[TAG] [Fwd:] In RI federal court -- Harvard vs. the RIAA
ben at linuxgazette.net
Wed Dec 24 09:40:09 MSK 2008
On Tue, Dec 23, 2008 at 07:45:15PM -0800, Rick Moen wrote:
> Quoting Ben Okopnik (ben at linuxgazette.net):
> > That was one of the ostensible reasons, yes - and I agree that it was a
> > bad one - but it does not cover all the reasons, and ignores the real
> > ones. It is undeniable that USENET traffic exploded, about five years
> > after The September That Never Ended, making it far less feasible to
> > carry for companies with limited bandwidth.
> I'm not sure I'm following you. A moment ago, you were talking about
> companies curtailing _access_ to Usenet, by, e.g., blocking outbound
> access to port 119/tcp (NNTP) anywhere in the outside world -- which, as
> I pointed out, was because of a clueless assumption that this
> constituted an improvement to security, combined with a lack of
> incentive to leave it unimpeded because of usage by the executive staff,
> as with far less useful things on the Web.
> However, _now_ you're talking as if the corporate world had at one time
> all been running NNTP _servers_ (e.g., your talk about "less feasible to
> carry"), and thus suffered because the "bandwidth exploded", and thus
> terminated their news servers.
Sorry, I obviously didn't make myself clear: that's far too broad an
interpretation of "carry", and one I didn't expect you to make. Perhaps
I should have said "allow". What I meant was that pulling down, say,
half a dozen NGs a day went from a few hundred KB to hundreds of MB -
and a dozen people reading their favorite froups now constituted
> > This time, though, it wasn't simply an influx of The Clueless; this
> > was a flood of trolls, people who got their fun from abusing the
> > system, in the same way that skript kiddies and crackers do.
> I'm sorry, but you keep attempting to describe a situation that I simply
> do not observe on comp.os.linux.*. Perhaps you should switch to a
> quality news feed? Maybe mine? ;->
[laugh] Rick, I wish I'd known you in those days. As it was, I was
experiencing this stuff first-hand while trying to juggle Virgin Island
politics, system administration, database administration, and the
responsibilities of being a CIO - which included fighting the CEO for
every shred of resources I needed. I had to have a *very* large closet
just to hold my hats.
Meanwhile, I had a pretty reasonable feed through a German Uni (I don't
recall the name, but they were a good-quality public one.) The problem
wasn't the feed itself; it was the bandwidth and the various parties
who watched those numbers like hawks.
 Example: A certain nameless enterpreneur had managed to wangle a
drop from the transatlantic cable that passed just off-shore of St.
Thomas. Bandwidth, yay!... except now there was suddenly a pitched
battle that involved everyone from the governor on down, with "everybody
should get as much as they want, there's almost infinite capacity!" on
one side and "SHHHHH!!! Dammit, keep it down or somebody will notice and
cut us off!" on the other. Since there were exactly three people on the
island who actually understood the pertinent technical issues, we were
all kept hopping between the Government House, our nominal places of
employment, and various hiding-in-the-background-but-powerful-as-hell
individuals who had a stake.
> On the other hand, quite a lot of corporations cluelessly decided "I
> don't see any point in permitting outbound access to 119/tcp, so let's
> block it." In which situation, ssh'ing over to your friendly Linux
> shell server is, as usual, one excellent solution. You'll find tin and
> slrn available for your newsreading pleasure on
> uncle-enzo.linuxmafia.com, for example. (Yr. welcome!)
Thanks, but I don't have much time for it these days. Besides, all the
groups I was in back then are, as I'd mentioned, pretty much dead.
> > In my experience, the unmoderated groups are hotbeds of trolling and
> > spam - and are essentially useless to anyone who hasn't been there
> > "since the early days". I guess we just have completely unrelated sample
> > sets.
> This does not accurately characterise comp.os.linux.*
That would make it exceptional, I'd say.
> > > Distributed technical means of deciding what traffic to see at a
> > > local level is the clueful way to address the problem. NNTP and
> > > news spools make that feasible in a way that most other media do
> > > not.
> > Only if you have unlimited bandwidth. Anyone at the end of a skinny
> > pipe can't afford to take on a huge load of crap so that the end users
> > can filter the feed to suit themselves.
> Again, you are making the fundamental, severe error of confusing "having
> access to a news server" with "running a news server".
Not at all; see my point above. To clarify even further, I'm not talking
about carrying a feed: I'm talking about the situation that's common in
most of the world outside the US, in which downloading several hundred
MB per day is a Big Deal and negatively affects everyone else at the end
of that pipe.
