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|Subject:||FAQ - Monthly posting|
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alt.binaries.pictures.rail newsgroup FAQ
The group's FAQ is always available at
http://sites.google.com/site/abprfaq/abpr-faq (Who's computer is this?)
Keep Group Members Happy. Read the FAQ!!
Please note that this is an attempt to codify the answers to some of the most
frequently asked questions. They are intended for the guidance of newcomers
and are emphatically NOT a set of hard and fast rules. As one long standing
user has pointed out, ³We have been very good at self policing/control over
the years. That is not to say that there should not be some kind of
guidelines, especially for newcomers who may find us confusing at times.²
1. What is the subject for this group?
Any pictures that are concerned with transport by rail. The group has also
generally been open to discussion of these pictures since there is no related
Trains (freight and passenger), metros, trams, streetcars, funiculars,
monorails - and the associated paraphernalia are all welcomed. Scenic scenes
that include trains or railways or involves structures such as stations,
bridges, water towers etc. are also acceptable. ³A hundred shots of cows,
mountains each shot from a moving train are not relevant to this group. In
the past one user has posted shots of the trains here and the scenery shots
have been posted to
with a text message on ABPR announcing the postings to the other groups.²
Other kinds of binary files (such as videos) are better posted to
news:alt.binaries.multimedia.rail. There is also a group called
news:alt.binaries.pictures.vehicles where pictures of other kinds of public
transport (not rail based) can be posted.
If you need to post to the group, but your message is not about pictures of
railways, please put the letters OT (for off topic) as the first two
characters of the subject line.
2. What format is expected?
Most posts encoded using either uuencode or MIME. There have been long flame
wars over yEnc postings: many people use news readers that do not
automatically decode yEnc files. (For more info on yEnc and a link to a
plugin enabling OE to decode yEnc encoded files, Google on "yEnc.") See
question 4 for more details.
Generally a simple text format for an explanatory message with the picture as
an attachment in JPEG format is appreciated. HTML is not needed in usenet
For those using Outlook Express, these instructions will help you set news
postings to plain text:
Inside OE, you can specify that you want to use plain text... Click tools,
options.. Select the SEND tab.. at the bottom, select Plain Text for News
Then click plain text settings.. Select UUencode and OK your way back to the
If you include a long URL in your text message, it may line-wrap and become
unclickable on the other end. Try including your long URL in side a pair of
< > thingies. Thus: <...long URL...>. This is not a cure-all, since some
newsreaders don't support clickable links no matter what you do. But it may
help in some cases.
3. What is the convention for naming pictures/subject headers?
The first two letters in the Subject heading should indicate the country of
origin. It is suggested that the standard Internet two letter country code be
used. The most common are shown below: others can be found at
http://ftp.ics.uci.edu/pub/websoft/wwwstat/country-codes.txt (Who's computer is this?)
AU - Australia
BE - Belgium
CA - Canada
DE - Germany
FR - France
IE - Ireland
NL - Netherlands
NZ - New Zealand
UK - United Kingdom
US - United States
Not everyone uses the same set of codes: the following are being used too:
C - China
GB - Great Britain
IR - Ireland
NI - Northern Ireland
CY Cymru (Wales)
This could then be followed by a brief description e.g. railway, loco number,
class, location and finally date:
CA CN2559 Roberts Bank BC 2060222
However, many people do not follow this convention very closely - and this is
not usually a problem as long as some information is provided. Of course,
there will be times and places where not all the information is available,
and that should not deter anyone from posting.
The reason the two letter code is useful is that there are regular proposals
to set up separate newsgroups e.g. for US pictures. These proposals have been
widely rejected since most users value diversity, or are able to set up
filters on their newsreaders. A user points out that in practice filtering on
the country code is not very effective. ³Its more effective to sort the
messages on the subject column, which will group most of one country
together, or at least in two or three bands and just select those you want to
³One effective way to filter is to block those posters who post only garbage
or subjects that are of no interest. Additionally automatically download the
contributions of those who meet your approval criteria. Sample the offerings
of those posters that fall into neither category and filter accordingly. Do
this consistently for a week or so and most interests will be covered.²
People who collect images of steam locomotives appreciate the inclusion of
the word STEAM in the subject header: it also helps to pacify those who
dislike what they call ³kettles² so they can avoid them.
