6 July 2009 (Monday) - Google Newsgroups

Yesterday I mentioned the blog’s “Recent Visitors Map”. Last night there was a hit from Thailand, and this afternoon one from New York.

For some years I’ve been subscribing to various Google newsgroups. Newsgroups are a bit like internet forums, but the difference between an on-line forum and a newsgroup is that forums have moderation. A few years ago, newsgroups were good. You could have a good chat on a range of subjects, learn something new.. It was through them that I got free magnets when badge-making (as a fund raiser) in 2004. And I met my mate in Sevenoaks that way.

But nowadays, newsgroups are a shambles. For years I regularly logged into the same dozen each day, and they’ve all gone the same way. What once were constructive discussions is now little more than soapboxes for the deranged. I first started mucking about on Google Groups round about Easter 2002. After some seven years of using them to argue my way around the world, I’ve decided to call it a day and cancel my account with giganews.

The medical-related groups I subscribed to have all been spammed to death by a twit from Calgary who expounds the theory that God made all the elements except iron, which was made by Satan. There’s no reasoning with the chap – he’s totally convinced himself and anyone who disagrees gets some quite serious abuse. I say “serious abuse” –he considers himself a Christian. So anyone who disagrees with him gets called every foul name under the sun, but he leaves out the vowels so as not to upset God. My favourite insult was to be called a fkdnthhdmthrfkr. It would be amusing if it hadn’t killed what was once a useful resource.

Another Canadian, who goes by the web-alias of “The Doctor” is doing his utmost to kill off all the Doctor Who related groups.

The astronomy groups also attract the nutters, Apollo conspiracy theorists and flat-earthers. And the Koi ones attract nut cases to the point where most of the posts are racial abuse and hate mail. To see someone mention anything remotely fish-related is a rarity.

The local group (which was good several years ago) was all but destroyed some time ago by a twit from Canterbury (who on occasion openly admitted mental health problems) who would savagely attack any and all new posters who weren’t part of his little clique. And what was left has more recently been kicked firmly in the goolies by a chap from Charing who obsesses about the public sector conspiring to bring down civilisation.

The NeverWinter forum probably never had more than six contributors in all the years I subscribed to it, and the kite flying one attracts maybe three messages per month. The cycling group is similarly dead.

In theory you can use newsgroups to discuss a range of topics. In practice it’s a waste of money. Those groups which aren’t dead are being actively killed. I’ve gone from making dozens of postings a day down to sending maybe one a week. Cancelling the account will save me a fiver each month – that’s a pint and a half more beer…

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