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Archive-name: singles-faq-long
Last-modified: 2000/01/17

See reader questions & answers on this topic! - Help others by sharing your knowledge FAQ, short version, available at
   Welcome to! is a place to hang out, discuss
   issues serious, mundane, and silly, flirt, share embarrassing personal
   secrets, and generally let your hair down and have fun. Whether you're
   just reading or are feeling brave enough to leap headlong into any of
   the ongoing conversations or start a new one, you'll find a varied
   collection of people from around the world all working to keep your
   newsreading time from getting boring. Just be warned: is
   not a place for personal ads, requests for penpals and/or sexually
   explicit email, commercial advertisements, or test messages. Remember
   that there are real people behind the messages you're reading and
   responding to, and if you treat them with the consideration and
   respect you'd give to a bunch of people you just met at a party,
   you'll be 77.4% of the way to being an accepted and valued contributor
   This document is called the "FAQ" (short for "Frequently Asked
   Questions") and hopefully contains information that will make it
   easier to follow and join in on the various conversations happening on at any given time. No warranty is expressed or implied;
   for external use only; if rash persists, consult a physician.
Think of this bit here as being sorta like a table of contents:

   - Commonly encountered abbreviations and jargon
   - What is a 'boink'?
   - Should I post personals ads on
   - How about commercial ads?
   - What if my site doesn't carry alt.personals or soc.penpals?
   - OK, if I'm not supposed to post personals, what kinds of articles
          should I post?
   - Do I have to be single to post on
   - Just what does "single" mean anyway?
   - What's the difference between and
   - Is there anything besides personal ads that should be avoided?
   - Sometimes, seems very intimidating--it's like everybody
          knows everyone else and it's hard just to jump in to all the
          ongoing conversations.
   - What if I don't like any of the current discussions or just find
          them all boring?
   - I finally worked up the courage to post my first message and nobody
          responded to it. Do you think that the soc.singlers are
          conspiring to ignore me?
   - Help! I just posted an article and got flamed horribly for it-- will
          I ever be able to show my face in public again?
   - Hey--someone just posted a personal ad to! Should I
          flame the pants off this person?
   - is just full of flaming and angry-sounding people this
          week; can't you guys all just get along?
   - Sometimes I write stuff that is just so incredible I think I should
          crosspost it to every other newsgroup on the net. Is that okay?
   - What is this "editing" stuff I keep hearing about?
   - How about editing subject headers?
   - What else can I do to improve my ASCII appearance?
   - What do these weird combinations of punctuation marks I see
          frequently in people's messages mean?
   - How do you pronounce "soc"?
   - What's a ".GIF" ".JPG" or ".MPG"?
   - Is there a World-Wide Web page for
   - What, exactly, are "Disney Chemicals"?
   - How do you pronounce "Trygve"?
   - How come nice guys don't get laid?
   - How come nice guys/gals/small furry creatures from Alpha Centauri
          get dumped for jerks/bimbos/hyperfungal Rigellian
   - I met someone last week at a party; what do you think this person's
          deepest and innermost feelings for me are?
   - Is it possible for men and women to be just friends?
   - Do conversations on the net ever blossom into torrid romances?
   - What about personal ads?
   - Will this message ever end?
   - How about posting articles asking for readers to send postcards to a
          kid in England who is dying of cancer and wants to set the
          world record for most cards received before he dies?
   - How come there are so many kooks on the net?
   - OK, we're getting near the end of the file now--what's this about
          "killfiles" that you promised to tell us about?
   - Is there any copyright on this FAQ?
   - Are you sure I can't post personals on
    OK, you can stop thinking of this as being like a table of contents
Commonly encountered abbreviations and jargon:

   [ A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z ]
          As Far As I Know
          As Far As I Can Throw You
          American Standard Code for Information Interchange;
          technically, this refers to the encoding scheme whereby the
          internally stored binary numbers used by computers correspond
          to human-readable symbols like "A", but in common usage on the
          net, ASCII also refers to anything that's made of standard text
          characters: "@}--,--`---" is an ASCII rose, for example.
          Basis In Fact
          Been There, Done That
          By The Way
          "Disney Chemicals" ( see below )
          "Dreaded Monogamy Virus"
          Frequently Asked Question(s)
          An emotional, often personal attack on another person's
          article; "I disagree with your statement because of X" is not a
          flame, whereas "I disagree with your moronic statement and the
          fact that you would say such a thing proves you're a complete
          idiot" is.
          Something posted publicly that appears designed to inspire
          flames; usually this is a postion that is not only likely to
          annoy a lot of people but is also worded in such a way as to
          arouse the ire of readers.
          Friend Of A Friend (Generally used for apocryphal stories.)
          File Transfer Protocol; a way to transfer files between your
          computer system and another. For information about FTP, send
          e-mail to "" with "send
          usenet/news.answers/finding-sources" in the body of the letter.
          For What It's Worth
          For Your Amusement
          For Your Information
          Hope This Helps / Happy To Help
          Another kind of "chat" program for Windows-based machines. Each
          ICQ user is identified by a unique number.
          If I Recall Correctly
          In My Humble Opinion (engineers often prefer to use JMHO)
          In My Not-So-Humble Opinion
          Internet Relay Chat -- "chat rooms" where several participants
          can type at each other in real time as opposed to leaving
          messages to be read later as one does on newsgroups.
