alt.comp.freeware FAQ

Archive-name: alt.comp.freeware FAQ.
Posting-Frequency: irregular
Last-modified: March 19th, 2010.
Posted to : alt.comp.freeware

The following topics are addressed:

1 )   What is an FAQ ?

2 )   What is the purpose in having FAQs ?

3 )   What is the purpose of the alt.comp.freeware newsgroup ?

4)    What is computer freeware ?

5)    Can I ask questions about and/or post info/links about "free internet/DSL/goods and other stuff in this newsgroup ?

6)   Can I post "binaries" to this newsgroup ?

7)   Is this a "text only" newsgroup ?

8)   Can I ask for help to "crack" software and/or ask general "warez" questions ?

9)   Can I post "test" messages here ?

10)  What is priceless-ware ?

11)  What do the terms "spyware", "trojans" etc. Mean ?

12) Why do people post comments about action being taken on "spam" posts ? Wouldn't it be better to just ignore them ?

(13) Where can I learn more about "spam" etc ?

(14) Do I still have to read these spam threads or is there a way to avoid them ?

(15) Can I "Top post", post in HTML only, use a fake name, post as multiple people (sock puppets) etc. ?

(16) If a certain application is requested and no freeware version exists but an
adware, demo ware or commercial version does, should we mention it ?

(17) Why ?

(18) I see people talking about "trolls" in the newsgroup. What are they and what should I do about them ?

(19) Where can I get help in using freeware utilities/programs ?

(20) Some posters make large numbers of individual posts. Why don't they just make a single post with all the links listed together ?

(21) If people have a lot of links then why put them in the newsgroup at all ? Why not put them on a web page ?

(22) Some posters suggest I "killfile" posters I don't like eg. (20) and/or subjects I am not interested in. What are they talking about ?

(23) Some people get help in using a particular freeware program while others get told to go to a particular newsgroup. Why is this ?

(24) Why do some posts have "OT", "AVU" etc. in the header ? What do these things mean ?

(25) I post to the newsgroup using a web browser and Google. Some readers say that they don't see
my posts and/or that I should use a newsreader to post. What is a newsreader ?

(26) Where can I learn more about using newsreaders and/or get comparisons/recommendations
for newsreaders ?

(27) Is there any other way to make the newsgroup easier/more enjoyable to read ?

(28) Is there any way to get better answers to my questions in A.C.F. ?

(29) The above is too much work. Isn't there any other way for me to read about freeware without all the "noise" ?

(30) So how do I find/subscribe to a "moderated" newsgroup, mailing list or web forum that discusses freeware ?

 

1 ) WHAT IS AN FAQ ?

An FAQ is an answer to a frequently asked question, or questions.

2 ) WHAT IS THE PURPOSE IN HAVING ANSWERS TO FREQUENTLY  ASKED QUESTIONS ?

Regular readers of newsgroups get very tired of reading/answering the same questions over and over again. Having answers to frequently asked questions means that people do not need to waste their, and everyone else's, time by asking/answering a question that has been asked dozens of times before.

The questioner gets his/her answer(s) more quickly and people don't need to see the same questions/answers over and over again. This makes newsgroup reading more enjoyable for everyone.

3 ) WHAT IS THE PURPOSE OF THE ALT.COMP.FREEWARE NEWSGROUP ?

To discuss matters relating to computer freeware.

4) WHAT IS COMPUTER FREEWARE ?

In the context of A.C.F. it generally means legally obtainable computer programs/utilities that anyone with an internet connection can obtain free of (additional to internet) cost and does not have any "limitations" as to it's use, e.g. only being able to be used for a certain time period and/or only having some features able to be used.

Freeware can of course be obtained from "other sources" than the internet but as the majority of the A.C.F. readers often cannot access them, such discussion/sources, are generally avoided/discouraged.

Programs that cost money, or are time limited, are commonly called "shareware" or "demos". Those that are free, and that have some functions that cannot be used, are commonly called "crippleware" or "liteware". The former if main functions are disabled and the latter if main functions are still usable.

Programs that include advertising (generally called Adware) should be discussed in alt.comp.adware. All these are generally considered inappropriate for discussion in alt.comp.freeware

In the case of magazine CDs one cannot usually get the software without paying for the magazine so many consider that this makes discussion of such programs OT "Off topic". If however one can get the programs on a magazine CD via the magazine's web site, and there is no purchase cost involved, the programs would be considered freeware.

