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Subject: Welcome to news.newusers.questions! (weekly posting)
This article was archived around: Sun, 10 May 1998 16:35:17 GMT
Version: $Id: news-newusers-intro,v 1.28 1995/10/21 11:50:24 felan Exp $
Changes: A pointer to several FAQ archives has been added. Many or most
FAQs for various newsgroups will be available on these archives. The
pointers are in the form of URLs.
Welcome to the news.newusers.questions newsgroup! According to the
"List of Active Newsgroups" posting in news.lists, the purpose of this
newsgroup is "Q & A for users new to the Usenet." So if you've got
questions about the USENET, this is the place to post them!
Get to know news.announce.newusers.
However, before you do that, there is another newsgroup with which
you should become acquainted. The news.announce.newusers newsgroup
contains (once again according to the "List of Active Newsgroups"
posting) "Explanatory postings for new users." Its purpose is to
provide a base set of information with which all participants in the
USENET should be familiar in order to make the USENET a better place
for all of us.
If you have not already done so, you are strongly encouraged to read
the introductory postings in news.announce.newusers before posting any
messages to any newsgroup. In particular, the following postings in
that newsgroup might be considered the "mandatory course" for new
A Primer on How to Work With the Usenet Community
Answers to Frequently Asked Questions about Usenet
Emily Postnews Answers Your Questions on Netiquette
Hints on writing style for Usenet
Rules for posting to Usenet
What is Usenet?
Available in news.lists, rather than news.announce.newusers (these are
also available in news.answers):
Alternative Newsgroup Hierarchies, Part I
Alternative Newsgroup Hierarchies, Part II
List of Active Newsgroups, Part I
List of Active Newsgroups, Part II
List of Moderators for Usenet
List of Periodic Informational Postings, Part 1/20
List of Periodic Informational Postings, Part 2/20
List of Periodic Informational Postings, Part 3/20
List of Periodic Informational Postings, Part 18/20
List of Periodic Informational Postings, Part 19/20
List of Periodic Informational Postings, Part 20/20
Publicly Accessible Mailing Lists, Part 1/14
Publicly Accessible Mailing Lists, Part 2/14
Publicly Accessible Mailing Lists, Part 3/14
Publicly Accessible Mailing Lists, Part 4/14
Publicly Accessible Mailing Lists, Part 5/14
Publicly Accessible Mailing Lists, Part 6/14
Publicly Accessible Mailing Lists, Part 7/14
Publicly Accessible Mailing Lists, Part 8/14
Publicly Accessible Mailing Lists, Part 9/14
Publicly Accessible Mailing Lists, Part 10/14
Publicly Accessible Mailing Lists, Part 11/14
Publicly Accessible Mailing Lists, Part 12/14
Publicly Accessible Mailing Lists, Part 13/14
Publicly Accessible Mailing Lists, Part 14/14
Regional Newsgroup Hierarchies, Part I (*)
Regional Newsgroup Hierarchies, Part II (*)
Regional Newsgroup Hierarchies, Part III (*)
(*) Note that as of December 21, 1992, the "Regional Newsgroup
Hierarchies" postings are unavailable. However, their maintainer
does plan to resume posting them at some point in the future,
hence their inclusion in this list.
Finally, note that before posting in any newsgroup, you should read
the group for a while in order to become familiar with what is
acceptable in it and to make sure that you have seen and read the FAQ
posting(s) for the newsgroup, if there is/are any.
The articles in news.announce.newusers are posted in such a way that
each version should stay around at each site until the new version is
posted. However, some sites are configured incorrectly so that this
does not occur. If the articles listed above do not appear in the
news.announce.newusers newsgroup at your site, you can get copies of
them using the instructions appended to the end of this message.
Get to know news.answers.
The news.answers newsgroup contains a collection of all (well, it's
*supposed* to contain all of them, but it's still missing quite a few)
of the periodic informational postings that appear on the USENET. You
probably won't want to sit down and read through every posting in
news.answers from beginning to end, especially since postings will be
repeated periodically and many of them will concern topics in which you
have no interest. However, news.answers is a good place to "browse the
wealth of the USENET." Since the periodic informational postings in the
various newsgroups tend to be the "distilled wisdom" of those
newsgroups, news.answers might be considered the distilled wisdom of
the USENET. Glancing at the articles in it will give you a good idea
of the breadth of information embodied in the USENET.
Get to know what other newsgroups are out there.
There is no well-defined limit on what questions belong in this
newsgroup and what questions do not. However, it is to your advantage
to know when there is a more appropriate newsgroup for you to post
particular questions in, because when you choose the appropriate
newsgroup, more people who can answer your question will see it.
For example, if you have a question about a UNIX command and that
question is not related to the USENET or to accessing NetNews, it
would probably be more appropriate in comp.unix.questions than in
news.newusers.questions. Furthermore, since many experienced UNIX
users read comp.unix.questions, you are more likely to get a useful
response if you post there.
There's a posting to help you find the right place to post: "How to find
the right place to post (FAQ)" posted to news.announce.newusers.
It's often a good idea to try to get help locally.
Many questions that are asked by new USENET users concern details
about their particular site that no one else is going to know about.
Furthermore, new users often don't know what information to provide
when asking their questions, so several exchanges are necessary before
the people helping out have enough information to be able to give a
conclusive answer. Finally, it's often easier to learn something when
you're a new user by having it shown to you, in person, while sitting
in front of a terminal.
For this reason, it is often a good idea to try to get help locally
with your questions before you post them to news.newusers.questions
(or to any other newsgroup, for that matter). After you've been
participating in the USENET for a while, you'll get an intuitive feel
for what questions really belong in postings, and what questions are
probably answerable by someone at your site. If you don't feel you've
reached that point, it's probably a good idea to try to get answers to
pretty much ALL of your questions locally before posting.
Note that "getting help locally" includes checking available local
documentation for whatever you are trying to do. If you are having a
problem with the "rn" newsreader, for example, try looking for
information in the rn man page (type "man rn", and if it doesn't work
find someone who knows what's going on and ask them why "man rn"
doesn't display the rn man page).
Remember that posting to the USENET uses resources. You may not pay
for your posting, but other people are. If you post a question that
people outside your site CAN'T answer, or that people inside your site
CAN answer with minimal effort, the resources consumed by your posting
were consumed needlessly.
If you DO decide to ask a question in news.newusers.questions...
If, after checking the postings in news.announce.newusers to see if
your question is answered there, and after looking to see if there is
a more appropriate group in which to post it, and after trying to get
help locally, you still think your question belongs in
news.newusers.questions, then go right ahead and post it.
However, you should keep in mind when preparing your question that
the people who will be reading it and trying to help you are not
mind-readers. We don't know what your site is like. There are
thousands of sites on the USENET, and they're all just a little bit
different, so the more details you can provide when asking your
question, the more likely it is that people will be able to help you.
Try to provide the following information when posting a question.
If you don't know the answers to some of these questions, then try to
find them out from someone at your site and save them so that you can
use them when posting questions in the future:
1. What kind of machine are you working on? For example: Macintosh,
VAX, DECstation, IBM PC, PC compatible (which one), Cray, RS/6000.
2. What operating system is it running? For example: MacOS, MS-DOS,
UNIX, VM/CMS, VMS.
3. What version of the operating system? For example: MacOS 7.0,
Ultrix 4.2 UNIX, BSD 4.3, etc.
4. What news reader (or whatever program you are having trouble with)
are you using? What command do you type to start up whatever
program is giving you trouble?
5. What version of the program is it?
6. If you are trying to interpret some sort of error, what exactly did
you type to provoke the error, what was the exact error, and how is
the actual error different from what you expected to happen? For
example, if you're trying to figure out why a mail message bounced,
what address did you send the mail to, and what error message came
back in the bounced message?
7. What have you done to try to find the answer to your question
before posting? If you've tried different possible answers
already, exactly what have you tried, and what was the result?
8. If you have checked the documentation and cannot understand the
answer it gives to your question, then what exactly about the
answer it gives don't you understand? If there is documentation
available and you haven't checked it, why not?
If you're not sure whether a particular piece of information will be
helpful, include it. It can't hurt to provide extra information
(unless, of course, that information takes up several hundred lines of
text :-), and it may just be the key to the solution of your problem.
Comments about, suggestions about or corrections to this posting are
welcomed. If you would like to ask me to change this posting in some
way, the method I appreciate most is for you to actually make the
desired modifications to a copy of the posting, and then to send me
the modified posting, or a context diff between my posted version and
your modified version (if you do the latter, make sure to include in
your mail the "Version:" line from my posted version). Submitting
changes in this way makes dealing with them easier for me and helps to
avoid misunderstandings about what you are suggesting.
The following people assisted in the creation of this article:
Stan Brown <brown@NCoast.ORG>
Tony Mountifield <tony@mwuk.UUCP>
Leanne Phillips <email@example.com>
Ellen Keyne Seebacher <firstname.lastname@example.org>
This article was originally written by:
Jonathan Kamens, <email@example.com>.
These three URLs all point at various FAQ archives, although I have only
limited experience with them myself:
There is a list of sites that archive FAQs, available in the "Introduction
to the *.answers newsgroups" document (ftp'able from
The postings listed above are available via anonymous ftp from
rtfm.mit.edu (126.96.36.199) in the files:
They are also available from firstname.lastname@example.org by
sending a mail message containing any or all of:
Send a message containing "help" to the server to get general
information about the mail server.
You can get an up-to-date copy of this posting by getting the file
"/pub/usenet/news.answers/news-newusers-intro" or by sending the
command "send usenet/news.answers/news-newusers-intro".