The Usenet...

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The Usenet...

The Usenet (Users' Network) is a bulletin board shared among many computer systems around the world. Usenet is a logical network, sitting on top of several physical networks, including UUCP, BITNET, and the Internet. Sites on Usenet include many universities, private companies, and research organizations. Current estimates indicate that there are over two million participants at over 45,000 Usenet sites in over fifty countries, with more users and sites joining every day. Most are running the UNIX operating system, although the number of non-UNIX sites, e.g. VMS sites and PCs, is increasing.

Before using or learning to use the Usenet, it is helpful to understand some of the terminology used to describe it:

A section of the net in which one particular topic is discussed. Newsgroups are named using a hierarchical tree structure quite similar in nature to the UnixTM file structure, but the net uses periods while UnixTM uses slashes. For example, discussion centering around the Apple Macintosh computer appears in a newsgroup entitled comp.sys.mac, while discussion about politics in general appears in talk.politics.misc.

A message which someone has posted to the net. Other terms for an article include ``message'' and ``post.''

In order to read a newsgroup, you subscribe to it. If you decide that you no longer wish to read the newsgroup, you unsubscribe from it. By default, you are asked for each new newsgroup if you want to subscribe to it.

.newsrc file:
Your .newsrc file resides in your home directory and tells rn which newsgroups you know about, to which ones you are subscribed and unsubscribed, and which articles in each newsgroup you have read.

KILL files:
Despite the fact that the net usually tries to limit newsgroups in breadth of topics, you will still always find articles that you don't want to read in newsgroups that you DO want to read. rn stores a KILL file for each newsgroup, and these files instruct the program to get rid of certain articles before you even have to look at them. To ``kill'' (or ``junk'') an article is to make the system think you've already read it.