USENET Hierarchies – Explained Again

Here is another attempt at explaining USENET Hierarchies

When the USENET first came out, there were so few users that organizing groups into logical hierarchies was not a particularly pressing concern. By the time the mid-80s rolled around, however, there were up to 500 posts being made every day and the topics were wide-ranging enough that it became apparent that there needed to be some useful way to organize the many different news groups on the system.

To that end, a group of USENET users got together and invented seven hierarchies that constitute the very first invented for this popular discussion system. They include:

¢ comp: computers
¢ news: USENET-related topics
¢ rec: recreation, art and other diversions
¢ sci: science
¢ soc: social science and social issues
¢ talk: debates of all types
¢ misc: miscellaneous

These hierarchies presented an easy way for people to divide up their newsgroups into logical topics. Today, there are actually many more hierarchies than this, but these hierarchies are the originals and still contain most of the useful groups on the USENET. In fact, out of the over 100,000 groups on the USENET system, the 9,000 or so useful ones exist almost entirely within these hierarchies. These hierarchies will be found on just about every USENET server in the world.

When you’re looking for a group, you™ll notice that each of the names for the individual groups starts out with one of the hierarchy names, such as soc. The first part of the name is followed by a dot, which is followed by a word that makes a more specific description of the newsgroup and which is sometimes followed by another, which narrows it down even further.

When you’re pronouncing the names, they’re pronounced exactly as you™d pronounce an Internet address. For example, would be pronounced œExample dot com.

There is one more group, humanities, which was established in 1995. These 8 groups constitute what are generally referred to as the Big 8. These are the newsgroups where you™ll find, at least most of the time, the most interesting discussions and the most useful information. There are also regional hierarchies and hierarchies related to certain companies, such as the Microsoft hierarchy.

Sorting through all of these groups when you first log on to the USENET can be a bit intimidating, due to the literally thousands of them available. Most news readers let you execute a search of the newsgroups to home in on the ones you actually want.

There are also five alternative hierarchies that are considered to be among the most important of the entire system. They include alt, bionet, biz, bit and k12. These alternative hierarchies, however, are still not quite as well known or used as are the Big 8.

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