Usenet Newsgroup - Internet Technologies

What is Usenet (USEr NETwork)?

Usenet is a way of sharing information. Tom Truscott and Jim Ellis started it in 1979. Today, it has thousands of sites involving millions of people.

Usenet is a type of group where customers can share their views on a topic of their interest. Article is made available to all the readers of the newsgroup.

Newsgroup Classification

Newsgroups are distributed all around the world and these are identified using a hierarchical naming system where each newsgroup is given a unique name that consists of alphabetic strings separated by periods.

The leftmost portion of the name represents the top-level category of the newsgroup followed by subtopic. The subtopic can further be subdivided and subdivided even further (if needed).

Consider, the newsgroup comp.lang.C++ comprises discussion on C++ language. The leftmost part comp classifies the newsgroup as one that consist discussion of computer related topics. The second part indicates one of the subtopic lang that related to computer languages. The third part indicates one of the computer languages, in this case C++.

Usenet Newsgroup

Below table depicts the top-level hierarchies of Usenet Newsgroup:


Computer related topics including computer hardware, software, languages etc.


Newsgroup and Usenet topics


Artistic activities, hobbies, or recreational activities such as books, movies etc.



Scientific topics


Social issues and various culture



Conventional subjects such as religion, politics etc.



Art, literature, philosophy and culture



Miscellaneous topics i.e. issues tat may not fit into other categories


Working of Usenet Newsgroup

Let a newsreader like outlook express is connected to a news server then it downloads the new messages posted in the subscribed newsgroup. Once can reply to a message after reading it or post a news article to the news server.

Each newsgroup has a file having all the articles. Each article posted to the news server is appended to it. This article is again shared with other news servers connected to it.

Then the news server compares the news if both are carrying the same newsgroup. If yes, then it compares the file and checks for any new articles in the file. If it found, they are appended to the file.

Similar process continues until the file is updated across all the news servers.

Reading Articles

Reading Articles

For reading a article, user has to connect to the news server using newsreader. Newsreader will show all the list of newsgroups available on the news server. User can subscribe to any of the news group. Once the subscription is done, the articles are downloaded.

User can reply to a sender by email or post reply to newsgroup. Users data is saved by newsreader such as subscribed newsgroups and articles.

Posting an Article

Firstly, user should compose an article and specify the names to the newsgroup to whom he/she wishes to send. User can send the article to one or more newsgroup at a time provided all the newsgroups are on same news server.

User can delete an article, but if someone has downloaded it before you delete, he can read the article.

Replying an Article

User can wish to reply to an article once he read it. Reply can be to the newsgroup or to the sender via email. Using reply and reply group, the reply can be sent to either author or to the whole newsgroup.

Cancelling an Article

For cancelling an article, select the message and click Message > Cancel message which will cancel the message from news server. Suppose if someone has downloaded an article before the article is cancelled, then the person will be able to read the article.

Usenet netiquette

Below rules of netiquette should be followed while posting an article on a newsgroup.

  • Before joining a newsgroup for first time, spend time in understanding it.
  • Article should be easy to read, precise and correct.
  • Relevant information should be there as per article title.
  • Avoid posting same article to multiple newsgroups.
  • Do not mention your business email address during subscribing to a newsgroup as spammers use this information.
  • Avoid using capital letters as someone may interpret as shouting.
  • Text is preferred in general than graphics.

Mailing List Vs Newsgroup

S.N. Mailing List Newsgroup
1. Messages are delivered to individual mailboxes of subscribed member of group. Messages are not posted to individual mailboxes but can be viewed by anyone who has subscribed to that newsgroup.
2. Working with mailing list is easier than newsgroup. It is easy to compose and receive emails. Working with a particular newsgroup requires proper knowledge of that newsgroup.
3. In order to send or receive mails, you required an email program. It requires a newsgroup reader.
4. Messages are delivered to certain group of people. Messages are available to public.
5. Mailing list does not support threaded discussion. Newsgroup supports threaded discussion.
6. Messages delivered to listed subscribers can not be cancelled. Article posted on a newsgroup can be cancelled.

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