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Archive-name: pictures-faq/part1
Last-modified: 03 March 1993

See reader questions & answers on this topic! - Help others by sharing your knowledge
	This is part 1 of the FAQ for the* hierarchy.  
    This part of the FAQ contains "general etiquette
    suggestions", those handy little rules that'll help you avoid getting
    flamed by dozens of other a.b.p* readers.  It is *HIGHLY* recommended
    that you read and understand this section fully before posting to any of
    the a.b.p* groups.

      For information on "general", or operating-system independent 
    information, questions you may have about the pictures newsgroups, 
    decoding and encoding techniques, or picture formats, consult part 2 
    of this posting.

      For information on your particular system and on specific utilities, 
    consult part 3 of this posting.

    Before posting to these groups for the first time, please check the FAQ
    list (this posting - including parts 2 and 3), and also read the newsgroup 
    news.announce.newusers, which contains many answers to questions about 
    UseNet in general.

    If you've read previous versions of this FAQ, you'll probably only want
    to read anything that has changed since the last distribution.  These
    changes appear both in this document and in the accompanying "Changes to
    the FAQ".  Note that this is a "live" document, and 
    is always getting important information added or updated.


   V. 	Subject: LINE STANDARDS


If you can't access UseNet (an international BBS-like system transmitted via
Internet), then you can't access these newsgroups either - don't bother 
asking!  You may still find the information in parts 2 and 3 valuable for 
"general" pictures-viewing purposes, but you're out of luck as far as 
getting any of the pictures that are posted in UseNet newsgroups.
Articles contained in the news groups in the* 
hierarchy are available ONLY by subscribing to those groups through UseNet; 
there are no FTP archive sites (with the exception of a.b.p.fractals - see
the "ftpsites" list on bongo), mailing list, or mail servers that allow
access to these articles.  There is nothing unique or "magical" about the
pictures newsgroups - you subscribe to them as you would any other UseNet
newsgroup (like rec.humor, for example).  If you want access to the pictures 
hierarchy, your site must subscribe to it;  talk to your news administrator!  
Alternatively, you might be able to access these UseNet groups by connecting 
to another site that *does* carry the UseNet pictures newsgroups, and do 
your news reading there (then FTP the articles back to your site).  This 
may also be a problem, as you may not be able to telnet to another site 
(because you don't have a true Internet connection), and you might also not
be able to access news at that site without the OK of the systems 
administrator.  You might check out either the UseNet 
alt.internet.access.wanted or the news groups to get
more info or make requests for remote access... (I've recently been 
informed that the following sites provide Internet/UseNet access for a 
small monthly fee, and also provide dial-up services for PCs:,,  
Those of you without UseNet access (and therefore no way to access the 
alt.internet* newsgroups) can get the necessary information via anonymous 
FTP from [] as the file
"/pub/usenet/news.answers/internet-services.Z", on 
[] as the file "/pub/NEWS.ANSWERS/internet-services", or from [,, or] in the file
"/usenet/news.answers/internet-services.Z".  You can also get the FAQ via UUCP by retrieving the file
    For an e-mail version of the FAQ, send a message 
to with the mail body 
"send usenet/news.answers/internet-services" or e-mail to with "send NEWS.ANSWERS/internet-services" in the 
body of the message.

That said, on to the usage policies of the* 
newsgroups: is for erotic pictures ONLY.
    Erotic (adj): Of or arousing sexual feelings or desires;  having to do 
	with sexual love;  amatory.
    ONLY the erotica newsgroups should be used for pictures of human nudity
    or any form of pornography. is for the Discussion of pix in ABPE, etc. is for "tasteless", "bizarre", or 
  "grotesque" pictures ONLY. is for fractal pictures ONLY. is for the remaining types of pictures ONLY. is for the Discussion of pix in ABPT, ABPF, ABPM, etc. is for the posting of ORIGINAL 
  artwork created using computer programs ONLY.  Moderated. is for the posting of scanned 
  ORIGINAL artwork ONLY.  Moderated. is for the Discussion of pix in ABPF-AG or
  ABPF-AD ONLY.  Moderated. is for the posting of source or binary
  executables of pictures-related software.

