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Group communication on the Internet

Where on the internet to ask people for help to solve your problem, to discuss current events or to share knowledge or news? Basically there are three slow-but-thorough ways:

The traditional two are mailing lists and newsgroups that each have their advantages and disadvantages and each have hardened protagonists (fans) and antaganists (anti-fans). The advent of WWW based bulletin boards is quite new. It has the big advantage that there is no problem to subscribe/set-it-up. Subscribing to a mailing list is a bit more difficult and understanding the mailing list concept even a bit more difficult, setting up a newsgroups reader program is the most difficult, but luckily Netscape and the other one now come with an inbuilt newsgroup reader, which helped a lot. When you're paying for internet-access by duration (as most people outside of the USA do) then it's best to be able to handle your messages off-line. A mailing list is ideal I think, but a program like Free Agent can help read newsgroups off-line. WWW-based bulletin boards can only be read on-line of course. Another problem with bulletin boards is that they all operate differently and often very unergonomically. The advantage of a mailing list over the other two is that the people that are on it stay longer on it, read everything and are more experienced and you're more likely to get a good answer (although some of the news:sci.electronics.* veterans are also quite 'old' in the mean time). The advantage of the newsgroups is that much more people will read your message...

I have never seen any fast-but-not-thorough (=chat) channels work, but let me know if you find anything. The most important media are: IRC, ICQ, AOL-chat and dedicated WWW based chat servers could work...

Bulletin Boards

WWW based bulletin boards:
local Of the Chipdir itself Several about electrical engineering Several about manufacturing

Mailing lists

Electronics mailing lists.



It's now also possible to read newsgroups via email using I have tried it and it works great. You can even respond to messages just as if you're replying to a mailing list.

To search in these newsgroups for specific subjects:

Using these services is also a great way to read news as normal HTML pages without the need of a special newsreader. But only the latter two allow you to reply to the messages directly. - Intel's own newsgroup system

The two major WWW browsers come with a standard newsreader, but you will need to stay on-line while reading the news. As an off-line newsreader you can use Free Agent (see for example), but it's not easy to use, because you first need to select the messages you want to read (by subject line only) and then download them in a second pass...
Personally I therefore prefer reading mailing lists.

Some 'Please Fix my PC' newsgroups CD-ROM drives and interfaces for the PC. Processor, cache, memory chips, etc. Modems and communication cards for the PC. Miscellaneous PC hardware topics. Network hardware and equipment for the PC. Hard drives and other PC storage devices. Whole IBM PC computer and clone systems. Video cards and monitors for the PC. Technical questions about pc soundcards.
news:comp.sys.laptops Laptop (portable) computers.

Ad for PCI video capturing boards by Dektec.
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