Soc.Culture.Jewish Newsgroups
Frequently Asked Questions and Answers

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< Sect. 1 TOC Q1.2 >

Question 1.1:
What is USENET? How is it different than "the Web"?


USENET refers to a network of systems that exchange "news" via a protocol called the Network News Transfer Protocol (NNTP). This protocol, and its predecessors, predate what is commonly called "the web", but are now incorporated into it as one of the supported protocols in Universal Resource Locators (URLs).

News is a form of broadcast protocol. Articles are posted, and are exchanged on stored on newsservers throughout the network. Your ISP quite likely has a newserver; for example, if your ISP is "", look for a machine named "" or "". Uses use news reading agents to connect to the newsservers; these agents read and display news. In the Unix world, common agents are programs such as rn, trn, vn, and various newsreaders with Emacs, such as gnus. In the PC world, there are programs such as Agent. Most browsers also provide support for news. Configure your browser to connect to a newsreader (look at the configuration options), and then try using the URL <news:soc.culture.jewish>. If you need a newsreader, a good source to try is The Ultimate Collection of Winsock Software, TUCOWS, located at

If you do not have the ability or desire to add software, or you do not have access to a newsserver, you can visit or access a web-based newsreader.

So, how is news different than the web. In news, one typically subscribes to newsgroups, and then reads the articles in that group, in a manner similar to a bulletin board. In some ways, this is more active (you still need to retrieve the article, but finding the articles of interest is easier). It also supports more discussion, and threading of discussion. The web (and by this we mean normal HTML pages) is more interactive: one must hunt down the pages one wants. One can implement bulletin boards and forums via web pages in a manner similar to news; however, such pages do not use the news protocols and cannot be accessed by newsreaders.

The FAQ is a collection of documents that is an attempt to answer questions that are continually asked on the soc.culture.jewish family of newsgroups. It was written by cooperating laypeople from the various Judaic movements. You should not make any assumption as to accuracy and/or authoritativeness of the answers provided herein. In all cases, it is always best to consult a competent authority--your local rabbi is a good place to start.

[Got Questions?]Hopefully, the FAQ will provide the answer to your questions. If it doesn't, please drop Email to The FAQ maintainer will endeavor to direct your query to an appropriate individual that can answer it. If you would like to be part of the group to which the maintainer directs questions, please drop a note to the FAQ maintainer at

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© (c) 1993-2002 Daniel P. Faigin <>