Chapters 3 : Basic Internet Services

Sections 3 : Usenet : An Introduction

Usenet Newsgroups

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 InterNic's listing 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:

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 highlights are:

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