Internet Basics for ESL Students
Lesson 13
Reading Usenet Newsgroups

keywords: newsgroup, post, cross post, subscribe, flame, spam, traffic


Dialogue 1: What's a newsgroup?


Pair work. Practice the conversation.

Jim: I have a question about my sound card.
Paul: I don't know very much about them. Why don't you post your question to a newsgroup.
Jim: There are so many. Which one should I ask?
Paul: Try Someone on that list will probably know the answer.

ReadingThere are more than 15,000 newsgroups on the Internet. Each newsgroup is about a single subject such as a sport or software system. Using Email, groups of people around the world share information about the topic. To read a newsgroup your ISP must subscribe to it. Most ISPs don't carry all the newsgroups because there is too much traffic.

What are these newsgroups about?

Usenet Newsgroup Classifications
alt: Alternative groups not part of the traditionalänewsgroups.
comp: Topics about computers
misc: Groups talking about things that are hard to classify.
news: Groups concerned with the news network and its software.
rec:Mostly discussions about hobbies and recreation.
sci:Discussions relating to science.
soc:Discussions about social issues.
talk:Debate oriented groups.

Reading: etiquette When writing an Email to a newsgroup make sure you write only about the group's topic. You can't post a question about science to the rec.folk-dancing group. If you do you will probably get flamed. Most Newsgroups are not for buying and selling; it's not a good idea to advertise your business to a group. Some businesses have tried sending mail to many groups at the same time - it's called spamming.

Dialogue 2: soc.culture.japan

Pair work. Practice the conversation.

Mary: I just found a great newsgroup about Japan.
Linda: What's its name?
Mary: It's called soc.culture.japan, and they have discussions about Japanese history, culture, religion, living conditions, etc.
Linda: Who posts to the group, and does it have a FAQ file?
Mary: People write from all over the world. This week university professors from Japan, America and the UK were discussing the Japanese education system.
Linda: What about the FAQ?
Mary: I've never seen it on the list.

a lap top

Discussion: Some countries are trying to ban or censor some newsgroups because they feel the groups discuss illegal activity or issues that are religiously or politically taboo.

  1. Should governments have the right to censor newsgroups?
  2. If someone posts information that is legal in one country but illegal in another what should be done?
  3. If you see copyrighted material posted to a newsgroup, what should you do?

Dialogue 3 Cross posting

a monitor

Pair work. Practice the conversation.

Jim: What does cross posting mean?
Paul: It means sending the same post to several different newsgroups at the same time.
Jim: Do people get angry if you do it?
Paul: Sometimes. It depends on whether the post is about issues that each group discusses.
Jim: So you have to be careful about not cross posting to the wrong groups.
Paul: That's right.

Writing etiquette: When you post a question to a newsgroup you should always give as much background information about your problem as possible. What kind of operating system are you using. What software are you trying to use. What error messages are you getting. You can't just say, ãNetscape doesn't work on my computer.ä and expect someone to tell you what's wrong.


Find a newsgroup archive.

This is a sub-page of Internet Basics for ESL Students
Lessons: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14
Copyright (C) 1998 by Jim Schweizer (