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FidoNet -- why nothing of the kind now?

I used to love being on FidoNet. There were tons of conferences and "netmail". Everything was in one place.

You dialed up to your "uplink" for a couple of minutes every night and got all the latest stuff in one bundle.

All messages addressed specifically to you were always shown first, everything was stored on the hard disk, etc.

I'd expect the Internet would have made it better, but nowadays it's worse. First you need to *find* the right discussion forum. Then you *subscribe*. Then you use a web form to post. Then you get notified by *email*.

Why was there no effort to create some sort of "discussion client"?

With bells and whistles like "agree"/"disagree", vote, quoting, ask questions... Wouldn't it be a blast?

Alex
Sunday, May 16, 2004

May I ask; why don't you use Usenet?

Leauki (Andrew J. Brehm)
Sunday, May 16, 2004

Agreed... the OP has clearly never used NNTP client software. :)

Brad Wilson (dotnetguy.techieswithcats.com)
Sunday, May 16, 2004

By not including NNTP support within Outlook, Microsoft has left many people unaware of the possibility. I can understand that decision - inclusion of NNTP may have competed with the Public Folders feature of the Exchange Server in the past, leaving only 'group calendaring' as an advantage.

Be sure to check out http://gmane.org - it's an awesome public mail/news gateway. I've stopped subscribing to public mailing lists since I found it.

Also, be sure to get a good client that handles NNTP and email equally well. Outlook doesn't qualify; Outlook Express does in this respect, more or less. Mozilla and Thunderbird rock.

Ori Berger
Sunday, May 16, 2004

Thanks Ori for the link!

I know about Usenet. It's impossible to follow a conversation, there is no formatting, and (maybe I can't configure Outlook Express) only the headers are downloaded, so offline viewing is out of the question.

Anyway, from a purely aesthetical standpoint, just look at that page:

http://news.gmane.org/gmane.comp.lang.c++.tips/cutoff=37

(I'm a sensitive person.)

Alex
Sunday, May 16, 2004

Thank YOU Ori for pointing out Thunderbird!

YUMMY!

Alex
Sunday, May 16, 2004

Also, there's a plugin for Outllook called Newsgator that adds both RSS and newsgroup support.  (I haven't tried it.)

http://www.newsgator.com/

Does anyone know why regular Outlook doesn't support newsgroups?  It seems very odd that Outlook Express supports them, but Outlook doesn't.  Did someone in Microsoft decide that newsgroups weren't useful/suitable for corporate settings?

Robert Jacobson
Sunday, May 16, 2004

Hey I would counter Fidonet wasn't all that logical to follow either. It's no fun looking through at a thread through 80x25 ASCII terminal, I am glad we moved beyond that. If you start using Usenet long enough, eventually you'll figure out just how it works. A lot of time the complaint you have can be fixed using Usenet channel archives. They are web pages archiving the entire history of thread of discussion from the very beginning. Sometimes these archives are even searchable, a double bonus.

Li-fan Chen
Sunday, May 16, 2004

Outlook Express can download message bodies, there's a setting somewhere.
Outlook probably doesn't support it because the demand isn't high enough.
NewsGator does work, though I don't really like it for reading usenet news. I love it for RSS feeds.

As for FidoNet, er, it's mostly the small universe issue: in a small world (fidonet), it's easier to find everything.

mb
Sunday, May 16, 2004

Using Outlook to read Usenet newsgroups is just plain stupid.  There are plenty of good newreaders that make Usenet just as easy as Fidonet.  Get one and learn how to use it.

Speaking of Fidonet, I don't miss it one bit.  Every group ("Echo") was "Moderated" by a humorless, small-minded, dicatator-wannabe.

Officer Robert Barone
Sunday, May 16, 2004

xnews is what I've used since Agent went defunct (before the resurrection)
http://xnews.newsguy.com/


Philo

The Real Philo
Sunday, May 16, 2004

Thunderbird works like you wouldn't believe it.

It's not funny being the last guy to find out about stuff :P

Thanks all for showing me the light...

Alex
Sunday, May 16, 2004

Riiight, online discussion is a Solved Problem ...

... solved by USENET ...

cough
http://www.joelonsoftware.com/articles/BuildingCommunitieswithSo.html
cough

cough
http://philip.greenspun.com/panda/community
cough

The OP's suggestion is actually quite on the mark. Much substantive discussion is moving off Usenet and onto the Web where you can build things like reputation management and its easier to cancel or edit weak messages. Witness perlmonks.org vs comp.lang.perl.misc.

R Tate
Sunday, May 16, 2004

R Tate thanks for that JOS article on Communities, now JOS Forum makes a lot more sense to me (or at least but to words what I always sorta suspect).

Li-fan Chen
Sunday, May 16, 2004

Back before easily accessible internet connections there were half a dozen subscription networks of one kind or another.

FidoNet was one,
Compuserve,
Bix,
Cix ; were others.  Cix, I think is still running but I haven't seriously looked at it for years.

You could think of AOL as being an inheritor of these opt in networks, if you were half blind.

Simon Lucy
Monday, May 17, 2004

Ooh! Newsreader advocacy flame wars! Goodie!

I haven't tried Chunderbird, but then since I already use slrn, the best newsreader ever, there's no point.


Monday, May 17, 2004

Ah CIX... the joys of 1200/75 modems and getting my first 386 (Loaner from Compaq UK for an exhibition so it was a VERY early one) going to the Orange Tree pub in Richmond, arguing with carl edgar law (Full on CAPS typer when drunk) loverly bloke in person, paying for uucp mail by the KB.

Peter Ibbotson
Monday, May 17, 2004

My theory is that usenet support is not included in Outlook, so that the "public folders" feature (essentially equivalent to NNTP) will be effective for lock-in - if NNTP was supported, there would have been less outlook/exchange coupling, and an easier migration-away path.

Microsoft will probably not acknowledge this even if this is true, though, so I probably won't know.

Ori Berger
Monday, May 17, 2004

Technically, Fido was inferior to usenet or mailing lists, btw - but the community was smaller and much more computer literate, so it worked better in some senses. Also don't forget that you're looking at Fido through nostalgia-colored glasses today.

Ah, the days when NO ONE dared to top-post, when replies carefully quoted the original and replied in-line. Nostalgia isn't what it used to be.

Ori Berger
Monday, May 17, 2004

I have used both FidoNet and Usenet a lot.

In my opinion, FidoNet was superior to Usenet in several ways:

- you could get your messages in a compressed format, so syncing your client with the server (called a "node" in Fido terminology) was VERY fast, when compared to downloading Usenet messages

- quoting using initials, for example if a quote was by George Hackman, the quote looked like this:

GH> text text text text text text text
GH> text text text text text text text text

- high quality readers like GoldEd and BlueWave used to show quotes by different persons in different colors

I have tried many Usenet mailers, including Outlook, Agent, Gravity, etc, and I never found one as good as GoldEd or BlueWave!

The one advantage of Usenet is the fact that it had close ties to the internet... so it got adopted, while FidoNet (which used plain telephone lines) died.

MX
Monday, May 17, 2004

Ori - indeed, there were several hundred people in the area, as far as "community" went, that was it.

So you could afford to download all their daily talk through a 9600 modem. Not true now; maybe that's why just the headers are pulled in by default.

Li-fan Chen - that article by Joel is what made me *find out* there was a JoS forum. Woe unto the world...

Alex
Monday, May 17, 2004

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