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THE INS AND OUTS OF NESGROUPS (THE
/* Posted 28 Nov 11:00am 1997 by drunoo@xxxxxxxxxxxx in igc:reg.burma */
/* -------------" News Groups (The Australian) "-------------- */
FOLLOWING IS A RARE ARTICLE IN PUBLIC MEDIA ABOUT THE INTERNET
NEWS GROUPS: COURTESY THE AUSTRALIAN NEWSPAPER. -- U NE OO.
NEWS GROUPS: THE INS AND OUTS OF NEWSGROUPS
by Ian Cuthbertson (The Australian, 8/11/97)
AS with Internet Relay Chat (IRC), news groups are a way of
contacting other computer users around the world. The main
difference is that the contact is not direct. You leave your
question, response or idea on a kind of electronic bulletin
board, and other people respond at their leisure. Ideally, this
should allow for cool, reasoned discourse. But newsgroups can be
as much of a bunfight as IRC or any other human interaction:
people fume, misunderstand each other, flirt, cajole, talk
rubbish and occasionally pass on extremely useful or interesting
You don't need special software, but you do need a Web browser,
and it must be configured properly.
Open your browser offline (if your system allows you), and click
the Options tab on the home page. Next, click Mail and News
>From the row of tabs that appears, choose Servers. Your news
server (NNTP Server) may already be nominated.If it is,
congratulations, you need do nothing further at this stage.
If, however, the NNTP server space is blank, you will need to
enter your ISP's news server. This can be obtained from
technical support, from the literature you have been sent or
from an Internet setup CD-ROM>
Usually, it is a predictable Net-style address. For example,
OzEmail's NNTP is news.ozemail.com.au.
When you have configured your browser correctly, go to the
window where you normally select your mail service. There is
usually a news option underneath. Click on this, and the
traditional services of your browser and service provider will
Experiment with these, paying particular attention to folders
such as news.newusers.questions. Here you will find all you
ever wanted to know about netiquette, tradition, history, rules
and how you must never, ever offer things for sale to people in
You are also likely to come across incredibly dull discussions,
but if what you want is Star Trek, or sex or the mating habits
of the blue-ringed octopus, then a really useful place to begin
is "Listzt," which is a rather extraordinary grouping of
thousands of mail listings, information and education about
Amazingly, any search you engage in will deliver results through
your personal news server.
A little folder arrives just brimming with comments on the topic
you searched for, and tucks itself neatly under the already
established ones. Click on it, let the messages load, and begin
to read the threads.
When the time comes to post a reply, you can click on an icon
on the newsreader, similar to the one for sending "mail to".
But be warned: "LIstz always encourages you to find info about
the group before joining, because barging in on the group simply
isn't healthy way to find out if it's public (even if that is
the simplest method for you).
"The main thing to remember is that, unlike a Web page or a
search engine or an 'Internet resource', these groups are
groups. They often have a strong sense of community, and their
own rules and traditions, and you want to be polite on their
"Even if the group does turn out to be public, you need to try
to learn the ropes of the particular group before speaking up.
The best way to do this is to watch for a couple of weeks, and
see how the members act."
READ OR SUBSCRIBE
You can subscribe to newsgroups, which means that you will
receive lots of e-mail, and in theory, meet lots of new people.
Each newsgroup that allows just anybody to join will document
the method to subscribe and unsubscribe. Perhaps the best advice
is to read the posted threads for a while, then decide whether
Judging by the comments in groups about it, spamming (where
your e-mail is flooded by unwanted material) is a particularly
noxious and not uncommon problem with wholesale subscription to
The advantage of selectively subscribing is that you no longer
have to plough through thousands newsgroups to find the ones
that you want.
You can respond to a newsgroup posting in tow ways: by e-mail to
the person directly (private), or by posting your reply to the
newsgroup itself (public).
It is possible to cross-post (send the same message to many
groups at the same time), but discretion is advised. The
practice can seem grandiose at best, and is wasteful of Internet
FROM THE AUSTRALIAN (8/11/97)