Usenet Newsgroup Organization
There are over 100,000 Usenet newsgroups out there. Without a good organizational scheme, they would collectively amount to a digital mess of information that would be more or less unintelligible. To avoid this from being the case, there are several different hierarchies of Usenet newsgroups. In Usenet lingo, the hierarchy refers to the first part of any Usenet newsgroups name, which is its broadest-possible description. These hierarchies are very accurate in describing the content of the newsgroups.
Usenet started out as a way for universities to communicate with one another. As you may have guessed, that means that it™s very popular with the academic crowd. Just as there are some very serious and well-informed websites made by academics, there are a lot of Usenet newsgroups where they discuss their fields and where they have been doing so for years. The hierarchy provides an easy way to find discussions that will appeal to you. The abbreviations are very obvious, such as sci for science and comp for computers.
As you can already see, even though computers and science generally go hand in hand, Usenet is pretty specific when it names a newsgroup. Within each of these categories, it gets even more so. Within computers, for instance, you™ll have newsgroups specific to every web developing language as well as newsgroups that are about web development in general. People in these groups usually come in wanting very specific information and, because there are so many experts, it makes sense to ask those questions in newsgroups that are exact matches for the area of interest in question.
Newsgroups are not all serious, however. You™ll find plenty of fun and light-hearted talk in the talk hierarchy and plenty of ways to relax in the rec, or recreational, hierarchy. There is variety even within these categories, as well. For instance, in the talk hierarchy, you™ll find groups that have frivolous discussions about movies and other subjects as well as very accomplished individuals who discuss politics and other current events.
Each newsgroup has several names which narrow down its subject matter specifically. For instance, rec.bicycling.mountain would be specifically about mountain bikes. There are thousands of different newsgroups available. As you go through them and read them, you™ll start to see that some of them have very intense discussions and others have very witty, laid back discussions that anyone can participate in.