MadSci Libe: USENET

USENET represents a series of online 'bulletinboards.' More than 13,000 groups have been formed to discuss topics from archery to wood carving. People from around the world can access messages posted to individual groups. In many cases they are an appropriate forum for asking questions, particularly if you're looking for broad or technical discussion on a given topic.

The majority of groups maintain a FAQ - Frequently Asked Questions. This document or series of documents attempts to answer questions most frequently posted to the group. Common etiquitte (netiquitte) suggests that you read the FAQ before posting to a newsgroup. The FAQ will let you know whether the group is an appropriate forum for your message and in many cases may answer your question directly.

Most FAQs are posted within the group on a monthly or biweekly basis. The newsgroup news.answers also lists the FAQs for all USENET groups. sci.answers maintains FAQs for all groups in the sci heirarchy. Via the WWW FAQs can be viewed from the List of USENET FAQs.

The sci and bionet groups cover branches of science. Where the two overlap (sci.biology vs, the sci groups generally provide a more basic discussion of the topic while the bionet groups are more oriented towards research. Outside of biology sci.physics and sci.chem disucss topics in physics and chemistry, respectively. Computer topics generally fall under the comp heirarchy of groups. Your browser will need to be plugged into a 'newserver' to access the above two links.

If you don't have access to USENET you can still read certain groups via the WWW.

  1. Google Groups is a searchable database of archived posts from nearly all USENET groups.
  2. All BIOSCI/Bionet groups may be acessed via the web. These newsgroups cover topics in the biological sciences from cell biology and immunology to oceanography.
In addition, the group k12.sci.ed discusses issues related to science education, and discusses topics related to evolution (also available at

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