Usenet Access Guide
------------------------- Usenet_Access.txt ---------------------------- 
                     Usenet Access Guide  
Author: Uzi Paz
For e-mail contact: user is uzi4wg and domain is
This version: 12 Apr 1999 
First version was: 25 Apr 1996
Comments, both on content and on English, and more questions of a 
general type, are welcomed by the author. 
Q.1: What is the purpose of this document? What is the reason for 
  writing this article? 
A.1: Historically, it was developed from answers that I gave to 
  questions appearing on CRUISE-L Listserv list. There was a moment when 
  I realized that I can gather all my answers together and keep a 
  single file that I can send whenever someone asks about Usenet access. 
  My "biggest mistake" was to make it in the Q & A format. In this 
  format, it looked very poor and incomplete, so I had to add more Q's & 
  A's, and finally it became a FAQ document. 
  The purpose of this document is: 
    1. To explain various ways to gain access to the Usenet, and the 
       advantages each of them has. 
    2. To unveil the mystery behind Usenet. 
  If you need information of a more general nature related to Usenet, or 
  if you never saw a Usenet message in your life, you may look at the 
  general references on A.32 . 
Q.2: How to get a copy of this article? 
A.2: An updated copy of this article can be found in the following 
  locations: (compressed) 
  ("ftp://" types of URLs can be also accessed by anonymous ftp using 
  ftp software). 
  (The address above at CRL, will probably be openned only for the next 
  few months). (compressed) (HTML) (compressed) 
  Autoresponder: sending an empty message to 
                 sending an empty message to 
  There is also a translation to Italian on: (might not 
  always be updated). 
  If you want to be notified whenever a new version is published 
  send a message to , with "subscribe" 
  (without the quotes) as the SUBJECT of the message. 
  The notifications will be accompanied with a short 
  description of the changes. 
  If you want to be removed from that list, send an equivalent message, 
  but with "unsubscribe" (without the quotes) instead of "subscribe". 
  If you want to know what is the newest version of this article and a 
  short historical list of updates, you may find it in 
  If you have any problems with any of the above, you may send me a 
  private message to the my address mentioned in the title of this document . 
  If you put a copy of this file on a site with public access (such as 
  your homepage or an anonymous ftp site) please let me know so I would 
  update the answer to this question, and send you updates regularly. 
Q.3: What is Usenet? 
A.3:  Usenet (Unix USErs' NETwork) [C.1] is a board for public network 
  messages.  The messages are sent by people who have posting access to 
  Usenet, and they are divided into different groups (called newsgroups) 
  by some hierarchy, according to their subject, [C.2]. 
  The messages themselves are sometimes, loosely called `news messages'. 
  For example: comp.mail.elm is a newsgroup which contains messages 
  related to a mail program called Elm. It is part of the `comp' 
  (computation) hierarchy. is a newsgroup dedicated 
  to transmission of binaries (programs in this case) for IBM PC, and as 
  you can guess, is part of the same `comp' hierarchy. is dedicated for discussions on those binaries; is a newsgroup dedicated to messages related to 
  alternative music, and as you already guessed is part of the `rec' 
  (recreation) hierarchy,  [C.3]. 
  Each message looks quite like a regular e-mail message, (small 
  differences in the header). 
  Formally, the Usenet is a network, different from the Internet. 
  It is called a logical network as it has a structure but physically 
  its data is propagated from one location to another via various 
  different networks, such as the Internet, BBSs and others. 
  Practically, the Internet adopted Usenet, and browsing Usenet news is 
  made within the Internet via Internet protocols, (see A.13 and A.14). 
  Still, one may have access to Usenet without having access to the 
  The Usenet does not belong to anyone. 
  For more general information on Usenet, see A.32. 
Comments on A.3: 
C.1: A comment about the name `Usenet': In the beginning, Unix users 
     organized as a group and called themselves Usenix, 
     ( They publicized their network and called 
     it Usenet. Hence, I believe that Usenet just comes for "USEnix 
C.2: You may find information on the more popular hierarchies on: 
C.3: I would recommend you to spend some time browsing the list of 
     newsgroups' names with descriptions, in order to have a feeling on 
     what exists on Usenet, and the standards of newsgroups' naming. 
     In order to know how to do it, you may see A.5. 
Q.4: What is NetNews? 
A.4: Netnews (Network News) is a less common, older synonym for Usenet. 
Q.5: How many newsgroups exist? Where are they listed? 
A.5: Nobody knows exactly, and the number is changed daily. (In fact 
  it grows exponentially).  There are many newsgroups which are local to 
  specific institutes, networks, or areas and do not propagate outside. 
  over 500 hierarchies exist on Usenet ! Most of them are local [C.1]. 
  It was estimated [C.2] that the number of newsgroups doubles itself 
  every year and a half. Hobbes Internet Timeline (HIT) presents tables 
  which show the Usenet growth both in number of servers, in number of 
  newsgroups and in amount of data flows. It agrees very roughly with 
  the above mentioned estimation.  See the last few paragraphs on A.32 
  for locations of HIT. 
  In order to clarify the situation: 
  the newsgroups are divided into two categories: 
  1) "official" newsgroups, usually referred as belonging to "the big 
  eight" hierarchies: comp, humanities, misc, news, rec, sci, soc, talk. 
  Originally Usenet was planned to include only this category. In order 
  to open a new group, one has to make some procedure, which 
  includes a discussion on Usenet and a voting procedure. 
  The number of newsgroups in this category is well known, and on 
  13 Feb 1998 there were 2241 newsgroups in this category. Until 
  Dec 1996, Every two months or so, the moderator of 
  news.announce.newgroups posted an updated list of these newsgroups to 
  news.answers, news.groups, news.announce.newgroups, and 
  news.lists.misc newsgroups, but since Dec 1996 this periodic 
  posting was discontinued, and if you wish to receive the list of 
  newsgroups in the big-eight hierarchies you must extract it from the 
  more general list on 
  You may compile it from the "newsgroups" file on that direcory. 
  The last periodic announcement was in three parts, and they can be 
  received from RTFM server, either via e-mail by sending a message to with only a single line as the body of your 
  send usenet/news.answers/active-newsgroups/* 
  or via anonymous ftp from at directory: 
  files: part1, part2, part3 . 
  2) alternative, local, and regional hierarchies. As Usenet is a world 
  without police, it was only a matter of time until people ignored 
  the rules for placing a new newsgroup, and put their new newsgroups on 
  Usenet, skipping the discussion period, and the voting. This 
  was the origin of the alt hierarchy, the biggest and most anarchic 
  hierarchy on Usenet. Many institutes/organizations put new newsgroups 
  in order to serve some local/regional needs, some of those hierarchies 
  have rules for opening new newsgroups, in some of those hierarchies, 
  there is a "dictature" of some institution which decides which 
  newsgroup to accept, while in others, in order to open a new newsgroup 
  one has to make a procedure equivalent to the one of the "eight big 
  Nobody knows how many such newsgroups exist. Some sites hold more than 
  80,000 newsgroups. Some of them are very popular, most of them are 
  You may find a very comprehensive list of newsgroups (from both 
  categories on Tile. 