Any groups NOT mentioned above are either "splinter"
groups or are otherwise not officially sanctioned because their charter is
covered under one of the "official" pictures newsgroups.  Any postings to
those newsgroups are likely to be rare, and probably will also not get very
good propagation to other sites...

Comp.sources.misc is a good place for image-viewing source code. is a good place for discussion of image formats. is for discussion of image format translation.

Throughout the remainder of this document, any newsgroup in the* hierarchy WITHOUT the '.d' extension (including, but
not limited to,,
and will be referred to as "the pictures 
newsgroups", and those WITH the '.d' extension (including, but not limited to and will be referred 
to as "the discussion newsgroups".  These two types of newsgroups work 
basically the same way as the and c.b.i.p.d groups;  one 
is for posting new material, and one is for discussing posts and other issues.

The pictures newsgroups are for pictures ONLY (if it's not a picture,
don't post it in any of these newsgroups)!!!!  It has been pointed out
that some sites carry the pictures newsgroups without also carrying the
discussion newsgroups.  This is very unfortunate, as there is often
valuable information contained in the discussion newsgroups that anyone
who frequents the pictures newsgroups would find of interest.  If your
site doesn't carry the discussion newsgroups, complain to your news

The basic idea is this:  if it is a picture, post it to the appropriate
ELSE (INCLUDING UTILITIES!!), post it to the associated discussion newsgroup
or to an appropriate utilities newsgroup (like a.b.p.utilities, for example)! 
The truth is that I feel bad about posting *THIS FILE* to the pictures 
newsgroups, because it is not a picture.  However, the benefits of restricting 
the requests for info far outweigh the detriment of breaking this rule.



The first thing is this: please restrict yourself to a maximum of 400 
KB of images per day.  If you've got a bunch of extremely small (50K 
to 100 KB) pictures, then you can post several of them at once.  If 
you've got a few medium-sized pictures (150 to 200 KB), then you should 
only post one or two of them per day.  If you've got a few rather large 
to huge (400K or more) pictures, you should only post one of them per 
day.  It's best to post the full image the same day, as some sites
expire things daily (sometimes in an even shorter period), so your 
complete image would never be available there.

As you're no doubt thinking, this is inconvenient.  Wouldn't it be nice 
just to be able to post everything at once?  Well, the problem is, if 
you do this, you're essentially cutting your own throat (and others' 
as well.)

The problem is that it takes a lot of time and effort (albeit automated, 
but still), money, and disk space to transmit your pictures all over the 
world.  Unlike a lot of students at universities (for example), many 
people at many sites have to pay directly out of their own pockets to 
transmit news articles, in the form of phone bills for their modems.  
Also, a lot of sites don't have infinitely large disks, and a 
particularly heavy day of posting can actually fill up entire partitions.

You still might be thinking, "Well, that's their problem." - and you're
right.  However, it becomes YOUR problem because a lot of sites still
propagate news articles in serial chains:

	A <---> B <---> C <---> D <---> E

Now, say you're site A.  You decide to post a few MB of pictures in one 
day.  Site B connects to your site, A, and grabs the articles.  Site C 
connects to site B and attempts to grab the articles.  But site C is 
rather limited.  Its disks fill up a few times, perhaps the system 
crashes.  The sysadmin knows he will get an outrageous phone bill caused 
by just ATTEMPTING to transmit all of your pictures.

So the sysadmin of site C "drops" the group (or groups) in which you posted 
all of your pictures.  So the people at sites D and E will now NEVER SEE
ANY OF THE PICTURES YOU POST.  Conversely, because the chain is
bidirectional, if the people at sites D or E post some pictures, YOU
WILL NEVER SEE THEM.  Congratulations, you've just slit not only your
own throat, but the throats of EVERYONE at sites A, B, C, D, and E as

This is why everyone must post only limited amounts per day.  As it is, 
pictures newsgroups account for something like 50% of the entire net 
traffic, and 75% of the alt.* traffic.  We need to be self-policing, or 
the pictures newsgroups will die out because of the phenomenon mentioned


A common question that is asked is this one:  what should I post to the 
net?  The basic answer is: anything you'd like to see here yourself!

