The USENET Handbook: A User's Guide to Netnews

Mark Harrison

O'Reilly & Associates 1995
A book review by Danny Yee © 1995
After some introductory material The USENET Handbook has four chapters on particular newsreaders: nn, Trumpet, tin, and emacs/gnus. Since I'm a trn user myself, I skipped these completely. The rest of the volume seemed to be quite a decent (if rather eclectically organised) collection of more general information. One chapter covers when to post and when (and what) not to and how to handle binaries and images. Another offers information on such things as using ftp and mail servers, archiving and indexing newsgroups, gating newsgroups to mailing lists, and using Netscape as a newsreader. My favourite chapter covered topics such as signatures, ascii art, flames, jargon, hoaxes and trolling. The closing chapters are on finding and obtaining software and pictures and on using email.

The USENET Handbook seems like a reasonable choice amongst the many books on Usenet, though the fact that it is aimed at Unix users probably biases me in its favour. (Despite the chapter on Trumpet, it is assumed in several places that the reader is using Unix.) There were a few annoying things. The digressions (by Valerie Quercia) appear on textured backgrounds that hinder easy reading. One of them also contains a basic mistake — it suggests not cross-posting so that people won't see your post multiple times. As with so many other books on Usenet, The USENET Handbook includes (as an appendix) a fifty page list of newsgroups and descriptions. This seems unbelievably pointless to me, given that any such list must be almost immediately out of date and that up-to-date information should be easily available on-line. (The rest of the appendices are more useful.)

July 1995

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%T The USENET Handbook
%S A User's Guide to Netnews
%A Harrison, Mark
%I O'Reilly & Associates
%D 1995
%O paperback, index
%G ISBN 1565921011
%P xiv,372pp