  You may visit Tile in . It is a very good 
  place to learn what newsgroups exist, what is the purpose of each 
  newsgroup, and other statistics about each newsgroup. 
  Another option is the Liszt service, which will find for you a proper 
  newsgroup according to keywords that you provide it. In order to use 
  Liszt either enter or send an empty message to for receiving a help file on the usage of Liszt 
  via e-mail. 
  Another search engine: 
  can be used with keywords directly e.g. for a single keyword "audio": 
  or for newsgroups containing more than one keyword, sperate the keywords by a 
  "+" sign, e.g. for "audio", and "broadcast" use: 
  Dejanews also offer such a service: 
  Another very nice list is the CyberFiber list on: 
  A single file which lists all newsgroups which are supported by UUNET 
  can be found on: 
  There are too many other lists to be mentioned here. 
  A list of other places where newsgroups are listed can be found on: which is mirrored to
Comments on A.5: 
C.1: An impressive list of newsgroups' hierarchies is the "Master List" 
     by L.S. Eisen. You may find it either by ftp: , or in HTML: , or via e-mail: 
     by sending a message to with SUBJECT: 
     "Send Master" (without the quotes). 
C.2: Source is from "Mining for Gold on the Usenet highway (1996)" course 
     by Spectrum Universal (, another place where this 
     estimation appears is 
     which can also be found in a GZIP compressed format:
Q.6: How many messages per day are posted to a typical newsgroup? 
A.6: There is no such a thing as `typical newsgroup'. Some newsgroups 
  are practically dead and rarely receive messages. Other may have from 
  few messages per day, to hundreds (!) of new messages each day. 
  As in the former question, you may find statistics on every newsgroup 
Q.7: What do I need in order to have access to Usenet? 
A.7: In order to gain access to Usenet you need three things: 
  1) A source of Usenet news, i.e. a computer that holds the news (i.e. 
  the data) and on which you have permission to read/browse/receive news 
  from it. Such a computer is called "news-server" (even if the computer 
  has other purposes as well). 
  2) A news program, (i.e. a program which you can use in order to 
  read news).  Such a program is usually called a `news-reader', and 
  also sometimes `news-browser'. Some news-servers allow you to gain 
  access to Usenet via "ordinary programs" such as e-mail programs. 
  (In the more technical jargon "Some news-servers allows you to gain 
  access to Usenet via protocols different than NNTP, such as SMTP etc.) 
  If you did not understand the technical jargon, return to it after 
  There are many programs which offer a combination of e-mail and Usenet 
  e.g. PINE (, and Agent 
  (  Web-browsers usually also 
  offer Usenet Access (See A.21) 
  3) A connection between the news-server and your computer. 
  This may be an Internet connection (i.e. TCP/IP connection), but 
  other connections or networks can do as well. On the Internet, the 
  connection usually is the same as the regular telnet connection, (in 
  fact, you can use telnet in order to receive the news). 
  On other networks, you may still have access to Usenet, but the level 
  and the type of connection is highly dependent on your specific 
  connections, ////comments are welcomed here////. 
Q.8: I thought that my Internet Service Provider should provide me 
  access to Usenet. 
A.8: Most of the ISPs (Internet Service Provider) do offer a local news 
  server, and you should ask them to give you the name of the server. 
  There is a common convention that the name would be similar to the 
  ISP's other servers' names, but with "news." or "nntp." as a prefix, 
  ("news." is more common). For example, if your ISP's main WWW site is, you may try to guess and check, if is the name, (the name serves as the address of 
  the news server, so that the news reading software will able to 
  identify it in order to connect it. 
  However, many ISPs do not offer access to a news server, and there are 
  many reasons why people might be unhappy with the news access they get 
  from their Internet access provider, and want to use news-servers, 
  different from the default of the provider. 
Comments on A.8: 
* There will usually be one advantage of your Internet Service 

  Provider's default news-server upon others. It is usually much faster. 
Q.9: I have an access to Usenet but I found that there are groups that 
  I don't have access to. 
A.9: None of the news-servers is subscribed to all newsgroups, i.e. 
  each of them holds only part of the newsgroups. One of the differences 
  between different news-servers, is the list of the newsgroups they 
  hold. Later on, we'll see more differences between different 
  news-servers (in fact when we said in A.8 "unhappy with the news 
  access" we meant to these differences). 
Q.10: How long are messages kept on the news-server? (i.e. until I 
  cannot read them with my news-reader). Can I retrieve them after 
  that period? I found that some news-articles reside much longer than 
A.10: This is another property in which news-servers differ. One 
  news-server will hold messages sent to some newsgroup for two weeks; 
  another one will hold them only for two days. About one giga-bytes 
  of new data is added to Usenet every day! (estimated on January 1998) 
  It is almost impossible to hold messages of many newsgroups for long 
  periods.  The amount of time that a news-server will hold a message 
  until it will be deleted can be different for different newsgroups. 
  The news administrator (the person who is in charge for the 
  news-server) can set different times for different newsgroups. After 
  that, they are deleted. 
  There is a special field in the header (i.e. a special line in the 
  first few lines of the news articles; among the "Subject:", "Date:", 
  and other fields), which allows the sender to request a different 
  expiration date for that news article. It is called "Expires:" and 
  is useful for important messages, such as FAQ files, or messages from 
  the moderator, to stay longer on the newsgroup. A news administrator 
  may set the news-server to bypass these expiration dates if longer 
  than the preset expiration date for news on that newsgroup. The 
  moderator may also reset expiration dates for his newsgroup. 
  If you missed a post by few days you may try to connect to a different 
  news-server. You may also send to the newsgroup a request to repost 
  the message to you (for example, to your personal e-mail), but the 
  best thing is to use DejaNews (see A.29) 
Q.11: I'm subscribed to some newsgroup. There are messages, 
  which were sent to this newsgroup that I don't receive. 
A.11: In order to fully understand this answer, return to it after 
  reading A.13, and A.14 
  There are many reasons for this. For example, if a message has in its 
  header, a field "Distribution:" and it is not set to: "world", then 
  the distribution of the message is restricted by its author. The 
  Distribution field tells the servers to forward the message only to 
  servers which are part of the distribution. However, the whole set of 
  valid values for the distribution field, is not well standartized, 
  and many news servers ignore it, and distribute it even outside the 
  region for which it has been restricted to. 
  Another option is that the newsgroup is moderated and the message was 
  sent, but not (/yet) released by the moderator. 
  In fact, if the author crossposted the message to several newsroups, 
  (see A.16 for the notion of "crossposting"), and some of them are 
  moderated, the messages may not appear in any of the newsroups until 
  the moderator who received the message will release it for 
  publication (in order to understand the above, you should read A.14) 
  It is not, however, rare that your news-server will not receive news, 
  which had to be there: 
  unlike ordinary e-mail which has a specific destination, and there is 
  some mechanism that checks that it will reach its destination one way 
  or the other, for news messages, there is no trace whether they 
  reached your local news-server or not, and it is the responsibility 
  of your news-server to load all news. 