          Love At First Sight (Alternatively, "Love At First Site" for
          those in a hurry.)
          Long Distance Relationship
          Let's Just Be Friends (now considered a verb)
          Lust Object (occasionally also Love Object)
          Laughing Out Loud
          Long Term Relationship
          Someone who reads a group, but doesn't post; doing so is called
          Member Of The Opposite Sex
          Member Of The Same Sex
          Member Of The Appropriate Sex
          Member Of the Inappropriate Sex
          Compressed format for sound files commonly used for
          distribution over the net
          No Basis In Fact
          Nice Guy/Gal (also NewsGroup)
          Nude In Front Of Computer
          On The Other Hand
          Public Display of Affection
          The "sound" of a poster being added to a killfile; also used as
          a verb: "I plonked Sylvia 'Snuffelupagus Slayer' DeCrisco, so I
          missed her discussion on foot odor."
          Person of Opposite Sex Sharing Living Quarters
          Point Of View
          ProblemYoungerMan (also ProblemYoungerMutant)
          Romantic Interest
          Rolling On The Floor Laughing (also ROFL)
          Real Life
          Romantic Partner
          Real Soon Now
          Stay-At-Home (as in SAH parent)
   sig or .sig 
          "Signature," a short, standardized message tacked on to the end
          of all one's posts; usually consisting of 1-4 lines of text,
          containing one's e-mail address, employer, favorite pithy
          quote, and/or other pertinent (or impertinent) personal
          Sexual Market Value
          Sensitive New-Age Guy
          Significant Other
          Articles that are inappropriately posted to large numbers of
          newsgroups; these are usually, though not necessarily,
          commercial ads, but whatever their nature or content, they're
          considered a Bad Thing[tm].
          Thanks In Advance
          Three Letter Abbreviation
          True Love & Eternal Happiness
          Someone who posts articles just to get attention or annoy the
          other readers and posters; also used as a verb and, if you take
          the [flame]bait and respond as if it were a serious post,
          you've been "trolled."
          Waiting For You In The Bathtub Wearing Nothing But Lime Jell-O
          What The Heck
          Your Milage May Vary
          Gender-neutral pronoun equivalent to "She or He" (Alternate
          spelling: "Sie")
          Gender-neutral pronoun equivalent to "Him or Her" or possessive
          pronoun equivalent to "His or Her" (Alternate spelling: "Hir")
The rest of the FAQ:

   What is a 'boink'? 
   Any publicly announced gathering of participants and
   lurkers. Frequently these last for days and involve the flying in of
   out-of-town celebrities.
   Should I post personals ads on 
   No. Personal ads belong in the alt.personals groups; there are even
   groups for people with specific tastes (e.g. alt.personals.poly,
   alt.personals.bondage, alt.personals.hamster.duct-tape). If you want
   to post a request for pen-friends rather than a personal ad, there's
   also soc.penpals which is dedicated for just that very thing. Do not
   post personals in, you will annoy the readership and not
   get any positive responses.
   Many, many web-based personals ads sites are available, both free and
   pay services. Checking Yahoo shows several hundred category matches if
   you search on "personals"; so, you may wish to add some more search
   words or just start browsing.
   How about commercial ads? 
   They should also be avoided. Indeed, on the great majority of
   newsgroups, any commercial advertising will be received with
   hostility. The net is built on the voluntary cooperation of many
   machines across the world, owned by businesses, governments, and
   educational institutions, and because the owners generally don't want
   to be paying for the distribution of competitors' advertising and, in
   the case of educational and governmental machines, they may have
   strict policies against carrying any advertising at all, one of the
   basic premises of the net is a "gentleman's agreement" not to post
   commercial messages outside of the groups specifically set aside for
   that purpose (comp.newprod and biz.*). Even for pragmatic reasons,
   it's best to avoid commercial messages, simply because you generally
   don't want to kick off an advertising campaign by irritating your
   potential customer base. For more details concerning the commercial
   use of the net, you may wish to check out the articles your system
   should have available in the group news.announce.newusers.
   What if my site doesn't carry alt.personals or soc.penpals? 
   Even if your site doesn't carry a given group, it's still possible to
   post to it; fortunately, that's really all you need to be able to do
   with a personal ad, since you would normally be getting responses back
   in email anyway. A number of "mail-to-news gateways" exist that will
   take email messages you send them and post them to any Usenet group,
   whether it's on your system or not (and even if your system only gives
   you mail capability and doesn't support news at all).
   If you have web access, you can read news and post from DejaNews ,
   which allows you more to search other people's personal ads more
   easily than most newsreaders. If you are using a newsreader / posting
   program that allows you to modify your headers, many if not most will
   still let you post to a newsgroup that your site doesn't carry; it may
   just ask you to confirm that you really do want to post to the
   specified newsgroup and haven't just mistyped it.
   OK, if I'm not supposed to post personals, what kinds of articles
   should I post? 
   Think of as the electronic version of something that's
   partway between a cocktail party and a soap opera. Appropriate posts
   should be both interactive and entertaining--that is, their content
   should both invite the participation of others in the electronic
   conversation and be entertaining to its readers. You might pose an
   open question to the readership about some aspect of the human
   condition as it applies to singleness or you might reply to another
   contributor's post and add an observation that sheds light on a
   different aspect of the issue under discussion or just makes some
   people out there laugh and shoot Pepsi out through their noses onto
   their computer keyboards. Personal ads are a good example of what sort
   of posting isn't appropriate because they are neither of these--they
   aren't conducive to public discussion nor are they entertaining.
