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Newsgroups are a somewhat older collaboration tool (older than WebLogs but more recent than email), providing public discussion forums that are distributed around the world via a message exchange protocol called NNTP. Newsgroups are particularly good for offline reading, with good threading support.

Public newsgroups are distributed world-wide through a message exchange network called Usenet, which now mainly runs over the Internet. Some companies also set up private newsgroups on their intranets.

See Google Groups for an enormous web archive of Usenet newsgroups, and their backgrounder on Usenet.

The relevance to TWiki is that, rather like email, newsgroups may already be in place as a (sort of) alternative to TWiki-based collaboration. Newsgroups are great for threaded discussions, and are easy to use for anyone familiar with email, but suffer (compared to Wikis) from the inability to pick the (say) 5 great messages out of a 50-message thread and turn those into the agreed wisdom of that thread.

As with TWiki, it should be possible to generate RichSiteSummary (RSS) feeds from newsgroups, to encourage participation in both TWiki and newsgroup collaboration.

Has anyone else encountered newsgroups as an intranet collaboration tool? How do you position TWiki compared to newsgroups?

-- RichardDonkin - 14 Feb 2002

After some PHP hacking on Florian Amrhein's Newsportal code, I now have a working RSS feed for our local newsgroups. Rather neat - I can now get balloon alerts in the system tray (from FeedReader) for newsgroup messages as well as for TWiki.org, SlashDot, and various other sites...

-- RichardDonkin - 15 Feb 2002

I've posted the code for RSSifying newsgroups at http://donkin.org/bin/view/Main/NewsportalRSS, if anyone's interested in trying this out.

-- RichardDonkin - 10 May 2002

neat stuff! i'll probably use it sometime when i get around to hacking on wikis.

i'm very interested in having all my stuff checkable from one place -- this'll let me throw newsgroups in with the other stuff. thanks!

-- BayleShanks - 17 Aug 2002

Let me know how you get on - I was a bit surprised at how little takeup there was of this newsgroup-to-RSS feature, but I suspect the newsgroup people aren't into RSS and the RSS people are more into WebLogs.

At work we have a very active set of internal newsgroups which has delayed TWiki's takeoff, though I think it has started amongst our software engineering group. You can now use the TWiki HeadlinesPlugin to pull in relevant newsgroup updates into a TWiki page, and you could even do integrated searching across newsgroup subject lines and TWiki pages with a bit of work.

-- RichardDonkin - 17 Aug 2002

The main difference between a Wiki and Newsgroups is that a Wiki only contains the outcome for a topic (think of the Portland Pattern Repository). Even thousands of people can read, write and comment topics and normaly provide an in detail solution for a very specific problem. Newgroups in contrast keep the original way of finding a solution. In hand finding this solution within a Newsgroup is than more difficult.

Imho use Newsgroups where you want solutions to be found in diskussions. Use a a Wiki where you want people to contribute on a specific (even moderated) topic.

-- MarkusKling - 17 Aug 2002

Over two years later, and Google is providing an RSS (well, Atom) feed for every public newsgroup. I must have been ahead of the curve, at least this time smile

-- RichardDonkin - 06 Oct 2004

Related pages: NewsgroupVsWikiCollaboration
TopicClassification TWikiVsOtherProducts
TopicSummary Newsgroups and TWiki, and use of RSS with newsgroups


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Topic revision: r8 - 2004-12-04 - SamHasler
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