Q0.2: How do I get started? What about USENET documentation?

     The  following guidelines present the essentials of the USENET online
     documentation, that is posted each month to news.announce.newusers.

     If you are already familiar with "netiquette" you can skip to the end
     of  this  answer;  if you don't know what the hell this is all about,
     proceed as follows: (1) carefully read the following paragraphs,  (2)
     read  all  the documents in news.announce.newusers before posting any
     article to USENET.  At least you should give the introductory stuff a
     try,  i.e.  files "news-answers/introduction" and "news-answers/news-
     newusers-intro". Both are survey articles, that provide a  short  and
     easy  way  to  get an overview of the interesting parts of the online
     docs, and thus can help to prevent you from drowning in the megabytes
     to  read. Both can be received either by subscribing to news.answers,
     or sending the following message to <mail-server@rtfm.mit.edu>:

	  send usenet/news.answers/introduction
	  send usenet/news.answers/news-newusers-intro


	     "Usenet is a convention, in every sense of the word."

     Although USENET is usually characterized as "an anarchy, with no laws
     and  no  one  in  charge" there have "emerged" several rules over the
     past years that shall facilitate life within  newsgroups.  Thus,  you
     will probably find the following types of articles:

 1. Requests
     Requests  are  articles  of  the form "I am looking for X" where X is
     something public like a book, an article, a piece of software.

     If multiple different answers can be expected, the person making  the
     request  should  prepare  to make a summary of the answers he/she got
     and announce to do  so  with  a  phrase  like  "Please  e-mail,  I'll
     summarize" at the end of the posting.

     The  Subject  line  of  the  posting  should  then  be something like
     "Request: X"

 2. Questions
     As opposed to requests, questions are  concerned  with  something  so
     specific  that  general  interest  cannot readily be assumed.  If the
     poster thinks that the topic is  of  some  general  interest,  he/she
     should announce a summary (see above).

     The  Subject  line of the posting should be something like "Question:
     this-and-that" (Q: this-and-that) or have  the  form  of  a  question
     (i.e., end with a question mark)

 3. Answers
     These  are  reactions  to  questions or requests.  As a rule of thumb
     articles of type "answer" should be rare.   Ideally,  in  most  cases
     either  the  answer  is  too  specific to be of general interest (and
     should thus be e-mailed to the poster) or  a  summary  was  announced
     with  the question or request (and answers should thus be e-mailed to
     the poster).

     The subject lines of answers are automatically adjusted by  the  news

 4. Summaries
     In  all  cases  of requests or questions the answers for which can be
     assumed to be of some general interest, the poster of the request  or
     question shall summarize the answers he/she received.  Such a summary
     should be announced in  the  original  posting  of  the  question  or
     request with a phrase like "Please answer by e-mail, I'll summarize"

     In  such  a  case  answers  should NOT be posted to the newsgroup but
     instead be mailed to the poster who collects and reviews them.  After
     about 10 to 20 days from the original posting, its poster should make
     the summary of answers and post it to the net.

     Some care should be invested into a summary:

     a) simple concatenation of all  the  answers  might  not  be  enough;
	instead  redundancies, irrelevances, verbosities and errors should
	be filtered out (as good as possible),

     b) the answers shall be separated clearly

     c) the contributors of the individual answers shall  be  identifiable
	unless  they  requested  to  remain anonymous [eds note: yes, that

     d) the summary shall start with the "quintessence" of the answers, as
	seen by the original poster

     e) A  summary  should, when posted, clearly be indicated to be one by
	giving it a Subject line starting with "Summary:"

     Note that a good summary is pure gold for the rest of  the  newsgroup
     community,  so  summary  work  will be most appreciated by all of us.
     (Good summaries are more valuable than any moderator!)

 5. Announcements
     Some articles never need  any  public  reaction.   These  are  called
     announcements  (for  instance  for  a  workshop,  conference  or  the
     availability of some technical report or software system).

     Announcements should be clearly indicated to be such by giving them a
     subject  line  of the form "Announcement: this-and-that", or "ust "A:

     Due to common practice,  conference  announcements  usually  carry  a
     "CFP:"  in  their subject line, i.e. "call for papers" (or: "call for

 6. Reports
     Sometimes people  spontaneously  want  to  report  something  to  the
     newsgroup.  This  might  be  special  experiences with some software,
     results  of  own  experiments  or  conceptual  work,  or   especially
     interesting information from somewhere else.

     Reports  should  be  clearly  indicated  to  be such by giving them a
     subject line of the form "Report: this-and-that"

 7. Discussions
     An especially valuable possibility of USENET is  of  course  that  of
     discussing  a  certain topic with hundreds of potential participants.
     All traffic in the newsgroup that can not be subsumed  under  one  of
     the above categories should belong to a discussion.

     If  somebody explicitly wants to start a discussion, he/she can do so
     by giving the posting a subject line of the form  "Start  discussion:
     this-and-that"  (People  who  react on this, please remove the "Start
     discussion: " label from the subject line of your replies)

     It is quite difficult to keep a discussion from drifting into  chaos,
     but,  unfortunately,  as many other newsgroups show there seems to be
     no secure way to avoid this.  On the other hand, comp.ai.genetic  has
     not  had  many  problems  with this effect, yet, so let's just go and

     Thanks in advance for your patience!

 The Internet
     For information on internet services, see Q15.5.


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