Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

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Reviews Despot

Sep 28, 1997, 3:00:00 AM9/28/97

Archive-name: music/music-reviews-faq
Posting-Frequency: monthly
Last-modified: 1996/12/21
Version: 1.07

Frequently Asked Questions: (V 1.07)
Al Crawford (

This isn't strictly speaking a FAQ in the truest sense of the word, since
it's rather difficult for readers to ask questions in a group where direct
followups aren't permitted. However, it's hoped that this pseudo-FAQ will
clear up some of the details regarding exactly what belongs in the
newsgroup, and how to go about submitting postings.


Table Of Contents

o What is
o What can I post to
o What can't I post to
o What sort of music can I review?
o If the variety of music you can review is so open, why is the group
o Is there any special format for reviews?
o Why aren't there ever any reviews of my favourite artists?
o Can I post a review of my band's new CD?
o I just picked up some old vinyl at a garage sale, can I review that?
o So how do I post a review?
o Why can't I followup to a review?
o How long should it take a review to appear?
o Are there any archives of old reviews available?


What is

As the name of the newsgroup suggests, was created to
provide a forum for the distribution of music reviews. This had
previously been done in groups such as, where the
occasional informative review tended to get buried under long, involved
threads about "Songs With The Word `And' In The Title" and other
interesting postings of that ilk.

What can I post to

Reviews of music!

What can't I post to

Everything else. More specifically...

o Concert/release announcements (try for that)
o Promotional material, however informative, masquerading as a real
review (try for that)
o Requests for reviews.
o Requests for reviewers (for magazines, to review your CD etc)
o Requests for information.
o Requests for anything else.
o Interviews, unless they have a substantial review content.
o Pointers to reviews on the WWW. Why not just post the review so that
those who don't have WWW access can read it?
o Junk mail, chain letters, and so forth.
o Anything else you can think of that isn't a review.

Anything falling into any of the above categories will, depending on a
number of factors such as how much time I have and what mood I'm in,
either be returned to the sender with a polite suggestion as to where
it should be posted or vanish forever into the bottomless void of the
semi-legendary bit bucket.

What sort of music can I review?

All sorts. There is no restriction at all on the types of music that
you can review for Country, classical, techno, folk,
rock, pop, world, hip-hop, jazz, experimental - they're all fair game.
There's no restriction on whether the music reviewed is live (ie a
concert) or pre-recorded either. For the moment, though, I won't accept
reviews of musical events where the music is pre-recorded, such as many

If the variety of music you can review is so open, why is the group moderated?

There are two main reasons for the moderated nature of the group:

Lack of noise

The moderator screens out inappropriate material such as the
periodic outbreaks of chain letters, immigration lawyers and
cascades that can pollute other groups, misdirected postings and so
forth, thus rendering the group far more readable and ensuring a
good signal-noise ratio. Generally any postings of this nature that
turn up in my mailbox will vanish into the void, never to be seen

Quality of reviews

Exactly what constitutes a review isn't precisely defined. At one
end of the scale we have unsupported opinions masquerading as
information, where the writer conveys no information about the music
being reviewed other than that he/she loves/hates it. At the other
end, we have detailed track by track descriptions of albums, with
the music lovingly described and the writer drawing careful
attention to the precise reasons why he/she loves/hates the album.
As moderator, I set a lower threshold on what is
or isn't considered acceptable for posting here. Reviews that fall
below this line will generally be returned to the poster with
suggestions as to how they might go about changing them so that
they'll be accepted if resubmitted. Remember that
isn't like a print magazine - there are no word limits, so you can
make the review as long as you want. Reviews of several thousand
words in length aren't unknown.

Is there any special format for reviews?

