Once you open and display a newsgroup's message list, reading messages is just like reading email messages in an email program. Single-click an item in the list to display it in the preview pane (as shown in Figure 7.7), or double-click it to display the message in its own window.
Figure 7.7. You can organize your newsgroup message list by thread, to better follow the flow of individual conversations.
The tricky part about reading news messages is organizing the list in a way that works for you. Most newsreaders let you arrange the messages in myriad ways: alphabetically by subject, by author, by date, and so on. (The options for sorting the message list in Netscape Messenger, Outlook Express, and most other Windows and Mac newsreaders appear on the View menu.) But the most useful sorting is by thread .
In effect, threads group messages by subject. Two messages can have the same subject but not the same thread, if neither is a reply to the other (or a reply to a reply to the other). If you sort messages by thread, and then by subject, you'll get all threads on a given subject grouped together.
When you sort messages by thread (see Figure 7.7), you can follow the flow of the conversation, click your way in order, through the messages to see how the discussion has progressed.
In most newsreaders, when messages are sorted by threads, the replies to a message do not appear automatically in the list; instead, a plus sign (+) appears next to the message's listing, to indicate that there are submessages ”replies ”to that message. To display the replies, click the plus sign.