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Newsgroup Hierarchies (Categories)

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What are Newsgroup Hierarchies

There is the Big 8 hierarchy of newsgroups, which contains 8 famous groups of newsgroups. The “Big Eight,” most common first-level categories include:

More specific newsgroup categories include: can.* (Canadian groups), k12.* (kinder garden to grade 12 discussions), etc.

Because many people weren’t happy with the way the BIG-8 newsgroup hierarchy works, a Usenet administrator one day started the alternative groups or the ALT. groups (which are alternative to the BIG-8 groups). Basically, he tried to create certain groups as BIG-* groups, but the main Usenet provider at that time refused to carry his groups, so he created them on his own and used an “alternative” backbone to distribute messages for those groups.

The alt. binary hierarchy is dedicated to the newsgroup names that refer to newsgroups containing Usenet files (called binaries). You can easily search these groups at Fast Usenet using our customized version of GrabIt newsreader and find what you are looking for quickly. So, as you see, there are a few rules and conventions to follow when it comes to newsgroup names. Newsgroup names are usually very self-explanatory and you can easily tell what he group is all about just by its name. For example, alt.binaries.cartoons.french is obviously a group that contains files (binaries) with French cartoons. Alt. binaries.country.audio is a group containing country music.

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Why Usenet Needs Hierarchies

Following the newsgroup naming convention and the hierarchy categorizations makes it convenient for system administrators to restrict access to a specific newsgroup or to a given series of newsgroups. Some newsgroup subjects can be quite controversial. Others may be less applicable to a specific group of users. For example, administrators could restrict access to all of the newsgroups that start with “alt.folklore.”

System administrators of Usenet service providers have no obligation to carry all of the existing newsgroups and may choose to omit certain groups from their newsgroup portfolio, if they do not think their users should access to them. However, most good premium service providers, such as Fast Usenet opt for allowing access to almost all newsgroups out there because we do not want to censor the content of Usenet and we choose to give our users the discretion of doing so.

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Biz.* Newsgroup Hierarchy

The Biz represents a hierarchy of Alt newsgroups that started to be carried and propagated by sites interested in the World of business products and services around them. This includes in particular, computer products and services, announcements of fixes and enhancements, product reviews, postings of demo software, and the resulting discussions. Even though the Biz hierarchy isn’t electronic equivalent of a newspaper ad, the hierarchy is specifically intended to carry traffic of a commercial, factual, and technical nature.

Thus, over time some sites operating under restrictions against carrying suck traffic were historically unable to carry the hierarchy. Biz was formed by Karl Denniger in the late 1980’s in response to a rather large net discussion over the proper place for people to post things that were blatantly commercial.

A number of groups have been created under several sub-classifications for the intention to encourage the creation of subgroups. At Fast Usenet you can find all the Biz newsgroups you can handle which are accessible through our web gateway or you can use a newsreader too.

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Alt.*  Newsgroup Hierarchy

Because many people weren’t happy with the way the BIG-8 newsgroup hierarchy works, a Usenet administrator one day started the alternative groups (which are alternative to the BIG-8 groups). Basically, he tried to create certain groups as BIG-* groups, but the main Usenet provider at that time refused to carry his groups, so he created them on his own and used an “alternative” backbone to distribute messages for those groups.

Some people claim that the term “Alt” comes from Alternative topics. Other groups say that Alt originally stands for Anarchists, Lunatics, and Terrorists. Alt news was created for users who wanted newsgroups to be started without voting, discussion, or administration. These groups can and will be created by the users request. The only way to shut down particular alt newsgroups is by a government order or by filtering it out by each Usenet provider.

Alt news today consists of a vast majority of topics. Applications, and even mature adult newsgroups are active in the Usenet environment. Anybody with Usenet access is allowed to create a newsgroup as long as a Usenet provider is willing to cooperate. Users at home are not allowed to just start posting newsgroups at will. A feature like this would ruin Usenet with spam, which is unwelcome advertising.