No, none whatsoever. Many of the more regular posters to the group have
developed distinctive reviewing styles, but there are no restrictions
on presentation other than that the text be reasonably neatly laid out.
Try to ensure that you break lines in a reasonable place (not everybody
has a 500 column screen) and that you don't type entirely in capitals,
which can be difficult to read. It's also helpful if your review has a
reasonably descriptive subject line. No subject line or a subject line
that reads "A Review" won't get your article rejected, but it's
certainly preferable that you include an informative subject line

Why aren't there ever any reviews of my favourite artists?

Probably because nobody has ever tried to post any. There's a hard core
of regular reviewers in the group, all of whom have distinctive tastes
and they review releases that interest them but might not interest you.
For some reason it's often the case that reviews of major releases
don't appear here. This isn't due to any sort of bias on the part of
the moderator, it's simply because no reviews of the album are ever
received. However, if no review appears for an album you're interested
in, and you go ahead and take the plunge by buying the album anyway,
why not review it for the benefit of less reckless souls?

Can I post a review of my band's new CD?

That depends on who wrote the review. Posting a self-written review of
your own release would be frowned upon, since it's likely that you
wouldn't be the world's most objective reviewer, but if your release
has been reviewed elsewhere by somebody else, and you have obtained
permission from them to reproduce their review, that's fine. If you
want to post a self-written review, you'd probably be better off
reclassifying it as a very descriptive release announcement and
submitting it to The above also applies to agencies
trying to promote an artist by posting promotional blurb that looks like
reviews. This is a definite no-no, since exists
for exactly this purpose.

I just picked up some old vinyl at a garage sale, can I review that?

Sure. There's no restriction that reviews have to be of new releases.
Feel free to write a review of a release that's 6 months, 6 years or
even 60 years old, there might well be someone out there who has been
contemplating buying it and would appreciate your review. It's advisable
though not essential that reviews of older material give some indication
as to year of release and availability though.

So how do I post a review?

You can post a review in the regular fashion from within your
newsreader. It will automatically be mailed to the moderator, who will
check it, probably approve it and then post it to the newsgroup. If
you're having trouble doing this, you can mail the article directly to where it will be posted in due course. I have no
problems in principle with crossposting articles to other newsgroups,
such as, or In fact I'd positively encourage posters to do
this rather than post several copies of their review if it's relevant
to several different groups, but I'd appreciate the addition of a
reminder somewhere in your posting if one of the groups you want your
review crossposted to is also moderated - I wouldn't want to step on
another moderator's toes.

Why can't I followup to a review?

You can - but it won't appear in Generally followups
are redirected to, but if you feel that is inappropriate
for a particular review, you can set the Followup-To: line in the
normal way. Please note that following up to a review and deliberately
changing the Newsgroups line to include will result
in your followup being sent to me for approval. This in turn will
result in the prompt and total incineration of your followup.

How long should it take a review to appear?

I will generally post it within a day or so of receiving it, but it
might conceivably take a few days to propagate back to your site.
Please wait at least a week before contacting me if you suspect a
review has gone missing en route to me.

How long will the review remain available for?

This depends on the site you're reading news at. Some sites may expire
articles after just two days, others after two weeks. A few sites may
even keep articles for a month or more. The moderator
has no control over how long your review will remain readable at a
particular site.

Are there any archives of old reviews available?

The main archive site for old reviews is Reviews can be
found in the appropriate /pub/music/reviews/a-z directories. This site
is generally very busy, so please try to connect at off-peak times.
There are also other "private" archives around, maintained by the
reviewers themselves. A short list of those that I know about follows.
If you contribute reviews to and archive them, please
let me know and I'll add you to the list.

Charles Isbell's Hip Hop Resources
Glenn McDonald's The War Against Silence
Ram Samudrala's Reviews
Michael Zwirn's Kibbutz Music Reviews
Al's Review Archive

There's also an excellent index of Internet music review resources on
Yahoo at


If you've got any questions that you think should be added to the FAQ,
please mail them to me and I'll see about putting them in.

A hypertext version of this FAQ is available on the World Wide Web at URL


Al Crawford /
Reviews Despot /

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