FAQ - Standard Subject Lines, version 1.0

Changes:

None. This is the initial publication of the FAQ.

All comments should go to the discussion group, alt.sex.stories.d, or to the e-mail address at the end of the FAQ.

Introduction:

This FAQ addresses the question "Is there a standard format for the subject lines of stories posted to the alt.sex.stories newsgroup?" The answer, of course, is yes, and the remainder of this message concerns the hows and whys.

Why should you care? Assuming your purpose in posting to the newsgroup is to bring your work to the attention of the widest possible audience, your first and best opportunity is the subject line. Your writing effort will have been wasted if nobody downloads your story.

This is a real problem, because ASS is deluged with junk and spam. In self-defense, therefore, many readers scan the list of new posts for proper-looking subjects and ignore everything else. More sophisticated readers create filters that automatically ignore messages that fail certain tests. Since most of the better and more experienced writers observe the conventions -- generally, if not in every particular -- little is lost by doing so.

Providing a standard subject line doesn't restrict your creativity within the text. It is a way of being part of the solution instead of part of the problem. By observing the standards, you'll gain readers. In a broader sense, you also demonstrate your willingness to be part of the group and share in its (very liberal) norms. Acceptance in this creative, daring and oddball community has its own rewards, as you will discover if you make the minimal effort needed to fit in. Monitoring the ASSD discussion group, where much of the interplay between writers and readers takes place, is highly recommended.

This FAQ has been prepared as a text file and will display best if viewed in a monospaced font such as Courier.

SUMMARY OF STANDARD FORMATS

New Stories:

A properly constructed subject line for a new story consists of the following
elements in the specified order: {Newsgroup} Title Sequence {Author} (Codes). Newsgroup and Author are in curly brackets; codes are in parentheses; spaces separate each element.

For example:

{ASS} Canyon Ladies 03 {J Mitchell} (MF cons)

Reposted Stories:

By author: {ASS} RP Canyon Ladies 03 {J Mitchell} (MF cons)
By archive: {ASS} RP Canyon Ladies 03 {J Mitchell} (MF cons) LynxArchive

A reposted story is one that has been previously posted to the newsgroup in essentially the same form. It is considered a serious violation of group standards to repost a story without marking it as such. There is no specific standard for the frequency of reposting, but too frequent reposts may prompt criticism and lead some readers to filter out anything from you. Most consider it a form of spam.

Many reposts come from archivists, and it is natural that they would want to mark the stories they resubmit. The archive name may be added to the subject line following content codes. Abbreviations are encouraged.

Stories posted without either RP or REV are assumed to be new. The use of NEW is discouraged.

Reposters, especially those who are not the author of the story, are requested to use the original title and author's name in the subject line. Rewording or paraphrasing the title is both confusing and irritating to readers. Changing or eliminating the author's name is dishonest. Expect criticism, at the least, if you do either of these things.

Revised Stories:

{ASS} REV Canyon Ladies 03 {J Mitchell} (MF cons)

Revised stories are those where the author has reworked the material, including significant improvements in spelling or grammar.

ELEMENTS OF THE SUBJECT LINE

Newsgroup:

Beginning the subject line with {ASS} confirms that the message is intended for the newsgroup in which it appears. This is an anti-spam measure intended to defeat cross-posting to multiple newsgroups. Many group readers only download posts preceded by the newsgroup designator. The practice arose fairly recently because of the increasing number of off-topic posts sent to ASS.

Note: When the alt.sex.stories.moderated (ASSM) newsgroup resumes, posts to that newsgroup still should be preceded by {ASS}, as all qualifying posts will be forwarded automatically to ASS. Posts to alt.sex.stories.d (for discussion) should use {ASSD}. The established convention is that only stories should be posteded to ASS. All other posts should be directed to ASSD.

Status:

The default and assumed status of all story posts is NEW, which is therefore omitted for new stories. Reposted or revised stories should be marked with RP or REV, respectively. It is worth repeating that omitting RP on a repost is considered a serious violation of group standards. Reposting too frequently is less serious but also offends a significant number of group participants. When possible, those who request reposts of recently posted stories should be directed to DejaNews.

Title:

All stories should have a title, which should follow immediately after the newsgroup designator, except for reposts and revisions. One of the primary goals of this FAQ is to get the title (and sequence number, if any) as far to the left as possible in order to ensure maximum visibility with a variety of newsreaders. This is especially valuable when trying to locate a missing story segment.

Because it falls between the newsgroup designator and the author, both of which use curly brackets, no quotation marks are needed to mark the title. Initial 'A,' 'An,' and 'The' should be omitted from the subject line title to conserve space and aid alphabetizing.

Some stories have rather long titles. It is acceptable, even encouraged, to use a condensed form of the title in these cases, especially when the story is published in multiple parts. Long titles can make it impossible to see the seqment number in some newsreaders.

Whether the actual or condensed title is used, it is important to be consistent in multiple posts. Even minor differences can cause two segments of the same story to sort into different locations in a long list. Among other problems this can cause is a steady stream of repost requests.