   Remember, the best way to get a positive response on any group is to
   post something that will pique the interest of the other readers and
   entertain them as well. On, the best thing to do is simply
   to post a message that expresses a stunningly profound observation
   that is fundamental to the human condition as it relates to
   singleness, one that is unobvious yet clarifies many of the more
   confusing interactions between singles and MOTAS and is expressed with
   succinctness, humor, an easy, flowing writing style, and-- perhaps
   most importantly--good spelling and the effective use of an editor.
   Some days we'll just settle for someone who can spell and use an
   editor. Then, wait for fan mail while composing your next opus.
   When in doubt, the best thing to do is read the newsgroup for a while,
   at least until you get a feel for what's going on; as the old saying
   goes, "lurk before you leap." (This is generally a good approach for
   any newsgroup, not just You may find it easier to leap
   into a conversation in progress. Don't feel shy about "butting in":
   one of the advantages of the net is that everyone can get a word in
   without interrupting anyone else or being thought rude for speaking
   up. Keep reading until you get to a message that inspires an
   interesting comment or observation of your own and put that in a
   followup message; or, if you're feeling really brave, start a whole
   new thread and invite others' comments on a subject that you think is
   Don't forget who your audience is--people will be reading your words
   all over the world with all kinds of software and on all sorts of
   service providers. They might not have read an article you're
   responding to, gone to the dance club down the street from where you
   live, be using the same software you are, or know what the message
   numbers are on your service provider (they're different on every
   system); try to include enough information so that a typical reader
   will understand what you're talking about without feeling too
   Do I have to be single to post on 
   No. The only requirement is that you have been single at some time in
   your life, know someone who was, or are interested in some of the
   subjects that people meeting either of these conditions have been
   known to talk about.
   Soc.Singles isn't exclusively for singles or where non-single people
   are unwelcome, but simply a place where it's normal to be single. The
   rest of the world often feels like it's built around couples as the
   basic social unit, leaving singles feeling awkward, left out, or like
   a "third wheel." The basic "social unit" for is the
   individual, where you're not defined by whom you're with or any less
   by not being with someone.
   Just what does "single" mean anyway? 
   In the context of, it means "unmarried"; there's a
   tendency for "singles' issues" being discussed on to be
   directed towards people who don't currently have a long-term committed
   partner, but anything interesting and/or important to people who
   aren't married is appropriate.
   What's the difference between and 
   As the name suggests, is a moderated group; that
   means that your articles get sent off to the the "moderator" to be
   approved before they appear. In this particular case, you just have to
   invoke the secret password (which is revealed in the FAQ) and all your subsequent articles will be
   approved automatically. This technique was taken to eliminate
   hit-and-run advertising and flamebait from people who aren't
   interested in taking the time to read the group and get rid of the
   massive cross-posting that's usually used to create long-running,
   pointless flamewars.
   Many of the same people post to both groups or at least read them both
   and will occasionally drop in a comment in the group they don't
   participate in as much. It's also permitted to cross-post between and, but most of the time it's not
   appreciated and will tend to confuse readers who haven't
   gone through the approval process on, because
   their articles will get bounced back and not posted to either group.
   Is there anything besides personal ads that should be avoided? 
   Of course there are other things that are best avoided--perhaps the
   most important of these are emotional issues for which other
   newsgroups have been created. Topics like abortion, politics,
   religion, anything by Robert McElwaine, and other such things are best
   avoided, not because they aren't valid issues, but because, like
   personal ads, it's too easy for them to take over the newsgroup and
   drive off those of us who participate on because we like Remember, anyone who wants to debate abortion can go to
   talk.abortion and anyone who wants to post and read personals can go
   to alt.personals*--but if gets turned into, there's
   no newsgroup where the soc.singlers can go to continue their
   It's also good form to avoid messages that are pretty much
   content-free: don't, for example, quote an entire message that you
   agree with and then append "Yeah, what she said" to the end. Test
   messages should also be avoided--if you're unsure whether your
   messages are getting out or not, post something to misc.test and
   you'll get confirmation messages from various sites around the world
   to let you know your posting software is working.
   On, like any other group, it's best to avoid the urge to
   post spelling flames--if you catch a spelling error or a typo in
   someone else's post, it does very little good to post a public message
   about it, since the other readers will either have noticed the error
   themselves--and don't need to be told about it--or they won't care--in
   which case they don't need to be told about it. If it's an
   informational post that's going to be reposted later or a signature,
   you may want to inform the poster in e-mail, but unless you can turn
   the spelling error into an outrageously witty observation (e.g. the
   original poster has just made a screamingly funny Freudian slip in
   print), there's no reason to post spelling flames publicly.
   If you get the urge to add to a pun chain, please don't quote all the
   puns so far and then add a pun that already appears earlier in the
   message. If you do think of a pun or other witty rejoinder to add to
   someone else's article, it's a good idea to read any followups that
   have already been posted before posting your witty response, just to
   make sure that three or four people won't have made the same remark
   Finally, don't ever post chain letters, regardless of whether they're
   disguised as plans to create "mailing lists" for big bucks or
   not--posting such a message on or any other newsgroup is
   likely to get your account revoked. It's been remarked that the "Make
   Money Fast" chain letters are one of the few crimminal activities in
   which the perpetrator signs his name at the bottom; not only does this
   make it easy to report the person posting the article to his or her
   sysadmin (and getting the account in question revoked), but the IRS
   does consider illegal income taxable and would probably want to check
   up on whether the writer claiming to have received hundreds of
   thousands of dollars in the mail has paid everything from income tax
   to self-employment tax on that money. (In the unlikely event that the
   writer actually has received that kind of money, there may even be a
   reward to the person who brings this to the attention of the IRS.)
