"Netiquette is not just about the niceties of behavior or avoiding embarassment. Netiquette is like the double yellow line in the middle of a highway." --Howard Rheingold
Netiquette is shorthand for "net etiquette". Usenet is a cooperative community that only works for as long as people are cooperating. Thus, over the years each newsgroup and Usenet as a whole have created sets of rules and customs, essentially deciding what will and will not generally be tolerated by other posters--what constitutes good "net manners", if you will--in order for the maximum amount of readers to get the maximum enjoyment from each group. Examples of netiquette issues include what the proper newsgroups for certain topics are, and what constitutes a good general posting style.
Usenet is all about communication. It is divided into separate hierarchies and newsgroups so that it is easier to find the topic you wish to discuss. Netiquette is about effective communication. If your posts are polite and easy to read, it is much more likely that people will want to communicate with you. If your posts make you look arrogant, or merely careless, clueless, or sloppy, few people will want to take the time to muddle through what you have to say to find the kernels of your posts. And those that do will not be very inclined to give you the benefit of the doubt.
Many types of behavior which are acceptable elsewhere are not acceptable on Usenet; you can easily discover these potential pitfalls by reading through the files listed in the Note to New Users at the beginning of this FAQ. There are also many behaviors which may be acceptable on other newsgroups which are not acceptable here, and some things that are done here that may or may not be acceptable in any other groups on Usenet. Many of these are described in this section of the FAQ. The best way to understand what is and is not acceptable is to read through the entire FAQ and read every message in the group for at least two weeks before making your first post. As a poster to this group, it is your responsibility to learn the customs of Usenet and this group, hopefully before you write that first post.
The individual "rules" of netiquette exist for various reasons, which include:
Netiquette does not actually prevent anyone from posting whatever they darn well please; nothing and noone can do that, short of forging cancels. However, it is a good idea to follow netiquette, or at the very least take the time to learn why a given rule exists before challenging it.
Breaking the customs (whether on purpose or on accident) may not seem like much to you in many cases, but it will ususally cost you in terms of credibility and, to some extent, popularity. You appear as if you didn't bother to take the time or effort to find out about those things that this group considers important, behavior-wise. This turns most posters off--you'll already have one strike against you, making it that much more likely that you'll annoy or even anger the other posters, so they won't be in the mood to read what you're trying to say. Besides, if you can't be bothered to listen to the group, why should the group take the time to listen to you?
Occasional mistakes or lapses of reason happen to everyone, and most people know to take this into account when considering a response to a post. If a poster consciously decides to use bad netiquette, though, especially after the error of his ways has been explained to him, that poster should be prepared to take flak for his decision, and be neither surprised nor indignant when the rest of the readers of the newsgroup bring societal pressures to bear on the "rogue" element to help him become a productive member of the microcommunity that is the newsgroup.
If the decision to breach netiquette is due to an informed disagreement over what "proper" netiquette should be, arrived at after carefully reading of the existing documents and pondering the possible reasons behind the current rule and ramifications of changing that rule, that is one thing. Pure orneriness and/or total cluelessness is another matter altogether, and will usually prompt rebukes from other members of the group. This does not give everyone license to flame away whenever they see a breach of netiquette; that in itself is bad netiquette--a gentle reminder and suggestion of how to improve matters is usually a lot more productive than an outright flame.
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There are several methods you can use to get your request out to the people who are most likely to be interested in your request for games or gamers, while reducing to almost nil the amount of potential aggravation for the majority of the people reading this group. Please use one of these courses of action.
The main method is to post the request on the newsgroup rec.games.frp.announce. Anyone looking for a group, or any groups looking for players may read that group for announcements of this nature, thus leaving more space in this group for discussions pertaining to the game itself--as well as making the announcements easier to find, by fact of only having to page through a couple of dozen posts per week to find a particular one rather than the couple of hundred posts per day of rec.games.frp.dnd. In this, the set-up is similar to rec.games.frp.marketplace, and people who know how the hierarchy is arranged know to watch that group for such announcements. If your newserver does not get rec.games.frp.announce, try writing your newsadmin and requesting that it be added to your site's feed.
