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A newsgroup is a way to share information among Internet users.  Newsgroups are also referred to as Usenet and are like public access bulletin boards.  Users float in and out.  You can electronically tack up messages in special message areas and read hundred, yea thousands of messages while you are there.

These are usually not moderated so there are messages on topic and others that don't make sense.  In fact many times there are inappropriate messages left in message areas.  The difference from mailing lists is that newsgroup messages do not appear in your mailbox.  You have to access the newsgroup server to see the messages.  Newsgroups are organized by topic and come with messages and running dialogs about a wide number of subjects.  The search engine for Newsgroups (Usenet) is Google Groups.

Newsgroups are cataloged by category.  The first word in a Newsgroup indicates the category to which the newsgroup belongs.  Below are a few of the categories commonly found on the Usenet.

Category Description Example
alt (alternative) Everything; Does not fit a category so this is the miscellaneous location alt.pets.rabbits
comp (computers) Discussion for computer users  comp.sys.powerpc
k12 (education) Discussion for teachers and those interested in education k12.library
soc (social) Discussions about social issues
news (network news/software) Relates to networks and Internet software news.announcel.newusers
rec (recreation) Recreation and the arts
sci (science) Research and sciences
talk (idle chatter) Arguments; some say chaos talk.politics.mideast

Navigating Newsgroups 

Newsgroups require use of the newsgroup functions built into your browser.  There are also special programs called newsreaders that allow you to read newsgroups.

Navigating in Netscape requires that you have to provide information to your system.  To add a newsgroup follow the steps below.

  1. Choose Edit--Preferences
  2. Choose Mail & Newsgroup Preferences--Newsgroup Servers
  3. Enter the name of the newsgroup server and press Return
  4. To create the properties again choose Edit--Preferences
  5. Select Mail & Newsgroup Preferences--Newsgroup Properties.  Choose your server and click Edit
  6. Choose from the following options
    1. Always ask me for my user name and password
    2. Only ask me for my user name and password when necessary
  7. Click OK 

Newsgroup Rules

  • Be brief
  • Be positive.  Although you will see negative messages please don't add to the problem.  
  • Stay on topic
  • Watch your tone of voice.  Even though it is e-mail sarcasm comes over and usually appears rude.  
  • Don't use all caps
  • Check out FAQs if you have questions.

Newsgroups and Use in School

Don't.  Newsgroups can be very informative and the education groups have some very interesting topics.  Newsgroups frequently however have inappropriate messages.  They are not a place to take students.  Since anyone can post here, the message boards can have poor and inappropriate language.  Again, a great place to share ideas and follow hobbies and interest but a questionable place to use with students because you cannot control the postings.

Directory of Newsgroups at Cyberfiber

This page was updated on:  04/10/02