is an international discussion network that can be accessed via the
Internet. It is composed of thousands of newsgroups that are
divided up into hierarchies by subject.
When accessing newsgroups, you can view or post your
own articles pertaining to the subject of that newsgroup.
It is easy to mistake newsgroup posts for e-mail at first glance.
Most e-mail programs also have newsgroup capabilities, so the difference
between newsgroup articles and e-mail may be hard to see for new users.
The key difference is that Usenet is completely public. While
it is not likely that a third party will view a private e-mail that
you send out to a friend, any posts made to Usenet are sent through
dozens of networks and likely to be viewed by thousands of other people
reading the newsgroup you posted to.
So, newsgroups and e-mail are actually two very separate types of
communication, run over different protocols through different types
of networks. The fact that they tend to look alike at first glance
is merely because software companies tend to bundle newsgroup and
e-mail capabilities for ease of use.
What Do I Need To Access Newsgroups?
You will need software known as a newsreader. You most likely
already have one on your computer. Netscape
and Outlook Express both
bundle newsgroup functions in with their programs. There are also
many programs available for download on the internet such as Forté
Free Agent that are strictly newsreaders, made specifically for
reading newsgroups. Due to the large amount of programs that exist
for the Internet, RPA is only able to offer technical support for
the most commonly used ones: Netscape and Outlook Express. However,
you are free to browse Usenet with whatever program you wish. We have
included instructions and settings at the following links:
Outlook Express 5.0 for Newsgroups
Outlook Express 4.0 for Newsgroups
Netscape Collabra for Newsgroups
you dive in, please take a few minutes to read our Frequently
Asked Questions (FAQ) For Usenet.
This FAQ was compiled to help new users get involved in
the complex entity that is Usenet.