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Newsgroups are not news and are not groups. Newsgroups are similar to public message areas of an electronic bulletin board, or BBS. There are more than 20,000 of them. Some newsgroups might only have one two articles per week, others might have hundreds a day. Some are as serious as nuclear physics, and others are as whimsical as "Elvis lives!"

To read newsgroups you need access to a news (Network News Transfer Protocol, NNTP) server. If your own Internet Service Provider manages one, you should probably use it. If not, you might want to take advantage of one of the public servers:

Newsgroup Software:
To read and participate in newsgroups you must have a newsgroup client program installed on your computer. Both Netscape Navigator and Microsoft Internet Explorer have built in readers, but if you are a heavy user of newsgroups you may want to install a more powerful stand-alone program.

Finding Newsgroups:
Newsgroup FAQs serve two purposes. First, they are manuals for the newsgroups, and explain the groups' rules and expectations. For example, alt.quotations requires an obligatory quotation, or obquote in every posting. Newsgroups covering current movies and books usually require you to put the word spoiler in front of the subject line of any message that might give away the plot. The second purpose of FAQs is to summarize basic ground so that regulars to the group are not faced with the same elementary questions time and time again. Some FAQs are lengthy and contain a wealth of information; they are worth reading and saving even if you do not intend to follow the newsgroup regularly.

Usenet is, in essence, a collection of topics available for discussion. These discussion groups (or newsgroups, as they're normally called) are open to all and sundry, and they won't cost you a dime (aside from the usual connection charges, of course)
Getting News via E-Mail:
If your only access to the Internet is via e-mail (with Juno, for example) it is still possible to read newsgroups.
 

* Almost all the public access NNTP servers I know about
* Free Agent
Free Agent is a freeware news reader program.
* Newzbot
Public Usenet resources for the masses
* Getting USENET News via e-mail
* A Usenet Primer