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Archive-name: singles-faq
Posting-Frequency: biweekly
Last-modified: 2000/08/14
Version: 3.0
Maintainer: trygve lode ( )

     FAQ (long version)
   maintained by Trygve Lode ( )
   Last-modified: 2000.08.14

the current version is available at FAQ, short version, available at
   Welcome to! is a place to hang out, discuss
   issues serious, mundane, and silly, flirt, share embarrassing personal
   secrets, and generally let your hair down and have fun. Whether you're
   just reading or are feeling brave enough to leap headlong into any of
   the ongoing conversations or start a new one, you'll find a varied
   collection of people from around the world all working to keep your
   newsreading time from getting boring. Just be warned: is
   not a place for personal ads, requests for penpals and/or sexually
   explicit email, commercial advertisements, or test messages. Remember
   that there are real people behind the messages you're reading and
   responding to, and if you treat them with the consideration and
   respect you'd give to a bunch of people you just met at a party,
   you'll be 77.4% of the way to being an accepted and valued contributor
   This document is called the "FAQ" (short for "Frequently Asked
   Questions") and hopefully contains information that will make it
   easier to follow and join in on the various conversations happening on at any given time. No warranty is expressed or implied;
   for external use only; if rash persists, consult a physician.
Think of this bit here as being sorta like a table of contents:

   - Commonly encountered abbreviations and jargon
   - What is a 'boink'?
   - Should I post personals ads on
   - How about commercial ads?
   - What if my site doesn't carry alt.personals or soc.penpals?
   - OK, if I'm not supposed to post personals, what kinds of articles
          should I post?
   - Do I have to be single to post on
   - Just what does "single" mean anyway?
   - What's the difference between and
   - Is there anything besides personal ads that should be avoided?
   - Sometimes, seems very intimidating--it's like everybody
          knows everyone else and it's hard just to jump in to all the
          ongoing conversations.
   - What if I don't like any of the current discussions or just find
          them all boring?
   - I finally worked up the courage to post my first message and nobody
          responded to it. Do you think that the soc.singlers are
          conspiring to ignore me?
   - Help! I just posted an article and got flamed horribly for it-- will
          I ever be able to show my face in public again?
   - Hey--someone just posted a personal ad to! Should I
          flame the pants off this person?
   - is just full of flaming and angry-sounding people this
          week; can't you guys all just get along?
   - Sometimes I write stuff that is just so incredible I think I should
          crosspost it to every other newsgroup on the net. Is that okay?
   - What is this "editing" stuff I keep hearing about?
   - How about editing subject headers?
   - What else can I do to improve my ASCII appearance?
   - What do these weird combinations of punctuation marks I see
          frequently in people's messages mean?
   - How do you pronounce "soc"?
   - What's a ".GIF" ".JPG" or ".MPG"?
   - Is there a World-Wide Web page for
   - What, exactly, are "Disney Chemicals"?
   - How do you pronounce "Trygve"?
   - How come nice guys don't get laid?
   - How come nice guys/gals/small furry creatures from Alpha Centauri
          get dumped for jerks/bimbos/hyperfungal Rigellian
   - I met someone last week at a party; what do you think this person's
          deepest and innermost feelings for me are?
   - Is it possible for men and women to be just friends?
   - Do conversations on the net ever blossom into torrid romances?
   - What about personal ads?
   - Will this message ever end?
   - How about posting articles asking for readers to send postcards to a
          kid in England who is dying of cancer and wants to set the
          world record for most cards received before he dies?
   - How come there are so many kooks on the net?
   - OK, we're getting near the end of the file now--what's this about
          "killfiles" that you promised to tell us about?
   - Is there any copyright on this FAQ?
   - Are you sure I can't post personals on
    OK, you can stop thinking of this as being like a table of contents
Commonly encountered abbreviations and jargon:

