A newsgroup is like an electronic public notice board on a particular subject. Anyone can post a message or read a message. Newsgroups provide a way to communicate with people who share your interests from all over the world. You can read a newsgroup any time and anyone can participate in a newsgroup… though not all Internet Service Providers (ISPs) have a news server or offer access to every newsgroup.

There are literally thousands of newsgroups covering virtually every topic imaginable – from computers, social issues, literature and science, to recreation, entertainment, hobbies and current affairs. In newsgroups you can find job postings, business and health care advice, announcements about events, referrals, political and religious discussions – even photos you can download.


Reading newsgroups is easy. You can use a newsreader that is nested or bundled in your email program although a specialized newsreader will allow you to manage the huge volume of information in most newsgroups.


You will need to set up your newsreader. This means “pointing” it at your ISPs news server. You will need to know the name of your ISPs news server. It will look something like

In short, Newsgroups are a forum where people with common interests can interact with one another.



Understand the language of newsgroup



You “subscribe” to newsgroups that interest you. To do this you first get a complete listing of all the newsgroups that are available from your ISP. It takes a few minutes to download because the list of newsgroups is very long – there are over 50,000 newsgroups and rising. Once downloaded to your computer, use the “search” or “find” functions in your newsreader to look for topics that interest you.



You post a message in much the same way you create a new e-mail message. Click the “Post a new message” or “Compose a new message button”, the name of the newsgroup appears in the “To:” line, put in your subject and type your comments or questions and then hit the “Send” or “Post” button. A few minutes later your message will appear in the newsgroup for everyone to see.




Avoid personal attacks or you will be “flamed” by one or more people. A flame is a particularly nasty personal attack on somebody for something he or she has written. It is usually a little hysterical. Don’t flame; it is a waste of bandwidth and politeness shouldn’t cost anything. There are plenty of articles on “Netiquette” on the web





News group categories

Messages posted on newsgroups are sent from host computer to host computer all over the world, using the network news transfer protocol. At UT, our host computer stores all its Newsgroups messages in a central place, and everyone with an UT account can access them. Because newsgroups are located on one server, it is a very efficient way to share information that might otherwise be disseminated to several individual users. This way, several people can read a given newsgroup message, but the host system stores only one copy of it.

Newsgroups: What’s in a name?


As mentioned before each newsgroup is a collection of messages focusing on a related theme. You can probably find a newsgroup on any topic, no matter how arcane or bizarre.

A newsgroup’s name gives you a good idea of that group’s focus, and also illustrates the hierarchical naming scheme given to newsgroups. Newsgroups with the prefix comp., for example, are for computer-related topics. After the initial prefix, you’ll see an additional series of names assigned to the newsgroup that tell its specific concern: Note the following examples:


comp.mac.performa for “computers–macintosh–performas” for “recreation–autos–antiques”

alt.backrubs for “alternative–backrubs”

soc.culture.japan for “social–culture–japan”


Name                    Description                         Example

biz                          Business related groups                      

bionet                   Biology related groups                   bionet.biology.tropical

comp                     Computer oriented groups                          comp.sys.mac.apps

k12                         Newsgroups for educators and K-12 topics                

misc                       Discussions that don’t fit into the other categories                           misc.consumers

news                     News about Usenet developments                         news.announce.newgroups

rec                          Recreation, hobbies, and games                     

sci                           Science other than biology                

soc                         “Social” groups; some ethnically oriented discussions                     soc.rights.human

talk                         Debates on politics and related (often controversial) topics                         talk.politics.animals

alt                           Controversial or unusual topics;

Note: alt. groups are not carried by all sites!                        alt.backrubs



Newsgroup Netiquette


When posting on newsgroups, users should try to follow a few basic guidelines, often referred to as “Newsgroup Netiquette”, below is a list of some of these guidelines:


Posting Emails – Posting private email messages on newsgroups is seen as bad etiquette.

Test Messages – If you are new to posting, its a good idea to post a “test” message, or a welcome message.

Hoaxes – You should take posts with a pinch of salt – especially if they are about a celebrity or famous person.

Summaries – If somebody has posted a summery, a user should respond by email rather than post a reply – otherwise this defeats the intention of the author.

Responding to posts – Avoid trying to tedious ‘pick apart’ another user’s post; address it in parts or as a whole – not word by word. Picking apart an article ‘word by word’ can be view as harassment.

Spelling and Grammar – If your spelling and grammar is poor: then you should check your posts with a dictionary or spell checker first.

Subject Lines – Makes sure it describes your post.

Racism – Avoid any posts that are abusive.

Spam – Spam is when a user sends an identical message – usually commercial in nature – to a large amount of newsgroups. Obviously it is not a good idea to engage in such a practice.



Connecting to a news server

1 Open Outlook Express.

2 Click the Tools menu, and select Accounts…

3 To configure your Outlook Express client, go to step #3.

4 To reconfigure your Outlook Express client, select your account from the menu on the left, then click Properties and skip to step #12.

Click Add, and then click Mail…

5 Enter your name in the Display name field, and click Next.

6  Enter your full email address ( in the Email address field, and click Next.

7 For My incoming mail server is a ______ server, select POP3 in the drop-down menu.

8 Enter in the Incoming mail (POP3, IMAP or HTTP) server field. Enter in the Outgoing mail (SMTP) server field.

Click Next.

9 Enter your Comcast ID in the Account Name field. (Type your Comcast ID as seen on the left side of the @ symbol in your email address. For example, if your email address is, type in nik.) In the Password field, enter your password. Check the Remember Password box if you don’t want to enter your password every time you access your email. Click Next.


10 Click Finish.

11 Highlight under Account, and click Properties.

12 Click the Advanced tab.

13 Under Outgoing Mail (SMTP), check the box next to This server requires a secure connection (SSL).

14 Enter 465 in the Outgoing mail (SMTP) field.

15 Under Incoming mail (POP3), check the box next to This server requires a secure connection (SSL). The port will change to 995.

16 The Advanced tab shows 465 selected for outgoing mail and 995 selected for incoming mail


17 Click the Servers tab, and check the box next to My server requires authentication.

The servers tab depicts pop three selected as the incoming mail server and a checkmark in the box next to my server requires authentication


18 Click OK.

As an additional step, third party email clients are often configured to delete messages from the server. This will prevent additional devices from receiving your Comcast email. To use your Comcast email account on multiple devices, you will need to ensure that email messages are not deleted. To configure your Outlook Express client to not delete messages from the server:

1 Click the Tools menu, and select Account.

2 Select your account from the menu on the left, then click Properties.

3 Click the Advanced tab.

4 Check the box next to Leave a copy of messages on server.

5 The servers tab depicts pop three selected as the incoming mail server and a checkmark in the box next to my server requires authentication

Click OK.