The Usenet language

You will not be surprised about English being the main language on the Usenet; however, there are special trees for German (de.*), French (fr.*) and many other languages. If you are unable to determine the main language of a newsgroup the only possibility is careful listening or a possible explanation in the description of the group in the grouplist.

In addition, over the time the Usenet has developed its own language but it is easy to learn.

RTFM and other typos

When you read news, after some time you will read some strange combinations of letters; for example, you can get a reply like:


Nothing else. Strange, but absolutely intended; to solve the riddle: those, most of the time, are shortcuts, acronyms. It is easier to drop some letters than to write the same sentence over and over again.

But what is the meaning of RTFM? The writer is asking you to read the manual, documentation or FAQ before asking questions in the newsgroup. It stands for: (R)ead (T)he (F) (M)anual; BTW this is advice you should adopt.

Wait, what is BTW now? Another often-seen acronym which means (B)y (T)he (W)ay. It is easy when you know it; to avoid you having to continuously speculate over the meaning of acronyms there is table at he end of this section containing the most-often-used acronyms.

This table does not try to be complete and is based on a list by Martin Imlau.

Table 5.1.  Acronyms on Usenet

Acronym Meaning
<g> grins
AAMOF As a matter of fact
ACK Acknowledge
AFAIK As far as I know
AFAIR As far as I remember
AWGTHTGTTA Are we going to have to go through this again?
ASAP As soon as possible
BFN Bye for now!
BTW By the way
BYKT But you knew that
CMIIW Correct me if I'm wrong
CU See you!
CU2 See you too!
CYL See you later!
DAU German abbreviation for the silliest user you can imagine (Dümmster anzunehmender User)
EOD End of discussion
ESOSL Endless snorts of stupid laughter
FYI For your information
GOK God only knows
HAND Have a nice day!
HTH Hope that helps
HSIK How should I know?
IAE In any event
IANAL I am not a lawyer
IIRC If I remember correctly
IMCO In my considered opinion
IMHO In my humble opinion
IMNSHO In my not so humble opinion
INPO In no particular order
IOW In other words
LMAO Laughing my ass off
LOL Laughing out loudly
NAK Not acknowledged
NBD No big deal
NFW No way
ROTFL Rolling on the floor, laughing
RTFM Read the manual
SCNR Sorry, could not resist
TIA Thanks in advance


Again, such a strange thing. What is this ;-) meant to be? Turn your head so the left side of your screen is on top; got it? It's a smile with a wink? This is a so-called emoticon; emoticons are an often-used possibility to express emotions, one thing missing in conversation on the Usenet (but there is a substitute, remember? ;-)

It is very difficult to express emotions in email or news; your joking comment appear to be very serious to the recipient and can lead to unmeant reactions or conflicts (flames); so use emoticons to express your intention.

There are a lots of emoticons, which express a great variety of emotions; the interpretation is easy if you turn your head and think of a face.


This PLONK! looks like some comic-sound, does it not? And that is exactly what it is used for. The one who reads it knows he was just added to the killfile of a newsreader; normally this means the recipient of the PLONK! annoyed the sender. The PLONK! is meant to play back the sound of the recipients name hitting the ground in the killfile.