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Fuse Dial-Up Internet: Newsgroups

What is a newsgroup?

A newsgroup is an electronic forum on the Internet for the exchange of ideas on a specified topic an electronic bulletin board of sorts. Think of newsgroups as round-table discussions of people sharing common interests like gardening, herbal medicine, for sale information, recipes, etc.

A newsgroup operates like a public bulletin board. You post messages (via email) to a specific newsgroup, and the messages listed for anyone interested in reading them. The readers of the newsgroup respond to your original message by posting their own comments. You access the information on your own and decide which messages are worthwhile reading.

More than 21,800 newsgroups exist today, involving millions of people from around the globe. Fuse carries a full newsfeed (i.e., information updates) of all core USENET newsgroups for you to explore.

For a complete explanation of how the main newsgroup categories are organized, see the article by Gene Spafford and David Lawrence at the end of this section entitled "Topic Classifications for USENET Newsgroups."

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What is the newsgroup server name?

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What software can I use to access newsgroups?

Windows: Outlook Express, Mozilla Thunderbird

Mac: Unison

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So why are they called USENET newsgroups?

In 1979, graduate students from several universities throughout the U.S. developed a system for linking computers together through modems and phone lines to share news and information. Over time, this experimental electronic bulletin board system evolved into USENET. Today, USENET refers to the entire community of users who exchange articles and information under various newsgroup names. It is not an organization or a computer network with any kind of central management. And no one person or group manages USENET. However, each site that carries USENET newsgroups has a Systems Administrator who is responsible for operating the news reader for that specific location. You can reach the Fuse newsgroup administrator by e-mailing

Before you start accessing any newsgroups, please read's Newsgroup Policy. This document outlines some of the "do's and don'ts" of participating in newsgroups. It discusses what constitutes inappropriate use of the Internet and violation of USENET netiquette (proper newsgroup behavior).

For more information about USENET and newsgroup etiquette, please check out the newsgroup "news.announce.newusers", which gives you essential guidelines to know before you post messages or try to create your own newsgroup.

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Topic Classifications for USENET Newsgroups

This article describing how the core USENET newsgroups are organized was originally written by Gene Spafford (and edited until 5/93), most recently updated by David Lawrence and taken from the newsgroup "news.lists."

The following is a list of the currently active core USENET newsgroup hierarchies. This list does not include the gatewayed Internet newsgroups. The groups distributed worldwide are divided into eight broad classifications:

  • "comp"
    Topics of interest to both computer professionals and hobbyists, including topics in computer science, software sources and information on hardware and software systems.
  • "humanities"
    Professional and amateur topics in the arts & humanities.
  • "misc"
    Groups that address themes not easily classified under any of the other headings or that incorporate themes from multiple categories.
  • "news"
    Groups concerned with the USENET news network and software.
  • "rec"
    Groups oriented towards the arts, hobbies and recreational activities.
  • "sci"
    Discussions marked by special and usually practical knowledge relating to research in or application of the established sciences.
  • "soc"
    Groups primarily addressing social issues and socializing.
  • "talk"
    Groups largely debate-oriented and tending to feature long discussions without resolution and without appreciable amounts of generally useful information.
These "world" newsgroups are (usually) circulated around the entire USENET -- this implies worldwide distribution. Not all groups actually enjoy such wide distribution, however. Some sites take only a selected subset of the more "technical" groups, and controversial "noise" groups are often not carried by many sites (these groups are often under the "talk" and "soc" classifications). Many sites do not carry some or all of the comp.binaries groups.

There are groups in other subcategories, but they are local to institutions, to geographic regions, etc., and they are not listed here. Note that these distribution categories can be used to restrict the propagation of news articles. Currently, distributions include:

  • world -- worldwide distribution (default)
  • can -- limited (mostly) to Canada
  • eunet -- limited (mostly) to European sites in EUNet
  • na -- limited (mostly) to North America
  • usa -- limited (mostly) to the United States
There may be other regional and local distribution categories available at your site. Most U.S. states have distribution categories named after the two-letter abbreviation for that state or category (e.g., "ga" for Georgia, "nj" for New Jersey). Please use an appropriate distribution category if your article is not likely to be of interest to USENET readers worldwide.

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