Back in the mists of time when network communication was in its infancy, before the World Wide Web was even a germ of an idea in Tim Berners-Lee's imagination, before there was even an Internet as we know it today, and when transfer speed was measured in bytes per minute rather than Megabytes per second, a bunch of techies had the brilliant idea that they could build a kind of bulletin board which they could all access from wherever they were and post messages where they could share questions and answers.

Within a few years, the idea had developed into a whole series of such bulletin boards, known first as "network news", and eventually from that grew what we now know as Usenet, usually refered to as "newsgroups", a legacy from the old "network news" terminology.

As the Internet grew, the Usenet waters became extremely muddied. Services like AOL began to provide gateways to Usenet and many AOL users imagined that Usenet was a part of AOL.

Then along came the WWW and recent developments muddied the waters even more. There was a Usenet archive called Deja News which archived all posts to Usenet. This was bought out by Google which, like AOL before it, also developed a gateway to Usenet. Google then began letting people set up groups within Google which it called "Google Groups".

To inexperienced Google users, these groups were indistinguishable from the Usenet newsgroups and Google gradually began to arbitrarily use the name "Google Groups" to refer to all groups which could be accessed via Google - including what were actually Usenet newsgroups.

This section of the site is an attempt to help unmuddy some of the waters and provide some useful information to help explain to novices what Usenet is and how to find your way around and get the most out of it.

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