    It is enough in many cases that the message will not be routed in one    of the links in the chain from the news server of the person who    posted the message to the news server you are using, to result, in    message does not reach to you.      Many reasons may cause this: First, a slow connection. If it takes    more than 500ms for your news-server to respond to a call by the    master news server (See A.14) then 24 hours per day would not be    sufficient for receiving the (say) 150,000 new messages arriving each    day to the master server, [C.1]. Access to hard-disk may slow this    access to more than 500ms per news article. Many servers are set to    keep news so as to use as much of their storage as they can. If    however, the storage limits are reached, they won't be able to receive    new messages beyond that limit, and messages will be lost. These are    just examples.  As I said before, there is a chance that your    connections are fine, but the news-server that feeds you, does not    receive all news. A solution to this is to be fed by more than a    single master server.      Comments on A.11:  C.1: If you noticed that 500ms times 150,000 is less than 24 hours, it's       not a mistake: for any news article there are two calls: one       for the header of the article and another for the body.  ----    Q.12: I received a reply to some message, but only few days later I    received the original message being replied.    A.12: Different messages travel in different paths to different    news-servers. If you receive the reply of Mr. B to a message of Mr. A    before you receive the message of Mr. A, it means that it took less    time for message A to go to Mr. B's news-server and then for Mr. B's    message to go to your news-server, than it took  for Mr. A's message    to go to your news-server. Sometimes it takes few days and even weeks    for a message to find its way to your news-server. It may happen     (although rarely) that you'll receive the original message only    after the reply to it was deleted.  ----    Q.13: How does the news-reader communicate with the news-server?    A.13: There are two cases; if the news-server is the same computer as    the one that you use, then a direct reading of news is in order.    Usually, the news-server would be another computer.    within the internet the communication is held via the same connections    used for telnet (i.e. via TCP/IP).    The language which is used is called NNTP (Network News Transfer    Protocol). NNTP has commands like `LIST', `GROUP', `HEAD', `NEXT',    `QUIT', etc. The news-reader knows it is talking in NNTP language    because it initiates the talk. In order to let the news-server know    that it should interpret the input as NNTP commands, there is a    special port on the computer which serves as the news-server.    Everything that is sent to that port is interpreted as NNTP commands.    The standard port for NNTP is port 119 (Many computers serve both as    news-servers, mail-servers, ftp-servers, WWW-servers etc., for each    such an application there is a port for incoming requests, e.g. the    port for HTTP is 80, for GOPHER it is 70, for FTP 21 (commands)    combined with 20 (data), for SMTP (= e-mail) it is 25 etc.).    You may now begin to communicate with your news-server manually: say    if you know that is a news-server that permit browsing    from your machine, you may just type:    `telnet 119'    as a result the computer will enter a listening mode.    If you'll type `LIST' the server will respond in listing all the    active newsgroups it supports. You may use all other commands, and in    the end type `QUIT' to quit.    The news-reader does the same thing automatically.  Of course not    every one is allowed to "talk NNTP" with any news-server. Every server    has a list of other news-servers and clients permitted for    communication, (by `clients' we mean sites where simple users are    permitted to browse).    Comments on A.13:  *  Recently, there are efforts to make the Internet more secure.     There is an extension to the internet protocol called SSL (Secure     Sockets Layer). At the moment SSL is not yet a standard, although     Netscape have aleady adopted it. The extension of NNTP for use over     SSL is called SNEWS (Secure News) (although the name NNTPS is also     mentioned from time to time). The port for SNEWS (or NNTPS) is     563 (instead of 119). The snews protocol should not be confused     with the snews (Simple News) news-reader program.  ----    Q.14: How do the news messages travel ?    A.14: Within the Internet, the news are traveling from one news-server    to another via the same NNT-Protocol. Each news-server initiates    connection periodically with another news-server(s) (one or more) and    receive/post updates from the remote news-server. The computer which    initiates the connection is called slave-news-server, the other one is    called master, (master news-server). There is a way (i.e. NNTP    command) to tell the news-server which news are already on the slave    server so the master wouldn't send them again. The update period is    set by the slave server. Remember that news-servers do not keep news    for long periods, so that if the period would be too long, the master    news-server will delete some of the news before the slave server    received them.  Usually, the update period is faster.    When a news-server receives a message, it delivers it to all its    neighbours.  Special attention is made so no loops are generated.    If you send a message to a moderated newsgroup, the news program will    post the message to the moderator of the newsgroup, instead of    delivering it to its neighbours. Only after the approval of the    moderator, it will start to propagate to the news-servers.    For more information related to moderated newsgroups, see: 
  The proper way to send a message to more than one newsgroup, is by 
  crossposting. Crossposting and the way news-servers deal with it, are 
  described in A.16 . 
  A comment should be added here: NNTP is the standard for Internet, but 
  older methods such as UUCP (Unix to Unix CoPy) are still around. 
  Unlike NNTP which is an Internet protocol, UUCP is a batch command, 
  originally, a Unix command (in fact a part of a package of commands), 
  which allows you to copy files and directories from one machine to 
  another using their serial ports either directly or via modems.  It is 
  mainly used off the internet, though. 
  There is a universal network originally called UUCPNET, and 
  now called UUNET which uses UUCP by a store and forward mechanism 
  along its connections to deliver news-messages.  Today this network is 
  connected to the Internet. Historically, UUNET was the first 
  commercial network on which Usenet news traveled, in their early days. 
  (see for more info). 
Comments on A.14: 
*    You'll find in some of the literature that the "CP" of UUCP comes 
     for "CoPy", other literature says "Copy Program", and other 
     literature says: "Copy Protocol". Although the last option sounds 
     very "logical" I chose to believe the first one, as it has the 
     standards of commands' naming on Unix. 
*    Advantages and disadvantages of UUCP over NNTP: 
     NNTP ask for list of already existing articles on the slave 
     news-server, and only the new ones are sent. UUCP just copy the 
     whole database from the master news-server to the slave news- 
     server. It seems that using NNTP is much faster than using UUCP, 
     but in many cases UUCP is much faster: The complex conversation 
     that the two servers do for each news article when using NNTP, 
     doesn't lead to efficiency, while the huge files submitted using 
     UUCP are simpler, and allow a very efficient compression, (in many 
Q.15: I want to enter deeper into the NNTP protocol and to the logical 
  structure of Usenet, (i.e. message delivery in Usenet). 
A.15: The place for the more technical information about Usenet 
  structure and NNTP is the relevant RFC's (RFC = Request For Comments). 
  The RFC files are the standard tools for system maintainers. 
  NNTP is described in RFC977. The Usenet structure and the meaning of 
  each of the fields in the header of a news article, is described in 
  RFC1036.  You may find those files either in in 
  a compressed format, or in either a gzipped format or in a plain 
  format from
  In HTML format and an RFC search engine can be found on:
  You may also retrieve those files from:
  An old draft version of the RFC which was meant to replace RFC1036 can 
  be found in a compressed format on (in the same directory 
  you'll find also a version in a PostScript format). An html version 
  of this file can be found on: 
  In the lack of update to the old rfc1036, the son-of-rfc1036 is 
  considered by many, as a valid companion to rfc1036. 
  There are many works done at the moment on the Usenet standards: 
  The IETF group for working on NNTP extensions is NNTPEXT, 
  Another IETF group: USEFOR is now working on a document which will 
  replace the old rfc1036. See for more info. 
  ( for archives). 
