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Key Usenet Newsgroups Features

I’ve been wondering of late if that will ultimately be the greatest contribution of the net to history
— that it provides a cheap, reasonably accessible, mechanism for multi-way international
colmmunication.

The
equality of access to those with the appropriate technological means and mind
grants great liberties and opportunities, but concurrently with freedom comes
the possibility for its abuse, an abuse that the ‘lawless’ society of the ‘net
may seem ill-fit to deal with.

Yet
for a society without laws, the Internet functions with an incredible fluidity.
You can say _anything_ on Usenet, (even advertise,) yet while there are no written
rules as to _how_you_can_say_it_, the ‘net regulates itself well enough to avoid
collapse.


Cal Woods; The Ethics
of Usenet Etiquette
; 1994.

The Usenet leverages many of the key Internet features. The key features of the Usenet itself are facilitation
of group collaboration in a common virtual space, as described below.

  • Group
    communications
    . The Usenet is a powerful facilitator of group communication
    across time and geographic space. One person can post a message on the Usenet,
    another person reply to it, and a third person reply to either
    message, no matter where they are in the world, and whenever is convenient to
    them.

    Usenet messages are organized in newsgroups and threads
    that are stored in Usenet archives indefinitely for later retrieval by anyone that wishes to access them, even years later, connecting people across generations.

    Mailing lists, IRC, and MUD’s also provide group communications, although on a lessor scale.

  • Common space. The
    Usenet is the second largest common public space in existence, next to the Internetitself. Anyone can post anything they wish to any newsgroup, and anyone can read
    any message they wish from any newsgroup.

    Like most common spaces, the Usenet therefore reflects the best and worst of human nature, from community newsgroups where people are focused on selflessly helping each other, to less worthwhile groups where the postings are filled with pointless and counterproductive information.

    Like most common spaces, messages posted on the
    Usenet are public property and can be freely copied and reused in other sources, although
    Usenet netiquette mandates that credit should always be provided.