What is Usenet?
Usenet is the
network of discussion boards, often called 'NewsGroups', and usually accessible
through an email browser, or on the web via Google Groups. Once the only
online communication system, UseNet now competes with mailing lists, web-based
bulletin boards, chatrooms and a myriad other systems.
Do I learn The Rules?
As Internet usage has grown, and options too, the
original tight rules of usenet have been diluted to the point of invisibility.
However, many newsgroups have a charter or FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions), and
many other discussion sites have a charter, FAQ or 'about' page.
is no substitute for simply reading for a few days before posting, however.
Do I get started?
Read the FAQ. If there's something that keeps coming
up, it saves everyone a lot of discussion, reinventing the wheel, flaming, and
going over the same old ground. Think of it as basic research.
you post. That simply means read before you write. Many groups have hundreds of
readers, but just a handful regularly write. It is worth a little investment of
time to see how your chosen group works - every group has 'unwritten rules' that
have developed, and new members can suffer badly by not being up to speed.
any group, before asking a question, seemingly stupid or otherwise, do read through
at least a week's, or even a month's, posts of that group to see if the subject
has been covered before - maybe yesterday or last week.
It is also worth
searching at Google Groups to see
if the question has already been
answered, perhaps on another newsgroup.
There are approaching 100,000 newsgoups,
with more asppearing all the time, and many with over 1000 messages per day; others
[large chunk edited]
>>Of course many folks here
have strong feelings about certain things, but
>>you should be able to
express yourself without stooping to personal
>>attacks. It is frustrating
when some people insist on doing things the
but if you can't answer without attacking or you don't
>>think the question
or the questioner is worthy of a response, then
>>please, just don't
> I agree, Red.
There is an exception; some folk ask questions,
or offer to be helpful, but
are actually starting a grooming process to rip
Or they have zero idea what they are talking about, while hawing
called 'best-seo-in-the-world.com' (I made that up).
obviously right not to attack people for the fun of it, newer
(and expect) more experienced members to protect them from
scum and scams
- all of which are all too common. This will always lead to
people will take sides (even with *obvious* villains.)
Usenet will never
be a peaceful place (it never was!), and all you need to
do is use your killfile
once you know who you disrespect (or just plain
killfiled scores in this group, and many have killfiled me; both are
fine, and I wouldn't have it any other way.
It's a way to make usenet work,
and after a while, you only need add a
couple of people a week as the spammers,
scammers and idiot suffer churn
just like everything else. It also removes
you from the temptation of
replying to those folk - except where their comments
get quoted back by
I see a fairly small number of posts
per day; a few are drive-by one-off
spammers, others are by people whose views
I respect (though not
necessarily on topics that appeal); others are new folk,
allowing me the
time to decide if they really want help, whether they want
help to rip
people off, whether they have an interesting idea ... etc.
I'm not sure i agree that people are entitled to ask for help on their
get it, and go away. The help is free; the helper is entitled to make
comments they like. It's bad manners to say "I want your free
advice, but you are forbidden to comment on my grossly insulting /
/ sad content." It's not the members who need to "just don't
- I'd put it the other way - If you can't take negative, irrelevant
responses with the great advice, Just Don't Ask" - and that
every single newsgroup, with no exceptions.
This group is perfectly manageable
- but you have to actively manage it.
It'snot so much sad, as a simple fact
of life; unmoderated usenet groups
have a very low proportion of interesting
/ useful / safe content. It'sbeen
that way since the very early days, and
has got worse (and will continue to
get worse until the robot dross drives
us all out).
It does behove new posters to be careful with their wording,
and they'd be
wise to read a bit before posting; twas ever thus.
I don't think new posters are assumed to be idiots - unless they act
99% of the ones who are attacked have invited it; usually by being
/ scammers / idiots, occasionally by a major cockup with the
cannot recall the last time I saw a 'genuine' poster attacked at first
- though frequently they misinterpret responses and snip back, then
all the way.
It's a fact of 'advice seekers' in all contexts, that they
want advice - they want to be told that what they are doing
is OK; many, in
fact, go from forum to forum, group to group, until some idiot
they want to hear.
That is often at the root of quarrels here
Usenet has always been the wild west of the internet and will probably
continue to be that until it disappears entirely, but that doesn't
there's a hostile hiding behind every bush.
is ">>" down the left margin?
Many browsers automatically add the
'greater than' symbol to the left of each line of quoted text. It distinguishes
quotations from different senders, helping respondents to avoid errors in attribution.
So an email in reply to a question might include the original question,
with '>' indicating the quoted text. It is rarely necessary to quote a message
in its entirety - just enough so that the recipient knows what you are referring
to. A four part "conversation" might appear as:
> > > Do I have
to include all these ">>"
> > No, but it does show what you are
> > quoting and what is your reply.
> But I do have to?
you can change the settings on your browser
are the rules about capitalization?
WRITING IN BLOCK CAPITALS IS UNNNECESSARY
AND IS INTERPRETED BY MANY AS SHOUTING. Expect a rude reply!
lower case is odd, especially if i do it all the time. it might look quaint but
some read it as laziness. Expect no reply!
