Category : Information about the Internet from the early 1990's
Archive   : USEGATE.ZIP
Filename : USENET.PRI

Output of file : USENET.PRI contained in archive : USEGATE.ZIP
From pacbell!ames!nrl-cmf!ukma!rutgers!gatech!purdue!spaf Sun Jan 1 15:17:50 PST 1989
Article 352 of news.announce.newusers:
Path: hoptoad!pacbell!ames!nrl-cmf!ukma!rutgers!gatech!purdue!spaf
>From: [email protected] (Gene Spafford)
Newsgroups: news.announce.newusers
Subject: A Primer on How to Work With the Usenet Community (Updated: 10 October 1988)
Message-ID: <[email protected]>
Date: 30 Dec 88 17:48:10 GMT
Expires: 30 Mar 89 17:48:09 GMT
Organization: Dept. of Computer Sciences, Purdue Univ.
Lines: 290
Approved: [email protected]
Supersedes: <[email protected]>

Original-from: [email protected] (Chuq Von Rospach)
[Most recent change: 10 October 1988 by [email protected] (Mark Brader)]

A Primer on How to Work With the USENET Community
Chuq Von Rospach

*** You now have access to Usenet, a big network of thousands of
computers. Other documents or your system administrator will provide
detailed technical documentation. This message describes the Usenet
culture and customs that have developed over time. All new users should
read this message to find out how Usenet works. ***
*** (Old users could read it, too, to refresh their memories.) ***

USENET is a large collection of computers that share data with each other.
It is the people on these computers that make USENET worth the effort, and
for USENET to function properly those people must be able to interact in
productive ways. This document is intended as a guide to using the net in
ways that will be pleasant and productive for everyone.

This document is not intended to teach you how to use USENET. Instead, it
is a guide to using it politely, effectively and efficiently.
Communication by computer is new to almost everybody, and there are
certain aspects that can make it a frustrating experience until you get
used to them. This document should help you avoid the worst traps.

The easiest way to learn how to use USENET is to watch how others use it.
Start reading the news and try to figure out what people are doing and
why. After a couple of weeks you will start understanding why certain
things are done and what things shouldn't be done. There are documents
available describing the technical details of how to use the software.
These are different depending on which programs you use to access the
news. You can get copies of these from your system administrator. If you
do not know who that person is, they can be contacted on most systems by
mailing to account "usenet".

Never Forget that the Person on the Other Side is Human

Because your interaction with the network is through a computer it is easy
to forget that there are people "out there." Situations arise where
emotions erupt into a verbal free-for-all that can lead to hurt feelings.

Please remember that people all over the world are reading your words. Do
not attack people if you cannot persuade them with your presentation of
the facts. Screaming, cursing, and abusing others only serves to make
people think less of you and less willing to help you when you need it.

If you are upset at something or someone, wait until you have had a chance
to calm down and think about it. A cup of coffee or a good night's sleep
works wonders on your perspective. Hasty words create more problems than
they solve. Try not to say anything to others you would not say to them
in person in a room full of people.

Be Brief

Never say in ten words what you can say in fewer. Say it succinctly and
it will have a greater impact. Remember that the longer you make your
article, the fewer people will bother to read it.

Your Postings Reflect Upon You -- Be Proud of Them

Most people on USENET will know you only by what you say and how well you
say it. They may someday be your co-workers or friends. Take some time
to make sure each posting is something that will not embarrass you later.
Minimize your spelling errors and make sure that the article is easy to
read and understand. Writing is an art and to do it well requires
practice. Since much of how people judge you on the net is based on your
writing, such time is well spent.

Use Descriptive Titles

The subject line of an article is there to enable a person with a limited
amount of time to decide whether or not to read your article. Tell people
what the article is about before they read it. A title like "Car for
Sale" to does not help as much as "66 MG Midget for sale:
Beaverton OR." Don't expect people to read your article to find out what
it is about because many of them won't bother. Some sites truncate the
length of the subject line to 40 characters so keep your subjects short
and to the point.

