Google Groups

Usenet Groups, text-based discussion groups covering literally hundreds of thousands of topics, have been around since long before the World Wide Web. And now they’re available for search and perusal as Google Groups (http://groups.google.com/). Its search interface is rather different from the Google web search, as all messages are divided into groups, and the groups themselves are divided into topics called hierarchies.

The Google Groups archive begins in 1981 and covers up to the present day. Over 200 million messages are archived. As you might imagine, that’s a pretty big archive, covering literally decades of discussion. Stuck in an ancient computer game? Need help with that sewing machine you bought in 1982? You might be able to find the answers here.

Google Groups also allows you to participate in Usenet discussions, handy because not all ISPs provide access to Usenet these days (and even those that do tend to limit the number of newsgroups they carry). See the Google Groups posting FAQ (http://groups.google.com/googlegroups/posting_faq.html) for instructions on how to post to a newsgroup. You’ll have to start with locating the group to which you want to post, and that means using the hierarchy.

Ten Seconds of Hierarchy Funk

There are regional and smaller hiearchies, but the main ones are: alt, biz, comp, humanities, misc, news, rec, sci, soc, and talk. Most web groups are created through a voting process and are put under the hiearchy that’s most applicable to ...

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