OT: News.Individual.NET not free of charge anymore

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Dear users of News.Individual.NET,
effective from April 1th, 2005, use of News.Individual.NET will not be free of charge anymore. The news service will continue as a fee-based service.
The details: =========== Effective immediately, registration for our news service is only possible through our web site:
http://news.individual.net /
Registration by e-mail (as hitherto) is no longer possible.
Holders of existing accounts who want to continue using their account need to convert it into a pay account. This is also only possible through our web site:
http://news.individual.net /
You will also find all details on payment options, terms of use, and terms of contract on the web site.
The time until March 31th, 2005, is a transitional period so that holders of existing accounts will have plenty of time for convenient conversion. Sign-up for new accounts or conversion of existing accounts made within the transitional period (before April 1th, 2005) will not cause any disadvantages:
Contracts concluded within the transitional period will last until March 31th, 2006 (Annual Subscription) or June 30th, 2005 (3 Months Subscription) without additional costs. Then the contracts will auto- matically renew themselves for another year or another three months respectively.
Important notes:
Effective from April 1th, 2005, all non-converted accounts will stop working.
Users who use the server News.CIS.DFN.DE as part of the DFNNetNews project are not effected by the changes described above. Nothing will change for these users, they do not need to do anything.
The fee: ======= The fee for an account for News.Individual.NET is 10 EUR per year (annual payment), that converts to only 0.84 EUR per month. The price includes VAT at 16%.
The background: ============== The tradition of running news servers at Freie Universitaet Berlin goes back as far as 1989 (historic keyword: "Methan"). The news service was open for external users ever since: Until 1992, there was no access restriction at all (as usual at that time). Later, a basic access management where IP numbers and domain names were added on request was established.
Starting with the CIS project (a third-party funded project of DFN) of ZEDAT of Freie Universitaet Berlin, the news service was expanded by the feature of registration for individual users in the beginning of the year 1998:
News.CIS.DFN.DE was born. (*)
After the CIS project was finished in mid 2002, the administrators kept this service alive by maintaining it mainly in their spare time. Since this was not sustainable in perpetuity, options on how to raise money from external people and institutions for the provision and maintenance of the service had to be researched and created. Several approaches to find sponsors for the service eventually failed, especially due to the lack of understanding by the potential sponsors for the nature of Usenet.
Since July 1th, 2003, ZEDAT offers - again in cooperation with DFN - news services to other research and education institutions for money (service name: "DFNNetNews"). In the course of this cooperation, the server name "News.CIS.DFN.DE" vested exclusively to DFNNetNews:
"News.Individual.DE" and "News.Individual.NET" are the new server names under which the service is available for the more than 250,000 external individual users that were registered since the beginning of 1998.
After a long evaluation and preparation period, the service will convert to a fee-based service for these external individual users effective from April 1th, 2005. We regret that it is no longer possible to offer this service free of charge.
We would be very happy if our service convinced its users of its quality and of the engagement of its operators during the many years of its existence so that they decide to stay our users even if the service is not free of charge anymore.
Besides, we would - of course - like to thank all people that recommended our service over the years and used it responsibly and carefully in the spirit of Usenet!
Best regards, the NetNews Team of Freie Universitaet Berlin
Glossary: ======== CIS = DFN project "Center for Information Services" DFN = Germany's National Research and Education Network ZEDAT = Computer Center of Freie Universitaet Berlin
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Interesting business plan. Charge money for something that Google offers for free.
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Yeah, that's right, they're exactly the same thing (rolls eyes).
Enjoy google. You don't know what you're missing, or the history of the situation, but if it makes you feel better to bash them, by all means do carry on.
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Dave Hinz wrote:

Just how many people will opt for the pay service, not once but on a sustained basis, when a reasonable substitute, which we can expect will improve with advances in technology, is available for free. My own experience is that it is difficult to compete with free. Especially when the provider is generating revenue through advertising. Keep in mind, this is a business for Google. They are providing this service as part of their businesss plan and they have every reason to keep it going. Additionally, they have the cash flow, access to technology and the ability to raise the capital they need to do it.
Sure, a few will pay, but most will not. Keep in mind that a good chunk of the the value in these kinds of services is the size of the network. As the size of the fee based network declines, so too does its value.
Carrying this to its logical progression, and one that we have seen very frequently in recent history, as time marches on, the "free" service offers both a superior product and a lower cost.
As I said before. Opting to charge users money is terrible business model in this environment. How great the service was is really not the issue because people don't like to pay for what they had.
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google doesn't come close to meeting my needs for a reliable nntp server, with aggressive antispam activities, and which I can interface to with my choice of tools. If you like reading usenet from a web browser, google is for you.

