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Usenet Tutorial

Posting a Usenet Article

You can post a Usenet article either in reply to someone else's article (that is, a follow- up article) or as a brand new article of your own. The details vary from one newsreader to another but, generally speaking, posting an article is simple with all newsreaders. Here are the basic principles. We'll start with a follow-up.

You are reading an article, and you decide to post a reply. Your newsreader will give you a choice: you can reply either to the author of the article or to the newsgroup. If you reply to the author, he or she is the only person who will receive your message. If you reply to the newsgroup, everyone who reads the group will be able to see your message, which will be in the form of a follow-up. This is similar to what happens when you when you receive email that was sent to more than one person. You can reply to everyone (a group reply) or to the author only.

When your newsreader sets up your reply, the Subject: line will be filled in for you. To show that your article is a reply, the letters Re: will be inserted at the beginning of this line. For example, say you reply to an article with a subject of:

I need a Tuna and Grapefruit Recipe

The subject of your article will be:

Re: I need a Tuna and Grapefruit Recipe

Creating a brand new article is just as easy. The simplest way to do it is to open the newsgroup to which you want to post. Then tell your newsreader you want to compose a new article.

Your newsreader will set up a new article for you in a separate window. All you need to do is type the subject and the body of the article. When you are finished, tell the newsreader click to send out the message (say, by clicking on the Send button).

— hint —

To send a picture as part of your article, you simply attach a file that contains the picture, just as you do with an email message.

When you reply to an article, it is customary to include part of the article in your reply, so people will know what you are talking about (just like you do when you reply to an email message). Your newsreader makes this easy by including the previous article within your reply.

When you include part of an article in this way, we say that you QUOTE it. To indicate which part of your message is quoted, most newsreaders will insert a special character at the beginning of each line that is quoted. Traditionally, this character is a > (greater-than) sign.

When you reply to a Usenet article, it is considered polite to keep the reply short by quoting only the relevant parts of the original article. As you compose your reply, take a moment to delete all the unnecessary lines. This makes your reply easier to read, which increases the chances that people will read it.

— hint —

As a general rule, when you reply to a Usenet article, the parts you quote should be shorter than the new lines you add.

If you have never posted an article before, or if you are using a new newsreader, you may want to run a test. If so, it is considered bad manners to post a test article to a regular newsgroup. After all, why should countless people around the world have to look at your test article? Instead, there are several groups just for test messages. You can post a message to one of these groups, and then take a look to see if your message came through successfully.

The test groups are shown below. It is okay to send anything you want to these groups that's what they are for. If you want to test posting a message to a moderated group, send it to the special group misc.test.moderated.

Usenet groups for sending test messages


To conclude this section, I would like to mention a few ideas for you to think about as you post articles to Usenet. Following these guidelines will help smooth your way in the Usenet community.

Don't bother flaming. Most people on Usenet are nice, but there are some idiots. If someone writes something that makes you mad, ignore him. FLAMING complaining about or criticizing someone is generally a waste of time, and all it does is put you in a bad mood. (As you get older, one of the great lessons you learn about life is that it is okay to ignore people you don't like.)

Read the FAQ. If a newsgroup has a FAQ, read it before you post an article to that group.

Use a short signature. If you include a signature, keep it short: no more than four lines.

Don't use HTML. Some newsreaders allow you to include HTML within your articles. Do not do so. HTML belongs on Web pages, not in Usenet articles. There are many different newsreaders in use, and what looks good on your screen will probably not look good to other people.

Don't use all caps. Do not type using all capital letters. Within a Usenet article, using all capital letters means YOU ARE SHOUTING.

Think before you post. Once you post an article, there is no effective way to cancel it. Your article will remain on news servers around the world for a long time. So as you compose an article, do your best to use good judgment, especially if you are angry or upset. As a general rule, if you are angry or irritable, wait at least 24 hours before sending the article.

Avoid cross-posting. As a general rule, you should post an article to one group only. If the article is relevant to more than one group, think carefully and pick the best one. On rare occasions, you might cross-post to two or three groups, but do not do so as a habit. The people you really want to read your article probably look at all the groups related to that topic, so cross-posting is almost always unnecessary. Some people do it, but they are not as intelligent and well-mannered as you and me.

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