   [ A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z ]
          As Far As I Know
          As Far As I Can Throw You
          American Standard Code for Information Interchange;
          technically, this refers to the encoding scheme whereby the
          internally stored binary numbers used by computers correspond
          to human-readable symbols like "A", but in common usage on the
          net, ASCII also refers to anything that's made of standard text
          characters: "@}--,--`---" is an ASCII rose, for example.
          Basis In Fact
          Been There, Done That
          By The Way
          "Disney Chemicals" ( see below )
          "Dreaded Monogamy Virus"
          Frequently Asked Question(s)
          An emotional, often personal attack on another person's
          article; "I disagree with your statement because of X" is not a
          flame, whereas "I disagree with your moronic statement and the
          fact that you would say such a thing proves you're a complete
          idiot" is.
          Something posted publicly that appears designed to inspire
          flames; usually this is a postion that is not only likely to
          annoy a lot of people but is also worded in such a way as to
          arouse the ire of readers.
          Friend Of A Friend (Generally used for apocryphal stories.)
          File Transfer Protocol; a way to transfer files between your
          computer system and another. For information about FTP, send
          e-mail to "" with "send
          usenet/news.answers/finding-sources" in the body of the letter.
          For What It's Worth
          For Your Amusement
          For Your Information
          Hope This Helps / Happy To Help
          Another kind of "chat" program for Windows-based machines. Each
          ICQ user is identified by a unique number.
          If I Recall Correctly
          In My Humble Opinion (engineers often prefer to use JMHO)
          In My Not-So-Humble Opinion
          Internet Relay Chat -- "chat rooms" where several participants
          can type at each other in real time as opposed to leaving
          messages to be read later as one does on newsgroups.
          Love At First Sight (Alternatively, "Love At First Site" for
          those in a hurry.)
          Long Distance Relationship
          Let's Just Be Friends (now considered a verb)
          Lust Object (occasionally also Love Object)
          Laughing Out Loud
          Long Term Relationship
          Someone who reads a group, but doesn't post; doing so is called
          Member Of The Opposite Sex
          Member Of The Same Sex
          Member Of The Appropriate Sex
          Member Of the Inappropriate Sex
          Compressed format for sound files commonly used for
          distribution over the net
          No Basis In Fact
          Nice Guy/Gal (also NewsGroup)
          Nude In Front Of Computer
          Not That There's Anything Wrong With IT
          On The Other Hand
          Public Display of Affection
          The "sound" of a poster being added to a killfile; also used as
          a verb: "I plonked Sylvia 'Snuffelupagus Slayer' DeCrisco, so I
          missed her discussion on foot odor."
          Person of Opposite Sex Sharing Living Quarters
          Point Of View
          ProblemYoungerMan (also ProblemYoungerMutant)
          Romantic Interest
          Rolling On The Floor Laughing (also ROFL)
          Real Life
          Romantic Partner
          Real Soon Now
          Stay-At-Home (as in SAH parent)
   sig or .sig 
          "Signature," a short, standardized message tacked on to the end
          of all one's posts; usually consisting of 1-4 lines of text,
          containing one's e-mail address, employer, favorite pithy
          quote, and/or other pertinent (or impertinent) personal
          Sexual Market Value
          Sensitive New-Age Guy
          Significant Other
          Articles that are inappropriately posted to large numbers of
          newsgroups; these are usually, though not necessarily,
          commercial ads, but whatever their nature or content, they're
          considered a Bad Thing[tm].
          Thanks In Advance
          Three Letter Abbreviation
          True Love & Eternal Happiness
          Someone who posts articles just to get attention or annoy the
          other readers and posters; also used as a verb and, if you take
          the [flame]bait and respond as if it were a serious post,
          you've been "trolled."
          Waiting For You In The Bathtub Wearing Nothing But Lime Jell-O
          What The Heck
          Your Kink Is OK
          Your Milage May Vary
          Gender-neutral pronoun equivalent to "She or He" (Alternate
          spelling: "Sie")
          Gender-neutral pronoun equivalent to "Him or Her" or possessive
          pronoun equivalent to "His or Her" (Alternate spelling: "Hir")
The rest of the FAQ:

   What is a 'boink'? 

