Today I had the occasion to introduce my friend, Paul, to Usenet News Groups. He has gotten Windows XP installed on his computer and uses Outlook 2002 as his email program. During the introductory period of adjusting to this new environment, he has had a number of relatively simple questions about using the program that he has relied on his friends to answer. I suggested that he might start reading the microsoft.public.outlook group to see what questions are asked and how they are answered. I also helped him set up his copy of Outlook Express to point to the news.microsoft.com news server and to subscribe to the group mentioned above.
I myself have learned a lot by reading mailing lists about a particular software product, TBUDL for one (TheBat! User Discussion List), and by reading various news groups. In general, one doesn’t even have to post to a news group or a mailing list to benefit from reading them. In fact, sometimes I have discovered answers to questions I hadn’t even thought to ask yet just by lurking in these spaces. It’s one of the best ways, in my opinion, to get to know a program that you are just learning.