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Re: mailing list vs "the futur"

On 27/08/2018 21:13, Michael Stone wrote:
On Mon, Aug 27, 2018 at 12:28:35PM -0400, Dan Ritter wrote:
On Mon, Aug 27, 2018 at 11:37:48AM -0400, Gene Heskett wrote:

That bandwidth limit is not on your side of the isp, its the bandwidth
from the main trunk lines to the isp. NNTP is a huge bandwidth hog
regardless of how much of it your isp accepts for spooling on local disk
to serve you.

This is not the case.

Yes it is. Most ISPs stopped supporting NNTP because of the ridiculous bandwidth (and disk space) demands. Your rebuttal skipped over the part about people posting off-topic junk all over the place, and the fact that (the couple of cranks who actually just wanted to read comp.misc or whatever aside) most people who wanted "newsgroups" really wanted the high volume binary groups with pirated software or movies or whatever--so if an ISP dropped the high volume part of the NNTP feed, they basically had no reason not to drop the whole thing. Back in the late 90s when the handwriting was on the wall it was pushing toward 100GB/day to keep up with a full newsfeed.

You appear to be conflating the NNTP protocol with Usenet, the global message transmission network. They are different things. Usenet as we currently know it relies on NNTP but NNTP is not Usenet.

Whilst I agree that it is true that ISPs stopped running their own Usenet-linked NNTP servers for the reasons you describe, it is nevertheless wholly false to say that NNTP is the problem in this context. The problem was Usenet and the massive bulk of binary groups. NNTP was not and is not to blame for Usenet's excess. Any distribution protocol would have been a bandwidth hog in those circumstances.

In theory you can still use an NNTP client (vs a server) to follow a limited number of text-only groups fairly efficiently. In practice there's just not that much left worth following because the experience got to be so bad, and because so few people are even aware it exists anymore. If you purchase newsgroup service as a standalone from a specialized company you typically get a somewhat more curated experience (for a pretty sizable fraction of the total price of your internet connection, to pay the costs outlined above). The reality is that the primary use of these services is downloading pirated software and other binaries.

Even here, where you recognise that NNTP can be used for discussions just like this mail list, you still seem to viewing NNTP primarily within the context of Usenet. There is no need for NNTP-based discussions to involve the single, federated Usenet system.

It is certainly true that NNTP has fallen out of favour for private discussion groups (nothing to do with Usenet) but there are lots of reasons for this (a long and complex discussion in its own right), and Usenet's problems with volume are only peripherally connected to the reduction in the use of NNTP for text-based discussions of the nature carried here.

Both mail list-based discussion groups and NNTP-based discussion groups have reduced in popularity as web-based forums have increased in popularity, despite the fact that web-based forums are not an exact replacement for the use cases of either email or NNTP. This change in popularity never had and does not have any connection with the bandwidth requirements of Usenet (regardless of the protocol used to carry it)/

It should be noted that private NNTP-based groups that were not shared with Usenet existed long before ISPs stopped providing Usenet feeds as part of their general service.

In truth, NNTP (colloquially but incorrectly referred to as "Usenet") is still a great protocol for private discussions groups such as this mail list and many others likes it, even if few[1] use it. Used in this manner, NNTP is not and never was a bandwidth hog. NNTP is probably more bandwidth-efficient overall than an email discussion list and as, or potentially more, bandwidth-efficient than a web-based forum. NNTP may have fallen out of favour for this type of use case (primarily in favour of web forums as things now stand) but it can and does still do the job in a bandwidth-efficient manner.

1: For example, Mozilla still use NNTP discussions groups which are mirrored as email lists.

Mark Rousell

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