You will discover the potential of Usenet News quickly if you take the
time to sort out some of the basic concepts.
Subscribing to a Newsgroup
Subscribing to a newsgroup is similar to subscribing to a daily
newspaper. It means that all the postings to that newsgroup received by
your site will be available to you.
You could read these postings without subscribing but if you subscribe
your newsreader will keep track of which postings you have already read
(or otherwise dealt with) and you will not have to read them again unless
you wish to.
Check the documentation for your newsreader for information on how to
subscribe to newsgroups.
Finding a Newsgroup
Most newsreaders (such as Tin) will allow you to browse the list of
available newsgroups. This makes it quite easy to find out what is
available. Because the list of available newsgroups may be quite large it
is usually quicker if you use the internal search feature (check the
available commands listed at the bottom of the screen.)
If a newsgroup is not currently available you can usually request that it
be added to the available list. Before making your request you should
confirm the exact name of the group you would like added. A good way to
get the exact name is to do a search using one of the search engines
that index newsgroups to look for postings on a particular topic.
Internet search engines (*) are great for
searching for information.
A "Savvy Search" of newsgroup messages using "fighting and fish" as
the search string found several references to Siamese Fighting Fish
in the following newsgroups...
The most references turned up in rec.aquaria.freshwater.misc so
subscribing to this newsgroup would probably be a good source of
information about these little lovelies...
Joining the fray...
There are three possible ways to join the discussion.
A posting is most appropriate when you are raising a new topic. An
example might be a question to the newsgroup about a specific topic. If
you're new to the group you should consider whether this question has
been asked a thousand times before... Because this type of question
will often be totally ignored by thousands of people who figure you
should be able to find the answer somewhere else.... (such as the newsgroup
If you are starting a new topic try to make the subject as descriptive as
possible without making it too long... many newsreaders only display
20-30 characters in the subject.
Following-Up a previous Posting
Follow-ups are the life blood of Usenet News. As with a posting,
a follow-up is addressed to the newsgroup and is circulated to all
sites that carry this newsgroup.
Most newsreaders sort posting by the content of the subject line with
follow-ups to a particular subject becoming a 'thread'.
Tip: Because a discussion might continue for several days/weeks and
include dozens or hundreds of follow-up messages, most newsreaders will
offer you the option of (re)reading all of the messages in a thread or...
will allow you to skip to the "Next Unread" message.
Replying directly/privately to the author
A reply is sent directly to someone who has made a
posting or who has replied to a posting.
Sometimes you might want to answer a question that has been answered a
thousand times already, sometimes you might want to ask about something
that you are unclear on.
Whatever the reason, you can reply directly and privately to another
individual who has posted a message.
From the Usenet faq...
"Usually, it is sufficient to post any article to a single newsgroup; the
one that's most relevant to the subject of your article. If the article
is really relevant to multiple newsgroups, then "cross-post" to the
relevant newsgroups by posting the article only once with all newsgroups
named on the "Newsgroups" header line. For example:
would cause an article to be posted to comp.fish, misc.sheep, and
talk.ketchup simultaneously. (Note: the 'comma' separated list in the
If you are using TIN, please do not use the "crosspost" function to
accomplish this. This is a misleadingly named command that really should
be called "repost."
By posting a single article to all the newsgroups you wish to reach, the
news software is able to transfer a single copy. Furthermore, users with
"smart" newsreaders will see the article only once even if they subscribe to
several of the cross-posted newsgroups. Making separate
postings of your article for each newsgroup you wish to reach tends to
annoy readers rather than emphasize the message content as well as waste
...end extract from the Usenet faq.
If you are new to Usenet news you might keep in mind that:
- thousands of people all over the work will read your words
- a policy of listening before you speak may save you asking an unnecessary question
(and thus displaying your newness... ;-)
- your email address is easily obtainable from Usenet posts and if your
opinions become a lightning rod for other strong opinion on the 'net',
lightning is almost sure to strike
- Usenet operates as a self-policing anarchy and ignoring the 'rules'
of the 'net' can result in a flood of mail that might overload your mailbox
and effectively prevent you from receiving legitimate mail
Most Usenet newsgroups regularly publish a document containing answers to
the frequently asked questions. In some instances these are very detailed
discussions of the topic for which the newsgroup was formed.
There are several Internet sites which maintain copies of Usenet FAQ's
and make them available over the World Wide Web and/or by ftp.
The VTN FAQ [go faq] includes a link to a collection of Usenet
Archives exist of some Usenet newsgroups. These archives can be searched
using one of the Internet Search Engines that specialize in Usenet news.