Newsreaders are intended to offer the user functionality that allows her to access the functions of the news system easily, like posting articles, or skimming the contents of a newsgroup in a comfortable way. The quality of this interface is subject of endless flame wars.
There are a couple of newsreaders available which have been ported to . Below I will describe the basic setup for the three most popular ones, namely tin, trn, and nn.
One of the most effective newsreaders is
This is the way die-hards read their news.
The majority of newsreaders, however, are much more sophisticated. They usually offer a full-screen interface with separate levels for displaying all groups the user has subscribed to, for displaying an overview of all articles in one group. and for individual articles.
At the newsgroup level, most newsreaders display a list of articles, showing their subject line, and the author. In big groups, it is impossible for the user to keep track of articles relating to each other, although it is possible to identify responses to earlier articles.
A response usually repeats the original article's subject, prepending it with ``Re: ''. Additionally, the message id of the article it is a direct follow-up to may be given in the References: header line. Sorting articles by these two criteria generates small clusters (in fact, trees) of articles, which are called threads. One of the tasks in writing a newsreader is devising an efficient scheme of threading, because the time required for this is proportional to the square of the number of articles.
Here, we will not dig any further into how the user interfaces are built. All newsreaders currently available for have a good help function, so you ought to get along.
In the following, we will only deal with administrative tasks. Most of these relate to the creation of threads databases and accounting.