Usenet

On the World-Wide-Web (http://, hyper text - HTML - transfer protocol) every site serves its own unique information, while on Usenet (nntp: network news transfer protocol) every site serves the same information. Usenet is a collection of servers, networked together through the Internet and other, that talk continually to each other to make sure everyone has the same information. The information shared are messages from its users, which after a time are deleted by each site. This system allows people to talk to each other over the world, while only having to connect to a local Usenet server. Because there are many different subjects about which people like to talk on Usenet, there are thousands of discussion-groups on Usenet, with the possibility of creating and deleting groups (by voting, the voting is intended to determine potential usage of to be created / deleted group (I guess)). Usenet is a relatively old system, old as in proven.

Usenet is as different from the websites on the Internet as e-mails are. The reason that e-mails and Usenet can also be viewed and used through the world-wide-web (http:) is that the world-wide-web of hyperlinked websites (http:) is being used as a gateway to all other services, to make it easier to use for people who don't want or are incapable of using the applications that are written specifically for services like Usenet, e-mail, chat, etc. You can send an e-mail through a web interface, but that does not means the e-mail becomes part of the world-wide-web of hyperlinked websites.

Usenet has two types of groups: moderated and unmoderated, the unmoderated groups are free for every post, in the moderated groups the message gets typically send to one person for review, who then posts the message. Groups in the alt. hierarchy are unmoderated, most other groups are also unmoderated. Nobody controls Usenet, sites relay the data for each other without payment. Messages can be deleted before they expire with a cancel message send to a special Usenet group. It is then up to the respective sites to either do something with the cancel request, or not. Typically the message is deleted, however Usenet archives tend to ignore cancel messages. Once something is posted on Usenet, you can typically never erase it from the WWW sites that archive Usenet, it is there forever (although there is a story about Usenet that the WWW archives up to a certain date were taken down because of the content on the murder of JFK). Posting anonymously with a fantasy name is allowed, the From: headers are free format (though some newsreaders seem to require an e-mail address in the From: to identify it, or they can't cancel the message.)

Usenet is similar to discussion forums on websites, however such forums are only carried by one server and hence under its control. It is also be possible to use a stand-alone Usenet server on one server, making it similar to a web-forum, however that's not really Usenet, more Usesite. Viewing Usenet through a website interface may give the impression one is looking at a website-forum. Much of Usenet is being archived by certain websites, where messages can be viewed that have long been deleted from Usenet. The largest archive is dejanews.com, which also allows posting.

When you post to Usenet, you are expected to follow Usenetiquette, and know a little about the group you post to, by reading it for some time (reading its charter may be helpful, too). Do not post HTML, and place text at the bottom of what you reply to. Messages are expected to have some potential general interest for readers, when things get personal you should switch to e-mail, as it is no longer interesting for everyone. Posting to Usenet places a burden on the Usenet system. Not complying with the generally accepted rules can result in verbal abuse, or even complaints to the site that put your message unto Usenet. It is seen as rude to post something into too many groups concurrently. It is probably a good idea to use a news-reader that warns the user of Usenetiquette transgressions. Most usenet readers allow the user to ignore all messages of certain posters. Posters that end up in the killfile - the file that lists ignored posters - are typically trolls - posters that are only posting to annoy and extract responses. It is a little known Usenet secret that insulting other posters does not work.

A Usenet post consists of 3 parts: headers, message and optional signature, which is similar to e-mail. In the header is the name of the group the post is meant for, the subject and who it is (claimed to be) from, and some other stuff. A header starts with a capital, then letters or dashes, then a colon, and then data up to end of line. You can write your own headers My-Header: blablabla. A complete ISP account tends to include Usenet access.

It is often (presumably correctly) considered bad practice to merely post a link without telling what the link is essentially saying, because many people will download articles to read them offline, thus being unable to follow links. Others will not want to go through the trouble of following a link. For someone to follow a link may well mean: connecting to the Internet potentially paying new connection costs, manipulating the link to feed it to a web browser, then reading the article - while paying for connection time - only to find graphics are vital to understand it (pictures, graphs, video), then logging in as root to start a graphical environment, then opening a graphical browser, then finding the link and following it; only to find out eventually that the article is of zero interest. Because the risk of wasting so much energy on a naked link is high, mere links will often get ignored as meaningless clutter. Some people will complain if the link with essential content is not associated with a personal comment or claim and such that can be debated in line with the subject of the group. In general one might want to assume there are readers who use Usenet in its simplest forms: off-line, text interface, through a telephone line. If an article is suitible for such readers, it will also be suitible - even better - for all other readers.

