This FAQ contains information about the alt.family-names.* newsgroups hierarchy.
What is the alt.family-names.* newsgroup hierarchy, and how did it start?
The alt.family-names.* newgroup hierarchy started late in 1996 and at the time it was created, many sysadmins didn't carry it because of the misconception that the groups with names were just 'vanity' groups. Because of this and problems with spammers using them for a dumping ground, their potential use as resources for and to the genealogy community has gone unnoticed. That is, until this FAQ.
The alt.family-names.* hierarchy at present consists of the catch-all group alt.family-names and over 100 separate surname groups such as alt.family-names.anderson. Click on the link to Liszt's list of these groups for a near-complete listing of the separate surname groups.
What can I post in the alt.family-names.* groups?
You can post any genealogy information for and about research on family names you are working on in the alt.family-names newsgroup. You can also post to any specific surname newsgroup(s) as long as something in the article pertains to that specific surname. If your surname is not listed yet you can post to alt.family-names and you can also post extraneous surnames not included in the surname group posting as long as there is the query or info post contains some surname info pertinent to that surname group.
Examples of info that can be posted are:
If you have any questions about what can be posted in these groups, please let me know at the mail link at the bottom of this page and I wil make any corrections needed to the list above.
What cannot be posted in the alt.family-names.* newsgroup hierarchy?
You may not post spam (commercial articles) except to mention publication notices for books on a particular surname.
You may not post hate speech which is construed to mean racial slurs.
No pornographic ads, including obscene words.
Ads for unrelated commercial websites, except as provided below.
Editorial rants about religious issues unrelated to genealogy or political rants.
Special note regarding alt.family-names.teachout: This group, alt.family-names.teachout, has been recently hijacked by a number of people seeking to use the group to discuss homosexuality and lesbianism. Such discussions are better held elsewhere in Usenet. There are other places in Usenet that discuss the subject of homosexuality.
Special note regarding alt.family-names.manson: This group is NOT for postings regarding the singer/group Marilyn Manson nor is it for discussions about Charles Manson. Both subjects are dealt with in other Usenet newsgroups. Also, Surfwatch and other filtering services are considering filtering this newsgroup due to these off-topic postings.
You may, however, include commercial URLs for your workplace or anything genealogy-related that involves genealogy in the sig of your article. This is commonly accepted in Usenet generally but shouldn't be excessive.
As per custom, you may post info about your personal website in your sig as well.
Where can I read these groups if they are not on my Usenet server?
The best place to read them is Deja News at the link provoded at the end of this FAQ. If the group is very new it may not show there immediately after creation. Watch for it.
You can post to any alt.family-names.* group there.
My surname is not listed. Can a group be started for it?
Please let me know by email as I will be starting new ones soon. However, I will try to group variants of surnames under the most common spelling to avoid confusion and aid others in finding your information or query.