By reading the group without posting (known as "lurking") for a while, or by reading the group archives on Google, you get a sense of the scope and tone of the group.
Consult the FAQ before posting.
See Newsgroups page to find the FAQ for a particular group
FAQ stands for Frequently Asked Questions
a FAQ has not only the questions, but the answers!
Thus by reading the FAQ you don't post questions that have been asked (and answered) ad infinitum
See the configuring software section regarding test posts (only post tests to groups with name ending in ".test") and not posting a duplicate post in the mistaken belief that your initial post did not go through.
Don't do "drive through" posts.
Frequently someone who has an urgent question will post to a group he/she does not usually read, and then add something like "Please reply to me directly since I don't normally read this group."
Newsgroups are meant to be a shared experience. While some groups are more discussion and others more question and answer, even in the question and answer ones there is a community of sorts. It is in bad taste to take without giving. Just as you are asking help from those who might know the answer to your question, you should help answer other peoples' questions, or participate in the discussion.
Sometimes, however, it may be appropriate to put something like "Please answer here for the group's benefit and send a copy to me as well as [I'm swamped this week] [my ISP's newsfeed is lousy] [etc.]" And if you are a regular, other regulars will recognize you as a participant anyway.
When you find it desirable to receive a copy of the post via email, you can automate it (depending upon what client the other person
is using) by including the Mail-Copies-To header with the contents "poster" (without the quotes of course) among the headers of that message.
And there are times when it is totally appropriate to post a message followed by something indicating that further discussion should be by private e-mail.
Don't post "binaries" in non-binary groups.
Binaries refer to non-text files, i.e. applications, images, etc.
If you really feel the need to post a binary file, then find a newsgroup with the name "binary" in it, post it there, and then make a short announcement in the regular newsgroup as to where the binary posting can be found.
WWW, FTP, and e-mail are better ways of distributing files.
Don't ask for or send files without reading this section.
If you ever ask in a post for "anyone who has this file" to send it, beware that you might get deluged with attached files. Better to ask for anyone who knows a location where the file can be downloaded to you know. As a last resort, ask that if an
yone has the file, to let you know, but to not send the file initially. Then you can followup with those who indicate that they have the file.
If someone asks for the location of a file, don't just send the file to them. If a bunch of people all send a large download, that user will get deluged.
Don't post commercial messages or spam.
Some newsgroups have a tolerance for the occasional announcement of a product relevant to the newsgroup. This is where knowledge of and participation in a group can help.
But do not post commercial messages to groups without knowing what you are doing, and certainly not to off-topic groups.
Cross-posting refers to posting a message to more than one group at a time, in the same post.
If a message truly belongs in multiple groups, by all means cross-post. In fact it is better to cross-post than to post the same message separately to different groups.
Be careful when replying to a post. The initial post may have been inappropriately cross-posted; if you do not edit the list of newsgroups, your reply will also be inappropriately cross-posted.
Consider setting "followups" to one group. Your post may be
relevant to 3 groups, but you can set followups to one group and then the
discussion will continue there. When using the followup header, it is nice
to put in the message somewhere "Followups set."
Don't post off-topic.
This is another situation where participating in a group for a while helps. One, because you know more about what is considered off-topic. Two, because the regulars might cut each other some slack.
But don't post requests for donations to your little brother's cub scout group, etc. (If everyone started doing this and every other good cause....)
My standard analogy is that although I think The New York Times should be devoting most of its pages to Bosnia and other important issues, when I get to the sports pages (or arts pages, etc.), I don't want to read about Bosnia or the other issues unl
ess it relates to sports or the arts.
Try to find the correct (most relevant) newsgroup before posting.
Search through the full list of newsgroups.
An example: rec.sport.baseball.nyyankees and
rec.sport.baseball.misc -- if you are making a post about the Yankees,
even though it would be somewhat relevant for rec.sport.baseball.misc, it
would be most relevant to rec.sport.baseball.nyyankees.
Read new posts before posting.
For example, if you see a post that says what you were just about to say, no need to repeat it. (But by all means post a followup if you have a comment in response to the first post).
Keep in mind that since it takes a while for posts to propogate (be distributed to news servers around the world) if you see multiple posts with the same breaking news or the same followups, it is because posts don't show up simulataneously everywher
Quote liberally and conservatively in followups.
Quote the relevant portions of the message you are replying to.
Don't quote the whole message if not necessary, especially deleting previous signatures.
Be careful to not misattribute something.
Leave in the attribution line that most newsreaders provide.
Observe the attribution lines and read posts carefully. Sometimes someone will ask a question, and I will followup with an answer. Amazingly, someone else will e-mail me not with a followup to my answer, but with the answer to the original question!
Remember that not everyone uses the same newsreader or has a similar newsfeed.
It is best to ask questions about your newsreader in a group about newsreaders, not in the groups you frequent most often.
If your newsfeed retains articles for a long time (say 7 days), then someone whose newsfeed retains articles for only 2-3 days won't see the same set of articles at a given time. (They may or may not have seen the same article a few days ago, but don
't assume it is fresh on their mind. Quote what you are referring to.)
When posting spoilers include some warning space, not just ^L.