Absolute Beginner's Guide to Usenet

1. Introduction

There was a time when Usenet was small enough that new users could quite easily find the information and advice needed to read and post messages in their favourite groups without much difficulty. It was a simple matter to find out the basics of Netiquette and if they posted without due regard for this, it was quickly pointed out to them and appropriate instructions given. Most newusers came from a technical background and were reasonably articulate and socially mature. Oldtimers had the time and patience to assist and instruct and things worked reasonably well.

In the last couple of years there has been an exponential rise in the number of people using Usenet and in the number of newsgroups available. The volume of Spam has reached crisis levels and many of the new users do not take the trouble to find out the simple basic facts about Usenet and Netiquette before jumping in and starting posting. Consequently many new users will innocently do something they think is quite acceptable and be astonished and hurt to find themselves on the receiving end of 'flames'.

The problem for the new user is that there is now such a vast amount of information available that many just don't know where to start. Also, much of that information has been written by technical experts and so can be full of arcane terms and references which can simply be hopelessly confusing to a 'newbie', as new users are called in netspeak.

So, here is a novice's guide to survival on Usenet for those who have absolutely no technical knowledge whatever.

'Ah, what a nice person!', I hear you say, 'going to all that trouble for our benefit!'

(Bows graciously)

Well, it's a nice idea but I'm not actually doing it for your benefit - I'm doing it for mine! (insert smiley of your choice here)

I love Usenet - I think it is one of the human race's better ideas. And I am dismayed sometimes by the level of anti-social activity including spamming, rudeness, and sheer self-important disregard for others that swamps Usenet. I believe that in part this is due to inexperience and ignorance rather than malice and so, by writing this, I hope to help in a small way to increase the signal-to-noise ratio and to assist you in avoiding being burnt to a crisp through innocence or lack of basic information.

Guide part 2

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