Version: $Id: news-newusers-intro,v 1.28 1995/10/21 11:50:24 felan Exp $
See reader questions & answers on this topic! - Help others by sharing your knowledge
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 users: 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. Credits 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> Dan_Jacobson@ATT.COM Tony Mountifield <tony@mwuk.UUCP> Leanne Phillips <firstname.lastname@example.org> Ellen Keyne Seebacher <email@example.com> This article was originally written by: Jonathan Kamens, <firstname.lastname@example.org>. ======== These three URLs all point at various FAQ archives, although I have only limited experience with them myself: http://www.cis.ohio-state.edu/hypertext/faq/usenet/FAQ-List.html http://www.cs.ruu.nl/cgi-bin/faqwais http://www.lib.ox.ac.uk/internet/news/faq/by_group.index.html There is a list of sites that archive FAQs, available in the "Introduction to the *.answers newsgroups" document (ftp'able from rtfm.mit.edu:/pub/usenet/news.answers/news-answers/introduction). The postings listed above are available via anonymous ftp from rtfm.mit.edu (126.96.36.199) in the files: /pub/usenet/news.answers/usenet/primer/part1 /pub/usenet/news.answers/usenet/faq/part1 /pub/usenet/news.answers/usenet/emily-postnews/part1 /pub/usenet/news.answers/usenet/writing-style/part1 /pub/usenet/news.answers/usenet/posting-rules/part1 /pub/usenet/news.answers/usenet/what-is/part1 /pub/usenet/news.answers/usenet/social-newsgroups/part1 /pub/usenet/news.answers/usenet/creating-newsgroups/part1 /pub/usenet/news.answers/internet/network-info/part1 /pub/usenet/news.answers/news-announce/introduction/part1 /pub/usenet/news.answers/news-answers/introduction /pub/usenet/news.answers/usenet/software/part1 /pub/usenet/news.answers/active-newsgroups/part1 /pub/usenet/news.answers/active-newsgroups/part2 /pub/usenet/news.answers/alt-hierarchies/part1 /pub/usenet/news.answers/alt-hierarchies/part2 /pub/usenet/news.answers/moderator-list/part1 /pub/usenet/news.answers/periodic-postings/part1 /pub/usenet/news.answers/periodic-postings/part2 /pub/usenet/news.answers/periodic-postings/part3 /pub/usenet/news.answers/periodic-postings/part4 /pub/usenet/news.answers/periodic-postings/part5 /pub/usenet/news.answers/periodic-postings/part6 /pub/usenet/news.answers/periodic-postings/part7 /pub/usenet/news.answers/periodic-postings/part8 /pub/usenet/news.answers/periodic-postings/part9 /pub/usenet/news.answers/periodic-postings/part10 /pub/usenet/news.answers/periodic-postings/part11 /pub/usenet/news.answers/periodic-postings/part12 /pub/usenet/news.answers/periodic-postings/part13 /pub/usenet/news.answers/periodic-postings/part14 /pub/usenet/news.answers/periodic-postings/part15 /pub/usenet/news.answers/periodic-postings/part16 /pub/usenet/news.answers/periodic-postings/part17 /pub/usenet/news.answers/periodic-postings/part18 /pub/usenet/news.answers/periodic-postings/part19 /pub/usenet/news.answers/periodic-postings/part20 /pub/usenet/news.answers/mail/mailing-lists/part01 /pub/usenet/news.answers/mail/mailing-lists/part02 /pub/usenet/news.answers/mail/mailing-lists/part03 /pub/usenet/news.answers/mail/mailing-lists/part04 /pub/usenet/news.answers/mail/mailing-lists/part05 /pub/usenet/news.answers/mail/mailing-lists/part06 /pub/usenet/news.answers/mail/mailing-lists/part07 /pub/usenet/news.answers/mail/mailing-lists/part08 /pub/usenet/news.answers/mail/mailing-lists/part09 /pub/usenet/news.answers/mail/mailing-lists/part10 /pub/usenet/news.answers/mail/mailing-lists/part11 /pub/usenet/news.answers/mail/mailing-lists/part12 /pub/usenet/news.answers/mail/mailing-lists/part13 /pub/usenet/news.answers/mail/mailing-lists/part14 /pub/usenet/news.answers/mail/mailing-lists/part15 /pub/usenet/news.answers/mail/mailing-lists/part16 /pub/usenet/news.answers/mail/mailing-lists/part17 /pub/usenet/news.answers/mail/mailing-lists/part18 /pub/usenet/news.answers/mail/mailing-lists/part19 /pub/usenet/news.answers/mail/mailing-lists/part20 /pub/usenet/news.answers/mail/mailing-lists/part21 /pub/usenet/news.answers/regional-hierarchies/part1 /pub/usenet/news.answers/regional-hierarchies/part2 /pub/usenet/news.answers/regional-hierarchies/part3 They are also available from email@example.com by sending a mail message containing any or all of: send usenet/news.answers/usenet/primer/part1 send usenet/news.answers/usenet/faq/part1 send usenet/news.answers/usenet/emily-postnews/part1 send usenet/news.answers/usenet/writing-style/part1 send usenet/news.answers/usenet/posting-rules/part1 send usenet/news.answers/usenet/what-is/part1 send usenet/news.answers/usenet/social-newsgroups/part1 send usenet/news.answers/alt-hierarchies/part1 send usenet/news.answers/alt-hierarchies/part2 send usenet/news.answers/usenet/creating-newsgroups/part1 send usenet/news.answers/internet/network-info/part1 send usenet/news.answers/news-announce/introduction/part1 send usenet/news.answers/news-answers/introduction send usenet/news.answers/active-newsgroups/part1 send usenet/news.answers/active-newsgroups/part2 send usenet/news.answers/moderator-list/part1 send usenet/news.answers/periodic-postings/part1 send usenet/news.answers/periodic-postings/part2 send usenet/news.answers/periodic-postings/part3 send usenet/news.answers/periodic-postings/part4 send usenet/news.answers/periodic-postings/part5 send usenet/news.answers/periodic-postings/part6 send usenet/news.answers/periodic-postings/part7 send usenet/news.answers/periodic-postings/part8 send usenet/news.answers/periodic-postings/part9 send usenet/news.answers/periodic-postings/part10 send usenet/news.answers/periodic-postings/part11 send usenet/news.answers/periodic-postings/part12 send usenet/news.answers/periodic-postings/part13 send usenet/news.answers/periodic-postings/part14 send usenet/news.answers/periodic-postings/part15 send usenet/news.answers/periodic-postings/part16 send usenet/news.answers/periodic-postings/part17 send usenet/news.answers/periodic-postings/part18 send usenet/news.answers/periodic-postings/part19 send usenet/news.answers/periodic-postings/part20 send usenet/news.answers/mail/mailing-lists/part01 send usenet/news.answers/mail/mailing-lists/part02 send usenet/news.answers/mail/mailing-lists/part03 send usenet/news.answers/mail/mailing-lists/part04 send usenet/news.answers/mail/mailing-lists/part05 send usenet/news.answers/mail/mailing-lists/part06 send usenet/news.answers/mail/mailing-lists/part07 send usenet/news.answers/mail/mailing-lists/part08 send usenet/news.answers/mail/mailing-lists/part09 send usenet/news.answers/mail/mailing-lists/part10 send usenet/news.answers/mail/mailing-lists/part11 send usenet/news.answers/mail/mailing-lists/part12 send usenet/news.answers/mail/mailing-lists/part13 send usenet/news.answers/mail/mailing-lists/part14 send usenet/news.answers/mail/mailing-lists/part15 send usenet/news.answers/mail/mailing-lists/part16 send usenet/news.answers/mail/mailing-lists/part17 send usenet/news.answers/mail/mailing-lists/part18 send usenet/news.answers/mail/mailing-lists/part19 send usenet/news.answers/mail/mailing-lists/part20 send usenet/news.answers/mail/mailing-lists/part21 send usenet/news.answers/regional-hierarchies/part1 send usenet/news.answers/regional-hierarchies/part2 send usenet/news.answers/regional-hierarchies/part3 send usenet/news.answers/usenet/software/part1 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".