You can't be serious re: Usenet?
I read maybe 30-40 groups on a regular basis.. It's VASTLY superior to any web-based forum (Is there another type I'm missing?)
The spam in the groups I read is next to non-existant, including very little in uk.telecom which you said you'd read? Perhaps your provider isn't cleaning up your feed?
My short list of pros for Usenet re: Web based forums:
* No avatars/smileys/other crap..
* Mark articles for offline reading in case I've no net access..
* I can archive any interesting articles by dragging them off to a folder..
* Search archives/downloaded articles rapidly..
* I can read articles over a cellphone data connection without it hitting my data allocation badly.. Often on web based forums you download a 200kb page only to find one sentence replies by whole bunches of people..
* True threading..
* Quickly sort by name/date/subject..
* Ability to ignore posts based on user/thread etc..
* No policing by power hungry moderators..
The main advantage is plain speed. Articles download quickly, and you can navigate them rapidly by banging a few keys.
I've been using the Internet now for about 15 years, and Usenet for maybe 3 months less than that. I will never understand why Usenet's popularity has dwindled in that time, and why folk would rather read messages on unfriendly web-boards. If you can show me one website with a discussion forum that works as well as news software I'll change my mind.. Even Outlook Express does a half decent job over web-based forums!
Usenet is a very undervalued portion of the Internet.. But maybe it's better unseen though.. I'd hate to see users from MSN/Yahoo Answers etc move over to it.