Wednesday, September 1, 2010

INTERNET - NNTP Usenet Newsgroup System

This article is about the Usenet and their Newsgroups that use NNTP.

This system is the outgrowth of the old Bulletinboard system of the DOS days. Think of it as the electronic version of the old office or school cork-board bulletin boards where ANYONE can post notices and the like.


The Network News Transfer Protocol (NNTP) is an Internet application protocol used for transporting Usenet news articles (netnews) between news servers and for reading and posting articles by end user client applications. Brian Kantor of the University of California, San Diego and Phil Lapsley of the University of California, Berkeley authored RFC 977, the specification for the Network News Transfer Protocol, in March 1986.

As you can see, this is only a specification that can be use by ANY provider via a NNTP Server.

Usenet (aka Newsnet)

Usenet is a worldwide distributed Internet discussion system. It developed from the general purpose UUCP architecture of the same name.

Duke University graduate students Tom Truscott and Jim Ellis conceived the idea in 1979 and it was established in 1980.[1] Users read and post messages (called articles or posts, and collectively termed news) to one or more categories, known as newsgroups. Usenet resembles a bulletin board system (BBS) in many respects, and is the precursor to the various Internet forums that are widely used today; and can be superficially regarded as a hybrid between email and web forums. Discussions are threaded, with modern news reader software, as with web forums and BBSes, though posts are stored on the server sequentially.

This is the distribution system. Note that NO one entity owns this system. It's public.

ISPs usually have their own NNTP Servers and included access as part of their service. But NNTP Servers are very resource intensive. Both in storage space needed and maintenance, including the cost evolved. This is why many ISPs have dropped their NNTP service.

The industry is shifting to specialized NNTP (Usenet) Providers. They do not provide connection the the Internet, just the Usenet service. Many have a subscription fee, which is how the make their money. Example, I use Forte's APN which charges me a monthly fee.


A Usenet newsgroup is a repository usually within the Usenet system, for messages posted from many users in different locations. The term may be confusing to some, because it is usually a discussion group. Newsgroups are technically distinct from, but functionally similar to, discussion forums on the World Wide Web. Newsreader software is used to read newsgroups.

Despite the advent of file-sharing technologies such as BitTorrent, as well as the increased use of blogs, formal discussion forums, and social networking sites, coupled with a growing number of service providers blocking access to Usenet (see main article) newsgroups continue to be widely used.

Bold emphasis mine

Examples of Newsgroups:

  • alt.politics.usa



The main reason I am posting this article is there is a misleading notice being propagated in blogs and Usenet posts that the Microsoft Newsgroups are going away. NOT true.

Microsoft does not own nor control the Usenet system. So Newsgroups in the microsoft.public. series are NOT going to go away. The ONLY way this would happen is that EVERY Usenet Provider worldwide dropped these groups from their servers.

What is happening is Microsoft is dropping the microsoft.public. series form THEIR Usenet servers. They have switched to their Live Forums.

To read Newsgroup posts, you do have to use a Usenet capable client.

Outlook Express includes this feature. There's also clients like Thunderbird (freeware, eMail + Usenet), and Agent (eMail + Usenet) that I use at home.

Note that the examples above are both eMail and Usenet clients. This is because Newsgroup posts are very close to eMails. In fact in Newsgroup posts format the only difference is the "headers." Example: eMails have a To: email-address/name while Newsgroup posts are to a group like alt.politics.usa.

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