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Mar 21, 1998, 3:00:00 AM3/21/98

Archive-name: misc-forsale-faq/posting-ads
Posting-Frequency: 6th & 21st of the month
Last-modified: 1996/02/06
Version: 5.3
Major-Changes: Update to reflect biz.mktplc moderation
URL: http://www.fmn.net/FAQ

--The Usenet Marketplace FAQ--

Volume I. The How-To of the
Posting Ads misc.forsale and

The entire FAQ is now in full hypertext on the Web. If you
have a web browser, then for goodness sakes, don't plow
through the text version! Point your web browser to:

Unsolicited e-mail advertising is considered by many to be
a crime on the internet, despite what list-marketers may
tell you. It _will_ ruin your reputation, and may cause you
to lose your access.

BIZ.MARKETPLACE.* is now retro-moderated. Inappropriate
articles or outlandish subjects may be selectively cancelled;
if this happens, e-mail will be sent to the From: address.

maintained by Daniel King lil...@phoenix.net
Suggestions/comments/flames always welcome!

Volume I. Posting Ads on the Usenet Marketplace
1. Welcome to the Usenet Marketplace!
2. Purpose of the Usenet Marketplace.
3. What is appropriate to post, what isn't?
4. How to write ads for newsgroups.
5. Usenet Marketplace group list and descriptions.
6. How can I receive newsgroups not carried by my site?
7. Other classified ads on the Internet.
8. Considerations for commercial/entrepreneurial users.
Subtopic: A short guide to cancelling articles

Volume II. Conducting Transactions on Usenet
9. Finalizing the sale.
10. Payment and shipping recommendations.
11. International transactions.
12. Glossary of common Usenet terms



Subject: 1. Welcome to the Usenet Marketplace!

Allow us to be the first to welcome you to the Usenet
Marketplace, where anything and everything changes hands at
the best prices around. Many, many satisfied
computer-users have purchased everything from computer
accessories to sailboards, houses to rollerblades. We invite
you to browse and see what the Usenet Marketplace has to

This FAQ acts as a general guide to transactions over all of
the misc.forsale.* and biz.marketplace.* newsgroups, and
provides suggestions applicable to many other advertising
groups as well. Its primary purpose is to answer many
[F]requently [A]sked [Q]uestions and to guide all users
through their transactions over the newsgroups.

From buying to selling, whether you're a seasoned net user or
not, read on! We guarantee that some of these tips will
help even the most experienced users on the misc.forsale
and biz.marketplace groups.

Please, _before_reading_this_, make certain you have read the
"Network Etiquette" FAQ according to Emily Postnews,
posted regularly in news.announce.newusers. All of the
FAQs referred to in these articles are also available by
anonymous FTP at rtfm.mit.edu in /pub/usenet-by-groups/


Subject: 2. Purpose of the Usenet Marketplace.

Originally the newsgroup "misc.forsale", the Usenet
Marketplace is now a collection of 38 worldwide newsgroups
under the misc.forsale and biz.marketplace hierarchies.
These groups provide a forum for individuals and companies to
offer goods and services of widespread interest to a
readership estimated to be in excess of 300,000.

More specifically, the misc.forsale groups were created to
promote individual-to-individual sales of items the seller
doesn't need any more, as you might see at a garage sale.
The moderated biz.marketplace groups, meanwhile, are
specifically for continuing enterprises--companies,
organizations, and entrepreneurs--who offer special
opportunities to individuals and other businesses.

The purpose of the Usenet Marketplace is to facilitate
transactions. The Marketplace is *not* your local paper's
classifieds, despite the similarities. Because of this,
please keep in mind the potential interest of the readers and
post ads for their benefit, not yours. After all, they are
paying for _your_ advertisement.

Finally, if you are *browsing* the Usenet Marketplace, you may
want to check out both the misc.forsale group and its
biz.marketplace equivalent. Even if you're looking for
something used, it can often be found for less from
commercial sources.


Subject: 3. What is appropriate to post, what isn't?

Article and newsgroup appropriateness is the most important,
but least understood issue in the Usenet Marketplace. If you
post an inappropriate article, or if you post to the wrong
group, you reach the wrong audience and you anger thousands
of potential customers. Why? Because the money for your
error comes from their pockets.

The rest of this section will help you understand what you may
advertise, while the next couple of sections explain
how to advertise and in which groups to post. These sections
are our best attempt to guide you through the creation and
posting of your ad. However, you may leave here with
additional questions. If after reading these guides you are
still unsure about the appropriateness of your work, then
please e-mail your post to lil...@phoenix.net. We'll try to
provide additional suggestions to help you maximize the
effectiveness of your ad.