  Yet another IETF group (IETF-NNTP) works on replacing rfc977 (see:  and
  Another group (MailNews-L) is working on harmonizing E-Mail and 
  (archives on:
Q.16: How can I send a single message to a few newsgroups? Also, I 
  replied to a message in rec.humor with a silly joke of my own, and got 
  complains from readers of comp.periphs that my message was improper in 
  their newsgroup. 
A.16 The header of a message to Usenet contains a header-field called: 
  `Newsgroups:'. For example when you send a message to comp.periphs 
  your news-message will have the header-field: 
  `Newsgroups: comp.periphs'. 
  Sometimes there is more than one newsgroup which is proper for your 
  message.  For example, if you want to make a joke on some new 
  peripherials to be added to the computer in the 21th century, you may 
  wish to send it both to comp.periphs, and to rec.humor . The proper 
  way to do it, is not by sending a copy to each of the newsgroups, but 
  rather to `crosspost' it to both newsgroups. This is to be done by 
  changing the `Newsgroups:' header to: 
  `Newsgroups: comp.periphs,rec.humor'. In this way a SINGLE COPY of 
  your message is submitted, but it will be indexed in both newsgroups, 
  so readers of any of these newsgroups will see your message as if it 
  was sent to that newsgroup. Furthermore, on some newsreaders, if one 
  has read your message on one of these newsgroups and marked the 
  message as `read', it will be marked as read in both newsgroups saving 
  him from reading the message again, when accessing the other 
  newsgroup.  Notice that there are no blanks between the list of the 
  newsgroups - Blanks are not allowed, (so for example: 
  "Newsgroups: comp.periph, rec.humor" is erroneous. 
  There is however one point to be aware of. If someone will read your 
  joke on rec.humor he might reply with a joke of his own, on `dogs in 
  the 21th ct.'.  Why not? It is a proper topic for rec.humor. But the 
  poor guy didn't noticed that his reply will also be crossposted to 
  comp.periphs, and flames are already on their way. You could save this 
  guy the trouble, by setting another header-field: 
  `Followup-To: rec.humor' which will automaticaly set `Newsgroups:' 
  header of the replies, to rec.humor, even for people who replied to 
  your message at comp.periphs . 
  More on this topic, and other topics related to filtering of 
  news-messages, can be found in a book named: "Tricks of the Internet 
  Gurus" published by SAMS in 1994. This book can be viewed online on: after registration to their Personal BookShelf. 
  The fact that when crossposting, only a single copy is distributed, 
  has a special meaning when you submit your message to newsgroups, and 
  one of them is moderated. In such a case, the message will be sent by 
  e-mail to the moderator, and will not appear in any of the newsgroups 
  until the moderator will release it. The moderator can release it 
  only for the newsgroups which are not moderated by him/her, and 
  hopefully, the moderators are responssible enough, not to moderate 
  other newsgroups. An even more problematic case, is when one 
  crossposts a message to more than one moderated newsgroup. In such a 
  case, the message will be sent to only one moderator. If the moderator 
  approves it, it will cause the message to appear in all other 
  newsgroups as well (including other moderated newsgroups). 
  On the other hand, if you post a message to two mailing lists which are 
  gatewayed to Usenet, each of them will forward the message 
  independently to Usenet, and instead of having one copy with two 
  newsgroups listed, there will be two messages with the same message-id 
  (message identification header field which is supposed to be unique 
  for each message), but each of them would have its own single value 
  for the "Newsgroups:" header field. In such a case many news-servers 
  will reject the second copy as they identify that they already have 
  the message, and hence the message would appear only in one of the 
Q.17: Where can I find a news-server which I will be permitted to 
A.17: James W. Abendschan is maintaining an updated list of news-servers 
  that give free access permission [C.1]. The service is called NewzBot 
  and you may find it on: 
  This service allows you also to search for NNTP servers which carry 
  a specific newsgroup. It also provides a PERL source for the program 
  that is used for producing the list. The service no longer provides an 
  option to post messages to newsgroups. 
  A program equivalent to the one that Abendschan runs, is called 
  NewsHunt, [c.2]. It's free and can be found on 
  It runs under Windows-95 (or above) or under NT-Windows with Winsock. 
  Another one who provides a service equivalent to Abendschan's is 
  Michael Voigt. See: 
  You may also try one of those: 
  * (I 
    suspect that it is obsolete, but give it anyway) 
  You may find other sites on: 
  (treat the two above lines as a single URL without blanks, as if they 
  were on a single line). 
  See also which 
  also provides a list of commercial Usenet providers. 
  Another site which deals with the topic is 
  There is a mailing list dedicated to informing about public/free news 
  servers, called Radiohead69 .  In order to subscribe to that mailing 
  list, send an empty message to:
  You can also read its archives online on: 
Comments on A.17: 
C.1: I highly recommend you to first read the notes and FAQ on 
     Abendschan's list of news-servers, before using the list. 
C.2: Run it at your own risk. I didn't check it, and I don't know 
     anything about its source. 
*    Public NNTP/Usenet servers tend to be closed shortly after they are 
     discovered by many people, Don't trust an old list of Open NNTP 
Q.18: Can I use a Web-browser as a news-reader? 
A.18: Usually, the answer is YES. 
  You are already familiar with URLs of the type: 
  1) http://site.address/ 
  or with 
  2) ftp://site.address/ . 
  There are two more types of URL's [C.1]: 
  4) nntp://news.server/ . 
  (Notice the two backslashes are missing in URLs of type 3). 
  First we should discuss URL's of type 3. Notice that there is no 
  reference to a news-server. URL of type 3 will browse news only from 
  the default news-server [C.2]. So how do you define the default news-server? 
  There are three possibilities: 
  The first one is to set the default news-server by setting a proper 
  variable before running the news-reader/Web-browser. For example if 
  you are on Unix machine and want to access the newsgroup using the news server: (Just for 
  example; you should of-course use a news-server with right access 
  permissions) then, you may set the environment variable NNTPSERVER by 
  typing (without the quotes): `setenv NNTPSERVER' 
  and then enter your Web-browser and jump to URL: . 
  You may also type: news:* in order to receive a list of newsgroups 
  supported by this news-server with links to the newsgroups. 
  In some Unix machines which work in older shells such as ksh, 
  bash, zsh, etc. `setenv NNTPSERVER' won't work and you 
  should replace it with `; export NNTPSERVER'. 
  On IBM-PC you may set this environment variable by adding the 
  following line: 
  to your config.sys file. This, however is not supported by many 
  news-reading software. 
  I do not know what are the equivalents to this method for other 
  machines (such as Mac).   ////comments are welcomed here//// 
  Usually this option will work, but not always (depends on the specific 
  parameters given either at the configuration file (which defines the 
  defaults), or at the system configuration at the time of compilation. 
  So we come to the second option: changing the default parameters in 
  the setup file; most of the Web-browsers have a file which holds many 
  setup and preference parameters. For example lynx, the most popular 
  text-only Web-browser, has a setup file called .lynxrc which has a 
  parameter for default news-server. Set this parameter and everything 
  will work. 
  In many Web-browsers (e.g. Netscape, MSIE) you may change this 
  setup from the browser by clicking on the `Options', `Preferences', 
  `Setup', or `Configuration' menu. 
