USENET is arguably the oldest online network alive today. It was first developed in the late 1970s and has since been a part of internet culture. USENET has also been a witness to historical events such as the announcement of Linux and the first spam message.
With modern websites and social media, most people think that USENET is a dead place. This is not the case. Over the decades, hundreds of communities have continued to use USENET to discuss their interests. This article aims to show 7 USENET groups that are still alive and kicking today.
Why Use USENET
At its core, USENET is a message sharing protocol. This means that USENET are just rules that reveal how messages move through the internet.
As a result, the USENET network is decentralized and messages sent through it are impossible to delete. This makes USENET useful for people who want to discuss without worrying their posts might get deleted by an admin.
Further, all USENET messages are in text. This means that you can participate in USENET even if you have a poor connection and hardware.
Lastly, USENET is a big library of knowledge. The combination of its long history and wide range of topics means that there will be a discussion thread that might find interesting. This becomes useful if you are looking for niche information.
Creating a USENET Account Today
It is easy to connect to USENET today. In that, there are a number of services that offer either free or cheap text-only access. These providers will allow you to start browsing and chatting with the wider USENET network.
In particular, one of the most popular service that offer free access is Eternal September.
- To create an account with them, you can go to this web page.
- From there, the web page will ask for some basic information about you. Once done, you can then check your inbox for an email from them. This will contain the password that they assigned to your account.
- With that, you can then use this to connect to Eternal September’s USENET server. For example, I am currently using Claws Mail to view my subscriptions.
Knowing all of that, we can now start talking about the seven best USENET newsgroups that are still alive and kicking today.
The comp.lang.* hierarchy is one of the most active newsgroups today. Dating back to the original start of the USENET protocol, comp.* is one of the Big 8. In that, it focuses on discussing anything about computers and computing. These includes computer theory, computer hardware and software.
In that regard, comp.lang.* is a computer language newsgroup that contains subgroups for all kinds of programming languages. For example, you can still find people talking about old and obscure languages such as COBOL and Oberon. This is especially useful if you are looking to learn and find help in writing programs for these languages.
Similar to comp.lang.*, comp.os.linux.misc is also a computing-focused newsgroup. However, as the name suggests, this hierarchy is instead dedicated on talking about the Linux kernel and its development.
In here, you can also find subgroups about hardware support and kernel development. Not only that, you can also find additional tips and tricks with optimizing your Linux kernel. This is highly useful if you are looking to learn more about the Linux kernel and how you can make it work better for you.
On the other hand, alt.bitcoins is the group dedicated to talking about bitcoin and cryptocurrencies. Unlike comp, alt.bitcoins is a slower newsgroup. This means that discussion and talk does not happen all the time.
However, there are always a good number of readers that check this newsgroup. As such, you can bring up any question about bitcoin and bitcoin usage and the readers will most probably respond to you.
The alt.folklore.computers newsgroup is the go-to group for the discussion of anything related to old computers. This includes old mainframes, old programming practices and general computing history.
Similar to alt.bitcoins this is also a slow newsgroup. However, it is not uncommon to find in-depth discussion and history about old and obsolete technology.
Further, the newsgroup also announces gathering events for readers that what to know more about old computers. As such, this is a good newsgroup if you are into general computer history.
Rec.arts.* is part of the Big 8 that specializes with artistic media. It is a subgroup of general rec.* which, then, is all about general recreation.
In that, rec.arts.anime.misc is a subgroup that focuses entirely on Japanese animation (anime). The discussion in this group is wide ranging, from old anime titles such as Neon Genesis Evangelion to currently airing shows such as Eighty-Six.
This can be a good newsgroup if you are looking to discuss about any form of anime may it be old or new.
On the other hand, rec.autos.sport.f1 is the go-to place for anything Formula 1 in USENET. This is a high volume newsgroup that has a lot of race predictions and technical discussion.
It is especially active during race weekends and you can reliably read along during the race to find what the other readers are thinking about.
Aside from that, rec.autos.sport.f1 is also up-to-date with the current news in general motorsports. As such, if you are looking to learn more about Formula 1 and Motorsports, rec.autos.sport.f1 can be a really good newsgroup for you.
Unlike the previous groups, uk.rec.sheds is a regional newsgroup based in the United Kingdom. Despite that, you can still access this from anywhere through Eternal September.
Uk.rec.sheds was originally about sheds and shed equipment. However, over the years, uk.rec.sheds harbored more and more casual conversations and has since derailed the original topic of the newsgroup.
Today, uk.rec.sheds is an off-topic light newsgroup where you can put your feet up and talk about anything. As such, this can be a relaxing newsgroup that you can check into to talk about random things.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. What are the issues of using USENET today?
One of the main issue with USENET today is spam. Due to how the network works, it is very easy for someone to rapidly post messages in a newsgroup. However, you can easily manage this by using filters or subscribing to a USENET provider that does it for you.
Another issue with USENET is that there are no authentication methods to secure your identity. This means that it is easy for someone to use your name and email address for their posts. However, it is important to note that it is possible to check whether a post came from the real user that it claims to be.
Lastly, USENET moves slower than the web. This means that posts and replies do not get instant followups. This is evident for groups such as alt.bitcoins and alt.folklore.computers. For these slower groups, you can expect a reply to your post after a day or two.
2. What is the Big 8 and alt.* in USENET?
The Big 8 is the group that was established after USENET’s Great Renaming. It came about in 1987 as an answer for the lack of organization in the newsgroups present at the time. The Big 8 became an officiating body that decided which groups can be created and which cannot.
At the moment, the Big 8 consists of the following: comp, news, rec, soc, sci, humanities, talk and misc.
Knowing that, the alt.* hierarchy grew as an alternative to the strict creation policies of the Big 8. In alt.* there are minimal rules on creating a new newsgroup. As such, alt.* groups are considerably disorganized compared to their Big 8 counterparts.
3. Is there a way to find how active a newsgroup is?
Yes! If you are using Eternal September, it is possible to have a rough estimate of how active a newsgroup is. To do that, you can go to this link and search for the newsgroups that you are interested in. It will, then, show all of the posts that Eternal September holds for that particular newsgroup.
Image credit: Unsplash
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