Usenet FAQ

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The current monthly CDO FAQ postings are dated and need to be replaced. Joel Garry kindly agreed that we can use his "README_FIRST posting" as basis for the new FAQs. Below is the working copy.

Contents

[edit] What is the README_FIRST posting?

This is a post you read before posting on the comp.databases.oracle.* newsgroups. This post describes the Oracle newsgroups and behavior expected from posters.

[edit] What is cdo? What is cdos?

cdo is short for comp.databases.oracle. cdos stands for comp.databases.oracle.server. This newsgroup is dedicated to server issues of the Oracle database, including administration and internals.

[edit] Where is this newsgroup's charter?

The charter was published when the group was created. It is also archived here.

comp.databases.oracle used to be a single group, but was replaced by a hierarchy because there were getting to be too many posts covering too wide of an area. You may see the original charter and voting by searching for this on google groups: charter comp.databases.oracle result pass group:news.*

[edit] What do I post where?

Read the charter. In a nutshell, commercial and job posts go to cdo.marketplace, database administration topics are on cdos, tools and applications are on cdo.tools, and other topics are on cdo.misc.

[edit] What if a post has a topic that could be in more than one group?

Many people read all the groups, so pick the one that fits the post best. Cross-posting and multi-posting are frowned upon. FAQs that cover all the groups are about the only exception, and there isn't even agreement about that.

[edit] What should I do before I post?

You should be familiar with general netiquette, such as Netiquette guidelines and The Beginners guide. You should know how to read the documentation and and how use search engines to research the question before posting. You should read the FAQ. You should read recent threads in the newsgroup to get an idea of how the group works. You should try to solve your problem before posting.

[edit] Where is the FAQ?

Orafaq.com is officially listed by the RTFM site. It is also published in cdo periodically. There are also other resources covering the Oracle database, including other FAQs, message boards and documentation.

Some of the other noteworthy FAQ sites:

  • Underground Oracle FAQ (this site)
  • The Cooperative FAQ
  • Tom Kyte's page
  • Ixora
  • OracleDBA.co.uk
  • Oak Table
  • Periodic Lewis FAQ

[edit] Where is the documentation?

Oracle Docs or Tahiti (free registration required). Some other sources may be found on various link pages.

[edit] What other resources are there?

See any link page, such as this one or Atul Mehta's o r a c l e World.

  • Metalink is an official support channel from Oracle Corporation. You will need a CSI (Customer Number) to register. Your CSI would be on your invoice from Oracle. Once you get on Metalink, search for a document that explains how to use Oracle support, "Working Effectively With Oracle Support Services" Note:166650.1.
  • TechNet is also officially supported by Oracle, but it has lots of techie input. Free registration is required, and there is a lot of valuable information there.
  • Oracle Pipeline is a message board supported by Quest, but run by volunteers.
  • Ask Tom
  • oracle-l mailing list archives
  • Oracle Newsfeed
  • Morgan's Library
  • dbaclick.com
  • Centrex Consulting Papers
  • Steven Feuerstein
  • Peasland Oracle Consulting
  • dbasupport.com

Blogs:

  • Orablogs
  • Oracle Blogs
  • Tom Kyte
  • Tim Hall
  • David Aldridge
  • Mark Rittman
  • Niall Litchfield
  • Pete Finnigan
  • Pete-S
  • Doug Burns
  • Jeff Hunter

[edit] What do you mean search engines?

A search engine is used to find information on the internet. There are many such engines such as Alta Vista and Google. Google in particular may be used to search usenet news groups, including cdos. You are expected to have searched cdos for an answer to your question before posting.

[edit] What information should I include with a post?

Always post the version of Oracle, patches, the operating system, edition (i.e., express, personal, standard, enterprise) and version, and the hardware. Beyond that, it depends on exactly what you are posting about. If you have a SQL question, for example, you should post exactly what you've tried already, and what you are trying to accomplish. A question about why a statement is performing poorly should include an Explain Plan. If you are getting an error, post the full error number and text. Use google to see what others have done right and wrong. See what information Oracle requires for support calls. The more information you give up front, the easier it is for people to help. Use upper and lower case good English and explain the issue clearly. Use a clear and specific Subject: line, preferably one that is unique - remember, some people will be searching for subject lines, and search engines will include unrelated posts if the subject is the same as yours. Keep to a single topic per post. When following up a post, clip out extraneous information, but remember that people may see your post before the original post, so leave in enough information to give context to your answer. How To Ask Questions The Smart Way.

[edit] What information should I not include with a post?

Don't give out passwords (beyond published defaults), CSI numbers (Oracle support ID), IP addresses, post anything you wouldn't want published on the front page of your parent's newspaper, or copyrighted material, HTML code (unless it is directly relevant), industrial secrets, libel, emails, spam, off-topic, cascades, political or religious diatribes, violations of a countries computer laws, information covered under non-disclosure agreements etc. If you are posting from a company computer, be sure you understand the company rules, too. If you are a student, don't expect answers to your homework, although you might get hints to help you work through it. Your boss or teacher (or a future boss or teacher, or potential subordinate) may be following this group. Be careful with jokes, aspersions of race or national origin, political correctness, trolls and other obviously flammable objects. Be careful with reposting, it can take a while for a post to propagate (Here is a site that shows posts with celerity). If no one responds to your post, think about why that might be, as though you were seeing it for the first time. Maybe you need to rephrase it, post it in a better place, or maybe no one actually has an answer. Avoid subject lines like "Urgent!" since it's only urgent to you, and usenet is not instantaneous. Avoid abbreviations. Avoid asking people to email you because you can't get back to the group. Don't post a one line followup to a large post without trimming.

