Rich Kulawiec <rsk @
> I have the suspicion that there is some bit of well-known knowledge that
> I'm missing. Several neurons in the back of my brain insist that there
> was some sort of (recent?) to-do over Remarq inserting ads into Usenet
As part of an "innovative marketing program," remarQ was adding hyperlinks
to words in the middle of articles as presented on their web view of
Usenet, allowing advertisers to buy particular words and turning those
words into hyperlinks to the advertiser's site. It apparently went quite
a while without being noticed, and then was noticed by several people and
started a number of discussions in various places. Lots of people were
quite irate over advertising practices that implied that they, the authors
of the posts, were endorsing those products.
After a general outcry, remarQ backed down and purged the links from their
web Usenet archives.
I've had some other unrelated previous experience with the web Usenet
folks (not their news outsourcing division, which is apparently largely
separate and seems to have more of a clue). They attempted to sell
Stanford a "Stanford-branded" presentation of Usenet, including in the
sales pitch as evidence of what a good job they were doing the list of
Stanford-related newsgroups they were carrying. Which included the public
"ghosts" of a large number of newsgroups that we no longer distribute
publically and that outside of Stanford contain only spam.
They were quite surprised and shocked when I told them that I considered a
"Stanford-branded" view of Usenet to be unethical and false claim that the
content was provided by Stanford and a possible legal liability problem to
This seems to fall into the general category of "why bother to create our
own content when we can just steal it from other people and sell it?".
Russ Allbery (rra @