USENET News Groups – Find a wealth of information FAST & FREE

USENET is a worldwide system of discussion groups in which millions of people participate. There are tens of thousands of different Usenet groups, and anyone on the Internet may participate for free.

Buried within those thousands of groups are some real gems whereby folks can ask technical questions on business, marketing, computers, CAD,… and get real answers. USENET is a fast way to get answers to technical subjects and has become an intricate part of my support system.

Usenet was originally designed to carry local news between two universities in North Carolina. For this reason, Usenet groups are often referred to as NEWSGROUPS, even though, today, they are used as public forums for discussions. Similarly, Usenet itself is sometimes referred to as THE NEWS or NETNEWS.

Within each newsgroup, people send messages, called ARTICLES or POSTS, for other to people read. Once an article is sent to a group, anyone in the world may read it. Articles are usually grouped by subjects called threads. Example: if you wanted to know something about AutoCADs ability to make jpg file pictures you could look at autodesk.autocad2004 news group, then look for picture files or jpg…. threads

Some News Groups are moderated, that is they have folks that control what goes into a news group, to make certain it is on topic and not advertising. They may even block posts from misbehaving members. Some, like autodesk.autocad2004 are audited by real technical support folks that provide quality technical support and even correct errorant posts.

Word of caution 1: this is the internet so before believing everything you read, take some time to find out who is who and consider the source before using the information.

Word of caution 2: There is a lots of USENET groups devoted to subject that you nor your family would want to see or be associated with in any way. . In addition, many of these are audited by the FBI, other government agencies and watchdog groups!

Each Usenet group has a unique name. The name consists of two or more parts, separated by periods. For example, here are the names of several groups:





Much of the time, you can guess the purpose of a Usenet group just by looking at its name. For example, news.newusers.questions is for new users to ask questions about Usenet. The group talk.environment is for people to debate topics devoted to the environment, and autodesk.autocad2004 is for design-heads that draw stuff.

Usenet groups are organized into HIERARCHIES. When you look at the name of a group, the first part of the name is the hierarchy. Example, the news hierarchy contains groups in which people discuss Usenet itself. The talk hierarchy is for debate.

There are hundreds of different hierarchies, but only thirteen are of general interest. These are shown in the following table.

The 13 most important Usenet hierarchies





Wide variety of miscellaneous topics




Miscellaneous (from Bitnet mailing lists)


Business, marketing, advertising




Literature, fine arts


Kindergarten through high school




Usenet itself


Recreation, hobbies, arts


Science and technology


Social and cultural issues


Debate, controversial topics



How to access USENET:

There are two ways to access the Usenet newsgroups. You can use a special program called a NEWSREADER, or you can use a Web- based Usenet service. I simply use Outlook Express. It is free and does a nice job. Netscape, Mozilla, and Foxfire use Collabra which is also very good.

You might ask, where are all the Usenet articles stored? The answer is, most ISPs (Internet Service Providers) maintain a Usenet repository for their customers. This repository, called a "news server" or a "news feed", contains all the articles that are currently available. As new articles arrive, they are added to the repository. After a certain amount of time — usually several days — old articles are purged to make room for new ones.

Before you can use your newsreader, you must configure it by telling it the name of the server from which will access the news. Your browser will recognize this as a Usenet group, and will start your newsreader automatically.

There are also several free Web-Based news reader programs. When you use a Web-based Usenet service, all you need is an Internet connection and a regular Web browser. This makes accessing Usenet simple, especially if you are an AOL or WebTV user.

Here are some Web-based services for you to try:


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