How Newsgroups Work
Along with e-mail, newsgroups are one of the oldest communication methods on the Internet. But there are many ways to communicate on the Web. You probably use more than one method, depending on your needs. One method you might use is:
Newsgroups – a newsgroup is a continuous public discussion about a particular topic. Newsgroups are decentralized, which means that the messages are not maintained on a single server, but are replicated to hundreds of servers around the world.
Newsgroups are most effective when:
- You don’t need an immediate answer.
- You want to communicate with more than one person.
- You want to communicate with a group of people interested in the same topic.
- You need or want to provide extensive information about that topic.
The Newsgroup Process
A newsgroup begins on a single news server, but is eventually replicated to hundreds or thousands of other servers. News servers provide the infrastructure that makes newsgroups work. Each news server has special software that maintains a file for each newsgroup serviced by that server.
Here’s what happens when you access a newsgroup:
- Your newsreader,availabler from our newsreader page. (Microsoft’s Outlook Express contains a newsgroup client.) using NNTP, connects to the news server designated in your configuration. Typically, the news server’s connection information is provided by subscribing to our Usenet service.
- Once the connection is established, your newsreader downloads all of the new messages posted in the newsgroups that you are subscribed to.
- You read through the messages and decide to reply to a couple. You also decide to start a new thread with a post of your own.
Replying to a post in a newsgroup is as easy as replying to an e-mail.
- Your newsreader sends your messages to the news server. (If it’s an offline newsreader, it must first reconnect to the news server via NNTP).
- The news server saves your messages in the file for that newsgroup. Newsgroup files are large text files, meaning that each new message is simply appended to the end of the text file. As the file reaches a certain size, or after a certain length of time, the messages at the beginning of the file are removed and placed in a newsgroup-archive text file.
- The news server connects to one or more other news servers using NNTP (or UUCP) and sends the updated information. Each news server compares its own file for the newsgroup with the files it receives for that same newsgroup. It adds any differences that it finds — this is important, because if the news server simply saved the received file over the one it already had, it would lose any messages posted to it during the update. By comparing the files, it can extract the new messages and add them to the file it has, without losing any new postings. The news server then sends the combined file to the other news servers.
- The newsgroup changes are replicated to each news server until all of them have the updated information. This process is ongoing, and most large newsgroups change so quickly that the updating is virtually continuous.
- Other subscribers read your messages, plus all the others posted since the last time they looked at the newsgroup, and reply.
- You see their replies and new messages, and the process repeats. Get Started HERE Today