A Weblog About Topics and Issues Discussed in the Book Spam Kings by Brian McWilliams

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January 24, 2005

AOL discontinuing newsgroup service

UPDATE: I have a more detailed story about this historic milestone up at BetaNews.com.

The world's biggest ISP is cutting off direct access to one of the coolest things about the Internet, the birthplace of spam, and the home of Nanae.

America Online says it will no longer provide subscribers with access to Usenet newsgroups. When you visit keyword "newsgroups" while signed on to the service, a pop-up appears with the following message:

Please Note: The AOL Newsgroup service will be discontinued in early 2005.
For members using AOL over a dial-up connection, you will no longer be able to access Newsgroups. If you have a separate high-speed connection, you can contact your broadband provider to see if they offer Newsgroups. Newsgroup services can often be accessed through a third party reader, such as Mozilla Thunderbird (http://www.mozilla.org/projects/thunderbird/).
Alternatively, you can access Newsgroups via Google at http://groups.google.com/.
We apologize for this inconvenience.

(According to this announcement, the shut off will occur in February.)

I guess AOL couldn't figure out a good way to "monetize" its newsgroup feed (aside from the little banner ads that appear on the main Read My Newsgroups window). AOL's built-in newsgroup reader was really quite poor compared to some of the standalone programs available. While it's true that AOL members can still get access to their newsgroups via Google Groups, the recent re-design of that service has not exactly been greeted with cheers.

Think other big ISPs will follow suit?

Posted by brian at January 24, 2005 3:47 PM


Depressing, but only slightly. How many AOLers use Usenet anyhow? Still, it's a shame they'll have a harder time accessing one of the Internet's greatest resources.

Posted by: Hiawatha Bray at January 25, 2005 2:47 PM

When I first heard about this I thought it was just a rumor but now from reading your info....I just can't believe it-I hope that this kind of thing can be fought!

Posted by: Rose at January 25, 2005 9:27 PM

Well, AOL finally did it. I was talking to a friend the other day and told him that the Usenet acess within AOL was one of the main reasons I kept my account with them. Sure, I knew about other standalone newsgroup readers, but the reader built into AOL was just SO dang conventient. Anyhoo, it looks like I've got one more reason to depart from AOL.

Posted by: james at January 27, 2005 1:11 AM

they turned off the service a couple of days i have looked at other options. the google site is a nightmare. how do you get to the good stuff? does anyone know of a reader that works with aol or is paying for another provider necessary?

Posted by: richard at February 14, 2005 6:53 PM


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