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Usenet NEWS

Usenet NEWS is a means of communications for people with common interests. The structure of Usenet NEWS is hierarchical. There are layers of newsgroups and messages. The top layer is the general directory of all newsgroups.

Major Categories of Newsgroups

There are several major categories of newsgroups:


The bit groups are actually newsgroup links from existing BITNET mailing lists. Many of the popular mailing lists such as the WordPerfect list are available. This provides an alternative to subscribing to a mailing list.


Topics of interest to both computer professionals and hobbyists, including topics in computer science, software sources, and information on hardware and software systems.


The ieee groups are related to IEEE, the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers. Most groups are technical although some discuss the activities of IEEE itself.


The fr groups address French topics, in french.


Group addressing themes not easily classified into any of the other headings or which incorporate themes from multiple categories. Subjects include fitness, job-hunting, law, and investments.


Discussions marked by special knowledge relating to research in or application of the established sciences.


Groups primarily addressing social issues and socializing. Included are discussions related to many different world cultures.


Groups largely debate-oriented and tending to feature long discussions without resolution and without appreciable amounts of generally useful information.


Groups concerned with the Usenet NEWS network, group maintenance, and software.


Groups oriented towards hobbies and recreational activities.


Groups discussing VMS operating system issues and concerns.

Alternative Newsgroups

There are two alternative hierarchies. Alternative newsgroups are not "officially" part of Usenet NEWS and as such may be created by anyone.


True anarchy: anything and everything can and does appear; subjects include sex, the Simpsons, and privacy.


Groups concentrating on interests and software with the GNU Project of the Free Software Foundation.


Under the major topic groups, there are subgroups; for instance, under the topic of "rec", is the subtopic, "sports", and under that sub-subtopic are volley ball, baseball, football, etc. Under these sub-subtopics are the actual messages.

To Start Usenet NEWS

To access Usenet NEWS on the VAX at the $ prompt, type


A list of the newsgroups and subgroups will appear on the screen.

Moving around in the Newsgroups

There are several ways to move up or down among the newsgroups.

Arrow Keys

Use the arrow keys to move one line at a time.

Word Commands

Type UP or DOWN to move the cursor one line at a time.

Type TOP to get to the top of the list.

Type BOTTOM to get to the bottom of the list.

Type a Newsgroup number or a message number to jump down or up several groups or messages.

Type SELECT groupname to jump to a selected group. For instance to go to the "" newsgroup, at the News> prompt, type


Press the <Prev Screen> or <Next Screen> keys to move one screen at a time.

To temporarily restrict the list of newsgroups to those in a selected hierarchy, at the News> prompt, type set class newsgroup. For example,


restricts the view to all SOC. newsgroups.


restricts the view to all comp.sys newsgroups.

To restore your view to all newsgroups, at the News> prompt, type


Please remember that a SET statement continues in effect from session to session. Hence, if you exit Usenet News, it will be set at SET CLASS ALL (or at whatever setting you SET) the next time you start Usenet News.

To Read a Message

To read a message, press R at the Newsgroup of your choice until you are reading a message.

Responses to a Message

The responses you can make after reading a message are:

Close or Dir

If you type CLOSE, you will return to the list of groups in the same category. If you type CLOSE again, you will move up to the group above this category.


If you type REPLY, you will be in an editor and can reply to the person who sent the message.

Next Reply

NEXT REPLY displays the next item in the current newsgroup within the same conversation as the current item.


If you type FOLLOWUP, you will be in the editor and will reply to the whole group of people who read this thread of messages. A copy of the message to which you are responding will appear; you can edit or delete it.


POST allows you to send a message not directly related to the message you have just read.

Mail (or Forward)

If you type MAIL, you can send the message to another person or to yourself, if you want to keep the message.

After you have typed your message, press C Z to send your message.


Printing messages works the same as printing messages in MAIL. After you read a message, type

NEWS> PRINT/QUEUE=queuename to print a message.

You can print selective messages by typing the numbers; for instance, PRINT/QUEUE=queuename 437-450 will print messages 437 to 450. They will not start to print until you exit Usenet NEWS.


At the NEWS> prompt type HELP. The help provided is cryptic but may be useful.


EXTRACT places the message in a file created by the system, in a separate directory. The current file will be placed at the end of all previous extracts.

Extract filename

Extracts the whole text to a specified file in your current default directory; works the same as Mail EXTRACT.


To use the Usenet NEWS Menu, type MENU at the NEWS> prompt. Use the right arrow key to highlight each selection, and an explanation of what that selection is printed below the Menu line.

To Stop Usenet NEWS

To stop or exit Usenet NEWS, at the NEWS> prompt, type

News> EXIT

and the $ prompt will appear on the screen.

Reducing the Number of Newsgroups and Starting Your Own Directory

You can select newsgroups so you don't have to sort through all 2,000 or more groups during subsequent Usenet sessions. In effect, you start a directory of "registered" groups and you can add to or delete from this "registered" group at any time.

When you start Usenet NEWS, a file called NEWSRC.;1 is created in your root directory. At the News> prompt, type DIR/ALL so that you will be at the directory of all newsgroups.

Move your cursor keys up or down until you find a group you want to register. Type REGISTER and press return.

To see the listing of groups you have registered, at the News> prompt, type DIR/REG (or press 6 on the keypad).

To return to the overall listing, at the News> prompt type DIR/ALL .

To "unregister" a group, so it does not display in your directory of registered groups, type DEREGISTER .

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