There are several newsgroups that I used to visit in the past. Now they turned out into nothing. This is very unfortunate. It was a great source of first-hand information on how different things they preach on in the magazines work in reality. Besides, it was the major source of the professional news to me. There I leaned that such things like Agile, exploratory testing, model-based testing do exist. Magazines are good. But not as good as the information refined with more meaning when passed through the experience of many people. There I was involved in long discussions and hot clashes of ideologies when eXtreme programming started to grow from the ashes of waterfall development model.
There are several things that mostly contributed to professional newsgroup collapse. First and the most important is a flow of under-qualified newbie. They have collectively and very efficiently drowned the discussion with a whole lot of meaningless posts, too much trivial for a person having decent experience in the field. People who monitored the group to find something encouragingly new found them browsing through numerous posts with questions Google can answer better in a second. All the more the questions were all the same the next day. It was so terrible that many of those whose posts I enjoyed abandoned participation and never came back.
All the professional groups I used to read now are sandboxes for advertising, spam, and silly questions. This is a mix that can hardly fit a demanding professional taste.
The next reason is the growth of popularity of various web 2.0 blogs and social networks. Many discussions simply moved to a new place d'arm. Recently I came across a starting whole war aka Agile vs. traditional development at LinkedIn. I simply passed by. Through the numerous attempts to stop the train I learned better not to do this. One who can efficiently use best lessons that Agile and non-Agile development have learned will succeed. Those who believe there is only one way (mine and wrong) are doomed to fail. Time will settle the dust down and we all will see that we are still where we were but with a little bit more experience and knowledge than before.
So, newsgroups are near dead. Web 2.0 is abounding. Special networks are going the way of newsgroups (they are already an advertising platform). So, what is next down the road? What else can we come up to effectively share knowledge and ideas? Google wave? -- Anyone?