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ALL: Monthly FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) Part 1/4

( Part1 - Part2 - Part3 - Part4 )
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See reader questions & answers on this topic! - Help others by sharing your knowledge
Archive-name: tv/soaps/faq/part1
Posting-Frequency: monthly
Last-modified: 1999/06/11

Changes since last posting -  ADDED section on Microsoft Outlook Express

                     This FAQ is formatted as a digest.
                Most news readers can skip from one question
                     to the next by pressing control-G.

Following is a list of helpful hints and posting information. All
new readers of* are encouraged to read the 
FAQs, which are posted monthly.  They are also available through 
anonymous ftp from under 
/pub/usenet/news.answers/tv/soaps/faq/part1 thru part 4, 
or send email to with any or all of:
	send usenet/news.answers/tv/soaps/faq/part1
	send usenet/news.answers/tv/soaps/faq/part2
	send usenet/news.answers/tv/soaps/faq/part3
	send usenet/news.answers/tv/soaps/faq/part4
in the body of the message.  Send comments, corrections, additions to me, 
questions to the newsgroup (I don't know everything and can't answer 
everything). THANKS.

These instructions/questions are broken up into the following sections:
Part I: Subject line and Newsreaders
1.  The Subject Line 
2.  Special Abbreviations
3.  KILL Files (rn, trn, nn, and tin)
4.  readnews Information
5.  vn Information 
6.  vnews Information
7.  ANU news Information
8.  netnews Information
9.  Cleveland Freenet Information
10. gnus Newsreader Information
11. Outlook Express Information

Part II: Other soap resources on the internet
12. Soap mailing lists
13. WWW (World Wide Web) pages pertaining to soaps
14. Is there an ftp archive for* from which I can 
    retrieve past posts?

Part III:  rats*-specific questions
15. What does [acronym] stand for?
16. Where's such-and-such an update?
17. Can I borrow a tape of so-and-so episode?
18. Why doesn't each show have its own newsgroup?
19. Do the soap writers/actors read*?

Part IV:  Technical questions
20. How to post via email
21. Signature files
22. Spoiler protection (Ctrl-L usage)
23. How can you get the text of previous posts into your own post? (Quoting)
24. Retrieving lost articles/replies
25. Inappropriate posts (ie advertisements, trolls)
26. Pointers to more information for new posters (and old!)

First major hint - if you use trn or rn to read your news, type h for help.
Read the instructions. They really do help.

Second major hint - There are a lot of different ways of reading and 
responding to news, and tons of different editors.  For operating 
details, ask the sys or news admin at your own site for the best 
source of accurate information.  
Part I: Subject line and Newsreaders

Subject: 1.  The Subject Line: 
	     (this applies to everyone who posts in these groups)

Whenever you post about a specific soap, please put the standard
soap abbreviation in the beginning of the subject line.  Be sure that if
you are replying to another post, you check the subject line. If the 
original poster has inadvertently omitted the abbreviation - add it!
WARNING:  Microsoft Internet News will often *delete* the abbreviation
in the subject line. 

The complete list of soap abbreviations can be found in the monthly
posting *** REC.ARTS.TV.SOAPS POSTING GUIDELINES ***.  If it is no
longer available on your system, you can retrieve it from the archives 
by sending mail to with 
"send usenet/news.answers/tv/soaps/abbrevs" in the body of the message.

If you have a general comment (not specific to one soap, like the soap 
opera awards or the soap opera magazine) you can just indicate the 
subject in the subject line (or use "ALL", "ABC", etc. in the subject line).

If you reply to a post which is a general comment, don't change the subject 
line for no reason. For example:

some one posts:
>Subject: ALL: Soap Opera Digest - comments

...and some one will reply:
>Subject: ALL: More Comments on Soap Opera Digest

Don't do this!

The reason for all these rules has to do with the way the KILL file works.
(Sorry! I only know how to do this if you use rn or trn to read your news.)

In the rn, trn, and nn news programs, you can set up a KILL file to 
automatically delete articles of a given Subject. The KILL file is 
explained in section 3 below.

Subject: 2.  Special Abbreviations - to be used after the soap 
             abbreviation in the Subject line.

[Soap-Abbreviation]: SPOILER
Many of the soap subgroups have adopted this abbreviation to indicate 
that the article contains spoilers that may have been obtained from the 
soap magazines or anywhere else besides the show itself. Make sure you 
use this if you reply to articles with spoilers, or if you mention 
spoilers you have heard on the net!  And PLEASE don't put spoiler 
information in the subject line itself (like "Adam & Brooke leaving 
AMC!") - some people try to avoid reading spoilers, so they can be 
surprised by the show.  

