I am quite confused about what exactly Usenet is. On the Wiki article, it says that Usenet is a "worldwide internet distributed discussion system."

First off, if it is "an internet", does that mean it's just a global network of computers, but it's not like, say, the world-wide-web with hypertext documents? I would like to know what draws the line between the correctness of just saying "the internet" as opposed to, say, Usenet.

Basically, Usenet is a global network, but doesn't use the WWW? What does it use then?

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    Both the WWW and Usenet operate over, the same network, the Internet. – Dan D. Jan 4 '14 at 22:51
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    email doesn't use the www either. Email,www,usenet use the internet – barlop Jan 4 '14 at 22:59
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    It says it is an "internet distributed" discussion system, meaning it uses the internet to achieve distribution - but I understand where your confusion comes from – cutrightjm Jan 4 '14 at 23:44
  • The relationship between Usenet and the Internet is that same as the relationship between the World Wide Web and the Internet. They are both distributed information systems that use the Internet as their communications backbone. – David Schwartz Jan 7 '14 at 20:12

Basically, Usenet is a global network, but doesn't use the WWW? What does it use then?

Usenet is a network of servers which spread messages (posts) in newsgroups. They connect to each other, and people connect to them, over the Internet using TCP/IP, and exchange messages using the NNTP protocol.

The World Wide Web is a series of standalone servers, which people also reach over the Internet using TCP/IP and retrieve web pages using the HTTP protocol.

But do not confuse the Web with the Internet. Webpages are but a small part of the Internet and many other programs used to connect to each other long before the first webpages were ever served. (For that see history of WWW.) The one you might be most familiar with is email, which is usually sent via TCP/IP over the internet using the SMTP protocol, but there are many more.

Also note that in the past, servers would exchange email and Usenet messages over phone lines using UUCP as the protocol – forming an informal UUCPNET – as Internet connections were rare and expensive for a long time.

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    I wrote the wiki article for Usenet, and forgot to mention that it uses NNTP. Should be edited now, thanks – Moses Jan 4 '14 at 23:17
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    @Moses What is "the wiki article for usenet"? en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Usenet has nntp mentioned 6 times and with references. And it did in May 2013 too en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Usenet&oldid=554687279 So what do you mean by the wiki article for usenet?! – barlop Jan 4 '14 at 23:41
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    @barlop, he means the tag wiki here on SuperUser. You can get to any tag's wiki page by just clicking on the tag (or searching for it from the "Tags" item at the top of the page), then click on the "Learn More" link. – heavyd Jan 4 '14 at 23:50
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    I still prefer Gopher ;) – Keltari Jan 7 '14 at 20:11

The Internet is the physical network and has communication going on on it.

Computers on the internet use www and usenet and email.

usenet less commonly.

Part of this subject of things on the internet, is about what Servers are running. The WWW uses web servers. Email uses SMTP servers, IMAP servers, POP servers. Usenet uses its servers called NNTP servers. The communication , WWW and Email look completely different. Usenet looks a tiny bit like Email but quite different.

Usenet is like a bunch of discussion groups. So quite different to Email. It's a bit like a bunch of discussion forums. Your usenet software is told to use a news server, and can list all the newsgroups(discussion places) on the server, and one might be called alt.comp.freeware and you can go there and discuss no cost software recommendations.


The simplest way to explain this is, Usenet is a service that runs over the Internet (which is the worldwide network of computers that we are all familiar with).

Other services that run over the Internet are:

the World Wide Web
chat programs
multiplayer video games

and many others.

When people say they are going to "go on the Internet", they usually refer to using the (World Wide) Web via a web browser, so that's where a lot of the confusion comes from. The '90s term "surf the web" is much more accurate from a technical standpoint.

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