HARLEY HAHN'S USENET CENTER
When a brand new Usenet newsgroup is proposed, it is necessary for the people involved to make clear their intentions for the group. Most of the time, this is done by creating a CHARTER, a detailed statement explaining the purpose of the new group and how it is to be used.
Eventually, once the group is created, the more experienced users may create a FAQ, that is, a list of frequently asked questions. The FAQ will be posted to the group regularly, and is usually archived on a Web site. This allows new users to read the answers to the most common questions before they begin to participate in the group.
If you really want to understand a newsgroup itself, however, it behooves you to read the charter for that group. The charter will explain the reasons the group was created, and how the founders expected the group to be used. In some cases, the charter will also document the actual creation of the group: who voted for or against, why they did so, and so on.
Once a newsgroup is created, the charter can be an important document, as it can help the group's users — especially new users — understand exactly how the group operates. For example, let's say that someone starts posting articles that are considered to be off-topic. In such cases, people can refer to the charter to determine which topics are suitable for that particular group.
For some newsgroups, you will find that the FAQ will cover the same topics as the charter. However, this is not always the case. Moreover, many newsgroups do not have FAQs so it is usually worth checking out the charter if you can find one.
So how do you find a charter for a particular newsgroup? The easiest way is to use a search engine to search for the words usenet and charter, followed by the name of the newsgroup. For example, if you want to read the charters for dog-related newsgroups, you could use Google or Bing to search for:
usenet charter "rec.pet.dogs"
Hint: As you can see, it's a good idea to put the name of the newsgroup in double quotes.
As an example, the following link will search for the charter for the various newsgroups devoted to dog-related topics:
The easiest way to look for the charter for a specific newsgroup is to use my master list of Usenet newsgroups, which has a built-in facility to help you search for such charters.
Harley Hahn's List of Usenet Newsgroups
Harley Hahn's Master List of Usenet Newsgroups is the only annotated master list of Usenet newsgroups on the Internet. You will find the Usenet Master List to be an invaluable resource when you are looking for Usenet newsgroups for a specific purpose.
To find newsgroups, start at main search page by using the link below. You can search for newsgroups whose names or descriptions match specified keywords, or you can list all the newsgroups that lie within specific categories.
If you want to experiment, try searching the Master List for "dogs". Within the results, look for the newsgroup rec.pets.dogs. You will see a link to search for the charter for this group.
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