Note: The Optus Newsgroup service will be closing down on 21/11/11


What are Newsgroups?

Newsgroups are similar to community bulletin boards. You can post a message, reply to messages or just read them. There are thousands of Newsgroups and each has their own rules and topics. A single topic could attract hundreds or even thousands of participants. Newsgroups provide the ability to discuss and share information such as text, movies, software, mp3, videos, games and more. Newsgroups are part of the Internet community bulletin board system known as "Usenet".

Newsgroup History

In 1979 university students from North Carolina networked several computers between campuses and wrote software that was used to distribute information. Their efforts created the first Newsgroups, called Usenet.

The program first designed to read and serve news was called 'A' News. As the popularity of the service and demand for increased functionality grew 'A' News was replaced in 1981 with 'B' News, then again in 1987 with 'C' News. Today there is a wide variety of software solutions. Outlook Express is a common email program that provides a newsreader solution.

How Do Newsgroups Work?

Usenet utilises Network News Transport Protocol (NNTP) as the digital vehicle used to deliver news messages. There are two variants of NNTP: One handles the communication between adjacent servers, the other manages communication between a client and a server.

NNTP commonly use a flooding algorithm that is designed to distribute copies of each message across the entire connected network. The message is passed from one server to the next until a copy is stored and made available on each server. Servers can be set to update periodically, however many servers update messages continuously by providing a constant connection to other Usenet servers.

The Big Eight

The Usenet originally provided eight main categories.

  • comp (computers)
  • humanities (arts and culture)
  • misc (miscellaneous)
  • news (news and current events)
  • rec (recreational)
  • sci (science)
  • soc (social)
  • talk (general discussion)

Today Usenet contains thousands of categories.

Newsgroup Techno Translator

Feed or Newsfeed: The process of sending a single newsgroup and its messages from one server to another server or to a subscriber.

Moderated: When a person or persons monitor a newsgroup. Moderators might check messages before they are posted and may reject messages that are inappropriate.

Network News Transfer Protocol (NNTP): The digital vehicle used to deliver news messages.

News server: A computer that delivers and retains Newsgroups and their messages.

Newsreader: The software used to read posts in a Newsgroup, such as Outlook Express.

Posting: Placing a message in a newsgroup.

Posts: The messages found in a newsgroup.

Thread: A post and the cascade of messages replying to it.

Unmoderated: When posting a message is immediately published into the newsgroup.

Usenet: The main exchange and listing of newsgroups.