Enjoying the USENET to its Fullest
The USENET is one of the most delightfully liberated places in the world. There are literally no rules to the USENET. The closest that the system comes to having rules are the conventions by which new groups are created and the policies of moderators in determining what is appropriate and what is inappropriate for the various newsgroups.
Some newsgroups don’t have moderators and these newsgroups tend to be a little bit more random in their content than are those that do have moderators.
The USENET can be a great deal of fun. The one problem that people have to learn to deal with fairly quickly is spam. The best way to avoid spam is to simply stick to a moderated newsgroup. In the case of a moderated newsgroup, anything that a user decides to post to the discussions has to be approved by a moderator first.
The moderator is an actual human being, so there is usually a good deal of control exercised over what is allowed to be featured on the newsgroup. These newsgroups have almost no spam and the conversations tend to be very on topic. The trade-off is that moderated groups are not quite as loose as are groups without moderators.
When you’re participating in a conversation on a USENET newsgroup, the first thing you need to make sure of is that you are on topic. This is doubly important if you happen to be participating in a moderated group. Off-topic posts are not looked upon fondly by most USENET users and, in the case of the stricter groups, you may only get a few chances before your banned for posting off topic.
If you’re not sure exactly what a newsgroup considers to be on and off topic, you may want to take a look at the newsgroup charter or at the FAQ documentation for that particular group. Either of these will give you a good idea of what will be considered acceptable. If neither of these things are available, make a post to a moderator and ask them for the guidelines.
If you do happen to run into somebody on USENET who goes out of their way to offend you, make sure you don’t get caught up in a flame war. In general, it’s best to ask a moderator what to do. If someone tries to bait you into a conversation you don’t want to be involved in, it’s perfectly acceptable to just ignore them.
Most often, moderated newsgroups have a way of taking care of these problems themselves and posters who cause a lot of trouble for members of the newsgroup don’t end up staying around for very long. Despite its lack of rules, USENET does have established conventions.