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Netiquette describes network etiquette. It sums up acceptable behaviour on the whole of the Internet as well as just newsgroups, however, this is more important on newsgroups as you are addressing a large group of people. There are standards which describe how to reply to a post, standards about use of capitals (capitals equals shouting), standards about being brief and all sorts of issues which are very easy to fall foul of, even quite innocently. I have seen situations where someone subscribes to a newsgroup for the first time, asks a perfectly innocent question and ends up in an exchange of insults merely because of the newcomer's innocence about some apparently obscure convention. It seems this is more often the case in the more technical groups, which is where all these conventions seem to have started, but it can happen anywhere.

Because people seem to feel very strongly about netiquette it is not uncommon for repliers to be very short or even rude to people when they perceive that netiquette has been broken. Generally the new age/pagan groups seem to be a little more laid back, but it is still possible to see people getting hot and bothered about things. (Interestingly there seems to be a weird parallel to religion here. Netiquette started out as a set of conventions to make net communicating easier. The sometimes vitriolic reactions of some people to breaches of netiquette seem to indicate that this oil for efficient communication has now turned into a dogma!) When subscribing, the best thing to do is lurk in the background for a while until you know the score. This can be quite difficult as some of the discussions are often very enticing. It is also well worth reading a guide to netiquette such as the posting style guide on Google Groups. There is also an excellent introduction to the basics of newsgroups on Google Groups here.

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