The Daily Nash-on

a mindstream from just another statistic…

How to converse with experts and engage in well, engaging discussions

with 2 comments

Everyone has browsed across websites and forums that all too often are riddled with trolls and spammers. Lets face it, despite all the information out there on the internet, it is hard to wade through the trash to communicate with people who run important official websites , code useful specialist software or are acclaimed thinkers, futurists and so on. (Personally, I was impressed at finding the person who manages the database of all human genes from the NCBI on one of the groups)

I’ve discovered that many of these people , websites and such use mailing lists on UseNet. Usenet (a contraction of user network) is a global, decentralized, distributed Internet discussion system .Several people don’t know that the standard email clients they use (Outlook, Thunderbird and so on) can already read news. Perhaps the loss of popularity of UseNet is due to the lack of access to news servers, which seemed to go out of fashion after 2001, and perhaps because most existing news servers are locked down. Users are required to use their own email address [SMTP server] to post. As such, it is more secure in the sense that the user is trackable. Here is how to get access to a News server :

The Open News Network ( offers free news server access after verifying your email address.
You can register there and obtain access to thousands of groups listed under
UseNet. Their list can be browsed at

Some Pointers :

1. Try to avoid using your regular work address while posting on UseNet. Registering at a free POP or IMAP email service such as Gmail, HotPOP and so on lets you get a free email address with which you can post on UseNet

2. Groups on USENET range in a variety of topics, and you can decide which groups to “subscribe” to. Be sure to post your thoughts and questions in a appropriate group. UseNet users are generally not appreciative of misplaced posts as they tend to keep the discussion serious and useful, and reading posts that are where they shouldn’t be is just a waste of their time.

3. If you run a news server, give a thought to making it open, perhaps to a limited number of people. Do so only via an established organization such as the OpenNewsNetwork which is password protected etc and will handle user administration (at least partly) for you.

4. Instructions for using your favourite email program to read news can be found on the Internet if you Google it. Here’s one for configuring Outlook Express :

5. Do not download anything illegal. Making UseNet a medium for illegal downloads only hurts the service.

6. Enjoy the trove of useful and right-from-the-source information that you will receive on UseNet from the proper groups.


Written by Nash

December 26, 2007 at 3:38 am

2 Responses

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  1. Hi there,
    Stumbled upon your blog to read this interesting post. Good analysis and a nice post!

    As long as SMTP runs at port 25, there is no way to control the spammers. Just think about it. SMTP was a spin off from a POC (Proof of concept) to transfer e.mail data over http and the serious design flaw was that the port 25 was chosen, in a similar way http was chosen over port 80. Several packet sniffers listen to port 25 and its pretty hard to revamp the SMTP protocol, without creating a parallel world. Yes, one could design a different transport mechanism, but the problem is with the millions of e.mail client users, most of them corporate users, who still need port 25 for the normal e.mail payload. Creating these services on a different port or a over different transport layer would definitely create a parallel world. IMAP is better, but is not a complete ersatz. Designs are being undertaken to control this, but I’ve already described the problem.
    And spams cost hell a lot of money. I wrote a post a while back :

    Check it out, perhaps you’ll appreciate it..

    Mithun Sridharan

    June 3, 2008 at 4:01 am

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    March 3, 2009 at 6:05 pm

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