To get involved in comp.dsp, the first thing you’ll need is a “newsreader”. That’s just the newsgroup equivalent of a browser. Several good newsreaders are available for free. (Talk to your ISP for more information about installing and configuring a news server.) Alternatively, you can just use a web-based news service like Deja or Remarq to access comp.dsp via your web browser. This approach is a lot easier to get started, but it’s generally a little clunkier to use than a true newsreader.

Once you have access to comp.dsp, the first thing to do is “lurk”. “Lurkers” are simply people who read but don’t write. Lurkers of all kinds are welcome in comp.dsp. It’s best to read comp.dsp for awhile to get the flavor of it before you actually post (submit) anything. (For a heads-up on the general attitudes and expectations of the group, be sure to read about comp.dsp culture.

OK, you’ve lurked for awhile and you’re ready to post. You’ll probably want to send out a test message to see if your system is working. But please don’t post that to comp.dsp. Instead, post it to the “misc.test” newsgroup, which is basically a dumping ground for test messages. If your test message appears in misc.test, your real message is very likely to appear in comp.dsp.

Now you’re graduated from “lurker” to “newbie”. Questions from newbies are always welcome. Don’t be shy. However, have you done your homework? Before you ask a question, be sure to search the comp.dsp archives (and search dspGuru!) for the answer. This has two benefits. First, and most importantly for you, you will probably get an answer to your question in minutes rather than hours or days. That alone should be a powerful motivation to “search first and ask questions later”. Second, by not asking questions which have been answered many times before, you reduce the “clutter” in comp.dsp’s traffic–and you don’t overwork comp.dsp’s “regulars” (question answering people), who work for free.

But having done your homework and your search having failed, you really do need to ask a real live Human Being . Well, that’s why comp.dsp is there. Your newsreader probably makes posting a question to comp.dsp no harder than sending an e-mail. But as you write your question, be sure to follow the guidelines of comp.dsp culture. Think of yourself as a guest at a cocktail party: don’t block the driveway; be polite; don’t track mud on the carpet; put down the toilet seat when you’re through.

Welcome aboard comp.dsp!