Microsoft Research is a cool place... and if you had any doubt, you only need to look at some of their publicly exposed data, such as the NETSCAN system. I pulled a description of the system from their site...
The Netscan System provides detailed reports on the activity of Usenet newsgroups, the authors who participate in them, and the conversation threads that emerge from their activity. Using the Netscan tool users can get reports about any newsgroup for any day, week, month, quarter, or year, since September 1999.
For example, and this should be of interest to the readers of this post, you can query on all newsgroups with csharp in their name using this link, and then from that page you can dig down to find out about the hot topics, the most active authors and more...

Within just a few seconds of playing around on NETSCAN, I was able to find out that Jon Skeet and Mattias Sjögren, both members of the MVP program, are the two most active authors on the main C# newsgroup... very cool stuff.

The NETSCAN team is very interested in what developers think of their system, so please let me know what you think!!

(Listening To: The Little Death [The Odds / Bedbugs])