I Still Miss Usenet

This thought was called “I Miss Usenet” until I realized I already said that six years ago. But Graeme McMillan found a quote by Jason Hendriks that reminded me how much fun I used to have there.

I can remember long ago, back when most of the discussion of comic books was done on usenet, that people would actually discuss the comics they were reading. Whenever a new issue of Sandman, Preacher, or The Invisibles came out, that thing would get dissected like a frog in a high school biology class.

Now, not so much. New issues of Saga or Walking Dead or The Boys come out, and there’s nary a peep. Now people will discuss companies and creators, press releases, but not the stories themselves.

I guess missing a general discussion area now is like saying you miss the Big 3 TV networks, back in the day when everyone could be assumed to be watching them because there weren’t any other options. But it was a good thing to have to interact with people who didn’t necessarily agree with you. I think you learned a lot more, both by being exposed to things you wouldn’t necessarily pick up on your own, and by not being able to assume everyone liked the same things you did.

Followup to Jason’s post points out that fewer people buy comics the same way any more — you may get yours every Wednesday, I may download in bunches, she might get a box monthly, he might only read collections from the library. As a result, we’re much less likely to be reading the same things at the same time. Plus, there are so many more choices out there that there isn’t as much agreement on the “good books” everyone wants to talk about. That’s a good thing, in the long run, but I still miss the online discussion areas for general comic talk.


11 Responses to “I Still Miss Usenet”

  1. Tim Skirvin Says:

    Usenet is still there, you know, and it would be easy to start talking there again.

  2. James Schee Says:

    How would one get to Usenet these days? I sort of lost my path to it once I moved from dial up to roadrunner.

    I do miss just talking about a comic. I know there is still a lot of discussion about issues like how women are drawn or treated and the like. Which are important issues that I’m not discounting.

    Yet at times it’d be fun to talk about a story direction, or creative choice. A lot of today’s comics don’t have something worth commenting on, but there a few. Yet even creator message boards and the like don’t have that type of discussion going on.

  3. Tim Skirvin Says:

    This looks like a good start:

    http://www.dmoz.org/Computers/Usenet/Public_News_Servers/

    If you’re willing to pay something, I can personally recommend individual.net:

    http://news.individual.net/

  4. Aaron Says:

    The main problem with Usenet nowadays is that it is mainly used by people interested in downloading binaries. Discussion groups are almost dead, unfortunately.

  5. SakeCult Says:

    Man, there are still those discussion sites. People still dissect every issue and story. It’s the crowd you’re around and not the entire fandom.

  6. Jamie Coville Says:

    All of that is true, but I don’t miss Christian Micheal Viola and other trolls.

  7. SKleefeld Says:

    It’s also worth pointing out that “back in the day” everyone went to Usenet because that was the ONLY place to discuss things online. Then message boards started popping up and the discussion fragmented because you now had several different boards where you could discuss the X-Men. Now, with blogs and YouTube followed by FB and Twitter, everyone who wants to weigh in on an issue essentially has their own channel. Why weigh in on someone else’s blog and have my comment buried amongst the riff-raff’s, when I’ve got my own blog where my POV is placed front and center?

  8. Johanna Says:

    Because sometimes the interaction is more important than having control over the microphone.

  9. Augie De Blieck Jr. Says:

    When I finally read “Watchmen” a few years back, I followed it up immediately with the archives of rec.arts.comics’ conversation of the issues as they were being published. That was fun.

    I can’t think of too many message boards I’d do that with a comic today. (I’m not going to go back to read Marvel’s “Civil War” alongside a transcript of the Marvel Universe message board at CBR, for example.)

    And, at the risk of sounding a tad elitist, wasn’t the average IQ of a Usenetter pre-1995 much higher anyway, since you basically needed to be a college student earning a tech degree to get it? It was a very specialized class of folks, for the good and the bad.

  10. Eric Gimlin Says:

    I remember diving into usenet sometime back in the relatively late 90’s. One of my first memories was saying something about having enjoyed the 5 year later run of Legion, only to get savaged by somebody (Mike Chary?). I now know exactly what sort of mess I innocently stepped into there; and grew to greatly appreciate the discussion. (I still like the 5 year later run, but I’m MUCH more aware of the problems with it thanks to my usenet time.)

    I think there’s a very good chance I never would have stayed if the DC digital rep at the time (I wonder what ever happened to them? :-) ) hadn’t sent me an e-mail telling me not to let that get me down. And for about 5 years I really enjoyed the discussion there.

  11. nzb Says:

    I agree that today’s Usenet is more used for downloading of binary files like music, videos, software etc. Not many people use it just to read news as it was developed first. This will be the reason why many companies tried to forbidden Usenet.




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