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

( Part1 - Part2 - Part3 - Part4 )
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Archive-name: tv/soaps/faq/part4
Posting-Frequency: monthly
Last-modified: 1999/06/18

See reader questions & answers on this topic! - Help others by sharing your knowledge
Changes since last posting - post via email section - doesn't work any more???

                     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.

The following sections are covered in Part 4 (of 4):

Part IV:  Technical questions
20. How to post via email
21. Signature files
22. Spoiler protection 
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!)

Part IV:  Technical questions

Subject: 20.  How to post via email: 

Due to the levels of abuse, there do not appear to be any more
general Usenet News MailServers available.  However, Steven
Harding has graciously set up a mail-to-news gateway for _only_ the
r.a.t.s.* newsgroups.  To use it, mail your posts to    to post to    to post to
and   to post to

Please do not use this service if you have other posting access to
the Usenet, and please remember to put the Soap Abbreviation in your
subject line.


Subject: 21.  Signature files

How do I get the news software to include a signature with my postings?  
[from Gene Spafford's postings in news.announce.newusers, with info on
Waffle systems from Steve Harding]

This is a question that is best answered by examining the documentation 
for the software you're using, as the answer varies depending on the software.

However, if you're reading news on a Unix machine, then you can probably 
get a signature to appear on your outgoing messages by creating a file 
called ".signature" in your home directory.  Two important things to 
remember are:

     a. Many article-posting programs will restrict the length of the
        signature.  For example, the "inews" program will often only
        include the first four lines.  This is not something you
        should be trying to find a way to defeat; it is there for
        a reason.  If your signature is too long, according to the
        software, then shorten it.

     b. Under some news configurations, your .signature file must be
        world-readable, and your home directory world-executable, for
        your signature to be included correctly in your articles.  If
        your .signature does not get included, try running these
           chmod a+x $HOME
           chmod a+r $HOME/.signature

If you are posting from a MS-DOS machine running Waffle, create a file
called "newssig" in your home directory.  Leave FEEDBACK to your sysop
if you have problems.

Signatures are nice, but don't overdo it.  Signatures can tell the world
something about you, but keep them short.  A signature that is longer
than the message itself is considered to be in bad taste.  The main
purpose of a signature is to help people locate you, not to tell your
life story.  Every signature should include at least your return
address relative to a major, known site on the network and a proper
domain-format address.   Your system administrator can give this 
information to you.  

Subject: 22.  Spoiler protection

Sometimes people get advance notice of what's going to happen on a soap.
Some people like reading these spoilers; others would rather be surprised.
If you're going to post a spoiler, it's a good idea to protect the
information with 20 lines of blank space, as well as by putting
"SPOILER" in the subject line.  The blank space will allow newsreaders
to stop displaying text in the post, until the reader intervenes.

If you're following up to a post with spoiler space, remember to
keep it in!  And if you're following up to a post with a spoiler that
*isn't* protected by blank space, please add it to any response you
might make.

Subject: 23. How can you get the text of previous posts into your own post?

All newsreaders are different, but if you use "rn" or "trn", 
type a capital "F" to follow-up to a post with quoting turned on.
Then edit the file to add your responses.  (Anyone know if other
newsreaders handle follow-ups this way?)  Tin uses a small "f" for
follow-ups; this also duplicates the text of the post being 
followed-up.  "nn" uses a small "f" for follow-ups, and you're asked
whether or not you want to include text from the original post.

If you're using ANU news, answer/extract/edit is the command to use
(or reply/extract/edit if you want to just reply to the poster rather
than posting yourself).

On the Youngstown & Cleveland Freenet, choose an editor, like Chet's
editor or vi, before you go into Usenet News.  You choose an editor
by simply typing "go edit", which gives you a menu of the editors
available.  Then, when reading a post, if you want to followup,
type "q" to quit the post, then "f" to followup.  This automatically
throws you into vi (for example), with all of the old post set with
">"s on the leftmost margin.  You then have to edit out those
portions you don't want to reply to, and use the vi commands to
insert text at the points where you do want to reply.

If you're on AOL you can quote by doing the following:  (1) Highlight
the material you want to include; (2) Select copy from the edit menu;
(3) Click on "Reply to Group"; (4) Select paste from the edit menu.
The author information gets automatically appended this way (plus,
of course, the text selected).

If you're using WebTV you can fake quoting by using the cut-copy-paste
commands.  (This info, plus more details, can be found at the web site
Cmd-A highlights the entire page (actually, in certain
situations it will highlight somewhat less than all the text on
the screen). Cmd-C copies whatever was highlighted to your terminal's
temporary memory, but always leaves the highlighted text right where
you found it. Cmd-X cuts the highlighted text if you're in a typing
area, such an e-mail or newsgroup posting screen. If you use Cmd-X on
a received e-mail or a viewed newsgroup post, it will only copy the
text, the same as Cmd-C. Cmd-V pastes the previously copied or cut
text, anywhere you would have been able to type (into an e-mail or
post writing screen, for example).  After using cut-copy-paste,
to make it look like other quoted text you'll still need to break
up the paragraphs into single lines of text with a hard Return at
the end (making them non-wrapping), and a > character before the
beginning of the text of each line. Many e-mail and newsreader
programs do this reformatting automatically, WebTV doesn't have
this feature at this point.

