Google Groups

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Google Groups
Logo Google groups.png
Google Groups screenshot

Google Groups screenshot
Written inJava[1]
Operating systemCross-platform (web-based application)
electronic mailing lists
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Google Groups
Logo Google groups.png
Google Groups screenshot

Google Groups screenshot
Written inJava[1]
Operating systemCross-platform (web-based application)
electronic mailing lists

Google Groups is a free service from Google Inc. that supports discussion groups, including many Usenet newsgroups, based on common interests. The service was started in 1995 as Deja News, and was transitioned to Google Groups after a February 2001 buyout.

Membership in Google Groups is free of charge and many groups are anonymous. Users can find discussion groups related to their interests and participate in threaded conversations, either through a web interface or by e-mail. They can also start new groups, which are inaccessible by NNTP and act more like mailing lists.[2] Google Groups also includes an archive of Usenet newsgroup postings dating back to 1981[3] and supports reading and posting to Usenet groups.[4] Users can also set up mailing list archives for e-mail lists that are hosted elsewhere.[5]


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.

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 oft-repeated past admonishments that posters should be cautious in discussing themselves and others.[6]

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.[7]

Change of direction[edit]

The 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 sharply changed direction 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 service.

Google Groups[edit]

By 2001, the search service was shut down. In February 2001, Google acquired Deja News, and transitioned its assets to[8] 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.[9][10][11] 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.[12] Shortly after, Google released a new version, which allowed users to create their own (non-Usenet) groups.

When AOL discontinued access to Usenet around 2005, it recommended Google Groups instead.[13]

In February 2006, Google modified the interface of Google Groups, adding profiles and post ratings.

In October 2010, Google announced it would be dropping support for welcome messages, pages, and files effective January 2011.[14][15]

In December 2010, Google rolled out a new UI preview with more GMail/Reader-like functionality.

In March 2012, Google completed the UI designing process and added the functionality of adding members directly to the group without any invitation.

In October 2012, The UI for Google Group removed the ability to report 'illegal' content directly.

On June 26, 2013 Google Groups released a new version.[16]


Google claims to provide a tool for removing old postings at but according to postings on Google's own Help forum for Groups (now archived) this tool ceased to work around 2009 (and as of Jan 2013 remains inaccessible for some users), reporting a 'Not Found'or 404 error for some users, with no apparent response from Google, as to the cause of the removal or termination.


Google has no help forum for their Google Groups product, just Groups Help.

In 2011 Google (in relation to its Groups archive) was criticised in an article by e-week Canada[17] where it was claimed that Google had refused to remove troll content which had falsely claimed that named individuals were guilty of sex crimes against children. The targets of the trolling claimed in the article that Google refused to remove content, Google's response apparently being "Register websites, write good articles about yourself, and buy some advertising from us, which will improve your ranking.".[17]

Slashdot and Wired contributors have criticized Google for its inattention to a search engine for Google Groups, leaving many older postings virtually inaccessible.[18][19][20]

Concerns have also occasionally been raised about the apparent non-responsiveness of Google to concerns about content on Groups. However, given the general anarchic nature of USENET, Google itself is not generally responsible for the content it archives. Although Google has removed or suppressed specific instances of mass abuse, it does not routinely monitor the groups service,[21] nor is it under any obligation to do so.


Google Groups was blocked in Turkey since April 10, 2008 by the order of a court in Turkey.[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 which allegedly offended Islam.[23] It is currently available in Turkey.[citation needed]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Google groups utilise Java
  2. ^ "How do I create my own group?". Google Groups Help Center. Retrieved August 10, 2010. 
  3. ^ "How far back does Google's Usenet archive go?". Google Groups Help Center. Retrieved August 10, 2010. 
  4. ^ "What is a Usenet Newsgroup?". Google Groups Help Center. Retrieved August 10, 2010. 
  5. ^ "Can I use Google Groups to archive another mailing list?". Google Groups Help Center. Retrieved August 10, 2010. 
  6. ^ Chuq Von Rospach. A Primer on How to Work With the Usenet Community. Usenet introductory document posted regularly until 1999.
  7. ^ George Lawton (January 1997). Internet archives: Who's doing it? And can you protect your privacy?. SunWorld.
  8. ^ "Google Acquires Usenet Discussion Service and Significant Assets from". Google. February 12, 2001. 
  9. ^ "20 Year Archive on Google Groups". Google. December 11, 2001. 
  10. ^ "Full Usenet archive now available". Pandia. April 29, 2001. 
  11. ^ "Digital history saved". BBC News Online. December 14, 2001. 
  12. ^ Katharine Mieszkowski (January 7, 2002). "The Geeks Who Saved Usenet". Salon (website). 
  13. ^
  14. ^ "Google Groups drops support for pages". 
  15. ^ "Notice about Pages and Files". Google. Sept. 22, 2010. Retrieved January 11, 2010. 
  16. ^ "Google Groups relaunched with new tools". Hindustan Times. 2013-06-26. Retrieved 2013-07-03. 
  17. ^ a b "IT in Canada - Canada's Only Integrated Social Media News Network". 2011-02-25. Retrieved 2013-03-06. 
  18. ^ "How to Search Today's Usenet For Programming Information". Slashdot. November 9, 2008. Retrieved August 10, 2010. 
  19. ^ Poulsen, Kevin (October 7, 2009). "Google’s Abandoned Library of 700 Million Titles". Wired. Retrieved August 10, 2010. 
  20. ^ Poulsen, Kevin (October 8, 2009). "Google Begins Fixing Usenet Archive". Wired. Retrieved August 10, 2010. 
  21. ^ "Google Terms of Service – Policies & Principles – Google". 2012-03-01. Retrieved 2013-03-06. 
  22. ^ "Turkey bans Google Groups". Today's Zaman. April 12, 2008. Retrieved August 10, 2010. [dead link]
  23. ^ Butt, Riazat (September 18, 2008). "Turkish court bans Richard Dawkins website". The Guardian (London). Retrieved May 3, 2010. 


External links[edit]