Ra-Ra Google Groups and Netiquette

The problem described below (in the box) has been fixed, and the default behaviour when posting from Google Groups now conforms to Usenet conventions. Google has also added a note at the top of the reply form informing posters that they are posting to a Usenet newsgroup, and providing a link to a brief description of Usenet.

The links beneath are still valid and provide infomation on Usenet practices that have developed over the last quarter century.

Ga-Ga Google Groups and Netiquette

The new Google interface to Usenet newsgroups encourages a posting style appropriate to a web forum, not Usenet. By default, the previous message is not quoted. The following notice, which I have posted in response to several Usenet novices posting through groups.google.com, explains the problem and tells how to respond properly, even with Google's broken interface:

This is Usenet, not a web forum (though it is also bastardized on several web sites). You cannot know whether the reader can see or has seen the previous posts, or, if they have been seen, whether the reader remembers what they were about or can still see them.

When using groups.google.com to reply to a Usenet article (better to use a real newsreader), click on "show options" at the top of the article, then click on the "Reply" at the bottom of the article headers. This will quote the previous message in the accepted manner. Trim the parts of it that are not relevant to your follow-up.


  1. Click the "Reply" link at the bottom of the article.
  2. Click the "Preview" button.
  3. Click the "Edit Message" button.

You can vote for new/changed features of groups.google at http://groups-beta.google.com/support/bin/request.py?contact_type=features; most important is the option: "Default quoting of previous message in replies"


See also:

General netiquette

Top Posting


Crossposting and Multiposting

last modified 12-Apr-2007