Redbrick Newsgroups

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The Redbrick newsgroups, "the boards", are essentially an electronic bulletin board. People can post messages asking for help, talking about the latest news item, discussing computing or just generally ranting about anything at all. The newsgroups have remained highly active over the years, though they tend to be more popular among older generations of Brickies, while the younger, trendier crowd are more likely to hang out on IRC. As an alternative to newsgroups, you can take a newspaper clipping from about twenty years ago, pin it to your wall and stare at it until you die, you fat bastard.

Accessing the boards

To gain access to the newsgroups, simply type "news" at the prompt.

News1.jpg

And you'll be greeted a screen that looks like this:

News2.jpg

Just hit return to continue.

Initially, you won't be subscribed to any of the newsgroups and your screen will be empty, like this:

News3.jpg

so to see them hit L (shift + l)

News4.jpg

and then *, followed by return. This should display all of the boards.

News5.jpg


The groups you are not subscribed to will be marked with U, which will be all of them if this is your first time. Move up and down the list to view the available groups. If you wish to subscribe to a group simply highlight the board and press the s key.

Navigating

To navigate the groups use the up and down arrow keys. When you find a board that you want to read, hit the return key. You will then see a list of posts by other users. You can scroll up and down through the post with the u and d keys respectively.

Highlight the post you wish to read using the arrow keys and then hit return. You will now be able to read that user's post. To go back to the list of posts hit h. To back to the list of boards hit q.

You will notice that all responses to a particular topic appear under the heading for that topic. This series of messages is called a thread.

Posting

On the main screen highlight the group you want to post to and press the p key. When asked if you want to post, press y.

Let's try redbrick.hello

News6.jpg


It will now display the name of the board you're post to, so hit return. The next option is to give your post a title. Make it as clear as possible. When you're done, press the return key.

News7.jpg

Now your text editor will launch and you can type your post. When you are done, save the file in the usual manner. The default text editor is Nano, so this will be ctrl + x, and then y to save and quit.

News8.jpg

You will be asked to confirm that you want to post, simply press y again.

Your message will now appear in that group

News9.jpg

...and what it looks like

News10.jpg

Replying/Following up

Replying to someone else's post is very straightforward. Whilst viewing the post, simply hit the f key. The options from there on are very similar to posting yourself, so simply follow the instructions as before.

If you wish to reply directly to the user by mail, hit the r key instead.

Saving

When you are reading a posting, and you want to save it, hit the o key. You'll then be asked what filename you'd like to save it to. Simply enter where you would like the file to be saved and what you want it saved as i.e.

~/savedPost

Then just hit the return key and the post is saved.

Crossposting

Sometimes you may want to post the same article to more than one newsgroup, because the article may be of interest to more than one audience or you want to get a wider response. If you simply post copies of the article in the usual way to each newsgroup, it not only takes more of your time but anyone subscribed to both groups sees the message twice, which can be pretty annoying. ;)

The crossposting mechanism allows you to post one copy of the article simultaneously to more than one newsgroup. With some newsreaders, including slrn, reading a crossposted article in one group marks it as read in the other groups, if you read more than one of the groups in question, you see the article only once. Crossposting is always preferable to making multiple separate identical postings.

To crosspost an article, start by posting as usual to one of the newsgroups in which you want the article to appear. Look at the headers of the article. For example the headers of this post are as follows:

Newsgroups: redbrick.babble
From: "Mr.Sephiroth" <Moridin@3l33t.RedBrick.cx>
Subject: Re: Website hosting
References: <slrnae2607.gus.henough@Prodigy.redbrick.dcu.ie>
Reply-To: moridin@redbrick.dcu.ie
Followup-To:

The top line, Newsgroups: specifies the groups that this message will get posted to. Now, suppose I want to post this both to redbrick.babble and redbrick.help. In that case the headers need to be amended to the following:

Newsgroups: redbrick.babble,redbrick.help
From: "Mr.Sephiroth" <Moridin@3l33t.RedBrick.cx>
Subject: Re: Website hosting
References: <slrnae2607.gus.henough@Prodigy.redbrick.dcu.ie>
Reply-To: moridin@redbrick.dcu.ie
Followup-To:

Now the message will go to redbrick.babble and redbrick.help. You need to make sure that there are no spaces between the names of the groups on the newsgroups line, i.e. it's just comma delimited.

Followup articles normally appear in the same newsgroups as the original article. The author of the followup article can change this by editing the Newsgroups: line in the header. The author of the original article can also change this, by editing the Followup-To: line, which is normally blank. If the Followup-To: line is not blank, all followup articles appear in the specified newsgroup.

This is commonly done in two situations. First, the author of the article may want to attract the attention of readers of several newsgroups, but then restrict any followup discussion to one newsgroup. For example, I'm going to set the follow-ups to this post to go to redbrick.help, as I'm being nice and helping you to understand stuff. ;)

Second, the author may want all responses to go directly to him/her via e-mail, so that he/she can prepare a summary of them to post later. Placing the word poster in the Followup-To: line accomplishes this.

Finally, here's the headers for this post after all my modifications to them:

Newsgroups: redbrick.babble,redbrick.help
From: "Mr.Sephiroth" <Moridin@3l33t.RedBrick.cx>
Subject: Re: Website hosting
References: <slrnae2607.gus.henough@Prodigy.redbrick.dcu.ie>
Reply-To: moridin@redbrick.dcu.ie
Followup-To: redbrick.help

Then you can continue to post as normal. :)

Links

Newsgroups - Web based version of the boards.

RBOnly:NewsgroupRSSFeed - access details for a RSS feed of the newsgroups

In-Jokes - explanations of some of the common boards in-jokes.

Top Ten Arguments - a list of the most common debates.

Using the boards with Thunderbird - how to use the boards in Thunderbird.