> I'll be glad to attempt to hold a talk about how to effectively manage
> netnews connections and protect its quality, after you're clear on the
> lack of a need to run one's own full-newsfeed news server. ;->
I've been clear on that one for years, Rick. Unfortunately, you've
misinterpreted something I said, and you're basing a lot of assumptions
on that misinterpretation.
> > If they manage to survive at all, that is. Most of them didn't.
> This being _Linux Gazette_, I am obliged to point out the highly notable
> counter-example of comp.os.linux.* (less comp.os.linux.advocacy) as
> experienced via a quality feed. Apparently, you aren't aware of that
> group hierarcy's complete failure to fall over dead.
comp.os.linux.misc reputedly has 5325 members; comp.os.linux.setup,
2164. All of the rest have fewer than that. Given the numbers that I
recall from the active days of Usenet, that's only a tiny trickle.
> > I note that pretty much _every_ modern means of group communication
> > involves lists, *not* USENET.
> This is primarily driven by two things: (1) clueless firewalling off of
> outbound access to port 119/tcp. (2) Catering to the lowest common
> denominator of user, who grasps the concept of e-mail and maybe on a
> good day is capable of distinguishing it from the World-Wide Web, and
> who has icons for MSIE and Outlook Express on his metaphorical desktop.
I agree. How does that affect my point? USENET is no longer the
thriving marketplace of communication that it used to be, for a variety
of reasons. There's still some life left in it, but it's been mostly
> > Ubuntu, for example.
> Bad example: The lion's share of their communication is on their (very
> stereotypically awful) Web forums -- not their mailing lists.
No, good example: it's not being done on USENET, as it would have been
in the old days. Whether awful or not, their Web forums have beaten out
USENET by a huge margin.
> However, I'd speculate that you're still slightly more likely to get a
> _good_ answer to an Ubuntu question on comp.os.linux.misc than you are
> in either of those other two places.
When I search the Web for an answer to an Ubuntu problem, those "awful"
Web forums are the first thing that pop up - and they usually have a
pretty reasonable answer, or set of answers, for what I'm looking for.
Once in a rare while, when I can't find an answer that way, I'll ask
here. I can't come up with any scenario in which I'd recommend for
anyone to go through the hassle of finding a feed, signing up, getting a
newsreader, figuring out the appropriate group, pulling down the initial
message load, filtering for trash, and only then getting to ask a
> > I also note the huge success of Yahoo groups (even though many of
> > those groups tend to be full of Yahoos... but how is that different
> > from how USENET worked?)
> Yahoo Groups are a "success" in pretty much the same way fruitflies are.
> OK as to _quantity_.
Heh. Lovely metaphor there, Rick. How is USENET different, again? Except
for being _less_ successful than fruitflies?
> > My contention is that there _are_ no appropriate technical measures.
> > USENET is/was Broken As Designed - like many other protocols of that
> > era, it just didn't survive the test of time.
> I'm sorry, but you appear to be speaking from ignorance.
> There are really good reasons why I regard the message semantics and
> architecture of NNTP newsgroups to be the best we've yet achieved,
> _much_ better than those of mailing lists and Web forums -- and one of
> their particular glories is that they work while avoiding single points
> of failure and single points of control.
Numbers-wise, at least, that hasn't proven to be true. In fact, in those
terms, USENET got Betamaxed out of the market.
> You assert that the only way such groups can work is with an add-on --
> moderation -- that deliberately cripples both of those advantages, and
> (in general, in my experience) greatly damages the forums to which
> they're applied. Sorry, no. I do my level best as a mailing list
> listadmin to _try_ to offer members of my mailing lists the closest
> approximation to the technical and social advantages of unmoderated
> newsgroups that the technology can support -- while knowing that it's a
> pale imitation.
Rick, I'm sure that you do a great job of the above. Now, with that
granted: how many USENET feeds are administered by sysadmins of your
quality and experience? Another point, one that intersects with this
one: it takes a lot of skill to do that job well. It takes little to no
skill to manage a Yahoo group. Which one is going to be more popular?
> > Blogs, as I see it, fullfill a different function from USENET: they're a
> > diary as opposed to a conversation. Do the contents of a diary belong in
> > a general conversation? I'd say "no", but there were many "soc.*" and
> > "alt.*" groups whose members would disagree - and given their group
> > dynamics, they may well be right.
> You appear to be talking past me and ignoring my point: The fact that
> the contents of diaries don't belong on Usenet (or mailing lists) never
> prevented people from posting such drivel there. Their having a Very
> Special Place for it is thus a good thing for public discussion forums.
And you appear to be ignoring my point: the people who flooded Usenet
with their crap weren't doing so out of some perceived lack of places to
vent their angst. They were doing it for the fun of destroying
something, for vandalism. And that's not something the average group
could cope with.
* Ben Okopnik * Editor-in-Chief, Linux Gazette * http://LinuxGazette.NET *
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