|See also:||Mailing List, Message Board|
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Usenet is one of the oldest discussion tools for computer networks and predates the World Wide Web by almost a decade. It can be accessed using a reader such as Outlook Express or through Google groups.
Most English-language fan-related newsgroups are in the alt.* or rec.* hierarchies.
1984 MentionsFrom the June 1984 issue of Interstat:
From the May/June 1984 issue of TREKisM #36:I would like to share my discovery of USENET, a nation-wide computer net accessible from many university mainframe computers and other entry terminals. There is a Star Trek interest group [net.startrek] consisting of people all over the country with computer terminals and some way of getting on the net. There is also a group for shuttle news [net.Columbia] and space news [net.space]. Timely information is posted by people with access to it. One can ask a question to be answered by anyone on the net who happens to know. If any readers have accounts on a large mainframe which participates in Mail, I would be delighted to correspond. My mail path is [...!ucbvax!sdcsvax!sdccsu3isdeatt- b!mel41]. Make the headerTo Alice because I share the account with a colleague who also gets mail. 
USENET is a computer bulletin board which can be accessed from large mainframe computers at universities and some corporate centers. Users with personal computers or a home terminal and modem can link in if they have an account in one of the mainframe computers. The net has dozens of interest groups to which any user can subscribe and post news. The net.startrek interest group is quite active. As far as I know, I'm the only female user. Anyone with an account can get news either by setting up an automatic subscription or by calling up % readnews-n net. startrek (The commands may vary depending on what machine you are on, but the system is basically UNIX operating.) 
A 1990s Mention
From a mid-1990s Media Monitor: "Newsgroups are like online bulletin boards. You go to the site, read all the postings and respond if you want. It is suggested you read only (lurk) for the first few days os you can get an idea of the appropriate subject matter open for discussion. Some series have two or more Newsgroups: one for discussion of the series, and another for posting and discussion of fiction, for instance. Keep in mind, Newsgroups are open to everyone, from minors to the the production staff of the series/movie; there for advertising your latest slash zine may not be in your best interest. Before asking any question in a Newsgroup, you should always read their FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions), so you don't inadvertently ask a question that has been answered ten times before you posted it. If you don't see the FAQ list when you first visit the Newsgroup, post and ask where you can get a copy of it."