Most of my knowledge that I have now about computer I got because I read accordingly ‘Newsgroups’ in the ‘Usenet’.
‘‘What is this’’, you ask.
‘Usenet’ are the biggest and most up-to-date knowledge-base you can imagine. It is split by topic, and has hierarchies in groups and there are nearly every subject present. From engineering to IT stuff, from pets to nutrition, mathematics, history etc, etc. To read ’Newsgroups’ is not so difficult.
Go to ‘google/groups’ search for the subject you are interested and enjoy.
But if you are realy going to use the ‘Usenet’ to get, or give information and help, you need a ‘News-Service-Provider’ and a ‘Newsreader’. And here the story of a hobby begins.
Because ‘Usenet’ is a text based medium, your ‘posting’ is your outward - your first impression you give to your potential readers and helpers. To ‘post’ in the ‘Usenet’ and not get read is useless.
Most of the ‘Newbis’ who start writing with the ‘Newsreader’ which is integrated in ‘Outlook Express’ and - because this one is full of bugs and errors, there you get in trouble right from the beginning (in the german language groups). The ‘posts’ you create with ‘OE’ looking great on your computer, but on other peoples ‘Newsreader’ may not - or actually look like s...! If you want to use the ‘OE’, you have to get some software and/or patches to make your postings readable - read the read the ‘OE-FAQ’ (but I can't find one in english right now, that maybe means that there in the english language groups they don't give a dam what a ‘posting’ looks like). Here is the german ‘OE-FAQ’.
So, the best way to start with the ‘Usenet’ is first to read the ‘news.announce.newusers’ or at least the ‘FAQ’ and/or inform yourself from several pages in the ‘www’ and then get a good Newsreader which fulfills the standards. My recommendation is the free ‘emacs/gnus’ (for Linux) or‘emacs/Gnus’ (for Windows).
This is by far the best one but also a little bit difficult to operate, because you have to learn a little bit about ‘Lisp’; but for this ‘Gnus’ brew coffee as well.:)
A good recommendation also is the ‘40tude Dialog’ and it's free too.
I'm mostly in the german language groups, the ‘de.*.*’, because this is my mother tongue. Here the rules are a little stronger than in the ‘big 8’ the english spoken/written groups (see above) and that is where I learned my lessons. Most of them in the not (always) funny group dag° (de.alt.gruppenkasper).
Did I tweak your interest?
Fine, so I will put a few ‘links’ below which may be helpful for beginners. http://www.daheim.de/faq.png ...I will use Google before asking any dumb questions
http://my.gnus.org/ ...the site for ‘Gnus Lisp-Code’
http://www.ibiblio.org/usenet-i/usenet-help.html ...another site about Usenet
http://www.faqs.org/faqs/ ...a site for Frendly Asked Questions
http://www.ibiblio.org/usenet-i/search.html ...Searchengine for Usenet-Groups
http://www.cit.cornell.edu/services/netnews/netiquette.html ...Usenet Netiquette
http://www.templetons.com/brad/emily.html ...sarcastic FAQ obut Netiquette (things you better don't do)
http://infohost.nmt.edu/tcc/help/news/acronyms.html ...Common acronyms on Usenet
http://www.netfunny.com/rhf/jokes/88q1/13785.8.html ...The Flamers Bible
http://www.volker-gringmuth.de/usenet/techrules.htm ...Volkers Usenet-Seiten - Technische Regeln
http://www.bruhaha.de/laws.html ...Die Usenet-Laws
http://www.realname-diskussion.info/shorties.htm ...Akronyme und Abkuerzungen im Usenet
http://www.liesmal.de/fup2-faq/ ...fup2-faq, fup2, fup-faq, followup... was ist das?
http://sockenseite.de/usenet/Realname-FAQ.html ...Realnamen und Pseudonyme - Was soll das eigentlich? (Realname-FAQ)
http://www.realname-diskussion.info/grund.htm ...Realname Info u. Gruende keinen zu benutzen