What is Usenet?
Usenet is one of the oldest communities on the internet. Technically, Usenet is a text-based discussion system that allows users worldwide to chat about any number of subjects. Usenet is the father of modern-day discussion boards and also has similarities to email. New Usenet messages, or articles, are only sent and received when requested by the user, for example.
Over time, methods for transmitting data other than text were developed. Today, Usenet is a popular location for sharing all kinds of information and files. In the Usenet community, this information and files are collectively known as binaries.
What are newsgroups?
Put simply, newsgroups are the specific topics available on Usenet. Newsgroups are sorted into a hierarchy by topic, and each level of the hierarchy is separated by a dot (.). For example, discussions about the theory of relativity would be found in the newsgroup sci.physics.relativity. Because of the hierarchy structure of newsgroups, it can be inferred that there are dozens of other sci.physics.* topics and hundreds of sci.* topics.
Because of newsgroup naming conventions, it's possible to find relevant newsgroups if you only have a general idea of what you're looking for.
How do I access Usenet?
To get started with Usenet, you need two things: a Usenet service provider and a Usenet client.
A Usenet service provider is simply the organization that you use to connect to Usenet. Many internet service providers also act as Usenet service providers to their customers.
A Usenet client is the program used to browse Usenet newsgroups. There are a number of different Usenet clients to choose from and each has its positive and negative aspects. Some clients are designed specifically for managing either text or binary articles while some clients can manage both effectively. Because of the diversity of the clients that are available, it's a good idea to test a number of them and decide which best suits your needs.
Where can I find detailed Usenet tutorials?
If you need more thorough assistance with the world of Usenet and
newsgroups, there are a number of different Usenet Tutorials on the web that can
explain just about anything you might need.