The L-Space Web

How do I read and post to AFP?



Subscribing

There are a number of ways to subscribe to AFP depending on what sort of Internet access you have.

Alt.fan.pratchett is a newsgroup which means it resides in that arm of the Internet that is collectively known as Usenet. It is your ability (or lack thereof) to connect to Usenet that determines the method you use to read and post to the group.

Method 1
Your ISP (that's the company that provides your Internet connection) provides a news server (usually called news.xxxxx.xxxx).

In this case, all you need to do is use a piece of software, known as a news reader, to connect to the news server, download the names of all the newsgroups it carries and see if AFP is amongst them. If it's missing, a polite request to your ISP's news administrator to add alt.fan.pratchett to the server list may solve the problem.

When ready, you should be able to download all the available articles within the group and read them offline. Your own articles can also be composed offline, within your news software, and then sent when online in a similar manner to email.

Method 2
You have suitable software but your ISP does not have a news server of its own.

There are some public, news servers out there that you can use instead. For example, news.individual.net is a publically accessible news server but you are required to register and pay a small annual fee (approx 10 euros).

You can find a list of public news servers that carry AFP at Newzbot and you may also find the Open Directory Project's Public News Servers category useful.

Method 3
Due to restrictions on your system (you're accessing the 'Net at work or via college), you cannot download news groups onto your machine to read offline. However, you do have web access.

In this situation, pop along to Google Groups, select the 'alt.*' groups and locate alt.fan.pratchett. You can now read all the posts in these groups online. If you want to post to the groups, you'll need to register with Google but this is a free, relatively painless, process. The only financial disadvantage is that you are now forced to read and reply whilst online - so watch the phone bill!

When replying to posts, please note that Google Groups will automatically remove any AFP specific tag at the front of the Subject if it is followed by a space. For that reason, it is suggested that you ensure that you do not leave any spaces between the tag and the Subject of your post or followup.


Windows News Software

Thunderbird
This combined email and newsreader client allows you the option to download all messages from a given group, read them offline and compose any followups or posts of your own. You must then re-connect to send any posts.
Download Thunderbird
Free Agent
This is a dedicated, free, offline news reader package that is somewhat more compliant than OE. It doesn't have all the bells and whistles of its commercial big brother, Agent, but it's still a very good piece of software, very straightforward to setup and use, and one that many AFP subscribers started with (and still use in many cases).
Download Free Agent
Gravity
One step up from Free Agent but still free to download. This is a fully functional news reader that has a couple of the nice extras that Free Agent lacks. However, for the new user, the range of options and configurability can be a little overwhelming, so might be better left until later if you're not the type of person who likes tinkering with software settings.
Download Gravity
Outlook Express
If you normally use OE for your email, then you can also use it for reading and posting to newsgroups. Its advantage is that it's almost certainly already on your system and only needs a bit of extra configuring to get it up and running for newsgroups. Its disadvantage is that, as a newsreader, it's not ideal and many of its default settings are the exact opposite of the guidelines used within Usenet (in fact, in one or two places, it's seriously broken). However, some people are more than happy with OE as their news reader and if you think you'd be one of them, then have a look at elfin's OE Help Pages for advice with setup and configuration.

Macintosh News Software

Thunderbird
This combined email and newsreader client allows you the option to download all messages from a given group, read them offline and compose any followups or posts of your own. You must then re-connect to send any posts.
Download Thunderbird
MT-NewsWatcher
This is a dedicated, free, offline news reader package that is somewhat more compliant than browsers or an email program. It's probably the best Mac-based tool. It doesn't have all the bells and whistles of a commercial product, but it's still a very good piece of software, very straightforward to setup and use.
Download MT-NewsWatcher. Note there is also an OS 9 version available from this page.
Entourage
If you normally use MS Entourage for your email, then you can also use it for reading and posting to newsgroups. Its advantage is that it's almost certainly already on your system and only needs a bit of extra configuring to get it up and running for newsgroups. Its disadvantage is that, as a newsreader, it's not ideal and many of its default settings are the exact opposite of the guidelines used within Usenet (in fact, in one or two places, it's seriously broken). However, some people are more than happy with Entourage as their news reader.

What Next?

For further information specific to AFP, we suggest:

For general information about Usenet, try the following resources:

Beginners
Imp's Usenet Guide
Further Reading
Usenet References

[Up]
This section of L-Space is maintained by esmi@lspace.org

The L-Space Web is a creation of The L-Space Librarians
This mirror site is maintained by The L-Space Librarians