***We Mean Business***

Please understand that the Usenet Marketplace is serious
business. Everyone is expected to adopt the same ethical
standards as in other types of transactions. Just because
you don't deal face to face does not exempt you from laws
pertaining to forgery, fraud, harassment, and other issues.

This extends to your offerings. False advertising and
unethical practices will not be tolerated by the Usenet, nor
by your system administrator. Every post to these newsgroups
should be serious. Please make certain you are posting to
the appropriate group, and please DO NOT POST TEST ARTICLES,
JOKE ADS, UNREALISTIC SCHEMES, or articles with forged
headers to the Marketplace. Chain letters, pyramid schemes,
spamming (crossposting to numerous groups), velveeta
(posting too many times to one newsgroup) and similar
activities have caused hundreds of users to lose their
access, and in some cases, their privacy. You will be
surprised at the resourcefulness and avengeful nature of
disgruntled Usenet readers. DAVE RHODES, THIS MEANS YOU!

Expect that inappropriate posting, crossposting, or spamming,
especially to newsgroups which specifically prohibit
off-charter material like the Marketplace, may result in
automatic article cancellation by robots implemented by
many administrators who have taken active measures to
prevent such activities from destroying the functionality of
USENET and BIZNET. Information on what is allowed in a
newsgroup can almost always be found in that group's FAQ.

***Are You Individual or Commercial?***

Most transactions in the Marketplace fall under one of two
classifications: individual sales or continuing enterprises.
The former belong in the misc.forsale groups. The latter are
considered commercial, and belong in biz.marketplace. Simply
put, if you're an individual trying to clean out your closet,
post to the appropriate misc.forsale newsgroup. If you are a
continuing enterprise, post to biz.marketplace.

Examples of Continuing Enterprise:
Individuals selling crafts or handiwork
Consultants, Lawyers, Doctors
Freelance Photographers, Writers, Programmers
Retailers of seconds, refurbished, or overstock goods
Not-for-profit groups soliciting material donations
Realtors, property managers
Companies offering their services or products
Clearance sales and inventory close-outs
Anything whose primary market is corporate

This list is far from comprehensive, but it should provide a
good guideline to help you figure it out. If you still
aren't sure, send e-mail to lil...@phoenix.net and we'll be
glad to help you out.

***Acceptable Offerings***

For non-commercial individuals, almost any offering is welcome
in the Marketplace. Computer parts, household items, and
sporting goods are common, but even the most eclectic of
items appear from time to time.

Continuing enterprises are subject to enforced restrictions. If
you are in this category, please also read the section on
commercial advertising.

Wanted ads are welcome in the Marketplace groups, although
commercial wanted ads are subject to the same restrictions as
forsale ads. Wanted ads should include "Wanted" or "WTB" in
the subject line.

Discussion is permitted in the *.discussion newsgroups.
Marketplace issues like reputability, questions not answered
by this FAQ, and questions about where to find elusive items
are welcome in the *.discussion groups. Ads are *not*
permitted in these groups, and likewise, no followups or
discussion should be posted to the advertising groups.
For example, if you want to find a reputable mail-order
computer dealer, you should post to b.m.computers.discussion.
Do not post to m.f.computers.discussion, because many of the
responses will be commercial. Also, whenever possible,
please respond to posted discussion by e-mail only.

A few things are *strongly* discouraged, or even prohibited...

Distributorships, Individual Income Opportunities, and MLM
Multi-level marketers and distributors are welcome to
offer their merchandise in biz.marketplace.*, subject
to the usual conditions, but no mention of MLM or
distributorship opportunities may be made. These
opportunities are considered jobs rather than services,
and historically are of no interest to readers. Discussion
about such opportunities belongs in alt.business.multi-level
or misc.entrepreneur.moderated, but ads are not permitted.

Job Offerings
Too many income opportunity posts have soured this topic in
the Marketplace, but topical and specific solicitation of
contract/freelance workers is still permitted. Instead,
try misc.jobs.

Price or Product Flames
If someone posts a price which you consider too high,
please do not post a response. Readers on the
Marketplace almost always know the market and take the
opportunity to shop around, thus your post will only
waste precious bandwidth. A much better action is to
send e-mail directly to the poster suggesting that the
price is too high. Usually, the poster will respond by
lowering the price. The same goes for product flames.
If you have a technical point about an item, it's
welcome in the appropriate *.discussion group. Flames
like "OS/2 Warp is better than Win95", however, are not
If you *must* flame the price, again, send the poster
e-mail, DON'T POST! If you still can't hold yourself
back, then you _must_ include the following
The source of the better price
The price quote and date issued
A contact phone number and e-mail address
Also, prepare yourself for a flame war if your source
is out-of-stock or does not ship nationwide. Remember
that the Marketplace is global; the price quoted may be
in Canadian or European currencies, and even after
conversion, prices are generally lower in the U.S. than
in Canada, Italy, or Kyrgyzstan.

