Chapters 3 : Basic Internet Services
Sections 3 : Usenet : An Introduction
One of the first and most-used areas of the Internet is Usenet, a
collection of discussion groups called "newsgroups."
Started in 1980, Usenet is a system that is similar to email, but that
is specifically designed to create and facilitate ongoing discussions
about specific subject areas. There are currently over
10,000 UseNet Newsgroups on the Internet. News is not a
ticker-tape news service. Rather, newsgroups are discussions amongst
people with common interests. Topics are extremely diverse and their
value varies greatly based on the audience who participates.
You can write an "article" addressed to the group, and it
will be "posted" for everyone to read. People can then
reply to your message either by sending you a private email, or by
posting a response for everyone to see.
Usenet is a tremendous resource for getting answers to questions
about virtually any subject. Just post a question, and another user
is likely to answer it.
For starters, you can check the
by browsing or just search
for a specifc newsgroups.
There are different methods to view newsgroups, however if you are already
using a recent version of Netscape or Internet Explorer, you already have a built in
news reader. There are
several other clients available for reading the newsgroups. Check out
T.U.C.O.W.S. for the latest
downloadable free and shareware.
All newsgroups have a unique name made up of several parts separated by
dots. The first part is the general category and each successive part
gets more specific. There are many general categories, here are a few of
the most common:
- alt - Alternative Groups
- bionet - Biology
- biz - Comercially oriented (business)
- comp - Computing
- k12 - Kindergarten through 12th grade education.
- misc - Miscellaneous newsgoups (small ads etc)
- news - About the news system itself
- rec - Recreation
- sci - Science
- soc - Society
As in all organized groups, newsgroups have accepted standards of
behavior. On the net, these rules are known as Netiquette,
information can be found in the news.annouce.newusers and the
- Get the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ): Most newsgroups
have a list of questions which are asked repeatedly. To avoid the same
discussion each time a new user joins the group, some one publishes the
FAQ. The FAQ is posted at least once a month -- do not post a message
asking someone else to post the FAQ. Ohio
State is starting a FAQ archive for the World Wide Web and MIT has a huge FTP site.
- Listen before you leap: It is always a good idea to observe
a newsgroup for several weeks before you post a message of your own.
- Do not send test postings: There are several
bogus newsgroups designed to receive test postings;
alt.test, news.test, and
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