Wednesday, April 10, 2013

The Newsgroups Are Gone

The old NNTP newsgroups for SQL Anywhere and other Sybase products have been shut down... they are gone, kaput, no more, expired, extinct.

The old content has been moved to a read-only website; if you go there, then drill down to SQL Anywhere, then drill down again (for example) to General Discussion, you get here:

Yup... all thirty-three thousand questions and one hundred thousand responses... page one, page two, page three hundred and thirty eight.

But hey! You can "Sort by: Response Posting Date", whee! That moves... some stuff... around a little bit.

No "Search" field though. And if you want to look for something in more than one SQL Anywhere forum, you have to scroll through... each... list... separately.

Google Search does work, but as far as Google is concerned, is one single repository. That's different from the old Google Groups where single newsgroups and groups of like-named newsgroups could be searched apart from all the others.

For example, if you do a Google Search for "insert" on the new archive website

"insert" site:
you get 9950 hits, whereas if you search the SQL Anywhere newsgroups via Google Search on Google Groups,
"insert" group:sybase.public.sqlanywhere.*
you get a more specific list of 6430 hits. The difference is that ASE and other newsgroups are included in the first result set but not the second.

The problem gets worse if you search on terms that aren't database-specific in themselves. For example, if you want to see all the discussions involving Java or PowerBuilder applications that are using SQL Anywhere databases, here's what Google Search returns:
Google Search                                          Hits
--------------------------------------------------     ----

"java" site:            36100
"java" group:sybase.public.sqlanywhere.*               3650

"powerbuilder" site:   107000
"powerbuilder" group:sybase.public.sqlanywhere.*       3360
Sadly, even Google Groups is not a reliable source for newsgroup searches, but it is certainly better than the new website... and now that the underlying Sybase NNTP server is gone the data may also disappear from Google Groups.

Once upon a time, promises were made to import old NNTP discussions into the new SQL Anywhere Forum. Those promises have not yet been fulfilled, but there's still hope.

Correction: It IS possible to narrow the focus of Google searches on the new website.

Rather than trying to specify the newsgroup name in the "site:" parameter, simply add part or all of the newsgroup name as an ordinary search term.

For example, add sybase.public.sqlanywhere.general, or sybase.public.sqlanywhere for all the SQL Anywhere newsgroups.
Google Search                                                                           Hits
--------------------------------------------------                                      ----

"java" site:                                              36200
"java" sybase.public.sqlanywhere site:                    17900
"java" sybase.public.sqlanywhere.general site:            10900

"powerbuilder" site:                                     103000
"powerbuilder" sybase.public.sqlanywhere site:            23700
"powerbuilder" sybase.public.sqlanywhere.general site:    12100
Clearly, this shows that the new website is better than Google Groups because it contains more data as well as allowing focussed searches... thanks to Jason Hinsperger for pointing this out.


Jason Hinsperger said...

FWIW, you can include the newsgroup name in the search to narrow things down to a specific product.
"java" sybase.public.sqlanywhere.general site:

Anonymous said...

No more links to other blogs, Breck?

(I guess they just was enough relevant other activity from your point of view?)


Anonymous said...

Ooooops, that should read

"(I guess there just wasn't enough relevant other activity from your point of view?)"