Again, chain letters, test messages, joke ads, spamming,
and velveeta are not permitted.


Subject: 4. How to write ads for newsgroups.

Ultimately, the most important aspect of any ad on the
newsgroups is the ad copy--the subject and text which tell
the reader what she needs to know. Unlike older methods,
however, the network newsgroups require a slightly different
approach to advertising for both individuals and enterprises.

***Offering Your Items For Sale***

Three sales methods are prevalent on the newsgroups:

Stating an asking price in the ad.
If you have an approximate knowledge of what your item
is worth, then we recommend this method as the most
effective. Most people will pay attention to a stated
asking price, whereas they will often ignore other
means, because they do not want to waste the effort on
an auction they might not win. One tip: make sure you
mention whether your price is firm or negotiable.

Soliciting offers.
Another method is to solicit offers without stating an
asking price. This may be your best alternative if you
don't know what your item is worth, but it is not
nearly as effective as a stated price. "If you gotta
ask, you don't wanna know," is an American adage that
sums up the situation--many people who might otherwise
be interested will not offer a price, and thus you miss
a large number of potential buyers.

Conducting an auction.
A final method is to offer items for sale through an
on-line auction. This method is acceptable, but not
recommended. Again, many people will ignore ads
without stated prices. In addition, some readers
object to auctions because of the bandwidth they
consume. The best type of auction is a buy-or-bid
auction, where you state a maximum price at which you
are willing to sell the item outright. Also, several
guidelines for newsgroup auctions have been developed
to minimize the problems caused by bad auctioneers in
the past:
Auctions should end within 2 weeks of the
initial post.
Auctions should be limited to 2 posted updates;
updates sent by e-mail to bidders conserve
network resources.
Auctions should be conducted in an ethical
manner; all items should be sold to the highest
bidder unless a reserve (minimum bid) was
stated in the initial post, and at no time
should any bidder be solicited for a higher

***The Subject Line***

Most participants in a newsgroup only read a few of the
articles posted. Usually, they scan a list of all the
subject lines for articles that interest them. Because your
ad is very dependent on this first contact with the reader,
you should take the extra time to write a brief, informative,
and effective subject line.

Basically, you need to present the most important information
about your ad in 38 characters or less--the maximum allowed
by some newsreaders. In your subject, you should specify
what you are selling--items, manufacturers, styles, and
sizes, where appropriate. If space is available, include
your price and locality, but exclude hype. Also, don't make
30 posts in one newsgroup in order to give each item its name
in lights--you'll lose people who don't appreciate your waste
of bandwidth. Better is to write one article for each
appropriate group, then be as specific as you can within the
subject line. If your ad is a "Wanted" ad, the inclusion of
"Wanted" somewhere in your subject is required.

Great subject lines:

The best subject lines include items, manufacturers, and,
in some instances, sizes. For big items or items you
don't want to ship, include your city in the subject.
Prices are also helpful if space allows.

"Bose Speakers, Iron, Cherry Pitter"
"Nordica 770 Ski Boots, sz11, $200"
"Red '94 Camaro in Detroit, $12k"

For large listings, group several similar items together,
but don't overdo the number of articles, particularly
with items under $50.

Article 1: "Chairs, dining table, hutch FS"
Article 2: "Iron, vacuum, household misc FS"
Article 3: "Stereo, 19" TV, Bose speakers"

Computer items require model numbers and more technical

"17" Mag 17DX NI .28dp monitor, $400"
"Gateway VL-Bus 486DX33, 8RAM/512HD"
"HP Laserjet 4P printer, $650"

Commercial ads should include product lines, price, and

"1000pr Nike shoes, export from US"
"Refurb Maxtor 212meg IDE HD $149"
"Overstock NEC 14"-20" monitors"
"Academic Microsoft,Borland software"
"Trading partner WTD, Hungary Cement"
"Visual C++ programming svcs $25/hr"

Terrible subject lines:

These two have plenty of space for more information--

"Household items FS"
"Car for sale"

Why are you different from all the others? Which languages
can you program?

"Freelance programming available"

URLs make noisy, long subjects. Use the space to advertise instead.

"Colorado Cumquats http://www.cumquat.com/~cumquats"

Capitalized words are perceived as rude shouting; the
same is true of symbols. The wasted space won't help you
sell your items--

"******BOSE SPEAKERS******"
"---!!!!!bose speakers for sale!!!!!---"

These items do not belong in the same newsgroup. The
article should be split into 2--

"DOS and MAC Software FS"

Several articles have this same subject at any given time,
and this subject provides no useful information about the

"Make money from your computer!"

