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Netiquette Banner Netiquette, by Virginia Shea, page 28

of running discussions called "newsgroups," which are sent to thousands of computers around the world each day. References to "discussion groups" in this book include USENET newsgroups as well as electronic mailing lists and discussion forums on commercial services.

Commercial online services

Several large online services have staked out claims to cyberspace over the past several years. Unlike the Internet, these systems are under corporate control, and their rules are usually quite specific.


CompuServe claims to be "the world's largest commercial computer network." With over 1.5 million subscribers, CompuServe probably offers the best low-cost tech support in the world. If you have a computer question, you post it in the appropriate forum, and within hours you have dozens of answers, many of them correct. There are forums on practically every computer software package ever sold. CompuServe forums are among the best places to get expert information on almost any topic from gardening to copyright law.

CompuServe also gives you email, of course, with an Internet gateway. However, you're charged for messages and files you receive as well as those you send. In fact, you'll find that CompuServe access charges can quickly break a family networking budget, leading to the service's net nickname: Compu$erve.

America Online

America Online was the first specifically Mac-oriented network, though it is now used by hundreds of thousands of PC folk as well. The service comes with its own software, with an easy-to-use graphical user interface. Its other major characteristic is its extreme niceness. The introductory material describes it as an "online community," and most of the people who participate are so darn friendly that it sometimes gets hard to take.

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