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A Usenet newsgroup is a
Before the adoption of the
Communication is facilitated by the
Newsgroups generally come in either of two types, binary or text. There is no technical difference between the two, but the naming differentiation allows users and servers with limited facilities to minimize network bandwidth usage. Generally, Usenet conventions and rules are enacted with the primary intention of minimizing the overall amount of network traffic and resource usage.
Typically, the newsgroup is focused on a particular topic of interest. A message sent for publication on a newsgroup is called a "post". Some newsgroups allow posts on a wide variety of themes, regarding anything a member chooses to discuss as
Back when the early community was the pioneering computer society, the common habit seen with many posts was a notice at the end that disclosed whether the author had (or was free of) a personal interest (financial, political or otherwise) in making the post. This is rarer now, and the posts must be read more skeptically, as with other media. Privacy and
The number of newsgroups grew from more than 100 as of 1983 to more than 110,000, but only 20,000 or so of those are active.[
Non-Usenet newsgroups are possible and do occur, as private individuals or organizations set up their own NNTP servers. Examples include the newsgroups
While newsgroups were not created with the intention of distributing files such as pictures, sound and video, they have proven to be quite effective for this. Because newsgroups are widely distributed, a file uploaded once will be spread to many other servers and can then be downloaded by an unlimited number of users. More useful is that users download from a local news server, rather than from a more distant machine with perhaps limited connectivity, as may be the case with
There were originally a number of obstacles to the transfer of binary files over Usenet. Usenet was originally designed with the transmission of text in mind, and so the encoding of posts caused losses in binary data where the data was not part of the protocol's
Additionally, there was a limit on the size of individual posts so that large files could not be sent as single posts. To get around this, Newsreaders were developed which were able to split long files into several posts. Intelligent newsreaders at the other end could then automatically group such split files into single files, allowing the user to easily retrieve the file. These advances have meant that Usenet is used to send and receive many
There are two main issues that pose problems for transmitting large files over newsgroups. The first is
Major NSPs have a retention time of more than 7 years. A number of websites exist to keep an index of files posted to binary newsgroups.
Partly because of such long retention times, as well as growing
Most Newsgroups are not moderated. A moderated newsgroup has one or more individuals who must approve posts before they are published. A separate address is used to submit posts and the moderators then propagate those they approve of. The first moderated newsgroups appeared in 1984 under mod.* according to RFC 2235, "Hobbes' Internet Timeline".