Korpela's 42 Laws about Usenet

  1. Asking in a wrong group is not guaranteed to result in flames only; you will also get wrong answers.
  2. If a message does not get to the point in the first sentence, there's probably no point to get to.
  3. If a message begins with addressing an individual, it was probably not worth sending by E-mail either.
  4. If a signature is longer than four lines, the content before it is probably even more boring than the signature.
  5. The standard way to start an obfuscating article is "Let's make things clear".
  6. On the average, Usenet cannot be much more than average postings by average people; optimists think that it need not be signicantly less.
  7. If a message has been sent to more than one group, the odds are that none of the groups is the right one.
  8. Any group reorganization intended to keep disturbing people away will attract them.
  9. There are two ways to learn how Usenet works: by getting flamed, and by looking at others getting flamed.
  10. It is generally impossible, and quite unnecessary, to distinguish trolling from deep stupidity.
  11. Silence is golden, especially when you have nothing to say.
  12. Usenet is British and not French as regards to politeness: it is not impolite to let discussion drop, it is impolite to make it go on after everything has been said.
  13. On Usenet, parodies fail, because Usenet itself is a parody.
  14. Any attempt to convey a message by telling a joke is doomed; jokes can be fun, at most.
  15. You won't be taken seriously, unless you are humorous once in a while.
  16. Declaring victory is effective in Usenet discussions; but it makes the opponent a winner.
  17. Advertizing works on Usenet; but the effect is opposite to the intended one.
  18. "I just found..." usually means that someone thought he found a clever way to advertize.
  19. FREE things aren't.
  20. Telling your real name in the From line helps in not revealing too much about yourself.
  21. Address munging may or may not reduce the spam you get; it surely reduces the number of useful answers you get.
  22. Comprehensive quoting indicates lack of comprehensive reading.
  23. Posting a question that has been answered in a FAQ will normally result in six replies from people who failed to check it, too.
  24. People who post bogus answers seldom bother adding a FAQ reference, or any reference.
  25. You need to be an expert to recognize expert advice, but distinguishing nonsense from serious attempts is usually simple, once you know how Usenet works.
  26. Experts digress, too, but only after solving the problem or proving it to be unsolvable.
  27. Anything you ask is just an incentive to others to make some vaguely related comments; but their comments might not actually be related to what you asked.
  28. Usenet is one of the quickiest ways of getting yourself misunderstood worldwide.
  29. There's no such thing as explaining things too simply on Usenet.
  30. Usenet punctuation uses two or more consecutive exclamation marks (!!) to indicate that there is nothing surprising or of great interest being said.
  31. Usenet punctuation uses two or more consecutive question marks (??) to indicate lack of any question worth answering.
  32. Usenet punctuation uses three dots (...) to indicate that the poster does not know what to say but says it anyway.
  33. All capitals means you want capital from others for nothing.
  34. All lower case means your case couldn't have lower value. (Note: This law 34 should not be confused with rule 34.)
  35. There are no simple questions, just people who forgot to ask their real question.
  36. A quick question is one that was formulated quickly, thus greatly increasing the time needed for getting a useful answer.
  37. Old threads never die; they just fade away.
  38. The only way to help a heated discussion is to stay away from it.
  39. Any Usenet message longer than 100 lines is probably spam or piece of ugly flame war, though at times it could be just a pointless bulk of irrelevant data or a most boring monologue. (This used to be: "The number of people who read a message is inversely proportional to its length.")
  40. The probability of getting your message through is inversely proportional to the number of times you post it.
  41. When the same questions are raised over and over again, every round introduces new disinformation.
  42. The average usefulness of a thread is inversely proportional to the cube of the number of groups it is posted to.

On 2002-02-04 I wrote, in a response to a crossposted article, an article where I mentioned Korpela's 42nd law, and I was asked where the rest are. So I had to invent write them down.

This document is part of my material about Usenet, which contains a list of recommended further reading about Usenet.