If you got the file from some FTP site that was announced over the net, 
don't bother posting it.  5-to-1 odds say that everyone and his dog 
already have it, and we *really* need to be careful about wasting 
bandwidth!  If you're unsure of whether there's any interest in it, 
just post a short message saying: "I have this file.  Mail me if you 
want a copy."  If 500 people say they want one, post it... if only one 
bozo from outer mongolia wants it, it's a sure bet that the picture has 
already made the rounds!  You might consider *e-mailing* it to the bozo 
from outer mongolia instead!

The same goes if you see a request!  If that same bozo posts a request 
for T2.gif and you've got it and are thinking about posting it, *MAIL* 
it to him/her instead!  This will eliminate the problem of the same 
picture getting posted to the net on a weekly basis (and pissing a lot 
of people off in the process)!!!

Another practice that is generally frowned upon is converting or modifying
a file in some way and posting that.  This includes file renaming.  If
you're planning on posting something you got from somewhere, DON'T DINK
WITH IT by converting it from GIF to JPEG format, cropping it, remapping
colors, or naming it something "better".  You're certainly welcome to do
any or all of these things to your own personal copy - just don't re-post
it with your changes!  Keep the original for re-posting purposes...


In the actual message you're posting (commonly in either part 0 or part
1), be sure to give at least a brief description of what's in it, like:

   CRSH+BRN.GIF   800x600x256 (in 8 parts)

   This is 15th in the series of this plane crash at the Beirut Air Show
   taken at every single conceivable angle.  This one was taken from a 
   photograph by a guy who happened to be standing directly under the
   plane as it came down.  Pulitzer Prize material.  At least the camera 
   was saved.

Also, checksums are nice, for people with access to sum programs.  It 
helps people identify erroneous transmissions.  Usually people include
things like 

   Checksums: (obtained with 4.2 BSD 'sum' or SysV 'sum -r')
   between 'CUT HERE lines':
      part 1: 76663 9082
      part 2: 78973 1234

In the case where someone is going to be posting several pictures of
a series, they sometimes choose to post an "index" picture that contains
the entire series, each at a smaller scale.  This is great, it gives
everyone a chance to see if they're interested in the series at all, but
this does NOT mean that the poster should not use descriptions in the
individual postings!  And a description of "this is the third pictures
from the index I posted the other day" doesn't cut it, either.  As for
the "index" posting itself, a simple description of the entire series is
probably in order, but it's not necessary to describe each picture of the
series.  Also, make sure that the index pictures aren't so small as to
make them unrecognizable - otherwise you're just wasting bandwidth!  The
best format for an index posting is nearly always going to be JPEG, since
it can handle 24 bits worth of color.  Even if the pictures of the index
are all 8-bit GIFs (256 colors), it's very unlikely that they all use the
*same* 256 colors - posting the index in GIF loses *a lot* of color, since
all the individual picture colors need to be re-mapped in order to share
a common set of 256 colors.

If you have a GIF file, don't bother trying to run some compression 
routine on it... it *won't* work.  LZW compression (the kind used in 
GIF files) is a very efficient compression scheme, and happens to be 
the one used in many common compression routines (including the standard 
UNIX `compress' utility!).  If you try to compress a GIF file, it will 
usually just end up getting bigger, and cause undue hardship to those
trying to download and decode the picture as well. 

The most common standard for binary file transmission is the UUENCODE
standard.  Apple's BinHex is also frequently used.  Be aware, however,
that the further you stray from a standard, the fewer the people that
will be able to decode your posting, and the more it begins to become
high-volume garbage.

It is necessary to split large files because of a few reasons.  First of
all, not all news software can handle huge files.  Secondly, and more
important, if some sort of error in transmission occurs (yes, it *does*
happen from time to time) you only need to re-broadcast one small part,
rather than the whole multi-megabyte image.

