Welcome to comp.unix.questions and comp.unix.wizards [Monthly posting]

Welcome to comp.unix.questions and comp.unix.wizards [Monthly posting]

Post by Steve Haym » Mon, 05 Feb 1990 17:09:21

[Last changed: $Date: 90/01/03 15:27:13 $ by $Author: sahayman $]

Comp.unix.questions and comp.unix.wizards are two of the most popular
and highest volume newsgroups on Usenet.  This article is a monthly
attempt to remind potential posters about what is appropriate for each
of the two newsgroups.  If you would like to make any suggestions about
the content of this article, please contact its maintainer at
sahay...@iuvax.cs.indiana.edu  or  iuvax!sahayman .

A companion article includes the answers to some Frequently
Asked Questions.  You may save yourself a lot of time by reading
that article before posting a question to the net.

If you have not already read the overall Usenet introductory material
posted to "news.announce.newusers", please do.  Much of this article
overlaps with the common sense guidelines posted there.

             Should I Post My Unix Question to the Net?

Often the answer is "No, you can get an answer a lot faster without
posting a question." Before you post, you should try -

    o Reading the manual for your system.  Some day you may encounter
      the phrase "RTFM", which stands for "Read the Fine Manual"
      (except 'F' doesn't really stand for "Fine").  If you ask
      someone a question and they tell you to RTFM, it's an
      indication that you haven't done your homework.   For instance,
      if you are having trouble removing a file whose name begins
      with a "-", check the man page for "rm".  It might tell
      you what you need to know.

      When people use terminology like "read(2)", they are referring
      to the "read" man page in section 2 of the manual (which you
      would see by using "man 2 read").

    o Finding a knowledgeable user at your site.  Many sites have
      at least a few Unix experts who will be happy to help you
      figure out how to remove a file whose name begins with "-".
      Many larger sites, particularly universities, may even have
      paid consultants whose job is to help you with Unix problems.
      Check with them first.

    o Find a good introductory book on Unix.  There are plenty of
      such books available, and you will save yourself a lot
      of trouble by having one handy and consulting it frequently.

Please remember that comp.unix.questions and comp.unix.wizards are
read by over 50,000 people around the world, and that posting a question
to either of these groups will cost a lot of time and money by the
time your article is distributed to Japan, Australia, Western Europe,
Israel, and all corners of North America.

Also, some people receive these newsgroups as part of a mailing list
rather than a newsgroup.  If you're one of these people, please don't
send a "Remove me from this list" or "UNSUBSCRIBE"  message to the
wrong place.  Take the time to figure out where you're getting this
stuff from, and send your request to the mailing list maintainer, *not*
to the list or newsgroup itself!  Ask your local postmaster for help.
(One of the answers in part 2 of this document deals with the
details of the mailing list.)

    Should I Post to "comp.unix.questions" or "comp.unix.wizards" ?

Comp.unix.wizards is intended for advanced discussion of Unix features - the
sort of topics the average user never thinks about.  Simple questions
about using normal commands should never go there.  Unfortunately, it's
often hard to tell whether your question is simple until you know
what the answer is.  A good rule of thumb is -

    Don't post to comp.unix.wizards unless *you* *yourself* are
    a Unix wizard.

Don't post to comp.unix.wizards just because you want to get the
attention of a unix wizard.  Many unix wizards read comp.unix.questions
also and will be happy to help you out if they see your question there.

Some other newsgroups may be more appropriate than either of
comp.unix.questions or comp.unix.wizards.  These include:

    comp.lang.c         General discussion of the C language
    comp.std.c          Discussion of the ANSI/ISO C standard
    comp.std.unix       Discussion of Unix standards and particularly
                        the IEEE 1003 POSIX standard.

              What Information Should I Include?

It's hard to include too much information.  There are hundreds of
different Unix systems out there, and they all have less in common
than you might think.  If you have a problem and are posting an
article, please be sure to mention:

    o A descriptive subject line.  Many people will decide whether
      to read your article solely on the basis of the subject line,
      so it should be a good statement of your problem.

      NOT GOOD                          GOOD

      "Help"                            "How do I sort a file by line length?"
      "Csh question"                  "csh dumps core when I use '$<'"

    o What computer you are using, and what specific version
      of the operating system it uses.  For instance,

            SunOS 4.0.1, Sun 3/50
            4.3BSD-tahoe, Vax 11/780
            SVR3.2, 3b2

    o If possible, the *exact* text of any error message you
      may have encountered.

      WRONG                             RIGHT

      "I can't print this file"     "When I type 'lpr Filename', I get
                                      lpr: Filename: File too ugly to print
                                     What does this mean?  It isn't in
                                     the man page.  This is using
                                     Mueslix 9.3 on a Fax 68086502"

It's a good idea to post unrelated questions in separate articles,
so that people can keep different discussions separate.   It's also
a *very* good idea to include a line or two like this:

    "Please mail your answers to me and I'll summarize what I get
     and post the results to comp.unix.questions."

This prevents many identical responses from different users to the
same question from clogging up the newsgroup.  And make sure
you really summarize what you get - don't just concatenate
all the mail you've received.

It's also a good idea to read comp.unix.questions for at least a couple
of weeks after you post your article to see what followup articles
are posted.

                Should I Post an Answer to a Question?

It's very tempting to post an answer to a question you read on the net,
especially when you think "Aha, finally - a question I can answer!"
Consider though that when a simple question is asked, such as the
sort about to be answered below, many other people around the
world already know the answer and may be posting their own reply.
In order to avoid dozens of replies to simple questions, please
wait a day or so and see if anyone else has already answered
the question.  If you have something special to contribute, please
do so, but make sure you're not duplicating something someone else has
already done.

You should feel free to reply to any question >by email<.  Even if
the user gets 200 responses to his question, at least the load on the
rest of the net is minimized.

                    What About Posting Source Code?

Posting small amounts of example code is fine (use comp.sources.unix to
distribute complete programs) - but please make sure that your code
runs (or at least compiles) properly.  Don't just type it in while
editing your posting and hope it will work, no matter how sure you are
that it will.  We all make mistakes.

                        What About Those People
       Who Continue to Ask Stupid or Frequently Asked Questions
         In Spite of The Frequently Asked Questions Document?

Just send them a polite mail message, possibly referring them to this document.
There is no need to flame them on the net - it's busy enough as it is.

Steve Hayman    Workstation Manager    Computer Science Department   Indiana U.
sahay...@iuvax.cs.indiana.edu                                   (812) 855-6984