Google Groups URLs

July 26, 2009

By default Google Groups provides permanent links for individual Usenet messages as well as links to full threads, both of which involve a Google-specific hash. For example:

I routinely reference Usenet posts, and Google Groups URLs are convenient for hyperlinking, but my inner archivist is uneasy about using a proprietary Google hash to reference the article, rather than the Message-ID which part of the message header and is the message’s original unique identifier. For example, the Message-ID of the Usenet post in which I originally found these tips is

To find the Message-ID in your newsreader, simply ask it to show the message headers. To view the headers within Google Groups, simply click “more options” and “show original.”

Fortunately, Google Groups also provides two ways of linking to messages by Message-ID which will display the message individually or as the root of a thread. To link to an individual message, construct a URL of the form

and to link to a message in thread mode, use

My main objection to using the hash is not that I’m worried Google will cease to exist any time before hyperlinks become obsolete, but rather that I’d prefer use the original and most natural identifier so that it can be referenced later if needed. Thus, I view these alternative URLs as a good solution: it allows one to use Google’s excellent Usenet archive while preserving an independent identifier that can be used to access the original message elsewhere.