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about the news group (the s.c.nordic FAQ)
nordic flags
The home pages for the Usenet newsgroup soc.culture.nordic
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about the news group

 



Subject: 1.3 

Welcome to soc.culture.nordic!

This is an unmoderated newsgroup. That's both good and bad.

(Actually, this ability to ignore off-topic posts, and people whose Internet-persona you dislike, is the first and most important step, in learning to get on well with the newsgroup.)

Some years ago it was seriously considered to make s.c.nordic into a moderated newsgroup. The discussion is archived at <http://www.sqc.fi/~ylikuka/scnordic/rfd.html>.  

1.3.1 What sort of a group is it?

If you're interested in the Nordic countries, and don't like having your mailbox littered up with messages from various mailing-lists, soc .culture .nordic could be the best choice for a discussion forum you will find in the whole Internet. It is far from being perfect, of course; but then, few Usenet newsgroups can be described by that particular adjective.

You may find that discussions here are not always on as profound topics as you might have hoped for. Actually, the group changes its appearence every now and then. That depends both on external factors, such as threads unintentionally leaking out from other newsgroups, and "internal factors" such as the selection and mood of the participants.

Sometimes you might find that certain threads never really die even though every imaginable argument has been presented already hundreds of times, that these threads may, if they coincide, suffocate almost all other discussion in the newsgroup.

Sometimes you might find hotheads who preach absurd gospels and cynics who perceive themselves as "net vets", considering it their divine right to flame newcomers who happen to ask the wrong questions.

Sometimes you might find a good deal of US-bashing, Sweden-bashing, Norway-bashing and Finland-bashing (but curiously no Denmark-bashing :-).

Sometimes you might wonder if the newsgroup is populated solely by Finns.

If you've believed in the "official", idealized picture of harmonious Nordic friendship, you may be badly disappointed. We don't always act sensibly, we're not always nice to each other, we can be tedious, nit-picky, boring, annoying, quarrelsome, and in general quite stupid. Sometimes. But not most of the time, I think, ...at least not most of us! :->

One of the purposes of this FAQ is in fact to decrease the amount of flaming and the frequency of the same old threads; if you're a newcomer, please read through at least this first part of the FAQ (the rest is up to your tastes), and you may be able to avoid some of the most common mistakes made by new SCNers (e.g. posting a flamy article condemning Norwegian whaling, or taking part in a never ending argument about the position of the Finns and their language in Sweden. :)

 

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1.3.2 What's all this flaming about?

Sometimes the group may seem like a battle-ground, but don't be too alarmed by it. The Nordic countries are, in spite of everything, like a family; not a One Big Happy Family of Nations, no, just any old family with its small quarrels and fights. They just tend to grow out of proportion when we have no real problems or crises to fight about.

There are no great feelings of hatred between the different nationalities, few historical traumas, our prejudices about each other are pretty harmless, and so forth. We might have some Big Brother or Little Brother complexes -- at least we like to accuse each other of suffering from them -- but mostly we just like to make some noise and get some attention. If the quarreling annoys you, don't hesitate to use your kill-file; it's simple! (If you don't know how it's done, check the "kill file FAQ" which used to be posted regularly to news.answers).

Don't leap into heated discussion without seeing something of how it started. (It is common to have a second "wave" of people enter a flame war and rehash old issues, which annoys the original participants.) Not everyone is always saying what they mean. Some people use irony, which can be much more obvious from reading the context, than from a single post. If you're not sure, don't respond.

Even as it is, however, s.c.n is in fact a very calm and flame-free newsgroup compared to many other groups in the soc.culture.* hierarchy, parts of which, unfortunately, have deteriorated into dark pits of rampant flamewars, hatred, and nationalism gone berserk. Among these, s.c.n is like an oasis of peace and harmony.

 

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1.3.3 Well, are there any positive things about this group?

Absolutely. After the possible initial shock :-), I think you will find many. For one thing, you will no doubt find that people in s.c.n are very helpful; post a question, and you're likely to get several long, detailed and well thought out replies that will answer everything you asked for, and probably also a whole lot of things you didn't ask for and weren't really even interested in.

(However, don't expect answers to show up within an hour. A week is a more reasonable time.)  

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1.3.4 Whatever you say. So, what sort of postings are o.k. in here?

Despite all our helpfulness, please keep in mind that we're not walking encyclopaedias; you might take the trouble to check your local library before posting a very basic question to the group.

It might be a Very Good Idea to make a www-search first. If you sum up what you found, you have chances to get much more elaborate answers.

Any tourist guide will probably answer the question "Hello, I'm coming to visit <name of country>, what should I go and see?" better than we will, and a tourist guide won't get annoyed with you if you happen to be the 23rd person to have asked the same question this week.