   Sometimes, seems very intimidating--it's like everybody
   knows everyone else and it's hard just to jump in to all the ongoing
   Remember that every poster on had to post his or her first
   message sometime and, even now, it's no more difficult for you to
   press the followup-key than it is for anyone else. Sometimes it helps
   just to read the newsgroup for a while--get a feel for what's going on
   and what the other posters are like, what sorts of topics have already
   been beaten to death many times over, and what sorts of insights,
   knowlege, and experience you might have to add that others might not
   think of. When you do decide to leap into the fray and post something,
   don't be discouraged if it doesn't get a response right away or even
   if it gets a negative response--after all, the net is an imperfect
   medium and it's easy to be misunderstood, so don't feel too bad if you
   sometimes don't get your ideas across in quite the way you had
   intended. If you keep your cool and continue participating, people
   will get to know you, you'll get to know them, and misunderstandings
   will become less frequent.
   What if I don't like any of the current discussions or just find them
   all boring? 
   On the net, just like in real life, when you don't like something,
   you're better off working constructively to change it instead of just
   complaining about it. If you'd like to talk about something else, then
   post a message about it and add enough of your thoughts about it that
   the other contributors will have something to bite on. Writing, "what
   do you think about single people who bring their pet squids on dates?"
   is good, but "what do you think about single people who bring their
   pet squids on dates? I was on a date last week with someone who
   insisted in bringing 'Sigmund' the squid along and taking pieces of
   food off my plate to feed to Sigmund without asking first." is even
   In general, the worst thing that you can do is post a message along
   the lines of "this group sucks; I've read every single message on this
   group every day for five years now and each one has been worse than
   having my toenails ripped out using a badly misaligned electric can
   opener." Remember that all the people posting to and reading are real people and tend to react rather like people would
   if you were to walk into a party and sulk in the corner, loudly
   shouting out "this party sucks" every few minutes while the people all
   around you are busily having a good time. If the messages aren't to
   your liking, either try to contribute positively towards making the
   group more what you'd like it to be, use killfiles more extensively,
   or locate another group that is more to your liking. Just announcing
   your displeasure is unlikely to motivate the other participants to
   post things that you'll want to read, since obviously they must be
   enjoying the current tone and content of or they wouldn't
   be contributing to it.
   I finally worked up the courage to post my first message and nobody
   responded to it. Do you think that the soc.singlers are conspiring to
   ignore me? 
   Alas, the contributors to soc.singlers are far too disorganized to
   conspire against anyone. Most messages don't generate responses
   anyway, otherwise the volume of would be even greater than
   it is. So, you may need to post a few messages before anyone responds
   to something you've written. If you want to maximize your chances of
   getting a response, try to make sure that your articles contain room
   for others to respond--they should invite others to add their thoughts
   to yours and, ideally, say something new and different that will get
   the attention of your readers. Sometimes messages can even be too
   good--they can simply cover the whole subject and do it so
   authoritatively that there's nothing left for anyone to say, so not
   getting a response to a message doesn't mean that people aren't
   reading it or aren't interested by it.
   Help! I just posted an article and got flamed horribly for it-- will I
   ever be able to show my face in public again? 
   Yep; just make sure you don't show it by posting a .gif of your face
   to a non-binaries group. The truth is that most people flame articles,
   not people--you could post two messages in one day and have one flamed
   mercilessly and the other lauded with ASCII roses by the same people.
   Just because someone flamed you for something you said doesn't mean
   that the person in question hates you--the best thing to do is just
   take it all in stride and keep on going. In the event that you do find
   that you're getting flamed an awful lot, you may wish to consider your
   presentation: even if you're saying perfectly reasonable things, a lot
   of people will have trouble with what you're saying if you 1) sound
   like you think you speak for all humanity or 2) keep saying the same
   thing over and over instead of listening to how people are responding
   to you and responding yourself to what they say.
   Contrary to popular belief, there is no requirement that one respond
   to each and every flame directed one's way. Even if someone stoops so
   low as to call you a "pompous spamhead" or impugns your ability to
   make use of groceries that haven't been pre-chewed, you are still free
   to ignore it and get on with your life; in fact, doing so is often
   recommended, since people tend to skim a lot of messages and running
   across a whole stream of articles arguing over whose head bears the
   greatest resemblance to lunchmeat is a lot more likely to leave the
   casual reader with the impression that you _are_ a pompous spamhead
   than one or two ignored flames would have. Responding to flames and
   personal attacks tends to focus attention on them, which encourages
   those who flame you and is likely to make casual readers see you in a
   worse light. So, when in doubt, ignore the flames and respond to the
   articles that inspire you to say interesting and thought-provoking
   Hey--someone just posted a personal ad to! Should I flame
   the pants off this person? 