Even if your ad is in the appropriate group, it may be deleted
from some groups just on the basis of a lousy subject line.

***The Ad Body***

Now that you have a descriptive title, you need to write the
body of your ad. The key to a good advertisement is the same
as the subject. Keep it short, but include as much pertinent
information as possible. For example, the best ads in the
newsgroups usually fit on one screen--about 18 lines. In
this space, you should include:

The item or service offered explained in technical detail
Include every technical detail you can: color, size,
year of manufacture or purchase, and technical
specifications in the case of computer equipment. If
your item is particularly unusual, you may want to say
what it is in layman's terms. Not everyone knows that a
Berrien Sandrail is a kind of dune buggy.

Your reason for selling
Did you buy a more powerful item?
Is the sale from a divorce?
Does it have any problems?
Businesses: is it refurbished, overstock,...?

Sales terms and contact information
Your full name, e-mail address, _and_phone_number_
Any warranty you will provide, or lack thereof
Working on arrival is standard practice
Your location (city & state/country)
Will you ship the item elsewhere? Internationally?
Who pays for shipping?

Occasionally, offerings will be so lengthy as to merit longer
articles. If you have a long list of CDs, household goods,
software, or computer hardware, try to put one item to a
line, single-spaced. The fewer times a potential customer
has to scroll through the pages of your article, the more
likely he is to see the items at the end of the list.
Biz.marketplace users are subject to additional length
restrictions, as described in the later section on commercial

One final note, please do not include binaries in your
advertisements. Pictures of your advertised items are nice
for potential browsers, but you must remember that your ad
will be stored on a few thousand different news servers.
That adds up to a lot of memory; enough that it is usually
bad netiquette to post binaries to any groups that aren't
specifically for that purpose. Also, many people have to
download all of the articles in a group in order to read that
group. Binaries cost heavily in transmission time. A better
idea, if you have a picture available, is to mention it in
your ad, and offer to send the binary by e-mail, uuencoded or
MIMEd, to interested parties.

This tried-and-true format is the most successful way to
advertise on the Usenet Marketplace. Usenet readers just
want facts. Marketing hype and personal commentary is not a
good idea because many people see it as wasteful--don't
forget who is ultimately paying for the distribution and
storage of your ad. If your article is more than a
screenful, and you are only offering a few items, make your
ad shorter. Otherwise, the majority of readers will simply
ignore it.


Subject: 5. Usenet Marketplace group list and descriptions.

If your web browser is set up for news, the easy way to select
the right group is on the World Wide Web:
The web pages don't have the same space restrictions, and go
into much more detail than you'll find here.

Please, when you post, post to only 1 newsgroup. Also, if you
are not willing to ship your item overseas, please limit the
distribution of your article if it's easy for you to do so.

Finally, when your item has sold, please cancel your article,
just as you would cancel your newspaper classified ad. In
most newsreaders, you can do this by re-reading your article
and pressing a capital or lowercase "C". If this doesn't
work, then don't worry about it.

-*-*-*-*-*-*-Non-Commercial misc.forsale Groups-*-*-*-*-*-*-

=*=*=Non-Computer Items=*=*=

Non-computer items for sale and wanted by individuals:
sporting goods, garage sale announcements, sabbatical
rentals, bicycles, furniture, miscellaneous

[Also see the list of additional, more specific
marketplace groups at the end of this list.]

=*=*=Cross-Platform Computer Hardware=*=*=

[Some platform-specific hardware belongs in these groups]

misc.forsale.computers.discussion *NO ADS*
Computer questions, reputability questions and comments,
discussion about the FAQ, product reliability questions and
comments. Please, no company recommendations.

all printers, plotters, toner cartridges, paper

all monitors, video displays

all online memory, RAM, VRAM, DRAM, SRAM, simms, sipps,
EEPROM, laptop memory, yes, even 8-bit simms

all storage devices for all media and interfaces, tape
backups, floppy drives and disks, hard drives for all
systems, CD-ROM drives, WORM drives

network hardware, routers, ethernet cards for all systems

modems for all systems, PCMCIA modems, voice-mail cards

=*=*=IBM PC Architecture Hardware & Software=*=*=

[no modems, net hardware, storage media, memory, monitors
or printers belong in these groups.]

