Welcome to the Satellite of Love, little buddies.

Last edit date: 6/2/1999

Here follows the FAQ for ba.singles. If you're new on the net, please, please, please read the news.newusers.answers and news.announce.newusers groups for a while, and remember to "lurk" or read for a while (minimum of 2 weeks is the standard recommendation) before you post.

This FAQ is available via anonymous FTP at:


For the URL-enabled:


Thanks to Bob Kenyon (rrk@bobrk.com) for providing this service (and laboriously beautifying the Web version :-)

Disclaimer: Opinions expressed are solely those of the authors. Read and observe for yourself. Your mileage may vary. Void where prohibited by law.


1. What is ba.singles?

ba.singles is a Usenet discussion newsgroup for singles (and an increasing number of the Recently Single) in the San Francisco Bay Area. Discussion is not limited, however, to "singles issues" and tends to be pretty free-form.

The group's active membership is primarily based in the South Bay/Silicon Valley area, although there are posters and participants from the East Bay, San Francisco, and Santa Cruz. Anyone else may leap boldly into the fray but should keep the geography in mind, especially since there seems to be a good-sized nativist contingient present. (You might want to check out soc.singles[.moderated] or see if there are regional newsgroups in your area, in that case.)

Please note that ads, personal or otherwise, are not welcome on either ba.singles or soc.singles. (This includes "I'm lonely, please send me email" ads.) Personal ads belong on ba.personals, alt.personals.*, or soc.personals. Penpal requests belong on soc.penpals. Test messages, roommate ads, and requests for help with surveys, school papers, and articles are also unwelcome here and more appropriate in other newsgroups. The Editrix cannot recommend appropriate newsgroups for commercial ads; she just knows that this isn't one of them.

2. What about all these ads I keep seeing here?

Most of them have been posted by folks who don't seem to have read the newsgroup. The regular ba.singles readers might very well flame or parody them for a diversion. This is best left to seasoned professionals and should not be attempted lightly. If you are seeing this FAQ for the first time as the result of posting an ad on ba.singles, please be advised that complaining about your "treatment" will only make matters worse.

3. If we can't post personal ads, what good is this to "singles"?

If you think that posting personal ads is the only way to meet other singles, you are more than welcome to unsubscribe immediately and go to one of the *.personals groups. Most of the regulars here don't think that posting ads on the Internet is the only way to "meet people". Many relationships have been formed as a result of the two peoples' participation in the regular life of ba.singles, both the newsgroup discussion and the "boinks" (see below). The Editrix has lost count of the marriages (and now the babies), so she would say that something works. It's perfectly fine to be looking for Mr./Ms. Right; but those who are looking for Mr./Ms. Right Now and aren't interested in sticking around for the discussion should look for another place on the vastness of the Internet to try to do so. Spend a few minutes on any Internet portal site or search engine to try to find some if you don't like the .personals newsgroups.

4. Are these people for real?

The short answer is: Sometimes yes, sometimes no.

If you take everything you read on ba.singles entirely seriously and literally, you are not really getting it. Some people are really, really good at the art of Internet Performance Art. Some people have discovered that an Internet account is cheaper than therapy. And some people are astonishingly like their ASCII (this is not always a Good Thing, by the way). If you read for a while with salt shaker in hand, and especially if you make the effort to attend a "boink" (see below) or two, you should be able to figure out the difference.

[Note: While some people are philosophically opposed to the idea of using newsreader killfiles or filters, and others have newsreaders that are not capable (alas) of doing killfiles at all, the Editrix has found that it is occasionally easier to practice Internet Zen by using them.]

5. Does everybody on ba.singles know everybody else?

Short answer: no. Long answer: many of the regulars have met at the boinks or have introduced friends to the newsgroup. And people who know other people are more likely to post.

6. Is everybody single here?

Many are, quite a number aren't for varying definitions of "single". It's not a requirement for either reading or posting on ba.singles. It is useful to remember that "single" does not imply "looking for a mate"; even if you happen to be, assuming that others are hanging out here because they "can't get a date" and/or approaching every likely MOTAS [that's "member of the appropriate sex" for those of you new to Usenet acronyms] will ensure that you become cordially disliked by the regulars. For example, posting "I know why you people are still single!" because you don't like the no personals policy or whatever is about the same as tattooing "I'm an idiot, kick me" on your forehead - it really flips the twit bit.

7. What's with the penguins? The cows? The cold fusion reactors?

Penguins and cows are the sex objects of ba.singles. They are round and firm of body, and the cows have great soulful eyes and luscious udders.... ahem.