If you do post a multi-part file, be sure to add lines before and 
after the data that say 'CUT HERE' so that people trimming the headers 
and trailers by hand know where to cut.  A recent addition to the 
etiquette also has you make the lines say 'BEGIN-----Cut Here' and
'END-----Cut Here' at the obvious locations, so that simple AWK and 
PERL scripts can handle multi-part files.  Another nice thing to do is 
to put the part (02/06) numbers in each file.  There are several
"super" uuencode programs that will do most of this for you (see part
3 for more details).  It is important to make the "Cut Here" parts in 
mixed-case or lower-case letters;  some decoders detect data based on 
the presence of characters which belong in the normal uuencoding 
character set, and they will choke on lines which are all upper-case, 
as these are valid uuencode characters.  If you mix the cases, these
decoders will do fine...  Remember (if you add "BEGIN" and "END"
keywords) to make "BEGIN" and "END" all caps so existing scripts won't
miss them, and so uudecoders won't choke on them.


Above all else, be sure to give subject lines that are informative.
The subject line should contain (at an absolute minimum):
    The file name
    Which part this is, and how many total parts

As an expanded suggestion for a standard, consider the following:

- - filename.type (part/total) {label} ^REPOST^ [sh] "extraTitle"
^ ^        ^     ^    ^       ^       ^        ^    ^
| |        |     |    |       |       |        |    |
1 2        3     4    5       6       7        8    9

1) The '-' character sets this off as a picture posting (not a follow-up,
   not a request, not a flame for a follow-up or a request, etc.).
   OPTIONAL (but highly suggested).
2) The name of the file.  You might consider limiting this to a maximum
   of as few as 8 characters, since this is the limit of some archaic
   operating systems.  Other nearly equally archaic OS's limit you to 14
   characters.  Do what you will, but realize others' limitations...  
3) The type of picture (GIF, JPEG, PostScript).  The suggested standard
   is to stick to all lower case, three characters maximum (gif, jpg, ps).
4, 5) Which part of how many this is.  Enclosed in parentheses.
6) The type of picture ("male", "female", "both", "plane", "scenic", etc.).
   Enclosed in curly brackets.
   OPTIONAL (but very considerate).
7) Notifies everyone that this is a repost of a posting that went sour.
   Enclosed in up-arrows (circumflex or caret characters).
   OPTIONAL (but very considerate).
8) Flag that notifies people that this posting uses script wrappers (in case
   they have to handle these special).  Enclosed in square brackets.
   OPTIONAL (but very considerate).
9) Additional descriptive text to give a better idea of what's in the picture.
   Enclosed in double quotes.
   OPTIONAL (but very considerate).

This suggested standard is intended to be strictly ordered (i.e. if there's
a ^REPOST^ notification, it appears after any label info and before any
script wrapper notification).

For example:

   - CRSH+BRN.GIF (02/08) {plane} "Plane crash at an air show, 800x600x256"
Notice that it includes everything: the file name, what part of how 
many this one is, a short description, and the resolution.  If you 
insist on leaving everything *else* out, at least say the name of
the file and which part of how many it is!
In the "erotica" newsgroups, it's also popular (and often demanded!)
to include the picture subject's gender (i.e. "{male}", "{female}", 
"{both}", etc.).  The gender should be considered as part of the 
minimal set of information in the "erotica" newsgroups, as the addition
of this information to the subject line makes it possible for people to
avoid spending time downloading stuff they don't care about.

Certain newsreaders (NN, for example) sort the articles alphabetically 
by title, so subject lines with part numbers get displayed and saved 
in order.  There is an obvious (and common) way to torpedo this 
process: make subject lines which do not follow sequentially.  

An example:
        first article's subject: "plane crash GIF: CRSH+BRN (part 1 / 4)"
  subsequent articles' subjects: "CRSH+BRN (part N / 4)"
These subject lines will not be displayed and sorted correctly by NN.

However, if you change the arrangement a little, like this:
        first article's subject: "CRSH+BRN (part 1/4) plane crash GIF"
  subsequent articles' subjects: "CRSH+BRN (part N/4)"
you will please NN-users the world over.


