USENET NEWSGROUPS are a world wide distributed discussion system. USENET consists of a set of newsgroups with names that are classified hierarchically by subject. Messages (often referred to as "Articles") are posted to these newsgroups by people on computers with the appropriate software -- these articles are then broadcast to other interconnected computer systems via a wide variety of networks. Some newsgroups are moderated; in these newsgroups, the articles are first sent to a moderator for approval before appearing in the newsgroup. Apple II general interest newsgroups (comp.sys.apple2 , comp.sys.apple2.marketplace, and comp.binaries.apple2 being the most popular) are typically unmoderated, which can make discussions turn into flame-fests when one person is percieved to be "jumping ugly" on another and the articles turn into a running commentary and free-for-all.
Other Apple II-oriented newsgroups do not fall into the "general interest" category, but are specific to their topic. These are:
It's important to remember that Usenet is a conferencing system distinct from the Internet. Even though Usenet is closely related to the Internet, and a lot of its traffic travels over the Internet, Usenet is not the Internet. Many people who have access to Usenet don't have Internet connections; similarly, Internet connectivity doesn't always provide access to Usenet (but it usually does).
A Usenet discussion group (the newsgroup) cover many diverse topics, some serious and others frivolous. Science, politics, music, philosophy, sex, cooking, skydiving, alien visitors, back rubs, coffee, and limericks, all have one or more Usenet newsgroups devoted to them. Some even cover current events. Every day, hundreds of thousands of people read some Usenet newsgroup.
With newsgroups you must execute a newsreader program to follow discussions. In that sense, a newsgroup is sort of like a centralized bulletin board where you go to look at messages people post, similar to what you may find on commercial online services like Delphi and Genie. If you have a newsreader program and access to Usenet, you may read any message posted on any newsgroup.