A discussion group on the Internet as well as a source for MP3 files and images. Newsgroups make up the Usenet (user network), which preceded the Web by more than a decade. Starting in the late 1970s, newsgroups were message boards for Unix technical issues. However, they continue to prosper alongside Web-based discussion groups called "forums" (see Internet forum).|
Although a topic can be newsworthy, newsgroups have nothing to do with the daily news. Organized into categories, alt (alternative) contains the most diversity (see newsgroup categories).
The Usenet Network
There are tens of thousands of newsgroups originating from many sources and hosted on many news servers. A small percentage are moderated either by a human or a software agent. An ISP may offer newsgroups to its customers, either by hosting them or funneling them from another source, although the ISP decides which ones and how long they remain online. Dedicated Usenet providers do not discriminate and store most newsgroups indefinitely.
NNTP and Newsreaders
The NNTP protocol is used to transport newsgroup content, similar to the way HTTP is used for Web pages (see NNTP).
Newsreader software (an NNTP client), which may be a stand-alone application or an e-mail or browser plug-in, is used to search for and subscribe to newsgroups as well as read and post messages. When a user posts a question or comment, the chain of replies is called a "message thread." See Usenet, newsreader, Deja.com, syndication format and newsgroup categories.