That's fine. They've been giving it away for many many years, which has always surprised me.

Yes, I'm very aware of how google makes their money. Their free service doesn't provide what I look for in a newsfeed.

Yes, and news.individual.net also has a means to get the cash flow they need. Nice of the German taxpayers to pay for my usenet feed for all these years, now it's my turn to pay for the service that I appreciate.

To you, perhaps. We use usenet servers in different ways, obviously.

In this case, only half of those are true, for the features I care about. For me, a web interface detracts from it's value, and the fact that google doesn't honor the cancelbot's antispam control messages is, to me, another reason to not use google.

Luckily, they're in charge, and you're not. If you were, I'd have to use an inferior tool that meets _your_ needs, not mine.

You're obviously not the target market, are you. Really - enjoy google. Some things are worth paying for, and for me, a full-featured robust stable fast newsserver, at a cost of $1.25 per month, is worth it. Hell, I spend several times that a _day_ in gasoline getting to work, or coffee. Sense of perspective and all that.
Dave Hinz
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This is what it comes down to. Those who want an NNTP feed can buy it. Those who don't want it get to peek in via Google - well at least to some of what a real newsfeed has. I'm glad google took over the deja news archives and continues to make them available, but I'd be really unhappy if I had to read newsgroups through google.
-j
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Dave,
I am not saying that Google is the end all be all in newsreaders and make not attempt to assert they are providing everyone with the service they desire.
I am saying that Google has developed a working business model that allows them to offer this and other services to users for free, and believe that in time they will find a way to incorporate the additional features that will meet the needs of users such as yourself. Sure, today browser access differs greatly from newsreader access, but you can expect those differences to become less distinctive as have differences in so many other applications. Yes, there are ads, but as it stands now the sponsored links are not a distraction and certainly nothing like the graphics providers like yahoo, msn and aol throw in your face all the time.
As a result, I think that the pay services are not going to be able to survive.
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OK, good, because I'm also not saying that. A newsserver is a lot more than the GUI of reading usenet via the web.

Right. Just like commercial over the air TV is free, and you get to watch commercials. If you want to pay for HBO, you pay but you don't have commercials. Or broadcast radio vs. satellite radio. And so on. Different solutions.

Yes, but you're still stuck with google's presentation layer, and you have to (as far as I know) use their web interface if you want to use their newsserver. Doesn't fit my needs.

Wouldn't know, I don't use browser-based newsreading.

OK. I can't disagree that you think that. There are enough people who value features that you're not aware of, or don't care about, that I think they'll do just fine, thankyouverymuch.
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says...

And there are still free news servers out there. I also use news.readfreenews.net although I understand they're not accepting new users at present.
--
Homo sapiens is a goal, not a description

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says...

I didn't get the original of this, so I'm using Dave's response quote.
So the number of people using a news server defines its value? Funny, I thought it was the completeness of its feeds. Which has nothing to do with users.
And despite the fact of being retired and of limited income, I'll pay n.i.n twice what they're asking rather than use Google. In fact, I'll pay them rather than use my current ISPs news server, which isn't all that bad, just to repay them for having a free service all the times my previous ISPs had lousy (or no) news servers.
--
Homo sapiens is a goal, not a description