  For some shell accounts [C.4], your Internet system provider sets the 
  default news-server before compiling the Web-browser in a manner that 
  does not allow using a different news-server. If this is the case then 
  you cannot use type 3 URL in order to browse from a different 
  NNTP type URL allows you to browse directly from a different 
  news-server. For the above example you may type: 
  and you'll receive the list of news of this newsgroup held in this 
  news-server (with links). You may also just type: 
  nntp:// to receive the list of newsgroups supported by 
  this news-server, with a link to each of them. 
  In some systems, the system programmer configured the Web-browser so 
  that it won't respect the nntp:// type of URL. 
  The structure of a URL of a specific news message is: 
  news:messege-id , or nntp://news-server/message-id 
  where the message-id of the news message should be substituted for 
  "message-id" [C.3]. If you know a message-id for some message, but 
  your default news-server does not hold it anymore, you may use 
  Dejanews to receive the message on
  This is mainly good for people who are accessing the Internet by 
  e-mail, as it sometimes happens that by the time passed since they 
  receive a list of news-messages until they request them, some of them 
  might already be removed. The format for the direct URL of a document 
  via Dejanews if you know the message-id, is 
  where you should put the message-id instead of "mes-id".  
Comments on A.18: 
C.1  The URL of the Secure news (see comment to A.13) as adopted by 
     Netscape is snews://news-server/newsgroup . It is not mentioned 
     here, since it is not accepted as a standard yet. 
     The more standard URL for secure news should be 
     because "snews:" is the secured extension to "news:", and "nntps:" 
     is the secured extension to "nntp:". See also next comment. 
C.2  In fact more and more browsers support the structure: 
     news://news-server/newsgroup , which has a meaning identical to  
     nntp://news-server/newsgroup , but formally it is non-standard.  
C.3  Any e-mail and news message has a specific header field which is 
     called: "Message-Id:", each message has to have a unique value for 
     the message-id. 
C.4  I use the term "shell account" here, adopting it from the Unix 
     world, and generalizing it to any account on a machine which 
     provides multiuser accounts, usually connected permanently to the 
     Internet.  This generalization although formally incorrect, is a 
     common one. 
*    tin is very useful if you're not using a slow news-server. When 
     initialized, tin loads up lot's of data, of which most of it may 
     not be necessary for you. On a slow connection it may take a lot of 
     time.  I don't know about rn and nn in this respect. Web-browsers, 
     would do much better on slow news-servers. 
Q.19: Where can I find a nice news-reader for my computer? 
A.19: There are lot's of news-readers free (either public-domain or 
  freeware) retrievable via anonymous ftp. If you know which news-reader 
  you prefer, then you can use Archie in order to find a location where 
  you can download it. If not, you may use ask for help in the relevant 
  newsgroup such as . 
  Tucows ( is a great place to locate Internet 
  related software, and has a specific section on IRC clients, with 
  grades, info, links to the software at a local mirror, and links to 
  the web pages for the products. It is a much recommended starting 
  point to look for a software for your type.  
  Another option is to use the services of by entering 
  putting news as a first word and reader as a second word with `and' 
  option and choosing a category from MS-Windows(all), Macintosh, DOS, 
  OS2, UNIX, etc. 
  A third option is to use which provides a 
  metadirectory for software, and has a section on Internet related 
  programs and a subsection for news readers. 
  A fourth option is to use Slaughterhouse: 
  News Utils : 
  As for Unix, I use a program which is called tin, and I highly 
  recommend it. Other popular programs are trn and nn. A very popular 
  news-reader for PCs is the FreeAgent (or its commercial version: 
  Agent), which is mentioned on A.21 . 
  Well, if at this stage you still do not have a Usenet access, you may 
  use e-mail in order to advice group or Archie 
  facility (See A.24).  When sending a question to a newsgroup via 
  e-mail you may ask to reply to your personal e-mail address. 

Comments on A.19: 
*    If you don't know what is Archie, you may look either at the 
     Encyclopedic dictionary mentioned in A.31 or better, to read the 
     Roadmap lectures mentioned in A.32. 
Q.20: How do I tell my news reader the address of the news-server? 
A.20: First you may try setting a proper variable.  For Unix you should 
  set the environment variable NNTPSERVER exactly as explained in A.18. 
  You may also look at the defaults setup file for your news-reader 
  (.tinrc for `tin' newsreader) or in the help files of the news reader. 
  If none of the methods work, you should consult the newsgroup, (you may look at A.24 in order to see 
  how to do it by e-mail). 
  In many programs, you may set the address of the news-server from the 
  program window itself, by entering the "setup" or "connection" or 
  "Options" or similar option in the commands bar. 
Q.21: Are there offline newsreaders, so I can reduce the connection 
  time to my Internet provider? 
A.21: Yes. Let me introduce this point. This file is around 70Kb. 
  How much time it will take you to finish reading it? And how much time 
  it will take you to read a 1Mb of text? You would never finish it. 
  If you want to read the 60 messages arrived yesterday to, say, 
  two newsgroups of your interest, and also presumably want to reply to 
  a few of them, it will take you maybe an hour maybe more. In many 
  cases you don't want to be online all that time as you might pay for 
  it, not talking of keeping the telephone line busy all that time. 
  You would prefer to just download this 300Kb of text (120Kb when 
  compressed) and then disconnect, read it on your free time, type down 
  the replies on your free time and then connect again (or wait until 
  you connect again) and upload the replies. You may do everything 
  manually, which will take you time, and would be uneasy, but in order 
  to make this procedure easier, you may use an offline news-reader. 
  Popular offline newsreaders, such as FreeAgent (for MS-Windows, or YARN or SOUPER and MacSoup 
  (for Mac), use a protocol called SOUP (Simple Offline Usenet Packets). 
  Older standard which was used in BBS's but have compatibility problems 
  with the standard structure of Usenet messages on the Internet, 
  is QWK . Other less common standards are the QWK with "header in body" 
  format, which is a modification of the QWK, and ZipNews. 
  A freeware program such as AutoAgent, can be used to Schedule 
  complicated tasks to be done automatically at a given time, including 
  connection to the Internet etc.) 
  It can be downloaded from:
  In case of disconnection one can use the Agent Task Monitor, 
  Those who use shell connection (more correctly, their main computer 
  and disk space is on the remote shell and their local computer serves 
  usually as a terminal) have to use one program (called packer) at the 
  remote computer (e.g. uqwk for Unix) and another (the offline 
  news-reader) on their local computer, (e.g. Yarn for PC or MacSoup for 
  Mac). Those who use SLIP or PPP connection do not have to use a 
  packer, but only an offline news-reader which knows how to work with 
  SLIP/PPP connections.  (Agent/FreeAgent for PC, NewsWatcher for Mac, 
  To get more info on SOUP you are referred to:
  Older versions of SOUP called HDPF and SLNP. See the above SOUP 
  document for more info. 
  A list of offline software can be found in a file `software' on 
  or you may look at another file called `yet-another-faq' on the above 
  directory, for more info on offline readers for shell accounts. 
