Waikato to nix naughty newsgroups

Waikato University is to cease providing the alt.sex and alt.binaries Usenet newsgroups from September 30 because of the workload in administering them.

ISPs which want to provide the alt.sex and alt.binaries Usenet newsgroups to their customers have until September 30 to find a news source other than Waikato University.

From that date, Waikato will cease to accept or feed on articles destined for those hierarchies. The university's Unix systems administrator, Simon Travaglia, says the decision was not taken because of the content of the groups, but because "they're a pain to administer".

At least one ISP has already jumped to another news provider. Ihug spokesman Tim Wood has confirmed his company would now take a feed from Telstra: "It's a free service which comes with the business we already do with Telstra--we'd probably have changed over anyway, because the NewZnet service was pretty poor."

Given that the two hierarchies are "the most popular part of Usenet", Wood suspects that other ISPs will be making their arrangements. Ihug currently supplies a newsfeed to Efficient Software and PCNet "and we'd talk to anyone else who was interested".

Waikato combines feeds from five overseas sites to pass on as a single newsfeed to 39 New Zealand sites. The university decided 18 months ago to not include "dubious" newsgroups in its own local newsfeed, but continued to pass on a full feed. Now, its network staff do not wish to handle any newsgroups it does not use locally.

Travaglia says the inability of some client sites to handle the volume of newsfeed they request--meaning Waikato has to write catchup batchfiles for them--uses up "disk, link bandwidth and time--especially time".

A change to NewZnet charges about a year ago, to a system based on numbers of users and posting associated with a site, has not fixed problems association with binaries groups, in which each posting can be 100Kb or more and many are cross-posted. Depending on the the groups being taken, some sites now take 1.5Gb of news per day.

Travaglia says it would be very easy for an ISP or group of ISPs to begin importing a newsfeed containing the groups Waikato no longer wanted, although he acknowledges that most ISPs will be wary of becoming identified as an importer of "smut". He is encouraging anyone considering the idea to co-ordinate with Mark Davies at Victoria University, who administers NewZnet.

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