§1. Never Forget that the Person on the Other Side is Human
Do not attack people if you cannot persuade them with your presentation of the facts. Screaming, cursing, and abusing others only serves to make people think less of you and less willing to help you when you need it. If you are upset at something or someone, wait until you have had a chance to calm down and think about it. A cup of (decaf!) coffee or a good night's sleep works wonders on your perspective. Hasty words create more problems than they solve. Try not to say anything to others you would not say to them in person in a room full of people.
§2. Don't Blame System Admins for their Users' Behavior
Maybe it is a case of the software not working, or a control message escaped, or maybe one of the users at that site has done something you feel requires comment. No matter how steamed you may be, be polite to the sysadmin -- he or she may not have any idea of what you are going to say, and may not have any part in the incidents involved. By being civil and temperate, you are more likely to obtain their courteous attention and assistance.
§3. Never assume that a person is speaking for their organization
If you find an article offensive, consider taking it up with the person directly, or ignoring it. Learn about "kill files" in your newsreader, and other techniques for ignoring people whose postings you find offensive.
§4. Be Careful What You Say About Others
§5. Be Brief
Never say in ten words what you can say in fewer. Say it succinctly and it will have a greater impact. Remember that the longer you make your article, the fewer people will bother to read it.
§6. Your Postings Reflect Upon You -- Be Proud of Them
Take some time to make sure each posting is something that will not embarrass you later. Minimize your spelling errors and make sure that the article is easy to read and understand. Writing is an art and to do it well requires practice. Since much of how people judge you on the net is based on your writing, such time is well spent.
§7. Be Careful with Humor and Sarcasm
No matter how broad the humor or satire, it is safer to remind people that you are being funny. But also be aware that quite frequently satire is posted without any explicit indications. If an article outrages you strongly, you should ask yourself if it just may have been unmarked satire. Several self-proclaimed connoisseurs refuse to use smiley faces, so take heed or you may make a temporary fool of yourself.
§8. Use Descriptive Titles
§9. Think About Your Audience
When choosing which newsgroup(s) to post in, ask yourself, "Which newsgroups contain readers who would want to read my message" rather than "Which newsgroups have readers to whom I want to send my message?"
§10. Please Rotate Messages With Questionable Content
And when you rotate a message the word "rot13" should be in the "Subject:" line. Most of the software used to read Usenet articles have some way of encrypting and decrypting messages.
§11. Spelling Flames Considered Harmful
There are also a number of people who suffer from dyslexia and who have difficulty noticing their spelling mistakes. If you feel that you must make a comment on the quality of a posting, please do so by mail, not on the network.
§12. Use Mail, Don't Post a Follow-up
One of the biggest problems we have on the network is that when someone asks a question, many people send out identical answers. When this happens, dozens of identical answers pour through the net. Mail your answer to the person and suggest that they summarize to the network. This way the net will only see a single copy of the answers, no matter how many people answer the question. If you post a question, please remind people to send you the answers by mail and at least offer to summarize them to the network.
§13. Read All Follow-ups and Don't Repeat What Has Already Been Said
Before you submit a follow-up to a message, read the rest of the messages in the newsgroup to see whether someone has already said what you want to say. If someone has, don't repeat it.
§14. Summarize What You are Following Up
Even if you are responding to the entire article, summarize only the major points you are discussing.
§15. Be Careful About Copyrights and Licenses
At the very least, note that by posting to Usenet, you are requesting that a copy of your document be automatically distributed to computers all over the world and stored on various disks for a long time (forever on some archive media). Further, some people will quote parts of your article without permission or forward it to other people or use it in other ways that you might not know about. If this bothers you, put an explicit copyright notice on your posting. On the flip side, even if you are sure of the legality of reproducing something from or on Usenet, it would be courteous to ask for permission before doing so.
§16. Cite Appropriate References
If you are using facts to support a cause, state where they came from. Don't take someone else's ideas and use them as your own. You don't want someone pretending that your ideas are theirs; show them the same respect.
§17. Do not use Usenet as a resource for homework assignments
If you have something interesting to contribute, you'll find that you gain almost instant acceptance, and your posting will generate a large number of follow-up postings. Use these in your research; it is a far more efficient (and accepted) way to learn about the group than to follow that first instinct and post a simple questionnaire.
§18. Don't Overdo Signatures
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 to you. Some news posters attempt to enforce a 4 line limit on signature files -- an amount that should be more than sufficient to provide a return address and attribution.
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