphasizing “new communities” or some such cliché at the expense of Usenet archiving, which has been all but abandoned. Some entire newsgroups have been ditched without explanation. And searching by author or exact phrase? Forget it. If you get any results at all, they’ll be woefully incomplete.

Google Groups is in violation of its own terms of service, which state in part “The Service contains the entire archive of Usenet discussion groups dating back to 1981.” To Google: Fix, please. Or remain evil.

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