As far as HTML code, be aware of the settings of your posting software so you don't post in HTML. It is more-or-less ok to post links, as long as you realize some people read newsgroups with line-mode oriented (non-GUI) newsreaders, so post some text explaining it (not the text after an a href=, but rather plain text).

[edit] The newsgroup has a virus, I got spammed after posting!

Newsgroups are public databases, anybody can write a spider to harvest addresses in a From: header or in the body of text. To avoid this problem, set your From: address to something that does not exist, preferably that can be manually decoded by humans to your real address, perhaps adding nospam after the @ sign, such as john_doe@nospam.yourisp.com. Some people prefer to put a decodeable version in the signature, such as j o h n _ d o e a t y o u r I s p d o t c o m. If your preferred posting method does not allow changing your From: address, get another address from one of the free services. Remember, if you are posting from a site like google, you will need this address for canceling posts and other administrative tasks, so you might consider getting spam-blocking software to go with it. Some people consider posts with real identifying and contact information to be more worth responding to.

[edit] Who's in charge of this group?

No one is in charge, it is unmoderated. The group depends on the community of posters to be cooperative. This mechanism is self-correcting: someone does or says something wrong, one or more persons responds with corrections. Over time, this results in both a useful body of knowledge and a set of behavioral norms. The mechanism is not perfect: like Darwinism, there will be evolutionary dead-ends, unexpected adaptations to random side-effects, and perhaps useful paths never explored. But it's definitely useful, some think more useful than paid support.

[edit] Why are some people so rude in this group?

Most people are helpful most of the time. Some people read a _lot_ of posts, and feel that since other posters are expected to have lurked in the group before posting, the other posters are being rude first. Some of the questions that will provoke a rude response have been asked frequently, and simply show that the poster hasn't done the expected amount of research. Personally, I think a polite followup would be better for the group, but there are no police here other than self-appointed. One of the reasons for this post is to help avoid these sorts of problems by explaining the rules up front to newbies.

Many posters are in high-pressure situations, sometimes this will leak into posts. Some people pay by the minute to download posts, and get especially upset with extraneous posts and crossposting. Some people read the group instead of sleeping, and may be grouchy. If you are tempted to rudely reply to a post, stop and think about it for a while. Think how you can solve problems rather than make them worse.

There is the occassional troll, and what to do about that is up for debate. In general, ignore them.

[edit] My post was a pointer to my commercial product that directly answered a poster's question! Why was I flamed?

Commercial posts go in cdo.marketplace. There are people who actively contribute to the group, then make a post like yours, so that's a little easier to overlook, but still controversial. If it were up to me, I'd say it was ok, but most disagree. Solve the problem by posting something with useful content.

But, I don't think it it 'unethical' to promote your own product. It is very difficult not to reply when you can't talk about your own product :) It's a fine line. Change the phrasing a bit and you _can_ talk about your own product. For example, the response could be something like:


"There are a number of tools designed to do this. A list can be found at http://www.databaseanswers.com/modelling_tools.htm /johndoe -- btw: One tool, XYZ for Databases, is available from the organization with which I work. Contact me offline or get more information at http://www.xyzfordatabases.com"


In this group, we have become hyper-sensitive about self-promotion and spam. We have had a few people who have been absurdly persistant.

The above might get an "it's spam" reaction which could be easily ignored as it provides alternatives up front AND puts the 'advertisment' after the signature as a footnote.

Probably most important when being accused of spam here is apologize and don't argue. Thank you!

[edit] Why should I bother with good English?

The two main reasons are to get your point across properly, and so that you won't be embarrassed in the future when someone notices your post in an archive. You just can't know what will come back to haunt you. Some people assume you are not serious about Oracle if you post in chat-room style, some just find it too time-consuming to parse, some assume you haven't put a lot of time into researching the question beforehand.

[edit] Now I'm scared! Why should I post at all?

The questions and answers benefit everyone. Even the most basic question can help somebody. Just be sure you're not jumping on a horse that's already been beaten to death.

[edit] Why don't I just ask Oracle support?

Good question. You paid for it, right? They benefit from feedback from customers. Support is best used by informed customers. That means, the research you should do is the same whether you are asking here or official support. In fact, many questions may be answered in the course of assembling a proper question to post. That is why in order to submit a tar you must answer all those questions... and why support may first answer you with suggestions of documentation to read if you haven't specified what you've checked.

[edit] Does Oracle monitor this group?

Some Oracle employees follow this group, and ocassionally even delurk. It's their livelihood we're talking about, after all. They have their own rules about employees posting, and the corporation must be concerned with any liability that may arise.

[edit] Why don't you spell behaviour correctly?

Spelling flames are considered rude. This is a worldwide group.

[edit] Who wrote this?

This README was written by Joel Garry abstracting from many posts to cdos, originally in an effort to codify behavioral norms for cdos. There is no guarantee that anything on this page is suitable for any particular purpose. All rights reserved to the authors of the various parts of this document. Some mixing of packets may have occurred during transport. Copyright 2004-2006. The editors reserve all rights to modify content and appearance of this document. Linkage to this document encouraged.

The "promote your product" answer was written by Hans Forbrich.

Send additions, corrections, arguments to me (no spam, please).