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Internet Research Newsgroups & Listservs
Newsgroups • Newsgroups have little to do with – news. They are electronic discussion boards or bulletin boards. • People must visit (messages do not come by email). • They leave messages or ask questions.
Listservs • Listservs are electronic mailing lists. • The name was trademarked by L-Soft, which developed Listserv software. • Listservs deliver email messages to and from people who have signed up for the list. • The messages can come one at a time or in a one-message digest each day.
Effective research tools • Newsgroups and listservs are effective research tools. • Researchers can find out trends, tap public opinion, contact experts and make contacts.
Finding experts through listservs • To participate in a list, you must first subscribe. • Usually, subscribing is free. Often lists are supervised or moderated. • Because people must register, because the volume of mail can be heavy, listservs usually attract people who are interested in, and know a lot about, the topic: A good place to find experts.
Making contact • Once you have a research topic, you can subscribe to a listserv devoted to the topic. • Messages can teach you more about the topic and put you in touch with experts or people with experience.
Example: Online news • For example, if you were interested in online news, you could join an online news listserv. • You would get 30-40 messages a day (or one digest with 30-40 messages) from people interested in, or working in, online news.
Lurking and asking • You could “lurk” on the list – observing the discussion without participating. • Or you could pose a question to the group or to individuals through email.
Finding listservs • Close to 100,00 listservs exist. • A number of web sites organize and categorize listservs so you can search on your topic. • www.liszt.com once was the main site. It now brings you to another good site: www.topica.com • www.tile.net.lists will give you information on specific lists. • www.lsoft.com/catalist.html is the “official” catalog of listserv lists.
Using newsgroups • Internet researchers will not find “news” on newsgroups. • They will find opinions, stories, anecdotes, ideas and people who care a lot about a topic.
Finding newsgroups • More than 80,000 newsgroups exist. • The BEST place to find a directory and archives of groups was Deja formerly DejaNews: www.deja.com • Surprise: You will be taken to Google, which recently bought Deja.
Groups at Google and Yahoo • You can search Google Groups by Usenet categories, such as alt (alternative) or biz ( for business). • Yahoo also has gotten into the groups business, though without the extensive Deja archives bought by Google.
Example: E-commerce • Suppose you were doing research on electronic commerce. • You could find a group on biz.e-commerce at Google and subscribe or read past messages. You could search ecommerce at Yahoo groups. • You could get ideas. You could make contacts.
Archives: Lists • For listservs and newsgroups, researchers often find it useful to look back over archives of discussions. • You can often search individual lists by your subject and find everything that has been written by the group.
Archives: Groups • Groups/Google says it offers 20 years of archives with over 700 million messages. • You could go to Groups at Google and read through archives from past months, even years.
Profnet • A great resource for finding experts is Profnet – Professors’ Network. • University professors often are experts in their subject area. Profnet allows you to find them. • By email: firstname.lastname@example.org • Or the web: www.vyne.com/profnet
Communities as research • “Virtual community” is a name sometimes given to lists or groups where people get together and exchange opinions and ideas. • “Community” is used purposefully. People can and do become a community online. • And that community can be a tool for the Internet researcher.