My entre to user-based support was the rather good SAS-L SAS users support mailing list. Subscribership has hovered around 1,200 for years, with peering sites and Usenet expanding this. The list was started in 1986, I was steered to it in 1993 or so. It's fully independent of SAS Institute, the vendor of the SAS System.
While SAS-L had archives, they were old-style LISTSERV format -- you were essentially entering JCL commands to search through MVS or CPM records. Not friendly. DejaNews was a tremendous boost -- easily searchable format, great content, pretty good coverage.
What I've suggested to both SI and Deja is that they consider a sponsoring of archives. SI wins by having a tech support service which takes a load off of their own call center (a cost center, quote ~1998 was $50 per call received). Deja wins by having a revenue stream. Users win by having comp.soft-sys.sas archived in a location shared by hundreds (or thousands) of other newsgroups.
Extend the model to include: Microsoft (sure, why not ;-), Oracle, IBM, Sun, Apple to fill out most of the rest of the comp.* heirarchy. Special interests might sponsor: legal discussions, fan groups, recreation, art, travel, regional,.... Interestingly, the great spamholes of alt.* and binaries groups -- generators of immense content but low signal -- would likely not get sponsorships. Addresses the archival triage and storage issue.
It's a suggestion. It's probably not a get-rich scheme. But it could be a good, solid, business model. Will it work? I don't know.
The other alternative would be for a distributed archive, a la FreeNet. Deja worked for a time in which centralized archives were dictated by technological limitations. Distributed storage probably fits the Usenet archive model better, and should be a feasible option in the near future.
Karsten M. Self
SCO -- backgrounder on Caldera/SCO vs IBM
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