Usenet is a vast collection of different news groups. Each one is devoted to a very specific subject area (for instance Indian culture). Think of them as international bulletin boards that anyone one in the world can read and to which you can add your own notes, questions, requests, opinions, etc. You can read what others have 'posted' there and respond either to the person individually or to the group as a whole.
Because many topics may be being discussed in such a forum simultaneously, and so to help you keep track of individual discussions and debates, articles posted their are organized into 'threads'. This is to say all the 'posts' devoted to one topic are 'threaded' together sequentially so you can read a whole series of responses to the original post that started the discussion.
To help organize these many discussion forums (there are probably more than 10,000 such newsgroups in the world!) they are arranged hierarchically in broad 'families'. There are a numbers of large families whose names start with:
And so on. These main family groups have many branches which keep growing and spreading.
The naming of the groups is also hierarchical so that a group interested the Telugu (Indian) language and culture is called soc.culture.indian.telugu while one which is interested in ornithology and birdwatching is rec.birds. Each word in the chain tells you a little more about what the newsgroup is devoted to.
What can I do with News (Usenet)?
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