The intent of this document is to set official policy on what is and is not acceptable use of the TFN system by its members. Your comments are welcomed.
This document outlines the most common problems to be avoided as you develop your own sense of the community standards of TFN.
Your account is only for your use. If your friend want to use the TFN, you should get them to register. You may not allow them to use your account with you.
You are legally responsible for what you say. Freedom of speech does not give you the right to slander or libel others. You are the sole author and publisher for your posts. For this reason, the software automatically attaches your name and TFN I.D. to all your mail and news.
Spam is the technical term for (i) posting the same message to the same newsgroup too frequently, (ii) excessive crossposting, or (iii) posting a message inappropriate to the newsgroup.
Posting the same message again and again to the same newsgroup interrupts the flow of discussion. It is simply annoying. If no one is interested, you may have the wrong newsgroup. Use the search tools to look for other possible newsgroups on that topic
Crossposting is sending your message into many newsgroups at the same time. It is useful when there are two newsgroups with an overlapping field of interest. It is disruptive when more than a few newsgroups receive the message.
You might want to crosspost when you start a new thread of discussion but you should be sure to tell people where to post the follow-up messages. This way all the messages will go to the most related newsgroup and everyone who is interested knows where to look for it.
*.general newsgroups are not exempt from rules about crossposting. For example, there is no need to crosspost all messages in toronto.general, ont.general and can.general. If the topic is Ontario politics, use ont.general for the daily messages. Monthly you could post a reminder about the discussion in the other groups.
Mostly TFN is self-policing. All members define what the community standards are with each post on the system. If you use language that others find offensive, you will hear from users that object.
Most TFN newsgroups do not have any swearing or offensive language but each newsgroup has slightly different ideas about what is okay. ALWAYS read the newsgroup before posting to know what is the common practice. Some newsgroups have a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) post to help new readers get oriented.
You may also find that some newsgroups have agreements about topics which cannot be discussed there. There are some topics which always result in "religious wars" (For example "What is better PCs or Macs?"). These arguments can't be resolved so a truce may have been declared. Again, read the newsgroup and FAQs to learn what belongs where.
TFN has something to offend everyone. It isn't IF something will offend you but HOW SOON you find something offensive. You always have the choice not to read anything you find offensive.
TFN believes strongly in Intellectual Freedom. But this freedom requires that everyone learn to be tolerant. Generally the best way to handle offensive material is to ignore it. Commenting on the post may be giving the authors the attention they are seeking.
When people stop discussing why their ideas differ and start insulting each other, it is called a "flame war" (because someone ends up as toast). These flame wars can be very disruptive to the rest of the discussions in the newsgroup. Generally you should move your dispute to e-mail when it becomes a flame war. Or you could just stop.
This document does not list all the unacceptable uses of TFN. It is just a list of the common types of problems.