In order to help users quickly navigate discussions on Usenet, information is categorized into a set of hierarchies. Usenet users can find information relevant to these hierarchies in newsgroups. Newsgroups are places where information in the specific hierarchies and sub-categories of those hierarchies can be located. After more than three decades, Usenet hierarchies are still very much in use. Usenet hierarchies remain the best way to categorize and list topics on Usenet.
The Legacy of Usenet Hierarchies
Usenet is one of the oldest sources of information available via computer networks. Because Usenet was created long before the World Wide Web, it has a longer history of reliability. It has also had a long time to work its system to perfection. Unfortunately, it is often misunderstood by newer generations that are familiar only with the World Wide Web. Usenet is still as active today as it was when it was first created and unlike the chaotic and commercialized web, it’s highly organized and easy to navigate. One of the essential differences between the web and Usenet is the use of hierarchies by Usenet.
How Hierarchies Work
Within the Usenet system, all newsgroups are organized into a hierarchy classification system. The top-level hierarchical labels Usenet employs are easy to understand and help users quickly drill into virtually any topic they want to explore or discuss. Let’s look at the hierarchical labels to better understand how they are used to find information and content on Usenet.
The eight main hierarchical groups used by Usenet system are:
Also referred to as the “Big 8”, these hierarchies provide users with numerous groups that offer discussions relevant to the given hierarchy. For example, News groups offer the latest news, political information and the latest events. Sci groups offer information and resources related to anything in the science realm. These hierarchies are further sub-divided to help users locate even more specific information. An example would be: rec.humor. The rec hierarchy is all about recreation, hobbies, the arts and such. It is further divided into topics on humor. Thus with hierarchies,users can narrow down exactly what they are looking for in groups simply by scanning through the hierarchy systems.
Usenet hierarchies allow Usenet users to avoid groups that are not relevant to their interests or needs. Users can also avoid groups that they might find offensive. Since each newsgroup provides a detailed description of the content found within them, users can quickly scan through lists of groups and only subscribe or monitor those they find interesting.
Although the modern web forum is similar in approach to Usenet newsgroups, web forums lack the structure to organize and catalog information like Usenet. Most Usenet users prefer the organization of Usenet versus the web and they boast of how quickly answers can be found.
Since hierarchies are consistently monitored by experts in the fields or topics covered under the hierarchies, users can trust much of the content posted to the groups. Groups are built in such a way that irrelevant and incorrect information can be quickly removed from Usenet.
Ron Eastin has been using and sharing the information about Usenet for many years. He enjoys educating readers about online information resources.