Technical Operational Details of Free Usenet Servers and Message Transmission

Technical Operational Details of Free Usenet Servers and Message Transmission

Basically, Usenet is only a set of protocols that generate, store and retrieve news ‘messages’ and ‘articles’ so that they are exchanged as free Usenet reading materials with a wide distribution for a large readership. As such, such free Usenet protocols use special flooding algorithm techniques for propagating copies to the entire network of free Usenet servers. When a message reaches one server, it is immediately transmitted to all the Usenet servers in the network neighborhood that have not received the article. If a particular Usenet server had received a message once, it retains only one copy and that message is available on demand to all the readers who have access to that server. Hence, the Usenet server network possesses a peer-to-peer characteristic by sharing the resources through instant exchange process for free Usenet access.

The first formal messages exchange specification of the Usenet servers was RFC 850, which was upgraded to RFC 1036. The Usenet servers have the necessary support to remove any positing that can be termed as unsuitable. When this option is exercised and the message is cancelled, it is removed from the entire Usenet free network. Unfortunately, this facility is normally disabled due to the difficult process of evaluating such contents as suitable or unsuitable. However, it is possible for copyright holders to request manual deletion of the postings if there had been a copyright infringement. Such request can be made under the express provisions of the treaty implementation of the World Intellectual Property Organization. One such treaty is the US Online Copyright Infringement Liability Limitation Act. The Usenet free messages and articles are transmitted through the Network News Transfer Protocol or NNTP on TCP Port 119. This port is for unprotected and standard connections. The SSL encrypted connections use TCP port 563 but only a handful of websites uses this port.

There are nine hierarchies for the major set of newsgroups operating on a worldwide basis. Out of the nine hierarchies, eight are operated under voluntary consensual guidelines. These guidelines govern their naming and administration. The eight hierarchies, known as the big eight are

­  comp.* for computer related discussions. Examples are and comp.sys.amiga

­  humanities.* for literature, philosophy, and fine arts, such as and humanities.classics

­  misc.* for various miscellaneous topics, like,, and

­  news.* for announcements and discussions on news that pertain to Usenet and not current news. Examples are news.admin and news.groups

­  rec.* for recreation and entertainment, like rec.arts.movies and

­  sci.* for discussions related to science, such as sci.research and sci.psychology

­  soc.* for general social discussions. Examples are soc.culture.african and

­  talk.* for talking about all types of controversial topics, such as, talk.politics, and talk.religion

The ninth hierarchy is alt.* hierarchy, which is not controlled by the procedures and guidelines of the big eight. Hence, alt.* is loosely organized. Since binaries are posted in alt.binaries.*, it is the largest of all the free Usenet hierarchies. Apart from these nine, regional hierarchies and language-specific hierarchies also exist to serve specific regions or language groups. For example, japan.*, ne.*, and malta.* Usenet servers cater specifically to Japan, New England, and Malta, respectively. The Usenet download of such hierarchies from free Usenet servers is quite easy. Even though some users like to refer to the big eight by the term ‘Usenet’, others include alt.* also in that terminology. For the entire Usenet free newsgroups medium that includes all the privately organized news systems, the term ‘netnews’ is used.

The Usenet messages are distributed as binary files by using programs that can encode 8-bit values into standard ASCII. Normally, the files are split into sections that have to be reassembled at the reader’s end. The Usenet free binary content is uploaded to the Usenet servers by archiving the files first into RAR archives and then creating Parchive files. For recreating any missing data, parity files are used. The appearance of Base64 and MIME encodings, binary transportation received a technological boost. MIME had been increasingly adopted for transmission of text messages but is avoided for majority of binary attachments. Other encoding systems like XX encoding, USR encoding, BTOA, and BOO had been used at times but they are not in vogue very much now.

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