  You may also advice the alt.usenet.offline-reader newsgroup for more 
  Recently, more and more sophisticated offline usenet downloaders are 
  introduced. These allow you to set them to monitor periodically, the 
  Usenet, for news-messages which meet your needs (filtering them) and 
  download them automatically (at times where traffic is lower), and 
  even manipulate them. Some of them have a spam filter; some of them 
  allow you to automatically decode binary files. Few examples: 
  Tifny (free!!)    (, 
  NewsMonger        (, 
  NewsRover         (, 
  I received a nice list of them when used the power search at with keywords "news" and "automatic" 
  (The power search is on:
  Another sites where I found such and other interesting programs are: 
  Look at the 00_index.txt file on those directories. 
Q.22: Are there other sources of Usenet beside news-servers? Can I 
  access them by telnet or Gopher? By BBS? By e-mail? By WWW? and if I 
  prefer to post messages to newsgroups via e-mail, can I? 
A.22: Gopher is a dying application.  
  As far as I know, there are only two Gopher servers that provide 
  access to Usenet: gopher:// , and 
  Verbally: (a) gopher server:  , port: 4320 , 
  type: 1 , path: nntp . (b) gopher server: , 
  port: 70 (default), type: 1 , path: 1/news . 
  About Usenet by Telnet, I know of no such a list. 
  About BBS's: there are BBS's with access to Usenet. For more about 
  lists of BBS's, see A.28. 
  A powerful way to access usenet by WWW (http) is the DejaNews service 

  (see A.29). A.29 also includes a reference on how to use it by e-mail. 
  * Another Usenet by WWW service is FeedME at
  It supports over 30,000 newsgroups. 
  * Talkway service is another one: 
  * RemarQ (formerly called Supernews) provides Usenet via WWW for free, 
  including postings, (Also a non-free NNTP service):
  * Liquid ( seems to be a service 
  similar to RemarQ. 
  * A similar service is recently introduced by DejaNews, and called 
    MyDejaNews. For more info see A.29 . 
  About Usenet by e-mail, please read A.24. You will also find there 
  references to lists of e-mail gateways to usenet, so you can post 
  messages to newsgroups via e-mail. 
  A very useful method of receiving news via e-mail is the Netnews 
  Filter at Reference.Com. 
  This service allows you to define one or more profiles. Whenever its 
  news-server receives a news message which meets any of these profiles, 
  you receive its first few lines by e-mail and may ask for the full 
  message by e-mail. You may also search mailing lists and make back 
  searches (half a year back or so), on Usenet. 
  You may use this service either from the URL: or by e-mail. 
  For more info on the e-mail interface of this service, send an empty 
  message to:
  See also about newsgroups with mirror lists in A.25. 
Q.23: I wish to test some software/methods for posting to newsgroups. 
A.23: ... but you don't want to bombard newsgroups with your test 
  messages ... 
  In fact, there are special newsgroups for test messages. To list some 
  of them: comp.test, alt.test, news.test, ... 
  There are such newsgroups for most of the hierarchies, for example 
  the israel.* hierarchy has israel.test newsgroup etc. 
  You may freely post as many news messages as you need to those 
  newsgroups and probably nobody will bother to read them beside you. 
  Posting a message to a test newsgroup may result in a few 
  autoresponders responding to you via e-mail with a confirmation that 
  your test message has been accepted by them from their servers.  If 
  you wish them to ignore your test message, type the word "ignore" 
  somewhere in the subject. 
Q.24: But I only have e-mail access. 
A.24: One can do almost everything on the Internet using e-mail 
  only. In many cases it is not easy, as the cruising is not 
  interactive. It is, however very valuable to be aware of the 
  possibilities, as they might be useful also to people with a direct 
  Internet access. 
  An excellent references to "doing things via e-mail" are the email4u 
  and getit4u documents (two out of the four parts of the 4u series). 
  They are wisely formatted to be easy to use as reference texts. You 
  may get these files, by sending a message 
  leaving the subject empty and write ONE of the following lines as the 
  body of your message: 
  or by e-mail by sending an empty message to 
  for receiving email4u.  
  In order to receive getit4u use the same methods but with "email4u" 
  replaced with "getit4u". 
  The best starting point on how to do everything in the 
  Internet using e-mail only, can be found in a manuscript named 
  "Accessing the Internet by E-mail ("Accmail" in short, or sometimes 
  called "Accmail FAQ") which is also known as the "Dr. Bob's guide to 
  Accessing the Internet by e-mail", for its original author: 
  Bob Rankin.  (It is now maintained by Gerald E. Boyd). 
  The document is now available from several automated mail servers. 
  To get the latest edition, send e-mail to one of the addresses below. 
  To: (for US, Canada & South America) 
  Enter only this line in the BODY of the note: 
  send usenet/news.answers/internet-services/access-via-email 
  To: (for Europe, Asia, etc.) 
  Enter only this line in the BODY of the note: 
  send lis-iis e-access-inet.txt 
  You can also get the file by anonymous FTP at one of these sites: 
   get pub/usenet/news.answers/internet-services/access-via-email 
   get pub/lists/lis-iis/files/e-access-inet.txt 
  Another option is to post a message to , with 
  "send accmail.faq" (without the quotes) as the SUBJECT of your 
  You can find a much more detailed information about accessing Internet 
  by E-mail on G.E. Boyd's site:
  After reading the Accmail document, you may return to reading this 
  file. Although this text is not directly aimed at people with e-mail 
  access only, one may use the agora servers / other servers mentioned 
  in the Accmail document in order to receive or use almost everything 
  written here. 
  In particular one can use the Agora servers with URLs of the type 
  "news:" and "nntp:" explained in A.18 [C.1]. 
  Accmail also includes a list of mail to news gateways, which allow you 
  to post messages to Usenet newsgroups via e-mail. 
  It is in many cases, more convenient to use these gateways, even if 
  you can use a news-reader instead. 
  Another list of mail to newsgroups gateways which is updated more 
  frequently, can be found on .  This list is usually 
  more updated than Accmail and it contains also another type of mail 
  to newsgroups gateways in which you send your message to mail2news@... 
  These gateways allow you to crosspost your message to few newsgroups, 
  but in order to use them, you must be able to add lines to the header 
  of your message. You should be able to do this with your mail program. 
  The fact that when crossposting a message to a few newsgroups, only 
  one copy is posted (cf. A.16) can be used to allow one to post a 
  message to some newsgroup even if this newsgroup is not supported by 
  the mail2news gateway.  The trick is to crosspost the message also to 
  some test newsgroup (cf. A.23) which is supported by that gateway. 
  This will, of-course, work only for mail2news gateways that support 
  crossposting.  The gateway will post the message, because it supports 
  one of the newsgroups. It will, however leave the "Newsgroups:" field 
  unchanged, so that further servers will index the message in the other 
  newsgroups as well. It is considered highly abusive to use improper 
  newsgroups for this trick.  I believe that the *.test newsgroups are 
  proper. The price that you might have to pay, is, as mentioned in 
  A.23, receiving confirmation from autoresponders. You may, thus prefer 
  to use the most isoteric test newsgroup that the gateway supports, 
  with the hope that most of those autoresponders do not monitor it. 
