Internet > Usenet Newsgroups > How It Works >

Usenet Newsgroups / Mailing List Relationship

The Usenet is founded on a pull paradigm, while mailing lists are founded on a push paradigm.

The Usenet and mailing lists are similar message sharing technologies, enabling one person to share information with many others. For example, the BITNET was a long-standing community of mailing lists that shared their message traffic with the Usenet under the "bit." hierarchy.

However, mailing lists and the Usenet have real differences in the amount of interaction required by the user, as described below:

  • Push. Mailing lists are based on a push paradigm, which means they require little interaction from the user, since messages are automatically delivered to their mailbox and can be read as they arrive.
  • Pull. The Usenet is based on a pull paradigm requiring active engagement by the user, where people actively choose the newsgroups and messages they wish to read each time they log on.

Both mailing lists and the Usenet can be moderated, where messages posted to the list or newsgroup are first checked by a human to ensure they are appropriate. However, newsgroups can also be "retro-moderated", where messages deemed to be off-topic or otherwise inappropriate can be removed after they are already posted, which can't be done with mailing lists.


Living Internet content is (c) Copyright William Stewart