When quoting from previous posts, please remember to edit out
everything from the quoted article - including the quoted person's 
signature - except the points you're replying to.  It's nice to 
see a *little* of a previous article for a reminder, but many of 
us have already read the whole thing before, and don't need to read 
it all over again.  It can be extremely annoying to see a page or 
more of quoted text, and then only two original lines at the end 
of the article.  If you don't know how to use your editor, ask 
someone at your site.

(Thanks to Bonniev Sculler, Rick Kitchen, Lynelle Foulk, Paul Halley,
Nancy Bachman, and MollyMolo)

Subject: 24. Retrieving lost articles/replies

Have you ever typed a long summary or reply and somehow blew it (hit the
wrong key, system went down, aborted accidentally, etc)?  There is a way 
to retrieve your file, if you are on a Unix machine!  Look in any one 
of the following files - located in your home directory. 


Note that the latter two files will not be seen if you do a regular "ls".
To see files the begin with a ".", you must type "ls -a".

Subject: 25. Inappropriate posts (ie advertisements, trolls)


The* newsgroups are not an appropriate place for
commercial posts.  Some people (usually those who don't even read these
newsgroups) do it anyway.  Reporting these people to their Internet 
Service Provider (usually postmaster@their.domain, or if
it's an AOL account) will often help -  include a copy of the offending 
post if you do this.  If you feel you must follow-up to one of these 
posts, please edit out the commercial (especially the 900 numbers), 
so as not to continue the advertisement.  

A Word About Trolls:

From time to time posts pop up on usenet that are not exactly what they
seem.  These are usually called "trolls."  On r.a.t.s.*. they can be divided
into three broad categories:

1.  An individual posts something like this: "Soap operas suck.  People who
watch soap operas are stupid idiots who have no life."  Such posts often
contained numerous misspellings.  This is *bait.*  The person who posted it
is hoping to start an argument or provoke an indignant reply.  No matter
how cleverly you annihilate this person in such a reply, you will have
played his game by replying at all.  These people are often those who
have more internet access and time than brains or goodwill.  Your best bet
is to ignore them completely.

2.  A newbie will post to the group and make one or more egregious mistakes
that show s/he has not read the FAQ or lurked in the group for awhile before
posting.  Perhaps they will post a spoiler without any space, demand an
update, or otherwise reveal their ignorance of the way usenet and our
newsgroup work.  A gentle reminder to such a person will sometimes provoke 
an extremely hostile and defensive response, in which the newbie accuses the
group of being a "cabal," or an exclusive club with no consideration for the
ignorant.  Sometimes other newbies will rally to this one's defense.  These
people are not precisely trolls, but their immaturity can detract from our
enjoyment of r.a.t.s.*.  Your best bet is to email them a copy of the FAQ
and not get involved in any flamewars they start.

3.  The third type of troll is the most unpleasant and potentially
dangerous.  This is a true provocateur whose greatest desire is to start 
trouble, even if the troll him/herself gets immolated in flames.  Some
common tactics of troll type #3 are: to identify leaders/regular posters 
of the group and attack them personally; to challenge the long-standing
traditions of the group; to post wildly false "spoilers" or highly
controversial material that is only peripherally related to the subject
matter of the group and wait for the flames.  These people can make any
newsgroup a hellish place to hang out in.  The *only* way to deal with them
is to ignore them completely.  If you post a response to their bait, no
matter what it says, you will have satisfied their craving for attention.
If you email them, they will very likely start up an email correspondence
with you which may include veiled threats (e.g., "I know where you live"),
which should be reported to their Internet Service Provider.  Aside from
these threats, what they do is not illegal and there is no reason to try to
have them disciplined or to have their net access denied.  Your best bet is
to KILLFILE these posters, ignore them completely, never reply to them, and
never even refer to them in your posts, thus denying them the attention they

Thanks to Maggie Newman <> and

Subject: 26. Pointers to more information for new posters (and old!)

There is a lot more useful information available on the usenet network 
which is not contained in the scope of this FAQ.  

The news.announce.newusers newsgroup contains explanatory postings for 
new users.  Its purpose is to provide a base set of information with 
which all participants in the USENET should be familiar in order to make 
the USENET (and r.a.t.s.!) a better place for all of us.

If you have not already done so, you are strongly encouraged to read
these postings before posting any messages.  In particular, the following 
postings in news.announce.newusers are especially useful for new users:
        A Primer on How to Work With the Usenet Community
        Answers to Frequently Asked Questions
        Emily Postnews Answers Your Questions on Netiquette
        Hints on writing style for Usenet
        Rules for posting to Usenet
        What is Usenet?

The articles in news.announce.newusers are posted in such a way that
each version should stay around at each site until the new version is
posted.  However, some sites are configured incorrectly so that this
does not occur.  If the articles listed above do not appear in the
news.announce.newusers newsgroup at your site, you can get copies of
them using email.  Simply send an email message to containing any or all of:
send usenet/news.answers/usenet/primer/part1
send usenet/news.answers/usenet/faq/part1
send usenet/news.answers/usenet/emily-postnews/part1
send usenet/news.answers/usenet/writing-style/part1
send usenet/news.answers/usenet/posting-rules/part1
send usenet/news.answers/usenet/what-is/part1

Other good sources of information on the USENET network are the
newsgroups news.newusers.questions (be sure to read its weekly FAQ
before posting a question yourself), and
(for newsreader-specific questions).  Also, news.answers contains
most of the FAQ's posted to each newsgroup, including the soaps-faq
and soaps-abbrevs postings.  Happy hunting!

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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