Usenet is the original social network, going strong since the 1980s; it has played a pivotal role in developing internet culture, including coming up with the acronym “FAQ” for Frequently Asked Questions. Today, it’s best known as a place for informative, long-form articles on various topics, which are helpfully sectioned off into eight major categories, known as the Big 8 Newsgroups.
From there, you can delve into hundreds of different smaller newsgroups for every interest imaginable, from discussing Middle Eastern politics to sharing advice on menswear. If there’s something you love, you’re more than likely to find a dedicated newsgroup with hobbyists just like you. You can subscribe to the ones that interest you most and get a fresh perspective on topics you care about, allowing you a wealth of reading content all throughout your day.
Beyond the breadth of information available, many love Usenet due to its security; it utilizes SSL encryption to protect your privacy. This is inordinately useful, as it means you get greater security than you would on a site like Facebook, which has faced numerous controversies thanks to sharing data with third-party firms. Usenet is staunchly opposed to sharing its user’s information, and most of its providers have a no-log policy.
Unlike modern social media, Usenet requires a little setup to get involved; however, this is well worth the access to a wealth of excellent information about anything you can dream of. Let’s explore exactly how to get involved with Usenet, a venerable network with great staying power.
You’ll Need a Usenet Provider
Firstly, you need to find a renowned Usenet provider; these companies provide you access to the Usenet network. They work on a subscription basis, much like subscription-based apps; you will pay a monthly fee and, in return, you’ll be able to download content from the Usenet network for later viewing. Each has a different setup; some work directly in a browser, so you won’t need a newsreader (more on those below), while others have their own newsreader installed to make things easier for you.
They are also based all around the world, so you should pick one based on its download speed and subscription packages, as well as the privacy laws it is beholden to.
Pick a Great Newsreader
A newsreader is the way that you actually read articles. This application lets you download and read articles; you can also upload your own articles should you want to participate in a discussion in a particular newsgroup. The newsletter will download new articles on a regular basis; then you’ll be able to browse at your leisure when you’re ready to settle down with some great discussions.
Many Usenet providers have an integrated newsreader that you’ll download onto your favorite devices, but you can also choose to select a browser-based newsreader such as Giganews, which will connect to your provider and retrieve articles for you. Some email clients, including Microsoft Outlook, have Usenet integration, so you can read your favorite articles while browsing your email, just like you’re reading today’s paper.
If you don’t want to spend a lot of time researching the best newsreaders, you should consider choosing a Usenet provider that has its own newsreader, as this will make setup much easier for you. However, if you’re more technically advanced, take a good look at the newsreaders available to you and decide which one has a layout and browsing capability that you like.
Don’t Forget the Indexer
Usenet is unique; it’s the precursor to many of the products we enjoy today, including search engines. This network has its own types of search engines, which are called indexers, that allow you to find the content you prefer. Just like search engines, no two indexers are alike; some do not index smaller newsgroups, while others have a greater range.
Some of the most common ones include NBZgeek, Easynews, and NZBFinder. You’ll input your search term and browse through the millions of articles available on Usenet, which stretch back decades, to help you find exactly what you’re looking for. You can also save searches so that you will get an alert every time something new is uploaded that meets your needs.
These indexers, similar to Google or Bing, allow you to use Boolean search terms; this means, for example, that if you put something in quotation marks, like “cat care,” you will only find the articles that include this specific term. Getting familiar with Boolean terms will help you more precisely match what you need, helping you clear through the wealth of information on Usenet.
Usenet Is Relatively Simple to Learn and Extremely Helpful to Use
It’s common to get intimidated by things that have multiple steps, but Usenet is actually quite intuitive once you’re familiar with the specific components you need to access it – and the amazing breadth of articles you can access makes it well worth the challenge. Find a good Usenet provider, select a great newsreader, and experiment with different indexers; before long, you’ll be a Usenet pro!