Overview and Directions
The Usenet contains tens of thousands of forums, or newsgroups, which are discussion groups among people with a similar interest. Anyone with an internet connection can freely tune in to a newsgroup and post messages (whereas listservs, or e-mail lists, require a user to formally subscribe). Newsgroups are divided into several broad categories, such as alt (alternative), rec (recreational) and sci (science). The discussion is not in real time, but rather a threaded conversation. A user will post a question or a comment, and the other members of the newsgroup will be able to read the comment and decide to respond or not to respond. Some newsgroups are not moderated (such as alt groups), while some have a moderator.
Usenet newsgroups are typically accessed through your browser's newsreader; however, you will only be able to read a newsgroup if your Internet Service Provider (ISP, or local feed) carries it. If you attempt to connect to a newsgroup and you receive an error message, you will need to find an alternative way of reading the newsgroup messages. You can locate newsgroups by using the references under "Comprehensive Lists" and connect to them through their servers, rather than your local feed.