Cold fusion reactors...well, every woman wants one. (That was a joke, based on a series of posts way back. Welcome to the world of "ba.singles.running.gags" ;-).)

8. What is a boink?

A boink is a live, in-person gathering of net folk. (What distinguishes a "boink" from a private party is that notices for boinks are publicly posted.) These are usually at a bar or eatery (given that these are good places for 4-20+ people to descend on without having to hassle with reservations, checks, different arrival times, etc.), although there have been comedy boinks, tree boinks, bike boinks, baseball boinks, and ice cream boinks.

The origin of the word "boink" to refer to a meeting of net.folk purports to begin with the "BoinKon"--a weekend-long party thrown by Peter Korn in 1986. Now, there are reported usages from much earlier, but let us be satisfied with this explanation. (Off the Internet, the meaning of "boink" is far more, um, R-rated.)

The essence of the boink is a person doing something he or she ordinarily would find quite amusing while inviting a whole bunch of total strangers and really good friends to join in. It is a great way to meet people with common interests, as well as people so totally unlike you that you have to gasp for air.

Most of the real social fabric of ba.singles springs from the boinks, so keep reading for more specifics.

9. What's the difference between a boink and the newsgroup?

A boink is Real Life [tm] (and, Mary Kraemer adds, "the Net is not"). Many people post things which they would not say in person to the people they say them to, and as mentioned above, some are just practicing Usenet Performance Art ("It's all goofy fun"). At a boink, you can interact with the people behind the personae (and anyone else who happens to show up) and see why people stick around through the spamstorm.

10. Where and when are the boinks?

Tuesday used to be "boinkday" in the South Bay but things have moved around a bit due to the schedules of people who feel like calling them. Boinks in other locales get called when the people there feel like it. Frequent boink venues include:

South Bay East Bay
The Boardwalk - Los Altos (boinking in abeyance, sorry)
The Duke of Edinburgh - Cupertino
Tied House - Mountain View
Harry's Hof Brau - Mountain View

While most of these are held at bars or pubs, socializing, rather than getting wasted, is the main focus.

If you're wondering why there are no boinks announced in your area, it might be time for you to send up a trial balloon. See below for "how to do it" tips.

11. How do I find out about boinks?

There are a few ways: the best is to read ba.singles for boink postings. Most have "boink" in the subject header or keywords, so you can probably train your newsreader to scan for them. You can also try cadging on to a regular and getting him or her to tell you about boinks, but don't be too upset if people don't return your mail.

If you need directions, ask the person who posted the boink annoucement; s/he should be able to provide them.

12. Hey! There's this great dating service (or 900 number) I know (or I'm starting)! Can I post the info here?

Please don't. "Unsolicited" testimonials look a lot like ads, even if you are on the level. ba.singles has been rather a target of commercial advertising, since "spammers" (people who post unwelcome ads to lots of newsgroups) have figured out that the regional newsgroups are not as well-monitored as the Big 7/8.

Ads for 900 numbers, dating services, escort services, and expensive singles social functions are definitely not welcomed. Chain letters or other sorts of commercial ads are also not welcome and will be complained about to postmasters.

Many people pay for their Internet accounts, and the costs of an electronic ad are borne in equal part by the sender and the recipient, which is one of the many reasons people get cranky about it.

Commercial ads and chain letters are against the terms of service of many Internet service providers, and posting one is a good way to get your account cancelled. If you're an entrepreneur, don't start by pissing off your target client base.

Similarly, if you wish to complain about an ad, private mail to the postmaster and/or offender - check headers, many account names are faked - is probably the best way. Some providers such as Netcom have a special "abuse" address. Parodies are welcome, and the occasional "this is not welcome in this newsgroup" is not out of line, but please remember to either trim the newsgroups line or reset followups so the use of bandwidth is minimized.

(The Editrix never cc's offenders these days on spam reports. Ask her or Bob "Regina" Kenyon for the details some day ;-)

13. So what can I post on ba.singles?

The discussion here is pretty free-form, but jumping in without looking is not recommended. Read the group for a while to get a sense of the kind of conversations going on here, and you'll see. Compare your own responses to those of other posters. Try introducing yourself by following up with a witty one-liner. At various times in the Editrix's tenure on this group, haiku, cow jokes and ascii art, and Monty Python routines have also been good ways to dip your toes in the conversational waters.

If you have a dilemma that you wish advice on, and you can deal with the fact that you will probably get a lot of flippant followups or no response at all, post away. You might also not get a lot of response if people think you're "trolling" (deliberately trying to stir something up), or you might be advised to head on over to some other newsgroup. Again, if you can deal (which includes hitting the "go to next post" key in your newsreader if you don't like the free advice, instead of complaining about it, which is rather rude), go for it.