          Any publicly announced gathering of participants
          and lurkers. Frequently these last for days and involve the
          flying in of out-of-town celebrities.
   Should I post personals ads on 

          No. Personal ads belong in the alt.personals groups; there are
          even groups for people with specific tastes (e.g.
          alt.personals.poly, alt.personals.bondage,
          alt.personals.hamster.duct-tape). If you want to post a request
          for pen-friends rather than a personal ad, there's also
          soc.penpals which is dedicated for just that very thing. Do not
          post personals in, you will annoy the readership
          and not get any positive responses.
          Many, many web-based personals ads sites are available, both
          free and pay services. Checking Yahoo shows several hundred
          category matches if you search on "personals"; so, you may wish
          to add some more search words or just start browsing.
   How about commercial ads? 

          They should also be avoided. Indeed, on the great majority of
          newsgroups, any commercial advertising will be received with
          hostility. The net is built on the voluntary cooperation of
          many machines across the world, owned by businesses,
          governments, and educational institutions, and because the
          owners generally don't want to be paying for the distribution
          of competitors' advertising and, in the case of educational and
          governmental machines, they may have strict policies against
          carrying any advertising at all, one of the basic premises of
          the net is a "gentleman's agreement" not to post commercial
          messages outside of the groups specifically set aside for that
          purpose (comp.newprod and biz.*). Even for pragmatic reasons,
          it's best to avoid commercial messages, simply because you
          generally don't want to kick off an advertising campaign by
          irritating your potential customer base. For more details
          concerning the commercial use of the net, you may wish to check
          out the articles your system should have available in the group
   What if my site doesn't carry alt.personals or soc.penpals? 

          Even if your site doesn't carry a given group, it's still
          possible to post to it; fortunately, that's really all you need
          to be able to do with a personal ad, since you would normally
          be getting responses back in email anyway. A number of
          "mail-to-news gateways" exist that will take email messages you
          send them and post them to any Usenet group, whether it's on
          your system or not (and even if your system only gives you mail
          capability and doesn't support news at all).
          If you have web access, you can read news and post from
          DejaNews, which allows you more to search other people's
          personal ads more easily than most newsreaders. If you are
          using a newsreader / posting program that allows you to modify
          your headers, many if not most will still let you post to a
          newsgroup that your site doesn't carry; it may just ask you to
          confirm that you really do want to post to the specified
          newsgroup and haven't just mistyped it.
   OK, if I'm not supposed to post personals, what kinds of articles
   should I post? 

          Think of as the electronic version of something
          that's partway between a cocktail party and a soap opera.
          Appropriate posts should be both interactive and
          entertaining--that is, their content should both invite the
          participation of others in the electronic conversation and be
          entertaining to its readers. You might pose an open question to
          the readership about some aspect of the human condition as it
          applies to singleness or you might reply to another
          contributor's post and add an observation that sheds light on a
          different aspect of the issue under discussion or just makes
          some people out there laugh and shoot Pepsi out through their
          noses onto their computer keyboards. Personal ads are a good
          example of what sort of posting isn't appropriate because they
          are neither of these--they aren't conducive to public
          discussion nor are they entertaining.
          Remember, the best way to get a positive response on any group
          is to post something that will pique the interest of the other
          readers and entertain them as well. On, the best
          thing to do is simply to post a message that expresses a
          stunningly profound observation that is fundamental to the
          human condition as it relates to singleness, one that is
          unobvious yet clarifies many of the more confusing interactions
          between singles and MOTAS and is expressed with succinctness,
          humor, an easy, flowing writing style, and-- perhaps most
          importantly--good spelling and the effective use of an editor.
          Some days we'll just settle for someone who can spell and use
          an editor. Then, wait for fan mail while composing your next
          When in doubt, the best thing to do is read the newsgroup for a
          while, at least until you get a feel for what's going on; as
          the old saying goes, "lurk before you leap." (This is generally
          a good approach for any newsgroup, not just You
          may find it easier to leap into a conversation in progress.
          Don't feel shy about "butting in": one of the advantages of the
          net is that everyone can get a word in without interrupting
          anyone else or being thought rude for speaking up. Keep reading
          until you get to a message that inspires an interesting comment
          or observation of your own and put that in a followup message;
          or, if you're feeling really brave, start a whole new thread
          and invite others' comments on a subject that you think is
          Don't forget who your audience is--people will be reading your
          words all over the world with all kinds of software and on all
          sorts of service providers. They might not have read an article
          you're responding to, gone to the dance club down the street
          from where you live, be using the same software you are, or
          know what the message numbers are on your service provider
          (they're different on every system); try to include enough
          information so that a typical reader will understand what
          you're talking about without feeling too confused.
   Do I have to be single to post on 

