What is a Newsgroup?

A newsgroup is a discussion that takes place online, devoted to a particular topic. The discussion takes the form of electronic messages called "postings" (or articles) that anyone with a newsreader can post or read. (From http://www.geocities.com/findnewsgroup/)  There are tens of thousands of newsgroups. .Some of them are applicable to a global audience; others are more applicable to a county city or organization.  Some newsgroups are "moderated"; in these newsgroups, articles are sent to a moderator before appearing n the newsgroup.

No one on the Internet could possibly read every article, in every newsgroup, every day. With newsgroups the only people who might read your article are those interested in the subject area of the newsgroup. You are reaching out to those people who have shown enough of an interest in the subject to read that newsgroup.

There are many people who give freely of their time and experiences. If you ask a question in a newsgroup, you're sure to receive a few answers and perhaps raise some discussion between those who did answer. By the time you get a final answer, people may have debated the question for quite awhile. It's fun to follow the discussion for even the simplest of queries. It's amazing to see how many people worldwide have something to say, or at least have something in common with you.

You will find that most people reading and replying in a newsgroup are very helpful and considerate. However, you will also come across a few who haven't the patience to deal with your question, or they may be rude in their replies. That's the nature of the Internet and Usenet News. (from http://www.islandnet.com/~tmc/html/articles/usentnws.htm)

Usenet vs. Freenet

Usenet is a world-wide distributed discussion system. It consists of a set of "newsgroups" with names that are classified by subject. Usenet is available on a wide variety of  computer systems and networks but the bulk of  modern usenet traffic is transported over the internet or UUCP. (from http://www.faqs.org/faqs/usenet/what-is/part1/)

Freenet has its own set of groups called Special Interest Groups (SIGS) that are only available to ncf members. There are hundreds of SIGS on many many topics. Some are more locally oriented and some are more general. It can be advantageous to read a local newsgroup if you want to sell a computer or rent an apartment.

Here's what Freenet's "about" page says about SIGS

About Special Interest Groups

The Special Interest Group (SIG) area is designed to accommodate a diverse
collection of discussion groups or newsgroups where NCF users can meet to
discuss any defined topic that is of common interest. The emphasis is on
informal groups of NCF users, with no specific organization or association
dominating the operation of the group. The only affinity is that each
group involves NCF members who share some common interest.

All SIGs include an "about" file as the first item in their menu. This
defines the purpose of the SIG, and the range of discussion topics that
are appropriate. Please read the about file before posting to ensure that
your contributions are on topic and that they will be a useful addition to
the discussion.

As an NCF user, you are welcome to read any SIG and to contribute to it
according to your interests. In doing so, please remember that good
discussion thrives on well stated information and opinions. There is a
place for conflicting opinions and controversy in any discussion, but this
should be done with some degree of diplomacy. Flaming or personal attacks
are generally not welcomed by other SIG participants and should be

Please join in and enjoy.
For the full text please go to http://www.ncf.ca/ip/sigs/about/about

For more information on Freenet SIGS please go to: http://www.ncf.ca/freeport/sigs/about/menu

How to access newsgroups

To read and post articles in a newsgroup, you need the appropriate software. We call this software a newsreader . There are many newsreaders available, some are free, others are shareware, and still others are available by retail. These newsreaders include WinVN, Agent, NewsXpress, and Gravity for the PC, and NewsWatcher, InterNews, and NewsHopper for the Macintosh.

As well, many Internet web browsers have their own newsreader component as a part of their product. Although there are many programs available to read the news, most of them provide the same basic functionality and features. Once you have connected with your Internet service provider, or ISP, the newsreader program can request a list of all the newsgroups available from your ISP. This may take a few minutes depending on how many newsgroups your ISP carries and the speed of your connection.

To read more please go to http://www.islandnet.com/~tmc/html/articles/usentnws.htm#Newsreaders

To connect you need to find out the name of the news server and programme it into your newsreader so that the software can hook up to the ISP and the newsgroups that the ISP carries. Please go to http://www.ncf.ca/ncf/support/newsSetup.html for Freenet's instructions on how to configure your newsreader. This is where you can run into trouble.

I moved into a house with a network already set up. For technical reasons I could not configure my browser to read the NCF groups and for a while I did not know how to solve this problem.

At first I thought that I could go to the library and access them there. Unfortunately library computers are not configured to be able to access newsgroups.

But then I hit on my solution Telnet

What is Telnet?

Telnet is an application based on the Telnet protocol.  This application is used to connect to remote computers, usually via the telnet port (23).  For example, when you "telnet in from home to check your mail at school", you are using telnet to connect from one computer (your computer) to another computer (school's computer) generally in a different location.  Once you have established your telnet connection, you then log in to that computer and execute commands remotely on that computer through your telnet interface.  (from http://www.telnet.org/htm/faq.htm)

Freenet has a telnet set-up to a text version of freenet. (This was how freenet was originally set up back in the day)

You can read mail this way too. It is all text based - very old school but functional.

I spent may hours reading email and newsgroups this way. You can read Freenet SIGS as well as  Usenet  groups.

Login to NCF and go to the start page. On the left under Use NCF you will see - Telnet to NCF FreePort

ncf start page

Click that and you will get the Terminal - Yes it looks like the 1970s!

 Login with your user name and password

telnet login

It will take a minute to set up,

You should get a screen that looks like this:

telnet welcome window

Then go to the Main Menu (1)

ncf main menu

Then select Number 4 the Communications Centre
Then select 5 Newsgroups.

From that menu you can set up a list of your favourite newsgroups, or read the group of your choice. Just follow the menus.

Here is Freenet's page on newsgroups including information on how to set up your own SIG.

Hope this helps,

Susan Wellisch