How to Post on Usenet

How to Post on Usenet

Posting on Usenet, from a technical standpoint, is no more difficult than replying to an email. In fact, the process is almost identical. There will be a button that will allow the user to reply to any post they are currently reading. That post is uploaded to the Usenet server, added to the conversation and all those who subscribe to that group can view the contents. What’s more important than the technical aspects of posting on Usenet is the etiquette involved. Some people call this “netiquette” which makes it sound like something other than basic good manners, which it is not.

When posting on Usenet for the first time, do not post to a group to see if one’s client is working. This is considered a nuisance of the highest order by users. There is a group for this called news.test which allows users to test their connections without testing any other user’s patience. Use that newsgroup to work out any technical difficulties one has before posting. There will be users on to help new users navigate the process. Usenet is very community oriented and every community has rules regarding introductions. “Am I posting?” is about as endearing as walking into a party and yelling “Can you see me?”

Don’t post before looking. The Usenet newsgroups are flooded with information on just about every topic. Before posting a question, do a Usenet search to see if it’s already been answered. For the users, there are few things more frustrating than having gone through the sometimes long process of answering a new user’s questions just to have another user come on and ask the same thing. Remember to search as many groups as seem relevant to the question. This is the mark of a true pro.

Remember to not post on Usenet newsgroups in a way that violates their terms of usage. This means that, if a group does not have “binaries” in the name, one should never post a binary to that group. This will get a lot of nasty responses. If a newsgroup doesn’t have binaries, you may post them online or offer them on a different newsgroup and let anyone who was interested know that you’ve made them available. It’s the polite way to handle this and doesn’t require any of the users to download extra data in which they may have no interest.

When you post on Usenet as part of an ongoing conversation, do not get involved in flame wars. Flame wars are usually conducted in all caps and are about as interesting to experienced users as is any other instance of listening two strangers scream at one another. Facilitating or encouraging this sort of bad behavior is called being a “troll”. If someone replies to one of your posts “don’t feed the trolls” it means the user community is trying to ignore the yelling match hoping that the culprits will go try to find someone who’s interested. Moderated newsgroups are a way to avoid this.

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