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Usenet Communication Model: Message Composition, Posting, Storage, Propagation and Access
(Page 1 of 3)
When the students at Duke University
decided to create their online community, electronic mail was already
in wide use, and there were many mailing
lists in operation as well. E-mail was
usually transported using UUCP during these pre-Internet days, the same
method that Usenet was designed to employ. The obvious question then
was, why not simply use e-mail to communicate between sites?
The main reason is that e-mail is
not really designed to facilitate the creation of an online community
where information can be easily shared in a group. The main issue with
e-mail in this respect is that only the individuals who are specified
as recipients of a message can read it. There is no facility whereby
someone can write a message and put it in an open place where anybody
who wants can read it, analogous to posting a newsletter in a public
Another problem with e-mail in large
groups is related to efficiency: if you put 1,000 people on a mailing
list, each message sent to that list must be duplicated and delivered
1,000 times. Early networks were limited in bandwidth and resources;
using e-mail for wide-scale group communication was possible, but far
Key Concept: While electronic mail can be used for group communications, it has two important limitations. First, a message must be specifically addressed to each recipient, making public messaging impossible. Second, each recipient requires delivery of a separate copy of the message, so sending a message to many recipients means the use of a large amount of resources.
Usenet's Public Distribution Orientation
To avoid the problems of using e-mail
for group messaging, Usenet was designed using a rather different communication
and message-handling model than e-mail. The defining difference between
the Usenet communication model and that used for e-mail is that Usenet
message handling is oriented around the concept of public distribution,
rather than private delivery to an individual user. This affects every
aspect of how Usenet communication works:
- Addressing: Messages are not addressed
from a sender to any particular recipient or set of recipients, but
rather to a group, which is identified with a newsgroup name.
- Storage: Messages are not stored in individual
mailboxes but in a central location on a server, where any user of the
server can access them.
- Delivery: Messages are not conveyed from
the sender's system to the recipient's system, but are rather spread
over the Internet to all connected systems so anyone can
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The TCP/IP Guide (http://www.TCPIPGuide.com)
Version 3.0 - Version Date: September 20, 2005
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