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alt.callahans ADMIN: New Patron's Guide to Posting, Part 2 of 2

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Archive-name: callahans/intro/part2
Last-modified: 1995/01/19
Version: 1.7
Posting-frequency: 2 weeks

See reader questions & answers on this topic! - Help others by sharing your knowledge
*** continued from part 1

Section 2. Social Aspects of The Net.

*** Tolerance

This is an important quality for peaceful interaction on the Net (and in
Real Life).  _All_ sorts of people use the Net.  Old, young.  Black,
white, everything in between.  Atheists, Christians, Moslems, Pagans.
Homosexuals, heterosexuals, bisexuals.  IBM PC users, Macintosh users.

You won't get very far if you immediately dismiss anyone as unworthy of
your attention simply because they're not like you.  Never, _ever_ make
assumptions about somebody based on your concept of what people 'like
that' are like.  Try chatting with them to find out the truth.  We can
all get along if people remember that everybody else is people too, and
not evil scum.

*** Net Romance

Over the Net, you can communicate with hundreds, thousands, or even tens
of thousands of people.  With all of these people, sooner or later you
may find yourself chatting with some member of an appropriate sex whom
you find interesting... and who, amazingly, finds you interesting in
return.  Congratulations!  You're now involved in one of the more
interesting situations that develops on the Net... a "net.romance".

First off, don't panic... if this person lives fairly close to you, you
can ask him or her out on a quick date before things get too serious.
That puts you right back into "Real Life Romance", which, even if we
don't fully understand it, is just a little easier to cope with.

But what if this person lives a hundred miles away... or even, as
sometimes happens, thousands, or several thousand miles away?  Here is
where things can get dangerous.

Many people have tried to quantify what makes two people attracted to
each other.  All of them have failed in the end; there are simply too
many variables.  This failure is an important lesson to keep in mind
when you find yourself attracted to someone many miles away on the Net.

It _is_ possible to fall in love over the Net, and to fall hard... and
it's possible that when you meet this "love of your life", you'll find
yourself perfectly compatible and still very much in love.

But it's also possible to find out that this person you've been talking
to is so... well, _different_, to what you thought.  Perhaps over the
Net, your sweetie seemed so quiet and shy, but is loud and a braggart
instead.  Maybe you thought s/he was bold and talkative, when s/he's
tightlipped and uncommunicative.  Maybe the person who seemed very
physical is frightened of being touched, or maybe s/he's constantly
pawing at you, never giving you a moment of peace.

Get the idea?  There are thousands of things you just don't know about
people until you meet them... and there will almost always be something
EXTREMELY important that you don't know about your until you
meet him or her. 

Sure, you can and will learn a huge amount of information about this
person beforehand.  One of the beautiful things about the Net is the
fact that you can learn about people in their 'purest form', by how they
talk and think, before you are forced to consider their appearance,
mannerisms, and quirks of personality.  This can be great - maybe you'll
end up in a happy relationship with someone you never would have
considered had you met them in Real Life first.

But unfortunately, mostly it doesn't work like that.  In the end, there
will always be something unknown and unknowable about that person until
you meet for real, and that might be a huge stumbling block.

Why these dire sounding warnings?  We certainly are not going to suggest
you SHOULDN'T fall in love over the Net; you might, and it might be a
wonderful thing.  Some people here can testify to that.

However, like net.addiction, _unworkable_ net.romances are a constant
danger.  You should be willing to take a step back and look at yourself
and your behavior.  Do you have unrealistic EXPECTATIONS (we all have
unrealistic HOPES, which is a different matter entirely) about this
person?  Are you ignoring other people who might be as important to you?
Do you find yourself pinning a huge amount of importance on this person
(planning on moving to another city without consideration of career,
money, etc)?  Then you may have just fallen into a bad net.romance.

