sci.military.naval FAQ, Part A
Introduction & About the Newsgroup

This section of the FAQ contains information about the newsgroup and about the FAQ. It should be read before the other sections so the reader can get the most out of the newsgroup and the FAQ.

Revised 30 March 2000
Version 1.51
Compiled and Maintained by: Andrew Toppan
SMN FAQ Main Page:

Contents of this section:
Section A.1: Introduction
Section A.2: Scope of the FAQ
Section A.3: Newsgroup Charter
Section A.4: Newsgroup History
Section A.5: Netiquette (Etiquette)
Section A.6: Security issues
Section A.7: Writing Good Questions
Section A.8: Acknowledgements, credits & disclaimers

Section A.1: Introduction

Welcome to the sci.military.naval Frequently Asked Questions file.

Every newsgroup finds that certain questions come up time after time. Regular readers of a group get tired of seeing the same old questions (and posting the same old answers) time and time again, while new readers wonder why they're getting so many impolite replies, and so few useful ones, to perfectly reasonable queries. The result is frustration all round.

This list of Frequently Asked Questions attempts to provide answers to some of the most popular questions about navies and naval issues that come up in sci.military.naval. It also attemps to deal with popular misconceptions, misinformation and errors. If you're fairly new to this group (or even if you're not) and have a question related to naval matters, you should check here first to see if your question has already been answered. Of course, this is not intended to discourage interesting discussions; if you have something new to say about any of the topics covered here (or any other topic, for that matter), by all means share it with us.

Further contributions to this FAQ are welcome; send any comments, corrections, new questions, or new answers to me at

In place of regular posting to the newsgroup, this FAQ will be available via the web at at all times. An announcement/reminder about the FAQ, pointing readers to this URL, will be posted to the newsgroup each week.

The FAQ author has made every effort to present unbiased, factual information. Where there is some disagreement or conflict about an issue, the FAQ author has attempted to represent both points of view on the issue.

This FAQ file is copyright 1997-2000 by Andrew Toppan. It may be copied, archived, redistributed or reused freely, provided no profit is derived from the reuse/redistribution, the author is given proper credit, and statements are not taken out of context in a way that significantly alters the meaning of the statements.

Section A.2: Scope of the FAQ

As mentioned above, this FAQ goes a bit beyond simply answering common questions. It addresses common myths, errors, urban legends, misconceptions, misunderstandings and misinformation. It is hoped that the FAQ can provide information that would not normally be available via the newsgroup, i.e. detailed, researched, comprehensive answers that are beyond the scope of normal newsgroup discussion.

The FAQ also deals with netiquette and information about how to get the most from the newsgroup. It is hoped that the extra information will be beneficial both to new and long-time readers. With literally thousands of new Usenet readers every day, it is hard for the average "newbie" to figure out how things work and how to deal with things such as flamewars and trolls. The netiquete section should give newbies (and non-newbies) some guidance in dealing with these and other issues, or at least how these issues are dealt with in sci.military.naval.

Section A.3: Newsgroup Charter

The Charter of sci.military.naval, as proposed and voted on when the newsgroup was created, is the following:

sci.military.naval will be for the open discussion of all issues relating to the navies of the world.

The discussion will include, but is in no way limited to, history, operations, tactics, customs and traditions, technology, political, economic and social issues relating to navies, the future of naval warfare and warships of all sorts. This list is not meant to include everything, it is simply meant to give an idea of the type of traffic expected in the group.

The group is not to be used to find former shipmates, war buddies, etc., soc.veterans exists for that purpose. Commercial posts and advertising are not appropriate for the group, but individuals may post for sale messages for books, magazines etc. and collectors item's and memorabilia. Binary postings of any sort are inappropriate.
=====END CHARTER=====

Discussion is governed by this Charter. It is deliberately vague in terms of what can be discussed, because nobody can predict what issues might come up for discussion at some time in the future. In short, anything related to navies is fair game, within the restrictions set in the third paragraph, and within the bounds of etiquette.

Section A.4: Newsgroup History

The initial Request for Discussion (RFD, the official proposal for a newsgroup) was written early in February, 1995. It was approved and posted on 20 Feb 1995. The Call for Votes (CFV) was posted 5 April 1995, delayed by technical problems. The statement of results was posted 1 May 1995; the vote was overwhelmingly in favor of the group: 311 in favor, 26 against. The new newsgroup was created on 8 May 1995. The same proposal renamed the old group sci.military to sci.military.moderated.

The intent of the new newsgroup was to provide a single, central location for discussion of naval matters. Prior to the creation of sci.military.naval, naval issues were discussed in dozens of newsgroups and several mailing lists. This lead to confusion and annoyance, as people didn't know where to post their questions, and others ended up answering the same question in several places at the same time.

The only real controversy surrounding the creation of the newsgroup was whether it should be moderated or unmoderated. Those who wanted the group to be moderated wished to filter out extraneous "noise," i.e. flamewars, personal attacks and irrelevant disucussion which tend to populate unmoderated groups, especially those dealing with the military. Those in favor of an unmoderated group wished to avoid censorship, or even the appearance of censorship, wanted to preserve rapid, free interchange of information, which is reduced by the time delays inherent in moderation, and wanted to avoid the controversy, complaining and delay that almost always comes with selecting a moderator. Further, there was no person available to act as a moderator.

Section A.5: Netiquette (Etiquette)

This section discusses some of the basic rules of etiquette in newsgroups, and the general rules for this newgroup.

