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[misc.writing] Posting Guidelines FAQ (modified 5/2000)


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Archive-name: writing/misc-writing-guide
Posting-Frequency: monthly
Last-modified: 05/2000
URL: http://www.scalar.com/mw/

See reader questions & answers on this topic! - Help others by sharing your knowledge
MISC WRITING POSTING GUIDELINES

Welcome to the misc.writing newsgroup. This document is intended to
help you to understand how the group works, and to get the most out of
your participation in it, whether as a reader only or as a
contributor.

As you know, Usenet is divided into newsgroups according to subject.
Some groups adhere very rigidly to their subject, and you will hardly
see anything at all that is "off-topic". Others have evolved from
their original charter to allow a wide variety of discussion to take
place. Misc.writing is one of the latter groups, and people who come
here expecting to see *only* discussion about writing-related matters
are sometimes disappointed.

Misc.writing is first and foremost a newsgroup *for* writers, rather
than one only *about* writing.  And "writers" means anyone with a
serious (or even not so serious!) interest in writing. Although there
are many professional writers among MW's contributors, participation
is by no means limited to professionals. Everyone is welcome.

The group is a forum for writers to discuss matters of interest to
them, and it has been described as having a "cocktail party
atmosphere". So you may find people discussing politics, computers,
the antics of their pets, or just indulging in pleasant exchanges with
their on-line friends, in addition to the many and varied writing
topics. To those who consider such subjects to be off-topic, which
should not be discussed in a writing newsgroup, it should be pointed
out that everything posted here is seen through the eyes of a writer,
from a writer's point of view, and that it arises from an on-line
community of writers.

Many writers also find misc.writing to be a place to relax and unwind
after - or during - a hard day at the keyboard. This very important
function is perhaps best summed up in the following words of a
long-standing member of the MW community, Wendy Chatley Green, in
reply to someone who raised an issue about the nature of the
newsgroup.

********

"Let me explain it to you.  Writing is a very solitary activity.  We
sit at computers and craft sentences.  Some of us see only pets or
office walls all day--not people.  Since we work at home and the other
members of our families are at school or jobs, there is no one to talk
to, no one to interrupt our work, no one to ask us to stop for a cup
of coffee or lunch at the local cafe.

We get bored and fusty without companionship; we lose our edge. This
is why we love this newsgroup.  Pop in and there always is someone to
"converse" with.  At any time, there are many topics and posts, which
give reasons to ignore the boring tech paper, the stalled short story,
the percolating but not yet perfect poem.  Everyone needs a break and
misc.writing provides us one."

********

The community aspect of misc.writing should not be undervalued, as
many real-life friendships have arisen through people exchanging
opinions in this newsgroup. Real life meetings known as "wrevels"
are frequently held all over the world, and newsgroup participants
have a great chance to meet and get to know the people behind the
posts. It is therefore not helpful to demand that a group of
participants, many of whom have known each other for several years,
*only* discuss one subject, or refrain from discussing another
subject. It is very easy to ignore a thread in most newsreaders, or
even in extreme cases to message filter (killfile) a person whose
posts you do not enjoy reading. It's far better to do that than to
attempt to change the behaviour of others.

Some people find it helpful to use what are known as "tags" to make it
easier for readers to find certain kinds of posts in which they are
either specially interested, or which they want to avoid. These tags
are inserted at the beginning of a subject line and are usually
enclosed in <these> or [these]. The most commonly used ones are:

<WR> Writing related
<OT> Off topic
<URL> A useful Web link for writers
<MWV> MiscWritingVille (see below)


Someone not interested in posts which are not writing-related, for
instance, could skim through the subject headers to look for threads
marked <WR> and only read those threads. Similarly, they could mark
threads as read if they contain the <OT> tag. Use of tags is optional,
and they are by no means used by everyone. But if someone wanted to
make sure their writing related post was seen by people who only want
to read those posts, they could use the <WR> tag. But please don't
think that *only* posts marked <WR> contain writing information.

The issue of off-topic posts has been addressed, because they are
sometimes the subject of complaints by newcomers to the group. But of
course, misc.writing is the perfect newsgroup for the posting of any
and every kind of article about writing and writing-related matters.
You can be absolutely sure that any question you ask about writing
will be promptly and intelligently answered. Everyone is encouraged
to post any questions they may have and any discussion points they
wish to raise about writing. There are writers in the group with a
wealth of experience and knowledge, and they are more than willing to
share that knowledge and help others in any way they can. That's one
of the tremendous assets of this newsgroup.

Here are a few more tips to make your participation in misc.writing
more fruitful. Although writers may discuss a variety of topics of
interest to them in the newsgroup, there are still some rules to make
things run smoothly and to make participation a positive experience
for as many people as possible. Please note that misc.writing is an
unmoderated group, and that these rules cannot be enforced except by
peer pressure. But also note that they are there for a  reason, and
that is that the majority of participants want their newsgroup to work
that way, and consider that it works most efficiently with those rules
in place. These rules are listed in accordance with current usage and
a user survey of misc.writing participants carried out in February
2000.

First of all, in common with every other non-binary newsgroup, you are
requested not to post binary files to misc.writing. This means files
like pictures and executable computer programs, which tend to be very
large, and take up too much time to download and to store on news
servers. There are special binary groups for such files to be posted,
but misc.writing is not one of them.

Also, please don't post in HTML. Although major newsreaders like
Outlook Express and Netscape allow people to send HTML to newsgroups,
this is still frowned upon by the vast majority of groups. HTML is for
the World Wide Web, not Usenet. Make your Web page with it, but leave
it out of newsgroups. In any case, many newsreaders cannot read HTML
and even those that can will often have that facility turned off by
their users. So please post in text only.

Probably the biggest no-no for misc.writing is the posting of work. MW
is a discussion forum for writers, not a writers' workshop, and such
posts are not welcome.  "Work" means things like journalistic articles
or short stories which the writer intends to submit for publication,
or has written as an exercise, and/or for which he or she seeks
comments and criticism. People take part in misc.writing to engage in
discussion and conversation with their fellow writers, and not to see
a constant deluge of work, some of which may be of dubious quality.
Some other writers' newsgroups have no objection to the posting of
work. Probably the best of those is news:alt.writing where work and
critique is regularly posted. Other possibilities are
news:rec.arts.prose and news:alt.skunks (despite the unusual name!)

Sometimes newsgroup regulars will post short fictional or
non-fictional vignettes, sketches or articles for the purpose of
entertainment or information. These must not be confused with "work",
as they are not intended for publication through any other medium, and
the writers do not ask for or ever receive any critique.

A long-standing part of the MW community culture is the Misc Writing
Ville. This is a fictional virtual community based on the participants
of the newsgroup. Not everyone participates in MWV threads, but those
who do get a great deal of enjoyment from them. You can learn more
about this from the official MW Web site, which also contains the
previous version of these guidelines, and a lot of other fascinating
information regarding the history and culture of misc.writing. The web
site is also a goldmine of invaluable advice and information for
writers.

http://www.scalar.com/mw/

Misc.writing is not a poetry newsgroup and the posting of poetry is
not welcomed. Please don't think that when you see the occasional very
short, humorous poem written for entertainment, that the newsgroup
will welcome your latest epic ballad. Sorry, but MWers are not
interested! There is a plethora of poetry newsgroups in any case, as
any quick search will show. Among them are news:rec.arts.poetry
news:rec.arts.poems, news:alt.poetry and news:alt.arts.poetry .

Please don't post non-writing related advertisements to misc.writing.
This was the only issue on which every single MW participant
unanimously agreed in the survey. Such advertisements are highly
annoying, and far from promoting your product or service, are more
likely to have the exact opposite effect.

The situation regarding writing-related advertisements is not so
clear. More people voted against them in the survey, although the vote
was close (43% - 36 %, with the remainder expressing no preference).
At the very least, this indicates that people should think very
carefully before posting such material to misc.writing. If you really
feel that the writing community will benefit from your advertisement,
then at least refrain from posting it more than once within a suitable
time period, say six weeks.

A note to any students out there who might be tempted to try to get
their homework done by a writer - don't! The best you will ever get
out of a request to do your homework for you (however skilfully
disguised it may be), will be a sarcastic remark. And people have been
known to mischievously supply those too lazy to do their own homework
with deliberately erroneous answers! So please, spare yourselves, and
the newsgroup!

Finally, regarding newsgroup etiquette, although there will always be
a small minority who seek to provoke needless arguments and post
deliberately offensive remarks, please try to ignore them.
Misc.writing is a serious newsgroup, not a forum for "flamers" and
"trolls". If you consider someone is posting deliberately only to get
negative reactions (trolling), it is far better to ignore them than to
argue with them. By responding, you are not only giving them exactly
what they want - reactions - but you are also making them more
important than they actually are.

By all means participate in vigorous discussion in misc.writing.
That's what newsgroups are all about. But please try to refrain from
such things as personal attacks, or petty nit-picking of others'
posts (ie, correction of typos or spelling mistakes). Such posts don't
fulfil any useful purpose, and only serve to sour people's relations
with each other.

If you make an effort to provide a positive contribution to this
newsgroup, the rewards will be manifold. Ask questions, answer them,
contribute to debates, join in the community atmosphere. And most
importantly of all, remember to have fun!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
        These  guidelines were  originally posted by  Alexander von
Thorn in response to a newcomer's questions regarding
misc.writing's conventions.  More recently, the duty was performed by
M Barnard.  Erin Barrett-Hamner and Wendy Chatley Green followed on
the duty roster.  The current version was created by Richard Kaminski
from information gathered by a survey of misc.writing denizens.
       All suggestions, comments, and criticism should be sent to
the Keeper of the misc.writing FAQs at wcgreen@cris.com
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


-- 
The misc.writing FAQ and Posting Guidelines,
are found at http://www.scalar.com/mw
and at
<ftp://rtfm.mit.edu/pub/usenet-by-hierarchy/news/answers/writing/faq/basic-i
nfo>
<ftp://rtfm.mit.edu/pub/usenet-by-hierarchy/news/answers/writing/faq/organi
zation-list> 
<ftp://rtfm.mit.edu/pub/usenet-by-hierarchy/news/answers/writing/misc-writi
ng-guide>
and at
http://www.faqs.org/ or www.landfield.com/faqs
and they are posted to misc.writing, news.answers and misc.answers monthly 

-- 
Wendy Chatley Green
wcgreen@cris.com

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