News servers cannot be explained without first explaining a newsgroup. A newsgroup is a collection of writings that anybody can read through. There are thousands of these collections, each being a separate group. Anybody who wants to can add to the collection of writings, for others to see and possibly respond to. People that are interested in a given group will often subscribe to it so that they know when new material has been added, much like one would subscribe to a mailing list, newspaper, or magazine.
If you are interested in a topic, chances are you can find a news group about it, from canceled TV shows to botany. If you enjoy cars, you can find a group discussing cars. You will find people from all walks of life whose experiences may help you. You can find very specific groups, such as people who are not just interested in any kind of car, but are specifically interested in late model Fiat automobiles. If you have an interest chances are that there is a news group where people are already discussing your favorite topic.
Newsgroups are, first and foremost, groups of the people participating in them. For this reason, it is recommended that any new user spend time reading recent messages in a given group in order to become familiar with the social expectations of that group. What may be a perfectly reasonable message in one group may be scandalously taboo in another group. A typical example would be posting images or other binary files, a practice which is virtually forbidden in some groups but encouraged in others.
Due to the nature of how news servers interact with each other, newsgroup provide a measure of anonymity. Many newsreader programs use terminology like "joining" or "subscribing" then a user views a group, but these are somewhat misleading. There are no fees for subscribing to a group, and no central repository of who has been viewing them.
Newsgroups are not maintained on a single server, instead they are decentralized. The messages, or posts, in the newsgroups are replicated on news servers around the world. News servers provide the infrastructure allowing this communication to take place. While a newsgroup may begin on a single server, it is often picked up by other servers. Each server will maintain a record of separate messages, sorted by the "groups" in which they were posted. Servers "peer" with each other, sharing their messages openly. By this peering mechanism, a message posted in Sri Lanka soon arrives at servers in Europe, North America, and elsewhere for all to see.
Hosted locally in Sonic.net's data center, news.sonic.net provides fast transfer rates, good text group retention and completion rates, and exclusive Sonic.net-only local groups. Text-only newsgroups can be accessed from outside of our network[#outside *] by providing your login and password.