Distributed Computing Newsgroup Approved

A new newsgroup, comp.distributed, has been approved for discussion of
distributed systems, applications, resources and platforms, including
peer-to-peer and computational grids, according to co-founders Rajkumar
Buyya and Dave DiNucci.

An official control message was sent out Feb. 5 to create the group,
Buyya and DiNucci said, “so you should find it available on your
Internet or Usenet service provider.” However, they are finding that
some ISPs and Usenet providers have been somewhat slow to carry the
group, so if it is not available on your provider, they suggest that you
specifically request that they carry it.

In the meantime, the newsgroup is available here on groups.google.com.

“Many readers may find this a much less satisfactory interface than
traditional (NNTP) news readers, however, so we do request that you
contact your news administrator to carry the group even if you can
access it using Google,” they said.

Creating a new newsgroup in the “Big Eight” international hierarchies —
comp, humanities, misc, news, rec, sci, soc and talk — involves first
proposing the newsgroup in news.announce.newgroups, then conducting a
vote among those Usenet readers who have an opinion on the proposed
group, according to guidelines at the Usenet volunteer site UVV.org.

The final vote for comp.distributed was 206 yes to 11 no, according to UVV. For
a Big Eight group to pass, Yes votes must be at least two-thirds of all
valid votes. There must also be at least 100 more Yes votes than No
votes.

The main benefits of creating a newsgroup in the Big Eight, as opposed to
less formal hierarchies such as “alt,” have been the international reach
and the speed and extent of propagation of the new newsgroup, but Buyya
and DiNucci found that isn’t always the case.

Usenet newsgroups are decentralized, DiNucci said; it is up to the
individual ISP to decide to carry a particular group. However, it was
considered a problem to have each individual ISP make a decision on each
newsgroup, so a common set of guidelines was adopted for groups falling
into the Big Eight hierarchies, he said.

A Fitting Home

When a group follows the
guidelines and gets a passing vote, most ISPs should in theory create it
immediately. Less formal hierarchies such as alt essentially only
require that you convince each ISP to carry the group, DiNucci said.

“We followed the Big Eight guidelines for comp.distributed and got a
passing vote, but many ISPs are not creating it,” DiNucci said. Some
large ISPs have told him that they now do not carry any newsgroup, even
in the Big Eight, unless it is specifically requested by their users,
making the advantages of Big Eight approval less clear. Buyya and DiNucci said they’re now working to convince ISPs to carry the newsgroup, and they urge anyone who can’t access the group to contact their ISP and request it.

Despite the hurdles, the newsgroup appears to have been worth what even
UVV materials say can be a difficult process, already generating an
active following and several posts a day.

“Until now, discussion in P2P and Grids have often been separated from
one another, even though they are both ways to utilize and exploit
collectives of distributed resources,” DiNucci said. “P2P and Grids grew
from different communities and mindsets, and they often focus on
different goals and have different solutions approaches in mind.
Comp.distributed allows cross-fertilization of these ideas, and a forum
to broadly explore new ideas, or re-explore old ones, with no editorial
control.

“The fact that the group is based on Usenet is very fitting, since
Usenet itself is a global collective of distributed resources with no
central control. The interesting posts we’ve had even in the very early
days have been very rewarding, and interplay between different ideas has
already begun.”

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