14. There seems to be a lot of flaming. What can I do to try to avoid it?

If you want your post to be well received, there are certain things the Editrix recommends not doing:

- bragging about your accomplishments (etcetera)

This tends to scream "massively insecure" to the Careful Reader, and is not well received in the "cocktail party" atmosphere.

- delurking only to whine and/or flame about what you think is the whining and/or flaming on the newsgroup, or complain about how the posts are somehow "off topic"

Doing this only marks you as Part Of The Problem (tm). If you don't like the netnews, go out and make some of your own.

- announcing that you expect to be entertained, or that you think the posts are boring

Get cable instead or ask for a triple-your-money-back guarantee on any posts you didn't like. (must be collected from poster, not ISP).

- asking where the women are

They're hiding from anyone unobservant enough to ask the question. Related flamebait: Complaining about how few women are on the net. If you're going to do that, pick some place where women don't often post.

- posts in HTML, with poor formatting, no caps or ALL CAPS, lots of run-on sentences, or numerous grammar and spelling mistakes

Although it is generally considered bad form to flame someone for spelling or grammar on Usenet, please keep in mind that Usenet is a written medium, and make the effort to express yourself clearly in writing. A very poor style of expression frequently gets in the way of what you're trying to say.

People using newish copies of Netscape to read news and post should make sure that their line lengths are under about 70 cpl and that they are NOT posting in html and text, but in text only. This improves readability dramatically for people using most other newsreaders.

- complaining about the "no personals" policy

Ba.personals was created (by a ba.singles regular, with support from a lot of people in ba.singles) for this very purpose. Complaining is not going to get the ba.singles regulars to change their minds after all these years, so deal.

People who take themselves Very Seriously or who are terminally literal-minded are also headed for trouble. The Editrix has seen this happen many, many times.

Paying attention to these tips might not help you if somebody gets really hungry for Newbie Flambe (considered a delicacy by certain ba.singles regulars), but it should increase your chances of making a good first impression. Everybody who's now posting had to start somehow.

15. Sheesh. Am I gonna get flamed no matter what?

Good question. You can never tell in this town.

16. What do I do if somebody flames me?

Depending upon the situation, you can flame them back or ignore them. Keep in mind that someone might just be trying to push your buttons to see how you react. And as the Editrix frequently says, if you must swear in public, be creative in your expression so that the audience isn't bored. Most of time we* have seen it before, though ;-)

17. What's this we*, our*, us* business?

Another fossilized joke. As far as the Editrix can figure out (and hey, ya know, the best way to get accurate information on Usenet is to post inaccurate information), it happened like this:

One poster who was very socially influential and sorta had the habit of speaking for others used "we" this, "we" that a lot.

Another poster made the ObProtest: "you aren't speaking for me".

[Before you ask, Ob is "obligatory"]

So for a while people used we*, us*, our* and footnoted it as "everyone except <name of poster who protested>".

This evolved into "standard exceptions apply".

The Editrix tends to use it that way (and as "I know I can't speak for everyone, but it's not just me"). Others of the Old Guard (active 1995 or previous) might use we* (etc.) to refer to the Old Guard (with standard exceptions of course).

18. Okay, tell me more about killfiles.

First, you need to find out if the newsreader you use actually has that capability. Net.oldtimers frequently make the mistake of assuming that every newsreader can killfile, since it's a feature they consider essential :-) If yours doesn't, see whether one that does is available to you, or learn to ignore the stuff you don't like the hard way.

The Editrix is informed reliably that Agent (not Free Agent) does killfiles. It's worth the money for the upgrade, according to these sources. Check its help feature if it's not immediately obvious from the menu. (you might look for "filters")

If you are still using trn (which many people who started on Usenet pre-1994 or so favor for its flexibility, the Editrix included, although she lives in the GUI world these days), and need some tips, the Editrix would be happy to send you the last version of the FAQ, which had a line-by-line primer.

Since killfiles take processing time, it's a good idea to review yours when conditions change (say, some newsgroup that is crossposting into ba.singles learns how to read their newsgroups line and goes away. In many discussion groups, killfiling on crossposts or authors works better (in general) than killfiling on subjects, since "thread drift" happens. In a group like ba.singles that is frequently low-volume (except during periods of Crossposted Threads from Hell), just rolling your eyes and going to the next post works pretty well too :-). Remember! Some people LIKE the negative attention. (Be especially careful when thinking about responding to multicrossposts. Whoever did that might very well be aching to start a nice toasty cross-group flamewar.)

