Is it possible to see the tree structure in the Google Groups usenet archive (since Google currently appears to have broken it - removed it completely)

I can't find any images to show how Google groups did used to show a tree structure for usenet groups. But they did.

  • Looks like somebody at google too young to have ever joined a newsgroup decided to remove the tree structure altogether. What a mess. Jun 12, 2022 at 15:01
  • @RickyRobinson they were fine with destroying it because they wanted to replace it with their "google groups" system and wanted people to move to "google groups". They didn't want the usenet archive to look better than google groups
    – barlop
    Jun 12, 2022 at 15:09
  • This question has been bumped by Community user 12 times. I’m voting to close this question because Usenet is not a web application. There isn't a unique Usenet archive. Oct 17, 2023 at 20:34
  • 1
    @Rubén i've just edited the question so it's specifically about Google Groups, which is a web application.
    – barlop
    Oct 18, 2023 at 0:56

2 Answers 2


Editor's Note

As of October 2023, the parts about the Google Groups user interface features are obsolete, like the keyboard shortcuts, and the Topics options.

The screenshots serve as complementary to better understand the question.

Tree structure of Google Groups/Newsgroups

Google Groups has done away with their tree structure navigation format for browsing Google Groups in favor of breadcrumb navigation. This makes sense as a tree structure isn't very useful given how Google Groups is both a web gateway to NNTP as well as a web mailing list not compatible with Usenet. Since anyone can create a public or private Google Group, a tree navigation quickly becomes unwieldy and it doesn't appear Google cares to segregate the services; instead choosing to rely on its search tech.

A Usenet hierarchy is, reduced to its essence, a set of Usenet newsgroups that share a common naming prefix, with "." used as the separator between the levels of the hierarchy, like host names. The most popular list is provided by the Big-8 Management Board (B8MB). They publish a list of the canonical Big-8 Usenet groups to news.announce.newgroups every month and can be viewed via Google Groups at http://groups.google.com/group/news.announce.newgroups?hl=en (also mirrored at ISC, ftp://ftp.isc.org/pub/usenet/news.announce.newgroups/Group_Lists/)... It does seem silly Google Groups doesn't integrate a hierarchical list option for just NNTP groups...

While Google Groups is the most extensive collection, there are other free public News servers you may want to explore, including getting a free NNTP account so you may use your own newsreader. The free NNTP accounts will not have as an extensive history however, so you may want to try to make Google Groups work better for you.

Join/Star groups of interest: Most people who use newsreaders subscribe to newsgroups which is akin to "Joining" or "Starring" a group via Google Group's interface so you may want to browse that list for groups you find of interest.

Editors note: This section about the keyboard shortcuts is obsolete.

Use keyboard shortcuts: For instance if you know the type of group you are looking for, you can use the hotkeys g l to quickly go to a group or search for similar newsgroups.

g l comp.unix [Tab][Tab] [Enter]

Keyboard shortcuts may be shown by typing the question mark character on any page within https://groups.google.com or at https://support.google.com/groups/answer/6148722

Individual Threads

The OP clarified:

What I am talking about is within any individual thread within a newsgroup....

Editor's note: The below section is obsolete.

Tree structure of messages in Google Topics

To reorder messages into conversation threading (messages will be reordered to who replied to whom and then chronologically):

1. Navigate to any Google Groups Topic

2. Above the first message/post, click on the Topic options icon:

    Topic options icon as it appears 2015.09

3. Click option "Tree view"

    Option popup list as it appears 2015.09

  • 1
    -1 It looks like you haven't understood what I was talking about. Or if you have then you're very unclear as to why the current system is better. What I am talking about is within any individual thread within a newsgroup, you had a tree structure. I was not talking about the tree of alt and then alt.computer(I don't think google ever showed a tree for that anyway) I am talking about the tree structure within each thread, that showed who replied to who. Newsreaders show trees(though they don't have the archive).
    – barlop
    Sep 20, 2015 at 23:41
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    You say a breadcrumb structure is better, I don't see how. I don't see any breadscrumb structure for who replied to who anyway. Now. it's a flat structure. Your lecture about usenet isn't relevant
    – barlop
    Sep 20, 2015 at 23:42
  • 1
    And wghere you write "Keyboard shortcuts may be shown by typing the question mark character on any page within groups.google.com or at support.google.com/groups/answer/6148722 " <-- that's interesting.. But i'd add, you have to not be clicked into any textbox
    – barlop
    Sep 20, 2015 at 23:49
  • As of October 2023, according to What's new in Groups "Some advanced keyboard shortcuts" were deprecated. Oct 18, 2023 at 15:18


Google Groups was never intended to replicate a newsreader.

Tree Structures in Google Groups

Group Directory / Browse All

Old versions of Google Groups have means to navigate groups by categories, but those features were removed.

The current version has a flat list.

You might use Wikipedia articles to learn about the Usenet and Usenet newsgroups. Both articles mention the Usenet hierarchies and point to the list of newsgroups.

Post / Messages Threads

Google Groups had settings for group owners and admins to control features like discussion threads. The current version doesn't include threaded discussions.


  • A)Just because Google Groups was not intended to "replicate a newsreader" doesn't mean it's impossible for it to have a tree structure , and as mentioned I recall the feature, so it impossible that there's an option in principle. B)The tree structure i'm referring to is not "means to navigate groups by categories,". Notice there's an answer somebody already posted that misunderstood what tree structure refers to and I and another commenter addressed him and why he misunderstood
    – barlop
    Oct 18, 2023 at 4:48
  • @barlop Are you saying that the previous answer has answered your question in the previous versions of Google Groups? Oct 18, 2023 at 5:05
  • You refer to the "answer" posted by poster called "Adam". I'm pretty sure that me and another poster, noted some issues with "Adam's" answer, but I think that other person's comment was deleted over the last 24h, almost certainly by a moderator. And Adam(the poster of the "answer" that you refer to), didn't address the criticism that me and the other commenter brought up. So i'm not going to say that adam's answer is good enough for me to accept it, when his answer has issues that he never addressed.
    – barlop
    Oct 18, 2023 at 23:16

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