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A Usenet newsgroup is a repository usually within the Usenet system, for messages posted from users in different locations using the Internet. They are discussion groups and are not devoted to publishing news. Newsgroups are technically distinct from, but functionally similar to, discussion forums on the World Wide Web. Newsreader software is used to read the content of newsgroups.
Before the adoption of the World Wide Web, Usenet newsgroups were among the most popular Internet services, and have retained their noncommercial nature in contrast to the increasingly ad-laden web. In recent years, this form of open discussion on the Internet has lost considerable ground to individually-operated browser-accessible forums and big media social networks such as Facebook and Twitter.
Communication is facilitated by the Network News Transfer Protocol (NNTP) which allows connection to Usenet servers and data transfer over the internet. Similar to another early (yet still used) protocol SMTP which is used for email messages, NNTP allows both server-server and client-server communication. This means that newsgroups can be replicated from server to server which gives the Usenet network the ability to maintain a level of robust data persistence as a result of built-in data redundancy. However, most users will access using only the client-server commands of NNTP and in almost all cases will use a GUI for browsing as opposed to command line based client-server communication specified in the NNTP protocol.
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