How Newsgroups Work

In The News
Similar to most e-mail programs, you normally can click on the title of a newsgroup post in order to read the message.
Similar to most e-mail programs, you normally can click on the title of a newsgroup post in order to read the message.

Newsgroups use a lot of special terms to describe the newsgroup process:

  • Usenet - The primary exchange and listing of newsgroups
  • Feed or Newsfeed - The group of messages that make up a single newsgroup, sent from one server to another server or to a subscriber
  • Posting - Entering a message into a newsgroup
  • Posts or Articles - The messages that are entered into a newsgroup
  • Thread or Threaded discussion - A post and the series of messages replying to it
  • Hierarchies - Category information provided in the name of the newsgroup Newsgroups are categorized according to interest. The name of the newsgroup provides the category information, going from general to specific (left to right). For example, is a newsgroup for Java programmers, in the Java section of the language category, which is part of the overall computer category.
  • Big Eight - Usenet's original eight newsgroup categories Now, there are thousands of newsgroups in hundreds of categories, but Usenet originally divided newsgroups into one of eight major categories: comp (computers) humanities (arts and culture) misc (miscellaneous) news (news and current events) rec (recreational) sci (science) soc (social) talk (general discussion) Ironically, alt (alternate), which is now the biggest general newsgroup category, was not part of the original eight.
  • Moderated - A newsgroup that has a person or persons who read all messages before they are posted to the general group and reserve the right to reject a message that they deem inappropriate for the newsgroup
  • Unmoderated - A newsgroup in which any message posted is immediately incorporated into the newsgroup (more common)
  • Flame - A criticism of someone else's post
  • News server - A server that maintains an archive of the messages posted to a newsgroup or series of newsgroups
  • Network News Transfer Protocol (NNTP) - The protocol typically used to transmit newsgroup messages over the Internet
  • UNIX-to-UNIX Copy Protocol (UUCP) - A protocol occasionally used for direct connections between some UNIX servers
  • Newsreader - The client software used to read the posts in a newsgroup, often combined with other software
  • Online - Type of newsreader that maintains a live connection to the news server while it is open
  • Offline - Type of newsreader that connects to the news server just long enough to download the new messages in any newsgroups you subscribe to and then disconnects, reconnecting when you're ready to send new messages
Forte' Incorporated's FreeAgent newsreader is a good example of an offline newsgroup client.