Among the various types of newsgroups are those which allow for the exchange of file data and those which only allow for the posting of text messages. There is also a hierarchy which allows for the creation of newsgroups which fall outside the standard categories of these groups.
Essentially, an alt binaries group is a group which does not fit easily under the general hierarchy and which allows for users to transfer files between one another via their posts. They are usually accessed using NZB files to locate the desired content without sorting through every single post.
The main categories under which newsgroups fall cover interests such as science, recreation, computers and several other categories. Specifically, they are: “sci” for science; “news” for information about Usenet; “rec” for recreation; “comp” for computer-related discussions; “soc” for socializing; “talk” for more heated debates; and “misc” for miscellaneous subjects.
Alt Binaries groups are differentiated in the top hierarchy as they don’t easily mesh with this scheme. “Alt” stands for “alternative”, which communicates to the user that any group under this classification will be specific in its topic but not necessarily one that is easily categorized.
Alt Binaries are differentiated from non-binary groups in that users may post and download files to and from these groups. Most often, these files are images, movies or audio content. This is one of the most efficient means of sharing files online and binary groups have seen increasing usage over the last few years.
Very large files can be shared among thousands of users with far less bandwidth than is demanded by other file-sharing technologies. For this reason, they have become the preferred method of sharing large files. The various ways in which files can be verified also makes them much more reliable than other methods, as does the user feedback any post likely contains.
Alt Binaries groups cover a wide range of topics. Some of them are adult and not at all appropriate for children. Other topics include specific interests that cannot be fit under the other categories without a great deal of shoehorning which rather ends up destroying the usefulness of the hierarchy system in general.
An example would be a group that specifically focused on the supernatural but which incorporated elements of pseudoscience in many of its discussions. It’s not science; therefore putting it under the “sci” category is something of a disservice to users.
Alt Binaries is one of the last hierarchical categories devised for the newsgroup service. Originally, only the other seven were available. As the use and popularity of Usenet expanded, the services decided to create this category so that all users would have a place for themselves on the Usenet without inappropriately being listed under a more specific category.
These categories can be a lot of fun, especially if one specifically wants off-the-wall binary content that isn’t available in other groups. Some of these binaries include antique images and video material that is very niche in its appeal.
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