*** People Ignoring You

When people find a friendly-looking group like Callahan's, they
sometimes expect lots of responses or instant responses to their first
post.  This is unrealistic, for two very good reasons:

1. News software is notoriously unreliable.  Sometimes a post never
   makes it out to the world in general, and sometimes it can be delayed
   by several days - up to two weeks or even more.  This is true whether
   or not it appears at _your_ site!  If the post exists on one machine,
   there is no guarantee whatsoever that it exists anywhere else.

2. People are busy!  Any given person who actually does see a post may
   be too busy at that time to reply immediately, or even at all.  But
   since there are lots of people in Callahan's, surely _someone_ will
   reply?  Not so - the laws of statistics make it inevitable that some
   new posters will miss out.

We're not elitist or anything, and we don't ignore people on purpose
unless they post something nasty and insulting.  We just sometimes
aren't given enough of a chance to get our act together.  :-)

So if you post an introduction and don't see any responses for a few
days, don't assume that you've been deliberately ignored and walk off in
a huff.  Try again.  Or send e-mail to a friendly looking person and say
that you suspect your post never made it out and could they please check
to see if it did.  An e-mail is more likely to get a reply for you, and
is the best way to work out if the problem is technical.

*** Net Addiction

This is serious.

The amount of time a person spends keeping up with newsgroups can become
a problem, especially with an active VR group like Callahans.  It is all
too easy to become net.addicted, where keeping up with the surging tide
of information and new friends becomes more important than activities
and relationships in Real Life.

When properly used, the Net can be a useful resource in leading a full
and interesting life.  Many of us make some of our best friends here.
But a newsgroup should never be a _substitute_ for Real Life.  And it
should never be something that interferes with your personal
relationships, study, or work.

If you find yourself spending _too_much_ time interacting with people on
the Net, you should seriously consider cutting back.  How much time is
too much?  This depends a lot on how much other stuff you have to do in
your regular life.  If you start to neglect your work, or your study, or
probably most importantly your Real Life friends, then you have the
warning signs.

Note the distinction: If you log in and spend ten hours a day
socialising via the Net, that's not a problem.  If you spend three hours
a day logged in, and ignore your spouse or miss work deadlines, that
_is_ a problem.

What to do?  Unsubscribe to a few newsgroups.  Do you _really_ need to
read everything in rec.humor?  Be a little more selective about what you
read, and to what you reply.  Even in a single group, you don't have to
read everything to participate.  Callahan's in particular always has
lots of different threads going on.  Pretend you're in a real bar and
join only the two or three in which you are really interested.

And remember, in Callahan's there are always sympathetic ears who will
listen and try to help if you ask for it.  One patron became addicted to
the Net a while ago, and it almost destroyed a 10 year marriage.  (They
are recovering together now.) We don't want this to happen ever again.

*** Net Burnout

The patrons of Callahan's like to care for each other, especially in
times of personal crisis or turmoil.  We do have to be careful, however,
not to care _too_ much.  It can be easy at times to throw yourself into
supportive roles for several people at once.  You can end up composing
several long and heartfelt e-mail messages every day and find yourself
taking on some of the burdens of these people.

If you have the resources to spare, this can be okay, but too much of
this sort of activity can lead to net.burnout, where you spend your days
in a daze, emotionally drained and perhaps physically tired too through
lack of sleep.  This is similar to net.addiction, but in this case it is
not the amount of time you spend on the Net, but the amount of effort
you are putting into it.  Interacting on the Net should never be a
chore, it should be fun.  If you find your Net time becoming hard work,
take a break and relax; do something you enjoy in RL.  Physical activity
is good, exercising slack muscles and getting the blood pumping.  Jog,
play football, shoot hoops, dance, throw frisbees, build a birdhouse.

But then, what can we do when people are hurting and need our help?
Just remember that many Callahan's people will leap to provide comfort
and assistance.  If you already have a full or overloaded emotional
plate to deal with, don't feel guilty about not accepting dessert.
Maybe you can just send a short note to show you are thinking of them,
but you don't always have to offer your ear as "always open".  It may
sound selfish, but if you end up burning yourself out then you won't be
much of a help to _anybody_.  So look after _yourself_ too, okay?

