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Usenet is distributed among a large, constantly changing conglomeration of servers that store and forward messages to one another in so-called news feeds.
The name Usenet emphasized its creators' hope that the USENIX organization would take an active role in its operation.
Many sites on the original Usenet network would connect only once or twice a day to batch-transfer messages in and out.
This is largely because the POTS network was typically used for transfers, and phone charges were lower at night.
The articles that users post to Usenet are organized into topical categories known as newsgroups, which are themselves logically organized into hierarchies of subjects.
For instance, and sci.physics are within the sci.* hierarchy, for science.
In most newsgroups, the majority of the articles are responses to some other article.
The set of articles that can be traced to one single non-reply article is called a thread.
The later peer-to-peer networks operate on a similar principle, but for Usenet it is normally the sender, rather than the receiver, who initiates transfers.
Usenet was designed under conditions when networks were much slower and not always available.
ISPs that do not operate their own servers directly will often offer their users an account from another provider that specifically operates newsfeeds.
In early news implementations, the server and newsreader were a single program suite, running on the same system.
Today, Usenet has diminished in importance with respect to Internet forums, blogs and mailing lists.