The alternative groups have only one hierarchy, alt.* and the rules are: there are no rules! Anything goes in them, because the rules of the other hierarchy do not apply. Basically anybody can create a new group there or try to remove an already existing one. Because there isn’t a centralized supervision of the alt.* groups, most ISP’s and news services trust nobody there. Control messages can be sent out to create a new group and it will be ignored, same as if you try to remove an already existing group, it too will be ignored.

Creating a new alt.* group is easy, it is hard however to have other news services or ISP’s carry it, since there is no control on how the groups are handled. The largest amount of alt groups and most popular seem to be the alt.binaries hierarchy which carries the binary groups. These are the frequented groups for people looking for large files such as video, and software.

Mostly alt.* posters use screen names instead of their real names, you should also uphold newsgroup etiquette in alt.* but the groups are not as strict as the BIG-8 ones, so don’t expect the newsgroup etiquette back. Most often, however, if you treat other users friendly, they will treat you the same way.

So next time you are downloading from an alt.* group, stop and take a minute to think about the history of these groups and remember to watch your newsgroup etiquette.

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Talk.* Newsgroup Hierarchy

This hierarchy is made up of groups that are largely debate-oriented and tending to feature long deliberations without decision and without substantial amounts of useful information. Talk.* groups are also broken down into many different other hierarchies just like most groups in the BIG-8. Some of these other smaller hierarchies are talk.politics, talk.religion, and talk.philosophy.

Some of the more active groups in this hierarchy are:

Talk.politics.misc – a broad newsgroup were people discuss everything about politics.

Talk.politics.guns – a group where people talk about the current events going on with guns issues.

Talk.politics.mideast – the group that discusses current events on political views on the Middle East.

Talk.religion.misc – a broad newsgroup that discusses religion in general.

There are many more accepted groups in the talk.* hierarchy but those are just a few of the groups that make it a well-liked hierarchy. Make sure when posting to a group that you are in the group that is most relevant to your post as one might be created that is more specific to your discussion and not so broad of a topic.

Most posters will frown on this if you post in the more generalized topic group and not in the one that suits you better, so make sure you are posting in the most appropriate group before you go ahead and post your message.

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Comp.* Newsgroup Hierarchy

The comp.* groups are ones that carry any type of topics that relate to computers. They include groups that computer professionals and hobbyists enjoy, including topics about computer science, software source (Usenet was similar to Github back in the day to share computer code), and information on hardware and software systems. Usenet hierarchies are name trees with newsgroups as their leaves. Each sub-hierarchy has a topic which is a specialization of the topic of its parent hierarchy. Some examples of this are:

Comp.compression is both a hierarchy and a newsgroup. It is a sub-hierarchy of comp.* because it contains comp. as its name prefix. It deals with data compression, which is the compression of larger files into smaller ones by compressing them. It also is a normal newsgroup where people can post articles. This last fact cannot be figured out from just the name.

Comp.compression.research is a newsgroup which is part of both the comp.* and the comp.compression hierarchy. It deals with research in the field of data compression, so it offers yet another interest in the computer hierarchy. Actually, the existence of this group makes any articles on data compression research off-topic in comp.compression, just because a more appropriate group exists.

In some parts of Usenet there are stricter distinction between hierarchies and groups. A name is either a hierarchy or a newsgroup, but never both. To reuse the above example, hierarchies comp and comp.compression would have been created, with newsgroups comp.compression.research and comp.compression.misc (misc for miscellaneous). Topic of the comp.compression.misc group would have been everything dealing with data compression that is not covered by the research group – exactly what comp.compression, the newsgroup, is used for in the above list.

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Rec.* Newsgroup  Hierarchy

The Rec.* groups include anything that is oriented towards the arts, hobbies, and recreational activities. Rec.* is a very broad hierarchy and has many other hierarchies that are under it. Some of the main hierarchies that are included in rec.* are: rec.arts, rec.autos, rec.aviation, rec.boats, rec.collecting, and rec.crafts.

Some of the most popular groups under this category are:

Rec.sport.football.college – this group pertains to college football and discussions on who is going to make it to the bowl games.

Rec.gambling.poker – group discussing the game of poker.

Rec.photo.digital – this group focuses on digital photographs and discussions about it.

Rec,game.pinball – this group is a discussion group about only one thing – pinball.

