Google Groups screenshot
Developer(s) Written in Java Operating system Cross-platform (web-based application) Type Newsgroups
electronic mailing lists
Google Groups is a service from Google Inc. that supports discussion groups, including many Usenet newsgroups, based on common interests. The service was started in 1995 as Deja News, and was transitioned to Google Groups after a February 2001 buyout.
Membership in Google Groups is free of charge and many groups are anonymous. Users can find discussion groups related to their interests and participate in threaded conversations, either through a web interface or by e-mail. They can also start new groups. Google Groups also includes an archive of Usenet newsgroup postings dating back to 1981 and supports reading and posting to Usenet groups. Users can also set up mailing list archives for e-mail lists that are hosted elsewhere.
The Deja News Research Service was an archive of messages posted to Usenet discussion groups, started in March 1995 by Steve Madere in Austin, Texas. Its powerful search engine capabilities won the service acclaim, generated controversy, and significantly changed the perceived nature of online discussion.
While archives of Usenet discussions had been kept for as long as the medium existed, Deja News offered a novel combination of features. It was available to the general public, provided a simple World Wide Web user interface, allowed searches across all archived newsgroups, returned immediate results, and retained messages indefinitely. The search facilities transformed Usenet from a loosely organized and ephemeral communication tool into a valued information repository. The archive's relative permanence, combined with the ability to search messages by author, raised concerns about privacy and confirmed oft-repeated past admonishments that posters should be cautious in discussing themselves and others.
While Madere was initially reluctant to remove archived material, protests from users and legal pressure led to the introduction of "nuking,"[disambiguation needed ] a method for posters to permanently remove their own messages from search results. It already supported the use of an "X-No-Archive" message header, which if present would cause an article to be omitted from the archive. This did not prevent others from quoting the material in a later message and causing it to be stored. Copyright holders were also allowed to have material removed from the archive. According to Humphrey Marr of Deja News, copyright actions most frequently came from the Church of Scientology.
Change of direction
The service was eventually expanded beyond search. My Deja News offered the ability to read Usenet in the traditional chronological, per-group manner, and to post new messages to the network. Deja Communities were private Internet forums offered primarily to businesses. In 1999 the site (now known as Deja.com) sharply changed direction and made its primary feature a shopping comparison service. During this transition, which involved relocation of the servers, many older messages in the Usenet archive became unavailable. By late 2000 the company, in financial distress, sold the shopping service to eBay, who incorporated the technology into their half.com service.
By 2001 the search service was shut down. In February 2001, Google acquired Deja News, and transitioned its assets to groups.google.com. Users were then able to access these Usenet newsgroups through the new Google Groups interface.
By the end of 2001 the archive had been supplemented with other archived messages dating back to May 11, 1981. These early posts from 1981–1991 were donated to Google by the University of Western Ontario, based on archives by Henry Spencer from the University of Toronto. Shortly after, Google released a new version, which allowed users to create their own (non-Usenet) groups.
In February 2006, Google modified the interface of Google Groups, adding profiles and post ratings.
In December 2010, Google rolled out a New UI Preview with more Gmail/Reader-Like functionality.
Kinds of groups hosted by Google
Google provides two distinct kinds of groups: traditional Usenet groups, and non-Usenet groups that are more similar to mailing lists. The latter type is accessible only by web or by e-mail, not by NNTP. The Google Groups user interface and help messages do not use a distinct name for mailing-list style groups, referring to both styles of group as "Google Groups."
Google recognizes the X-No-Archive header and displays messages containing it for only seven days, after which the article becomes no longer available to the public. Google also recognizes the "-- " Usenet signature delimiter, and removes the significant space at the end (thus, proper Usenet signatures can't be added to articles posted via Google Groups).
Notable interface features
- Groups search
- Google Search incorporates public groups into its results. Searches return the posts which most match the search query, and if any groups match, they will be displayed at the top of the results with a link to the Google Groups directory.
- Users may create public profiles which are linked from all of their posts.