Another good method is to use one of the web pages set up for finding gamers in your area. One such is the "Internet RolePlayer Registry" section of AccessDenied, another is Effie Rover's Game Finder, and another is at Etrigan's page. Wizards of the Coast also runs a "Players Registry" of its own. Either look into the existing requests to see if there are already people in your area looking for games or gamers, or input a request of your own and wait for any results.
If neither these methods seem very palatable to you, then I suggest you find a local-area-only newsgroup (such as a university-, city-, or country-specific one) or the message board of your local gaming shop and post a note there. These two actions are guaranteed to go only to the people most likely to respond to your requests.
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For other notes on where to post certain topics, see the question below and the newsgroups listing and descriptions in part 6 of this FAQ.
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For a hyperbolic, tongue-in-cheek take on this issue (which really is parody, regardless of what the page may claim to the contrary), read Niilo Paasivirta's Game of Satan essay.
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The easiest thing for everybody is to simply ignore the message. Since they are typically simultaneously posted to hundreds or thousands of newsgroups, the original poster will probably not see your witty discussion. Sending a private e-mail to the postmaster at the poster's site may be a good idea, but posting replies, even wildly humorous ones, just takes up bandwidth with useless topics. Just say "No" to "Make Money Fast" schemes.
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The one true answer is...whomever the writer/poster wants to win, wins. Alternatively, in novels which feature one of TSR's big hitters, a la Driz'zt or Raistlin, all cross-world dueling is frowned upon; if it actually happens, it generally ends in a draw so that no group of fans feels that their hero got shafted. It may seem fun to speculate, but there is no sure way of determining a winner; and picking one just gets the fans of the character you picked to lose mad (and usually flaming) at you. It is not in the group's best interest to discuss such things.
In the case of one class archetype vs. another, the argument can go on and on ad nauseam, as everyone can come up with some reason for each one to win over all the others. What it usually comes down to, since the main classes are pretty much balanced, is whichever character wins the initiative, gets luckier with the dice, or has more time to prepare, wins the battle. End of argument.
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If you are thinking of checking out rec.games.frp.marketplace in hopes of finding those items you've always been looking for, a place to look first is www.acaeum.com; they list almost every D&D/AD&D item to ever be printed, with a suggested or average actual price for each.
If you are looking to buy gaming material, and have been unlucky in finding what you are looking for in rec.games.frp.marketplace, you may want to try an on-line store which traffics in gaming material; a list of those which are suggested most often when this question arises is contained in Section 6 of this FAQ, as part of the issue of *D&D web pages. Additionally, there are almost always several auctions of *D&D books and modules going simultaneously on web sites such as eBay.
For other notes on where to post certain topics, see the list below and the newsgroups listing and descriptions in Section 6 of this FAQ.
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Walkthroughs of many of the SSI games, including Eye of the Beholder II, III, and Dark Queen of Krynn are available through the Web at GamesDomain; many other computer games, including the Bard's Tale series, are also represented there. Further information on the SSI games can be found at SSI Online and Interplay's web page. The latter web page also leads to information about Baldur's Gate.
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However, once you see the same .sig twenty times in one day (or one week, month, etc.), it can get quite tiresome. This is especially true for large sigs, and/or ASCII art. In the interest of preserving everyone's sanity, Usenet as a whole has unofficially adopted the standard of a four-line by 80 column .sig (otherwise known as the McQuary limit, named for George McQuary, one of the regulars over in alt.fan.warlord). That is, if you can't fit it into four lines of text or less, each of which is 80 characters long or less, it probably isn't worth saying. This standard is somewhat flexible, as tasteful .sigs of five or six lines are usually tolerated. Anything longer than that wastes bandwidth and quickly becomes a target for flames. Anything longer than 80 characters per line will usually get mangled by newsreaders and end up almost completely incomprehensible--see the previous question for more information.
For some reason which I just cannot fathom, people on this group seem to have a propensity towards the use of ASCII representations of dragons, castles, swords, and other such fantasy elements in their .sigs. This sort of thing is cute once, but quickly begins to grate on one's nerves, especially those people who end up having to pay to see a screen of nothing but someone else's .sig. Besides, if you've seen one sword .sig, you've seen them all. If you feel the creative urge, stop over in alt.fan.ascii-art in order to relieve it; don't do it here, as it takes up bandwidth better spent discussing *D&D. If you insist on keeping a gigantic .sig, with several comments and quotes, a multi-screen ASCII picture, all 15 ways to reach you from various points on the Internet, your snail-mail address, and your work and home phone numbers, then rgfd is not the place for you. If this fits you to a 'T', then you need to hie yourself over to alt.fan.warlord, the Home of the Big .Sig.