Rec.woodworking – a group solely for the purpose of discussing different techniques and hardware used in the craft of woodworking.

There are many more popular groups in the rec.* hierarchy but these are just a few of the groups that make it a popular hierarchy. Make sure when posting to a group, that you are in the group that is most relevant to your post as one might be created that is more specific to your discussion and not so broad of a topic.

Most posters will frown on this if you post in the more generalized topic group and not in the one that suits you better, so make sure you are posting in the most appropriate group before you go ahead and post your message.

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Sci.*  Newsgroup Hierarchy

The science newsgroups in Usenet are great places for every self-respected scientist to do their research and to get expert opinion on some very specialized issues and problems. Whether you are interested in geography, chemistry, physics, biology or any other science field, Usenet is the place for you. There are many newsgroups dedicated to the issue of a given scientific area. Some of them really drill down to a specific problem and can contain very detailed and focused discussions between experts in the field.

Everything and anything! You can find the most incredible posts in some of these science newsgroups. Things that you definitely cannot find in the books or in other parts of the Internet. One of the most valuable features of the science newsgroups are the groups dynamics, the unique discussions that go on between professionals and experts who share their opinions and expertise with others. Whether you are an expert or a novice in the area, Usenet will most likely contain items of interest to you. There are text and binary (containing files) groups related to different sciences and they are all accessible to you, once you become a part of Usenet by joining a provider like Fastusenet.org.

Some Examples of Science Newsgroups

Some examples of science newsgroups in the sci.* hierarchy are:

Sci.physics – group made up of technical discussion on physics.

Sci.math – group containing discussions on math by many different professors.

Sci.military.naval – a discussion newsgroup that talks about the Navy.

Sci.econ – group about economics, both macro and micro.

Sci.space.shuttle – group concerned with discussions about the Space Shuttles

There are many more popular groups in the sci.* hierarchy, but these are just a few of the groups that make it a popular hierarchy. The sci.* hierarchy is actually just the root hierarchy for many other hierarchies under it. Some of these groups include math, psychology, and physics.

Make sure when posting to a group, that you are in the group that is most relevant to your post as one might be created that is more specific to your discussion and not so broad of a topic. Most posters will frown on this if you post in the more generalized topic group and not in the one that suits you better, so make sure you are posting in the most appropriate group before you go ahead and post your message.

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Soc.* Newsgroup Hierarchy

The soc.* newsgroup hierarchy is made up of groups primarily addressing social issues and socializing. The hierarchies like many of the other BIG-8 are actually made up of many other hierarchies. Some of these lower hierarchies include soc.support, soc.religion, soc.org, soc.history and soc.genealogy.

Within these groups, there are also many accepted groups for this hierarchy, and some of these are:

Soc.culture.usa – the group discusses the culture of the United States.

Soc.culture.british – this group discusses the culture in England.

Soc.men – this group contains social discussions about men.

Soc.singles – a group about singles and discussions with the goal of meeting new people and possibly dating.

Soc.history.medieval – a group that discusses medieval times and society in that time.

There are many more popular groups in the soc.* hierarchy, but these are just a few of the groups that make it a well-liked hierarchy. Make sure when you are posting to a group that you are in the group that is most relevant to your post, as one might be created that is more specific to your discussion and not so broad of a topic.

Most posters will frown on this if you post in the more generalized topic group and not in the one that suits you best, so make sure you are posting in the most appropriate group before you go ahead and post your message.

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News.* Newsgroup Hierarchy

A group in the BIG-* hierarchy that has many different groups in it is the news.* hierarchy. It is a group that contains groups relating to the news network and software themselves. Just like another group in the BIG-8 misc.* it has many different variations of group names and some of the groups although different will be the exact same newsgroups.

Some of the different groups in news.* are:

News.hierarchy – a group only related to news administrators wanting new hierarchies to be created.

News.admin.net.* – this is another hierarchy in itself that has many groups below it, and they all relate to news administrators involved with newsgroups and discussions for them to ask questions and look for help with problems. One of these groups under this hierarchy includes a group where they can report newsgroup abuse, in the form of spam.