PC Motherboards, 286/386/486/Pentium/Overdrive CPUs

complete desktop or tower SYSTEMS (no parts),
barebones systems (at least case, PS, CPU, MB required)

complete portable SYSTEMS (no peripherals or parts)

sound cards, PC MIDI equipment, computer speakers

PC video cards, SVGA cards, Television cards

other PC-only cards, SCSI cards, IDE interface cards,
data acquisition cards
[no network or audio cards, please]

All DOS, MS-WINDOWS, OS/2, Linux software for PCs,
CD-ROM software for the above

PC-only items which won't fit in any of the above groups

=*=*=Macintosh Architecture Hardware & Software=*=*=

[No modems, net hardware, storage media, memory, monitors
or printers belong in these groups.]

complete portable SYSTEMS (no peripherals or parts)

complete desktop SYSTEMS (no parts)

Mac video cards, television cards

Other Mac-only cards, audio cards, data acquisition cards
[no network cards, please]

All Macintosh software

Mac-only items which won't fit in any of the above groups

=*=*=RISC and Other Workstations=*=*=

[No x86 stuff, modems, net hardware, storage media, memory,
monitors or printers belong in these groups.]

items specific to high-power workstations, SPARC systems,
RISC processors, HP workstations, NEXTs, data acquisition
interfaces, other workstation components which don't fit in
other groups, UNIX software
[no souped-up PC clones, please]

=*=*=Other Computer Software & Hardware=*=*=

[No modems, net hardware, storage media, memory, monitors
or printers belong in these groups.]

for as-yet unmentioned SYSTEMS (no parts or peripherals)
Amiga, C64, TI99, minicomputers, supercomputers

software for other systems

parts and peripherals which don't fit in any other groups

[The following groups are obsolete, officially dead, and should
not be posted to. Posting to obsolete newsgroups
may prevent your article from being sent to some sites.
misc.forsale, misc.forsale.computers, misc.forsale.computers.mac,
misc.forsale.computers.pc-clone, misc.forsale.computers.d, and

-*-*-*-*-*-*-Commercial biz.marketplace Groups-*-*-*-*-*-*-

Question: "I'm a profit-motivated entity, but I don't get
biz.marketplace at my site. Can I post to misc.forsale?"

Answer: No. If your site gets misc.forsale, but not
biz.marketplace, then your site probably prohibits commercial
use, and it would be inappropriate for you to post your ad in
the first place. Alternate access to biz.marketplace and
other unavailable newsgroups is presented in the next

=*=*=Non-Computer Items=*=*=

non-computer items offered domestically by businesses,
close-outs, overstocks, seconds, sales of rental equipment,
condo rentals, salvageable capital items

biz.marketplace.discussion *NO ADS*
domestic shipping questions, general Usenet Marketplace
discussion, discussion about the FAQ

requests for international trading partners, offers of
surplus goods which must be exported for sale,
international shipping services

biz.marketplace.international.discussion *NO ADS*
discussion of international marketing and overseas shipping

non-computer services of many sorts, long-distance
telephone deals, freelance writers, non-computer
newsletters and reports, and whatever else
[no multi-level-marketing or entrepreneur-related]

biz.marketplace.services.discussion *NO ADS*
discussion of service performed over the Internet,
service quality reputations, and other service-related

=*=*=*=Computer Hardware, Software, and Services=*=*=*=

for computer services of all types, not-for-profit orgs
soliciting donations of computers, freelance programmers,
software support services, internet access services

biz.marketplace.computers.discussion *NO ADS*
for discussion of commercial computer issues, product
reliability, commercial vendor reputations

PC compatible systems, laptops, motherboards, CPUs,
video cards, monitors, printers, memory, modems, software,
and all supporting equipment
[please tailor your post to the PC market]

Macintosh compatible systems, laptops, CPUs, memory,
video cards, monitors, printers, modems, software and all
supporting equipment
[please tailor your post to the Macintosh market]

RISC-based and other high powered workstations,
supporting high-powered peripherals, large monitors,
network equipment, UNIX software, and other stuff typically
seen only in workstations
[please, no x86 systems, and tailor your post to the
workstation market]

for other types of systems and components specific
to those systems, Amiga, C64, TI99, microcomputers,
supercomputers, etc., and software for these systems.