For retrieval and archiving, file names that contain ³railway/road
name+number+date+location² with the date in the yyyy-mm-dd format are
practical for sorting. The sequential file name generated by digital cameras
(such as DSC12345) should be replaced by a descriptive name. File names that
exceed 64 characters can cause problems for archivists saving to CDs.
4. What size of picture/file should I post?
There are no hard and fast rules since some people still use dial up, which
makes large files slow and expensive to handle, and others use cable and
other high speed connections where file size is of less concern than picture
quality. Similarly some people have very large screens, while others have
smaller ones. JPEG is a format that compresses files, which results in some
loss of quality over originals in tiff or raw format but a much more
manageable file size. The amount of compression is a matter of personal
preference but advice can be found at http://abpr2.railfan.net/bloat.html (Who's computer is this?)
Many posts are now at file sizes between 100k and 500k, which produces very
good quality images up to 1600 x 1200. However, this a high volume newsgroup
with a great deal of variety and the majority of its regulars are
sufficiently sophisticated to sort out the pictures they want. It really
helps a lot if you post a set of thumbnails (smaller pictures with titles) as
the initial message of a bunch of pictures, so people can choose which they
would like to download at full size.
Some news readers split large attachments across several files: Xnews deals
with these easily, Mozilla doesn't. Outlook Express users need to "combine
and decode" these files to avoid a screen full of alphabet soup. (Highlight
the file names and then right click, and select "combine and decode" from the
menu that appears. You may also need to reorder the files first using the
buttons in the pop up menu.)
Irfanview is a very good, free program that will help you resize pictures and
create thumbnails at http://www.irfanview.com/ (Who's computer is this?)
The GIMP is the GNU Image Manipulation Program. It is a freely distributed
piece of software for such tasks as photo retouching, image composition and
image authoring. It works on many operating systems, in many languages. It
can be found at http://www.gimp.org/ (Who's computer is this?)
Both the GIMP and Irfanview allow pictures to be rotated in one degree
increments very useful for straightening up telegraph poles in grabbed
http://abpr2.railfan.net/help/ (Who's computer is this?) has helpful information on how to post to abpr
5. How do I access the Usenet?
If your ISP provides no service or poor service, you might try one of these
news servers (listed in no particular order):
Agent Premium Newsgroups
6. Is there a free program which will allow me to post more than one photo at
Powerpost found at http://members.shaw.ca/srees/ (Who's computer is this?) or Xnews at
http://xnews.newsguy.com/ (Who's computer is this?)
7. Is there a limit of the number of posts per day?
No. But the retention time on many servers is governed by the available
storage space. So if you flood the group with a lot of large pictures, some
regular viewers will start to miss posts - which fills the group up further
with requests for reposts. Sending a lot of pictures at once may reduce the
size of your audience. Better to spread the posting of large collections over
several days: this also keeps the group varied and allows everyone the
opportunity to contribute and have their pictures seen by all.
A ³flood² by the way is when your posts overwhelm the group and do not allow
others to post. If you post a lot more than 20 pictures a day you are likely
to hear complaints.
8. Is there an archive?
There are several places where posts to this group are archived. Note that
Google does not provide access to binary newsgroups.
http://abpr2.railfan.net/ (Who's computer is this?) has everything back to March of 1998. More recent
pictures are available up to the end of the previous month (so at the time of
writing February 22, 2006 you see everything up to the end of January 2006.
There is a searchable database of 73871 images from the group at
http://visipix.dynalias.com/newsgroups (Who's computer is this?)
There are a number of web access portals for binary newsgroups. These include
http://www.usenet-replayer.com/#0 (Who's computer is this?) free
http://www.usenetbinaries.com/ (Who's computer is this?) has a free option
Teranews has free, limited download option for a one time $3.95 set up fee.
