Usenet was one of the first things I did on the Internet, coming from a background of FidoNet / Bulletin Boards it was a natural progression, along with e-mail. The web was still in it’s infancy, Gopher was still more useful, or e-mail responders, at the time. IRC was huge and if I wasn’t reading Usenet I was probably on IRC (usually, both).
I spent a lot of time posting to Usenet and using software to run a news server locally (sort of a caching only server), I even wrote my own (newsmangler, although there appears to be a new tool out and about called that as well, resulting in various hits to this blog).
For whatever reason, my involvement in Usenet slowed and in fact, Usenet use for text-discussion slowed in general. Binary use grew and is still huge, but I don’t really think it’s the right place for binaries.
Recently though my involvement has increased again, mainly in the uk.* hierarchy although I lurk a lot more than I used to and post a lot less. I’ve been looking for an excuse to get another Virtual Private Server (this time with Gandi because their setup is so nice) and I’ve finally relented and put together an INN2 Usenet server ( http://matrix.darkstorm.co.uk/news/ ). It’s been interesting, there’s a steep learning curve to getting it set up so that it behaves, and then getting peers (up to 3 now). But it’s been fun. I hope to keep developing the server and maybe end up offering access to other folk, if there are any others left who still read usenet that is 😉