From: Orin Thomas <>
Subject: [FAQ] Alt.books.pratchett Posting Guide
Newsgroups: alt.books.pratchett
Summary: This FAQ documents the posting guidelines and netiquette rules
        specific to the newsgroup alt.books.pratchett.
Followup-To: poster
Organization: Unseen University, Melbourne Campus. The Wizards of Oz.
Keywords: Pratchett Discworld FAQ posting guidelines alt.books.pratchett
X-Autoposter: This FAQ was autoposted by <>
X-Archive-name: pratchett/abp-guide
X-Posting-Frequency: monthly (on the 1st)
X-Last-modified: October 2005
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Archive-name: pratchett/abp-guide
Posting-Frequency: monthly (on the 1st)
Last-modified: October 2005
URL: <>

The Revised alt.books.pratchett Posting Guidelines.
Last Modified: October 2005


alt.books.pratchett was created as a quiet place for fans to discuss the
work of author Terry Pratchett. It is a cafe to's
local pub.

People who read the group, on the whole, have a very detailed knowledge
of the works of author Terry Pratchett. If you don't know who Terry
Pratchett is, this probably is *not* the group for you ... though it one
day might be once you know about the books - a good place to start
finding out is <>

As for which book to read first - well you can either start at the start
if you intend to read more than one - or just read the blurbs on the
back and find one you like. They are all pretty good!

Below in the text you will find a reference to a page that suggests a
reading order.

                What can I post to alt.books.pratchett?
                What will I get out of alt.books.pratchett?
                What about following up an article with a comment
                    that is not strictly relevant?
                Posting Format and Spoilers.
                Cross posting between AFP and ABP.
                What do to if someone breaks the rules.
                What happens if I get a "Terse Note"?
                Speculation - the Ponder Stibbons Rule.


Unlike it is asked that all initial (or new) posts to
alt.books.pratchett be "relevant". A post is also considered new if you
have to change the header.

        Relevant includes.

        Anything about the books, audio books, soundtracks, maps, plays,
        discworld, the computer games, films, stuff wot Terry said and
        television shows is relevant.

        Everything else isn't.

There should be no need for [R] or [I] markers on alt.books.pratchett.
Please note that, by definition, Terry Pratchett cannot post anything
irrelevant. The bracketed headers aren't as neccessary here - but feel 
free to use the ones if you feel they are needed.

We prefer the discussions to be a bit above the mundane or the obvious.
Whilst we are always happy to recommend pratchett to new readers who ask
"which book should I read first?", sticking with this topic tends to get
a little dull. The thing readers of alt.books.pratchett love most is
gaining a new insight into a book they thought they knew and understood.

Though if you do want to know "which book to I read first" you might
want to look at


Finally - THINK before you post.


The joy of alt.books.pratchett is that you will quickly realise exactly
how much of a book you "missed" whilst you were reading it. You will
most likely discover nuances to Terry Pratchett's work which you never
realised existed. You will get a better idea of who the characters are
by the small "unimportant" things that don't seem important at the time,
but on further reflection, reveal volumes about who they are.

alt.books.pratchett is really about people who *love* reading the books.
Perhaps at some stage the discussion will hit the level of inane and
obscure - with strings of posts concentrating on the meaning of a couple
of sentances - but you are under no compulsion to read *everything*.
Just the stuff that you enjoy.

What you *will* get out of alt.books.pratchett most likely is a deeper
respect of Terry Pratchett as a writer,- a greater understanding of
exactly *how* the writing has developed over the book and a burning
desire to reread the books regularly to keep up with the discussion.


Basically you will be safe if your article, or the one you are quoting,
mentions - the books, maps, films, stuff wot Terry said or television
shows. If a reader can't see any relationship between the entirity of
your article and the books, maps, films, stuff wot Terry said or
telivision shows expect a "Terse Note" from one or many.

Getting wonderfully off topic isn't what ABP is about. It isn't even
really what AFP is about - but it is considered a little more acceptable
over there.