While on the subject of .signature files, please remember to delete the signature files from posts you respond to. You are the one writing the message so your signature is the only important one; no one needs to see or get confused by multiple different .sigs. If readers want to know who wrote any text you are quoting from the previous message, they have to look no further than the very first line of the post, where "Someone (firstname.lastname@example.org) wrote:" is added by almost every newsreader in existence--and if your newsreader does not add that line, you should always try to add it yourself, so that others can easily determine to whom you are responding.
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A flame is a nasty, inflamatory message. It does very little except repeatedly insult another poster or a group of people, or the recipient if it is sent via e-mail.
A flamewar is a flame in response to a flame in response to a flame, and so on, ad nauseum.
Neither flaming nor getting involved in flamewars is conducive to a long net.life or a good net.reputation. Some topics are "hot buttons", which can do very little but devolve into flamewars. Many have very little to do with *D&D except tangentally. Some examples are homosexuality, the place of women in society, religion, rape, and ethics & what constitutes "good" or "evil". In general, if one of these topics comes up, don't bother posting! Each of these has been discussed to death in the past, whether or not you were here to see it. (If you weren't here for one of these discussions, but still want to read about it, please see the Usenet archives rather than posting about it.) Very few posters here want to see more flamewars start, especially on these topics, so staying as far as possible from them is a good idea.
There are also some rgfd-specific touchy subjects which, in general, are best to simply stay as far away from as possible. Some examples of these are the whole copyright issue, combat realism, which version of *D&D is the best/worst, whether *D&D is better/worse than any other RPG, and just about any other topic discussed either in this section or in later sections of the FAQ.
There are several methods you can use to avoid flaming someone. First and foremost, do not post while you are angry. If a post incesces you so much that you are moved to flame the living daylights out of the poster (or if you notice that you are so angry you can't type straight), then stop. Don't post. Count to ten. Save the message for later reading and go on to the next message, or take a break from Usenet altogether. Then, when you've had a chance to calm down, read the post again and decide if it really deserves a reply, or if everyone is better off if you just ignore it altogether.
If you notice that one person's posts consistently get under your skin, or if one topic really gets you hot under the collar (or for that matter, is hust something in which you have zero interest), you should seriously consider using a killfile. That way, you would not see any posts by that poster, or with that topic at all, and would therefore have little temptation to burst into a flame. If you are unsure how to use a killfile with your newsreader, consult the help manual, or ask your friendly local sysop, as it changes too much from newsreader to newsreader to list all the possibilities here.
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|*D&D-related programs/binaries:||alt.games.frp.dnd-utils, or rec.games.frp.archives|
|Discussion of computer programs:||alt.games.frp.dnd-utils|
|TSR--They Suck, Really:||alt.flame.tsr|
|SSI/TSR computer games:||comp.sys.ibm.pc.games.rpg|
|Which RPG is the best:||rec.games.frp.advocacy|
|Which RPG is the worst:||rec.games.frp.advocacy|
|Which game company is best/worst:||rec.games.frp.advocacy|
|Announcement of PBEM openings:||rec.games.frp.announce|
|Gamers wanted in Area "X":||rec.games.frp.announce|
|Resources for *D&D (net.books):||rec.games.frp.archives|
|New rules for combat, init, psi:||rec.games.frp.archives|
|Multiple spells, monsters, NPCs:||rec.games.frp.archives|
|Unfinished resources for *D&D:||rec.games.frp.archives, or r.g.f.dnd|
|Very short resources for *D&D:||rec.games.frp.archives, or r.g.f.dnd|
|Discussion of *D&D resources:||rec.games.frp.dnd|
|Discussion of *D&D, TSR, etc.:||rec.games.frp.dnd|
|Buyout of TSR proposed by WotC:||rec.games.frp.industry|
|How to get an RPG published:||rec.games.frp.industry|
|Copyright and RPGs:||rec.games.frp.industry|
|Wanted to buy:||rec.games.frp.marketplace|
|Dragon Dice:||rec.games.trading-cards.*, or alt.games.dice|
When you post items in rec.games.frp.archives or if you post a program/binary in alt.games.frp.dnd-utils, it is suggested that you post a short note in rgfd pointing out where to go to find your post.
