Post by Paul Sture Post by Michael Moroney
HTML is officially allowed in Usenet posts, but as you see, it is quite
Part of the reason: In the early days of spammers, spammers spammed Usenet
as much as they now spam email. They rarely do now, because first the
newer spammers don't even know what Usenet is, plus the spams would often
draw responses for everyone to see, ranging from "quit spamming us!" to
discussions why the thing being spammed was a scam.
It would also motivate people to dig into the identity of the spammer,
and get them blacklisted.
Post by Michael Moroney
Spam to email can't start such discussions. Second, spammers were
among the first to adopt HTML Usenet posts, so many people started
associating HTML Usenet with spam and by extension, illegitimate.
Many filter out HTML Usenet, initially because of spammers.
Also because with a news reader which doesn't understand HTML, legibility.
Another tell-tale was anyone posting via Google Groups. I do filter out
HTML-only posts and do drop Google Groups postings in newsgroups other
than comp.os.vms. comp.os.vms is an exception purely because quite a few
contributors were (still are?) stuck behind corporate firewalls which
didn't allow posting to Usenet directly (Compaq & HP folks in particular).
Post by Michael Moroney
Also, sometimes lowlifes would post HTML Usenet posts that were
boobytraps that would download malware or something when you read
them. Many people would just go to the next post and bang! You just
caught something! Again, this rarely happens now.
follows. When using Netscape 3.03 on VMS to read newsgroups, disabling
developed using Netscape 3.03 on VMS was to run it from the DCL prompt.
CTRL-Y to halt the process was infinitely better than trying to close
a window that displayed the symptoms of redirection to a booby trap.
The First of April: The only day of the year that people critically
evaluate news stories before believing them.
Wouldn't it be nice if there were some kind of
near-universally acceptable document format, which could
be safely acceptable as plaintext where that was what
apps/users/admins wanted, or accepted as something shinier
where the added extras provided genuine added value.
Markdown doesn't quite do this but does have a great deal
reverse - the added shiny adds so much hassle and risk
that in many cases a low-tech basic-HTML standard (the
2000s equivalent of ANSI X3.64) would actually be a better
choice in many cases (for everyone except advertisers,
malware authors, etc).
Maybe a goal might be something that could be usefully
handled by a data access layer on top of a file system or
a data transport layer (ideally with similar/shared
interfaces). Do it in a langage-independent ,
OS-independent, application-independent way. Maybe even
in an object-centric kind of way.
If something like that existed and was safe and
ubiquitous, we hopefully wouldn't need the "HTML or not"
discussion. Neither users nor application designers nor
system admins etc would need to think about it, it would
all happen automagically.
Ladies and gentlemen, set the wayback machine to the late
1980s/early 1990s, and look up DEC's Compound Document
Architecture (CDA). It predates the Interweb so it's
relatively hard to find out about, except in those pesky
things called 'books' and their specialist variants
called 'manuals' or 'technical summaries'.
CDA features somewhere in the parentage of Windows OLE
but most of CDA's value had been lost by the time it was
reborn under different management as OLE.
Btw: Apologies for *still* posting via Google groups. It
started due to a somewhat nomadic set of work/access
requirements, combined with silly corporate firewalls
and PC app policy. My work circumstances have changed
but my usenet access hasn't (yet). It's on my ToDo
list, as are a few more things.
What I would say here about Google Groups is that if
contributors are linking to previous Usenet posts, it
may well be better in the long term to *not just* link
to a Google Groups URL, due (amongst other reasons) to
Google/Alphabet's willingness to drop products and
servioes at short notice regardless of the impact on
users. Remember it isn't Google's users (you, me, etc)
that pay Google's wages.
Have a lot of fun
 Language-independent: English vs Chinese. Fortan
vs Rust. Maybe even both.