Crossposting (posting an article to many groups at the same time) can be a valuable tool for getting your message to the maximum number of people. It can also cause a discussion to degenerate into a senseless flamewar. In general, you should only crosspost a message to several newsgroups if it is really and truly relevant to all of them. Contrived reasoning does not make a topic relevant. For example, an announcement of a new WWII military museum probably would be relevant to, sci.military.naval and rec.aviation.military. On the other hand, discussion of B-52 bombing in Vietnam is not relevant to sci.military.naval simply because the bombers happened to fly near a naval vessel. Such topics should be confined to groups they are truly relevant to.

One specific caution is that articles should not be crossposted to soc.culture.* newsgroups unless there is a strong connection to the culture of the nation in question. There rarely is really a cultural connection to naval issues. In general, crossposting anything to soc.culture.* is sure to produce a flamewar, as the discussion turns into senseless ethnic/cultural namecalling.

The Charter of sci.military.naval prohibits binary files, i.e. images and zipped files. This is not because binaries are inherently bad. Rather, it is because of the large size of most binaries. Large binary files can clog network bandwidth, fill news server disks, and make downloads take much longer than they should. Instead of posting a binary, you might consider sending it via email to people who request it, posting it to an alt.binaries.* group, or making the file available via a web or FTP site. In any of these cases, you might wish to post an announcement of the availability of the file on sci.military.naval.

Large binary files often are cancelled by the bincancel program, which attempts to "clean out" binaries from groups where they don't belong. Smaller files may slip past the bincancel, but are likely to draw many flames.

Quoted text; one-line replies
Few things are more annoying than reading through 100 lines of quoted text to find "Me too!" at the end. When posting a followup (reply) to a message, delete all but the specific part you are replying to. In most cases, you can trim all but a sentence or two. Trimming the quoted material also makes it easier for readers to see which points you are responding to. If you are not replying to a specific part of the article but have additional comments based on the previous article, you might wish to delete the entire article and replace it with a brief summary, i.e. "[snip long post on NGFS issues]". Quoting someone .signature is generally considered to be obnoxious.

Dealing with flamewars and obnoxious posters
From time to time a particularly obnoxious or annoying thread, discussion, person or flamewar shows up. Although there is no sure-fire way to make such annoyances go away so the group can get back to more reasonable topics, these suggestions may help.

Controversial issues
Certain issues frequently discussed in sci.military.naval tend to draw vast amounts of conflict, argument, shouting, flaming and general absurdity. To reduce the flame potential when discussing such controversial issues, people who want to conduct a reasonable, intelligent discussion should be very careful to avoid statements that could be seen as an "attack" on one "side" of an issue. Also, avoid crossposting to groups that are ongoing flamefests, such as soc.culture.pakistan and soc.culture.india.

In general, it is best to avoid the controversial issues if one wants to avoid a flamewar.

Section A.6: Security issues

The Internet presents all sorts of new chances to accidentally divulge information that should be kept secret. Obviously, anyone in possession of information that is classified, restricted or otherwise controlled should keep that information private. While writing an article it is very easy to accidentally "slip in" information that should be kept private. Keep in mind that this is a world wide forum, so what you write will be read by people who don't particularly like your nation.

Remember that "For Official Use Only" means just that, and "Official Use" generally doesn't include posting on the 'net. Also keep in mind that US law prohibits export of defense-related "technical information" without appropriate export licenses - and posting in this newsgroup clearly could be considered "export". Violation of export restrictions is a criminal offense.

Don't automatically assume that nobody will take action if you post information that should be kept private. There has been at least one incident of a person getting in some degree of trouble for some seemingly harmless comments he posted. Those who are connected to the military or the government in any way may wish to use a disclaimer stating that they are speaking only for themselves.

Section A.7: Writing Good Questions

To get a good answer one must ask a good question. It seems simple, but many times questions are poorly writen. There are two basic types of questions: requests for information and discussion questions.

When writing a request for information, one should make every effort to provide sufficient context and to ask a specific question. Without context the question may be hard to understand, open to misunderstanding, and impossible to answer properly.

For example, a very common request goes like this: "I need information on Albany." Without context, someone attempting to answer the question does not know which ship named Albany is being asked about, as there have been several ships with that name, in several different navies. If more information had been provided --such as the year or era, the type of ship, the hull number, etc.-- it would be vastly easier to determine what ship was being asked about. Secondly, "information" is a very broad request. Try to be more specific about what you need--a history, the ship's fate, armament, battle history, etc.

For discussion questions, one should attempt to clearly define the topic to be discussed. State clearly the situation, given information, assumptions, conditions, exceptions, or other factors involved. That way everyone stands a better chance of discussing the same thing instead of a dozen barely-related issues.

Section A.8: Acknowledgements, credits & disclaimers

Some sections of this FAQ have been "borrowed" from other sources. In particular, sections of the rec.aviation.military FAQ have been used, because the subject matter of that FAQ overlaps this FAQ considerably. The rec.aviation.military FAQ was maintained by Ross Smith until late 1994, when he vanished and the FAQ was abandoned. It is now maintained by Urban Fredriksson. In Part A of the FAQ, sections A.1, A.3 and A.4 are adapted from the r.a.m FAQ; in other parts the r.a.m FAQ material is so marked.

Disclaimer: Information provided in this FAQ is accurate to the best of the FAQ author's knowledge. All opinions stated are those of the FAQ author, unless otherwise stated. Nothing in this FAQ, unless specifically indicated to the contrary, represents the official position/opinion of my employer, or any other agency/organization/company/group. No warrantee of any sort is implied as to the accuracy or completeness of any information contained herein or any sources mentioned. This document was compiled from open, public sources.

Nothing in this FAQ should be seen as a "control" on discussions. The only official "rules" for the newsgroup are in the Charter.

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This FAQ created and maintained by Andrew Toppan
Copyright © 1997-2003, Andrew Toppan.
Reproduction, reuse, or distribution without permission is prohibited.