Think About Your Audience

When you post an article, think about the people you are trying to
reach. Asking UNIX(*) questions on will not reach as many
of the people you want to reach as if you asked them on
comp.unix.questions or comp.unix.wizards. Try to get the most
appropriate audience for your message, not the widest.

It is considered bad form to post both to misc.misc,,
or misc.wanted and to some other newsgroup. If it belongs in that
other newsgroup, it does not belong in misc.misc,,
or misc.wanted.

If your message is of interest to a limited geographic area (apartments,
car sales, meetings, concerts, etc...), restrict the distribution of the
message to your local area. Some areas have special newsgroups with
geographical limitations, and the recent versions of the news software
allow you to limit the distribution of material sent to world-wide
newsgroups. Check with your system administrator to see what newsgroups
are available and how to use them.

If you want to try a test of something, do not use a world-wide newsgroup!
Messages in misc.misc that say "This is a test" are likely to cause
large numbers of caustic messages to flow into your mailbox. There are
newsgroups that are local to your computer or area that should be used.
Your system administrator can tell you what they are.

Be familiar with the group you are posting to before you post! You
shouldn't post to groups you do not read, or post to groups you've
only read a few articles from -- you may not be familar with the on-going
conventions and themes of the group. One normally does not join
a conversation by just walking up and talking. Instead, you listen
first and then join in if you have something pertinent to contribute.

Be Careful with Humor and Sarcasm

Without the voice inflections and body language of personal
communications, it is easy for a remark meant to be funny to be
misinterpreted. Subtle humor tends to get lost, so take steps to make
sure that people realize you are trying to be funny. The net has
developed a symbol called the smiley face. It looks like ":-)" and points
out sections of articles with humorous intent. No matter how broad the
humor or satire, it is safer to remind people that you are being funny.

But also be aware that quite frequently satire is posted without any
explicit indications. If an article outrages you strongly, you
should ask yourself if it just may have been unmarked satire.
Several self-proclaimed connoisseurs refuse to use smiley faces, so
take heed or you may make a temporary fool of yourself.

Only Post a Message Once

Avoid posting messages to more than one newsgroup unless you are sure
it is appropriate. If you do post to multiple newsgroups, do not
post to each group separately. Instead, specify all the groups on a
single copy of the message. This reduces network overhead and lets
people who subscribe to more than one of those groups see the message
once instead of having to wade through each copy.

Please Rotate Messages With Questionable Content

Certain newsgroups (such as rec.humor) have messages in them that may
be offensive to some people. To make sure that these messages are
not read unless they are explicitly requested, these messages should
be encrypted. The standard encryption method is to rotate each
letter by thirteen characters so that an "a" becomes an "n". This is
known on the network as "rot13" and when you rotate a message the
word "rot13" should be in the "Subject:" line. Most of the software
used to read usenet articles have some way of encrypting and
decrypting messages. Your system administrator can tell you how the
software on your system works, or you can use the Unix command "tr
[a-z][A-Z] [n-z][a-m][N-Z][A-M]". (Note that some versions of Unix
don't require the [] in the "tr" command. In fact, some systems will
get upset if you use them in an unquoted manner. The following
should work for everyone, but may be shortened on some systems:
tr '[a-m][n-z][A-M][N-Z]' '[n-z][a-m][N-Z][A-M]'
Don't forget the single quotes!)

Summarize What You are Following Up

When you are following up someone's article, please summarize the parts of
the article to which you are responding. This allows readers to
appreciate your comments rather than trying to remember what the original
article said. It is also possible for your response to get to some sites
before the original article.

Summarization is best done by including appropriate quotes from the
original article. Do not include the entire article since it will
irritate the people who have already seen it. Even if you are responding
to the entire article, summarize only the major points you are discussing.

When Summarizing, Summarize!

When you request information from the network, it is common courtesy to
report your findings so that others can benefit as well. The best way of
doing this is to take all the responses that you received and edit them
into a single article that is posted to the places where you originally
posted your question. Take the time to strip headers, combine duplicate
information, and write a short summary. Try to credit the information to
the people that sent it to you, where possible.

