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TECH TIP
Better Living through Usenet
By Robert Levy

Usenet was one of the first services on the Internet for sharing information. Back then, and still today, people would leave a message on the Net for others to read and respond to on their own schedule. Unlike chatting, you don't have to be there when the other person replies, and hundreds of people can participate. Conversations grow, friendships blossom, and the sun rises on a better world.

Oh, and it's all free.

Back in the old days, the conversation was mostly technical stuff, like how do get your Atari 400 to load the cassette faster, etc. But today, Usenet contains thousands of groups where like-minded people can share knowledge and opinions ranging from politics to technology to pop culture.

No matter what you're interested in, there's probably a group for you. Here are some random examples picked from the list of over 30,000 groups that EarthLink makes available:

Auburn University Sports
Jazz Music
The Beatles
Manga
Turkish Politics
James Bond
Vampires
Anagrams
Otters

Huge, important caveat!

Usenet isn't just free of charge: It's also mostly free from any sort of censorship. It's the Wild, Wild West!

So, exploring Usenet can lead to finding groups whose conversations may be explicitly sexual, racist, or even violent. If you're sensitive to such things, you may be offended by some of what's out there. Not that this is the norm! There are thousands of groups whose subject matter you're bound to like and find "user friendly," so don't be too quick to throw the baby out with the dirty bath water.

EarthLink and Usenet: Bigger and Better

EarthLink members now have better access to Usenet than ever before. This summer, we added tons of new groups that you can join, and dramatically lengthened the amount of time we keep messages online (for example, messages with no attachments are stored for at least a few years).

For a complete list of the groups you can access, point your browser to the supernews active lists page.

(Well, that's almost a complete list. EarthLink members also have access to several newsgroups, exclusively for our own members and employees. All these groups start with “earthlink,” so they're easy to find.)

More Info

If your interest is piqued (or you know all about Usenet but just need to set it up), here's some info to help you get started:

I know what I'm doing. Just give me the details.

Point your newsreader to one of the servers below:

  • news.west.earthlink.net
  • news.east.earthlink.net
  • nntp.earthlink.net

I need help getting set up.

For Windows Outlook Express:

  1. Using Outlook Express, click the Tools menu, then choose Accounts. The Internet Accounts screen will open.
  2. Click the Add button and choose News.
  3. Follow the on-screen instructions, using your EarthLink email address and password.
  4. When asked for the News Server (or NNTP server), type nntp.earthlink.net

For Mac:

Setting up Entourage for Usenet
Setting up Netscape for Usenet