Reading Usenet News with Gnus

Usenet began as a bulletin board system between two North Carolina universities. Over time, Usenet grew both in the number of distribution sites and the number of discussion groups. These discussion groups, called newsgroups, now number in the thousands and cover topics ranging from superheros to supercomputers.

In some ways, news is similar to email, but there are a few important differences. First, the terminology is different. In email, there are messages. In news, there are articles. You send mail messages, whereas you post articles (the word post hints at a bulletin board system, which is a relatively accurate way to describe Usenet). Second, the audience and distribution of news is completely different from email. Whereas email messages reach only the people specified by the user, Usenet news is received by many Internet sites all over the world: it is a public forum. Every article posted to a newsgroup can be read by potentially tens of thousands of people. (If this gives you some pause about posting to Usenet, it should.)

Although news is widely referred to as Usenet news, for the most part, neither term is strictly accurate. There are non-Usenet newsgroups that are a part of news. For this reason, some people refer to Usenet news more accurately as network news. The term news itself can be somewhat confusing at first. Most newsgroups are discussion groups; few carry what most people think of as news in the traditional sense of the Wall Street ...

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