   That depends; if you can think of a wonderfully witty and entertaining
   way to flame the ad, go ahead; otherwise it's not generally worth the
   trouble of putting up a public post about it for the whole world to
   read and it might be better just to send a note to the poster in email
   suggesting that this is uncool. If you do want to respond publicly,
   you might want to change the subject from "lonely speedboat owner
   seeks fellow marmalade enthusiast" to something more like "No
   Personals, Please (was: lonely speedboat owner seeks...)"; that way
   people just scanning the topics or reading the newsgroup with nn or
   other newsreaders that just show you the subjects unless you select
   the article won't get the impression from reading the headers that
   personals are the mainstay of, those people who
   don't want to read the flames generated by personals can just put "/No
   Personals, Please/:j" into their killfiles. is just full of flaming and angry-sounding people this
   week; can't you guys all just get along? 
   Not everybody logs onto the net to meet people and enjoy friendly
   conversations; a lot of people just enjoy being obnoxious and feeling
   like they have a lot of power and are really cool if they can piss
   other people off, especially if they can get someone else to lose his
   or her cool and act like a twit too. Posting a message saying that
   somebody like that is a rude and annoying twerp with no social skills
   and probably has the personal hygiene normally associated with
   week-old roadkill isn't going to make them rethink their ways, it'll
   only encourage them.
   On any newsgroup, if you don't like flaming and angry words, don't add
   to them; what you write is part of the newsgroup just like everybody
   else's articles, so the best way to make the newsgroup have the style
   you enjoy is to post the kind of articles you'd like to read if they'd
   been written by someone else.
   Sometimes I write stuff that is just so incredible I think I should
   crosspost it to every other newsgroup on the net. Is that OK? 
   No. In general on any newsgroup, crossposting should not be done more
   than necessary. Inevitably, when you crosspost a discussion about your
   taste in swimwear to, alt.personals, rec.scuba, rec.nude,
   and alt.culture.urdu, the thread will quickly diverge in directions
   that most of the groups don't want to read about. If you do this too
   often, people from the various groups will start showing up at your
   house and tearing up your flowerbeds. If you reply to a message that
   is crossposted, be sure to trim off the newsgroups for which your
   reply is not appropriate or at the very least set the Followup-To:
   field to the group for which the subject matter is most appropriate.
   Unfortunately, the net tends to attract people who can't get attention
   or satisfaction in life except by cross-posting obnoxious and
   self-important messages all over the place in hopes that someone will
   pay attention to them. Usually it's not worth bothering to reply to
   these sorts of articles; the original author probably doesn't care
   what you say or have much interest in reading it, but simply enjoys
   knowing that you were annoyed by it enough to respond.
   What is this "editing" stuff I keep hearing about? 
   "Editing," which is most commonly used in the phrase "please learn how
   to edit your messages" refers to deleting unnecessary quoted material.
   It's not at all unusual for newcomers to the net to reply to long
   messages by quoting the entire thing and then responding to a comment
   made somewhere in the middle of the original post by adding a single
   sentence onto the end. It's much better to delete quoted text from the
   original message if it isn't necessary to what you're trying to say.
   Remember that many people out there, when they see huge reams of
   quoted material that obviously hasn't been edited down, will simply
   skip over to the next message without bothering to read your sterling
   prose at the end, so a little attention to the mechanisms of cleaning
   up quoted material will help you get your points across. Also be sure
   to delete any quoted material left at the end of your message--it's
   easy to respond to something in the middle or even the beginning and
   forget to lop off the quoted stuff at the end that you aren't
   responding to.
   Don't be too industrious when deleting text, though--be sure to leave
   enough quoted text so that the readers will know what you're talking
   about even if they don't remember the message that you're responding
   to and be careful not to trim off the attributions (the names of the
   people saying the things you're quoting) that go with the text you
   leave in. (Do feel encouraged to remove the names of people whose
   comments have been entirely deleted, though.)
   How about editing subject headers? 
   This is an important and much-neglected art. Often the topic will have
   strayed far from its original one and a discussion on gerbil rolfing
   will be carried out under the heading "Favorite skiing lingerie." When
   this happens, it's entirely appropriate to change the heading to
   something a little closer to the topic under discussion. On the other
   hand, it's best not to change the topic too often, especially when
   it's a hotly debated topic that is only peripherally (if at all)
   involved with singledom and it is likely that many people will be
   killing the topic (see the section on killfiles later in this file) in
   an attempt to avoid reading about it. Sometimes, when you do change
   the subject header, you may wish to list what the previous topic was
   as well; for example, if the topic being discussed under "Spiders vs.
   Lemon Pate'" had strayed to an in-depth examination of the sexual
   habits of people with mohawks, you might want to change the subject to
   "Mohawk Sex (was: Spiders vs. Lemon Pate')" which would allow those
   who are following the discussion under one heading to continue to
   follow it under the new heading.
   Even more important than occasionally changing the subject to match
   the actual topic being discussed is eliminating inappropriate groups
   when replying to a cross-posted article; no matter what newsgroup you
   might be reading when you decide to respond to an article, if you see
   more than one group listed in the "Newsgroups:" line of the header,
   your article is going to appear in all of them, so make sure that you
   delete any inappropriate groups from the list before sending your
   article. There are enough people out there who crosspost to a lot of
   groups maliciously, just to see how many people they can irritate with
   a few keystrokes, that a lot of readers don't have much patience left
   when it comes to articles inappropriately crossposted to the
   newsgroups they read, so you can make a lot of people pissed off at
   you by responding to a heavily crossposted article without taking the
   time to trim off the groups where your message doesn't really belong.
