Do you have something to share that you think others will enjoy? Or do you have a ground breaking new idea that you know is awesome, but you are not sure just how to get started? Well, we are very fortunate to have access to the global communication mecca that is the internet. One of the best resources on the internet today to connect with others and engage in meaningful conversations is the Usenet newsgroups. The Usenet is one of the oldest communities on the internet and is made up of hundreds of thousands of discussion groups on topics ranging from space travel to software design. With all of the groups available on the Usenet, chances are, there is already a newsgroup where people just like you are talking about or sharing the same things. The best way to connect with others and help your idea grow is to start a discussion on the Usenet. The Usenet is a very fun place filled with lots of awesome communities and it is very easy to join. But like most communities on the internet, there is a certain etiquette that must be used when talking to others that is widely accepted by Usenet users. This etiquette is used to encourage clear communication and fuel an ongoing discussion.
Find the newsgroup that is right for what you want to discuss
Before you can have a discussion, you need to have some idea of what you are going to talk about first. Gather your thoughts and once you know what you would like to talk about, decide how you would best describe your topic. The terms that you use to describe your topic will help you determine which Usenet newsgroups you will want to use when posting your discussion question or thought. For example, if you have a question about the newly found Higgs-Boson particle, you would want to send your post to a newsgroup where people are talking all about the science of physics – say newsgroups sci.physics or sci.physics.research. Since the Higgs-Boson is a topic that is likely to be discussed in both groups, you could post in one or the other or both. In fact, posting in both newsgroups (referred to as cross posting) could make for a richer conversation because you are reaching out to a larger audience.
Match the tone of the Usenet newsgroups where you are going to post
Whenever you join a new community it is always best to take your time and get familiar with those in the group and their rules and customs etc. Posting in a newsgroup is no different. If you want to be accepted and fit in right away, what you need to do is read a good sampling of the messages in the group and take note of the style of their posts – for example do they include links or excerpts from other sources on the internet to support their discussion, or do they include background information before their questions – then structure the body of your post to match that of the other posts in the newsgroup.
Keep your post short and to the point
As a general rule of thumb, peoples’ attention span especially when reading things online is short. Say what you want to say with as little copy as possible while still getting your point across. Be clear and be concise and stay on topic. When you communicate clearly and your post is on topic people are more likely to respond and engage in conversation with you.
Keep your post’s subject line short and sweet
The subject line is one of the more important elements to consider when writing your post. Your subject should be written with as few words as possible while at the same time giving a clear description of what your post is about. Once you get more comfortable you can play with your subject line and what gets the most responses.
Post your message and watch the newsgroups for responses
Once you have gone over your post a few times and you’re sure you have the style right and you have said what you set out to say, its time to post. After you have posted, you need to give others time to respond. Also make sure you respond to their posts in a timely fashion as well. Timely responses will spur the conversation and keep people engaged.
Be ready to respond and always be kind and courteous
People don’t like to be left hanging. So if someone takes the time to respond to your post, always extend the same courtesy. The internet is made up with people from all walks of life, so you never know what you are going to get. Always be courteous and kind in your responses, doing so will make for a richer experience for all and make others feel comfortable to jump in on the discussion.
After you have posted a few times and you get more comfortable, your posts will likely take on a more natural tone to reflect your particular style and as you get familiar with particular newsgroups, the people in those groups will get more familiar with you. That’s the time when you all will have a blast talking about this and that. After a while, your posts will become less rigid and you will be and old pro ahead of your time – all because you followed the proper Usenet newsgroup etiquette.