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5: Newbie FAQ
FAQ for Newbies to Usenet
How to Post to the Net
by Dani K and David Stevenson
This is a FAQ of Frequently Answered Questions, since newbies generally
do not have enough information to actually *ask* them.
When posting on the net, there are a few things you should know.
The first thing you should remember is DO NOT SHOUT.
Using all-caps in a sentence is shouting. It is generally considered
rude. If you are trying to emphasise a word or phrase you may put it in
capital letters but here are some other less obtrusive ways to emphasise
words and phrases...
You can outline the words with underscores or asterisks. Like _this_ or
*this*. If you *REALLY*, _REALLY_ want to emphasise a word or phrase you
can combine the outline with capital letters. This should be done fairly
When you post, please remember to use paragraphs. A post of more than
say... about ten lines is difficult on the eyes if it does not have any
paragraph breaks. It is not necessary to indent the paragraphs. Just
give us a space between each paragraph.
It is far easier to read and pleasanter on the eye if you do indent the
No matter what your computer program tells you, please remember to hit
your return or enter key somewhere between 60 and 70 characters per
The reason for this is many of our readers do not automatically wrap
your sentences. If your reader shows you that the post was auto-wrapped,
that does *not* mean that *we* get it wrapped. I have seen entire pages
on one line, because the poster did not know they needed to return or
use paragraphs. Many of us will not read posts where we have to tell our
computer to arrow left for every word over the 80th character, and some
people will not be able to read it at all, even if they are willing to
go through the hassle.
Similarly tabs are seen differently by different people with different
software, so if you want to produce a table, don't use the tabs: just
use lots of spaces.
When responding to a previous post, learn to use your program's snipper.
Do not respond to a post without including *something* from the first
post to indicate to us what you are talking about and generally you
should not include the entire previous post. It is very irritating to
download a post that either says nothing at all except for, "I agree!"
or to download a post that appears to have 75 lines, and all it turns
out to be is a repeated post that has your comment tacked onto the end,
saying "I agree!"
When you respond to a post, remember to put empty lines between the
previous post and your reply. Otherwise, many of our programs will
italicise the previous post *and* your comments, so we won't be able to
easily tell where the old one ends and yours begins.
Generally advertisements for any service including 'free' services will
irritate people on conversational newsgroups. If you feel that you have
the one service that absolutely must be made available to people through
the net you should make a sincere attempt to place it in newsgroups that
are generally discussing things related to what you have to offer. An ad
for a book you have written concerning the least oppressive methods of
toilet training will be less likely to generate a flood of furious email
from people in alt.support.parenting while people in
alt.politics.drinking-age may well take offense.
When you are responding to a post check your program to make sure that
the response is going only into the newsgroup(s) that you are sure will
have an interest in what you have to say. Some posts, especially
inflammatory ones, are crossposted to many different newsgroups. When
you see this, delete the newsgroups in the 'send' column that you
recognise will not be interested in seeing your response. If the topic
is about, oh, let's say... 'bugs that live on human corpses'...probably
the people in alt.binaries.cars-that-raise-your-status are not going to
be interested in what you have to say.
If you want to discuss something that appears to be off-topic you should
begin a new conversation by sending the newsgroup a new message with a
header that tells us what you want to discuss. If your new topic
generates two or more flames and no positive responses you need to
assume that the topic is so far away from the newsgroups primary purpose
that you should go look for a more appropriate newsgroup.
It is not polite to post binaries or encoded text in conversational
newsgroups. Don't do it. If you have a picture or encoded text that you
just KNOW we are going to want to see post it in an alt.binaries group
that has a topic that is at least semi-related to your binary and then
announce to us that you have done so. Don't forget to tell us what the
picture is or what the text is and be sure to tell us what header you
used in the alt.binary newsgroup. Otherwise we might not be able to find
it. If you give us a brief description of what you have posted there and
it sounds interesting we will go look at it. Another option is to post
us a detailed description of what you have and an offer to email it to
anyone who emails you a request for it.
Test posts are irritating primarily because they do not contribute to
the conversation and they waste bandwidth. Many people have to pay to
download a newsgroup and if they are paying for a test post it can make
them suffer violent fantasies with you as the star. If you are not sure
how to post and want to make a test post please do it in alt.test. If
you screw it up or it does not work nobody there will get mad at you. I
When you post to a Newsgroup you may think of sending a copy to the
person whose article you are answering. Some software makes it very easy
to do this. However you should not do it automatically. It tends to
annoy people to answer an email and then discover it has been posted as
well. But there are some situations where it is correct to send an email
1. If someone asks for replies by email, then post and email: do not
email only because others who read the original post are interested
in the answers.
2. Expressions of sympathy, condolence and so on: this is a matter of
delicacy, and you should just consider what the recipient will feel
most comfortable with.
3. Flames: Dani K suggests the duplication. Personally, I don't
duplicate, but I have not considered flames very much.
There may be others, but they are probably obvious. But please don't do
it automatically! If you do decide to duplicate for some reason, please
start your answer:
POSTED & EMAILED
so at least everyone knows.
The last few lines of your posts are often referred to as a sig, short
for signature. Many types of software have a sig file: when you send a
post it automatically puts the sig at the bottom. People use it to
express their personality, or to advertise, or whatever. Good software
will strip your sig off when someone replies to you, if it knows that it
is a sig, which depends on it starting with a sig separator.
A sig separator is a line containing dash dash space [like this "-- "]
and nothing else. Furthermore there is a general rule of "Netiquette"
that the sig that follows the sig separator should be no more than four
It's good to have you here. Make yourself known to us.
Further items on Netiquette may be found at
This document may also be found at
David Stevenson Storypage: http://blakjak.com/sty_menu.htm
Liverpool, England, UK Emails welcome
Nanki Poo: SI O+W B 12 Y L+ W++ C+ I T+ A- E H++ V- F Q P+ B+ PA+ PL SC
Minke: SI W+Cp B 3 Y L W+ C++ I T A- E H++ V++ F- Q- P B PA+ PL+ SC-
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