A word about anonymous FTP and GIF files.  When you log onto a remote 
machine via anonymous FTP, please try to restrict yourself to no more 
then ten minutes of transmission time, or about five to ten files.  As 
you can imagine, when people discover a new archive of GIF files, 
they are all hot to download every one they can, and often they jam up 
the site for *days*.  You'll notice this effect the first time some 
bozo announces the name of a new GIF archive.  You won't be able to 
get through without persistent efforts over several hours or even a 
day or two.  Then the system administrators of that site notice that 
they have had about $5,000 worth of anonymous FTP over the last two 
days, and revoke the anonymous FTP privilege.  Now every one is 

Be considerate; grab only a few files and then let someone else have a 
chance.  This probably won't solve the problem in the long term (still 
everyone and his dog will be ftp'ing into that machine), but at least 
it will spread the wealth a bit.

As for anonymous FTP sites for erotica pictures, THEY DO NOT EXIST (except
of course for that long-standing favorite, - the Internet
loop-back address... your own machine, of course!).  Even if you find an 
anonymous FTP site that *appears* to have erotica pictures, it is merely an 
illusion.  As the sage once said, "Revel in your illusions, don't share 
them."  The effects of sharing your illusion in this case *ALWAYS* results 
in your illusion being rendered non-existent (in one way or another).  For 
this very same reason, it is considered very poor form to ask someone else 
to share their illusions with you.  If you were considering asking for a 
list of anonymous FTP sites with erotica pictures -- don't.


Your absolutely last course of action should be to ask for a repost of
an article.  There are so very many other ways that the download and
decode process could have failed, you should be very sure that none of
these steps went south BEFORE asking for a repost.  After you have 
exhausted all of the possibilities from your end, post to the discussion 
newsgroup and request someone to send you their (working) copy.  If 
enough people post requests of this sort, eventually the original 
poster will usually re-post it.  If you're the only person with a 
problem, someone is bound to send you the file, and you'll save the 
net 'hundreds if not thousands of dollars.'
Also, just because you've already read an article doesn't mean it has 
vanished off the face of the earth.  It is a fairly simple matter to get 
back to articles you've already read (unless your site administrator
has removed them or they've expired).  There are essentially four methods
to accomplish this (examples assume you're using rn):
	1.  Assuming you know the article number(s) of the postings, just
	    enter the article number from within that newsgroup.  Voila!
	2.  Since you probably DON'T know the article number, once you are
	    in the appropriate newsgroup, you can step backwards or forwards
	    through the articles by using "P" (previous) and "N" (next).
	3.  So you don't know the article number, and you don't want to step
	    backwards through 50+ articles - what now?  As long as you
	    remember something from the subject line of the article, you can
	    use regular expressions to search backwards, using the command
	    "?pattern?r", where pattern is the part you remember.  For
	    example, you read an article with the word "howdy" in the subject,
	    then decide later you want to get back to that article.  Just get
	    into the right newsgroup, then enter "?howdy?r" and rn will search
	    back through all the articles you've read to find the last one
	    with "howdy" somewhere in the title.  Not the right one?  Enter
	    "?", and rn will retrieve the next-to-last article with "howdy"
	    in the title.
	4.  You can modify your .newsrc file so that articles are no longer
	    marked as being read (this file usually resides in your home 
	    directory).  This is especially valuable if you forgot the name 
	    of a particular posting, but you know it was in the last ?x?
	    number articles.  For example, if your .newsrc file reads: 1-2380
	    ...and you know that the article you're looking for was in the
	    last 30 or so postings, you could edit this line to read: 1-2350 that your news reader would think that you hadn't yet seen
	    these articles (of course you'll have to re-sort through many
	    other articles you've already seen, but hopefully you'll at least
	    be able to find the "lost" article!).  IMPORTANT NOTE!!:  If you 
	    edit your .newsrc file, make *absolutely sure* that you aren't 
	    currently running a news reader session - this may munge the 
	    .newsrc file, or cause other undefined or undesirable side-effects.

By using these techniques, you won't have to ask for someone to e-mail you a
copy or to re-post the article, since you already have it and know how to
get back to it!


