Posted on Wed 25 January 2023

lessons from usenet

Modern social media could have learned some useful things from Usenet. Mostly, they haven’t.

Here are some of those lessons:

  • Reverse chronological feeds (most recent first) are a disaster.
  • Proper threading maintains context
  • Every discussion group needs a nominal topic, even if that’s “friendly conversation”
  • Groups can be formally or informally moderated, but when there is no moderation, the group explodes into chaos
  • Every user needs an obvious and easy killfile
  • No mercy for spammers, ever
  • Good communities form around a nucleus of people who write good things
  • Persistent pseudonyms become real people. Anonymous and drive-by posters don’t make good neighbors.

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