   Be warned, too, that there's enough of a problem with crossposting
   that many readers simply kill [don't read] articles that are
   crossposted to more than a few groups or, sometimes, crossposted at
   all, so a lot of people won't even see your article if you leave the
   extraneous groups in.
   If you simply must reply to a heavily crossposted article and have
   your article appear in all the groups the previous article was posted
   to, you also have the option of listing just the relevant groups in
   the "Followup-To:" line of the header; that way responses to your
   article will show up just in the newsgroups you list and you'll annoy
   fewer readers, since even if they think your article is inappropriate
   for the group they're reading, at least you'll look like you're making
   some effort to be considerate of other groups.
   What else can I do to improve my ASCII appearance? 
   Any article posted to will be read by many, many thousands
   of people across the world who will be basing their impressions of you
   as a person entirely on the messages you post, so it's worthwhile to
   make sure your messages are clear and readable. Probably the single
   most common mistake is not putting in carriage returns when they are
   needed, either typing in an entire paragraph or message in a single
   line (which looks sloppy, is difficult to quote properly, and may be
   truncated by some offline readers) or only putting in a return after
   more than 80 columns (which looks even worse, since on most systems
   this will show up as alternating full lines and really short lines).
   Most of the time, it's best to limit your lines to no more than 72
   columns, which leaves enough extra space that they will still be
   easily readable even when quoted a time or two. Even if your system
   can handle reformatting messages so they look nice anyway, remember
   that most systems don't do this and, if you aren't careful with
   inserting carriage returns, your messages will be harder to read by
   Other obvious elements like correct spelling, punctuation, and grammar
   help make your message more readable too (and will make you all the
   more likely to generate positive responses rather than grammar
   flames). Another thing to avoid is typing in your messages in all-caps
   (LIKE THIS) which makes it seem like you're shouting--plus it makes it
   less likely that you'll be taken seriously, since the percentage of
   words in all-caps in a message has been linked in several studies to
   the psychoceramicity (crackpottedness) of the author.
   If you're replying to someone else's article, it helps to quote at
   least some of what the other article says, just so people have a
   better idea of what you're talking about. Delete any unnecessary
   quoted material, but leave in the attributions (the list of who said
   what) of any text that you do leave in. If you want to refer to
   another article explicitly, it's best to mention the message-ID of the
   article in question--don't tell your readers the number of the article
   on your system, because article numbers will be different on every
   What do these weird combinations of punctuation marks I see frequently
   in people's messages mean? 
   These are called "smileys" since the most common ones used are little
   pictograms representing a smiling face: ":-)". Because the net is
   inherently a text medium, it lacks many of the nuances of ordinary
   face-to-face conversation like facial expressions and tone of voice,
   so people try to make up for them in various ways, the most popular
   being the "smiley."
   Standard smileys include:

      :-)  :)    smile              8-)  B-)    smile w/ glasses
      ;-)        wink               :->         ironic/lecherous smile
      :-(        sad/unhappy        :-O         surprise

   There's an ongoing debate as to whether smileys are a good thing or a
   bad thing; some people like to use them whenever possible, others feel
   that writing should stand on its own without having to point out
   whether something was supposed to be funny or not.
   You'll also note unrepentant programmer types adding variants of C
   compiler directives to their posts or use parodies of HTML tags to
   clue you in on the deep, inner feelings that lurk beneath the facade
   of their words. For example:


                                <VOICE="Bela Lugosi">Good Eeevening</VOICE>

   In general, it should be pretty obvious even to the non-programmer
   what the writer means to convey with these directives.
   How do you pronounce "soc"? 
   There's no currently accepted standard. The currently most popular
   pronunciations are "soak," "sosh" (like in 'social'), "sock," and
   "soas" (as in "sociological"). The least popular pronunciations
   include "sach," "sick," and "throat-warbler mangrove." The IEEE and
   CCITT are jointly working on developing an international standard for
   the pronunciation of "soc" and expect that the first draft of the
   standard will be available some time near the end of the third quarter
   of 2011.
   What's a ".GIF", ".JPG" or ".MPG"? 
   GIF stands for "Graphics Interchange Format" and is a common format in
   which pictures are stored for display on a computer screen; when
   someone on mentions something that someone else would
   really like to have seen, the latter person may jokingly ask for a
   "GIF"--but even if you're asked for one, don't even think of posting
   it to, since they tend to be huge and are expressly
   forbidden on non-binaries groups. The same goes for .JPG or JPEG
   (another popular graphics format) and .MPG, MPEG, or .AVI (graphics
   formats for computer-displayed "movies.")
   Is there a World-Wide Web page for 
   Yes. Trygve Lode ( faq maintainer and lunatic) maintains a homepage at
   which is slowly being expanded as people give me suggestions for what
   they'd like to see there.
   Ross ridge maintains a page at
   Additionally, homepages for the Dallas Poker Mini-Boink and the
   DenverBoink are available at
     (courtesy of Thomas Russo; note that "DPMB" is in all-caps)
   If you're not familiar with the World-Wide Web, but would like to be,
   you may wish to check out the WWW FAQ on news.answers or ftp it from
   rtfm (/pub/usenet/news.answers/www/faq/part1 and part2).
   What, exactly, are "Disney Chemicals"? 
