Usenet Facts: Things you should know about Usenet

  • webmaster
  • 30 Nov 2020
Spread the love

What was there on the internet before the World Wide Web came into picture? Where was WWW & Google’s launch announced? How did students of different universities communicate before blogs, forums, or even the World Wide Web came into existence?

Well, the answer to all those questions is Usenet.

Usenet was used in the pre-web years as a medium to connect with different people. It was two students – Tom Truscott & Jlim Ellis – of Duke University that first came up with the idea about Usenet. They replaced it with the local news announcement program. Usenet also helped to establish a link with other universities.

Usenet is quite interesting, right? Then you should know 4 important things about it.

Usenet & Culture references

Usenet has given birth to a lot of web culture references that are still used widely online and some are even used ‘IRL’. Here are some of them:

  • Flame
  • FAQ
  • Sockpuppet
  • Spam
  • WTF
  • ROFL


Flaming is the term used to describe the act of posting insult comments, posts, etc, online and creating a war of words, throwing illogical insults at each other.

How is it related to Usenet? Meow Wars, an early example of flame war, which was sent over the Usenet in 1996 and ended somewhere around 1998. The first Meow War was between some Harvard University Students & the members of the Beavis and Butthead fan group.


FAQ’s origin goes back to NASA’s attempt of trying to stop answering repetitive right answers in the mail to the already archived questionnaire. (This is the pre-web period)

The same format was taken and used in Usenet. First, as a monthly update then it turned into weekly & finally into a daily frequency. Jef Poskanzer was the first person to make the weekly FAQ & Eugene Miya was the first person to experiment with the daily FAQ.


Multiple repetitive messages used to flood all the newsgroups of Usenet, similar to the spam emails we get daily. In the 1990s, “Make Money Fast” was in high circulation in all the newsgroups, making them full of spam messages.

You would be surprised to know that until 1998, the New Oxford Dictionary of English used to define ‘spam’ in relation to a trademarked food product. But it changed after it of course and Usenet is the one to thank!

Usenet Was Originally Made For Academia

You would be surprised to know that Usenet’s initial periods had no visual/audio (images, videos or audios) facility. In fact, it was born out of two students from Duke University and was used as a medium to discuss academia. And it was used to communicate between different universities in regard to projects, journals, etc.

However, it soon became popular and a lot of public & private groups were created for different segments of people to discuss, talk & share. These groups are not particularly about academia but also for trivial things like a fan club of some celebrity.

Even today, you can find people who love Usenet as much as other netizens love social networks like Instagram, etc.

Usenet Was Text-Only Until The Late 90s

Back then, Usenet was a text-only network. It gained 50 member sites in just the first year of its launch. However, like other social networks, it spread quickly among different universities and soon gained a lot of traction from people who didn’t belong to any university.

However, Usenet is still a text-only platform but since 1997, people are sharing media files by encoding the graphics into binary code. The receiver would then translate the binary code to see the original form of message.

Despite Everything Usenet Is Still Going Strong

Many service providers like AT&T previously mentioned shutting down the access to Usenet. However, Usenet is still very popular among the right netizens. The number of daily posts & transfer of daily volume of data is steadily increasing each year.

Did you know? Compared to other video sharing sites, Usenet is still a better & safer way of sharing videos. And if you are a member of XS Usenet you will receive SSL encryption for better security along with great speeds compared to other providers. And do you know the best part about using XS Usenet? You get a free lifetime plan, unlike other Usenet providers.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *