Take from

The Internet Complete Reference, Second Edition, Hahn

Chapters 13 - 15

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What is Usenet?

Usenet is a vast, worldwide system of discussion groups which allows you to partake in discussions with people from all over the world on virtually every conceivable topic.

Usenet is free to users with Internet access.

Usenet has no central authority.

Usenet is not Internet.

Basic Terminology

With Usenet you may POST an ARTICLE to a GROUP.


PPP Clients, GUI's: include your Web Browser and programs specifically designed to view newsgroups.

Shell Account, Command Line Driven: on our system use tin.

News Clients and Servers

The client allows you to subscribe to newsgroups of your choice. This has the effect of selectively displaying only the groups that you're interested in.

News Servers are connected and update each other at regular intervals.

Your news server is what regulates what groups are available to you.

Your news administrator makes decisions regarding what your news server delivers to you.

Your available selections will include global groups and local groups.

Some news servers act as way stations, with the primary task of providing news feeds for many other servers.

How big is Usenet?


More than 11,000,000 people participate.

Over 330,000 different news servers.

Over 127,000 new articles per day.

The Mainstream and Alternative Hierarchies

Hierarchies organize groups by topics. For instance, rec.arts.startrek.fandom is a group for fans of startrek that is considered an art in the rec (recreation) hierarchy.

Mainstream hierarchies are carried on all news servers. They include comp, humanities, misc, news, rec, sci, soc, and talk.

Alternative hierarchies are considered optional and carry more specialized and/or questionable material. They include alt, bionet, bit, biz, k12.

There are well over 6,000 groups in existance today.

Helpful things to know.

A group name ending with .d is for discussion on the group of the same name without the .d.

Non-moderated joke groups have an unwritten rule calling for an obligatory joke with every posting.

Moderated Groups often cut through the BS. groups tend to be the most popular along with rec.humor.funny.

New usenet groups are voted in by the users (see pg 267).

Consult newsgroups FAQ's prior to posting common questions. Check out news.answers.

Chapter 14: Reading and Posting Usenet Articles

The Format of a News Article

Header: Contains technical information about the article.

Body: Contains the text of the posting.

Signature: Contains the tag supplied by the author of the posting read in from a file automatically.

Followup Articles

Most postings are responses to other postings. The subject for responses starts with Re:. The quoted original message to which the response pertains is indicated by a > symbol.

Usenet Slang

See Fig 14-4

Foo, Bar, Foobar - Expressions used in examples.

RTFM - Read the manual before asking questions.

Smileys - Expression characters created from keyboald symbols. :-)

Chapter 15: Using Usenet From a Shell Account: tin

Experiment with tin on your own.

This tutorial walks you through accessing newsgroups with Tin (text based) and Netscape's Collabra program (GUI). Collabra is only included in Netscape's v4.0 or higher. It is advised that you read The Internet Complete Reference, Second Edition, Hahn chapters 13, 14, & 15 prior to working through this tutorial.

There are thousands of news groups on the Internet where you can find information about almost any topic. What you'll find in these news groups will be most likely unexpected. The content of the news groups is written by people like you, expressing their thoughts on a WIDE variety of topics. Since these news groups are relatively uncensored, some of the discussions can get somewhat out of hand. Please try to ignore topics that you may find disturbing and concentrate on those that are more beneficial to humankind in general. After all, that IS the purpose of the Internet.

Usenet Tutorial

Accessing Newsgroups with Tin

To read the news, telnet to xi and at the Unix prompt type tin to start the Tin program. You will either be asked if you wish to join a group or you will be presented with a screen of commands with no groups listed. If you're asked if you wish to join a group, press q (and not the enter key). This will cause the program to quit asking if you want to join the news groups and will proceed on to the listing of available news groups. If you are presented with a list of command options, press y to yank all of the group names onto your screen. You will be presented with a list of all available news groups (over 4,000).

Try out these commands:


Spend some time with Tin. I hope to have a newsgroup created for our class. It will be called fsu.class.cis3066. Check to see if it exists. Try posting to a newsgroup. Don't be shy!


Accessing Newsgroups with Collabra

Use Netscape's Collabra to choose some newsgroups to subscribe to from those available on FSU's Usenet service at Here's how:

Play around with Collabra until you are comfortable with all menu items. Post a message to a group. Don't be shy!


To learn more about participating in Discussion Groups with Collabra:


That's All! J