Is there a way to retrieve/download all my old Usenet posts?
June 30, 2009 11:28 PM   Subscribe

Usenet was my first real online community -- it's coming up on twenty-five years (!) since I pushed my first clump of snarky, juvenile flamage out into the aether. I'd like to download copies of my old messages from Google Groups, but they don't make it easy, and worse, a lot of what Google used to have isn't showing up in searches anymore...

About five years ago I searched Google Groups for all the old email addresses I could think of, and dug up around 8250 of my old Usenet posts from the late '90s back to 1984. It's enough to fill a sizeable book and the closest thing I have to a diary from that period, and I'm in the mood to go back and check it out again. But since my original research the Groups UI has gone to hell in a handbasket and many/most of those messages aren't coming back in searches anymore. I used to assume that this stuff would always be available -- stupid me!

Is there any way to do bulk downloads of raw Usenet messages from Google Groups? And if not, are there any alternate archives out there anywhere? I know most of the pre-1995 posts were filled in by came from "other sources" after Google acquired DejaNews; do those sources still exist, and if so, who/where are they?

(You could probably comfortably torrent everything posted on the pre-alt.binaries-era Usenet in a single weekend...and actually, I'd like to.)
posted by Lazlo to Computers & Internet (5 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Holy carp, Lazlo Nibble!

Here's a post describing where they get their Usenet from. Google's archive goes back to 1981. Sources include:

1981 - 1996: "The famous UT-Zoo archives. These were created by Henry Spencer
at the University of Toronto, Department of Zoology. They have
been extracted from the old 9-track tapes by David Wiseman ..."

1987 - 1994: "... Juergen Christoffe['s] archives from Exabyte and DAT tapes. "

For what it's worth, I'm seeing major breakage in Google Group's Usenet search too. None of my posts are showing up (using advanced search, trying email and name in the author field, even limiting the date range to the right years).

I don't know if it will help, but try sending a note to Google that you can't find posts that used to show up.
posted by zippy at 1:29 AM on July 1, 2009

The Google Groups search is very broken at the moment, often it returns no results for queries which obviously shouldn't.

Unfortunately Google, and especially Google Groups, completely ignore user feedback, as I have learned from bitter experience.

You just have to cross your fingers and hope that they notice the problem themselves and fix it.
posted by Mwongozi at 2:23 AM on July 1, 2009

This might help: - suggests that groups search may not work if you're not logged into google groups.
posted by crocomancer at 4:14 AM on July 1, 2009

Lazlo Nibble! And at last, we know the very nice man behind the pseudonym :D

(sorry, can't help but just had to wave hello from the Introspective days!)
posted by almostwitty at 5:46 AM on July 1, 2009

groups search may not work if you're not logged into google groups.

I'm logged in - it's still broken for my queries.
posted by zippy at 10:25 AM on July 1, 2009

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