Tuesday, December 9, 2008

The End of NNTP?

Does the creation of the web-based Google Group SQL Anywhere Web Development mark the beginning of the end for NNTP-based newsgroup forums like sybase.public.sqlanywhere.general on forums.sybase.com?



This ain't your father's Google Groups... this is not just an HTTP front-end on top of NNTP data from sybase.public.sqlanywhere.web, it's a whole new implementation: different input, different data store, different display.

Web interfaces generally suck when it comes to viewing threaded conversations because they are slow, awkward to navigate, and (did I mention it?) slow. One of the absolute worst is Sybase's own "Community Forums" web interface to the NNTP newsgroups; check it out at sybase.public.sqlanywhere.web.

Even the much-hyped stackoverflow.com website sucks. Like the new Google Groups, it's a whole new implementation... but go ahead, try to find what you're looking for.

With Google Groups, searching has never been a problem. The new interface at SQL Anywhere Web Development lets you easily post messages via email, and you can reduce the suckage with these tips:

  • open each new thread in a new tab, and

  • set Options - View as tree.
If NNTP is going to die, if we have to use web browsers to carry on a conversation, I'd rather it be Google Groups than any of the alternatives.

2 comments:

J.D. Mullin said...

"Even the much-hyped stackoverflow.com website sucks. Like the new Google Groups, it's a whole new implementation... but go ahead, try to find what you're looking for."

I've found stackoverflow to be VERY useful. Finding answers to problems from experts and peers I would have never been in contact with via nntp or a web group.

I would say web groups can often be more powerful as you have a concentration of people with knowledge and interest in the same very specific topic, but that certainly doesn't mean that stackoverflow "sucks".

Comparing stackoverflow to web groups seems like an apples to oranges comparison.

breckcarter said...

OK, you're right, there's no comparison... stackoverflow is just for asking questions and receiving direct answers. It is not for starting a discussion with replies to replies and so on. Since there is only one stackoverflow, and the "tag" concept doesn't really work in practice (so few messages will ever be properly tagged) you can't find a community within the all-encompassing scope of stackoverflow.

The really sad part is that YES, there is a lot of excellent material in stackoverflow... notice I didn't complain about the content. Just the presentation, especially the search.

There's gonna be competition for content. I'm guessing the topics with really crappy coverage elsewhere, will gravitate towards stackoverflow. Other topics, maybe not so much. Time will tell.