A Stamp Collector's Guide to the Net

This is meant to be a few hints to start off members of the Raleigh Stamp Club, but please write if you find this useful or have suggestions for new additions.  If you remember some term that caused you confusion when you first started doing electronic philately, and you don't see that term here please drop me a note.

yes this will be sorted and linked when it is done...


Netiquette:  It just means etiquette on the internet.  Use common sense -- even if it isn't common -- and you'll be ok.

Before posting to a newsgroup, read it for a while and find out the rules of the road in that group.  Some groups allow binary files (like pictures) to be posted...others do not.  Some groups welcome commercial posts...others prohibit them.  Don't ask for gardening tips in an astronomy newsgroup.  If there is a FAQ for the newsgroup, read it before posting.

Hints:    Sarcasm doesn't carry well on the net.  There are no facial expressions to clue the other person into your real meaning.  In addition, there are plenty of readers who do not know english or know english well.  If you insist upon using sarcasm, think about using an emoticon.

Emoticon silly little face put in a note.  For example ":-)" is a smilie face (look at it sideways).  There are a zillion combinations of these things (eg" ;-)"  for wink," :-0" for suprise...you get the idea).  They can be annoying when overused, but can also avoid misunderstandings.

Internet:  means alot of things to a lot of people.  At this point, just think of it as the electronic network that lets you send electronic mail, post and read the thousands of newsgroups out there, send and receive files, pictures, and web pages from most any where in the world. 

FAQ:  Frequently Asked Questions.   Generally a file with the most commonly asked questions and their answers in a given newsgroup.  This file will be occasionally posted on the newsgroup in question, may be accessible on a web page somewhere, and will probably be available from the FAQ newsgroup

ListServ: a more primative (but still very useful) way of communicating on the net about some subject.  Instead of having a newsgroup, some computer runs a special computer program and has two or three email addresses.  One address is for administrative matters like adding or deleting your address from the list of people currently subscribing to that list.  The other address is for broadcasting...when you send a note to that address, it is duplicated and mailed to every person currently subscribed to that list.  This can be hundreds or thousands of people.  Be sure you don't confuse the two addresses!

There are quite a number of philatelic listserves.  The biggest is philatelic.com, which is moderated (with a very light hand) and allows commercial messages.  There is also the freelist (???), a list for stamp dealers, a smaller list for revenue collectors, a zillion special listserves run by Dave Tilton (xxx).  The oldest stamp listserve is "the stamp list", but I can not recommend it and believe it may no longer be in existance.

Chat room

Search Engines.  Can't remember somebody's email address, etc?  Before posting on a newsgroup, use one of the many search engines out there to obtain the answer on your own.  These web sites index the web pages and newsgroups and allow you to query their database to find the pages or messages that you are looking for (and a whole bunch that you weren't looking for :-)  !


Moderator/moderation.  Some listservs and newsgroups are free-for-alls.  There is no "boss" and anybody can post whatever they want.   Unfortunately this also means there is no guarantee that the messages sent will be on topic or follow the charter of the group.  A moderated list/group has some number of moderators who keep the group on track either by having to approve each post before it is distributed, or by deleting inappropriate messages after the fact.   Moderated groups tend to have less "junk", messages may be distributed more slowly if somebody must first approve them before distribution. 

Spam the bane of the net.  Junkmail on the net, generally idiotic "make money quick" pyramid schemes.  Don't respond to these posts in the newsgroups!  They are typically crossposted to a zillion other newsgroups so you make matters worse by responding. 

UCE unsolicited commercial email...see Spam

Troll Someone who deliberately posts provacative and argumenative notes with the goal of stirring up trouble and seeing how long they can keep the "flame war" going.  If you see a post that is so outrageous as to be unbelievable, don't believe it and don't respond...it is probably a troll (or somebody so outrageous that you wouldn't desire a conversation anyway!)


FTP File Transfer Protocol:   another way of getting files and programs from the net. 

Newsgroup:  Basically an electronic bulletin board where anybody can post a note.  Each newsgroup has a topic that all posts are supposed to relate to, a charter (which are the rules for that newsgroup), and if you are lucky a FAQ to help you out. 

The two newsgroups that may interest you most are rec.collecting.stamps (abbreviated R.C.S) and alt.collecting.stamps. 

Most newsgroups should be availabe to you regardless of how you log onto the net and are free of any charges/fees.  This is true of R.C.S and alt.collecting stamps.  

There are some other philatelic "news areas" that are only available to some people on the net...for instance the "chat rooms" of AOL can only be used by people who have an AOL account.

Another company - Delphi - has a stamp area and it is currently accessible to everyone with no extra charge.  (Recommended!)

There are also some philatelic newsgroups that you must pay a fee for access to (deuling modems).  I am unfamiliar with them but some reputabile people are associated with these groups.  There is also

Flame/flamed now used to mean anything from a disagreement to a disparagement.  If you post something and you get a polite note of disagreement you have NOT been flamed.  If you post something and get hundreds of notes of disagreement, you probably deserve to be flamed.  If you get some number of posts threatening your (wo)manhood, your dog, your credit history and/or the horse you rode in on, you've been flamed! 

If you feel the need to "flame" somebody, do it in a private note to the person.  Know that if you are irrational or nasty your note will probably get no consideration at all.  Beware trolls who won't bother reading whatever you say.  Don't post your flame to the newsgroup unless you want to be flamed yourself.

Crosspost:  Sometimes a message is posted into more than one newsgroup at a time because it concerns more than one related subject.  BE CAREFUL doing this.  If the message really isn't appropriate to all the groups, you may get flamed.  Worse yet, this is rude.  If crossposting into more than 2 groups, stop and reconsider.  Why does this matter?  Anybody who responds to your post will probably also be crossposting into all those groups.  Because of this, the number of messages being posted into all those newsgroups can snowball.

Responding to a post  PAY ATTENTION to where you send your notes.  If you hit your "reply" button when reading a message on a newsgroup, maybe you are responding to just the author...and maybe you are sending the note to the other 10,000 people who read that newsgroup.  Same thing when responding to email that you got from a listserv...are you replying to the author or to the whole list?  Everybody goofs up on this once, but if you do it twice you will be deservedly flamed.


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Last Modified: 11/8/97 by Scott Marusak