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Mark Moraes wrote: > > Archive-name: usenet/what-is/part1 > Original-from: email@example.com (Chip Salzenberg) > Comment: edited until 5/93 by firstname.lastname@example.org (Gene Spafford) > Last-change: 22 Nov 1995 by email@example.com (Mark Moraes) > Changes-posted-to: news.misc,news.admin.misc,news.answers > > AN APPROXIMATE DESCRIPTION > -------------------------- > > Usenet is a world-wide distributed discussion system. It consists of a > set of "newsgroups" with names that are classified hierarchically by > subject. "Articles" or "messages" are "posted" to these newsgroups by > people on computers with the appropriate software -- these articles are > then broadcast to other interconnected computer systems via a wide > variety of networks. Some newsgroups are "moderated"; in these > newsgroups, the articles are first sent to a moderator for approval > before appearing in the newsgroup. Usenet is available on a wide variety > of computer systems and networks, but the bulk of modern Usenet traffic > is transported over either the Internet or UUCP. > > WHY IS USENET SO HARD TO DEFINE? > -------------------------------- > > The first thing to understand about Usenet is that it is widely > misunderstood. Every day on Usenet, the "blind men and the elephant" > phenomenon is evident, in spades. In my opinion, more flame wars > arise because of a lack of understanding of the nature of Usenet than > from any other source. And consider that such flame wars arise, of > necessity, among people who are on Usenet. Imagine, then, how poorly > understood Usenet must be by those outside! > > Any essay on the nature of Usenet cannot ignore the erroneous > impressions held by many Usenet users. Therefore, this article will > treat falsehoods first. Keep reading for truth. (Beauty, alas, is > outside the scope of this article.) > > WHAT USENET IS NOT > ------------------ > > 1. Usenet is not an organization. > > No person or group has authority over Usenet as a whole. No one > controls who gets a news feed, which articles are propagated > where, who can post articles, or anything else. There is no > "Usenet Incorporated," nor is there a "Usenet User's Group." > You're on your own. > > Granted, there are various activities organized by means of Usenet > newsgroups. The newsgroup creation process is one such > activity. But it would be a mistake to equate Usenet with the > organized activities it makes possible. If they were to stop > tomorrow, Usenet would go on without them. > > 2. Usenet is not a democracy. > > Since there is no person or group in charge of Usenet as a whole > -- i.e. there is no Usenet "government" -- it follows that Usenet > cannot be a democracy, autocracy, or any other kind of "-acy."