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The scoop on newsgroup: the Internet is more than the World Wide Web.

Ever heard of Usenet? If you're like many newly initiated "Netizens," probably not. However, each time you surf the Web, you're only a mouse click away from one of the most productive parts of the Internet -- Usenet newsgroups. The Usenet is an electronic bulletin board system through which newsgroups are transmitted. Newsgroups are an important part of communication on the Internet, allowing surfers to interact with people throughout the world who share their interests. Users can post a message on a bulletin board to which newsgroup participants can respond in kind, or send an e-mail message directly to the author.

To read a newsgroup, you will need a news reader, but most browsers and/or online services now have them built-in to their offerings. Users subscribe to newsgroups of interest and will receive the posts of all other newsgroup participants. There are over 20,000 newsgroups on nearly every imaginable topic. Information on computer problems, politics, religion and everything in between, can be found in one or more newsgroups. They can be used for work, education or pleasure.

Newsgroups are organized in categories called hierarchies, in which each level is separated by a period. These levels become more specific after each period. For example, "soc.culture.african.american" is a social newsgroup with an interest in African American cultural issues. Some of the major newsgroup categories are: rec (recreational topics), soc (social issues), talk (opinion), comp (computers) and misc (miscellaneous). There is also an alternative (alt) hierarchy of newsgroups. Before you dive into this cornucopia of information, there are some rules of conduct, or "Netiquette," you must follow:

* Read the FAQ (frequently asked questions) posting about the newsgroup. It will give you insight into the general focus and rules of the group.

* Newsgroups are not for advertisements (unless it is a commercial group). If you advertise in a noncommercial newsgroup you stand a chance of losing the privilege of subscribing to it.

* Post messages relevant to the discussion at hand. To do anewsgroup search, try: Take the time to read the FAQ file for the particular group that you want to join. It will help you understand the topic and flow of the interaction in that particular group. If there is no FAQ file, observe the group discussion for a while before you post a message. If you breach newsgroup protocol, expect to receive several angry messages from other participants. As long as you follow the rules, you should find newsgroups well worth your connect fees.
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Title Annotation:Usenet
Author:Muhammad, Tariq K.
Publication:Black Enterprise
Date:Mar 1, 1997
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