[The following groups are obsolete, officially dead, and
should not be posted to. Posting to obsolete newsgroups
may prevent your article from being sent to some sites.
biz.misc, biz.comp.hardware, biz.comp.software, and

-*-*-*-*-*-*-Additional Marketplace Groups-*-*-*-*-*-*-

The following groups reside in other hierarchies and are
designed to handle markets for more specific items. You may
crosspost an article to one Usenet Marketplace group and to
one of the following at the same time--subject to the rules
of these groups. Commercial ads may be prohibited in some of
these groups; please read their respective FAQs for more
information. For group descriptions, see the web version of
this FAQ.

alt.aquaria.marketplace rec.crafts.marketplace
alt.art.marketplace rec.games.board.marketplace
alt.cd-world.marketplace rec.games.frp.marketplace
alt.home-theater.marketplace rec.games.deckmaster.marketplace
alt.sex.erotica.marketplace rec.games.video.marketplace
comp.os.os2.marketplace rec.music.marketplace.cd
comp.sys.amiga.marketplace rec.music.marketplace.misc
comp.sys.apple2.marketplace rec.music.marketplace.vinyl
comp.sys.mac.games.marketplace rec.music.makers.marketplace
comp.sys.next.marketplace rec.outdoors.marketplace
comp.sys.sun.wanted rec.photo.marketplace
rec.antiques.marketplace rec.radio.swap
rec.arts.books.marketplace rec.skiing.marketplace
rec.arts.anime.marketplace rec.travel.marketplace
rec.arts.sf.marketplace soc.genealogy.marketplace
rec.games.trading-cards.marketplace.magic.sales (& 2 more)


Subject: 6. How can I receive newsgroups not carried by my site?

One common problem is a lack of access to certain newsgroups.
This is particularly true of the biz.marketplace groups,
because some sites do not carry the Biznet hierarchy. Your
first action should be to ask your system administrator why
she doesn't carry a particular group or set of groups.
Often, just expressing an interest will be enough to convince
her to subscribe. Or, you may find out that your site
doesn't permit commercial use of the news facilities, in
which case you should not try to circumvent local policy.

However, if you have a dying urge to post to or read a specific
group which your site does not carry, there are several free
ways to receive those groups. These can be particularly
useful if you live in Kazakhstan and your only news access is
through Gopher and e-mail (a true story). For posting, a
simple e-mail message to the right address will post your
article. For reading, a number of open news servers and
gopher news services are available for your perusal. But
please, first talk to your local source for help to find out
how to read and post news from your local server.

In many cases, the only reason certain newsgroups are not
carried is because of a lack of storage space. In this
instance, please read Bob Rankin's "Accessing the Internet
by E-Mail FAQ" in news.answers.


Subject: 7. Other classified ads on the Internet.

In addition to the Usenet Marketplace, several additional
advertising services are available through the Internet. If
you want to post goods for sale, many of these (often free)
services welcome your wares. Browsing is always free. In
any case, please learn the rules of using these services
before posting your ad. Most sites have help files
available. For the list of WWW classified ad sites (there
are several), see the web version of this FAQ.

Gopher servers--

The Exchange in eastern Washington State
a local weekly paper presents some of its ads online

Anonymous FTP servers--

The Exchange in eastern Washington State

[If you know of other sites not mentioned here, please let us


Subject: 8. Considerations for commercial/entrepreneurial users.

Businesses, entrepreneurs, not-for-profit organizations, and
other commercial entities must follow additional guidelines
when posting to newsgroups, including the Usenet Marketplace.
Many users frown on the use of the Internet for commercial
purposes because of rampant commercial abuse in the past.
Because of this prior misuse, it is especially important that
you help us to change this image in order to allow continued
commercial use of the Usenet Marketplace. The rest of this
section, while tailored to the biz.marketplace hierarchy,
pertains to many other newsgroups as well. If you would like
to know more about why commercial ads are under such
restrictions, I highly recommend Joel Furr's FAQ on
"Advertising on Usenet: How To Do It, How Not To Do It"
posted regularly to news.misc.

Commercial entities may post advertisements to the appropriate
biz.marketplace.* newsgroups as long as they satisfy the
criteria detailed below. These criteria have been designed
to conserve bandwidth, minimize noise, and provide the best
value for potential customers while providing you with the
best audience for your wares or services. If you follow
these criteria, you will receive the most positive response
possible; your sales will grow and your organization will
maintain a good public image. If your marketing tactics
compromise the integrity of these newsgroups, you can expect
loss of sales, loss of privileges, and a poor reputation
among Internet users. You can also expect a nasty message
from the biz.marketplace moderator announcing that your
article has been deleted as inappropriate.

***Junk e-mail alert!***

These newsgroups are about posting ads for readers to browse
through at their leisure. Some companies have recently tried
to mass-market by culling e-mail addresses from newsgroup
posts, and sending these posters unsolicited e-mail. Sending
unsolicited e-mail advertisements over the Internet is
against the policy of most Internet service providers,
including AOL and other major online services. This practice
is not tolerated by the Usenet audience, and sometimes
results in revocation of Internet access. You may, however,
send an e-mail reply to the poster of a question about
services or products you can provide.

