Home owners hub

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Home Owners Hub

Many visitors come to uk.d-i-y newsgroup via the homeownershub web page. This is one of a number of web sites that provide access to usenet newsgroups without needing dedicated newsgroup reading software. (Google has a similar site at groups.google.com)

Visitors using web portals like homeownershub are more than welcome to join our conversations. However the ways these sites work can cause a few problems for people accessing the group via more traditional means. This makes some of the uk.d-i-y regulars even more grumpy than normal (and that is saying something!)

One of the features of usenet news groups is that they are ephemeral in nature - questions get asked, and answered and the conversation moves on. Once a thread of conversation is more than a few weeks old, it tends to be mostly forgotten as it gets lost in the large number of new posts (a busy group like uk.d-i-y will get hundreds of new messages per day, and thousands per month). The whole architecture of usenet also means that the old conversations will expire and drop off the various news servers after a few weeks or months. Web portals to usenet however usually keep a permanent archive of all the old posts. This can mean that if you reply to an old post using the web portal, many users of the group on usenet won't be able to see the original post that you are replying to. This can make it difficult to understand the new message without any context.

Home owners hub is particularly obnoxious in this respect since it also randomly picks old posts, and then promotes them on the front page, which encourages people to respond to them. However when someone does reply, they may find that they have no easy way to get back to the post without needing to click through 10s of thousands of pages to find it again. So having replied, it is almost impossible for the poster to participate in any further discussion which their post generated.

So the experience for many users of the group can be a bit frustrating: A reply pops up to a long forgotten discussion with no context. Some people will go to the effort to find the old conversation and respond to the new post, and then they never hear back from the new poster again! (probably because it's no longer being promoted on the front page, and they can't now find their message which is stuck in an archived discussion on page number 26,324!).

Please check the date

Can we therefore request that if you are responding to a thread, please check the date carefully - you may find yourself trying to answer a question that really only made sense if answered ten years ago.

If you want to discuss the same topic as featured in an old message, it's better to start a completely new discussion - that way users on usenet will see the full context, and there is also a fair chance that you will be able to find the thread again so you can see the replies and contribute further to the conversation.

Are you in the UK?

The uk.d-i-y newsgroup is a UK specific newsgroup. While questions and answers from users all around the world are very welcome, please keep in mind that construction techniques, and building regulations or codes differ greatly between nations. Also requests for information about products and suppliers are also by their nature very country specific.

Include context

Lastly, (especially if the thread you are posting to is more than a few weeks old), please quote at least some of the question you are replying to into your reply so that people who no longer have access to the original messages have some clue what you are responding to. The Home Owners Hub site makes this easy to do. Just select the text in the message you want to reply to, and then click in the edit box to start typing your message. It will automatically quote the section of text you highlighted with each line prefixed by a ">" (usenet software understands that this is a quote and will normally show it differently to make it clear).

For folks who are simply reading a stream of the most recent posts to the group, this makes the difference between a post that reads:

Re: Problem with combi boiler
Replying to Jo Bloggs, hohuser wrote:

Yup I had the same problem. I fixed it by pushing the pairing button on both parts

See, not much clue as to what is being discussed. Compare with:

Re: Problem with combi boiler
Replying to Jo Bloggs, hohuser wrote:

> The batteries went flat on my wireless thermostat. I have replaced them, 
> but the boiler still does not seem to be communicating with the thermostat
> what should I try next?

Yup I had the same problem. I fixed it by pushing the pairing button on both parts

While Homeownershub does include a web link at the bottom of the post to link to the original conversation, this alone is not adequate since not everyone will be accessing the newsgroup via a system that can go and retrieve web pages on demand (some people prefer to download recent posts to the groups for later reading offline). Also keep in mind that usenet is still relatively accessible to sight impaired readers, due to its plain text layout, and threaded style of conversation. Having to follow links to external web sites greatly hampers this access.

For a better understanding of the normal ways of accessing the group, please see the Newsgroup access tips article.