*** Hate Mail

This is a nasty topic, but it's better if you know about it.  There are
_many_ more people reading Callahan's than posting to it (50,000 at the
last official estimate - July 1994).  Most of them are good people,
but there is the odd bad apple out there - someone who maintains a
prejudiced, biased, or plain hateful view of some topic or other.

These people usually prefer to keep out of the public eye, but may make
their presence felt by sending anonymous or semi-anonymous hate mail to
people with whom they feel they have a grievance.  The active patrons of
Callahan's do not condone such action, and abhor it as antithetical to
the spirit of the Place.

You will hopefully never receive such a message, but if you do, here are
the three steps you should take:
1. Do not attempt to e-mail a reply to the person, and do not make a
   public post mentioning it.  Acknowledging the mail in _any_ way may
   provoke further, and more disgusting, responses.
2. Realise that the person is intolerant and misguided.  Do not give
   credence to any of what they say.
3. Save the message.  Send me a copy, including all the header
   information, by e-mail (  I will do everything
   in my power to track down the culprit and contact the administrators
   of the person's site with the evidence.

Section 3.  Technical Matters.

*** KILL Files

A KILL file is something which many newsreaders use to filter through
your news before you read it.  You can set it so you don't see any posts
with certain words in the Subject line, or written by certain people.
Combined with Subject line keywords, KILL files are a powerful way to
cut down your newsreading time if, for example, you don't want to read
any PARTY or SOAPBOX posts.  But whatever you do, don't kill the keyword
'ADMIN'!  You could miss some very important stuff!  If you want to kill
_this_ post (parts 1 and 2) so you don't see it every 2 weeks, the best
way is to scan for the string "New Patron's".  (Your documentation
should tell you how to do this.)

If a particular person seems to make posts which you find irritating or
insulting, you can put that person in your KILL file.  Nobody can stop
you, and it can be a good way of avoiding confrontation - although it
can be argued that you are better off standing up to it (politely, of
course).  But NEVER *EVER* make a post saying that you have KILL-filed
somebody.  This is the ABSOLUTE HEIGHT OF RUDENESS and you WILL get mail
telling you so.  It is like being a hit-and-run driver, only deliberate.

*** Redirecting Replies

Some people like to have e-mail replies sent to a different account name
than the one from which they post.  If you want to do this, there's no
need to tell people to "Send replies to".  If you use
your editor to add the line:


to the header of your posts, then e-mailed replies will automagically
be sent to that address!  This saves other people from having to fiddle
with your return address, and you from getting e-mail in the wrong
account if people forget.

*** Other Good Advice for New Net Users

If you're new to the Net, it's a very good idea to check out the
newsgroups news.announce.newusers and news.newusers.questions.  These
groups have lots of good information for people learning to interact
on the Net, including how to use KILL files and how to do neat things
with article headers.  Most of your questions will probably be answered
by periodic posts in these groups.

*** Using Your Editor/News-Software

Some of the suggestions in these posts rely on your ability to use your
editor and newsreading software properly.  If you don't know how to use
either of these to achieve these goals, it is best that you ask someone
local at your site.  There are too many different programs to allow us
to cover how to use all of them - you are much better off getting
specific help from local people (or your on-line help system).

If, for some reason, you still can't work something out, you could try
posting a request for help.  If you do this, please make sure that:
1. Nobody local can help you;
2. You tell us exactly what computer operating system, newsreading
   program, and editor you are using.
Hopefully somebody here will have enough experience in your particular
software to be able to help you.

That's it for the new poster guidelines.  Much more information
specifically on alt.callahans is available in:
The Callahan's Allabout : David Mar (
The Callahan's Keyword Guidelines : David Mar (
The Callahan's World Wide Web page (ask a local about accessing this!):

If you have any suggestions for changes to this file, please mail me.

Thanks to:
kitten, Margaret Gibbs, Alfvaen, Nicarra, Jason Magnus, John Palmer, /*,
John Ockerbloom.

- Danger Mouse.

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