Replacing Google Groups for Mozilla Newsgroups?

March 4, 2009 by
Filed under: Work 

This article is a repost of a previous article, but since I didn’t get very many responses, I figured I’d try again with a more attention-grabbing headline. :)

Does anyone know of any decent web interfaces for NNTP out there? Preferably open source that we could host ourselves. There appear to be a LOT of them, so what I’m really asking is, which of all of those are actually any good, and would work for what we need? :) (or be close enough that we could modify it to get the rest of the way there easily)

Currently, Mozilla’s newsgroups are gatewayed to Google Groups, so we can use that as the web interface. Unfortunately, we’ve had continuous problems with spam originating via Google Groups, and there’s very little we can do about it. Google’s policies prevent messages from being deleted unless there’s legal violations (i.e. DMCA notices), so we can’t clean up after it, and as much as they try to fight the spam from happening in the first place, they’re a big target. For the sanity of our newsgroups, we really need to move elsewhere, and hosting it ourselves would really make our lives a lot easier.

Related: bug 425122


11 Responses to “Replacing Google Groups for Mozilla Newsgroups?”

  1. Stuart Parmenter on March 4th, 2009 12:53 am

    Can we just kill off newsgroups and move to something like vBulletin? :/

  2. johnjbarton on March 4th, 2009 2:13 am

    Firebug’s newsgroup is on google groups. We moderate new user posts and have ~zero spam. Ultimately only active moderation will solve off topic posts. So it’s not so much about the technology as someone willing to moderate.


  3. Marco Zehe on March 4th, 2009 2:22 am

    Hosting a web frontend for our newsgroup/e-mail lists is a good idea given the spam situation.

    @Stuart I disagree wholeheartedly. IMO, web forums are the productivity killers of the web. Their flat topic display makes it impossible to properly follow conversation flows. I have not found a forum software yet that keeps proper track of my read/unread topics and allows me to jump in to the first unread post in a conversation, they always take me to the far end, which does not really make sense. Moreover, the way at least *I* work is that those things that require my immediate attention need to come via e-mail. That’s why I like the fact that Mozilla’s newsgroups are also available as e-mail lists. Those that I deem important will then receive my immediate attention.

    So if action is taken, I strongly vote against going to pure forum-based solutions.

  4. justdave on March 4th, 2009 2:59 am

    @johnjbarton: this is moderation within Google Groups itself? And your group isn’t distributed to other Usenet servers?

    I think we’re strange here because we have our groups gated to, so Google thinks we’re Usenet (even though we really aren’t). If we tell Google we’re moderated (which we do on some groups), new posts get mailed to our mailman install and go through mailman’s moderator queue. And it totally fails if isn’t also set to treat it as moderated.

  5. Anonymous on March 4th, 2009 3:23 am

    Ideally I’d suggest using email lists, not newsgroups. However, if you want to keep using news, I’d suggest using the web interface that gmane uses.

  6. Tomer Cohen on March 4th, 2009 3:52 am

    I’ll vote for any service that won’t require me to input my email address. Since News Groups are public in nature, submitting with email address make the life easier for spammers to harvest email addresses of active users.

  7. Chris Ilias on March 4th, 2009 12:09 pm

    @Anonymous: The newsgroups are mirrored with

    @Tomer: When posting to a newsgroup, your email address field does not have to contain a valid address. A lot of people munge their address when posting (e.g.

    Maybe there’s a way to set up an actual Google Group (not the NNTP version) that can feed to Mozilla using email or RSS.

  8. johnjbarton on March 4th, 2009 1:59 pm

    Yes, Firebug group is just google group. The management UI is nice enough but the UI for discussion is only ok. It strongly encourages quoting the whole previous message and prepending comments (only). The listing views are confusing at times.

  9. Gerv on March 9th, 2009 5:24 pm

    It’s probably worth reminding everyone that all Mozilla discussion forums are currently available as newsgroups, mailing lists and web (currently Google Groups). Each of these different access methods has its users and we can’t drop any of them. For example Marco, above, gives one good reason why email is important. I personally use news.

  10. Peter Lairo on June 12th, 2009 1:50 pm
    That’s why I like the fact that Mozilla’s newsgroups are also available as e-mail lists. Those that I deem important will then receive my immediate attention.

    Marco, above, gives one good reason why email is important.

    That situation is just as effectively dealt with using newsgroups.

    I do agree that web-based forums suck (for the reasons given).

  11. Peter Lairo on June 12th, 2009 1:50 pm

    Perhaps this issue should be split into two:

    – Developer newsgroups
    – support newsgroups

    Developers don’t need a web interface for NNTP, so let’s create a nntp server for the developer newsgroups ASAP to improve usability and get away from Google.

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