Finding Information on the Net

FAQS = Frequently Asked Questions

You may have a problem or need help or just have something you're incredibly curious about. While news.newusers.questions isn't the place to do your research, we can usually point you in the right direction.

At least some information about almost anything can be located on the World Wide Web, so a web search engine is a good place to start. You can begin a search for web sites by using Yahoo! It's at -- Just enter a word or phrase to search for, and that'll help you find some of the FAQ resources for that topic or group. If you don't find exactly what you want on the first attempt, try again using a different search engine. They don't all work the same, so you probably won't get exactly the same list of matches on different engines. (Links near the bottom of this page)

If you're using Netscape, the button called [Net Search] will lead to -- a collection of different web-search services and programs. These can help you look up pages, newsgroups, locations, even people!

If you get too many matches, and the first few aren't what you really want, check the page for a button for "advanced search" -- it should lead you to instructions on how you can restrict the search to get a more manageable list of matches. Enclose phrases in quotes if you want only matches where the words appear together and in the same order.

You can also use the World Wide Web to search for information from newsgroups postings. Google Groups has a large searchable archive of newsgroup postings. You can also search for newsgroup information using the Alta Vista search engine. (Links near the bottom of this page)

In newsgroups you may see people directing each other to "Read the FAQ first!" and wonder, What is an FAQ? FAQ stands for Frequently Asked Questions. FAQs are usually lists of questions (with answers) that are asked over and over by newcomers to a group or people who are new to a certain item or piece of software. Some FAQs are troubleshooting guides or pointers to helpful information, even if it isn't asked about on a regular basis. Sometimes these are called periodic postings. In any case, it's a collection of helpful information for readers of a newsgroup.

If you're new to a newsgroup, you should read its FAQs. These posts often start with the keyword FAQ: but some start with INFO: or GUIDE: or ANSWERS: or ABOUT: or ADMIN: or HELP: or something similar. FAQs are usually posted to a newsgroup anywhere from once a week to once every two months. When in doubt, post the question "Where can I find a copy of the FAQ for this newsgroup?" and then go find it!

Many of the more traditional FAQs can be found in the newsgroup (news:news.answers) news.answers. You can also find more specific subsets of FAQ posts if you look in the other *.answers groups, like alt.answers or rec.answers. Additionally, you can easily find some of the FAQs for a group in, like or -- try it!

For more information, please read:

If you prefer searching through the web, please visit which is also searchable by newsgroup or keywords.

How do I get the Charters for newsgroups?

For newsgroups created in the "Big 8" hierarchies (comp, humanities, misc, news, rec, sci, soc and talk) since about 1989, you can find the their charters at This archive actually contains all formal proposals (RFD postings) and vote results, so it also contains proposed Charters for groups that failed to pass their vote for creation. For newsgroups that did pass, the CFV (Call For Votes) and the final RESULT posting contain the "official" Charter as passed. When your retrieve one of the files, look to the bottom of the page for the most recent portion of the documentation. The RESULT posting is usually the last one at the end of each page.

For alt.* groups, there is no "official" source for Charters. However, at you will find a large archive of "newgroup control messages", including those for alt.* groups. Those "control messages" often contain Charters, when one exists.

Note that files with a '.Z' extension have been compressed with the Unix 'compress' program. You'll need a program that can uncompress .Z files to read them. (If you need one, WinZip handles them easily (, just provide a txt extension when asked. You can also check the various shareware/freeware sites to see if you can find a different program to use.)

If you do *not* want to have to use a decompression program *at all*, there is a "trick" that you can use on some FTP servers. For information on the "trick", see At this time, this "trick" still works for files from the UUNet FTP server, which are basically the same files as those on the site shown above and, in fact, most of their links are designed to use it automatically. To use this "trick" to access the UUNet archived files, begin with these URLs; for RFDs, CFVs and Charters for control messages (newgroup, etc.)

How do I find out who initiated the group and/or if it is moderated?

For "Big 8" groups, the Request for Discussion (RFD) will tell you who proposed the newsgroup and the CFV and RESULT postings will include the Charter, which will tell if it is moderated. For alt groups, the control message will usually tell you this. The old-fashioned (and probably the best) way to find out if a group is moderated is to *READ* the groups you're going to post to, to make *sure* that your posts are appropriate there. While you're reading the group, check the full message headers; if the group is moderated, there will be an "Approved by: " line in the headers.

Watch you don't get dusty while digging through these wonderful archives! <G>

If you're just looking for the topic of the group and to find out if it is moderated, some newsreaders will show the information from the "For your newsgroups file" line along with the name of the group in the list of all newsgroups on the server. That line should include a "moderation flag" for moderated groups -- the letter "m" indicates moderated, the letter "o" means the group is open (not moderated).

Another method is to look at the article "Checkgroups message (with INET groups)" posted monthly to news.announce.newgroups, news.groups, and news.admin.misc. This is a complete list of all the official "Big 8" newsgroups with their moderation status.

If the Checkgroups message has expired from your server, you can also obtain a listing of currently "real" newsgroups with their "For your newsgroups file" line via FTP from . This file is almost 2 MB in size, so you may want the compressed version of the file at (See above for information on decompressing the file.)

Web search engines:  search the web  search newsgroups and the web  search the web  to search for newsgroups on a specific topic or other newsgroup research  another search engine for the web  to search for ftp sites  to search for ftp sites  enter the name of a group in the search box to get a week's worth of postings and any FAQs that have been crossposted to news.answers for that group

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Last Updated: Monday, January 3, 2005

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