   "Disney Chemicals" refers to the hypothesized fizzy brain chemicals
   that can cause a person to believe in "happily ever afters," the
   impending appearance of the prince/princess of one's dreams on one's
   doorstep, and an eternity of true love and blissful togetherness.
   How do you pronounce "Trygve" 
   It's sorta like "TREEG-vah" except that the 'EE' is between a long e
   and a short i.
   How come nice guys don't get laid? 
   Nice guys do get laid; it's guys who whine a lot who generally don't.
   How come nice guys/gals/small furry creatures from Alpha Centauri get
   dumped for jerks/bimbos/hyperfungal Rigellian psuedoshoggoths? 
   Mostly for the same reasons jerks get dumped for nice guys, bimbos get
   dumped for other bimbos, and hyperfungal Rigellian pseudoshoggoths get
   rejected in favor of lesser Altairian shaggy-toothed carno-weeds. No
   matter how much more keenly you feel it when it happens to you than
   when it happens to someone else, the fact of the matter is that
   getting dumped/rejected/passed over in favor of others happens to
   pretty much everybody, no matter how nice or mean they happen to be.
   Remember, too, that your perception of someone you've just been dumped
   for is unlikely to match that of the person who just dumped you: most
   people tend to view their rivals through a jaundiced eye to begin
   with; your dumper's tastes, turn-ons, and values are rarely quite the
   same as yours; and it's likely that your rival will feel jealous of
   _you_, which tends to get in the way of your rival showing you his or
   her best side. It's also worth noting that the person who dumped you
   may be trying to make you feel better by emphasizing your rival's bad
   qualities and failing to mention the good ones, figuring that bubbling
   over about his or her wonderful new partner would only make you feel
   No matter why you've been dumped or whom you've been dumped for, the
   best advice is generally the same: take it in stride and get on with
   your life. There's always tomorrow and very few people have ever found
   love and happiness by pining away and moping.
   I met someone last week at a party; what do you think this person's
   deepest and innermost feelings for me are? 
   That's one of the most common questions new people ask on
   and, unfortunately, one of the most difficult ones to answer in any
   meaningful way. Trouble is, all people are different and what would
   mean something for one person is likely to mean something completely
   different for someone else--and if you have trouble figuring out
   someone you know and have first-hand experience with, imagine how
   difficult it can be for people who have never met this person and are
   dealing only with second-hand information to figure out what's on that
   person's mind. That doesn't mean you can't ask the other readers of what they think, but it does mean that you shouldn't take
   any advice you get too seriously or think of it as a substitute for
   actually talking to the person you're curious about.
   Is it possible for men and women to be just friends? 
   Yes; many people have friends of the opposite sex without ever having
   any sort of sexual relationship with them. This, of course, doesn't
   imply anything one way or the other as to whether you or any other
   given individual can really be "just friends" with a member of the
   opposite sex.
   Do conversations on the net ever blossom into torrid romances? 
   Yes; it's actually not even particularly unusual. Conversations over
   the net have the advantage of being a non-threatening way to get to
   know someone and, sometimes, if a person has managed to interest you
   through articles and/or e-mail and this person continues to interest
   you when you meet for real, well, all sorts of interesting things have
   been known to happen. However, this doesn't mean that simply by
   posting (even if you post an awful lot) you'll meet your dream mate;
   indeed, if it's obvious that you're posting for this reason, you'll
   tend to turn off most of the people who might otherwise be interested.
   So, basically, if you're open to finding a mate this way, the best
   thing to do is just to hang out and have a good time and if it
   happens, it happens--and if it doesn't, you'll at least have had a
   good time. (Strangely enough, there are even some folks who recommend
   this approach to mate-finding for real life as well.)
   What about personal ads? 
   Don't post them on
   Will this message ever end? 
   Well, it always has before.
   How about posting articles asking for readers to send postcards to a
   kid in England who is dying of cancer and wants to set the world
   record for most cards received before he dies? 
   No, don't do it. He's been cured, has asked many times for people to
   stop sending him cards, and thoroughly regrets ever having had the
   idea in the first place. The "Neiman Marcus $250 Cookie Recipe" story
   and the "Good Times Virus" are also well-known urban legends; if you
   want to read about them or, for some reason, write about them, the
   newsgroup alt.folklore.urban is devoted just to that subject. Two
   other good places to dig up the details on these and other urban
   legends are the San Fernando Valley Folklore Society's Urban Legend
   Reference Pages ( ) and the alt.folklore.urban
   archives ( ) .
   How come there are so many kooks on the net? 
   In a word, attention. It's an unfortunate fact of life that a turd in
   an art gallery gets a lot more attention than yet another Picasso.
   Getting people across the world to tell you that you're a disgusting
   twit seems like a strange thing to get turned on by, but obviously
   enough people out there derive sufficient enjoyment and satisfaction
   from it to keep the net well-stocked with fertilizer. Most net.kooks
   quickly find a few stock tactics that are sure to annoy enough people
   into responding that they can just sit back and repost the same stuff
   year after year and bask in all the attention it gets them with
   practically no effort on their part. Arguing with a net kook only
   provides further encouragement--if you want to keep all the Picassos
   from being replaced by wall-to-wall turds, the only effective approach
   is to ignore them until they go off in search of other people still
   naive enough to play the Pay-Attention-To-Meeee game.
   OK, we're getting near the end of the file now--what's this about
   "killfiles" that you promised to tell us about? 