If you ask for the answers to be emailed straight to you instead of being posted, bear in mind that the polite thing to do is to post a summary of the replies to the group if they might be of a general interest (of course, nothing prevents you from subscribing to the group, posting the question, following the group for as long replies are likely to be posted, and then unsubscribing). A quick "Hi, what's the meaning of life, the universe and everything? --Please email all replies to someone@somesite, thanks-and-bye" isn't going to get very a enthusiastic reception. To increase your chances of getting replies, try to be specific; explain your interests, and what exactly it is you would like to know.

This applies to other types of questions as well (and after all, although questions about travelling are OK in soc.culture.nordic, this isn't a rec.travel group; travelers might consider posting to rec.travel.europe instead, or checking out the rec.travel archives at <http://www.yahoo.com/text/Recreation/Travel/Destination_Guides/Rec_Travel_Archives/>.

At the very least, read through the relevant parts of this FAQ and see if you can find an answer here. Try to save those questions for the group to which you know you won't be able to (easily) find an answer in the books.

But take our answers with a decent grain of salt. Most likely, we'll say both yes, and no, and maybe, and I don't know, and buzz off, and...

When you do post, please try to keep it somehow related to Nordic matters. Sure, the group is unmoderated, so no one can control what you write. And it's not like you have to force the discussion on Nordic tracks if it should digress into something else. But nevertheless, as the name of the group implies, this is a group for discussing Nordic culture in all its forms; not American abortion-laws, Bill Clinton or Jesus. Keep this in mind when you start a new thread.

Please don't expect us to do your school research papers or other home-work for you; some newbies out there might be enthusiastic enough to dig the information for you, but most of us will just be annoyed and make fun of you.

Also, if you're looking for 'gender-based penpals', be advised that you'll most likely become a center of amused or annoyed (depending on the day, but it'll be embarrassing to you anyway) attention and you'll probably be sorry that you didn't post your message to soc.penpals instead, where it belongs. :-)
For more on this favourite s.c.n topic, see section 1.4.

 

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1.3.5 What about cross-postings?

If only possible, avoid them. They generate threads that immediately lose whatever connection to Nordic culture there may initially have been, and it's very difficult (read: impossible) to get the people in other newsgroups to remove s.c.n from their Newsgroups-lines. These threads have a life of their own and can go on and on for months until everyone in all the involved newsgroups is sick and tired of them, yet somehow they just keep continuing. If you want to post your message to several groups, an intelligent thing to do is to trim the Followup-to: header to direct replies to one group only. The headers of your article could look like this, for instance:

       Newsgroups: soc.culture.nordic,soc.culture.burma,soc.culture.kuwait
       Subject: What's foobar in your language?
       Followup-To: sci.lang
Remember to mention in your post that the follow-ups have been redirected so that people will notice it (otherwise there'll always be those who don't). If you're cross-posting to only a couple of groups, you could also consider posting it as separate articles instead. Use your own judgment as to what's going to be the least annoying and/or bandwidth-consuming method.

You should, of course, keep these things in mind when you post a follow-up to cross-posted thread. The article might be in place in soc.culture.nordic, but take a look at the Newsgroups-line anyway: does it contain newsgroups where the thread clearly does not belong to? If yes, simply remove them. If you feel it doesn't belong to s.c.n either, set a proper Followup-To: line to your reply.

If you want to cross-post a request or start a new cross-posted thread read both newsgroups for a month or two (a year would be safer ;-) before doing so.

Don't start cross-posted threads without more justification than the subject being "related" to both groups. You should understand the culture of both "electronic communities".

Why this?
It is much easier to be misunderstood, misunderstand the context, and generally get people unhappy with you if you start a cross-posted thread or follow-up to an article posted to two newsgroups.

If you say something controversial or questionable, you can expect to get negative responses. If you cross-post and are new to one or both groups, you are more likely to offend someone unintentionally. This is not recommended as a pleasant way to introduce yourself, or to get answers to your questions.

Threads posted to many unrelated newsgroups (with the rare exception of announcements), are often flame-baits and may deserve to be ignored.

 

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1.3.6 What languages are welcome in soc.culture.nordic?

English, naturally, is the most common choice, but threads in Swedish, Danish, Norwegian, Sámi, Finnish, Icelandic and Faroese are all perfectly suitable for the newsgroup. A fact is, however, that such threads don't appear very frequently in s.c.n. There are several reasons for this. First of all, not all Nordic languages are mutually intelligible; while Danes, Norwegians and Swedes could discuss with each other with only some difficulty, many Icelanders and Finns would be left out of the discussion (even though all Finns and Icelanders have studied one obligatory Scandinavian language at school it doesn't mean they're necessarily fluent in it - nor that they understand the other langauges of Scandinavia as easily as the native speakers).