19. I want to organize a boink. How do I do it?

Well, "organization" is not the best word to use, but here goes...

If you have something in particular in mind, a good tactic is to post a "trial balloon" to gauge interest ("hey, anyone interested in ..."). Give yourself plenty of time.

Actual boink announcements for Something New should be posted at least a week in advance. Newsfeeds are of various speeds, and people's social calendars do fill up. If you post something on Friday afternoon for that weekend, you are likely to be the only one there.

As the boinkmaster/boinkmistress, you are responsible for providing the following information:

  • Activity type
  • Date and Time
  • Location (venue) and street address
  • Directions to this location (to save space, you can offer to provide these in email)
  • How people will be able to find the boink (sign, penguin, distinctive clothing you will wear, "on the patio")
  • Anything special about the venue

In essence, the best way to plan a boink is to make a plan to do something which interests you, and which you can share with others. Tell us about it, and people will show up. If they don't you are doing something which you enjoy. If they do, then you get lots of fun.

Note from the Deluge of '95: If outdoor activities are planned, and there is a chance of bad weather causing you to cancel the event, plan accordingly. The editrix can forward some suggestions.

20. How do I meet women/men/cows/penguins in the Bay Area?

There are many suggestions about places to go where beings of the appropriate type tend to herd, but the best general advice for meeting people is this:

(from Bob R. Kenyon, rrk@bobrk.com)

"Here's the deal. I've known lots of people who have blown out of this area because there "aren't enough women." They think if they move somewhere else, women will fall at their feet. So now the guys in Denver or somesuch place and next thing you know, they're saying "jeeze how do you meet women here?" Hmmm.

"I don't think it matters where you live. It matters what kind of person you are.

"Go out. Do stuff. Be yourself. The right person will (someday) show up, and if you don't get real stupid, you'll realize it and hang on for the ride."

To which excellent advice, the Editrix adds that you might want to spend a little more time with the activities that you enjoy that feature more eligible MOTAS. (Spudding on the couch watching old movies can be fun, but you don't usually meet a lot of people that way.) It's important to do stuff you really like to do - that way, if you don't "meet anyone", you'll at least have fun (and have more interesting things to talk about when you do "meet someone"). Eligible MOTAS can usually tell who's "on the make" and will tend to avoid such a person.

The Editrix has seen a lot of people who think that geography and demographics are destiny. They play a part, but remember, no matter where you go, there you are.

Boinks are good places to improve your social life. Many men initially get discouraged by the usual male:female ratio, but all sorts of wonderful things can happen, and have.

21. How do I let a babe know I'm ready and interested?

Do try to get to know her-- perhaps by sending her a note of appreciation about something she's posted, or by chatting with her at a boink. Don't send her a wannafuck, or start asking really personal questions. And DO NOT, repeat, DO NOT look her up in the phone book and start calling. ASK if you want the phone number.

As Ciccio (fdp@netcom.com) once said about salsa dancing:

"Just remember the general concept is to make the woman feel that you're interested in her as person, not just a body you want to rub up against on the dance floor. I dunno, women are just weird that way :-)."

These principles are non-gender-specific, by the way; women trying to get to know a certain guy a little better should follow them.

Use the Mom Rule: never send a message to someone you don't know which you would be ashamed or embarrased to show to your mother.

Be willing to take no for an answer. If the person of your dreams tells you he or she isn't interested, back off. It's not going to help make he/she/it fall in love with you if you make a pest out of yourself.

22. Where do I go if I have more questions?

The Editrix recommends showing up at a boink. This works even better when you buy a pitcher or bring chocolate ;-) but this is not strictly necessary.

The Editrix will try to answer other questions as her schedule permits, and welcomes constructive suggestions for future editions of the FAQ (*). (Constructive suggestions accompanied by actual copy are even better.) Premptory orders and obscene and/or abusive mail will, however, will be consigned to the bit bucket or published with comments on grammar, spelling, logical reasoning skills, probable size of genitals, and (lack of) creativity of invective.

(*) ObDisclaimer: If the Editrix has ever formally told you to not send her mail, don't bother.

This FAQ is written and maintained by Charlotte L. Blackmer (clb@rahul.net). This edition based on the original ba.singles FAQ written by Ayse Sercan (ayse@idiom.com). All rights reserved. Free non-commercial re-use of this FAQ (with attributions) is encouraged. Please do not otherwise re-use contributions without permission of the authors or the Commissioner of Baseball.

Last edit date: 6.2.1999

The HTML version was laboriously handmade by Bob R. Kenyon on an Apple Macintosh using BBEdit 5.1. HTML version last updated Saturday, 11-May-2002 09:17:46 PDT.

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