Usenet Newsgroups: How They Work
You might be wondering how a usenet newsgroup works.
Well the process is very simple. It works very similarly to the email system, and at the core usenet is decentralized. This means that you post a comment to a newsgroup or start a topic. This gets uploaded to a server, which is then copied to many other servers around the world. Usenet is centralized in a way that all “forums” or message boards are all in the same place, you don’t go anywhere else for discussions. This is different from the current system most people use in that they go to many different sites to get information about different topics.
In a way, usenet was a better system than what we have today. Now, if a forum goes down, all that information is lost. On usenet however, the information stays put for years and years, and at this point storage is expanding so rapidly that your message may stay on there for eternity.
So, the question now becomes: Will there be a system similar to usenet replace the current system? It should, but it probably won’t. The centralized nature creates more cash for the owners of the forums, so if you follow the money, the current system won’t change, even though there could be a superior alternative.
The current usenet system is fraught with problems – spam, mainly, along with some data loss between servers. This could be fixed with a new system. Usenet is still semi-active and some still use it daily, it’s a long lasting protocol that has been around since the 80′s. Again, the reason it still exists is the decentralized nature. It’s not like someone can just shut it off because no one is really in control of usenet.
Usenet was never designed to hold files, so a workaround is in place currently. Files are converted to text with yEnc and to fix missing parts in transition to other servers, the par2 standard was implemented. These files just “fill in” missing areas of files, so you can get complete files most of the time.
Will usenet ever die? Highly unlikely unless a better system comes out, and even then people will still run usenet servers. The fact is, usenet is actually being used more and more currently, and the attractiveness is coming from binaries.