Usenet Newsgroups are Internet groups that facilitate discussions on any topic imaginable in a worldwide Internet system. As of late 2002, there were approximately 100,000 Usenet newsgroups. This number changes, depending on the server which carries these newsgroups.

The first newsgroups started discussions using an early prototype of the Internet known as the ARPANet. As interests and users began to expand, Internet administrators combined all newsgroups to form the Usenet. Usenet and its newsgroups were originally text-based communities until the introduction of HTTP (Hypertext Transport Protocol) .

Usenet is a text-based system, although binary files like pictures, movies, music files, and various programs are distributed and shared with Usenet surfers, which makes it a viable medium for file exchange.

Types of Newsgroups

  • alt. – any topic conceivable
  • biz. – business products, services, and reviews
  • comp. – software and hardware consumer information
  • humanities. – philosophy, literature, and fine arts
  • misc. – health, employment, etc.
  • news. – Usenet news
  • rec. – sports, hobbies, and games
  • sci. – applied and social sciences
  • soc. – culture and social issues
  • talk. – current events and debates

Newsgroups can be found according to interest by exploring the Internet through search engines. They are good places to learn more about newsgroups as a whole.

Newsgroup Netiquette

  • Signatures – give contact information about the user posting the article, e.g. e-mail address, phone number, or location
  • Posting E-mail – do not post private messages in newsgroups
  • Test Messages – post ‘test’ messages if new to posting
  • Response to Posts – respond to a post as a whole rather than word for word
  • Spelling and Grammar – check with a dictionary or spell checker
  • Subject Lines – provide a description of article posted