However, this sort of short advertisement is discouraged (but permitted) when you post a sale in rec.games.frp.marketplace, and is strongly discouraged when you post items in r.g.f.announce. There isn't any need to post ads for sales on r.g.f.marketplace or for announcements on r.g.f.announce, because people who want sales or announcements should already know to monitor those groups. The basic type of material on r.g.f.archives or a.g.f.d-u changes from week to week, so that the contents of the groups aren't as predictable as "sales are on r.g.f.marketplace" or "con/game announcements are on r.g.f.announce."
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The exact position of the line between on-topic and off-topic for d20 discussions is in about the same place it is for every topic that is discussed on this newsgroup, from history to movies to religion to alignment to guns to politics to other RPGs. By and large, that means that if the discussion is about how to take elements from other d20 games and integrate them into D&D, then that is on topic; if the discussion is about other d20 games in their own right, without any meaningful references to D&D, then that is off-topic.
For most non-D&D d20 discussion, see rec.games.frp.misc or rec.games.frp.moderated.
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In addition, it is possible that no one found anything in your post that they wanted to respond to. One of the largest causes of this are unqualified endorsements, e.g. a post whose entire message is "I think Planescape is cool. Does anybody else?". There isn't any substance to such a post, thus there isn't much to respond to, except to say, "Yes", and most people won't bother posting such trivial answers when there are tougher questions to answer, such as "Why can't mages wear armor?" Also, many people do not take the time to answer every post. Thus, it is very possible for the entire group to skim over a given post, assume that someone else will respond, and go on, leaving no responses to an otherwise good post. It happens to everybody on the group at one time or another. Just wait for a week or so, then try something else.
There is also a possibility that your posting program has a glitch, and your messages are not getting out. If you suspect this is the case, do not post "test" messages to rgfd. Test messages should be posted in misc.test, or any of the other *.test groups. An autoresponder will tell you if the world saw your test post, whereas you'd have to guess if the world saw your test post in rgfd. Additionally, many newsreaders will not allow you to see your own messages, so it will seem as if they are not getting out when indeed, they are.
If you suspect any of the above has happened, the best thing to do is wait a few days. If no one has responded after a week, do not repost the same message! Try writing on another topic, or following up to someone else's message and adding something to the conversation rather than adding an "I agree" and nothing else. If you suspect your posting mechanism is broken, check with a local sysadmin and/or try posting to misc.test. Multiple postings of the same post, "I agree" messages, and "Test--do not followup" messages do nothing but clutter the group. For everyone's sake, don't bother.
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None of those reveal anything about the topic of the question. You need to distill out the main topic of your question and put that in the subject line. Note, however, that many people only see the first 40 or so characters in a subject, so you also have to be concise, and include the most important information first, especially if your question has to do with an edition other than the current one. Subject tags can also help. Here are some examples.
These give enough information that anyone browsing a list of subject lines will have a good idea what to expect inside your post.
When you have a descriptive subject, be sure to actually include your question in the body of your post. It doesn't matter if the subject line says it all, saying "The subject line says it all" or leaving the body empty only annoys the people reading your post. Annoyed people are far less likely to provide helpful answers and more likely to provide flames. For most rules questions, it is also a good idea to show that you've tried to answer it on your own; include what resources you've looked at, provide page numbers for what you think are relevant (or contradictory) rules, and generally show that you've already done your homework and are genuinely confused. Otherwise, you're more likely to get responses of "Read the Manual" (RTFM) or "Search the Web" (STFW) as you are helpful answers. For questions about possible house rules, include what house rules you've tried and what the results were, as well as a brief description of the characters in your group.
If your question is in reply to another post, and the topic of your question has little to do with the original subject line, you should change the subject to reflect this shift. It is usually a good idea to keep the original subject at the end of the subject line, in the manner of "New Topic (was: Old Topic)", to show the provenance of the discussion thread. If the topic shifts again, you only need to keep the most recent previous subject; otherwise, the subject line gets too cluttered, which tends to annoy regular readers, and annoyed readers are less likely to provide good answers, if they even read your post in the first place.
