The basic rules of "netiquette"
The document that describes netiquette in detail (
RFC1855 - Netiquette
Guidelines ) is fairly lengthy: it's over 900 lines long.
Below is a short summary based on the guidelines given in that
document, at least as far as posting to Usenet is concerned.
If you require clarification on any of these points, please consult
(click here for a
browser-friendly version of the document).
- Bear in mind that Usenet is a public forum. Your messages might end
up being read by your current boss, or your future boss.
- The onus is on you to act responsibly. If other
people are misbehaving, that does not give you any "right" to
misbehave as well.
- Be courteous. Don't engage in abuse ("flaming") or other
- Remember that the readers are human beings whose culture and language
may have different points of reference from your own. Be especially
careful with sarcasm.
- Commercial advertising is unwelcome in many newsgroups. Check with
the newsgroup's FAQ before trying to send any adverts to that group.
- Generally speaking, non-text attachments are only permitted in
special "binaries" newsgroups. If in doubt, don't send attachments.
- Respect the copyright on material that you reproduce. Almost every
country has copyright laws.
- Don't send chain letters. They are illegal in most countries.
What to say and where to say it
- Only post a message to the newsgroup if it is likely to be of general
interest to many readers. Personal messages should be sent by email.
- Ensure that the subject matter of your posting is
"on-topic" for the newsgroup(s) you are sending it to. If in
doubt, check with the posting guidelines in the newsgroup's charter
- "Test" messages should only be sent to newsgroups
specifically created for that purpose (e.g. misc.test).
Don't send "test" messages to any other newsgroups.
- Cross-posting (sending the same message to two or more newsgroups at
the same time) should be used very sparingly. The message must be
"on-topic" for each and every one of the newsgroups, and the
"Followup-to:" line should be set to restrict further discussion to
the most appropriate newsgroup.
- If you're cross-posting, give your reasons for doing so in the body of
How to structure the message itself
- Messages should be brief and to the point. Don't ramble.
- The subject line should reflect the content of the message.
- Restrict your line length to 70 characters or less.
- Use mixed case. UPPER CASE LOOKS AS IF YOU'RE SHOUTING.
- If using a "signature", it should be no more than 4 lines long.
- Try to avoid using control codes or special (e.g. accented)
characters in your message: they may not display properly on all systems.
Replying to a message
- Readers may not have seen (or may not be able to recall) the
message you are replying to, so quote a few lines from the original
message to establish the context. 5-10 lines of quoted text should be
sufficient in most cases.
- The quoted text goes at the top of the message, and your
reply goes underneath. "Top-posting" is frowned
upon, as it disrupts the flow of text on the page.
- Leave a blank line between the end of the quoted text and the
start of your reply. If you're engaging in a point-by-point discussion
(where you might want to intersperse quotes through your reply) leave
a blank line between the end of your paragraph and the start of the
- Don't change the wording or attribution of any quotes.
- One-line replies that just say "I agree" or "Me
Too!" are considered an annoyance by many readers. If you really
must send such a message, send it via email.
- Don't wander off-topic. If what you have to say is no longer related
to the original topic, post a new message with a different subject.