Usenet newsgroups are Internet discussion groups on just about
any topic you can imagine. There are more than 50,000 newsgroups,
which additional groups being added daily. Newsgroups were one of
the first ways that students and scientists (using ARPANet, an early
version of the Internet) could share their opinions, interests and
As the number of newsgroups began to expand, the Internet administrators
grouped all newsgroups together to form a hierarchy known as Usenet.
To begin with Usnet and the newsgroups were just text based communities
(7-bit ASCII). It took the creation of HTTP (hypertext transport
protocol - changed the way computers transmit and recieve information)
to expand upon the text based system.
However, Usenet is, by nature, still primarily a text-based system.
Binary posts, which includes files such as movies, pictures, music
files, and software programs can be shared. But, Usenet tends to
restict binary posts to selected newsgroups. Illegal binary posts
have caused legel issues, when users have shared files such as copyrighted
- How to post and read on Newsgroups
To post and read on newsgroups you need a news reader program.
A news reader program allows you to collect articles from
newsgroups, display them, in subject and date order for
you to read. It will also allow you to send posts to a newsgroup
as well. Below is a list of news reader programs you could
Commander - Easy to use news reader program where
you select COMMUNICATOR from the tool bar, and choose
the option NEWSGROUPS from the submenu.
- Outlook Express
- Email program that also allows you to access Usenet.
Select TOOLS from the tool bar, and choose the Option
ACCOUNTS from the submenu.
- Also check this address for some of the best news reader
programs available - news
- The help file that comes with your news reader program
should explain how to download posts from a newsgroup
to read, how to subscribe / unsubscribe to a particular
newsgroup and how to read and post on a newsgroup with
that particular news reader program.
- Types of Newsgroups
- Newsgroup Netiquette
When posting on newsgroups you should try to follow a few
basic guidelines, often referred to as "Newsgroup Netiquette",
below is a list of some of these guidelines,
- Signatures - provide information about how to
get in touch with the person posting the article, including
their email address, phone number, address, or where they're
- Posting Emails - posting private email messages
on newsgroups is seen as bad taste.
- Test Messages - if you are new to posting, its
a good idea to post a "test" message.
- Hoaxes - you should take posts with a pinch of
salt if they are meant to be about or from a celebrity
or famous person.
- Summaries - if somebody posts a summery you should
respond by email rather than post a reply because this
defeats the intention of the author.
- Responding to posts - avoid trying to tedious
when pick apart an article, address it in parts or as
a whole not word by word.
- Spelling and Grammar - if your spelling and grammar
is poor you should check your post with a dictionary or
spell checker first.
- Subject Lines - makes sure it describes your
- Racism - avoid any posts that are abusive.
- Newsgroup Spam
Spam is when someone sends the same message to a large
amount of newsgroups. Spam can be reported by going to web
sites such as,
It is not a good idea to try and personally email someone
who has spammed a newsgroup because the email address may
be fake and may result in your email address being spammed.
Below is the homepage of Usenet, which is the central location
of newsgroup information.
- Usnet - homepage of Usenet