First off, it's not the Usenet that provides that fun what-have-I-already-read functionality, it's your Usenet client. Your apparent inability to make that distinction is one of the reasons I voted down your post.
It could be argued that the client is part of usenet.
One popular client, Google Groups, does not keep track of read articles. You don't have to use that one. (To be fair to google, they didn't set out to create a newsreader.)
You can switch web browsers, but it would take a heck of a browser to fix this problem with most web forums. (Is there a module which performs diffs perhaps?)
The other way I know you're really not paying attention is that K5 does mark the new comments for you - or is the bright red [new] indicator not simple enough for you? Though this is certainly a deficiency on other sites, it's not a weakness of blogs or discussion sites generally, but of the software used to create them.
The [new] marks are good, but they are not perfect. Try out my experiment with K5. Once you've bought up a document, you get one chance to see the [new] markers. Bring up the document again and the [new] amrks are gone. Even if your only act was to go from Threaded to Dynamic Minimal.
This can be fixed though. Start from Dynamic Minimal and add some code to the bit which loads the article text to send a signal to the server that this article is being read. Some web forums do indeed work like this, but a firghteningly small proportion.
But what do we do about the web forums that don't have any sort of article tracking? They are not going to go away just because anyone wishes them so.
It could be argued that my newsreader newsreader.com, where HTML over HTTP replaces X Windows, is just a web forum in disguise. I can accept that. The difference is that I can leave this service and use a different newsreader, without having to start from scratch, re-establishing myself in a new community.
(Hmmm, perhaps I should have thrown that into the main article. Too late now.)
As well as all that, I have one login to get into all my groups. If all 50 (ish) groups were 50 separate websites, I'd have to remember 50 more passwords. That means either reusing passwords or taking notes.
As far as your arguments regarding reliability, they're also crap. You've never had your NNTP server go down? Never had its disk fill up with porn spam? Never had an autocratic admin drop your favorite groups (usually because he was fed up with spam volume)?
If my (or usually my ISP) NNTP server breaks, it's not the end of the world, I can switch my feed to someone else's. If (say) K5 breaks, there's no alternative K5 I can switch to with all the old articles there, it's just gone.
Anyway, if you don't like web discussion sites, go back to your old command-line newsreader (I have a source copy of tin around somewhere, if you need it), and stop bothering the rest of us with your whining about how good the bad old days were.
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