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What Are Newsgroups?

Newsgroups are nearly as old as the Internet. They get only a fraction of the publicity that goes to the newer and flashier World Wide Web, but that doesn't mean they're less useful. On the contrary, public peer-support newsgroups can be an excellent source for quick answers to thorny software and hardware support questions. Newsgroups are also popular among hobbyists ranging from BMW enthusiasts to cat owners, and moderated newsgroups are important gathering places for computer and science professionals.

Don't be misled by the name: Newsgroups have nothing to do with the New York Times or CNN. They function more like public bulletin boards, organized by topic, where individuals post messages (sometimes called articles) that anyone with access to that group can read and reply to. Just as Web servers use a protocol called HTTP (the Hypertext Transfer Protocol) to communicate, news servers have their own protocol, called the Network News Transfer Protocol (NNTP) to share information.


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