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'''FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: 12 November 2020'''
'''FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: 12 November 2020'''

Revision as of 16:34, 12 November 2020


Technologists breathe new life into Usenet, the Internet’s oldest discussion network

London/Prague/Vienna – Usenet, the world’s longest-lived online discussion network, has received a jump-start with the inauguration of a new management committee. The Big-8 Management Board, which administers the network’s mainstream discussion hierarchies, has been revived by networking enthusiasts after a three-year dormancy.

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

“Usenet is important as a piece of our Internet heritage and history, but it also has a future,” said Jason Evans. “Though many people have forgotten about it, it still has surprising amounts of activity.” For Tristan Miller, a Usenet user for nearly 30 years, the venerable network still has much to offer: “Usenet’s inherent 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.”

Usenet was established in 1980, a decade before the World Wide Web. Unlike a Web forum, control of Usenet is not exercised by any one company, but is rather distributed across a loose federation of independent service providers. By convention, these providers entrust the creation and removal of discussion forums (“newsgroups”), and the appointment of moderators, to the Big-8 Management Board. When the Board became defunct in 2017, there was no one left to carry out these essential tasks.

Besides resuming its essential administrative duties, the new Board members have restored and modernized its infrastructure. In June 2020 they launched a new website for the Board and in August 2020 they took over maintenance of STUMP, Usenet’s most popular moderation software. Board members have also held talks and tutorials aimed at rekindling interest in Usenet, including presentations at the 7th Annual Hackers Congress and the 2020 openSUSE + LibreOffice Conference.

About the Usenet Big-8 Management Board

The Big-8 Management Board administers the original, mainstream discussion hierarchies on Usenet, a worldwide Internet messaging system established in 1980. 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.

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”. Unlike a Web forum, control of Usenet is not centralized with any one company, but is rather distributed across a loose federation of independent service providers that includes businesses, universities, and other organizations. Messages posted on one Usenet server are automatically propagated to the other servers in the network, making the system robust and resistant to censorship.

Press contacts

  • Jason Evans - - +420 799797827
  • Tristan Miller - - +43 1 5324621 3
  • Rayner Lucas - - TBA