Sequence:

Putting any segment number implies that there are others. Thus, stories contained in a single post should NOT be numbered 1 or 1/1. The use of 1/? is also discouraged, as it adds no useful information.

There is perhaps less consensus on how to number multiple posts than any other aspect of this FAQ. Authors have evolved styles suited to their specific needs and are often reluctant to abandon them. While this may be understandable, it results in a chaotic variety of numbering systems that often confuse readers about how many parts a story contains and whether it is complete or not.

The general rule and recommended approach is to number each part with a whole number representing the order of the segments without regard to chapters or other divisions of the story. Do not specify 'Part' or 'Chapter' before the sequence number. In other words, the six segments of 'My Long Story' should be posted as 'My Long Story 1' through 'My Long Story 6/6.' It may be that the story has six chapters or is actually divided into two chapters, one posted in two segments and the other in four. The goal of sequence numbering is not to represent the internal structure of the story but to help the reader identify and reassemble the parts.

It is important to mark the end of the story, and the preferred method is to use the 'n/n' format. In the above example, the last segment would be 'My Long Story 6/6.' If the number of segments is known from the beginning, it is acceptable but not necessary to number all segments this way. E.g. 'My Long Story 1/6,' etc.

If there will or even may be more than nine segments to a story, pad single digit sequence numbers with a leading zero, as in 'My Long Story 01.' This permits the segments to sort alphabetically and be assembled in proper order. Otherwise, the 10th through 19th segments will fall between segments 1 and 2. If the story may have more than 99 segments, two leading zeros are needed.

Some authors will be uncomfortable with this standard because they tend to write long chapters that must be broken into two or more segments for posting. While the above method remains the preferred approach, it is acceptable to number such posts as 'My Long Story 23 1/3,' 'My Long Story 23 2/3' and so on. The final segment of the entire story might then be 'My Long Story 44/44 2/2.'

Author:

Place the author's name or preferred pseudonym in curly brackets after the title (and sequence number, if any). If the author is unknown or wishes to remain anonymous, empty curly brackets should be provided in this position. Some authors prefer to use the form 'by J Mitchell.' This is acceptable but not recommended. Use of curly brackets greatly simplifies automatic indexing of stories by author's name.

Codes:

Refer to Uther Pendragon's 'Story Codes FAQ for Authors' for detailed information on what should be included. The FAQ is posted to ASS and ASSD periodically and is available via DejaNews or at http://nyx.net/~anon584c/code/scfa.txt. Codes guide readers both in selecting topics of interest and avoiding topics they find objectionable. Uther separates codes with spaces, and this is the preferred standard when all codes come from his list. Complexities arise when authors create non-standard codes. In some cases, it may be clearer to separate codes with a comma and space. When in doubt, stick to the FAQ.

Note that some readers will not download a story without content codes.

Requesting a Review (optional):

If you want to bring your story to the attention of Celeste or one of the other reviewers, modify the standard format as follows:

{ASS} Canyon Ladies <*> {J Mitchell} (MF cons)

Since reviewers are not interested in incomplete stories, the review flag can take the position of the sequence number. If you must post the story in multiple parts but all parts are being posted at the same time, place the review flag after the sequence number of the last part, as follows:

{ASS} Canyon Ladies 6/6 <*> {J Mitchell} (MF cons)

If you have completed a multi-part story posted over a period of time and would like to have it considered for review, the best procedure is to mail it directly to one of the following:

Celestial Reviews: [email protected]
Rogue Reviews: [email protected]
Annex Reviews: [email protected]

This information is included for newer readers who may see the review flag and wonder about its purpose. Writers should be aware that, while they may request a review, the reviewers decide which stories to consider and when.

Archive (optional):

Reposters who wish to identify themselves in the subject line may add an archive or other ID after the content code. Abbreviations and acronyms are encouraged, especially if used consistently. For example, Kristen's Collection, a major reposter, might be abbreviated as either Kristen or KC. Acronyms in capital letters are brief, yet readily identifiable.

[x/n] Segment Numbering (optional):

Some posters like to provide numbering in this format -- [1/4], [2/4], etc. -- at the end of the subject line. Some newsreader software can use this to reassemble a multi-part post automatically. Use of this format is encouraged in addition to the sequence number when the number of segments is known and when all segments are being posted at the same time. It is not as likely to be useful if the segments are posted over a period of time, and useless to specify [1/?], since newsreaders can't reassemble segments marked that way.

(I have been told but have not yet been able to verify that some posting software automatically breaks a longer message into parts and appends [x/n] numbering. DejaNews breaks and displays posts in this manner in its own archive, but does it do this when posting to newsgroups?)

REVISION PROCESS

This FAQ will be reposted to ASS and ASSD newsgroups periodically. All participants in either are invited to submit comments, questions, criticisms and suggestions to:

[email protected]

Public comments should be posted to ASSD under the subject "RE Standard Subject Lines."

Thanks to the many folks who participated in developing this FAQ, both those whose ideas I borrowed and those whose preferences were outweighed by other considerations. Obviously, it's not possible to please everyone, but I hope the standards proposed here will serve the needs of most newsgroup authors, readers and reposters.

Respectfully submitted,
Titmouse
08/29/99

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