1.4 Usenet Etiquette ("Netiquette")

The ease of posting Usenet News articles causes many inappropriate articles to be sent to the network. An article can be inappropriate if it:

	--	Is devoid of useful information or ideas.
	--	Is sent to inappropriate newsgroup(s).
	--	Is sent to too many newsgroup(s).
	--	Contains rude or insulting remarks.
	--	Is really intended for a particular individual, 
		rather than the entire Usenet community.
Compose articles thoughtfully and be polite and considerate of others. Remember that most people on the network will judge the author (and the information) only by what is said and how well it is expressed in writing. Strive to insure that articles are factual and will not be embarrassing later. Some newsgroups maintain permanent archive sites with index programs that allow searches on all previous articles. Your comments may be read by tens of thousands of people and be available for many years, so always re-read articles before submitting them for distribution to the entire world. There is even a news group called NEWS.ANNOUNCE.NEWUSERS that provides information to new users on how to conduct themselves on the network.

Carefully select the proper newsgroup by looking at the newsgroup charter or previous messages. Read the newsgroup for a number of days before you make your first post. This will give you a flavor for the types of questions that are asked. Most newsgroups will periodically post an FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) article. This contains a summary of questions and answers that are asked by novice users. Many long time readers of newsgroups get tired of answering the same questions over and over so read any FAQ articles before making your first post. There is even a news group called NEWS.ANSWERS that contains the latest FAQ's for most newsgroups.

Consider sending an electronic mail message rather than posting an article, if appropriate. Also remember that you should never post to News any E-Mail that someone may have sent to you unless they have explicitly given you permission to redistribute it. People will sometimes E-Mail you information that they would rather not be seen by the entire Usenet community. Most people will spend less time replying to an E-mail message (to be read by an individual) than they would crafting a News response that will be read by the entire Usenet community.

Remember that not all sites on the Usenet are directly connected to the Internet. Be aware of the fact that many sites pay long-distance telephone charges to receive your article. Some links are even low speed serial links that can only send a limited number of bytes each connection. If you have a very large document that you are posting, it is considered proper "netiquette" to break the post into a number of smaller posts with common titles (ie: Synopsis of War and Peace Part 1 of 200). This allows sites with poor or intermittent network connections to safely handle your article. Also be aware of the fact that some of the popular newsgroups have tens of thousands of readers. For example, 10,000 people each reading your article for 20 seconds spend a total of 55 hours reading your article.

At the end of most articles there is usually a small blurb called a signature or sig. This usually comes from a file in the person's login directory and is appended automatically to the message by the operating systems. Some people get carried away with their signature and place complex ASCII drawings or cute sayings at the bottom of their messages. These signatures bother most people and it is considered poor "netiquette" to have signatures larger than about 4 lines. You can create a signature file of your own using any Windows Editor and then attach it to WinVN using the config Signature File section of the on the Configuration Composition Menu. Please remember to save your signature file as plain ASCII text, since vendor dependent binary files (such as Microsoft Word files) are not portable across the entire Internet community.

Many new users wish to test their ability to post before they actually say anything of any interest to anyone. Don't post test type messages to an active newsgroup. This will interrupt quite a number of people and is considered poor "netiquette". There are usually a number of "Test" newsgroups (they usually have the word "TEST" in their name) that can be used to verify posting from your host will be successful. Some test newsgroups (like ALT.TEST) have automatic E-Mail responding software. A post to those groups will cause electronic mail from all over the world to be sent back to you as your post gets forwarded from site to site.

The "NEWSGROUPS" line in a news header isn't limited to just one group. If a note makes sense to more than one area you can cross-post it to other newsgroups by just separating the newsgroups with a comma on the Newsgroups line. It is considered poor "netiquette" to cross-post to more than three or four newsgroups.

When posting new articles to News, please remember that News runs on many different hosts and operating systems. In fact, since WinVN is one of the first usable News readers for Microsoft Windows, the majority of posts from the Usenet are viewed by people running non-DOS/Windows operating systems. Inserting graphics or non ASCII text (such as different fonts, underlining, color changes, etc.) in an article will appear as unintelligible garbage to almost everyone else. You can use WinVN to send binary attachments along with your post but exercise judgment and don't flood the USEnet with massive binary attachments.

When responding to articles, use the Follow-up Article option instead of the New Post option. This will maintain a reference link between a message and the article being read at the time of a posting. People reading messages from other "thread based" news readers, like WinVN, will be able to understand how the message fits into the rest of the conversation. WinVN will automatically "quote" the text of the article being read (including a unique Message ID that can be used to locate the original posting) and insert it at the beginning of a post. Most people intersperse comments between the quoted text and delete any large quoted sections that do not pertain to their response. Someone can always find the original text by clicking on the unique Message ID. Also, use Message IDs when referring to other articles and never refer to another article by its article number. Article Numbers are never the same from system to system so only people reading news on the same local system will see the same article number.

Try to keep text in a generic format. Many (if not most) of the people reading Usenet do so from 80 column terminals or from workstations with 80 column terminal windows. Try to keep lines of text to less than 80 characters for optimal readability. If people quote part of an article in a follow-up, each line gets indented a few characters and gets proceeded with a ">". Thus, standard lines of 75 characters or less are best for later readability. Also, WinVN allows a user to change his viewing font to any font the workstation supports. Be careful when using proportional style fonts since they allow the placement of more characters per line than fixed style fonts.

Most news readers on the Usenet are running on multi-user hosts with system administrators and operating systems that validate logons. Unfortunately, WinVN runs under MS-DOS which is a single user operating system that doesn't have any concept of a logon. (WinVN also runs under Windows/NT which does validate logons.) Take special care in configuring the Configure Personal Info option and insure that the name and mailing address is valid. Since most MS-DOS systems cannot directly receive Internet mail do not specify an MS-DOS host as a mail address. This will just annoy anyone who wishes to respond to a post via E-Mail.

WinVN Documentation created by Jim Dumoulin / NASA - Kennedy Space Center.
HyperTexted by Michael Downs / NASA - Kennedy Space Center.