Net news, or just news, sometimes seems like a psychic hotline
being answered by a room full of screaming kindergarteners.
Enter the world of net culture, netetique, and flame wars.
News messages, like mail messages, are written by humans
and intended for human to read.
The difference between mail
and news lies in the distribution mechanism. While mail
is addressed to a particular user, a news message
could potentially reach every Internet host and user.
News messages must have a Newsgroups: header line identifying
the set of newsgroups the message is posted to.
Everyone subscribing to that newsgroup would be able
to read the message.
A news map of the Internet shows a network within a network. Most
people's news software use NNTP to interact
with their provider's news server,
which uses NNTP exchanges with their mega-provider's news server,
which finally gets you to the news backbone. Examine the Path: field
in a news article's header to see a list of sites that handled the
article, most recent handler first. Most Internet users,
examining the Path: line in received news messages, will quickly
detect a "standard prefix" that appears at the start of almost
every article's Path. These are the last few sites from the
backbone to your location. For example, most of the incoming
news on my site has a path that starts:
Taurus is my Internet service provider's news server. Their main
mega-provider is MCI, which accounts for the next two hosts.
Newsfeed.internetmci.com appears to be MCI's main
news host, exchanging NNTP feeds with other top-level news hosts.
Each news message is labeled with a unique Message-ID: header line.
News servers, upon opening an NNTP connection, typically
request a list of Message-IDs for all new messages.
The server can then download those messages whose
Message-IDs are not otherwise known. Servers are free to filter
messages, transferring only certain newsgroups, or blocking
messages marked with certain Distribution: lines from leaving their