          No. The only requirement is that you have been single at some
          time in your life, know someone who was, or are interested in
          some of the subjects that people meeting either of these
          conditions have been known to talk about.
          Soc.Singles isn't exclusively for singles or where non-single
          people are unwelcome, but simply a place where it's normal to
          be single. The rest of the world often feels like it's built
          around couples as the basic social unit, leaving singles
          feeling awkward, left out, or like a "third wheel." The basic
          "social unit" for is the individual, where you're
          not defined by whom you're with or any less by not being with
   Just what does "single" mean anyway? 

          In the context of, it means "unmarried"; there's a
          tendency for "singles' issues" being discussed on
          to be directed towards people who don't currently have a
          long-term committed partner, but anything interesting and/or
          important to people who aren't married is appropriate.
   What's the difference between and 

          As the name suggests, is a moderated
          group; that means that your articles get sent off to the the
          "moderator" to be approved before they appear. In this
          particular case, you just have to invoke the secret password
          (which is revealed in the FAQ) and all
          your subsequent articles will be approved automatically. This
          technique was taken to eliminate hit-and-run advertising and
          flamebait from people who aren't interested in taking the time
          to read the group and get rid of the massive cross-posting
          that's usually used to create long-running, pointless
          Many of the same people post to both groups or at least read
          them both and will occasionally drop in a comment in the group
          they don't participate in as much. It's also permitted to
          cross-post between and, but
          most of the time it's not appreciated and will tend to confuse
 readers who haven't gone through the approval
          process on, because their articles will
          get bounced back and not posted to either group.
   Is there anything besides personal ads that should be avoided? 

          Of course there are other things that are best avoided--perhaps
          the most important of these are emotional issues for which
          other newsgroups have been created. Topics like abortion,
          politics, religion, anything by Robert McElwaine, and other
          such things are best avoided, not because they aren't valid
          issues, but because, like personal ads, it's too easy for them
          to take over the newsgroup and drive off those of us who
          participate on because we like
          Remember, anyone who wants to debate abortion can go to
          talk.abortion and anyone who wants to post and read personals
          can go to alt.personals*--but if gets turned into
          there's no newsgroup where the soc.singlers can go to continue
          their discussions.
          It's also good form to avoid messages that are pretty much
          content-free: don't, for example, quote an entire message that
          you agree with and then append "Yeah, what she said" to the
          end. Test messages should also be avoided--if you're unsure
          whether your messages are getting out or not, post something to
          misc.test and you'll get confirmation messages from various
          sites around the world to let you know your posting software is
          On, like any other group, it's best to avoid the
          urge to post spelling flames--if you catch a spelling error or
          a typo in someone else's post, it does very little good to post
          a public message about it, since the other readers will either
          have noticed the error themselves--and don't need to be told
          about it--or they won't care--in which case they don't need to
          be told about it. If it's an informational post that's going to
          be reposted later or a signature, you may want to inform the
          poster in e-mail, but unless you can turn the spelling error
          into an outrageously witty observation (e.g. the original
          poster has just made a screamingly funny Freudian slip in
          print), there's no reason to post spelling flames publicly.
          If you get the urge to add to a pun chain, please don't quote
          all the puns so far and then add a pun that already appears
          earlier in the message. If you do think of a pun or other witty
          rejoinder to add to someone else's article, it's a good idea to
          read any followups that have already been posted before posting
          your witty response, just to make sure that three or four
          people won't have made the same remark already.
          Finally, don't ever post chain letters, regardless of whether
          they're disguised as plans to create "mailing lists" for big
          bucks or not--posting such a message on or any
          other newsgroup is likely to get your account revoked. It's
          been remarked that the "Make Money Fast" chain letters are one
          of the few crimminal activities in which the perpetrator signs
          his name at the bottom; not only does this make it easy to
          report the person posting the article to his or her sysadmin
          (and getting the account in question revoked), but the IRS does
          consider illegal income taxable and would probably want to
          check up on whether the writer claiming to have received
          hundreds of thousands of dollars in the mail has paid
          everything from income tax to self-employment tax on that
          money. (In the unlikely event that the writer actually has
          received that kind of money, there may even be a reward to the
          person who brings this to the attention of the IRS.)
   Sometimes, seems very intimidating--it's like everybody
   knows everyone else and it's hard just to jump in to all the
   ongoing conversations. 

