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Free Usenet

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One of the great things about the Internet is the ability to quickly access information. Whatever your topic of interest, you can find information about it on the Internet. An important mode of communication available through the Internet is the Usenet discussion system.

Usenet is an Internet discussion system where users read and post messages, called articles, to a number of distributed newsgroups. One of the earliest forms of Internet-based communication, the Usenet emerged in 1979, and became extremely popular as a way for people to comment on and discuss a wide spectrum of topics.

Topics can range from technology, popular culture, religion, and beyond. There are literally thousands of newsgroups, each devoted to a specific topic. Newsgroups topics can be very broad, such as the topic of television, or they can be more specific, such as newsgroups devoted to a particular television show.

Currently, there are eight main sets of newsgroups, and any content that does not fit into one of the eight categories is labeled Alt., the largest newsgroup category. There are also regional and national categories, which cover specific states or countries. The other eight main categories are:

1. Comp.--Computer-related
2. Misc.--Miscellaneous
3. News.--Discussions and announcements about Usenet news.
4. Rec.--Recreation and entertainment
5. Sci.--Science
6. Soc.--Social discussions
7. Talk--Controversial topics
8. Humanities--Fine Arts and Literature

How Do I access the Usenet for Free?

Many Internet service providers operate news servers for their customers to use. If you have an ISP account, you may have the ability to read and post to newsgroups. Unfortunately, because of the complexity of the Usenet system, many ISPs have a restricted number of sites. For example, they may not carry foreign language newsgroups, or newsgroups with the Alt. designation.

Another way to access newsgroups is through the Web directly. There are many websites that offer gateways to newsgroups. You can find free Usenet sites with the help of a search engine, which will bring up many different free Usenet sites.

Many of the sites let you read and post directly on the site. However, some require a special software, called news server software, that allows you to read or view the articles in the newsgroup. You can easily find free and legal downloads of the software through an online search.

Many free sites have restrictions on use, and they may also only have access to a limited number of newsgroups, depending on what servers they are able to access. In addition, almost all free Usenet providers impose download quotas for their users, which is usually limited to 50 MB a day.

Depending on your interests, accessing a free Usenet website may meet your needs if you want to view and subscribe to a few general newsgroups. If you have very specific topics in mind, or are looking for a specific newsgroup or one that resides in the Alt. category, free Usenet access may be somewhat restrictive. You may then have to explore other options.



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