Glossary of Internet Terms

Did you forget what FTP, POP and TCP/IP mean? No fear. This collection of fast facts is here to help you with those confusing Internet terms.

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Archie: A very useful Internet service that lets you search a large database of materials stored on anonymous FTP sites.

attachments: Files that are linked to a specific e-mail message, just like a clipping attached to a letter.


BBS: Bulletin Board System. A local computer system that lets you download files and provides space for electronic chit-chat.

body: The part of an e-mail message where you type your message.

bounce: What e-mail does when it doesn't go through to the recipient.

browser: A program that lets you search through the information provided by a specific type of server. Usually used with the World Wide Web.


connect time: The amount of time you are actually connected to and using a computer that is part of the Internet. Because connect or internet service charges are based on this amount of time, you want to keep it as low as possible.

cross-posting: Posting a single copy of a Usenet article to several newsgroups at the same time by putting their names in the Newsgroups line. More efficient than posting multiple individual copies.


dial up: To call another computer via modem.

domain: A unique alphabetic representation of a computer's location within a network. Top-level domains include:

download: To transfer a file from one computer to another.


electronic mail or e-mail: Messages that travel through the networks of the Internet. The best part is, they never get lost and you never have to buy a stamp.


FAQ: Frequently Asked Question. Lists of commonly asked questions and their answers. FAQs are often posted in newsgroups to reduce the number of questions from newcomers to the newsgroup. It is good practice to read a FAQ list before posting a question to make sure yours isn't a frequently asked one.

flame: to post an antagonistic message intended to criticize and insult someone for something they have written. A flame is usually designated with a warning text beginning with [FLAME ON] and ending with [FLAME OFF].

flame bait: A posting written with the intention of inciting flames.

flame war: An exchange of flames that erupts into a full-scale dispute consuming an entire newsgroup.

followup: An article on Usenet posted in reply to another article. The subject should stay the same so that readers can tell the two articles are related.

FTP: File Transfer Protocol. One of the main ways in which you retrieve files from other machines on the Internet.


gateway: A machine that connects two different networks, translating information so that it can pass seamlessly from one to the other.

Gopher: An information retrieval system created by the University of Minnesota. Very popular on the Internet. Gopher is one of the most useful resources available.


header: The part of an e-mail message, or Usenet posting, that contains information about the message. Examples include: who it's from and when the message was sent.

home page: The document that first appears when you launch a Web browser like Explorer. It also refers to a page that you set up on the Web.

host: The computer you connect to for your Internet access.


Internet: The collection of all the connected networks in the world.

IP address: A four-part identification number that is unique to a machine on the Internet. For example, the IP address for is .




login: The process by which you identify yourself to a host computer, usually involving a userid and a password.

lurk: to read and observe the going-ons of a public discussion without posting or contributing to it.


mailing list: A list of people who all receive postings sent to the group. Mailing lists exist on all sorts of topics.

mailserver: A program that provides access to files via e-mail.

modem: Stands for modulator-demodulator, because that's what it does, technically. In reality, a modem allows your computer to talk to another computer via the phone lines.

mirror site: An FTP site that contains or mirrors the exact content of another site.


newsgroup: A discussion group on the Internet devoted to talking about a specific topic. It might be a group devoted to discussing your favourite rock band, world politics, hobbies or sports. Just about any topic under the sun that people like to talk about is in a newsgroup. There are currently over 5,000 newsgroups.

newsreader: A program that helps you read articles in newsgroups.


offline: Actions performed when you aren't actually connected to another computer.

online: Actions performed when you are connected to another computer.


POP: Post Office Protocol. A protocol for the storage and retrieval of e-mail. Eudora uses POP.

post: To send a message to a discussion group or list.

PPP: Point to Point Protocol. A protocol such as SLIP that allows your computer to pretend it is a full Internet computer using only a modem and a normal telephone line.

protocol: A language that computers use when talking to each other.


quoting: Including parts of an original message in a e-mail reply. The standard character used to set off a quote from the rest of the text is a column of > (greater-than) characters along the left margin.



spam: The same Usenet article posted repeatedly to a large number of individual newsgroups (compare with cross-posting). While many spams are commericial in nature, the content of the article is irrelevant - spam is strictly defined by the quantity of postings.


TCP: Transmission Control Protocol. It works with IP (Internet Protocol) to ensure that packets travel safely on the Internet.

TCP/IP: The combination of Transmission Control Protocol and Internet Protocol. The base protocols on which the Internet is founded.

thread: A group of messages in a newsgroup that all share the same subject and topic.


upload: To send a file to another computer.

URL: Uniform Resource Locator. An address on the Internet. e.g.:

Usenet: A network of thousands of discussion groups , or Newsgroups on every imaginable topic.

userid: The name you use to login to another computer.

username: The same thing as userid


Veronica: An Internet tool that searches a database of Gopher servers to find items that interest you.


World Wide Web: A set of hypermedia documents served by computers on the Internet. These documents are viewed using a Web Browser. Often abbreviated WWW.

WWW: See World Wide Web.

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