[ Contents | Chapter 1 ]




A world of information exists on the World Wide Web. And yet there is a quite different world of information which exists in UseNet newsgroups. The difference is that UseNet articles are completely spontaneous, interactive, and open for world-wide participation while the WWW relies on pre-written pages, contact is essentially one-way, and any responses to the page contents are mostly seen only by the page owner. Subjects being discussed in the newsgroups are timely and dynamic while web page content is cumulative, archival, and relatively static. Even though web browsers now have the capability to access and respond to articles in the UseNet newsgroups, newsgroup readers do not have the protocols necessary to retrieve web pages. This is not a bad thing.

Of course, reading articles, absorbing the wit and wisdom (and crud) of a potentially limitless source of information is only half the fun. News Xpress also allows you to reveal to the world the copious contents of your own cranium.

However, the potential for abuse exists and NX does not have (nor should it have) built in measures to prevent such abuse. On the other hand, News Xpress has, as will be discussed in a later chapter, filters and other mechanisms to automatically delete retrieved article headers which match user-specified criteria. But one could, if so bent on destroying the UseNet, use News Xpress to post an article to massive numbers of newsgroups (called spam), or to an inappropriate newsgroup (called off-topic), quite easily. Generally speaking, this is not a good thing.

Another abhorent practice related to spam and off-topic articles is flaming. Because the art of the written word is mostly absent in modern "quick-and-dirty" article posting, the possibility that what the author meant to say and how you interpret those words may be completely different. Avoid the tendency to fire off a hastily written follow-up that might further aggravate misunderstandings. Take the time to genuinely think about what you wish to say, then take a few more minutes to write those thoughts eloquently.

Unfortunately, there is something else to consider. Once your article is out among the newsgroup(s), there exists the possibility that others will "harvest" your e-mail address and begin sending you unsolicited commercial e-mail messages. Several users have taken to the practice of intentially munging their e-mail name. For example, in Config, Setup, [Personal Information], "E-Mail:", enter: name@host.nospam.com which would then require those who wished to reply to an article would have to manually edit out the obvious extraneous section.

For discussions about the problem, see:

The Challenge of Mass Communication - Freedom and Responsibility in Cyberspace
by Will Peterman (http://cogsci.ucsd.edu/~wpeterma/telecom.html)

Advertising on Usenet: How To Do It, How Not To Do It
by Joel K. Furr (http://www.danger.com/advo.html)

Death to Spam: A Guide to Dealing with Unwanted E-Mail
by Steven William Rimmer ( http://www.mindworkshop.com/alchemy/nospam.html)

Anonymity on the Internet FAQ
Compiled by L. Detweiler (ftp://rtfm.mit.edu/pub/usenet/news.answers/net-anonymity/)


[ Contents | Chapter 1 ]

Most recent revision: March 31, 1997
Copyright © 1997 , Brian H. Smither.
All Rights Reserved.
E-MAIL: Brian Smither