Inappropriate commercial use of the Internet is watched by many
users, and recorded for posterity. If you would like more
information, check out the Blacklist of Internet Advertisers
posted regularly to news.answers to see who has ruined their
reputation recently.

***About the biz.marketplace moderated newsgroups***

The biz.marketplace newsgroups are retro-moderated, which means
that the moderator routinely cancels inappropriate posts
after-the-fact. At present, several robots analyze the
biz.marketplace groups and automatically cancel most articles
which don't adhere to the suggestions in this FAQ. The robots
try to be lenient and have been running greater than 99%
accuracy. However, because they are only as stupid as the
idiot who programmed them, the moderator reserves the right
to cancel any article which does not follow the suggestions
for advertising listed in this FAQ. From time to time,
biological entities may also intervene to cancel articles
which the robots miss.

It is possible, in the rarest of cases, that a totally
appropriate article would be cancelled. If your article
follows all of the suggestions and is still cancelled, please
work with us to resolve the problem. If your article is
cancelled and you included a valid e-mail address in the
From: or Sender: header, you'll receive notification.

The following quote from the biz.marketplace charter should help
you understand our purpose:

"Because the propagation and storage resources of this
hierarchy are supported primarily by the customers, all
posters to this hierarchy must recognize that a heavy
emphasis is placed on end-user value. Every post to any
biz.marketplace group should demonstrate, in a concise
manner, its value to the customers. This value should not be
easily obtained except through these newsgroups. This value
may be monetary, or it may be in the form of services which
are not prolifically advertised and are of general interest
to the readership."

***Acceptable commercial offerings***

All commercial offerings must provide end-user value as stated
above. These offerings are welcome in biz.marketplace

Discounted merchandise</STRONG>
You may post an ad if everything in your post is offered
at a price significantly lower than the lowest price
available for the same first-quality merchandise through
retail stores, mail-order catalogs, national advertising
campaigns, and other nationally-distributed media
including TV, magazines, or large discount chains. For
computer items in the U.S., the litmus test is the lowest
current, not published, price offered by dealers in
Computer Shopper magazine. Bulk offerings and offerings
not open to the general public must provide an equivalent
value to corporate customers. The discount from the best
nationally-available prices should be at least 10% for
items/lots $500 or more, 12-15% in the $200-500 range,
and at least $20 for items/lots under $200. It is your
responsibility to research prices before posting.

A few examples:
Refurbished goods
Factory seconds
Offerings to individuals at or near wholesale
Bulk offerings for export below wholesale

Hard-to-find services or merchandise
You offer services or tangible goods that would not
otherwise be available nationally, and are of widespread
interest to the readers. You still must offer very
competitive pricing.

A few more examples:
Home handiwork
Freelance services: writing, programming, photography
Language translation services
Consulting services
Internet t-shirts and coffee mugs
Small-company developed software
Escrow services
Internet service providers
Self-published fiction

These offerings should not be posted:

Entire catalogs
Only those items in your inventory which satisfy the
above criteria may be advertised. Because catalogs use
a lot of resources, it is better to pick a few choice
items to advertise, briefly describe the rest of your
inventory, and solicit e-mail requests for your catalog
or announce a web link to it. Please keep your ad to
fewer than 40 lines in the interest of bandwidth.

Distributorships, investment opportunities, sales positions,
and multi-level marketing
You may offer your merchandise if it would otherwise be
acceptable, but marketing or investment opportunities are
not included in the Marketplace scope of facilitating the
sale of goods and services. Job offerings, except for
specific solicitation of contract/freelance workers in the
services groups, fall under the same category. In the
interest of international trade, limited specific
"corporate distributors wanted" advertising will be
allowed in the international group, but _only_ if its
presentation follows the highest Marketplace standards.
NO soliciting for individuals internationally.

Items of limited interest to the audience
All offerings should be of interest to a large number of
the readers. In general, most computer-related items or
services are appropriate, as are everyday items,
furniture, decorations, and other items used by a large
percentage of the population. The largest parts of the
Usenet audience come from all corners of the world, and
include computer-related business employees, high-school
and university students, professors, top scientific
researchers, and the occasional computer-literate family.
Most readers have advanced educations. If your item is
not of widespread interest to these populations, then
please don't advertise on the newsgroups.

