28 March 2017

Where to post your very first message

This article is based on material authored by members of the news.newusers.questions Moderation Board and nnq-workers mailing list.

Eventually, every newcomer to the Internet gets tired of just reading news, and wants to post something. Since news.newusers.questions often seems to be part of default subscription lists, a lot of these first postings end up there, whether they’re really appropriate or not.

Herewith, some tips on where to post your first message, depending on what kind of message it is:

If you just want to practice the mechanics of posting (which are sometimes not trivial)

...and verify that your messages really do go out to the rest of the world, you should post to misc.test or alt.test.

A site might monitor these newsgroups and automatically send email responses to all messages that appear in them. (Greetings from beautiful Contra Costa County, California!) These groups are also nice for practicing how to write messages with your text editor, because you do not have to worry about real people seeing your typing mistakes and formatting blunders.

If you want to exchange messages with people

...but do not have anything in particular to talk about ("Hi, I'm Wally in Podunk, Iowa. Please send me mail!"), try the newsgroup soc.penpals, which is intended specifically for this sort of thing.

If you actually want to ask a question

...then news.newusers.questions may be the right place. Strictly speaking, this newsgroup is for questions about Usenet in general, but most of us do not mind questions about other network services. If your question is rather specialized, though, be prepared to be referred to another newsgroup where real experts hang out.

Exception: If you have a question of the form ‘Is there a newsgroup about xxx?’

You should post it in news.groups.questions, which was created specifically for this purpose.

Finally, before you post a question in news.newusers.questions

Please scan through all the message titles in this newsgroup first. Certain questions get asked (and answered) repeatedly. There is a chance that your answer may already be sitting in your news server. Remember to check the ‘previously-read’ messages, too (how you do this depends on the software you are using).

If you can’t see what you’re looking for, and you are not in a life-or-death hurry, you might consider waiting and watching for a few days, especially if you suspect that your question might be an FAQ (Frequently Asked Question). – Examples:

  • ‘How do I view the pictures that are posted in some groups?’
  • ‘Where can I get a complete list of newsgroups?’
  • ‘How do I make a signature file?’
  • ‘How do I set up a home page?’
  • ‘How can I create a new newsgroup?’
  • ‘Why does my message disappear right after I post it?’
  • ‘How do I chat in real time with other people on the net?’
  • ‘Don't these people who answer questions have a real life?’ ☺