- Rating posts
- A user can rate a post with 1 to 5 out of 5 stars. A post's rating is based on the average of all the user ratings it gets, and a thread's rating is based on the average rating of all the posts in the thread. Users may not rate their own posts.
- Starring threads
- Users may mark up to 200 threads as "starred" to track them centrally.
- E-mail masking
- To prevent scammers or spammers from harvesting e-mail addresses from a group, Google masks all e-mail addresses on its web interface by replacing up to the last 3 characters of the username with no less than three dots. To view the full e-mail address, a user must respond to a CAPTCHA challenge. E-mail addresses are only masked when viewing a Google Group or Usenet newsgroup through the web interface, never when subscribers receive messages by e-mail, nor when the Usenet articles are distributed to other servers. Google Groups does not allow users to obfuscate their own e-mail addresses.
- Group web pages
- The group pages were introduced in the beta version of October 5, 2006 (promoted from beta status on January 24, 2007). They can be edited by group members or group managers and can store files for download. Versions of pages are kept in a similar way to a Wiki. On September 22, 2010 Google announced plans for turning off the group pages suggesting users to move their content to Google Docs or Google Sites. Starting in November 2010, the group pages became read-only (allowing only viewing/downloading existing content) while in February 2011 they were turned-off completely.
Official Google Groups
Google has created several official help groups for some of its services, such as Gmail. In these groups, users can ask and answer questions about the relevant Google service. Each official group has a Google representative who occasionally responds to queries. Google representatives always have a blue G symbol in their nicknames.
Some official groups include:
- Google Groups Help Forum: was an official Google Groups help group until August 2, 2010, when it was archived (made read-only). To send feedback see the Google Groups Product Ideas below.
- Google Page Creator Discussion Group: an official Google Page Creator help group.
In addition to the Groups, and Forums (see below), Google also now has Product Ideas for giving feedback for some of their products including the Google Groups New Preview UI:
- Google Groups Product Ideas: For feedback on the New Preview UI.
There are also help forums, which appear to have different functionality from Google Groups:
- Gmail Help Forum: an official Gmail help forum.
- Google Talk Help Forum: an official Google Talk help forum.
- Google Base Help Forum: an official Google Base help forum.
- Google Web Search Help Forum: an official Google search help forum.
- Google Webmaster Help Forum: an official help forum for webmasters.
- AdWords Help Forum: an official Google AdWords help forum.
- Google Maps Forum: an official Google Maps help forum.
- Orkut Forum: an official Orkut help forum.
The late Lee Rizor, also known as "Blinky the Shark," started the Usenet Improvement Project, a project which is highly critical of Google Groups and its users. The project aims to "make Usenet participation a better experience." They have accused Google Groups of turning a blind eye to an "increasing wave of spam" from its servers and of encouraging an Eternal September of "lusers" and "lamers" arriving in established groups en masse. The Usenet Improvement Project provides several killfile examples to block messages posted by Google Groups users in several newsreaders.
Google Groups has been blocked in Turkey since April 10, 2008 by the order of a court in Turkey. According to The Guardian, the court banned Google Groups following a libel complaint by Adnan Oktar against the service. Google Groups was the first of several websites to be blocked by the Turkish Government in rapid succession solely for including material which allegedly offended Islam.
- ^ Google groups utilise Java
- ^ "How do I create my own group?". Google Groups Help Center. http://groups.google.com/support/bin/answer.py?answer=46368. Retrieved August 10, 2010.
- ^ "How far back does Google's Usenet archive go?". Google Groups Help Center. http://groups.google.com/support/bin/answer.py?answer=46439. Retrieved August 10, 2010.
- ^ "What is a Usenet Newsgroup?". Google Groups Help Center. http://groups.google.com/support/bin/answer.py?answer=46854. Retrieved August 10, 2010.
- ^ "Can I use Google Groups to archive another mailing list?". Google Groups Help Center. http://groups.google.com/support/bin/answer.py?answer=46387. Retrieved August 10, 2010.