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"So the number of people using a news server defines its value? Funny, I thought it was the completeness of its feeds. Which has nothing to do with users. "
I said a good chunk of its value, not all. Keep in mind that completeness of feeds is only relevant if there is something to send. (The network to which I was referring.) I doubt anyone would give a hoot how completely they received nothing :)
My point however is not whether or not the newsreader has value today. My point is that technology is changing. Other alternatives are becomming available. Those alternatives are free to users. As time passes, as we have seen with every other new technology, new products will be developed that are compatible with the new technology and incompatible with the old technology, rendering the older technology obsoltete.
As I originally stated, a business plan that relies on charging money to use the old technology in the face of these circumstances is terrible. The business cannot be expected to last.
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You are right. Online grocery shopping will completely replace buying food in person. Ebooks will replace the printed word. Planing machines will replace hand planes. Segways will replace taking the bus. Mass produced beer will satisfy the masses.
Maybe it is just me, but I think nntp has some life left. The alternative technologies do not measure up yet. Someday it will die, but that time is in the future.
-j
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J wrote:

person.
Online grocery shopping isn't free

Ebooks aren't free. (Stil printed words, just not on paper)

Planing machines aren't free

Segways aren't free

:)
alternative
time is in

Interesting examples, but unlike the alternatives I was discussing, they aren't free.

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I notice you seem to have ignored _my_ examples of broadcast radio vs. satellite radio and so on?
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It was. Ask webvan.

"As time passes, as we have seen with every other new technology, new products will be developed that are compatible with the new technology and incompatible with the old technology, rendering the older technology obsoltete."
Do they have to be free? I'm addressing the topic of obsolete here.
-j
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And those alternatives don't meet this user's needs.

Yeah, the death of Usenet has been predicted for about 15 years now. It'll die right after Apple, BSD, and dozens of other things.

In your opinion. Your preferred cheapo solution doesn't perform several of the functions that this pennies-a-day solution does. To me, the decision is trivially simple.
How's the killfile support in google? Can I score articles that I've participated in higher, so I don't miss an ongoing conversation that I'm in? If I want to not be bothered with, say, any post crossposted to 3 or more groups, can I do that with google? Will my posts go out within seconds? Will the incoming newsfeed be reflected also within seconds?
Google doesn't do many of the things that news.individual.net does, which is why I'll _gladly_ pay them what they're asking. The DSL that this machine is on also comes with a ISP-based newsfeed, which would be free, but while it lets me use whatever tool I want (unlike google), the feed is slow, misses posts, doesn't honor antispam cancelbots, and I won't use it, even for free. Google is that much worse than my other free option. I'll pay the 15 bucks.
Dave Hinz
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Dave, feel free to pay these folks all you want. I'm sure what they offer is better today. That however isn't anywhere related to my comment. My comment is that charging for products that are widely available for free is a crappy business plan.
"Yeah, the death of Usenet has been predicted for about 15 years now. It'll die right after Apple, BSD, and dozens of other things."
I never predicted its death. I only predicted that it would change and the model would involve a service that is free to users. Thus the people who decided to charge the users didn't have a good business plan.
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Gosh, thanks ever so much for your permission. I feel so much better.

It's not the same service. It's not even close. I outlined several differences, which you continue to ignore. If they are things that aren't important to you, _that's fine_, really, it is, but just because you don't value the differences doesn't mean those differences don't exist nor does it mean they don't have real value. You just don't "get it", that's all.


There has been a free web-based usenet interface since before google existed - dejanews.com. There are still paid NNTP servers out there. Evidence would seem to indicate that the people running and subscribing to those servers know something that you don't. Several of us have tried to clue you in to them, and you continue not to understand. Sometimes the free option is the best, sometimes it's just a partial solution. Since you only understand the parts of Usenet that google provides, it's a perfect fit _for you_.
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For the most part where I live libraries are free. They can get you almost any book. It has been that way since before I was born. Somehow the bookstores never got the message. Quick, someone tell Amazon.
-j
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A.M. Wood wrote:

Where is usenet offered for free outside of n.i.n? Web based services are many many miles from usenet with a news reader. Perhaps, someday, they might get close or even exceed but I think that is quite some distance off.
Outside of usenet, there are web forums I regularly peruse, but they do not have the variety and breadth of people usenet has. If they did, they would no longer work terribly well as a web forum.
Outside of all that, I very much doubt it is a "business plan"; they are just trying to break even. Not everyone is trying to get rich.
PK
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