What exactly is the Usenet?

Usenet stands for Unix User Network and is a decentralised network invented in order to disseminate binary files and text messages. The Usenet has its own architecture and may be accessed worldwide. It comprises a large number of newsgroups in which users can read and post messages. If one person wishes to send a message to another person, the message is transported via three servers, which make it publicly accessible. Contrary to what most people believe, the Usenet does not constitute part of what we term the Internet or e-mail.

The Usenet is an independent system capable of using a range of protocols. A few words on the history of the Usenet. The Usenet was developed by Jim Ellis and Tom Truscott at Duke University in the USA in 1979. The messages and files contained within the Usenet can be divided into categories termed newsgroups. These are similar to the threads in a forum. The Usenet itself also makes use of this structure, the only difference being that the threads are defined as newsgroups. These newsgroups may be either text-based or file-based. If they are file-based, they are called binaries and have such names as alt.binaries.games.

Above the newsgroup level, the Usenet is divided into hierarchies. Some of these hierarchies are subjected to greater or lesser controls and follow certain guidelines. The main hierarchies to which this applies are the so-called Big Eight, namely comp.*, talk.*, soc.*, sci.*, humanities.*, misc.*, news.* and rec.*. The alt.* hierarchy, known for its alt.binaries.* newsgroups, is not moderated. Most newsgroups have the following format: hierarchy.subhierarchy.topic.

How is the Usenet used?

The Usenet can be used for various things. There are 3 popular forms of use. The first of these offers an opportunity to establish contact with unknown people in order to converse with them on various topics. The Usenet may be of particular interest for people wishing to communicate on extremely specific topics. The second popular form of use is the dissemination of files.

The third popular form of use for Usenet newsgroups is the dissemination of knowledge. Newsgroups enable you to pose questions to an audience with speciifc specialist knowledge within a certain thematic field. The wide range of uses to which the Usenet can be put makes it an extremely diverse network. If you wish to establish a connection with the Usenet in order to download files and join a range of newsgroups, we recommend you download the Usenet software from the bottom of this page. Download takes place at full speed, and you may use the software free of charge for 14 days!

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