          Remember that every poster on had to post his or
          her first message sometime and, even now, it's no more
          difficult for you to press the followup-key than it is for
          anyone else. Sometimes it helps just to read the newsgroup for
          a while--get a feel for what's going on and what the other
          posters are like, what sorts of topics have already been beaten
          to death many times over, and what sorts of insights, knowlege,
          and experience you might have to add that others might not
          think of. When you do decide to leap into the fray and post
          something, don't be discouraged if it doesn't get a response
          right away or even if it gets a negative response--after all,
          the net is an imperfect medium and it's easy to be
          misunderstood, so don't feel too bad if you sometimes don't get
          your ideas across in quite the way you had intended. If you
          keep your cool and continue participating, people will get to
          know you, you'll get to know them, and misunderstandings will
          become less frequent.
   What if I don't like any of the current discussions or just find them
   all boring? 

          On the net, just like in real life, when you don't like
          something, you're better off working constructively to change
          it instead of just complaining about it. If you'd like to talk
          about something else, then post a message about it and add
          enough of your thoughts about it that the other contributors
          will have something to bite on. Writing, "what do you think
          about single people who bring their pet squids on dates?" is
          good, but "what do you think about single people who bring
          their pet squids on dates? I was on a date last week with
          someone who insisted in bringing 'Sigmund' the squid along and
          taking pieces of food off my plate to feed to Sigmund without
          asking first." is even better.
          In general, the worst thing that you can do is post a message
          along the lines of "this group sucks; I've read every single
          message on this group every day for five years now and each one
          has been worse than having my toenails ripped out using a badly
          misaligned electric can opener." Remember that all the people
          posting to and reading are real people and tend to
          react rather like people would if you were to walk into a party
          and sulk in the corner, loudly shouting out "this party sucks"
          every few minutes while the people all around you are busily
          having a good time. If the messages aren't to your liking,
          either try to contribute positively towards making the group
          more what you'd like it to be, use killfiles more extensively,
          or locate another group that is more to your liking. Just
          announcing your displeasure is unlikely to motivate the other
          participants to post things that you'll want to read, since
          obviously they must be enjoying the current tone and content of
 or they wouldn't be contributing to it.
   I finally worked up the courage to post my first message and nobody
   responded to it. Do you think that the soc.singlers are conspiring 
   to ignore me? 

          Alas, the contributors to soc.singlers are far too disorganized
          to conspire against anyone. Most messages don't generate
          responses anyway, otherwise the volume of would be
          even greater than it is. So, you may need to post a few
          messages before anyone responds to something you've written. If
          you want to maximize your chances of getting a response, try to
          make sure that your articles contain room for others to
          respond--they should invite others to add their thoughts to
          yours and, ideally, say something new and different that will
          get the attention of your readers. Sometimes messages can even
          be too good--they can simply cover the whole subject and do it
          so authoritatively that there's nothing left for anyone to say,
          so not getting a response to a message doesn't mean that people
          aren't reading it or aren't interested by it.
   Help! I just posted an article and got flamed horribly for it-- will I
   ever be able to show my face in public again? 

          Yep; just make sure you don't show it by posting a .gif of your
          face to a non-binaries group. The truth is that most people
          flame articles, not people--you could post two messages in one
          day and have one flamed mercilessly and the other lauded with
          ASCII roses by the same people. Just because someone flamed you
          for something you said doesn't mean that the person in question
          hates you--the best thing to do is just take it all in stride

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