A third group of people left out of the discussion would be, of course, the non-Nordics, who make up a large part of the readership of s.c.n. Therefore, threads in Nordic languages don't necessarily get very many readers. Nordics in general tend to be relatively fluent in English, so if the topic is of general interest, using a language that restricts the readership may seem slightly pointless. Another reason is, of course, that the soc.* hierarchy is international; there is no shortage of national hierarchies where all discussion takes place in the Nordic languages.

It makes good sense to have at least one group act - as it were - as a window for foreigners to peek into the Nordic countries and their cultures, make contacts with Scandinavians and gain insight on topics that interest us. Don't get me wrong; it isn't the purpose of s.c.n to cater to the presumed needs of 'outsiders' -- this newsgroup isn't a zoo, thank goodness -- but it's a function it now and then succesfully fulfils thanks to the common use of English, among other, very different functions.

But if you're a Nordic student or immigrant living abroad, or if you're studying some Nordic language, or if you're of Nordic descent and want to practice the language -- whatever your reason is, don't hesitate to start a thread in a Nordic language. It brings a welcome change to s.c.n, even if we may not want all discussion to be in Nordic languages.

 

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1.3.7 What should I do when someone posts a flamebait?

If you come across a posting that is an outrageous attack on truth, decency and everything civil, cross-posted typically to a very large number of news-groups, congratulate yourself for having spotted a "flamebait". If you feel enraged by the message, leave your terminal for a little while, take a walk around the house, drink a cup of tea, and come back relaxed and calm. It is strongly advisable that you then proceed to press 'n' or whichever key your newsreader uses for skipping to the next article, and ignore the post altogether, perhaps completing the procedure with a 'k' for kill-file and imagining, with a relieved smile on your face, an audible plonk as the cretin drops into your virtual garbage bin.

Leaving nazi trash unchallenged in normal communication or media isn't a good idea, I agree, but this isn't normal communication nor is this a normal media; this is the Usenet, and here the only effecient way to deal with it is to ignore it. Trust me. Although, in some cases, if the villain does or says something really bad, it can be better to complain to his postmaster; for more on this, see section 1.5 below.

As a general rule, these postings are made by individuals who want to piss you off so that as many people as possible will react, causing as annoying a thread as possible to be generated, and the general level of confusion to jump as high as possible. Don't think they want to discuss whatever it was that they posted, chaos is the only goal of these kooks. If you follow-up to their articles and flame them, you've in effect swallowed the bait and made their day. (There exists also a less malicious variant of this sport, called "trolling", which just adds spice to a discussion by intentional posting of false statements in order to elicit attention by unneccessary corrections; with it, too, you should try to remain as calm and collected as possible lest you reveal your newbieness. For more information about trolls and trolling see for instance: <http://www.jestsandjokes.com/show.php3?joke=185> or <http://www.killfile.org/~tskirvin/faqs/legends/legends3.html> in the Usenet legends.)

And even if the person isn't a sophomoric joker but a genuine hate-monger, don't think you can convince him to come to his senses. You might or might not succeed in that were you to meet him face to face, but in Usenet you won't; non-verbal signs of your anger don't travel in the bitstream and your words, no matter how sincere, will lose their power to convince. All you'll ever accomplish is lowering the general signal-to-noise ratio, helping a flamewar to be born, making Usenet in general an unplesant place to be, and perhaps generating a few mocking chuckles at some terminal somewhere.

 

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1.3.8 I have this bridge in Stavanger that I'd like to sell.
Can I post an ad here?

Nope. As a rule of thumb, do not post any commercial ads whatsover to s.c.n. They do not belong here, they make people very angry at you, posting them is typically a bad breach of netiquette and could cost you your account. If you're trying to sell something in the net, you're supposed to post your ads to the biz.* groups or certain others such as misc.forsale, not to the general discussion groups.

However, brief, informational (no marketing hype) and polite announcements about services, happenings or maybe even products that have an unquestionable connection to Nordic culture are within the range of acceptable postings. For instance, an ad for cheap long-distance phone-calls is not o.k., but an announcement for a Grieg Festival in Bergen or a small ad for authentic Swedish surströmming now available at your neighborhood www-mall might be. Be careful, though. Read the file "Advertising FAQ - Info For New Users", available at <ftp://rtfm.mit.edu/pub/usenet/news.answers/misc-forsale-faq/posting-ads>, before even thinking of posting an ad. You could burn your fingers. Badly.



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© Copyright 1994-2001 by Antti Lahelma and Johan Olofsson.
You are free to quote this page as long as you mention the URL.
The line of flags is modified after a picture at det Åländska skoldatanätet.
This page was last updated March the 19th in the year of 2001.

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