  You can use a Getweb or a www4mail gateway to post messages to Usenet 
  via WWW posting services.  such gateways do not offer handling of 
  cookies, and thus you can only use only WWW posting services that 
  offer posting without cookies. Posting a message via WWW uses Forms of 
  Method=Post, and only WWW4mail and Getweb gateways can handle such 
  forms.  At the moment, the only service I know of, which allows 
  posting via WWW without using cookies, is Reference.Com [C.2], but the 
  service suffers stability problems.  For posting via Reference.Com, 
  you need to be registered and get a special password, (registration is 
  free).  If you already registered with a password then you may use the 
  following URL (Insecure, as you must provide the password in the 
  e-mail message): 
  You should treat the two lines above as a single line without blanks. 
  You should replace in the above line "" with your 
  e-mail address, and "the.password.for.this.service" with the password 
  that you choose when registered to this service. Do not use any other 
  password. If you havn't registered yet, and wish to register, then 
  use the following URL: 
  DO NOT use the same password, that you use in your account. 
  If you forgot your password, you may use: 
Comments on A.24: 
C.1  When you retrieve a list of posts using agora or similar service,  
     you find near each news message, a reference in square brackets, 
     and in the bottom you find in the reference its message-id. You 
     should use the URL "news:message-id" for receiving the document 
     itself. Also see A.18 about using Dejanews when mesage-id is known. 
C.2  I'm checking right now if the services at RemarQ and at Liquid 
     allows posting via accmail methods. 
*    You may find a list of working Getweb and www4mail servers on 
     G.E. Boyd's site:
Q.25: Can I subscribe to newsgroups as E-Mail lists? 
A.25: Some of the newsgroups are mirrors of e-mail lists, or have 
  mirror e-mail lists. For example, all newsgroups beginning with 
  bit.listserv.* are (or were [C.1]) mirrors of Listserv e-mail lists. 
  Many other newsgroups such as comp.virus or, have 
  mirror e-mail lists in a digest format. 
  A list of newsgroups which you can subscribe as e-mail lists, with 
  instructions, is sent periodically to news.groups and news.lists.misc 
  You may receive those posts either in the RTFM database (see A.27) on 
  directories:   or 
  or you may also receive it by sending a message to: leaving the subject empty and typing the 
  following line as the body of your message: 
  send usenet/news.answers/mail/news-gateways/part1 
  or if not there, you may search those files with DejaNews (see A.29). 
Comments on A.25: 
C.1  bit.* newsgroups were openned to be gatewayed to mailing lists. 
     During time, however, due to privacy issues and other reasons, 
     many of those mailing lists owners stopped the gatewaying and as 
     a result, the newsgroups and the mailing lists might be active, 
     but detached.  Besides, soon the recent gateway for the bit 
     hierarchy will cease to work, and unless another service is found, 
     the gatewaying will cease. 
Q.26: How can I find if there is an archive for some newsgroup? 
  Perhaps a WWW page for this newsgroup? 
A.26: Lists of newsgroups with archives one may find at 
  or on: 
  also: . None of the lists 
  claims to have a full list of archives for newsgroups. 
  There is an effort to provide an updated list of all moderated 
  newsgroups archives on: (HTML version) (text version) 
  An attempt to archive all newsgroups is the DejaNews service (see 
  There is also a list of newsgroups with WWW pages at
Q.27: Where can I find more information on specific newsgroups? Is 
  there an archive of the most important documents on those newsgroups? 
A.27: You may receive more information and an archive of the most 
  important articles on any specific newsgroup in the address: 
  for example use 
  for more info on Following the links from this 
  web-page, you'll find an archive of the most important files on, such as FAQ files (FAQ = Frequently Asked 
  Questions is the place where the most common questions on a specific 
  topic are made and answered by one or more experts). 
  Other places for FAQ files: 
  * , and also has a full text search engine, list of other FAQ 
  resources, name searches, searches by authoer etc. 
  For the search engines look at [C.1] is my favourite location for FAQs and RFCs. 
  * FAQ List at Ohio State 
  * Usenet FAQ Search engine: 
  or if you want directly to search for a keyword (in this example: 
  any word which starts with win3):* 
  and another: 
  For other places to find FAQ files look at: which is also mirrored on: 
Comments on A.27: 
C.1  A notice for e-mail only users: the search engine at uses 
     forms of method=post, which means that regular agora servers are not 
     adequate for using it. 
Q.28: Wouldn't it be easier to replace my Internet Service Provider with 
  another with better Usenet service? Are there lists of free/commercial 
  Usenet/Internet service providers? 
A.28: Most of the Internet service providers (ISP's) or Internet Access 
  Providers (IAP's) provide a Usenet access. There are Public access 
  Internet providers, free of charge, such as the Freenets (e.g. telnet 
  to, RAIN (, Prairienet 
  (, Apana (for Australia only;, Nyx (telnet to, and more. 
  (In the above I partially fell into the trap of writing a never ending 
  and rapidly changing list). 
  Some give you a shell account with disk space, free of charge, and you 
  can login through telnet from your original host. Others allow you to 
  access the Internet/Usenet via a slip/ppp connection.  BBS's may also 
  be relevant. One may of-course replace one's ISP but prices, number of 
  phone lines, phone bills (distance), and other arguments should come 
  into consideration. 
  Some list of lists of either free or commercial BBS's 
  and ISP's would be: 
      another list of lists. 
      for a list of Freenets, 
      or for a link to the list (as the 
      address of the list may change. 
      "Community networks: an online guide to resources" with relevant 
  05. Another site with links to Free Internet Access is: 
  07. (originally: a list of BBS's and ISP's. 
  08. Commercial ISP's in USA/Canada by area code: send an e-mail 
      message to . Type "???" in the 
      subject prompt, where `???' should be replaced by the (phone) area 
      code you're interested in. 
  09. For another such a service by e-mail, send a message to with "info" (without the quotes) as the 
  10. A short list of commercial Usenet access providers, is on: 
  11. Free and commercial shell accounts:
  12. provides mailing lists for discussions 
      of ISPs. 
  More info can be found on which is mirrored with:
  If none of the sites helps you. Try to send a question to the 
  alt.internet.access.wanted or the, or the 
  alt.internet.bbs, alt.bbs and alt.bbs.lists newsgroups. 
Comments on A.28: 
* For the e-mail service at penny-a-pic, The system will reject your 
  request if: 
  1. You are asking for the same area code more than once within a 
     period of 10 days. 
  2. You have reached you maximum of 5 requests within a 90 day period. 
Q.29: What is the DejaNews service ?  Are there Usenet Search Engines? 
A.29: DejaNews is a free service accessible via HTTP (the most common 
  communication on the World Wide Web). It allows you to search Usenet 
  news in a very wise way. Unlike most news-servers, it holds over 50 
  gigabyte of data (checked on Jan 1998), i.e. it holds news ranging 
  back to Mar 1995 and not only that there is no intention to delete any 
  of them, but on the contrary, to add and catalog news even backward, 
  to dates before Mar 1995. 
  You can search by subject, title, dates, newsgroups, authors, and 
  even much more sophisticated searches, and ways to sort the results. 
  The Dejanews home page is on:
  The power search engine of Dejanews is on:  
  you can use Dejanews directly as to access recent news from a 
  newsgroup by using the following URL: 
  where you should replace "group_name" with the name of the newsgroup 
  you wish to access. 
