Improving programming skills with USENET Newsgroups

August 27, 2010

programingIf you want to learn some programming language, in most cases, you just have to type the name of that language into Google or other preferred search engine and use some keywords (such as tutorial, lessons, etc) to find resources.

If you don’t like this approach, but you like books instead, numerous books are available on Amazon, eBay or some other online store (don’t forget to read the user™s comments before you click buy, though).

On the other hand, there is one excellent resource which is basically much older than WWW and many younger programmers and Internet users may never even heard about; it’s called Usenet.

Although discussions on USENET are slowly losing their battle with various forums available on WWW (mostly due to their fancy options and many other features USENET does not offer), USENET is very often a place where highly skilled programmers with years of experience gather and give advice.

Therefore, if certain newsgroup is active, it is likely that you will get great piece of advice from some top-notch programmer with lots of experience and who wishes to share his knowledge.

It is also good to know that all that is for free, as many Internet service providers offer free access to many text-based newsgroups. Many newsgroups (and their archives) are available through Google Groups, which is free as well.

So, let’s give an example. Suppose you want to learn basics of web development; HTML, CSS, PHP and JavaScript that is. It is a good idea to start from free tutorials available on the Internet, but, sooner or later, you will encounter certain problem that you will not be able to solve by yourself.

Therefore, you will have to consult somebody and this is the point where we recommend USENET groups. Regarding this particular programming and scripting languages, some of the best groups to start are:

  • comp.lang.php
  • comp.infosystems.www.authoring.misc
  • comp.lang.javascript

If you Google a bit more, you will also find some other newsgroups with high quality discussions. Actually, the fact is that discussion could be classified as one of the best and easiest way to learn any programming language.

Finally, let’s say a few words about Usenet access itself. If your Internet service provider does not offer Usenet access for free, you might consider checking our list of some of the best and most affordable Usenet providers. Besides the subscription, you will need software to access newsgroups and post content on them. You can check our list of some of the best Usenet nprograms for these purposes as well.

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