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Re: mailing list vs "the futur"

On Tue, Aug 28, 2018 at 09:15:43AM +0100, Mark Rousell wrote:
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.

Yes and no. NNTP is inherently open to abuse because it wasn't designed with mechanisms to account for the cost of a transaction. (This is true of all the early internet protocols, not just NNTP, which is why we have, e.g., such a spam problem on SMTP.) But certainly you can identify or deal with an abusive customer on HTTP much easier than you can identify and remediate abuse within the noise of an NNTP feed. I remember the heroic efforts that abuse staff were trying in the mid to late 90s, but it just wasn't possible. SMTP was able to mitigate the worst problems by instituting spam filters and dropping connections from shady corners of the internet--especially open relays. But this was possible even to approach because SMTP involves a known sender and a known receiever, so if a message is lost either the sender or receiever can try to resolve the problem. It's much less clear how you cut off NNTP servers without getting silently-disconnected islands of news and a horrible user experience for everyone. You can "solve" the problem by keeping NNTP in a walled garden (disconnecting from usenet) but then you lose a lot of the inherent advantages of NNTP and end up with a protocol that's kinda overweight for the simple problem of transferring a few text messages in a client/server fashion. In theory it would be nice to just be able to access web-based discussion lists via NNTP so you could use a generic client and customize the interface. But this isn't a thing that's done much; the NNTP protocol is both too complicated and also too lacking in functionality that modern discussion group members look for. There are probably more people using tapatalk for that purpose--even though it's hideous and proprietary--simply because it's a better fit than NNTP for a modern discussion group.

Mike Stone

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