Using the usual case is recommended;
The use of lower case and upper case evolved over many years; it is legible and
requires little effort of reader or writer.
are there so many idiots on some groups?
There's idiots everywhere, but
sometimes it does seem that they breed on newsgroups.
1. Some of them think
they own the newsgroup they frequent; they've been there for ages, they may have
no other social life, and all their 'friends' are around them. They find newcomers
a threat to their power, their security, and may let that show.
are simply 'resident trolls' - ignored by the locals, they stand out like a sore
thumb to newcomers.
3. Some groups have stagnated over time, and no longer
function as the name would suggest. Not idiots as such - but it may appear that
4. Some groups attract idiots - especially crossposting idiots - by
their nature. Nurses' groups attrcat misogynists and perverts; political groups
attract opponents and racists, religious groups attract all kinds of idiots.
idiot issue is another good reason to read for a while before you join in. And
when you decide to join, it's good practice to use your 'killfile' generously;
enabling you to ignore most of the idiots. You'll soon reduce the idiot quotient
to a manageable level, but always be prepared to killfile freely.
Flaming ('insulting criticism or remark meant to incite anger')
has come to refer to almost any mail insult. Originating in usenet, flames were
carefully honed responses to real or perceived insults; sarcastic, artistic, often
literary in allusion. The art has long since disappeared, and flame wars can be
abusive, aggressive and unpleasant exchanges in newsgroups, mailing lists and
email. They are a serious reminder that it is vital to think before mailing; an
insult cannot be withdrawn. Find
What is cross posting?
refers to the sending of a note to more than one news group - generally considered
bad manners. Even if your comment has some relevance to more than one group, it
is not considered polite to assume that the 'other group' wish to hear it. When
replying to a cross post, it is usual to delete the other groups before posting
- only send to people that you know are interested.
There are exceptions,
but it is usually better to go to each group in turn, and ask your self 'should
I post this here'. Once you've scanned the current discussions, you'll usually
find that it is neither helpful, not likely to be appreciated.
can a polite reply hurt anyone?
Very easily. Pressing the reply button
can vary in its effect, depending on the software you use and how it is set up.
Your reply may be automatically copied to all who received the first post, not
just the sender. The contents may include all of the original post; if you choose
to "quote original" but have been reading another post since you read the one
you are replying to, it is possible to quote from the wrong mail.
your reply, however polite, may be taken out of context and might cause inadvertent
pain - easily done when responding around the world, with such variation among
cultures (Never forget that England and America are "divided by a common language").
Why are people easily upset on the internet?
internet combines features of both the written and the spoken word, but lacks
what we all take for granted in speech; visible and audible cues. Thus a 'smart'
comment can become biting sarcasm, a verbal tease can become a mortal insult.
Two solutions have evolved:
The vile and ubiquitous
The cumbersome but <witty> emotag </witty>
Emoticons are the work of seconds from any keyboard, and are widely understood.
On the other hand, some people find them trite, facile and irredeemably stupid
Emotags mimic the text tags used in HTML coding. They take
a little thought and might not be worth that effort - but, arguably, they could
not be worse than <DIRE> emoticons </DIRE>
do some groups put up with trolls?
Each group or forum will have their
own tolerance level. With forums, it is the owner (or their chosen managers) who
set the tone, and decide how much trollism they will accept. For newsgroups, it's
a question of what the current membership will put up with.
If you leave
such a place, tell them them why you've left - but never look back, as 95% will
not change. Their site, their choice.
YOUR choice is to look around the
web until you find a site that shares your tolerance level - the web is so huge,
there HAS to be one!
The range of tolerance is huge; On one site, they may
have ZERO tolerance of spammers and trolls; the moderators simply delete any suspicious
posts, and if the member objects, they are deleted. End of story.
other extreme, quite the oppposite. The owner tells them straight, and gives them
the option to clean up their act. If they don't, it's open season and members
are encouraged give them a really hard time until they get bored. trolls are allowed
to stay ONLY as long as they provide entertainment for the members.
is "shop around"; if you are not comforatble, move on. It's a big web,
and it caters for all tastes. There really is little point in staying where you
do not like the atmosphere - and it only encourages them.
nothing wrong with reading a forum in another language; pick up what you can,
and maybe learn a little of the language too. But few groups will tolerate someone
who joins, and then asks badly translated questions - especially if the questions
have been answered 674 times before. Let's face it, if you can't even ask the
question ... what are you going to do with the answer?
- insulting criticism or remark meant to incite anger.
Groups - Web based version of Usenet
- selecting a person or thread to be ignored in future.
- Subscribe to a group, but take no active part
- a newsgroup post that is intended to provoke readers; or a person who makes
such a post.
Thanks to Edward Rogers
for suggesting the items on reponding to email, and for useful thoughts on forum
How this page works ...
This page is to help anyone
with an interest in Netiquette - or simply in the use of the internet. If you
want to ask a supplementary question, write to me - I do not promise an
answer - but I'll help if I can, and may add it to this page.
your views on the whole idea - did you find it useful?