Newsgroups & Message Boards

I am about to reveal some of my well-hidden ignorance about the internet, so watch closely.
I always hear about people going to newsgoups and Usenet, and things that begin alt.something. What are these mysterious hidden trasures of the 'net? Are they similar to message boards/what’s the difference? How do I access them? What are some of your favourites?
And, just in case I end up not understanding or not liking newsgroups, give me something to fall back on. What are your favourite message boards (besides this one, of course)? Any other UBB boards that you like?

Cessandra

Why sex is better than religion: There are laws against forcing sex on minors who can’t think for themselves.

What the fuck does that sig line mean?

It means that I don’t like the idea of conditioning religion into children too young to understand what it means. It is far too important a decision to make based solely on “Mommy and Daddy told me so.”
It’s not, however the point of this topic, and I don’t care to discuss it here. If you would like to answer my question, then do. If you want to debate my sig then start up your own thread.


Cessandra

Why sex is better than religion: There are laws against forcing sex on minors who can’t think for themselves.

Don’t you mean “…there aren’t laws forcing sex…”

Proofreading is pretty important in something like a sig line.

There ARE laws against forcing sex on minors. It’s called statutory rape.

Geez, Omni, I’ve read my sig line like 12 dozen times trying to see what you’re getting at. Is it possible that you’re misreading it?

Ahhh…that crow tastes yummy.

Actually the phrasing confused me, most jokes that are structured like this say it my way, and I just glossed over the last part, my bad.

How would you phrase it, Omni? Maybe I’ll change it. Meanwhile, anybody want to answer the OP?


Cessandra

Why sex is better than religion: There are laws against forcing sex on minors who can’t think for themselves.

The way I was reading it, was:

Q: Why is sex better than religion?
A: There aren’t laws forcing sex on minors who can’t make decisions on their own.

Written this way its a commentary on the legislation of having The Ten Commandments in schools. Just the topic on my mind considering the SDMB lately.

Written your way it phrases better to highlight the stautory rape angle.

Ignore me, I was just reading faster than my brain was working.

Is there a thread going on that particular issue? I hadn’t seen it.
Please somebody explain newsgroups to me!


Cessandra

Why sex is better than religion: There are laws against forcing sex on minors who can’t think for themselves.

Try going to http://www.deja.com to search through these newsgroups. (the search is at the upper right corner, and how’d in the hell did that site get so commericalized all of a sudden??)

If you have it, AOL will let you go to newsboards as well (although some are censored :frowning: ) Keyword : Newsgroups.

There are programs out there to browse the newsgroups, I’ll try to find them.

Louie

BTW About that sig, right on!

Usenet newsgroups are similar to message boards in the respect that you post and respond to messages.

To get there, you need a newsreader, which you can ask someone at your ISP about if you can’t find. Mine is accessed through my email program. I click on “Mail” on the taskbar and then “Read News” on the dropdown menu, or if I’m in my email program, I scroll down on the folder list to “news”.

I can also get to a newsgroup by typing “news:newsgroup name” in the address section of my browser. (e.g. news:misc.facts.straight-dope or news:alt.fan.almosteverycelebrityintheworld).

You can also follow newsgroups using dejanews (http://www.deja.com is their address now, I think.)

Lurking on newsgroups before posting is very very important on most of them. Especially those like afu.


Your Official Cat Goddess since 10/20/99.

Thank you guys so much for actually posting on topic! I love you!

(No offense, Omni, glad you said something rather than just steam about what you thought I meant!)

And thanks for the show of support for my sig, Louie. I’m probably going to change it after a while, though. I have a whole bunch of “sex is better than religion” quips.


Cessandra

Why sex is better than religion: There are laws against forcing sex on minors who can’t think for themselves.

Okay, I went to deja,and I checked out my e-mail. What does it mean to subscribe to a newsgroup? Is that like registering here? Will that cause the group to show up in my email program (none do, right now).
This seems a lot harder than message boards, and a lot less user-friendly.


Cessandra

Why sex is better than religion: There are laws against forcing sex on minors who can’t think for themselves.

Here’s the programs you can use for newsgroups.