   Most newsreaders have a provision for "killing" messages; that is,
   marking them as read before you get to them, so your newsreader then
   skips over them automatically instead of showing them to you. I'm
   going to discuss how to do this in rn and its derivatives (trn, etc.)
   but most other newsreaders should have similar capabilities (though
   the command syntax won't necessarily be identical). Topics are the
   easiest things to kill, as you need only type the 'k' key and all
   subsequent messages with that topic will be marked as read; you can
   also kill things in more complex ways by typing in a "regular
   expression" followed by ":j", telling the newsreader to "junk" (mark
   as read) all the articles that match that regular expression.
   Remember, you still can read the messages that have been marked as
   read if you want to, either by typing in the message number or by
   using the 'N' and 'P' commands to move to the next and previous
   messages rather than the 'n' and 'p' commands.
   A regular expression normally consists of a pair of '/'s with a
   pattern you'd like to match in the middle. For example, if you wanted
   to kill all messages whose topics included the word "banana" you could
   type in "/banana/:j" and hit a return (and it would list the numbers
   of the articles that were being junked--the topics "BananaSizeWar" and
   "vegemite and banana delight; mmmm-mmm" would be junked. The default
   is to check just the topic line and not differentiate between upper-
   and lower-case letters; that is, it wouldn't matter whether the topic
   had the word "banana" or "bAnAnA" in it. If you want it to be case
   sensitive and select "bAnAnA" but not "Banana", a 'c' should be placed
   after the trailing slash: "/bAnAnA/c:j". You can also have your
   newsreader check more than just the topic line--adding an 'h' after
   the trailing slash makes the newsreader check the entire header
   (allowing you to kill messages by a given author and/or from a
   particular site) and adding an 'a' will check the whole article; thus,
   "/grunting/a:j" would mark every article containing the word
   "grunting" as read. (And, of course, this may be combined with the 'c'
   option so that "/Grunting/ca:j" would kill off only those articles in
   which "Grunting" is capitalized.)
   You can also type in an expression like this without the ":j" at the
   end, in which case it will simply locate and display the article that
   matches the pattern. Using question marks ("?") instead of slashes
   will make it search backwards instead of forwards and the "r" option
   makes it scan articles that you've already read. Thus, if you were
   trying to find the article in which somebody mentioned something about
   the use of badger dung as an aphrodesiac, you could type in "?badger
   dung?ar" for it to search all preceding articles for a mention of
   badger dung; if you want it to mark all the articles that mention
   badger dung as unread, you can type in "?badger dung?ar:m"
   Kill commands like those above may be placed in a file where they will
   be performed automatically when you read a group. This file goes in a
   directory off your News directory corresponding to the group name and
   the default name for this file is KILL (note capitals). Thus, the
   killfile for would be
     [your home directory]/News/soc/singles/KILL
   Hitting a 'K' will not only kill the topic you're reading, but also
   add a command to kill that topic in future sessions to your killfile
   for that group, creating it if it doesn't exist, even creating the
   directories to put it in if necessary. While this is the easiest way
   to add to a killfile, it is also generally the least useful, since
   most topics do die or change after a while, but unless you edit that
   line out of your killfile, it will continue to live in there, eating
   up processor time and generally slowing everything down whenever you
   read that group. In general, keeping your killfiles to a minimum is a
   good approach, especially if you are sharing a computer with other
   users who don't like the system bogging down any more than you do.
    A few examples:
   killing messages from
          /^From: *beavis@butthead\.edu/h:j
   killing messages cross-posted from alt.boring.prattle:
   killing messages crossposted to three or more groups:
   killing all messages that even mention hairballs:
   You'll notice that I used a few strange characters up there: these are
   characters that have special meaning when used in an expression like
   one of these: '^' indicates the beginning of a line so that the first
   example will only consider lines that begin with "from:"; '.' is a
   single-character wildcard that will match any character (that's why
   when we really want a '.', we have to precede it with a '\' as we've
   done in the above examples); and '*' means that the pattern should
   match an arbitrary number of characters matching the character
   immediately before it in the expression (in the first example, you can
   see that we use it to allow there to be an arbitrary number of spaces
   between "From:" and "beavis" and in the second example, we've used it
   after the '.' wildcard so that there can be an arbitrary number of
   characters of any kind between "Newsgroups:" and "alt"). More about
   regular expressions and killfiles can be found by typing "man rn" and
   "man ed" at your Unix prompt.
   Is there any copyright on this FAQ? 
   Yep; the entire contents of this FAQ is written and maintained by
   Trygve Lode ( and is (c) Copyright 2000. Feel free to
   copy, transmit, and distribute this FAQ in unmodified form for any
   not-for-profit use in any medium you desire (electronic, print,
   interpretive dance, etc.). If you wish to include all or part of the
   FAQ in any for-profit publication or in connection with any for-profit
   service or wish to distribute a modified version of the FAQ for any
   purpose, get ahold of me for any necessary arrangements. (Even if
   you're going to distribute it for non-profit use, you may wish to get
   ahold of me anyway, just to make sure you have the most up-to-date
   version available.)
   Are you sure I can't post personals on 
   Yes, completely sure. Don't even think about it.
                                             Back to The base of the tree
Trygve Lode, president, Nyx Net, public access internet
Misc.Fitness.Weights FAQ and homepage: FAQ:  | "To be or not to be 
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Last Update March 27 2014 @ 02:12 PM