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Article: 252 of rec.aviation.answers
Xref: cfanews rec.aviation.answers:252 rec.answers:4336 news.answers:18837
Newsgroups: rec.aviation.answers,rec.answers,news.answers
Path: cfanews!hsdndev!!!!agate!ames!olivea!!odin!sgi!!geoff
From: (Geoff Peck)
Subject: Netiquette on rec.aviation (regular posting)
Followup-To: poster
Organization: Geoffrey G. Peck, Consultant, San Jose, CA
Date: Sat, 9 Apr 94 03:30:05 EDT
Expires: Sat, 30 Apr 1994 07:00:00 GMT
Lines: 246

Original-from: (Geoff Peck)
Last-modified: 11 Jan 1994 by (Geoff Peck)
Archive-name: aviation/netiquette

[This article is posted to rec.aviation.answers twice per month. It is likely that it has been slightly revised since the last time you read it. Change bars in the left margin indicate revisions, but it is probably worth your while to at least quickly read the entire posting.]

Welcome to rec.aviation. This is one of two regular postings designed to introduce new readers to the dynamics of this newsgroup, and to provide repositories of information which may be helpful to posters both old and new. For those of you who may be new to this forum, you may be interested to know that there are approximately FIFTY-THREE THOUSAND readers of rec.aviation worldwide. This is not "just another BBS" -- in fact, the difference between a conventional BBS and rec.aviation is approximately the difference between a personal copy machine and the _New_York_Times_. So, yes, you may have access to the rec.aviation "soapbox", but please use it wisely.

Please see the Frequently Asked Questions posting for a listing of the 13 newsgroups which comprise rec.aviation.

Before posting an article, please follow the "golden rule" which will make reading rec.aviation more palatable for all of us:


Herewith are some specific guidelines, most of which have been culled from previous postings by me and a few others:

  1. Please check your line lengths. Many readers utilize 80-column terminals, and articles with line lengths in excess of 79 characters cause problems for them. If you wish for others to be able to easily quote your articles, a line length of 72 columns is suggested. On a UNIX system, consider running your articles through "fmt" -- for example, "fmt -72".

    Justified text ("flat" right margins) may look "prettier" in some sense, but it is almost always harder to read than leaving ragged right margins.

  2. Trim down your quotes. Summarize when possible. Use ellipses ("..."). PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE minimize the number of lines which you quote from others' articles. If you must quote verbatim, use the standard prefix '> ' before quote lines so those who are attempting to automatically trim the quotations out may do so. Quote only when absolutely necessary. And never, ever quote others' .signatures. That's totally wasteful.

    Remember that many readers read their news over lower-speed lines -- 2400 or even 1200 baud. Excessive quoting is very hard on these folks. And most people who read rec.aviation do so regularly -- they don't need to read the same article three, four, or ten times in order to understand others comments on the article.

  3. Since individuals post to rec.aviation from all over the world, and stories and pilots' perspectives frequently are at least somewhat tied into the area in which they reside, it would be helpful if you included somewhere in your article or the header where you are from. Sometimes, this appears in the "Organization:" field (see sample in this article), but if it doesn't, it would be nice if you included something to this effect at the end of the article in your signature.
  4. Check the "Distribution:" line in your header. Some systems gratuitously set this to "USA" or some such. Remember that rec.aviation is a worldwide group, and posters throughout the world are most likely interested in what you have to say, especially if you're participating in an ongoing discussion which has up to this point had no distribution restrictions. The simplest thing you can do is to change it to "Distribution: world".

    Also, if you are posting about a topic of interest to only a smaller region, then please use the "Distribution:" line to _limit_ the distribution. Examples of such postings would be inquiries about aircraft, training, or maintenance availability; smaller airshows; smaller fly-ins; or extended discussions about U.S. regulations. Typical useful distributions include: ba (S.F. Bay Area), ca (California), ne (New England), usa (USA), and so on. Check with your site administrator to determine other useful distributions.

  5. Please DO NOT include glossaries with standard vocabulary entries. There is now a bi-weekly "frequently-asked questions" (FAQ) posting which includes a large glossary. If you want something added to it, please contact me. These "mini-glossaries" eat net.bandwidth and are distracting for frequent readers.
  6. If you're asking a "basic" question, please read the "frequently asked questions" posting _first_. It's posted about every other week. If you need a copy right away, send mail to If you're asking for "relatively vanilla" information, rather than a discussion, please consider requesting that people *mail* the information to you; you should normally volunteer to post a summary or a digest of the responses you receive.
  7. Only post if you have something *valuable* to add to the discussion. "I don't know about X, but here's what I don't know about X" postings are a waste of net bandwidth, not to mention the time of other readers. Remember that when you post something to rec.aviation, you are causing an estimated 53,000 people to read what you wrote. If the appropriate audience for what you are writing is considerably smaller (the poster to whom you are responding, for example), please use e-mail instead.

    To add some urgency to these comments, here are Brian Reid's statistics (for the month of August 1992) on rec.aviation:

            +-- Estimated total number of people who read the group, worldwide.
            |     +-- Actual number of readers in sampled population
            |     |     +-- Propagation: how many sites receive this group at all
            |     |     |      +-- Recent traffic (messages per month)
            |     |     |      |      +-- Recent traffic (kilobytes per month)
            |     |     |      |      |      +-- Crossposting percentage
            |     |     |      |      |      |    +-- Cost ratio: $US/month/reader
            |     |     |      |      |      |    |      +-- Share: % of newsrders
            |     |     |      |      |      |    |      |   who read this group.
            V     V     V      V      V      V    V      V
        53000  1151   77%  1876  3586.8     2%  0.14   2.1%  rec.aviation
        As Paul Kube commented,
    	When answering someone's posted question, if you find yourself typing
    	"I don't remember exactly, but..." or "I don't have the book here,
    	but I seem to remember...", STOP.  Take some time (a day or two won't
    	hurt) and do a little research.  Look things up or think them through
    	and get it right.  Post a nice authoritative response that we can all
    	learn from.
        If you've got a bona fide question, or don't understand something, or
        sort of understand it, by all means, speak up in an interrogatory vein --
        that's a great way of getting a discussion going.
  8. Don't post your version of something which has been commented upon and resolved recently -- post only if you have something new and interesting to add. Posting to show off only that you also know something is neither required nor encouraged.

    The volume of traffic on rec.aviation is quite high, making it easy to get behind by dozens of articles. It's often preferable to hold off replying to articles until you've read all the followups; the issue may already be resolved. Users of "rn" should find the "M" (capital M) command helpful -- it marks an article as unread, for the current session. Make your first session "read only" and then go back and respond (or don't) to the articles you've marked.

  9. Ensure that your posting will be of value to a *wide* audience. If your posting is really only of value to a single individual, or a few individuals on the net, use e-mail instead. If your posting is really only of value to yourself, send it to /dev/null.
  10. Sometimes, humorous threads are great. But, sometimes, the first posting has been mildly amusing and we've gone *way* downhill from there. So, if you're trying to be funny, please post a follow-up only if it's *screamingly* funny. Original funnies are usually no problem -- it's the follow-ups which are.
  11. There have been a number of interesting discussions on rec.aviation recently in which there has been too much verbatim inclusion of previous articles. Please, folks, remember that the readership of rec.aviation is a relatively static and loyal community -- chances are that someone reading your article will have read the original, and will quite possibly even remember it. Thus, it's not necessary to include entire articles (or even paragraphs) in your posting in many cases -- a simple summary, like:
          In article <>, (The Ace Himself)
          asked about using a recycled prefromulated framastat as a replacement
          the infamous Continental engine in the Piper Malibu.
          I think this sounds like a good idea, but you'd need to get an autogas
          STC to make it work, and Piper doesn't seem to like autogas...
        will usually suffice.  If you do wish to quote, please, please, gentle
        writers, trim those quotations down.  You are welcome to use ellipsis
        ("...") to minimize the lines you're quoting.
  12. Please don't include signature lines from the original message in the reply. Again: DO NOT QUOTE OTHER PEOPLE'S .signature LINES!
  13. Please, if you're a netter in the USA, consult the Federal Aviation Regulations (FARs) and/or the Aeronautical Information Manual (AIM) before asking simple regulatory questions. Presumably, most readers have a copy of the FAR's, and they can look up and find a simple answer that way. If the answer given in the FAR's is vague, or is contradicted by other FAR's, then it's a fine topic for net discussion. Otherwise, let's try not to waste bandwidth with trivial questions (*reader* bandwidth is really the critical quantity here).
  14. Please speak and write in plain English. When one needs to use technical terms, acronyms, or other words which might not be understood by all who are listening or reading, the speaker or writer should define these terms on first use. (It is better to do this "in line," parenthetically, than to include a glossary at the end of your posting.) Since aviation does make use of many acronyms, there is a list of many of these in the frequently-asked-questions (FAQ) posting which appears regularly. Feel free to use these terms and acronyms in this forum; assume that readers know enough to refer to this posting if they don't know a particular term.
  15. If you use location identifiers (the 3- and 4-letter "abbreviations" for airports and weather-observing stations), PLEASE define them unless they appear in the frequently-asked-questions (FAQ) posting. If you find yourself frequently having to give this definition for a few places, let know and the location(s) can be added to the FAQ.
  16. Don't post silly "conversational" notes -- these are best left to e-mail. Occasionally, these are fine, but when half of the daily rec.aviation volume is consumed by these things, it's very, very | discouraging to most readers.

    Basically, if you can't decide whether what you're sending is appropriate to a posting or to e-mail, choose e-mail.

  17. Your subject line should be indicative of the content of the article. "Dumb question #1" or "There I was ..." is NOT a good subject line -- "Logging Flight Engineer Time in Piper Warriors" is a good one. If the subject has changed since the subject line was originally written, **replace it**. You might also consider deleting the list of referenced articles if they are no longer relevant.
  18. If you are writing about more than one subject, please, please post *separate* articles for each subject, with appropriate header lines.
  19. If you are responding to a group of articles on the same subject, it is easiest for readers to read your comments if you make a single, consolidated response.
  20. For those of us who selectively archive rec.aviation, it would help tremendously if you would include something of the form "in article <>, (Mr. Science) wrote..." in the *body* of any article which is a direct follow-up to someone else's article. This is particularly important if your news-responding software does not include the "References:" line in the header.
  21. Last, but not least:
    Praise in public, criticize in private. Rec.aviation is not a forum in which flame wars are well received. However, it is very important that we maintain rec.aviation as a forum in which constructive criticism can be given after-the-fact. Real-world pilot experiences are important, and we can all learn from the mistakes of others. When posting an original "experience", expect some criticism and second-guessing. When commenting on someone else's actions, do so gently, positively, constructively, and with reason.

    Again, what is required here is for the poster to exercise a bit of judgement and take a bit of time before posting so that the thousands of readers of this group don't have to take so much time reading it. I thank you, thousands of times.

    Comments on this article are, of course, welcome.


This information was provided by (Geoff Peck).

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