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Some Usenet Basics

To get your Usenet education off on the right foot, this section looks at a few crucial concepts that will serve as the base from which you can explore the rest of Usenet:

article An individual message in a newsgroup discussion.

follow up To respond to an article. (Also: follow-up; the response itself.)

hierarchy Usenet divides its discussion groups into several classifications, or hierarchies. There are seven so-called mainstream hierarchies:

compComputer hardware and software
miscMiscellaneous stuff that doesn't really fit anywhere else
newsUsenet-related topics
recEntertainment, hobbies, sports, and more
sciScience and technology
socSex, culture, religion, and politics
talkDebates about controversial political and cultural topics

Most Usenet-equipped Internet service providers give you access to all the mainstream hierarchies. There's also a huge alt (alternative) hierarchy that covers just about anything that either doesn't belong in a mainstream hierarchy or is too wacky to be included with the mainstream groups. There are also many smaller hierarchies designed for specific geographic areas. For example, the ba hierarchy includes discussion groups for the San Francisco Bay area, the can hierarchy is devoted to Canadian topics, and so on.

newsgroup Newsgroup (or, often, simply group) is the official Usenet moniker for a discussion topic. Why are they called newsgroups? The original Duke University system was designed to share announcements, research findings, and commentary. In other words, people would use this system if they had some “news” to share with their colleagues. The name stuck, and now you often hear Usenet referred to as Netnews or simply as the news.

newsreader The software you use to read a newsgroup's articles and to post your own articles.

post To send an article to a newsgroup.

subscribe In a newsreader, to add a newsgroup to the list of groups you want to read. If you no longer want to read the group, you unsubscribe from the group.

thread A series of articles related to the same Subject line. A thread always begins with an original article and then progresses through one or more follow-ups.



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