This abbreviation need not be used once the show has aired, but if you 
intend to post on the same day your show airs, please put the date of 
the show in your subject line so that people who tape & watch after 
work can still be surprised.

[Soap-Abbreviation]: TAN
Many of the soap subgroups have adopted the TAN abbreviation (short for 
TANgent) to indicate that the article contains personal comments, not 
necessarily related to the soap. This way if you are not interested in 
hearing about how many cats a person has, etc., you can put this subject 
in your kill file (explained below).

[Soap-Abbreviation]: [FAC, FAWC, FOC, FGC, FDOC, FSC, or FYRC]
Several of the soap subgroups have recently adopted the above
abbreviations to denote when they are talking "in character".  For
example, if a poster is "FAC Dixie" (Favorite AMC Character Dixie),
and they want to post as if they really _were_ Dixie, they would use
the abbreviation "AMC: FAC" in the subject line.  FOC = Favorite OLTL
Character; FGC = Favorite General Hospital Character; FDOC = Favorite
DOOL Character; FAWC = Favorite Another World Character; FSC =
Favorite Sisters Character; FYRC = Favorite Young & Restless
Character.  F*C originated from rec.arts.disney's FDC (Future Disney
Cabinet), and was introduced on r.a.t.s. by Ashley Lambert-Maberly.

Subject: 3.  KILL Files: - for rn, trn, nn, and tin users

In rn & trn, the easiest way to start a KILL file is, whenever you see 
an article that you aren't interested in, to type

[Shift] K

The subject will then automatically go into a local KILL file. If the KILL 
file doesn't already exist, one will be created. Then any time an article 
with that subject comes up, it will automatically be deleted.

"nn" users can also type [Shift]-K, which takes you through the process
of deciding whether you want to kill or auto-select, do it to the subject
or name of the poster, how long to kill/select, and what exact words or
which post you would like it applied to.

tin users can create and add to a kill file by pressing ^K, and
"filling in" the online form.

Here is a complete KILL file: WARNING!! This will delete all soaps! 
You will want to make sure you DON'T include the abbreviations for the
soaps that you want to see articles about.

NOTE - the description in () should NOT be included in the KILL file. It
is only for your reference.

/: *30/:j	(Thirty Something)
/alt.flame/h:j	(in response to a rash of posts that came from alt.flame)
/: *AMC/:j	(All My Children)
/: *ATWT/:j	(As the World Turns)
/: *AW/:j	(Another World)
/: *B&B/:j	(Bold and Beautiful)
/: *BB/:j	(sometimes used for Bold and Beautiful)
/: *B & B/:j	(sometimes used for Bold and Beautiful)
/: *BH/:j	(Beverly Hills 90210)
/: *CITY:/:j	(The City [previously "Loving"] - now cancelled)
/: *COR/:j	(Coronation Street)
/: *DAL/:j	(Dallas)
/: *Dark/:j	(Dark Shadows)
/: *DOOL/:j	(Days of Our Lives)
/: *DAYS/:j	(sometimes used for Days of Our Lives - DOOL is
preferred, tho, because it's not a real word (and thus better for killfiles))
/: *EE/:j	(East Enders)
/: *GEN/:j	(Generations)
/: *GH/:j	(General Hospital)
/: *GL/:j	(Guiding Light)
/: *HDR/:j	(used for orphan posts which need the proper soap abb. added)
/: *HF/:j	(Home Front)
/: *KL/:j	(Knots Landing)
/: *LA/:j	(LA Law)
/: *LGO/:j	(Life Goes On)
/: *LOV/:j	(Loving - now cancelled)
/: *LUV/:j	(sometimes used for Loving - now cancelled)
/: *MP/:j	(Melrose Place)
/: *OJ/:j	(OJ-trial - a RealLife "soap")
/: *OLTL/:j	(One Life to Live)
/: *PC/:j	(Port Charles)
/: *PF/:j	(Picket Fences)
/: *PP/:j	(Pacific Palisades)
/: *RW3/:j	(Real World - 3rd iteration)
/: *SANDS/:j	(Shifting Sands - the net.soap.)
/: *SAV/:j	(Savannah)
/: *SB/:j	(Santa Barbara - now cancelled)
/: *SC/c:j	(Swan's Crossing or Second Chances)
/: *SIS/c:j	(Sisters)
/: *SUBE/:j	(Sunset Beach)
/: *SOAP/:j	(Soap)
/: *Y&R/:j	(Young and Restless)
/: *Y & R/:j	(sometimes used for Young and Restless)

You can edit the KILL file by typing:

[Ctrl] k

while you are in the news.

