A Friendly Guide for Newbies (to rec.arts.drwho)

by Robert J. Smith

	This is a friendly guide for those new to rec.arts.drwho (known 
	affectionately as newbies) - and some old timers would probably
	do well to take heed also!

Hi and welcome to rec.arts.drwho. I know it seems like a bit of a scary 
place at times, but it can sure be a fun one as well. Here I've decided 
to compile a few tips for anyone new to the newsgroup who wants to 
join in the fun. Hopefully, with this guide in hand, your transition into 
this newsgroup will be as stress-free as possible.

Down below, I've listed a twelve-step guide to making your time here as
problem-free as possible. I think the steps are useful and should be read
by everyone. However, the easiest way to smooth your transition into
rec.arts.drwho is this simple, but utterly vital rule: 

	*Think* about what you write. 

Ask yourself if it's really necessary, if it's polite, if it's something
you want to be proud of. You should do this _every_time_you_post_!

Of course, no one is going to bind you to the suggestions contained herein, 
but you'll probably find that you'll keep far more friends by following 
them than not! I'm assuming here that you have some sort of knowledge of 
'Doctor Who'. If not, then there are a number of excellent resources on 
various web pages, or the weekly or monthly FAQ. Comments or suggestions 
are more than welcome (my email address is at the end).

Here are the steps made easy:

#1. Lurk for a while
#2. Read the FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)
#3. Read the FAT (Frequently Appearing Threads)
#4. Trim your replies
#5. Trim your sig.file
#6. Stay on topic
#7. Keep an open mind
#8. Don't flame
#9. Don't post binaries
#10. Discuss, don't dictate
#11. We might be kidding
#12. Ultimately, have fun!

This guide, of course, is not just for newbies. A lot of people on
rec.arts.drwho would probably be a lot better off if they followed these
suggestions more often. So if you are new, don't assume that because
someone else makes a fool of themselves that it's okay for you to do it as

=====A Friendly Guide for Newbies=====

#1. Lurk for a while.

Even if you've posted already, it's probably a good idea to lurk (ie just 
read) for a while. This way you'll fairly quickly find out who's worth 
debating, who not to talk to and who's just going to waste your time. 
You'll also probably see that people aren't always serious, with the 
bonus that your first post to rec.arts.drwho isn't one where you're 
caught in someone's elaborate practical joke.

#2. Read the FAQ. 

In rec.arts.drwho, the FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) is posted every 
month. And it's bound to answer at least one or two questions you'll 
probably have, as well as give you a pretty good guide to what's what.

The FAQ (along with lots and lots of other goodies) can be found on the 
official Doctor Who homepage at: 


(A good recommendation for people who are new to the net is to
subscribe to news.announce.newusers and read the FAQs regularly
posted there)

#3. Trim the FAT.

As a companion to the FAQ comes the rec.arts.drwho FAT (Frequently 
Appearing Threads). This is an excellent guide to those threads which 
seem to recur over and over again (eg UNIT Dating, Lives before Hartnell, 
the Doctor's real name etc). It appears monthly on the newsgroup or can be 
found on the web at:


#4. Slice 'n' dice.

Don't (repeat, *don't*) reply to a 200 line post just to add a single
line. It's rude, it's annoying and it's not gonna win you too many
friends. Indeed, you should be prepared to snip away at as much of the
preceding posts as you can, without losing the context. As a general rule,
you should include at *least* 50% new material each post (preferably
more). A little to set the scene is okay, but remember, we *have* all read
that stuff before. 

Even if your newsreader doesn't have a user-friendly cut-n-paste feature, 
use whatever you have (in trn it's control-k to cut a line). Use the 
delete button if necessary. This goes for a lot of us old timers as well. 
This is the one suggestion I've received the most comments about - people 
can get *very* heated about this, so it's best to snip on the side of 

#5. Cut that sig.file

Sig.files are a necessary evil of usenet. Yes, most people have them and 
some people have some *very* large ones. But usenet guidelines 
specifically suggest that if you must use a sig.file, then keep it down 
to *at*most* four lines (with a hyphen separator preceding it). 

	Yep, that's four lines.

Sigs are a bit like someone coming up to you on the street every day and 
telling you exactly the same joke over and over again. This isn't 
necessarily a bad thing, but if the joke is any more than a medium length 
it can get *really* boring, really fast. 

	Four lines, remember.

Besides, a number of people have to pay for both time and volume. It's a 
courtesy to them to keep the unnecessary bits to a minimum.


#6. Try to stay on topic.

Obviously this is a bit difficult on any newsgroup, and a little 
diversity and story-telling is welcomed. But remember, no one wants to 
hear long and tedious stories about your trip to the pub, what you ate 
for dinner Friday night or how Trek fans did the- well, we don't really 
want to hear it :-)

As a guide, most of your comments should have some sort of Doctor Who 
(DW) content. It's not mandatory and certainly not enforceable, but it's a 
good guide (and something old timers should remember, too!).

#7. Keep a (very) open mind.

Usenet is a wonderful place, with people from all over the world and 
every possible cultural, religious, sexual background all trying to get 
along. You'll probably meet people who do things you never even thought 
were possible. Please note that this is *not* a bad thing. And even if 
you happen to think it is, it's their right to do or be who they are. The 
basic rule is: try to respect other's viewpoints wherever possible, even 
if you disagree with them.

#8. Don't flame.

Sure, you'll see plenty of flames (probably even receive a few). But try 
to resist flaming anyone, at least until *absolutely* provoked. And even 
then, try to keep it to email wherever possible.

On *no* account try to "get attention" by flaming someone for no good 
reason. We've all seen this before, it's not clever and it's not going to 
get you much respect at all.

#9. Don't post binaries.

rec.arts.drwho is a text newsgroup only. Binaries can be posted to
alt.binaries.drwho, but don't crosspost (if you don't know what
crossposting is, you shouldn't be let loose with enormous binaries!).
Posting binaries to radw costs a lot of people time and money to download
(even when they're not interested). And for the aggro you'll probably get,
it's really not worth it.

#10. Discuss, don't dictate.

We're here to *discuss* Doctor Who. We want to be impressed, dazzled, 
amazed and bowled over by the insights you may have on a particular story 
- just as we want you to be impressed by ours! So don't jump in saying 
"All x stories suck and you're an idiot if you can't see that". Even if 
you think it's true, tell us *why*. Back your arguments up! And at the 
end of the day, remember that the opposition has a right to hold a 
different opinion.

#11. We might be kidding.

Yep, just as in real life, jokes can abound on rec.arts.drwho. Some of 
them are clever, some are not. Some you'll see right through, some you'll 
die laughing at. But some will fool you completely. Be aware of this. And 
also be aware that if you *are* fooled, it's no great shame or a crime 
against nature. Usually the person posting the joke will be mature enough 
to saddle the joke with lots of clues. 

To avoid getting sucked in to something like this, the basic rule is: 
read the post you want to reply to *very* carefully. Since this should be 
a universal law for just about every article, this cannot be stressed 

#12. Ultimately, have fun!

Yep, despite what it may look like on occasions, rec.arts.drwho is *fun*. 
It really is (or can be, if you let it). If you've got something to say, 
then say it and enjoy the potential debate it may cause. But be polite :-)

This is newbie guide version 2.0. Comments or suggestions are welcome 
(just email me!).

 - Robert Smith?