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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: 17 November 2020

New Usenet management committee sees bright future for Internet’s oldest discussion network

London/Prague/Vienna – Usenet, the world’s longest-lived online discussion network, has received a jump-start with the establishment of a new management committee after a three-year dormancy. In addition to resuming essential administrative duties, the reconstituted Big-8 Management Board has begun restoring and modernizing its infrastructure and has stepped up public outreach efforts to promote the venerable network.

Jason Evans, a training engineer based in Prague, and Tristan Miller, a scientist at the Austrian Research Institute for Artificial Intelligence in Vienna, re-established the Board in April 2020 with the blessing of its former members. They were joined in May by Rayner Lucas, a London-based programmer.

“While Usenet is important as a piece of our Internet heritage and history, it also has a future,” said Evans. “Even as social media and Web-based discussion forums have become prominent, Usenet still has a surprising amount of activity.”

For Miller, a Usenet user for nearly 30 years, the network still has much to offer. “Usenet’s transparency and lack of centralized control give it important advantages over newer forms of social media. It’s versatile, resilient, and resistant to censorship in ways that Facebook and Twitter can never be,” he said.

In June 2020, a new website was launched for the Board and in August the Board members took over maintenance of STUMP, Usenet’s most popular moderation software. Board members have also organized talks and tutorials aimed at rekindling interest in Usenet, including presentations at the 7th Annual Hackers Congress and the 2020 openSUSE + LibreOffice Conference.

The Board’s renewed activity is already paying off, with users now emerging to propose new discussion groups, fill vacant moderatorships, and help modernize the STUMP codebase. “It’s an exciting time to be part of Usenet,” said Lucas. “Our aim in reviving the Board was not just to help preserve Usenet but to see it grow again. I think we’ve been laying a good foundation for that growth.”

About Usenet

Usenet is a worldwide discussion system that was established on the Internet in 1980, a decade before the World Wide Web. Like a Web-based discussion forum, users read and write messages that are grouped into topics, known as “newsgroups”. However, control of Usenet is not centralized. Instead, control is distributed across a loose federation of independent service providers. Messages posted on one Usenet server are automatically propagated to the other servers in the network, making the system robust and resistant to censorship. By convention, Usenet providers entrust the creation and removal of mainstream newsgroups, and the appointment of moderators, to the Big-8 Management Board.

About the Usenet Big-8 Management Board

https://www.big-8.org/

The Big-8 Management Board administers the original, mainstream discussion hierarchies on Usenet. The Board is responsible for creating and deleting newsgroups (message forums) and for appointing and replacing moderators. It also assists the Internet Systems Consortium in maintaining the canonical list of newsgroups for use by Usenet service providers.

Press contacts

  • Jason Evans - jsevans@big-8.org - +420 799797827
  • Tristan Miller - tmiller@big-8.org - +43 6704052486
  • Rayner Lucas - rlucas@big-8.org - +44 7790656828

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