A few examples of usually inappropriate offerings:
Psychic, sex, and similar telephone services
Herbal and experimental medications and diet
Money making opportunities of most sorts
Immigration and trial law services

***Commercial ad copy requirements***

When writing your ad, please keep in mind the suggestions for
ads written by individuals. Many of the suggestions are
enforced for commercial ads, especially pertaining to
effective subject lines [HINT!!! ;-]. Once you understand how
to write an ad from an individual's point of view, modify your
commercial ad to follow a few additional guidelines:

State exact items, services, and prices in detail.
Stating that you offer a certain product line is not
enough. You must provide specific examples. Any reader
knowledgeable about your products should be able to read
your ad and easily see the end-user value. Be certain
you include model numbers, special conditions, and, most
importantly, prices. Also include shipping and payment
information. We repeat: failure to include prices for
merchandise _will_ make your article eligible for

Keep your ad reasonably short, but not _too_ short.
As a general guide, if you are offering one item, you will
rarely need more than 12 lines. If you have 12 items, try
to use no more than 2 lines per item. 40 items, no more
than 1 line per item. If your list of qualifying
offerings won't fit in 50 lines, list a few representative
items or services, then offer to send the full list by
e-mail to interested parties. Alternatively, include a
link to your catalog on the World-Wide-Web. But be sure
to include the requisite examples to prove that your ad is
appropriate! Very few readers will scroll past the second
page of your article, so be brief, don't waste space, but
say what you need to. Post much more than 50 lines and
the robots will automatically cancel your ad. Also,
don't include blank forms in your posts.

Present facts, eliminate hype.
When you write your ad, just present technical
information and facts. Do not include commentary or
marketing hype. Because of the high level of education
of most of the readers, marketing hype only wastes
bandwidth and invites questions about your reputability.
Present your product in a serious technical light and you
will sell more in these newsgroups than if you present it
as the biggest innovation since the atom bomb. Also, the
laws of various consumer protection agencies about truth
in advertising apply and are strictly enforced in their
own way on the newsgroups.

Please tailor your posts to each newsgroup.
If you offer items which belong in different newsgroups,
such as a variety of PC and Macintosh hardware, then
please write a separate article for each of the intended
groups. PC users do not like to sort through listings of
Macintosh items, nor should computers or computer
services be posted to the non-computer groups. Instead
separate PC and Macintosh hardware into separate posts.
You will lose sales if a PC user has to skip over a group
of Macintosh hardware before finding your PC section.
Posting to multiple biz.marketplace groups is another
criteria for cancellation.

Include _your_ e-mail address.
If your e-mail host sends automatic replies, or if you
don't regularly read mail in the account from which you
are posting, please include an e-mail address in your ad
where you, personally, can be reached. Autoresponders
work well for responding to large numbers of catalog
requests, but they don't work well when people have
questions, comments, or complaints. Some Usenet
Marketplace users will not do business with companies who
refuse to make a live person easily accessible for
questions. We also urge you to respond to such
questions, comments, or complaints, as users will often
complain to your system administrator if you cannot be

Post your ad once a month.
If your offerings are continuous, please maintain a
1-month interval between posts, unless you need to make a
correction. If someone posts a request in a
*.discussion group for a service you provide, respond to
her by e-mail rather than reposting your stock ad. Your
ad may disappear at your site in a couple of days, but it
will remain at other sites for 2 weeks or more. The
one-month interval has been determined to be a reasonable
compromise because of limitations on bandwidth and
storage at most sites. Enforcement will be included in
future robots.

Learn how to cancel articles before you post.
If your post escapes with an error, or if it needs a
price correction, please cancel your original post before
posting the update. See the section on cancelling
articles for more information.

Limit distribution of your post
When you post to the Usenet Marketplace, your article is
sent to thousands of news servers worldwide. If you
don't want to deal internationally, or if your items are
too large to ship, please limit your article distribution
when posting. For more information, see the section on
advanced posting topics.

Finally, if you are unclear on any of these issues, please ask.
It might save a lot of headaches later.

***A short guide to cancelling articles***

If you make a mistake when posting, or should you need to
revise your ad, it is imperative that you be able to cancel
it quickly. The most universal way to correct such problems
is to post a corrected ad with a Supersedes: header at the
top of your new message. To do this, you need the
Message-ID: from your original article. Go into your
newsreader, find your article, and look at the headers (you
may need to type 'h' to see them). The top of your article
should look similar to:

Newsgroups: misc.forsale.non-computer
Subject: BooBoo For Sale
From: hoo...@commercial.com
[other headers]
Message-ID: <several_charact...@site.com>

[Article text after a blank space]

In your new article, include the following line in your

Supersedes: several_charact...@site.com

An easier way if you use rn, trn, or nn as your newsreader is
to type a capital 'C' while you are reading your original
article. Then, post your new article (if any). Hitting 'C'
cancels the original article and erases the text, although
the subject line may not be removed at all sites. Some sites
have other ways of cancelling articles. Talk to a local
system administrator for help.

-*-*-*-*-End ad-posting FAQ-*-*-*-*-

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