If the file gets too big it will take too long to go through. You will
want to keep only the first word in the KILL file. For example, if an 
article with  the Subject "GH - Tuesday's Update" appears and you are
not interested in General Hospital, type [Shift] K, and:

/: *GH - Tuesday's Update/:j

will be put in the KILL file. Then type [Ctrl] k, and edit the file to say:

/: *GH/:j

Then all the General Hospital articles will be deleted the next time you
read news.

Some people have told me that they need to put a back-slash (\) in
front of characters "&" and "." in their kill files to get them to
work properly.  Also, some people use "/c:j" to make the KILL
case-sensitive.  Your mileage may vary.

To learn more about KILL files, send email to 
with "send usenet/news.answers/killfile-faq" in the body of the message.

Subject: 4.  readnews Information

On my particular system, I have both "rn" and "readnews" available. You might 
want it see if you have "rn" available. I like "rn" much better; I will 
explain why in the following paragraphs.

To find out what is available, look at the man pages.
Type: "man readnews" and "man rn"
This will also give you a lot of interesting information.

If "rn" is not available, or if you like "readnews" better, there is a
function that is similar to the KILL file in "readnews". Instead of KILLing
articles of a given subject, you read only articles with a given subject(s). 

For example, on my system, if you read All My Children, One Life to Live, and
Generations, type:

readnews -t OLTL AMC GEN

Rita sent email to me (thanks Rita) indicating that her system works 
slightly differently from mine. She would have to type:

readnews -n -t OLTL AMC GEN

This way you would not have to go through all the articles about the other

The only problem is, if someone doesn't use the standard soap abbreviation,
or if there is a different subject, like "Soap Opera Digest Awards" then
you would miss the article. That's why I like "rn" better.

In "rn", I KILL all the standard soap abbreviations except for those I read
(AMC and GEN). That way, I get everything except the other soaps, instead of
only my soaps.

Try reading the man page and experimenting. If you figure anything else out,
let me know, and I will share the info with everyone else when I post the 
"FAQ" info each month.

[The above section was probably written by Sandra Macika.  If you positively
know who wrote it, please email me:  Rita Prisco
( also contributed to the above section.]

Subject: 5.  vn Information

Hi, I am Dorothy.  I thought I was the only person who was using VN instead 
of RN.  Nothing anybody ever said on the NET about using RN made any sense 
to me because VN is -different- -- KILL FILES meant nothing to me, at least 
how to get them to work.  So I read through the pitifully inadequate DOC 
that came with the VISUAL NEWS READER (2/1/85) to see if I could find 
something that would make reading the news easier and more fun and most of 
all FASTER.  I found the "marker method" which took a long time to figure 
out, but I use it all the time now and it has made VN a pleasure instead 
of a pain.  I will try to describe it so will make sense to you.  It isn't
easy putting things like this into words.

Say you are in with your cursor at the beginning article.  
If you are like me, you only care about two or three soaps -- mine are AMC, 
OLTL, and GH.  I also like to read through the misc. ramblings -- they are 
fun, too.  Use the small j to run through the group of articles.  When you 
come to one you want to read, hit the small x.  This will put a * beside the 
article.  Keep doing this until you have everything you want to read marked 
with the *.  Next step is to press [Ctrl] r -- the program will prompt you 
with words like string to search?  Type in an * and hit Return.  Your VN 
reader will only present you with the articles you have selected, one by one
in order.  If you make a boo-boo and mark the wrong article simply hit small 
x again and it will unmark it.  A capital X will unmark all articles.  I 
suppose you know this already but if you do a small k, it will move the cursor 
backwards to an article you may have missed marking the first time.  You do 
*not* have to unmark to update the entire page.  It took me awhile to "get 
into the rhythm" of the process, but it is second nature now and gets me 
through the reading in a fraction of time it used to take.  I hope this works 
for you as well.  I am sure as hell no computer programmer so I didn't 
understand KILL files or any of that stuff, but this works just great for me.  

Don't hesitate to E-mail me back.  I am sure no expert, but if I can help at 
all, I would be glad to hear from you.
                       |       Dorothy (Dot)       |
                       | |

Subject: 6.  vnews Information

Hi.  Are you using VNEWS?  If so, this is what you have to do to filter
out soaps in which you aren't interested.  (I find it easiest to do a "d" 
first, and get the directory of the whole group.  It makes the rest of it 
run faster.)

At the command prompt, type: k/whatever subject you do not want to read.  
It must be a lower case k. (Another r.a.t.s.-er has noted that you can
use an upper case K if you want to "KILL" a subject permanently.)