- ^ Chuq Von Rospach. A Primer on How to Work With the Usenet Community. Usenet introductory document posted regularly until 1999.
- ^ George Lawton (January 1997). Internet archives: Who's doing it? And can you protect your privacy?. SunWorld.
- ^ "Google Acquires Usenet Discussion Service and Significant Assets from Deja.com". Google. February 12, 2001. http://www.google.com/press/pressrel/pressrelease48.html.
- ^ "20 Year Archive on Google Groups". Google. December 11, 2001. http://www.google.com/googlegroups/archive_announce_20.html.
- ^ "Full Usenet archive now available". Pandia. April 29, 2001. http://www.pandia.com/searchworld/2001-26-usenet.html.
- ^ "Digital history saved". BBC. December 14, 2001. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/1709527.stm.
- ^ Katharine Mieszkowski (January 7, 2002). "The Geeks Who Saved Usenet". Salon.com. http://archive.salon.com/tech/feature/2002/01/07/saving_usenet/index.html.
- ^ "Google Groups drops support for pages". http://googlesystem.blogspot.com/2010/10/google-groups-drops-support-for-pages.html.
- ^ "Notice about Pages and Files". Google. Sept. 22, 2010. http://groups-announcements.blogspot.com/2010/09/notice-about-pages-and-files.html?hl=en. Retrieved January 11, 2010.
- ^ "What's the difference between a Usenet newsgroup and a Google Group?". Google Groups Help Center. http://groups.google.com/support/bin/answer.py?answer=46461&topic=9244. Retrieved August 10, 2010.
- ^ "Notice about Pages and Files". September 22, 2010. http://groups-announcements.blogspot.com/2010/09/notice-about-pages-and-files.html. Retrieved September 22, 2010.
- ^ The Google Groups Team (August 2, 2010). "Discussions > Groups Announcements and Alerts > Important Message About This Forum". Google Groups Help Forum. http://groups.google.com/group/groupsknownissues/browse_thread/thread/beaa1543ecc87df3. Retrieved August 10, 2010.
- ^ "Improve-Usenet". December 17, 2010. http://twovoyagers.com/improve-usenet.org/.
- ^ "Publisher Complains of Computer Security Text on Google Groups". Chilling Effects Clearinghouse. http://www.chillingeffects.org/dmca512/notice.cgi?NoticeID=929. Retrieved November 15, 2006.
- ^ "How to Search Today's Usenet For Programming Information". Slashdot. November 9, 2008. http://ask.slashdot.org/askslashdot/08/11/09/2029206.shtml. Retrieved August 10, 2010.
- ^ "Google’s Abandoned Library of 700 Million Titles". Wired. October 7, 2009. http://www.wired.com/epicenter/2009/10/usenet. Retrieved August 10, 2010.
- ^ "Google Begins Fixing Usenet Archive". Wired. October 8, 2009. http://www.wired.com/epicenter/2009/10/usenet_fix/. Retrieved August 10, 2010.
- ^ "Turkey bans Google Groups". Today's Zaman. April 12, 2008. http://www.todayszaman.com/tz-web/detaylar.do?load=detay&link=138847. Retrieved August 10, 2010. [dead link]
- ^ Butt, Riazat (September 18, 2008). "Turkish court bans Richard Dawkins website". The Guardian (London). http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2008/sep/18/turkey. Retrieved May 3, 2010.
- Google Groups test search. 
- Andy Langer (July 14, 1997). The Post Man Always Saves Twice. Austin Chronicle.
- Courtney Macavinta, Janet Kornblum (December 8, 1997) Deja News joins antispam war. C|Net news.com.
- Janelle Brown (May 24, 1999). What does it take to make a buck off of Usenet? Salon.
- Hulk Snead (November 27, 2000). Geekquake, or, I Hear America Whining. Suck.
- Ryan Naraine (December 12, 2000). eBay Acquires Deja.com's Technology. internetnews.com (Jupiter Media).
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