Google Groups

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Google Groups
Developer(s)Google
Initial releaseFebruary 12, 2001; 23 years ago (2001-02-12)
Written inJavaScript[1]
TypeNewsgroups, electronic mailing lists
Websitegroups.google.com

Google Groups is a service from Google that provides discussion groups for people sharing common interests. The Groups service also provides a gateway to Usenet newsgroups, both reading and posting to them,[2] via a shared user interface. In addition to accessing Google and Usenet groups, registered users can also set up mailing list archives for e-mail lists that are hosted elsewhere.[3]

Google Groups became operational in February 2001, following Google's acquisition of Deja's Usenet archive. Deja News had been operational since March 1995.

Google Groups allows any user to freely conduct and access threaded discussions, via either a web interface or e-mail. There are at least two kinds of discussion groups: forums specific to Google Groups (like mailing lists)[4] and Usenet groups, accessible by NNTP, for which Google Groups acts as gateway and unofficial archive. The Google Groups archive of Usenet newsgroup postings dates back to 1981.[5]

On December 15, 2023, Google announced that Google Groups would end support posting or viewing new Usenet content on February 22, 2024, with existing archives remaining available.[6]

History[edit]

Deja News[edit]

The Deja News logo as it appeared in 1997

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. This archive was acquired by Google in 2001.[This paragraph needs citation(s)]

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 often-repeated past admonishments that posters should be cautious in discussing themselves and others.[7]

While Madere was initially reluctant to remove archived material, protests from users and legal pressure led to the introduction of "nuking", 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.[8]

The capability to "nuke" postings was kept open for many years but later removed without explanation under Google's tenure. Google also mistakenly restored previously "nuked" messages at one point, angering many users.[9] "Nukes" that were in effect at the time when Google removed the possibility are still honored, however. Since May 2014, European users can request to have search results for their name from Google Groups, including their Usenet archive, delinked under the right to be forgotten law. As of 2015, Google Groups was one of the ten most delinked sites.[10] If Google does not grant a delinking, Europeans can appeal to their local data protection agencies.[11]

Change of direction[edit]

The deja.com logo used from 1999

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[colloquialism?] 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 services.

Google Groups[edit]

Previous Google Groups logo

By 2001, the Deja search service was shut down. In February 2001, Google acquired Deja News and its archive, and transitioned its assets to groups.google.com.[12] 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.[13][14][15] 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.[16] A short while later,[when?] Google released a new version that allowed users to create their own non-Usenet groups.

When AOL discontinued access to Usenet around 2005, it recommended Google Groups instead.[17]

In 2008, Google broke the Groups search functionality and left it nonfunctional for about a year, until a Wired article spurred the company to fix the problems.[18][19]

On February 13, 2015, a Vice Media story reported that the ability to do advanced searches across all groups had again become nonfunctional, and to date, Google has neither fixed nor acknowledged the problem. The researcher interviewed stated, "Advanced searches within specific groups appear to be working, but that's hardly useful for any form of research—be it casual or academic."[20]


As of January 2024, Google Groups carries a header notice, saying:

Effective from 22 February 2024, Google Groups will no longer support new Usenet content. Posting and subscribing will be disallowed, and new content from Usenet peers will not appear. Viewing and searching of historical data will still be supported as it is done today.

An explanatory page adds:[21]

In addition, Google’s Network News Transfer Protocol (NNTP) server and associated peering will no longer be available, meaning Google will not support serving new Usenet content or exchanging content with other NNTP servers.


This change will not impact any non-Usenet content on Google Groups, including all user and organization-created groups.

Criticism[edit]

Vice and Wired contributors have criticized Google for its unannounced discontinuation of the Google Groups Advanced Search page and the ability to perform advanced searches across all groups, leaving it nearly impossible to find postings without either knowing keywords from them that are unique across Google Groups' entire multi-decade archive of posts, or else knowing beforehand which newsgroup(s) they were posted in.[18][19][20]

Blocking[edit]

Google Groups was blocked in Turkey on April 10, 2008, by a court order.[22] 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 that allegedly offended Islam.[23] The ban was removed a month later on May 15, 2008.[24]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

Citations[edit]

  1. ^ "Photos uses an internal Google framework, Wiz". July 27, 2018. Retrieved October 16, 2023.
  2. ^ "What is a Usenet Newsgroup?". Google Groups Help Center. Archived from the original on April 20, 2009. Retrieved August 10, 2010.
  3. ^ "Can I use Google Groups to archive another mailing list?". Google Groups Help Center. Archived from the original on November 5, 2011. Retrieved August 10, 2010.
  4. ^ "How do I create my own group?". Google Groups Help Center. Retrieved August 10, 2010.
  5. ^ "How far back does Google's Usenet archive go?". Google Groups Help Center. Archived from the original on October 26, 2007. Retrieved August 10, 2010.
  6. ^ "Google Groups ending support for Usenet - Google Groups Help". support.google.com. Retrieved December 15, 2023.
  7. ^ Chuq Von Rospach. A Primer on How to Work With the Usenet Community. Usenet introductory document posted regularly until 1999.
  8. ^ Lawton, George (January 1997). Internet archives: Who's doing it? And can you protect your privacy?. SunWorld.
  9. ^ Edwards, Douglas (2011). I'm Feeling Lucky: The Confessions of Google Employee Number 59. U.S.: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. pp. 209–213. ISBN 978-0-547-41699-1.
  10. ^ "Transparency Report". Retrieved August 30, 2015.
  11. ^ Arthur, Charles (June 27, 2014). "Google removing 'right to be forgotten' search links in Europe". The Guardian.
  12. ^ "Google Acquires Usenet Discussion Service and Significant Assets from Deja.com". February 12, 2001.
  13. ^ "20 Year Archive on Google Groups". December 11, 2001.
  14. ^ "Full Usenet archive now available". Pandia. April 29, 2001. Archived from the original on March 12, 2006.
  15. ^ "Digital history saved". BBC News Online. December 14, 2001.
  16. ^ Katharine Mieszkowski (January 7, 2002). "The Geeks Who Saved Usenet". Salon. Archived from the original on September 2, 2003.
  17. ^ Oates, John (January 25, 2005). "AOL ditches newsgroups". The Register.
  18. ^ a b Poulsen, Kevin (October 7, 2009). "Google's Abandoned Library of 700 Million Titles". Wired. Retrieved August 10, 2010.
  19. ^ a b Poulsen, Kevin (October 8, 2009). "Google Begins Fixing Usenet Archive". Wired. Retrieved August 10, 2010.
  20. ^ a b Braga, Matthew (February 13, 2015). "Google, a Search Company, Has Made Its Internet Archive Impossible to Search". Motherboard. Retrieved January 18, 2017.
  21. ^ "Google Groups ending support for Usenet - Google Groups Help". Google Support.
  22. ^ "Turkey bans Google Groups". Today's Zaman. April 12, 2008. Archived from the original on June 19, 2009. Retrieved August 10, 2010.
  23. ^ Butt, Riazat (September 18, 2008). "Turkish court bans Richard Dawkins website". The Guardian. London. Retrieved May 3, 2010.
  24. ^ "Google'ın yasağı kalktı, sıra Youtube'da - Timeturk: Haber, Timeturk Haber, HABER, Günün haberleri, yorum, spor, ekonomi, politika, sanat, sinema". www.timeturk.com. Retrieved November 14, 2019.

General and cited sources[edit]

External links[edit]