News.software.readers – this group discusses the different types of newsreaders and discusses troubleshooting the problems that people are having with them.

There are many more popular groups in the news.* hierarchy but these are just a few of the groups that make it a popular group title. Make sure when posting a group that you are in the group that is most relevant to your post as one might be created that is more specific to your discussion and not so broad of a topic. Most posters will frown on this if you post in the more generalized topic group and not in the one that suits you better, so make sure you are posting in the most appropriate group before you go ahead and post your message.

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Free.* Newsgroups Hierarchy

The free groups (free.*) are similar to the alt.* groups. Every user is free to do whatever they like and that’s why most ISP’s treat free.* groups like alt.* groups. Only certain free.* groups are carried and they have to be requested by one of their customers for them to show up on the servers. Free.* groups can be created very easily because there are no rules.

The difference between free.* and alt.* is that the name free.* comes from the word freedom and most important in the free.* hierarchy is the users’ freedom of speech. Because there are no rules in alt.*, ISPs often apply filters to alt.* as a whole. Many try to filter spam, trolls or other behavior they see as abusive. While this looks like censorship to you, nobody forces you to use a certain ISP and if you are not happy with the way they filter newsgroups, you are free to go somewhere else. The free.* groups aren’t like this as no rules apply to them.

If an ISP filters in free.*, the supporters of this hierarchy will immediately complain about that, as it destroys the whole idea behind the free.* hierarchy. With this hierarchy, the idea is “no control at all,” not even if it looks like somebody is committing a net-abuse. Users shall protect themselves of abuse on their own (using filters in their news client for example).

The free hierarchy is younger than the alt hierarchy and nobody knows how it may develop in the future. It was started as an experiment some years ago and survived up to now, similar to alt.*. Nobody ever thought that alt.* will become as popular as it is today, so who knows. There are a lot of garbage groups in this hierarchy, but that is what makes it fun and exciting.

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Misc.* Newsgroups Hierarchy

The hierarchy of misc.* is a popular group as one of the BIG-8 hierarchies. It is a group that address themes not easily classified under any of the other headings, or which incorporate themes from multiple categories. Misc.* groups are usually busier then other groups because they are general and broad groups that people will post in trying to find more people to discuss their topics with.

Some of the most popular groups in this hierarchy are:

Misc.answers – this group is full of FAQ’s for different groups, and people asking questions about them.

Misc.consumers – this group contains consumers that discuss different products and what they like or dislike about that certain item.

Misc.computers.forsale – this group is exactly what it sounds like, a place for people to sell used computers, there is also a repost group for people that miss the first posting.

Misc.forsale.computers – this group is the same as the previous, just the words are changed around, so you can see the many groups in misc.* can have different variations of the same group.

There are many more popular groups in the misc.* hierarchy, but these are just a few of the groups that make it a popular group title. Make sure when posting a group that you are in the group that is most relevant to your post as one might be created that is more specific to your discussion and not so broad of a topic. Most posters will frown on this if you post in the more generalized topic group and not in the one that suits you better, so make sure you are posting in the most appropriate group before you go ahead and post your message.

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Newsgroup FAQs?

What is meant by FAQ newsgroups is the Frequently Asked Question article that almost every group in Usenet contains. The purpose of this Frequently Asked Questions document is to explain the purpose of the newsgroup to newcomers, to outline the rules and procedures that are to be followed by group visitors, and to answer any questions they might have. Therefore, if you are newcomer in a given newsgroup, it is a good idea to check out the FAQ newsgroup article before asking any questions from the exiting members in the group.

There is a website, www.faqs.org that provides archives of most FAQ newsgroup messages. It’s just an easier way of getting to those messages without having to go the actual newsgroup in Usenet. FAQ newsgroup articles are posted in the newsgroup at least once and you shouldn’t have any problems finding and reading them. Then, if you have any other questions that are not answered in the FAQ message, you can direct those to the active group members so they can give you a reply. Now that you know the purpose of FAQ newsgroup messages, you will hopefully get in the habit of checking them out when in doubt as to whether you should subscribe to a given newsgroup or not. The FAQ messages are a great source of information about a newsgroup and what you can find in it.

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