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Deja News (officially: Deja News Research Service) was an archive of messages posted to Usenet discussion groups. It was also a Usenet browser, directory, search engine and archiving service. Deja News began in March 1995 and was created by Steve Madere in Austin, Texas.
Many fans relied on Deja News for online discussion and fannish news.A fan commented that he went through 27 years thinking he was the only K/S fan on the planet (yet still quite unsure what K/S meant), got internet access and found alt.startrek.creative:
Another fan wrote:I prick up my ears and investigate more closely. Some interesting stories here; some like the ones I used to make up as a kid, some that are so good they move me to tears. And then, lo and behold, I find a Genuine Treasure: Killashandra's gorgeously lyrical piece Turning Point... The rest, as we say on the Net, is DejaNews... and then [a fan] loans me some zines to read. And that's when I find out that all of YOU are out there, and have been right there all along... 
As I remember, there really wasn't much to be found at the time. I didn't know a methodical approach to finding webpages and archives, and I'd never heard of a newsgroup. So, I ran search after search after search. Then, I stumbled across Dejanews, and started searching that for every keyword I could imagine. 
"Its powerful search engine capabilities won the service acclaim, generated controversy, and significantly changed the perceived nature of online discussion. While archives of Usenet discussions had been kept for as long as the medium existed, Deja News offered a novel combination of features. It was available to the general public, provided a simple World Wide Web user interface, allowed searches across all archived newsgroups, returned immediate results, and retained messages indefinitely. The search facilities transformed Usenet from a loosely organized and ephemeral communication tool into a valued information repository. The archive's relative permanence, combined with the ability to search messages by author, raised concerns about privacy and confirmed oft-repeated past admonishments that posters should be cautious in discussing themselves and others." 
In February 2001, Deja News (and its archive) was acquired by Google Groups.
Deja News and Online Privacy
Deja News was, for many fans, their first exposure to the notion of online privacy.
I haven't been to fandom cons, but I've been to similar get-togethers. Around about the same time - and ever since, come to think of it - I was in different circles where stuff was sent around via email (yes, there was email back then - it was just a bit less common) and where we would occasionally meet up. Poking around at really old newsgroup archives, I found a bunch of posts with a lot of silly chatter that made me think "Oh wow, I had forgotten that.. and that.. and, oh dear, we thought that was funny.. and whatever happened to him.. and what the hell was this all about?" The meetups were hilarious and wonderful, because suddenly you knew you had something in common with everyone there, something that most people said "uhh, what?" about. But I also found stuff that made me think "oh no, I really wish this hadn't seen the light of day, it's twenty years on, and there is no context to this any more, and we put our real names to this". (Also, if we had known DejaNews was archiving us for posterity on the quiet... oh, argh, well, it's done now.) 
- DejaNews considered harmful; [ Archive], unknown date