If a program doesn't fit easily into the above definitions eg. requires a postcard (postcardware) or requires any other non monetary payment then it should be clearly stated that this is the case.

5) CAN I ASK QUESTIONS ABOUT AND/OR POST INFO/LINKS ABOUT "FREE INTERNET/DSL/GOODS/FREE EMAIL" AND OTHER STUFF IN THIS NEWSGROUP ?

       No. See (3). This would be considered "off topic". Such things can be posted in newsgroups such as ;

      alt.internet access alt.internet.access
      alt.internet.access.wanted alt.internet.access.wanted
      alt.internet.free-services alt.internet.free-services
      alt.consumers.free-stuff alt.consumers.free-stuff
      alt.internet.providers.america alt.internet.providers.america
      alt.internet.providers.africa alt.internet.providers.africa
      alt.internet.providers.europe alt.internet.providers.europe
      alt.internet.providers.uk.free alt.internet.providers.uk.free
      aus.net.access aus.net.access
      alt.internet.providers.usa.dsl alt.internet.providers.usa.dsl
      alt.internet.services alt.internet.services

      Americans can also consider visiting this site ;

      http://freeinternetaccess.home.att.net/free-internet-access-comparison.html

      Free stuff : alt.consumers.free-stuff

      Free email : free.email

6) CAN I POST "BINARIES" TO THIS NEWSGROUP ?

No. This is not a binaries newsgroup. You can however post binaries (as long as they are freeware) to alt.binaries.misc or alt.binaries.freeware and mention it here.

7) IS THIS A "TEXT ONLY" NEWSGROUP ?

Yes, any non text e.g. HTML posts, are considered unwelcome. Most HTML newsreaders can be set to post in text.

8) CAN I ASK FOR HELP TO "CRACK" SOFTWARE AND/OR ASK GENERAL "WAREZ" QUESTIONS ?

No, the focus of this newsgroup is "legal" software only. You will not get help with either question(s).

9) CAN I POST "TEST" MESSAGES HERE ?

No. The newsgroups such as alt.test are for that.

10) WHAT IS PRICELESS-WARE ?

It is freeware that the members of this newsgroup consider to be the best available in different categories. It can be found....

on my Pricelessware page here.
An earlier Pricelessware version from 2004 is here.
A shorter, but more up to date, Pricelessware version can be found on the BearWare site here.
A very very much longer Pricelesswarehome version can be found here.

11) WHAT DO THE TERMS "SPYWARE", "TROJANS" ETC. MEAN ?

A trojan is a file that is often hidden in, added to, or replaces a file that is obtained for another purpose. For example, someone may think that they are downloading (only) a file editor and it may secretly have a virus included.

A number of advertisement supported freeware programs have had additional software included (hidden ? hence the term "trojan") that keeps track of which web sites one visits and then sends this information to another web site without the user even knowing that this was happening. More information on this can be obtained by looking at pages such as here or here.

Or in the newsgroup alt.privacy.spyware

12) WHY DO PEOPLE POST COMMENTS ABOUT ACTION TAKEN ON "SPAM" POSTS ? WOULDN'T IT BE BETTER TO JUST IGNORE THEM ?

No. By posting "comments" the anti-spammers ;

(A) Point out to other readers that a post is "spam" (often adding the word "spam" to the header). Sometimes spam isn't obvious. This action often saves other people from wasted time/effort.

(B) Point out to other readers that someone has taken "action" on the post.

(C) Point out to actual/potential spammers that their ISP will almost certainly be contacted should they choose to spam in this newsgroup. This can result in them losing their internet account.

(D) When anti-spamming action is taken/explained this helps others to do similar.

(13) WHERE CAN I LEARN MORE ABOUT "SPAM" ETC ?

By reading the Spam FAQ.

(14) DO I STILL HAVE TO READ THESE SPAM THREADS OR IS THERE A WAY TO AVOID THEM ?

The anti-spammers generally add the word "spam" to the title of spam posts. This means that if you set your newsreader to "mark read", or "delete", these posts you will avoid reading them.

(15) CAN I "TOP POST", POST IN HTML ONLY, USE A FAKE NAME, POST AS MULTIPLE PEOPLE (SOCK PUPPETS) ETC. ?

Certainly, but keep in mind that if you do any/all of these things then some people will ignore (killfile) your posts. This means that there will be fewer people reading your posts if you should ever want help.

(16) IF A CERTAIN APPLICATION IS REQUESTED AND NO FREEWARE EXISTS BUT AN ADWARE, DEMO WARE OR COMMERCIAL VERSION DOES, SHOULD WE MENTION IT ?

No.

(17) WHY ?

Mainly because it isn't needed.

(A) Almost every program has a freeware counterpart.

(B) If *you* don't know a freeware solution it doesn't follow that there isn't one.

(C) People who go to a freeware newsgroup expect to find out about freeware. There are newsgroups for the discussion of adware, spyware, shareware etc. for people who have these interests.

(D) In the unlikely event that freeware isn't available then the lack of response to the poster's query should suggest to him/her that that is the case. This means that he/she should be looking elsewhere for his/her program and/or ask again a few months later (in case something new is written in the mean time).

(E) If you think that a poster should know about a non freeware option then you can email him/her your suggestion. This saves readers of the group bandwith and the time to read about non freeware options.

(18) I SEE PEOPLE TALKING ABOUT "TROLLS" IN THE NEWSGROUP. WHAT ARE THEY AND WHAT SHOULD I DO ABOUT THEM ?

A "troll" is a post that is made for the purpose of getting people to "react" quickly/emotionally to it. One internet definition refers to the fishing term : "trolling", a style of fishing in which one trails bait through a likely spot hoping for a bite. The "troller" sits back and is entertained by the rush of stupid people/internet "newbies" who reply (bite). Some troll posts also attract angry responses and are termed "flame bait". A troller (troll poster) who can make a single post, and get dozens of comments/replies to it, usually thinks him/herself to be very clever.

An example might be where someone posts in a Catholic newsgroup that the pope is secretly a paedophile, or gun runner. Troll posts often have little/no truth in them and/or little/no relevance to the newsgroup that they are posted in. They are usually controversial. The "important" thing is that they "get a response". As many as possible.

As the reason a troller posts is to get as many replies from people as possible anyone who does reply/comment is in fact encouraging the troller to post. Other trollers can then join in to "enjoy the fun". In view of this waste of time/bandwidth it is best to resist the urge to reply/comment on troll posts.

(19) WHERE CAN I GET HELP IN USING FREEWARE UTILITIES/PROGRAMS ?

One can often get help from :

(A) The READ.ME file that is often included with an installation.
(B) The FAQ that is often included with an installation and/or on the web site of the author.
(C) The "Help" file included with the program.
(D) Many programs have mailing lists for users to ask questions/get answers.
(E) Some programs provide a "user forum" on their site for users.
(F) Some programs have "public", or "private", newsgroups set aside for them.
(G) With some programs there is "How-to", and other helpful info, on web sites other than the author's. A search engine can often find such sites.
(H) *If* a freeware writer encourages feedback then one could contact him/her. Otherwise one should leave them to spend their time improving their existing program/utility and/or releasing new freeware.

IF one has done all the above then one could ask for help in ACF. If one does that however it may be a good idea to mention which of the above one has already done. So that people don't waste their/your time suggesting you do things already tried.

(20) SOME POSTERS MAKE LARGE NUMBERS OF INDIVIDUAL POSTS. WHY DON'T THEY JUST MAKE A SINGLE POST WITH ALL THE LINKS LISTED TOGETHER ?

Because with a long list many people will re-quote it in total when only commenting on one of the items. This makes reading/commenting on such posts more time consuming/difficult for many people. With individual posts it is much easier to find/follow threads about a particular recommendation, and comment on it, if desired. If one doesn't want to see these posts then killfile the people who make them. See 22.

Individual posts also make it easier for people to killfile topics/programs that don't interest them. Also, some people keep newsgroup posts so if there are multiples they can save what they want and delete the rest. One big post would necessitate saving a lot of info one didn't want.

(21) IF PEOPLE HAVE A LOT OF LINKS THEN WHY PUT THEM IN THE NEWSGROUP AT ALL ? WHY NOT PUT THEM ON A WEB PAGE ?

For a number of reasons :

Some people read the newsgroup offline. If they are on dialup and need to connect again to visit the web, to see the recommendations, this can cause them a lot of unnecessary work. They might not be interested in any of the items recommended.

Not everyone who recommends freeware has web space to put things on.

Not everyone who recommends freeware knows how to make/upload even basic web pages.

Not everyone who recommends freeware has the time to do the above. Posting to a newsgroup is both faster and easier. It also makes it easier for people to comment on, and discuss, individual recommendations.

Going to a web page is not only slower than reading a text post but it also uses up more bandwidth.

(22) SOME POSTERS SUGGEST I "KILLFILE" POSTERS I DON'T LIKE EG. (20) AND/OR SUBJECTS I AM NOT INTERESTED IN. WHAT ARE THEY TALKING ABOUT ?

"Killfiling" is a term used to describe the process of filtering posts. For example, a newsreader can killfile a particular poster and/or subject eg. Linux so that anything matching that criteria is "marked read" or "deleted". Either way one then does not need to read anything by those posters or in those threads. Check your newsreader help file for items such as filtering/killfiles/bozo bin etc.

More about killfiling/filtering can be found here.

(23) SOME PEOPLE GET HELP IN USING A PARTICULAR FREEWARE PROGRAM WHILE OTHERS GET TOLD TO GO TO A PARTICULAR NEWSGROUP. WHY IS THIS ?

Most freeware does NOT have a newsgroup that discusses it soley. Where this is the case however the people reading/posting there will usually have much more experience/knowledge about the program/utility than people in ACF. So going to the suggested newsgroup should result in you getting more/better help.

(24) WHY DO SOME POSTS HAVE "OT", "AVU" ETC. IN THE HEADER ? WHAT DO THESE THINGS MEAN ?

These things are added to certain posts to make it easier for people who want to filter out (killfile) those particular types of posts. So that they can avoid seeing and/or reading them.They mean as follows :

(AVU)   Anti-virus update
(OT)    Off-topic
(PL)    Pricelessware list
*SPAM*  Spam

(25) I POST TO THE NEWSGROUP USING A WEB BROWSER AND GOOGLE. SOME READERS SAY THAT THEY DON'T SEE MY POSTS AND/OR THAT I SHOULD USE A NEWSREADER TO POST. WHAT IS A NEWSREADER ?

A newsreader is a program that enables people to read the messages in a newsgroup. Some newsreaders (often termed online newsreaders) require you to be online while reading the newsgroup posts. Other newsreaders (often termed offline newsreaders) enable you to read while online or after you have downloaded the messages and disconnected from the internet.

If you are online then you can reply to posts immediately after you read them, if you want to. If you reply to a post when offline (from the internet) then you can re-connect to the internet (and post/send) or queue up your replies so that they can be sent when next online.

(26) WHERE CAN I LEARN MORE ABOUT USING NEWSREADERS AND/OR GET COMPARISONS/RECOMMENDATIONS FOR NEWSREADERS ?

You could ask about newsreaders in A.C.F. but you would probably learn more from reading newsgroups such as the alt.usenet.offline-reader newsgroup. Also, some freeware newsreaders have their own newsgroups.

(27) IS THERE ANY OTHER WAY TO MAKE THE NEWSGROUP EASIER/MORE ENJOYABLE TO READ ?

Yes, apart from killfiling certain posts and/or posters (22) you can also use the "Ignore Thread" and/or "Ignore sub-thread" option in your newsreader. Just look for subject matter that obviously isn't about freeware. For example, if a thread "subject" has someone's name in it then you can be pretty sure that the bulk (probably all) of the posts will be about that person. Not about freeware.

There may even be freeware subjects that you want to killfile and/or ignore threads on. For example (Linux), (Ubuntu), (Knoppix), (Apple) etc.

(28) IS THERE ANY WAY TO GET BETTER ANSWERS TO MY QUESTIONS IN A.C.F. ?

Yes, when asking for help be sure to mention what operating system you are using. Also, when talking about a program be sure to mention what version you are talking about.


(29) THE ABOVE IS TOO MUCH WORK. ISN'T THERE ANY OTHER WAY FOR ME TO READ ABOUT FREEWARE WITHOUT ALL THE "NOISE" ?

One often finds more "on topic" discussion in a "moderated" newsgroup, emailing list or web forum.


(30) SO HOW DO I FIND/SUBSCRIBE TO A "MODERATED" NEWSGROUP, MAILING LIST OR WEB FORUM THAT DISCUSSES FREEWARE ?

These types of forums either currently exist, are proposed, or are in "beta" testing. If you are an ACF poster who hasn't been involved in flame threads and are willing to be a "beta" tester then you should consider contacting me for more details. Click on my name to contact me.

John Fitzsimons.


This article is provided as is without any express or implied warranties.  While every effort has been taken to ensure the accuracy of the information contained in this article, the author assumes no responsibility for errors or omissions, or for damages resulting from the use of the information contained herein.

Copyright (c) 2010 by John Fitzsimons, all rights reserved. This FAQ may be posted to any USENET newsgroup, on-line service, or BBS as long as it is posted in its entirety (without change) and includes this copyright statement.