Do this for each soap in which you are not interested.  For me, that means 
I do:

k/amc <CR>   (where <CR> means I hit the return key.  NOT THE
k/y&r <CR>
k/oltl, etc., etc. (E Grace Noonan)

Subject: 7.  ANU news Information

Here's information on the killfile for ANU News on the VAX/VMS system:

To see what subjects/threads are already in your killfile, type SHOW KILL.

To kill a subject thread, type KILL.  It will prompt you for a newsgroup; 
hit return.  It will add that subject to your killfile in a manner that 
looks like this:  (using "Pure Soap: Did you see it?" as an example)

	TAG: 1 S:*Pure Soap: Did you see it?

The * means that any post with those words and ANYTHING before it will be
killed; that is how it gets rid of all of the RE: reply posts.  To make 
it so you can kill ALL "Pure Soap" articles, you would type MODIFY KILL 1 
(or if the TAG is number 6, you would use MODIFY KILL 6).  It then prompts 
you to edit the kill:

	newsgroup: (hit return)
	Subject: *Pure Soap: Did you see it? (you edit this part)

What you do here is use delete or backspace to erase the line until it just
lists Pure Soap, then you add another * at the end, to kill ANY post relating
to Pure Soap: (To kill the subject header for all messages for one soap, 
the kill filter will have to be edited down to *soapabbreviation*.)

	Subject: *Pure Soap* (now when it looks like that you hit return)

It will also prompt for Header and From, but you won't really need those...

To effectively kill all of the articles tagged, you then type 
READ/NEW/FOLLOWUP (or READ/NEW - tho sometimes this won't work for
filtering - I don't know why) when you want to read your messages.  You 
still will have the messages available on your account, but using 
READ/NEW/FOLLOWUP will skip them and list them as having been read.  
Try NumKey "0" for READ/NEW and NumKey "." for READ/NEW/FOLLOWUP
Got it?  :)

If you decide you want to read the Pure Soap articles again, just type CLEAR
KILL 1 (or 6 or 37 or whatever) and when you READ/NEW/FOLLOWUP it will once
again read those articles for you.  A separate kill tag must be set up for
each soap/subject that you want to kill.

For information on how to quote text, see section 22 in this FAQ.

Good luck!

[thanks to Kate, formerly of]

Subject: 8.  netnews Information

Hello!  I've been a lurker and occasional poster on RATS for a few
months now.  I've read the FAQ's and found some of the info quite 
helpful (I now know what A&Dw/SOM means!)  However, I use netnews 
to read RATS and, as far as I know, I can't use a Kill file.  I 
can create something called an ignore file, but this just excludes 
posts from certain people, not posts about certain subjects.  What 
does help is a function key called "SortSubj".  (It's F14 on my 
keyboard.)  This sorts all the articles by subject and makes
it a lot easier to find the articles I want to read (mostly AMC, and
the ALL, ABC, etc. articles.)

Also on netnews I can search for articles I want to read by typing
a slash followed by a word that might appear in the subject heading
of articles that I would want to read, for example: /AMC. 

I'm not sure if everyone using netnews is offered these features.  I
would suggest checking the help screens to find out if you do have 
the "SortSubj." function.  

(Thanks to Diana Kiel for writing the above section)

Subject: 9.  Cleveland Freenet information

This is information gathered from some of the Cleveland Freenet users,
who do not have killfiles.  If you're on a different Freenet, these
hints may or may not work for you. For information on how to quote text, 
see section 22 in this FAQ. 

There is a "File Kill" area at the top of Usenet News (where you 
chose Usenet News (read)), but that only kills messages from a 
person's ID that you don't wish to read, not a subject.  However, 
after reading a post, at the prompt you can type "k" and it will 
put "R" in front of all older posts that you're not interested in, 
marking them as read.  You can pull up headers and choose what you 
want to read.  "-" goes to the previous screen, and "+" pulls up 
the next screen.

Here's an example of how to read the posts for one soap (GH):
Find the first GH post, type in the number, and read it.  Then you 
can either answer it or hit "s" (search) to read all articles in 
the same thread. When you're told that there aren't any related 
posts left, hit "k" to kill all the GH posts you read plus all 
posts older than that.  No other KILL works. Then you must hit 
either the next number or "+" to go to the next page. 

If you have been reading all of the posts in a thread, and are 
tired of reading that thread and don't want to read any more 
postings for the same thread, press "z" (for "zap#.)  This will 
mark all of the rest of the postings in this thread as having 
been read, and will return you to the first posting of the thread. 
(Word of warning!!!  this can cause the access to usenet to abort
in Youngstown Freenet, but it works fine in Cleveland Freenet)

Here's another method someone on the Cleveland Freenet uses:
If you type in a slash key, that is the command for search.  You
will be prompted for a search string, and then you will be able to
read a post matching that string.  From then on in, you type
<slash> <return>, then <return> again (the search string you put
in before stays as current search string).  SO if you want to read
AMC posts, you would type "/ <CR>"  then "AMC <CR>".  Then read
the post, or type "/ <CR> <CR>" to go to the next one.  Then when
you are done you can type z to zap up to the current post as read.

(Thanks to Dan Galvin, Beverly Harris, Rick Kitchen, and Brenda

Subject: 10. gnus Newsreader Information

(Written by John P. Mann,

Due to the lack of information on the gnus news reader in the FAQ, I
thought it would be useful to post this information.  I figured out
how to only read the articles with certain Subject(s).  Instead of
using the standard gnus KILL file format:

(gnus-kill "Subject" "AMC")
(gnus-kill "Subject" "Y&R")
(gnus-expunge "X")

Use the following format which marks all articles to be killed, and
unmarks only the ones you want to read:

(gnus-kill "Subject" "")
(gnus-kill "Subject" "GL" "^[U")
(gnus-kill "Subject" "ALL" "^[U")
(gnus-expunge "X")

The tricky part is getting the escape key (^[) into the file.  This
depends on the editor you are using.  For emacs you just type Ctrl-Q
and then hit the escape key.  For vi, you use Ctrl-v instead.  I
assume that any gnus user is in emacs, so those two editors should be
sufficient for everybody.

I find this method much nicer, because I don't have to sift through
ridiculous posts about gays in the military, etc...  I feel missing
a few GL posts because the poster didn't include GL in the subject 
is a small price to pay.

By the way, in case someone doesn't know how to use KILL files in
emacs, just look in the info pages of emacs.  The KILL file generally
goes in your News directory and is named
You can edit it while reading news by typing Esc-k (also known as

Subject: 11. Outlook Express Information

(Written by "ElmerCat" <>)

OutlookExpress (v5) has very powerful features for filtering messages, 
but it took a bit of setting up to get the results I wanted:

First, Create a new message rule to ignore the soaps you are not 
interested in:

1) - From the "Tools" menu, select "Message Rules" - "News"
2) - Press "New"
3) - In the first list-box, check the item "Where the Subject line 
	contains specific words"
4) - In the second list-box, check the item "Mark the message as 
	Watched or Ignored"
5) - In the #3 text-box, click on the highlighted "specific words".
6) - Enter as many soap prefixes as desired for the soaps you are not
	interested in. (e.g.: If you don't like Guiding Light or 
	As The World Turns, enter: "Gl:", "GL-" and "ATWT". Do not enter 
	just "GL" because it will ignore any "GL" in the subject 
	such as: "Glad Cricket changed her hair")
7) - Also, in the #3 text-box, click on "watched or ignored".
8) - Select the option to "ignore".
9) - Give the rule a name in #4 text-box such as: "Ignore Undesirable
10) - Press "Apply Now", select your new rule and press "Apply Now".

Next, define a new custom view to hide ignored messages.:

1) from the "Views" menu, select "Current View" - "Define Views".
2) - Press "New"
3) - In the #1 list-box, check the item: "Where the message is Watched or
4) - In the #2 text-box, click on "watched or ignored".
5) - Select the option: "ignore".
6) - Also, in the #2 text-box, click on "show/hide".
7) - Select the option: "hide".
8) - Give the custom view a name in #3 text-box such as: "Hide Ignored
9) - Select the new view and press "Apply View".

As you read the newsgroup and encounter undesireable messages that have
slipped through your filtering, don't have the proper soap prefix or that
you just don't want to see, tag them as "Ignored" by clicking twice on the
"Watch/Ignore" field so that the "no-entry" symbol appears. Newly ignored
messages will not automatically disappear from the message list. To hide
them, switch to the "Show All Messages" view and then back to the "Hide
Ignored Messages" view. As you can see when setting this up, there are many
other things that Message Rules can do to customize how the newsgroup
appears to you. If anyone is having trouble with this or would like more
information I will be glad to help.

BE AWARE:  Microsoft Outlook Express often strips the abbreviations in
the subject line (ie AMC, GL) - to get around this, you must add the
abbreviations back in before you hit "Post."

compilation copyright 1994-1999, Margaret D. Gibbs.  Use and 
copying of this information are permitted as long as (1) no fees 
or compensation are charged for use, copies or access to this 
information, and (2) this copyright notice is included intact.

Margaret D. Gibbs		"Practice random kindness and 		 senseless acts of beauty"

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