For a more in-depth discussion of how to write questions that are the most likely to elicit responses, see How to Ask Questions the Smart Way, by Eric S. Raymond. Though it is centered on computer hardware and software questions, the basic netiquette of asking questions is thoroughly examined there. It also includes a section on why people who respond to your question may seem unnecessarily short-tempered or mean-spirited that is just as applicable in a role-playing game discussion group as it is in a computer-related discussion group.
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If you are interested in roleplaying through Usenet, be sure to look into alt.dragons-inn, where that sort of thing is the entire purpose of the newsgroup.
If you are simply looking for an on-line game, there are several possibilities to check out, including PBEMs, MUDs, IRC, and ICQ. See the Resources section of this FAQ, as well as several questions elsewhere in the FAQ for more information on roleplaying via the Internet.
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A final note: Every posted version of this FAQ since its first posting in April 1995 is available on Google.com; so if you miss a section, or are viewing the Web version and can't wait for the next update to that version, the newest version is still available to you. However, be forewarned that it sometimes takes them a few days to load larger messages, so you may have to wait that long after it is posted to be able to retrieve the most recent version.
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Because it's difficult to understand the context of a topic that way.
Vecna (email@example.com) wrote: > That Strahd, he's not a nice guy. I heard he even killed his brother > because he was in love with his brother's wife-to-be! Yup, it's true. Turns out it was all part of a pact with the powers of the Mists (whom you might remember from their important role in the movie The Fog), which caused him to become a vampire. > I wonder what it would take to "convince" him to step down > as the Lord of Barovia. If I were you, I'd be more careful when saying that; the Mists have ears... -- Acererak firstname.lastname@example.org Making life hell for adventurers since 1979.
Some newsgroups, especially alt.* newsgroups, have elected not to follow this general standard. That does not affect in the least the way the standard is applied here.
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This is a multi-part message in MIME format. --------------8A600275790AF65CF5948270 Content-Type: text/plain; charset=us-ascii Content-Transfer-Encoding: 7bit Hi all, I was wondering what sorts of things are discussed here. --------------8A600275790AF65CF5948270 Content-Type: text/x-vcard; charset=us-ascii; name="aardy.vcf" Content-Transfer-Encoding: 7bit Content-Description: Card for Aardy Content-Disposition: attachment; filename="aardy.vcf" begin:vcard n:;Aardy x-mozilla-html:FALSE adr:;;;;;; version:2.1 email;internet:email@example.com x-mozilla-cpt:;15152 fn:Aardy end:vcard --------------8A600275790AF65CF5948270--
Here is what a typical HTML message looks like to a typical reader of
<!doctype html public "-//w3c//dtd html 4.0 transitional//en"> <html> <p>LuckyDuck wrote: <blockquote TYPE=CITE>A short tale of a bountiful treasure, discovered by one lucky adventurer... <p>Last week, I went into my local gaming store. I was checking through <br>their RPG section and found a bunch of used 1st edition AD&D modules, <br>including Tomb of Horrors ($5 each) as well as a mint condition copy of the <br>D&D Rules Cyclopedia (for $10). <br>--------------------------------------------------------------- <br>LuckyDuck <br>Netscape Forever! <br>--------------------------------------------------------------- </blockquote> Well, at least you have some shops where they sell d&d books. Not even the novels show up around here... I would kill even for a 10-year-old used book.. <br> Green-Eyed Monster <p>-- <p>"What-- me worry?" <p>"Don't steal. The government doesn't like <br> competition." <br> </html>
Either is bad enough by itself, but when the two are combined, it is virtually guaranteed that most people will completely ignore your message and go on to the next, as it's too much bother to try to find and read the post with all that extra stuff all over. Since Usenet is all about effective communication, this is not something you want to do. If your newsreader defaults to using HTML (this includes most Microsoft newsreaders and most web browsers with built-in newsreading capabilities), you will want to find a way to turn off this "feature." If your newsreader defaults to using MIME (this includes most newsreaders which use HTML or have "V-Card" capability), you will want to find a way to turn off this "feature" as well.
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Continue on to Part 3
Copyright © 2002 by Joel A. Hahn