Use Mail, Don't Post a Follow-up

One of the biggest problems we have on the network is that when someone
asks a question, many people send out identical answers. When this
happens, dozens of identical answers pour through the net. Mail your
answer to the person and suggest that they summarize to the network. This
way the net will only see a single copy of the answers, no matter how many
people answer the question.

If you post a question, please remind people to send you the answers by
mail and offer to summarize them to the network.

Read All Follow-ups and Don't Repeat What Has Already Been Said

Before you submit a follow-up to a message, read the rest of the messages
in the newsgroup to see whether someone has already said what you want to
say. If someone has, don't repeat it.

Be Careful About Copyrights and Licenses

Once something is posted onto the network, it is effectively in the public
domain. When posting material to the network, keep in mind that material
that is UNIX-related may be restricted by the license you or your company
signed with AT&T and be careful not to violate it. You should also be
aware that posting movie reviews, song lyrics, or anything else published
under a copyright could cause you, your company, or the net itself to be
held liable for damages, so we highly recommend caution in using this

Cite Appropriate References

If you are using facts to support a cause, state where they came from.
Don't take someone else's ideas and use them as your own. You don't want
someone pretending that your ideas are theirs; show them the same respect.

Mark or Rotate Answers and Spoilers

When you post something (like a movie review that discusses a detail of
the plot) which might spoil a surprise for other people, please mark your
message with a warning so that they can skip the message. Another
alternative would be to use the "rot13" protocol to encrypt the message so
it cannot be read accidentally. When you post a message with a spoiler in
it make sure the word "spoiler" is part of the "Subject:" line.

Spelling Flames Considered Harmful

Every few months a plague descends on USENET called the spelling flame.
It starts out when someone posts an article correcting the spelling or
grammar in some article. The immediate result seems to be for everyone on
the net to turn into a 6th grade English teacher and pick apart each other's
postings for a few weeks. This is not productive and tends to cause
people who used to be friends to get angry with each other.

It is important to remember that we all make mistakes, and that there are
many users on the net who use English as a second language. If you feel
that you must make a comment on the quality of a posting, please do so by
mail, not on the network.

Don't Overdo Signatures

Signatures are nice, and many people can have a signature added to
their postings automatically by placing it in a file called
"$HOME/.signature". Don't overdo it. Signatures can tell the world
something about you, but keep them short. A signature that is longer
than the message itself is considered to be in bad taste. The main
purpose of a signature is to help people locate you, not to tell your
life story. Every signature should include at least your return
address relative to a well known site on the network and/or a proper
domain-format address. Your system administrator can give this to
you. Some news posters attempt to enforce a 4 line limit on
signature files -- an amount that should be more than sufficient to
provide a return address and attribution.

Summary of Things to Remember

Never forget that the person on the other side is human
Be brief
Your postings reflect upon you; be proud of them
Use descriptive titles
Think about your audience
Be careful with humor and sarcasm
Only post a message once
Please rotate material with questionable content
Summarize what you are following up
Use mail, don't post a follow-up
Read all follow-ups and don't repeat what has already been said
Be careful about copyrights and licenses
Cite appropriate references
When summarizing, summarize
Mark or rotate answers or spoilers
Spelling flames considered harmful
Don't overdo signatures

(*)UNIX is a registered trademark of AT&T.

This document is in the public domain and may be reproduced or
excerpted by anyone wishing to do so.
Gene Spafford
NSF/Purdue/U of Florida Software Engineering Research Center,
Dept. of Computer Sciences, Purdue University, W. Lafayette IN 47907-2004
Internet: [email protected] uucp: ...!{decwrl,gatech,ucbvax}!purdue!spaf

  3 Responses to “Category : Information about the Internet from the early 1990's
Archive   : USEGATE.ZIP
Filename : USENET.PRI

  1. Very nice! Thank you for this wonderful archive. I wonder why I found it only now. Long live the BBS file archives!

  2. This is so awesome! 😀 I’d be cool if you could download an entire archive of this at once, though.

  3. But one thing that puzzles me is the “mtswslnkmcjklsdlsbdmMICROSOFT” string. There is an article about it here. It is definitely worth a read: