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Glossary of Usenet Terms


Article A Usenet message
Binary File A message that is specially encoded to permit a non-text file to be distributed using Usenet.  These are found in alt.binaries.* 
Breidbart index A calculation that attempts to identify messages that are cancelable by Cancelbots and other third party cancelers, due to (almost) identical messages being posted to too many groups or too many times.
Cabal The mythical group of powerful News Administrators who control Usenet and its power structure (There is no Cabal)
Cancel The process of telling Usenet to "unsend" a message.  Given the way that Usenet works, the effectiveness of a cancel varies widely.
CancelBot A CancelBot is a computer program that watches Usenet in real time, looking for articles that violate the rules of Usenet.  When the articles are spotted, a third party cancel is issued.
CancelMoose(tm) The proponent of NoCeM. Also one of the pioneers in CancelBots
Cross-Posting Sending a message to more than one group at a time.  This is usually done by putting a comma after the first group name, and adding more groups. 
If the additional groups are closely related to the topic of the message, this might be appropriate, but generally it is a bad idea.
Expire The process of removing messages from a news server when they have exceeded the retention time.
Flame An article whose purpose is to humiliate the target of the flame.  One of the tools used to enforce Netiquette.
Followup The public reply to an article.  Followups should always have a subject beginning with Re: and the original topic.   Frequently changing the topic for no reason is one of the traits of a net.kook
Godwin's Law  "As a USENET discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches one."  There is a tradition in many groups that, once this occurs, that thread is over, and whoever mentioned the Nazis has automatically lost whatever argument was in progress. Godwin's Law thus guarantees the existence of an upper bound on thread length in those groups. 
Headers The first portion of an article (normally hidden by your newsreader) that identifies important characteristics of the message.  In (Free)Agent, press H to see the headers.
Ignoring a Thread A feature of a good newsreader that allows you to ignore all future followups to an existing Subject:   Once a thread devolves into a personality conflict or wanders off-topic, you may want to ignore the rest of the thread until it goes away.  Press I in (free)Agent
Kill Filter A feature in many news readers that discards / ignores messages based on the name of the sender, the subject, or other rules.  Agent contains Kill Filters, Free Agent does not
Looser Gen-X for Loser.  Frequently seen in flames attempted by newbies
net.kook They come in many varieties.  Some oppose the Cabal.  Some just have to push the limits of Netiquette until folks are forced to push back.
net.lawyer A person who posts legal opinions to Usenet, but has no provable professional credentials. 
They often have very innovative legal theories.
Netiquette The generally accepted rules of conduct for the Internet - mostly applies to posting to Usenet.
Netizen (from Internet and citizen ) or cybercitizen is a person actively involved in online communities.
NewsAdmin Your local delegate in the Cabal (There is no Cabal).  Normally can be reached at news@yourisp.net.  If you want a newsfroup that isn't currently carried, your NewsAdmin is the person to contact.  If you post a Make Money Fast chain letter to news.admin net-abuse.usenet, your news admin will be writing you a letter.
Newbie Someone who has newly arrived on the the shores of the Internet, and is unskilled in its ways. 
Newsfroup An accidental typo made by someone back in the ancient era.  If you want people to think you're either an old-timer or a net.kook, deliberately spell newsgroup with an f.
NoCeM The second generation of de-Spammers. 
Cancelbots have become less "effective" over time, because: 
  • There isn't complete agreement when or if third party cancels are ever appropriate 
    (that pesky Censorship concept) 
  • The sheer volume of cancels has become more of a problem than the messages being canceled
  • Cancelbots leave a clear record of their work.

NoCeM is based on the "Out of Sight, out of Mind" principle.  NoCeM doesn't cancel messages, it just hides them so we don't C eM. 
It's an interesting semantic technical distinction.

*Plonk* The sound made when someone's name is added to a kill filter.
Post Sending a message into Usenet for distribution around the world.
Retention Period How long in days (sometimes hours) a message is kept on a news server before it is deleted to make room for new incoming messages.  Most servers retain messages based on the time the message arrived at the news server - some keep messages based on the time the message was sent.
RFC Request For Comments.  The set of technical rules that define the proper operation of the Internet.  Throw in "The RFCs say you're wrong" to win an argument. 
(Unless the other person may have actually have read the RFCs).
Spam Hippo A widely used system for removing "SPAM" from your Usenet feed. Hopefully, your definition of 'unwanted' matches that of the operators of the Spam Hippo.
Third Party Cancel An attempt to cancel a message by some entity other than the original sender or his Internet Provider's news administrator.  Many News Admins refuse to honor third party cancels.
Thread An initial article, and all of the followups.
Troll A person who deliberately posts Troll Posts
Troll Post A message that has the intent of starting a never-ending thread of pointless messages.   Religion, sexual orientation, politics and ethnicity are common topics.  Combining more than one of the above increases the effectiveness. 
Cross-posting to popular newsgroups ensures a never-ending supply of newbies who will perpetuate the thread.
Warez Illegal copies of unlicensed software. 
Frequently contain viruses, Trojan Horses, backdoors, and other nice surprises.


Commonly Seen Usenet Shorthand
BTW By the Way...
FAIK For All I Know
FOAD Flock Off and Die!
FWIW For What It's Worth
HAND Have a Nice Day (usually sarcasm)
HTH Hope That Helps 
(usually said sarcastically at the end of a flame)
IMHO In My Humble Opinion
ROFL I'm Rolling on the Floor Laughing
RTFM Read the Fine Manual
TIA Thanks in Advance

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