And if you got it working, say hi to everyone in misc.facts.straight-dope

“Subscribe” is more or less the the same as adding favorite web sites to your browser. Don’t worry about it. And it’s not that hard to use, once you get used to it.

I subscribed to cecil.whatever, and it dowloaded 500 headings. Now, I have trouble with the amount of computer space alloted to me, if I don’t delete my e-mails I get warning messages and all kinds of crap. How much space is this taking up?


Cessandra

Why sex is better than religion: There are laws against forcing sex on minors who can’t think for themselves.

Heck, 500 headers ain’t that much. I’ve seen up to 30,000 headers in one group before.

Don’t worry about space. Your ISP might get upset about you having a lot of email on their servers, but you see if you have 1,000 users with 1,000 different messages each, you can see how that would take up a lot more space than if the 1,000 users were all looking at the same 1,000 messages, which is the case on Usenet. …if that makes any sense at all :slight_smile:

Those 500 headers are on the news server whether you download them or not, so it really is a non-issue.

Has anyone really answered the question yet? I’ll do my best, and let the others correct me.

Newsgroups and usenet are the same thing. Imagine almost any subject in the world that you want to talk about, and there’s probably a newsgroup realated to it. The method newsgroups are named is by giving it names delimited by a period. You just keep adding on names, divided by periods until you have the specific newsgroup that you want. For example, since I’m I umpire college, highschool, rec league fast pitch softball, I read a newsgroup called “rec.sport.officiating”. There might be 1000 newsgroups in the rec catagory, there might be 100 more in the rec.sport catagory.
When people talk about porn on the net, I’d venture to say that most of the free porn on the net is through newsgroups. Binary files are frequently added to newsgroups. Just like I stated above, you can get porn on every conceivable subject. (And I pray we don’t ever have a ‘scat’ thread started!)
Now that you have an idea what newsgroups are, how do you use them? In AOL use keyword USENET to search and subscribe to the ones that interest you. The other two methods are to use www.dejanews.com, and finally to use a newsreader program, for example I’ve used Outlook Express.
I’m sure others can fill in the gaping holes I’ve left behind.

Enright3

The OP still hasn’t quite been answered. I’ll try and explain the difference between a newsgroup and a message board.

This site contains message boards, which are the same thing as regular web pages. All the messages reside on one single server; whenever you read a page or post a message, your PC communicates directly (more or less) with the machine named www.straightdope.com .

Usenet is different because there’s no single, central location. It’s just a network of connected computers, all running similar software.
When you post a message with your Usenet newsreader program, it is sent to a local news server. (In the case of a university, this machine usually resides on campus.) As far as your PC is concerned, that’s the end of that.
But that local machine shares all its messages with a list of other, nearby servers. And those also share with others. So in fairly short order, your message has been propagated many thousands of times, all over the planet.

This decentralized structure has some advantages. For instance, if your local server goes down, you can connect to another one and get the same news. By contrast, if somebody at Dope HQ tripped over the plug on this web server, all these message boards would be instantly unreachable.

Usenet is also much larger in scope than any website. Because no single server needs to hold every single message, there’s room for far more stuff. Just the list of different groups is very large, and the total number of posts in a single day is downright mind-boggling.

The downside, IMHO, is that because of the sheer volume and chaotic setup, you usually need to sort through a lot more noise to find something worthwhile. I have a button that sums up my opinion pretty well:
“Reading Usenet is like trying to drink from a fire hose.
Posting to Usenet is like screaming at people as they whizz past on a roller coaster.
Archiving Usenet is like washing toilet paper.”

‘There ARE laws against forcing sex on minors. It’s called statutory
rape.’

Nope. THey changed it, it’s now called
‘Rape of the child.’

To answer your question. There are about 50,000 newsgroups. To see/find/read/reply to those you should look at your browser docs as your browser often contains a newsgroup reading program for you that is much simpler than getting another program because your browser already has a newserver listed for you.

Newsgroups are on newservers. www.supernews.com is one where you can also download binary files. Binary files is the way of posting software as a text message.
They look like this if you try to read them:
#@$%urw(& . Ugly, eh? So try your browser newsgroup reader first. So don’t read any newsgroups yet that have the word binary in them.