What is this?

Olduse.net is Usenet, updated in real time as it was thirty years ago, available from nntp.olduse.net for the ten year period 2011-2021, unless I run out of inodes (again).

Why do this?

To be on usenet before 1993, you had to be in some way special or lucky. This was before the September that never ended. You were aware of this Usenet or Internet thing that most of the world had not heard of, and went to some lengths to get on it. If we could gather together many of the people who were on the net at a past point in time, that would be interesting company to be in.

"The past is a foreign country; they do things differently there." -- L.P. Hartley

Visiting foreign countries is a neat thing to do. Mostly to meet and interact with different people, but partly just to be there and see how things are done differently.

The foreign country of internet past is archived away in various places, from the Wayback machine to Google's usenet archive. But we can't visit those archives in the same sense we can visit the current internet today. It takes effort to find things; "new" posts are not popping up to be read; there is little serendipity. In contrast, Olduse.net provides a way to visit this foreign land.

How do I connect?

Point your news reader at nntp.olduse.net

Both IPv4 and IPv6 can be used, but olduse.net does not support Arpanet NCP.

Why is this web terminal so flakey?

We're simulating 1982. No, actually, it's just hard to provide real shell access to hundreds of users in a web page. You can help. See mirrors. Getting better..

I can't move the arrow in the web viewer!

Two choices.

  1. Take this as a good opportunity to learn to use hjkl to move around.
  2. Click on it harder. :-P

It keeps trying to read things I didn't pick!

Now the web terminal is shared by everyone who is currently visiting the web site. So you get to watch other people read news, or fight over it.

If you want your own session, either use a non-shared mirror, or a real news reader.

What news readers can I use?

I'd hope any news reader will work, but I have so far only tested with slrn.

Update: rtin works, but is confused by the unusual Date headers, and so will not show correct post dates for articles by default.

Tell your news reader to connect to nntp.olduse.net.

Can I post to olduse.net?

Your posts will be accepted, but will not show up for at least 30 years. :)

I may enjoy reading them though.

More realistically, use the forum.

Am I really seeing every single post? There aren't many.

You're seeing nearly every existing post as it was made to Usenet 30 years ago, yes. A very few posts cannot be shown for technical reasons (ie, my software cannot tell when they were posted, or fails to process them).

This is a subset of Usenet, but in 1982 you would likely be seeing a subset anyway. This subset was originally received at University of Toronto's Department of Zoology.

Do you filter out the spam?

There was no spam on Usenet 30 years ago. Or even 20 years ago.

How frequently does uucp run?

Olduse.net is an unimaginably luxurious Usenet node by the standards of 1982. Rather than waiting until overnight, it polls for new posts every 5 minutes. And rather than downloading a subset of posts over slow phone lines, all existing new posts will be immediately available.

When are posts expired?

Of course disk space is not likely to be a problem here, in stark contrast to most other systems in the 1980's. But I can still run out of inodes! And it seems to work better if all the old new groups from years ago don't show up.

So, currently after 60 days.

Are the dates right?

Not entirely. Some are missing necessary timezone information and guesses have to be made. Others may have been entered incorrectly when the posts were made -- there's one A-news post that has a fake Date header from 1995!

There will be weirdness around leap years when they don't match up. No-post days, and double-post days at the end of February.

Also, daylight savings time is a horrible idea, and I avoided letting it complicate this project, so posts may appear an hour too early or too late. Just say no to DST -- I have!

Can you provide me with a newsfeed?

I cannot provide a UUCP newsfeed at this time.

You can use the NNTP server to feed your own news servers. If you set up any public feeds of oldusenet, please let me know so I can update my network map. ;-)

Better, I can provide you with the archive and tools to run your own. Mail Joey Hess joey@kitenet.net.

What about privacy? I posted something 25 years ago that I regret.

It's not like this is the only copy of this archive of Usenet. Not a lot can be done about something that has by now echoed its way across the net for decades.

Olduse.net does not provide posts in a way search engines will see, so its actual impact will be limited to whoever few people are reading it on the day 30 years after you made your post.

Can I link to an article?

article.olduse.net allows looking up a given olduse.net Message-ID. (This service is provided by Adam Sj√łgren.)

What happens after 1991W2021?

Well, I've recently found another archive covering 30 years of usenet. https://archive.org/details/usenethistorical It's quite a lot bigger, but by 2021, that should not be a problem. I have not tried to import this yet, but it looks promising. OTOH, I can't guarantee I'll want to continue olduse.net after ten years.