The first line of your post should include the abbreviations of all the
titles of books mentioned in the post. The abbreviations are usually
straight forward - TCOM - The Colour of Magic, CJ - Carpe Jugulum. The
only one which tends to confuse people is M - Mort and M!M which is for
Maskerade. You should also preface this line with the word SPOILERS as
you will pretty much always be discussing information that someone may
not be aware of. For Example the top line of text on a post might look
like this::


Which suggests that the books under discussion are Equal Rites, Wyrd
Sisters, Witches Abroad, Lords and Ladies, Maskerade and Carpe Jugulum.
This gives readers who have not perhaps read some of these novels to
"bail out now" if they want to know nothing of what is said in them
before they get around to reading them themselves.

It is important to note - SPOILERS: do not need to be mentioned in the
subject line as essentially all posts to ABP will contain spoilers of
one nature or another.

After this first line of text, leave about 15 blank lines before giving
your post. Some people fill this space with stuff like



but you are free to experiment.


The rule is simple. If a thread turns [I] on alt.books pratchett it is
pretty much dead. I'm sorry to say but if you want to make a witty
non-pratchett related comment you are probably going to have to bite
your tounge. Posting it to AFP means that your irrelevant comment won't
have any context and hence (1) no one will get it and (2) it might annoy
some people because they don't "get it".

If you really really want to post it to then abide by
the posting rules there. Repackage your post so that AFPers will
understand the context - blithely forwarding it is kinda pointless.
Perhaps you may want to post it to, though again
check the local rules. You really should never post to a newsgroup you
do not read.

I personally think that there is little reason to cross post. You
probably have a fair idea what will happen to the discussion if you post
to either newsgroup.

Any posts that are cross posted should have some sort of warning on the
front. The fact of the matter is that most people don't notice whether
or not a thread is cross posted. Similar to the spoiler warning I
suggest that you add something similar to the following:

The following post has been cross-posted to both and
alt.books.pratchett. The moment the contents of this post do not relate
to the works of Terry Pratchett we ask that you remove the newsgroup
alt.books.pratchett from the header and snip this little disclaimer.
Please keep this until that happens.


If you want to post an annotation to abp for inclusion in a future
version of the Annotated Pratchett File then you should add the header
[A] to your subject line. If you don't know what an annotation is, I
suggest you have a look at the lspace web on <>


If someone appears to be posting irrelevant gibberish to
alt.books.pratchett it is the responsibility of all subscribers to
politely email the offender and point them at this document. This is the
famed "terse note".

I stress the term politely and email - please don't follow up a post i
with another "hey you shouldn't" post. If we all are on the watch it
means that a small group of us don't have to feel like net.cops or old
whiners. ABP is only going to be kept rubbish free if we are all


Read it. Reply via email if you want. Don't post something irrelevant
again. People won't be sitting there and saying to themselves "well I
won't read HER post again because she posted something IRRELEVANT once".
A Terse Note isn't a "go directly to jail" card - it is a polite tap on
the shoulder reminding you to "play by the rules".


Some debate has gone on as to the level of speculation that is
acceptable on the newsgroup and to Terry himself. If we sit down and
start thinking out and posting book plots then Terry won't have anything
to write. Hence the "Ponder Stibbons" rule. As reader in invisible
writings Stibbons deduces the contents of books not yet written from
those that are. As long as you keep your speculation rooted within the
books there isn't much of a problem.

Finally, simply, don't post something and expect to get some credit it
the idea turns up in a later book. Discworld is Terry's and only
Terry's. He is kind enough to let us play in it - don't start stealing
bits and then later claiming that they were yours. Legally you won't
have a leg to stand on - if only because a whole lot of abp'ers would
come to your house and saw them off with a pineapple.

However, having said this, and having put this issue to a vote, the


should be put inside the post just above where you speculate. Discussing
a character's future is speculation, discussing a characters past really
is not. There is not a real need to put [SPECULATION] in the subject
line unless your entire post is speculative.

Comments on this FAQ can be emailed directly to If you
want a longer discussion of some of the issues raised, feel free to
start an [M] thread on ABP with the relevant topic. (though I would
prefer email :-). I tend more these days to be a reader than a poster
but I also tend to see most comments about this sort of stuff.

Orin Thomas