[Dept. of Computer Science]

Accessing the News.Answers Archive

The news.answers archive is a mixed bag of information. All files have in common that they have been posted in one or more Usenet news.groups and therefor have a subject. Because they are posted in news.answers they have been issued with a unique archive-name.

So, there are three ways to access the archive:

By archive-name and subject
Because each file in the archive has a unique archive-name, the archive can be viewed as an ordinary hierarchical filesystem. There is a top directory, and every directory contains files and/or other directories (for instance books). Walking the by-archive-name hierarchy you get to see these directories. In each directory the subdirectories are presented in bold and the files are presented by their subject. Each directory also contains (at the top) a link to its parent directory (the directory of which the directory you see is a sub-directory).
By news.group
The news.groups also form a hierarchical system. The top-level groups (alt,comp,rec,soc etc) contain subgroups (comp.lang,comp.sys etc) and so on. When you walk the by-group hierarchie, at first you'll see the top-level groups. Descending further to some news-group, (for instance rec.arts.books) you'll see the subgroups of that group (presented in bold) and the faqs appearing in that group.
By contents
The contents of the faqs can be searched by typing one or more keywords in the box, and clicking the submit button. The result is a list of pointers to faqs, together with a score. The score of a faq indicates how often the keywords appear in the faq.

Full text searching of faqs by keywords is something of an art, and results often a mystery (to me). Use 'rare' words if possible ('Meertens' rather than 'abc').

The best way to find information is to start with a keyword search. Look at the first few items and select something that looks related to what you are looking for, but possibly not quite it. From that faq, you can go to related stuff in the archive-hierarchy (pointer at the top of the faq), or you can look at other faqs posted in the same newsgroup as the one you selected.

The trick is to use a mix of the three access-methods available.

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