As anybody who’s been on the internet long enough knows, online discussion was perfected in the 1980s by Usenet, and it’s all gone downhill since. Not even Google have managed to translate it into the friendly pastel shades of the Web successfully. But time marches on, and slowly but surely the conversation moves over to web forums, attracting newcomers who will never know what they’re missing – decent message threading, tracking of the posts you’ve already read – and instead have to endure topics that get locked by moderators just as they’re getting to the good bit, and (oh, the horror) graphical smileys.
And thus a great rift opened up in the ZX Spectrum fanbase. The community was divided between the ones in comp.sys.sinclair who would never touch a web forum even if their life depended on it, and the ones in the WOS forums who would never venture into the rugged wastelands of Usenet even if they were the last person alive and the second last person alive had just, in their dying gasp, posted a message to rec.survival.post-apocalyptic entitled “Survival tips for the last person alive”.
bbgateway is my solution to this sorry state of affairs. It’s a suite of Ruby applications that will scrape a web forum of your choosing for new posts, reformat them into old-school plain text (you know, angle brackets for quoting, and – yes! – ASCII smileys) and make them available in an NNTP feed that you can follow with your newsreader, or share with the world if you’re feeling generous. (more…)