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USENET News

The Basics
Newsgroups are places where people can post messages for all to read. There are newsgroups available for almost every conceivable topic. Some are large and general while others are highly specific. Newsgroups are sometimes called discussion lists because of the 'threads', or continued conversations, that take place over previous posts.

How It Works
The news that you read is kept on the news server that you connect to (for Texas.Net customers, news.texas.net). All messages are kept on large hard drives. The amount of hard drives determines how many newsgroups can be kept and how long messages are kept. The less hard disk space, the less newsgroups the server can handle and the shorter time messages stay available for reading. Texas.Net currently carries over 45,000+ newsgroups with a holding time on messages of at least 30 days (some groups are held for over 50 days). Once you download and read a message, you can reply to it. You should be able to choose whether this reply goes to only the sender, only the newsgroup, or both, depending on your news reader. Replies (as well as original posts) then get stored on our news server and propagated to other news servers.

What You Need
To read news, you need a news reader. Some readers include FreeAgent, Grabit, and Newsbin. Those who use Microsoft Outlook Express for e-mail can also configure it to read newsgroups. Macintosh users can use their built-in news reader as well. Netscape also comes with a built-in newsreader on all platform versions of it's Navigator web browser.

News Abuse
Since a post could go to thousands of readers, abuse is common on newsgroups. One minor form is cross-posting, in which your message goes to newsgroups that it's not meant for. For example, if you were to send a message to alt.music.violins about racing cars in Idaho, you would generally be frowned upon. This is a minor nuisance, though. Other more serious activities include illegal chain letter schemes and mail-bombing other news posters. These activities are grounds for termination of your account.

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