Usenet is not a voting system: if you see an article you agree with then a reply that says no more then "I agree," or "me too," though that may be tempting, it would normally be considered off topic, unless it had some meaning in a longer running debate about some issues. It is usually not interesting for most readers to know someone agrees with something or not, as that does not say anything about the content of the subject itself. It is more interesting to know why someone would agree or not, which would be on topic.

In general one does not have to worry about these guidelines as anything other then guidelines. Almost certainly nobody is going to come press charges against you, put you in jail or fine you for breaking them. The worst that happens is that people might complain. Today Usenet seems to be rather ill behaved to say the least. Following the rules can improve things.

Some usenet abbreviations:
    LOL: Laughing Out Loud (can be funny or sarcastic)
    WTF: What The F**k !? (surprise, disbelief)
ROTFLOL: Rolling On Floor Laughing Out Loud
   IIRC: If I Recall Correctly (uncertainty)
  AFAIK: As Far As I Know (uncertainty)
 AFAICS: As Far As I Can See (uncertainty)
     OT: Off Topic (subject does not belong in group)
     NG: news-group, same as a Usenet group
    <g>: Grinning, mockingly laughing without sound and shacking head.
   :-) : Happy, diffuse a negative connotation, fun (positive)
   ;-) : A laugh and a tear drop from the eyes, something like "you and
         I see the same thing, presumably disagree with it but mean it no
         harm, it makes me presumably us not particularly angry."
   :-( : Unhappy. These smiley-faces are not used a lot on Usenet.
 <QUOTE>: sometimes seen, starts an amount of text taken from some
         source. Analogues to HTML tags the end of the quote could be
         marked with: </QUOTE>.
 <snip>: A part of the quoted original was cut out for brevity. 
         Ideally a post is as short as possible.
         Some people might prefer [snip] or <cut> or some such.

         All these abbreviations are not necessarily cast in stone, they
         are just common & accepted.
Formatting of reply:
      >: quotes message text responding to
 *word*: (bold text, attention)
 /word/: (cursive text, attention)
 _word_: (underlined text, attention)
  WORD : (extreme attention, shouting) It is against Usenetitquette
         to write a lot in upper-case, because readers tend to shout
         in themselves when reading it, thus becoming deaf.
   --  : [dash dash space newline] starts "signature" at bottom, maximum
         length 4 lines, optional. Would either contain data on poster,
         or be left empty (free format).
General words:
     post: a Usenet message
   poster: writer of message
   thread: a line of messages that came about by replies to the same message
    group: a section of Usenet that is named and to which posts can be send,
           also: news-group.

Modern misunderstanding: - Because of the deceptive way in which google markets its home grown bulletin boards, mixes those boards with Usenet in its interface, some people have grown to think that usenet is merely a google message board. [2008 CE/ 5768 Hbrw].





[_] > ---- _________________________________________
\o/\    |From: Henry                                |
 H  |   |To: "comp.misc.law"                        |            [_]
    |   |Send: `hello from Holland, We discovered...|          / \o/
    |    -------------------------------------------          /   H
    |                                                        /       [_]
    |                                                [USENET]--------\o/
     \__> [USENET]  <------------------------>       [Server]         H
          [Server]                                          ^
            ^                                               |
            |             All servers copy message          |
            |             to their "comp.misc.law"          |
            v             group, which they all have.       v
          [USENET]                                          [USENET]
          [Server]  <----------------------------->         [Server]
           ^
           |
          /
       [_]   Looks at messages in "comp.misc.law"
       \o/   Opens message from "Henry"
        H     `hello from Holland, ...'


                                   ....................................
                                   :     PC: [_]                      :
                                   : person: \o/                      :
                                   :          H                       :
                                   : transfer of message: <---------> :
                                   :..................................:



Some scripts for offline useneting (on Unix)

Change Usenet headers in a saved post for reply (vim, vblock headers, :'<,'>!b):
2067 bin/b

Change Usenet saved posts (concatenation of posts) into HTML to read it easier. Generates index for the posts, includes some highlighting. Typical usage (slrn): save posts with slrn, cd ~/News where posts get stored, `posts use.group,` done, back to slrn to get new posts. The read posts are moved to "old.use.group," then by the next call to "old.old.use.group", deleted after the 5th call.
2708 bin/posts

View txt in HTML with working links (slrn: tee > /tmp/USER,^Z, Www): Useful to go to links in text, test-run links in a post, etc. Expects target file under /tmp/USER (user name).
472 bin/Www

Re-indent parts of a post (vim, vblock paragraph, :'<,'>!i ">> "): Can be used to make messed up replies/quotes readable.
233 bin/i