If you're trying out a new method of posting, or if you are posting a
picture for the first time, or if it's been a while since you posted a
picture and you're not really sure you remember all the details on how to
do it right, by all means, PLEASE DO A TEST POSTING FIRST!  Test postings 
should *NEVER* be made in any of the pictures newsgroups or the pictures 
discussion newsgroups - there are plenty of test newsgroups made for just 
this purpose (local.test is your best choice, misc.test is also nice).  
Wherever you do your test posting, make sure to add the line
Distribution: local
in the heading so your post doesn't go outside your site.  Make sure that 
you can download, re-construct, and view the picture you've posted.  Then, 
when you're satisfied that all is well, post it into the appropriate 
pictures newsgroup!


How should you react if you notice someone violating any of these items 
of netiquette?  It depends on what they've done, of course.  In the case 
of some posting that you find offensive, the best course of action is 
just to ignore it.  95% of the time, these people are just trying to pull
someone's chain - and they are usually pretty successful (I can't tell
you how many megabytes of responses I've seen to just one sentence of
crap).  Another 3% of the time, someone has left themselves logged in and 
is having a "joke" played on them by a "friend".  The other 2% of the time, 
they actually believe what they are saying.  In this case, do you really 
think that they care that you find what they say offensive?  Especially in 
the last case, silence does more to thwart their behavior than anything 
else.  Refusing to even acknowledge someone usually damages them more than 
you could possibly hope to do by responding to them in any way.  Don't even 
waste the time, effort, and money (after all, someone *is* paying for what 
you say, somewhere) to follow up.

In the case of posting a discussion to a pictures newsgroup, probably the 
*worst* thing you can possibly do is follow-up to the offending posting 
and yourself violate the same rule!  After all, what good are you doing 
by complaining about someone violating a rule you ignore yourself?  If you 
really *must* follow-up to this type of posting, make sure and edit the 
Newsgroups: line so that your post is re-directed to the discussion 
newsgroup.  Another technique you might try is just ignoring the post - 
if enough people did this, it's entirely likely that there would soon be 
no discussion at all in the pictures newsgroups, except for the occasional 
newbie or someone not wise enough to read this FAQ - and they'd learn 
eventually.  I suggest the following course of action, in order of 
    1) Respond via e-mail.  Gently suggest that they take discussion to
       the discussion newsgroup.  Answer the question/request if you can.
       Suggest that they read this FAQ to get more information and to
       better understand pictures newsgroup etiquette.
    2) Follow-up only if you can answer the question/request, re-directing 
       your posting to the appropriate discussion newsgroup (edit the
       Newsgroups: line).  Suggest that they read this FAQ to get more 
       information and to better understand pictures newsgroup etiquette.
    3) Ignore the posting.  They'll most likely get the hint eventually.
    4) Follow-up only if you can answer the question/request, re-directing 
       the follow-ups of your posting to the appropriate discussion 
       newsgroup (edit the Followup-to: line -- your posting will go to 
       the pictures newsgroup, but anyone following up to your posting 
       will go to the discussion newsgroup).  Gently suggest that this 
       type of posting belongs in the discussion newsgroup, and that 
       that's where follow-ups have been re-directed.  Maybe even throw 
       in a small uuencoded picture at the end of your posting, just to 
       make it "legal".  Suggest that they read this FAQ to get more 
       information and to better understand pictures newsgroup etiquette.
The more people that respond in a positive way, the fewer the flame wars, 
and the more pictures vs. discussion will end up in the pictures 
newsgroups!  That *is* what we're here for, after all!

This file originally began life as the FAQ for, and 
was first created and maintained by Dave Read (  
Minor changes and a few additions to clean it up a bit and make it a little 
more relevant to the group were made by Steven M. 
Quinn (  A hierarchy of pictures groups (all under was put into place in the fall of 1991, and since 
that time, Jim Howard ( has come forward to take over
the maintenance of the "new" FAQ.
Acknowledgements (part 1):
  * Thanx to both James Ralston Crawford ( and
    Silver ( for input and suggestions on posting

That's about it for the "general etiquette" information.  General pictures
information is continued in part 2 of this FAQ.  If you have any 
suggestions for things to include in future versions, don't hesitate 
to let me know...

    Jim Howard *** ***
     Author, "The Internet Voyeur" ( 
          (^:=             Flames cheerfully ignored.             =:^)

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