Most of the focus on Usenet is the alt.binaries hierarchy. There is a big world of Usenet that goes undiscovered because more and more people only use Usenet with automated NZB downloaders. There are many rich newsgroups with lots of discussion and good information.
Even in newsgroups that don’t have a lot of traffic anymore, still have a wealth of information that is still highly useful. You’ll never have to worry about it going away because the website owner didn’t feel like keeping the site. Once it’s up on Usenet, it stays. If you have any kind of interest, there is likely a newsgroup for it.
Like any web based message board, each board has it’s own community. Not all of them are very welcoming. Even some of the support newsgroups have a bootstraps mentality and will refuse to help anyone.
Unfortunetly, a lot of the newsgroups out there also tend to be populated by a certain type of person. A lot of them are crazy (also called kooks on Usenet). This is particularly true of the politically charged Usenet groups. Newsgroups that focus more on technical things or any kind of non-political discussion, it doesn’t seem to be as obvious.
The text side is like the wild west of internet discussions. There are no moderators for the vast majority of newsgroups. So you can imagine how secure people feel behind their computer when you’re basically posting anonymously without any form of accountability. But be careful, there are crazy people out there who won’t keep their ‘trolling’ to just Usenet.
Viewing the discussion side is easy. All you need is a newsgroup reader. Forte Agent is always a popular choice. 40tude Dialog is a good reader, but it hasn’t been updated in forever. Thunderbird and Seamonkey are worth a look, but they’re not very good. Opera’s reader seems promising, except it wants to download all the headers for every group.
Like everything. It depends.
Usenet providers don’t log connections. No matter what anyone tells you, there is no point in logging connections. They don’t have the space to spare and it serves no point. They don’t log downloads because they have no legal reason.
Uploading to Usenet is a slightly different matter. The big Usenet providers might not want to log connections, but they still need to fight abuse and spam. So instead of logging everything, most Usenet providers insert a special X-Trace code into the header of your post such as this:
The string of text includes the account name and IP of the poster. When someone sends in an abuse complaint of DMCA take-down notice, they have to include all headers of the offending post. Each header will have these X-Trace lines in them. The provider that the poster used can decrypt this line and then give a warning to the poster. Many providers will give users 3 warnings before they either cancle the account or block uploading access. Your results may vary.
If you’re wanting to post content, keep that in mind. I haven’t heard of any uploader getting into legal trouble. But there are plenty of people who have lost their usenet accounts.
For these reasons, block accounts are a good resource for uploading. They’re fairly cheap, as low as $2.75, and they’ll never expire. European, particularly Dutch providers, block accounts are ideal since they generally more forgiving towards posters.