Newsgroups, Web Boards, and Mailing Lists
|What are discussion groups?|
|Discussion groups is a broad category describing ways in which groups with a common interest, whether it be playing chess, discussing the latest episode of a television, or discussion of a political issue, communicate in a common forum. Three of the common discussion group methods are: Mailing Lists, Web Boards, and News.|
|What are mailing lists?|
|Mailing lists are one of the most common way of discussing a topic of common interest via e-mail. Rather than trying to e-mail a message to thirty e-mail addresses at once, you simply mail your message to one single e-mail address, and the mailing list server handles the delivery of the message.
To subscribe to a mailing list, you either go to a web page and put in your e-mail address, or send a e-mail to a e-mail address indicating that you wish to subscribe. You will then receive a confirmation that you want to subscribe to that group. This prevents someone from subscribing you to groups that you don't want. You will have to either reply to the confirmation message or click on a link in the message. Once you have confirmed that you wanted to subscribe, a message is sent out welcoming you to the newsgroup. SAVE THIS MESSAGE, as it contains instructions on how to unsubscribe to that particular mailing list.
Most mailing lists default to a single-message mode, where you receive a message right when someone mails it out. Many mailing lists also offer an option called a "digest" where you would receive a batch of messages in a single mailing, usually on a daily basis.
|What are web boards?|
|Web boards are an extension of the world wide web. Some web sites, in addition to providing information on a particular topic, also host a web-based forum where people can discuss issues of a particular nature. Because of the disk space and bandwidth required, many of these web boards run on dedicated servers. Many web-based boards allow you to view messages in some of their forums, but in order to post, you must register with that forum.|
|What is Usenet news?|
|Usenet news is one of the oldest discussion forums on the Internet, and even pre-dates the world wide web. All sorts of topics are discussed from the serious (i.e. computer security issues, political issues), to the fun (games and television shows), to the just plain weird. For example, the newsgroup rec.sport.basketball.pro is for the discussion of professional basketball, while comp.mail.eudora deals with issues relating to the Eudora mail client. It can be compared to a mailing list, except that the discussion can take place worldwide, and subscribing is as easy as clicking the mouse. Unlike a e-mail mailing list, messages do not pile up in your mailbox if you do not log into the Internet for several days.
In many cases, newsgroups can be divided into subgroups. The major classifications
|How long are articles kept on the news servers?|
|Articles are retained on the news servers for at least 30 days, depending on the type of newsgroup. Articles posted on the text newsgroups (non-binary) will be retained longer than binary newsgroup articles. Older, non-binary articles can also be found through Google Groups.|
|What do I need to read news?|
|You will need a program to download the articles from the news server to your computer. Some of these programs for reading news include:
You can also read Usenet news articles (both current and archived from 1982) through your web browser by using Google Groups.
|What are the settings for the newsreader program?|
|If you are connected directly to CalWeb (i.e. though a dial-up, ISDN, or DSL connection):
If you are connected outside of CalWeb (i.e. through another Internet provider):
Once you have configured your newsreader for CalWeb, the newsreader will download the current list of newsgroups to your computer. Since there are over 20,000 active newsgroups, this process can easily take several minutes.
|What are some tips for discussion groups?|
|A few words of advice when you are new to discussion groups.
|I tried posting a message, but the discussion group is moderated. What's that?|
|Moderated groups means that your message isn't posted instantly to a newsgroup, but is subject for review by a moderator who checks to make sure it is appropriate for that discussion group. This does mean that there will be a delay in the posting, but also ensures that the group remains on-topic.|
|Can my e-mail address be captured and be used for SPAM?|
|Yes, it is possible for someone to scan a discussion group and "harvest" your CalWeb e-mail address for the purposes of sending you unsolicited commercial e-mail, better known as spam. Some measures that you can to reduce the spam, yet participate in the groups:
|Where can I find out more information?|
|You may want to check out the following: