How the Usenet works
First off, don't call it Usenet. The only people who call it Usenet are educated and sensible, and if you emulate them, you'll never fit in. You're required to give it an off-the-wall name, like "teh usernet", or simply refer to the system as a "site". Now you're ready to begin, here's some background. History of Usenet Usenet was invented in 1995 by the AOL Corporation, as a forum for misplaced questions and advertisements. It is still owned by AOL, and users are required to remember this when posting, and act accordingly. Over the years, Usenet has evolved into a complete social system, along with its own dynamics and rules. These will be covered later. How is Usenet set up? There is a Central Usenet Server where all posts are kept, and monitored by Admin. Posts are deleted from Usenet regularly if your opinions conflict with those of Admin, so try not to be too individual. The admin hang out in news.admin.net-abuse.usenet, or NANAU for short - you can contact them there and ask them to delete posts off the Usenet. When you connect to Usenet, your computer sends complex details about your computer to the server, which can be hacked by people with sufficient "skillz" and "toolz". And anybody on a dialup connection will also (obviously) be transmitting their phone number to the system. If, after posting to Usenet, you receive any advertising calls, instruct the callers that you know where they post, and you'll flame them later, before hanging up on them. On Usenet, there are BIG SEVEN groups, and knowing about the Big Seven will garner you much respect from Usenet veterans. The term is a reference to the origins of Usenet, as the first version (the 'demo') of Usenet was beta tested by seven very fat geeks (although as geeks go, they were average sized), as these were the only people who used the Interweb before Microsoft made it groovy and attractive to the teen scene. Who Runs Usenet? Usenet is a highly political place - there are power struggles going on at all times, and it's important that you familiarise yourself with the dynamic behind these. First of all, there are three Secret Cabals on Usenet - groups of people with certain agendas who work together in close cooperation in order to realise their goals. They are as follows. Trolls: The trolls on the Internet form one of the Secret Cabals. Their goals are many and complex, but typically, they seek to disrupt groups with nonsense, and poorly constructed insults. They will often post Cascades (see glossary) and insult the regulars of a group. The only way to deal with these people is to shout louder than they can. Reply to all their posts, insulting them, showing them how stupid they are, and letting them know that you're wise to their schemes, and that you know about their Secret Cabal. Do not report them to AOL, who are in fact in league with the trolls, but *tell them* that you are reporting them, because this might well scare them off. Trolls can be found in groups like alt.romath, alt.alien.vampire.flonk.flonk.flonk and alt.games.the-sims. If you spot any trolls near your group, warn as many people as you can about the trolls, and their Secret Cabal. Admin: The regulars of NANAU form the second Secret Cabal on Usenet. They have a strong set of outrageously right wing political opinions, and will delete liberal and reasonable posts from Usenet forever. They are corrupt, and most likely evil. In the event that you run into them, it is vital that you accuse them of mass censorship, and inform as many people of their diabolical plans as you can before your posts are deleted. Tell them you know of their Secret Cabal, because the realisation that You Are Onto Them might be enough to scare them into leaving your posts alone. The Intelligentsia: This is a group of like-minded individuals who work together in order to control the weaker posters on Usenet. Their membership includes everybody who is smarter than you, although their entry requirements will forever be just beyond your reach. They make up the third, and most dangerous, Usenet Cabal. If you run into anybody you believe to be smarter than you, a good bet is to killfile them, and let them know that you're doing it, and that their superior intellect will never defeat you. Furthermore, you are to accuse them of being in league with dark forces and satanic cults, and *always* insist that you know about their Secret Cabal. It's very important. Bear in mind that these groups can often intersect. Trolls can be intelligent, or sometimes be admins. However, admins cannot be intelligent - remember this when you classify other people on Usenet. How do I post to Usenet? The easiest way is by signing up to WebTV, a great system which doesn't even require you to have a PC. WebTV users on Usenet are given special treatment as a result, and the strength of feeling towards you may well shock you. Alternatively, the next easiest approach is to sign up to AOL, which is the real Internet. When you have signed up to the AOL, you can browse Newsgroups and the AOL Interweb. If you are unfortunate and have a different ISP, you will need to run Microsoft Outlook Express, the premier software for Usenet posts. In accordance with the relevant RFCs, Outlook Express obeys some key rules of Usenetiquette. Top Posting: By default, when you post in OE, your text will appear above the message to which you are responding. This means that you do not have to scroll down to read the post - if anybody is crazy enough to dispute your right to top-post, simply point this out to them. Never back down - it is a sign of weakness. HTML Posts: On today's modern Interweb, HTML is very popular. It's the programming language that The Google Machine is made in, and its key features include various fonts, and the inclusion of sounds in your messages. As you may have noticed, Usenet is dull and it is important to entertain other users where possible. For this reason, please post in HTML using as many clever effects as you can. If you can make text scroll across the screen, then use this rather than paragraphs. Sounds are always preferable to text, and a well placed image or two works wonders. Which brings us on to... Binaries: OE allows you to post binary files to newsgroups. This is like e-mailing a file to somebody, except that it goes to the whole of the Usenet. Best of all, since Usenet has an infinite file storage capacity, you can send as many large files to as many groups as you can! However, there are rules. Binaries are only allowed in Binary groups. To check, open the file in Notepad or something - if it is a sequence of 1's and 0's, then it is a binary file. Sorry, this can only be posted to binary groups. If the file looks something like this: "h¢^Ê)(¢^ÊZJ)i(¢^ÊZ(¢" Then that means it is stored as text, and can be freely posted to text-only groups. If anybody argues, explain that if you look in the file it is text, not binary digits. Where should I post on Usenet? You need to find the right newsgroup for you. Usenet is ordered into different hierarchies or 'layers' of newsgroups. There are many different abbreviations that comprise the name of a group, and figuring these out can be almost as much fun as actually posting. Here are a few sample components: REC.*: Received. Rec newsgroups are used by people to receive files from others - this is where you post pictures. ALT.*: An acronym for Anarchistis, Lunatics and Terrorists. The name is ironic, since "alt" groups are the safest and most carefully controlled of all the newsgroups. UK.*: Rather than being an abbreviation, this means that the newsgroup in question is about the fictional country of England, where a despotic Queen rules over the elves, dwarves and halflings of her nation with an iron fist. Children are forced to sweep chimneys in England. CULTURE.*: Like 'england', this is not an abbreviation. These groups deal with those parts of the world that the United States has yet to tarnish with its glorious and fulfilling capitalist policies. FIDO7.*: These newsgroups are about the pet dogs of the big seven. SCI.*: Short for Sci Fi. Everything in these groups is fictional conjecture based on Star Trek, and should be treated as such. COMP.*: An abbreviation of Compact. These newsgroups are for the vertically challenged people online, and relate specifically to socially inadequate dwarves. MICROSOFT.* = These newsgroups are owned and operated by Microsoft, who bought 12% of Usenet from AOL back in 1998. You can only post to these newsgroups if you are using a legitimate version of Windows - if you're running on a pirate copy, Usenet will log this and you will be traced. It is important that you pick your specific group correctly, for instance, if you require help with the computer game Red Alert, then it would be a good idea to ask in the group alt.games.starcraft - it is likely that Red Alert players will be there to help you. Do not ask in alt.games.redalert - this is where the Starcraft players post, and you will be flamed. Similarly, if you have a question about cats, ask in rec.pets.dogs, since people who like animals will always be there. Do not ask in rec.pets.cats, they will only give you instructions on how to cook and eat your feline friend. How can I make friends? The obvious way to impress people is to display a wealth of knowledge on as many subjects as you can. Respond to as many posts as possible, always giving a clear and strong opinion - people will respect you for this, even if they disagree. If you lack knowledge on any subjects, bluff them - a quick search on The Google Machine will reveal a few token facts on a subject, and you can guess the rest. Remember, everybody else on Usenet is bluffing too, and they'll not notice, unless they are part of The Intelligentsia. Another way to impress others is to inspire thoughtful conversation on a topic they enjoy. It is suggested that you bring up a controversial and interesting topic which is close to the hearts of the people in the group, and crosspost this message to a group with a contrary point of view. Debate will occur, and everybody will thank you in the end. For example, let us assume that I like cars. I might make a post explaining how wonderful cars are, and crosspost it to both a cars newsgroup, and an environmental newsgroup. In this way, a discussion will arise about the pro's and con's of owning a car, and its impact on the environment. Everybody will come away having learned something new, and it'll be because of your actions. When in a newsgroup, always refer to yourself and the other posters as "we", even if you're new there and they don't like you. Speak on behalf of others, because their viewpoints are most likely similar to yours. If they respond with "tinw", this means "That Is Not Wrong", which is another form of indicating their agreement with your statement. Many Usenet users are still on dialup, and may pay for their Internet time. As a result, it is important to save them download time by abbreviating your message as much as possible. Use single letters and numbers in place of words such as "you" and "for". Miss vowels where possible, since each vowel takes up a byte of space. This will help people download your messages with greater speed. Glossary of Terms Newsgroup: A discussion forum for topics unrelated to the name of the group. Do not go in and assume that title dictates behaviour, or you will be upset. The topic is dictated by the regulars of the group, and their own particular interests and fetishes. Furthermore, do not call it a "newsgroup". It is a "channel", "newsfroup", or simply a "froup". Server: This is the location you post to, typically run by your ISP. The admins on your server are able to delete your account and reverse engineer your PC to cluck like a chicken at will, so if you get reported, expect at least one of those eventualities. Post: This is a Usenet message, with various attributes such as who the message is from, which newsgroups it is posted to, and exact details of how to hack the computer of the sender. If you know who to ask, it is always possible to hack the writer of a message, even if they are offline. Be aware of this, and try to act with the appropriate level of fear and/or hysteria. Refer to posts as "poasts", or "postse", as an homage to the glorious site www.goatse.cx. List: There are many Usenet Lists. There is a List Of People Who Must Be Killfiled, which is known to everybody except you. There is also a List Of People Who Are Evil, which is again, available freely to everybody but yourself. Every individual user of Usenet has their own lists pertaining to various Usenet dynamics, and it is important that you do too. Create lists, and inform people that they are being added. Refer to this as a "lits" if you want to impress the regulars. Cascade: A series of posts, often just one word in length, which make up a pattern of some sort. It is the height of bad manners not to participate in a cascade and add groups to the crosspost (unless the cascade was due to a troll, in which case you must add groups to the crosspost and WARN them!). A cascade might look like this: --==-- >>>> F*CKHEAD !!!1!! >>> FU*KHEAD !!!2!! >> FUC*HEAD !!!3!! > FUCK*EAD !!!4!! SHPXU*NQ !!!5!! --==-- Note use of numbering - if in doubt, insert the first twenty digits of Pi instead of the numbered index. For your convenience, an example of this might look something like: SNUH!!!14159265358979323846!!! Killfile: This is a component of your news reading software which, when activated, prevents another user from posting to Usenet. When you turn on your killfile, the person against whom you wield it will vanish from Usenet, although others will still pretend that the person posts, and forge replies to them. Do not be fooled - they are gone forever, and their opinions are safely silenced. *PLONK* In the event of someone saying *plonk* in response to something you say, it is a high form of insult. It is short for "plonker" which anyone who's ever seen Only Fools and Horses will recognise as highly offensive. The person is challenging you to a fight - insult them back, and if they don't reply, that means you have won. Declare this to everybody, for you are a hero. IP Addresses IP stands for 'Internet Postal'. Internet Postal Addresses are used to send 'packets' of digital information between Internet users. These 'packets' are delivered for free by the United States Postal Service computer network. Due to the fact that the USPS also handles mail, if you hack their systems you can obtain somebody's home address from their IP. Anybody can trace you. Look out! Furthermore, there are some acronyms you should learn, both to enhance your experience, and for protection. They are as follows: BRB - [I'll] Be Right Back LOL - [I'm] Laughing Out Loud STFU - So True, Fellow Usenetter. (use this instead of the cliched "I agree" wherever possible) FTP - Freely Transferred Paedophilia (avoid people who link to thier "ftp sites". refer them immediately to their ISP (which is French for AOL)) ROTFLMAO - I am a fucking moron (translated from the latin equivalent) People on Usenet *love* acronyms. The more complex the better - the best thing is if you make them up as you go along, because people on Usenet love a challenge. For this reason, it is also advisable that you sometimes use numbers in place of letters - it adds a little more variety to your posts, and gives your fellow users something to do. Some handy translations, for those who require them, are: O = 0 I = 1 Z = 2 E = 3 A = 4 S = 5 R = 6 T = 7 Q = 8 G = 9 Use these in every post, and people will believe that you're a regular in no time at all. Using numbers makes you part of the Usenet Elite, or simply "l33t". Don't hesitate to tell people this - having confidence in your own status will help others to believe it.
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