Usenet flames and how to avoid them

Usenet flames and how to avoid them

Sooner or later, as you read Usenet, you will run into flames.

Flames are articles that are any of the following: insulting, derogatory, or extremely negative (especially in emotional content). Basically, it’s someone thumbing their nose. Remember, there are several million Usenet readers, and many have very strong opinions. How to deal with flames Relax. People are just rude sometimes. Take a walk, play a game. Stop reading for a while. Put the offending subject in your kill file. Using trn, type K while reading the flame.

Okay, it’s finally time to do your first post. Maybe you have a question, or perhaps you have an answer to someone’s request. Or maybe you’re just tired of lurking on the edge and want to get involved. But the last thing you want to do is look like an idiot or be labeled as a Newbie. People on Usenet are not known for their tact or their patience with Newbies.

The rules are simple:

  1. Read the FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) on the group. Most can be ftp’d at rtfm.mit.edu under /pub/usenet/your.group.name or take a look at news.answers. If you can’t find it, post an article requesting the FAQ.
  2. Read the newsgroup news.announce.newusers. It’ll have answers to most of your questions.
  3. Post test articles to an appropriate group. If you just want to make sure that you’re doing it right, try posting to nmt.test.
  4. Surveys and homework assignments are usually ignored and labels you as a Newbie.
  5. “Me too!” or “Please send me the information too!” posts are another label of a Newbie.
  6. Requests that information be emailed because you don’t normally read the group is considered rude.
  7. Avoid stories about kids with tumors that want postcards, and the story about Neiman Marcus cookies, and the one about the modem tax. They’re old! And no longer valid. Check the FAQ’s, ma’am.
  8. Chain letters are illegal. They may sound like a great way to make money (if you’re an idiot), but you will lose your account at the very least.
  9. Be careful of crossposting. Post your article to only to appropriate groups.
  10. If you must go on a tirade or flame someone, try to limit yourself to email.
  11. Assume that people are speaking for themselves, not their organization. Even if they are posting from work.
  12. Be Brief.
  13. Posting personal email may be construed as copywrite infringement. Not a good idea.
  14. Be aware of acronyms and shorthand commonly used.
  15. Oh, and if you are reading an article that looks like gobbledygook, it has probably been rot-13’d because of questionable content. Try shift-x. But don’t complain if you don’t like what you read!
  16. Be very careful of advertising. Take a look at `trn: How to advertise on Usenet’.