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REPOST: Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ); monthly posting

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Archive-name: singles-faq
Posting-Frequency: biweekly
Last-modified: 2000/08/14
Version: 3.0
Maintainer: trygve lode ( )

See reader questions & answers on this topic! - Help others by sharing your knowledge
     FAQ (long version)
   maintained by Trygve Lode ( )
   Last-modified: 2000.08.14

the current version is available at 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
          Not That There's Anything Wrong With IT
          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 Kink Is OK
          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
   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
          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 confused.
   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
   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
          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 discussions.
          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
          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 already.
          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 conversations. 

          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 better.
          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 things.
   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
     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
   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 others.
          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 system.
   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
   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
   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
   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 worse.
          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
   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
   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'
          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.
pics: [     Trygve Lode       ]
music video and mp3s: [ ] FAQ       [ Nyx Net, free ISP  ]  Misc.Fitness.Weights page  [ ]

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