Its retention time for this group is one calendar month.
9. Is this a good place to sell things?
Not really. Most people log on this group to look at rail pictures - and that
is pretty much all they will tolerate. That being said, a sample picture and
a link to a website might work - as long as it is about railways and
10. Is this a good place to start an argument?
See 8 above. If you want to post about other subjects, Usenet has many
newsgroups to accommodate you. You do not need to post your thoughts about
politics, religion or other issues here.
Note also No 1 above: discussion about the pictures is welcomed.
11. Should I post scans or repost other people's pictures?
Generally speaking this is not a good idea unless you have the permission of
the original photographer. A number of regular posters on this group
specialize in posting from collections of older pictures and these are
greatly appreciated. These posters give credit to the photographer.
Occasionally someone posts in yEnc or a very large picture (see 2 and 4
above) and it will get reposted quite quickly by a regular, in a format that
all can enjoy. However, this is usually done to illustrate the point that the
original poster needs to pay attention to our conventions. Posting pictures
that have been taken from other groups or scanned from other media should be
governed by good manners, common sense and an acknowledgment of the laws of
copyright. There are other groups that encourage huge floods of scans: their
³charters² are rather different to abpr and subject matter is not confined to
For a helpful discussion of copyright in plain language, see
http://www.llrx.com/features/bloggersbeware.htm (Who's computer is this?)
This might be helpful, also:
http://www.dpmag.com/blog/can-you-legally-use-that- (Who's computer is this?)
On occasion members of our amiable little group try their hand at enhancing
images posted by other members. This is fine and there is no objection to the
work that is put into these postings. However, the word "Rework" should be
put into the subject line instead of just posting the image (albeit with an
explanation in the body text) as a response ("Re"). This little extra effort
would prepare the recipients for what we are about to download. This helps
with the sorting method that is used by those who keep archives of posts.
12. Can I post binaries from an AOL account?
13. Can I be stopped legally from taking pictures of trains?
This topic comes up now and again, and the short answer is no - but it is
subject to various conditions and these can vary from place to place and time
to time. For a reasonable summation of the situation in the US see The
For the UK Photographers' Rights and also see the National Rail Guidelines
for Rail Enthusiasts
Here's an example from Down Under:
http://www.metrotrains.com.au/About-us/Filming--Photography.html (Who's computer is this?)
However, as always, your experience may be different. In general, do not
trespass on the railway - in many places this is a criminal offence, not just
a civil wrong. Always be polite to uniformed railway personnel, and
especially policemen. Officials in plain clothes will always show you their
identity: if you need to ask, then be very cautious. If you are on public
land and not breaking any traffic regulations (vehicle parking and stopping
can be very tricky) and most importantly not endangering yourself or others,
you will probably not experience any problems. Security staff on railways
have to contend with people who like to damage railway property, or steal, or
even harm themselves. They have an important job to do, and railway
photographers can be of assistance to them. For example please see BNSF
Citizens for Rail Security
Some systems require photographers to obtain a permit one example is
Metrotrains in Melbourne Australia . The London Underground, while permitting
photography does not allow the use of flash or tripods.
This FAQ was compiled by Stephen Rees and includes contributions from Wilson
R Adams, Steve Barker, Paul Bowery, Bryan Flint, Kevin Martin, Nigel J
Rollings, Chris Tolley and Bill Waller. Please post comments or further
questions to the group with the letters FAQ as the first three in the subject
This FAQ will be updated as required and posted to the group as often as
needed and regularly on the first day of each month.
This FAQ was last updated on July 30, 2006.
Thank you for reading this far. As a reward, here is a link to a list of
links. These have been collected from abpr posts and are (mostly) collections
of rail pictures from people who post regularly on abpr.
Suggestions for improving the FAQ are welcome.
Before posting, please read the group's FAQ at
http://sites.google.com/site/abprfaq/abpr-faq (Who's computer is this?)
Vlad & Genny Kedrovsky, Edina, MN, USA
vjkedrovsky at gmail dot com
Some of Vlad's train & car pix can be seen at: