3.684 proper network behaviour defined (353)

Willard McCarty (MCCARTY@vm.epas.utoronto.ca)
Wed, 1 Nov 89 21:00:18 EST

Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 3, No. 684. Wednesday, 1 Nov 1989.

Date: Mon, 30 Oct 89 10:12 GMT
From: Lou Burnard <LOU@VAX.OXFORD.AC.UK>

Original-from: looking!brad (Brad Templeton)

**NOTE: this is intended to be satirical. If you do not recognize
it as such, consult a doctor or professional comedian. The
recommendations in this article should recognized for what
they are -- admonitions about what NOT to do.

"Dear Emily Postnews"

Emily Postnews, foremost authority on proper net behaviour,
gives her advice on how to act on the net.


Dear Miss Postnews: How long should my signature be? -- verbose@somesite

A: Dear Verbose: Please try and make your signature as long as you can.
It's much more important than your article, of course, so try and have
more lines of signature than actual text.

Try and include a large graphic made of ASCII characters, plus lots of
cute quotes and slogans. People will never tire of reading these pearls
of wisdom again and again, and you will soon become personally associated
with the joy each reader feels at seeing yet another delightful repeat of
your signature.

Be sure as well to include a complete map of USENET with each signature,
to show how anybody can get mail to you from any site in the world. Be
sure to include ARPA gateways as well. Also tell people on your own site
how to mail to you. Give indpendent addresses for Internet, UUCP, BITNET,
Arpanet and CSNET, even if they're all the same.

Aside from your reply address, include your full name, company and
organization. It's just common courtesy -- after all, in some newsreaders
people have to type an *entire* keystroke to go back to the top of your
article to see this information in the header.

By all means include your phone number and street address in every single
article. People are always responding to usenet articles with phone calls
and letters. It would be silly to go to the extra trouble of including
this information only in articles that need a response by conventional

Dear Emily: Today I posted an article and forgot to include my signature.
What should I do? -- forgetful@myvax

A: Dear Forgetful: Rush to your terminal right away and post an article
that says, "Oops, I forgot to post my signature with that last article.
Here it is."

Since most people will have forgotten your earlier article, (particularly
since it dared to be so boring as to not have a nice, juicy signature)
this will remind them of it. Besides, people care much more about the
signature anyway. See the previous letter for more important details.

Also, be sure to include your signature TWICE in each article. That way
you're sure people will read it.


Dear Ms. Postnews: I couldn't get mail through to somebody on another
site. What should I do? -- eager@beaver.dam

A: Dear Eager: No problem, just post your message to a group that a lot of
people read. Say, "This is for John Smith. I couldn't get mail through
so I'm posting it. All others please ignore."

This way tens of thousands of people will spend a few seconds scanning
over and ignoring your article, using up over 16 man-hours their
collective time, but you will be saved the terrible trouble of checking
through usenet maps or looking for alternate routes. Just think, if you
couldn't distribute your message to 9000 other computers, you might
actually have to (gasp) call directory assistance for 60 cents, or even
phone the person. This can cost as much as a few DOLLARS (!) for a 5
minute call!

And certainly it's better to spend 10 to 20 dollars of other people's
money distributing the message than for you to have to waste $9 on an
overnight letter, or even 25 cents on a stamp!

Don't forget. The world will end if your message doesn't get through, so
post it as many places as you can.


Q: What about a test message?

A: It is important, when testing, to test the entire net. Never test
merely a subnet distribution when the whole net can be done. Also put
"please ignore" on your test messages, since we all know that everybody
always skips a message with a line like that. Don't use a subject like
"My sex is female but I demand to be addressed as male." because such
articles are read in depth by all USEnauts.


Q: Somebody just posted that Roman Polanski directed Star Wars. What
should I do?

A: Post the correct answer at once! We can't have people go on believing
that! Very good of you to spot this. You'll probably be the only one to
make the correction, so post as soon as you can. No time to lose, so
certainly don't wait a day, or check to see if somebody else has made the

And it's not good enough to send the message by mail. Since you're the
only one who really knows that it was Francis Coppola, you have to inform
the whole net right away!


Q: I read an article that said, "reply by mail, I'll summarize." What
should I do?

A: Post your response to the whole net. That request applies only to dumb
people who don't have something interesting to say. Your postings are
much more worthwhile than other people's, so it would be a waste to reply
by mail.


Q: I collected replies to an article I wrote, and now it's time to
summarize. What should I do?

A: Simply concatenate all the articles together into a big file and post
that. On USENET, this is known as a summary. It lets people read all the
replies without annoying newsreaders getting in the way. Do the same when
summarizing a vote.


Q: I saw a long article that I wish to rebut carefully, what should I do?

A: Include the entire text with your article, and include your comments
between the lines. Be sure to post, and not mail, even though your
article looks like a reply to the original. Everybody *loves* to read
those long point-by-point debates, especially when they evolve into
name-calling and lots of "Is too!" -- "Is not!" -- "Is too, twizot!"


Q: How can I choose what groups to post in?

A: Pick as many as you can, so that you get the widest audience. After
all, the net exists to give you an audience. Ignore those who suggest you
should only use groups where you think the article is highly appropriate.
Pick all groups where anybody might even be slightly interested.

Always make sure followups go to all the groups. In the rare event that
you post a followup which contains something original, make sure you
expand the list of groups. Never include a "Followup-to:" line in the
header, since some people might miss part of the valuable discussion in
the fringe groups.


Q: How about an example?

A: Ok. Let's say you want to report that Gretzky has been traded from the
Oilers to the Kings. Now right away you might think rec.sport.hockey
would be enough. WRONG. Many more people might be interested. This is a
big trade! Since it's a NEWS article, it belongs in the news.* hierarchy
as well. If you are a news admin, or there is one on your machine, try
news.admin. If not, use news.misc.

The Oilers are probably interested in geology, so try sci.physics. He is
a big star, so post to sci.astro, and sci.space because they are also
interested in stars. Next, his name is Polish sounding. So post to
soc.culture.polish. But that group doesn't exist, so cross-post to
news.groups suggesting it should be created. With this many groups of
interest, your article will be quite bizarre, so post to talk.bizarre as
well. (And post to comp.std.mumps, since they hardly get any articles
there, and a "comp" group will propagate your article further.)

You may also find it is more fun to post the article once in each group.
If you list all the newsgroups in the same article, some newsreaders will
only show the the article to the reader once! Don't tolerate this.


Q: How do I create a newsgroup?

A: The easiest way goes something like "inews -C newgroup ....", and while
that will stir up lots of conversation about your new newsgroup, it might
not be enough.

First post a message in news.groups describing the group. Hold discussion
for a short while, and then ask for a vote. Collect votes for 30 days.
Every few days post a long summary of all the votes so that people can
complain about bad mailers and double votes. It means you'll be more
popular and get lots of mail. At the end of thirty days if you have 100
more yes votes than no votes you may create the group.

No matter what the group, it is not necessary to get the approval of
admins at backbone sites. They will be happy to create any group if it
passes the above test.

To liven up discussion, choose a good cross-match for your hierarchy and
group. For example, comp.race.formula1 or soc.vlsi.design would be good
group names. If you want your group created quickly, include an
interesting word like "sex" or "bible." To avoid limiting discussion,
make the name as broad as possible.


Q: I cant spell worth a dam. I hope your going too tell me what to do?

A: Don't worry about how your articles look. Remember it's the message
that counts, not the way it's presented. Ignore the fact that sloppy
spelling in a purely written forum sends out the same silent messages that
soiled clothing would when addressing an audience.


Q: How should I pick a subject for my articles?

A: Keep it short and meaningless. That way people will be forced to
actually read your article to find out what's in it. This means a bigger
audience for you, and we all know that's what the net is for. If you do a
followup, be sure and keep the same subject, even if it's totally
meaningless and not part of the same discussion. If you don't, you won't
catch all the people who are looking for stuff on the original topic, and
that means less audience for you.


Q: What sort of tone should I take in my article?

A: Be as outrageous as possible. If you don't say outlandish things, and
fill your article with libelous insults of net people, you may not stick
out enough in the flood of articles to get a response. The more insane
your posting looks, the more likely it is that you'll get lots of
followups. The net is here, after all, so that you can get lots of

If your article is polite, reasoned and to the point, you may only get
mailed replies. Yuck!


Q: The posting software suggested I had too long a signature and too many
lines of included text in my article. What's the best course?

A: Such restrictions were put in the software for no reason at all, so
don't even try to figure out why they might apply to your article. Turns
out most people search the net to find nice articles that consist of the
complete text of an earlier article plus a few lines.

In order to help these people, fill your article with dummy original lines
to get past the restrictions. Everybody will thank you for it.

For your signature, I know it's tough, but you will have to read it in
with the editor. Do this twice to make sure it's firmly in there.


Q: They just announced on the radio that Dan Quayle was picked as the
Republican V.P. candidate. Should I post?

A: Of course. The net can reach people in as few as 3 to 5 days. It's
the perfect way to inform people about such news events long after the
broadcast networks have covered them. As you are probably the only person
to have heard the news on the radio, be sure to post as soon as you can.


Q: I have this great joke. You see, these three strings walk into a

A: Oh dear. Don't spoil it for me. Submit it to rec.humor, and post it
to the moderator of rec.humor.funny at the same time. I'm sure he's never
seen that joke, and I know he loves to have jokes sent to rec.humor and
rec.humor.funny at the same time.


Q: What computer should I buy? An Atari ST or an Amiga?

A: Cross post that question to the Atari and Amiga groups. It's an
interesting and novel question that I am sure they would love to
investigate in those groups.


Q: What about other important questions? How should I know when to post?

A: Always post them. It would be a big waste of your time to find a
knowledgeable user in one of the groups and ask through private mail if
the topic has already come up. Much easier to bother thousands of people
with the same question.


Q: What is the measure of a worthwhile group?

A: Why, it's Volume, Volume, Volume. Any group that has lots of noise in
it must be good. Remember, the higher the volume of material in a group,
the higher percentage of useful, factual and insightful articles you will
find. In fact, if a group can't demonstrate a high enough volume, it
should be deleted from the net.


Q: Emily, I'm having a serious disagreement with somebody on the net. I
tried complaints to his sysadmin, organizing mail campaigns, called for
his removal from the net and phoning his employer to get him fired.
Everybody laughed at me. What can I do?

A: Go to the daily papers. Most modern reporters are top-notch computer
experts who will understand the net, and your problems, perfectly. They
will print careful, reasoned stories without any errors at all, and surely
represent the situation properly to the public. The public will also all
act wisely, as they are also fully cognizant of the subtle nature of net

Papers never sensationalize or distort, so be sure to point out things
like racism and sexism wherever they might exist. Be sure as well that
they understand that all things on the net, particularly insults, are
meant literally. Link what transpires on the net to the causes of the
Holocaust, if possible. If regular papers won't take the story, go to a
tabloid paper -- they are always interested in good stories.

By arranging all this free publicity for the net, you'll become very well
known. People on the net will wait in eager anticipation for your every
posting, and refer to you constantly. You'll get more mail than you ever
dreamed possible -- the ultimate in net success.


Q: What does foobar stand for?

A: It stands for you, dear.

Gene Spafford
NSF/Purdue/U of Florida  Software Engineering Research Center,
Dept. of Computer Sciences, Purdue University, W. Lafayette IN 47907-2004
Internet:  spaf@cs.purdue.edu	uucp:	...!{decwrl,gatech,ucbvax}!purdue!spaf