  If you wish to access, but not yet decided which one, then perhaps a 
  good starting point would be: 
  You may also see G. Boyd's wsdeja.faq file for more options to use 
  G. Boyd's document wsdeja.faq (see below near the end of this answer). 
  There is also a free of charge personalized news service at Dejanews. 
  It is called MyDejaNews. MyDejaNews uses cookies to allow its 
  customization. MyDejanews allows you also to post messages to Usenet. 
  It can be accessed on
  For further info see
  Another NetNews Search Engine is the AltaVista. 
  AltaVista is a Generic Search Engine. You may choose to make the 
  search in its Usenet database. 
  Unlike DejaNews, the AltaVista does remove old news articles. 
  The AltaVista address is
  Since, one can use e-mail to obtain Web-Pages, it is possible to 
  query DejaNews/AltaVista using e-mail. The problem is of-course, to 
  understand the format. Gerald E. Boyd, wrote instructions on how 
  to use Search-Engines via e-mail. You may receive his documents, 
  by anonymous ftp to on the directory pub/gb/gboyd/ 
  you may find the info documents: 
  wsdeja.faq (for DejaNews) 
  wsalta.faq (for AltaVista) 
  and many other files on other Search Engines. 
  You may receive these files by e-mail, using ftpmail services. For 
  example: you may send a message to either , or , with the following lines as the body of your 
  cd pub/gb/gboyd 
  where you may put one or more of the following lines instead of 
  the three dots: 
  get wsdeja.faq 
  get wsalta.faq 
  get wscrack.faq 
  get wsintro.faq 
  You may use other ftpmail services as well (see Accmail document 
  mentioned on A.24) but you should use the `open' command as stated 
  above, or otherwise, it may not work. 
Q.30: What about the Netnews Filter Service at Stanford? The one at 
  InReference? The one at Vigilant? 
A.30: The NetNews Filtering Service at Stanford University is no longer 
  available. All subscribers were transferred to InReference. 
  Later on, InReference changed their name to Reference.Com, (See A.21). 
  Vigilant service was also shut down. 
  Stanford University gives its program for filtering Usenet messages 
  for free (See for a text in 
  PostScript), so one may assume that the number of such services will 
  grow. Their program is called SIFT (Stanford Information Filtering 
  The difference between those services is mainly due to the difference 
  between the different news-servers of those sites. 
  Another Usenet filtering service is the NewsSIEVE at:  . 
  Unlike Reference.Com , this one cannot be accessed directly 
  by e-mail. After registration (using WWW) the filtered messages can be 
  accessed using most of the news-readers (NNTP clients). 
  This service started on Apr 1996, and supporting 8232 newsgroups 
  (checked on 8 Mar 1999).  You may define what newsgroups are of 
  interest for you, and then, according to info (grades) that you 
  provide about the articles that you read, they construct and improve 
  the filtering for you. After some usage of it, the filter should be 
  rather wisely chosen to meet your preferences. 
Q.31: There are few terms in the Usenet jargon that I don't understand, 
  or wish to get more info on them. 
A.31: The answer here is extended to terms from the 
  Usenet/Internet/computation jargon. 
  A great encyclopedic dictionary of internet/computation terms is on 
  Foldoc: and has mirrors in USA on: , and
  Another jargon lexicon is `The Jargon File 3.0.0' on (Europe) 
   or copies of it on: 
  North America: 
                   (redirected to:
Comments on A.31: 
* If you use foldoc via e-mail, via Accmail's method for WWW by e-mail 
  (A.24), use the line:**** 
  where you should replace the `****' with the term you want to search. 
  If you want to use a term with more than one word such as 
  "source code" use `+' sign between the words for example to search 
  for the definition of `source code use: 
Q.32: Can you recommend a general source for more information on Usenet? 
  A BASIC INTROduction to Usenet can be found on: 
  1. CyberCourse - this is an excellent series of 5 lectures on Usenet 
     (parts 1-5).  In order to receive the first lecture you should send 
     an empty message to: , and you may guess 
     how to retrieve the other parts (part2 to part5). 
  2. Roadmap lectures, lecture number 8 on , or 
     (the whole set of Roadmap lectures can be found on: 
  3. Zen and the Art of Internet, version 1, Chap. 4: 
     or one of the files: zen-1.0.dvi.Z , zen-1.0.tar.Z , zen-1.0.txt on 
  4. EFF guide to the Internet, Chaps. 3 and 4: 
  5. Usenet documents on Usenet and on proper and efficient usage: 
  6. `How to Read the Network News': 
     and `How to Use Usenet Effectively': 
  7. is a very recommended 
     introductory text. 
  8. The official home page for the news.newusers.questions newsgroup:  
  A GENERAL INFO about Usenet can be found on: 
  1. Yahoo, at 
  2. Usenet Info Center, at (obsolete) 
  3. MG's House of News Knowledge, at 
  4. Infinite Ink's documents, on: 
  5. Usenet RKT (Rapid Knowledge Transfer) on: 
  6. holds links to FAQs about 
     Usenet, and to Usenet standards. 
  Some milestones in the HISTORY OF USENET can be found in "A Short 
  History of the Net" on 
  You may receive the longer version by replacing snethist.html by 
  nethist.html in any of the last two addresses. 
  You may find there a very nice story on how three frustrated and 
  brilliant people succeeded in entering their newsgroups through the 
  back door, without violating any of the Usenet ethics, by inventing 
  an alternative net: the Alternet (known today as the anarchic alt 
  Very good source of information on the history of computer networks, 
  including Usenet, and including tables on Usenet growth can be found 
  in Hobbes' Internet Timeline on: 
  or via e-mail by sending an empty message to: 
  Another document on the HISTORY and future of Usenet and Usenet 
  culture, can be found in Chaps. 2, 3 and 4 of NetBook on:
  Also see "Netizens: an anthology", Chap. 10 on: 
Comments on A.32: 
* Some sources still consider the Alternet (or the alt hierarchy) as not 
  part of the Usenet. Some other sources consider only newsgroups 
  belonging to the "big eight" as Usenet newsgroups, and all others as 
  non-Usenet newsgroups. Most of the sources treat all public newsgroups 
  as part of the Usenet. 
Q.33: Can I distribute this file? 
A.33: You may distribute it freely. You may cut, and edit the file as 
  you wish, as long as the changes are made under your name. 
  This document can be sent for free, and by anyone, and you may not 
  use it in a manner which may restrict this right. Proper attribution 
  is assumed. If you do anything of the above, I would appreciate 
  telling me about it. 
A General comment: 
* Please do send me corrections, and comments on the article or on my 
  English. Notice that I do not hold older versions of this article, so 
  it won't help me much to receive a comment such as "on line 45, word 
  number 8 ....". If you make a link to this file on your web-pages, I 
  would also appreciate telling me about it (and which location of the 
  file did you use. 
On Acknowledgments: 
  My decision was not to add the very long (and very boring to most of 
  us) list of kind people who contributed to my knowledge written above, 
  or sent me their comments. 
  I hope, though, that I didn't forget any of them, (their messages are 
  kept in a special folder). 
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