Welcome to the Sandbox
(the alt.fan.neil-gaiman semi-monthly post)

First, a little bit about our newsgroup, 'cause it's not like most of the others out there...

This is the Thingies' newsgroup. Anyone who claims to be or wishes to be a Thingie already realizes this and makes it their own each in his or her own little way. If you don't see that, maybe you're not ready to be a Thingie just yet. Feel free to lurk all you want, but please don't make your presence known unless your ready to handle the consequences (mostly good, some bad, and lots of kinky) of your words and take charge of your own little corner of the 'net. If you're posting (or even lurking) here, then you're a Thingie, and this is your ng as much as anyone's.

Some of us may react (and in a few instances, over-react) to complicated situations faster than the rest of us, but this is as much their ng as it is mine or yours... or Ivory's, or Morgana's, or Luna's, or Larry's, or Lady Miss Tree's, or mz. shira's, or...

Please don't ever say this ng is the property of, or run by, any one person. If it were about one person, it wouldn't be called a newsgroup. Be part of the team, or an outsider looking in, but don't play the game unless you're willing to share in the sport.

Consequences of sharing responsibility of this group may include any of the following (not a complete list):

Yeah, there are a few drawbacks to being a thingie, but mostly, it's worth it (and then some), so be a part of the attempted anarchy and join in the insanity. Consider yourself warned... ;)

Some other sage words of wisdom...

It's a little overwhelming to join into a group as tightly woven as afn-g. Occassionally, amidst all the mindless (and sometimes even witty) chatter between online friends, real on-topic questions can get lost and are left unanswered. At one point, some people were upset by this sort of situation and it was taken personally. Ghost Who Walks had this to say (it's only an excerpt):

"Yes, people talk and chat here, it doesn't take alot [sic] to join in. Reading a little, smiling a little, and thinking a little. That's it. So what if some people know some people personally, that's just like real life. So what if there are in jokes and asides, that's just like real life too. Point is, this is real life, and in real life not everyone is happy, not everyone gets what they want, and to join a crowd you have to try to do so. You can't just drop yourself into a social situation and instantly fit in, well not usually at least."

Now, I didn't just add that to make anyone feel uncomfortable. I just wanted to point out that we are a group of our own. And even though we all have certain similarities (it's what brought us together in the first place), we also have our differences, and we won't be best friends with everyone here. Yes, it is often hard to fit in instantly. We don't expect you to. But unless you speak up and introduce yourself, you'll never know, will you? Posting here does have a risk factor (dear heavens, someone might actually <gulp> *like* you and want to be your <gasp> friend and stuff), and it can be scary, and there's no guarantee that you'll fit in like a perfect puzzle piece. Be that as it may, I still encourage y'all to step in and try it out. Most of us think the water's just fine...

And now for the semi-monthly...

Note from the editor:

This little note from me changes every time I post it. It's where I note updates that have been incorporated into the regular post, or where other newsworthy items that may be overlooked get some notice - so even if you're familiar with the rest of the semi-monthly, you may want to check out this bit when I post it.

-Michelle & the Mousey Endless
(insert ascii mice here... however many I've got running around the apartment when I post)


Begin semi-monthly post:

Welcome to alt.fan.neil-gaiman (a.k.a. 'alt.fan.thingie'). We (the 'Thingies') hope you enjoy your time in the sandbox with us, and offer the following useful information (particularly helpful to those new to this newsgroup). Please note, this is not really a FAQ, just something to get you started.

A.)  The Thingie Questionnaire
afn-g Posting Etiquette
Be nice.
Please don't feed the trolls.
Respect the big (c).
Limit your commercial posting.
Just say no to picture files.
Just the FAQs, ma'am.
Thingie Terminology
Useful Sites


A.) The Thingie Questionnaire

This is just a way to introduce yourself to the newsgroup gang. Whether you've been lurking for months or minutes, feel free to answer the following questions and prepare to be welcomed to the group. Please note: we don't force anyone to answer these questions, and we certainly try not to ignore any one who posts to afn-g, whether they've answered the questions or not. We just realize that it's often very difficult to jump into the waters of a pool like this, where everyone seems to know everyone else already, often for a long time. The following questions are just one suggested way to join in the fun, give the rest of us a little (or a lot) of your insight, and help you wade into the waters with a familiar subject - Neil. If the questions aren't your thing, then don't answer them. It's just one of a dozen fun options.

1. When you're not dreaming, where are you?
2. Have you ever seen Neil? Not wearing black? Without shades?
3. In 20 words or less, why is Neil the Chosen One?
4. What's a word that means red and green at the same time? (feel free to get creative)
5. What kind of ice cream (or Jello) shall we get for you?
6. Other than Neil stuff, what floats your boat?
7. In what kind of music do you currently delight?
8. Which of Neil's works (or which part) has moved you most, and why?
9. To Buffy? Or not to Buffy? That is the question.


B.)  afn-g Posting Etiquette

Thingies are reputed to be some of the nicest people on the 'net, and we'd like to keep our reputation. :-) Most of this stuff (lengthy as it seems) is just common sense, but it doesn't hurt to be reminded.

1.) Be a nice person.

a.) Be a friendly poster. No flames, trolls, or personal insults will be tolerated on this newsgroup. We won't tell you that you can't post something, but really, is all the pointless insulting very necessary? Disagreeing with someone, or having a strong opinion on a subject is accepted and welcome. A personal attack on another Thingie or a group of Thingies is not.
Someone posts: "I loved Hempel's art in
The Kindly Ones"
Possible acceptable response: "Ugh! I couldn't stand it! And this is every reason why..."
An unacceptable response: "Well, I HATED it. And you're a moron to think that Hempel has any talent..."
This group is a melting pot of differing viewpoints and we will not take sides or start a flame war because of them. If you have a problem with a post, by all means, speak up and say so, but please don't attack anyone in doing so. There have been many instances of thingies simply 'agreeing to disagree' on things... and that's okay!

b.) When things get really out of hand, please 'take it to email'.  If a problem persists on this ng, even after an urge to desist has been posted, then it may be time to continue the correspondence over email. This is not an open invitation to flame someone personally, and this should only be used as a last resort. If necessary, a condensed report of the email correspondence should be posted to the ng, so that the rest of us know that the situation has been dealt with.
Someone has sent several lengthy commercial posts (see below) for items on ebay when a single informative post would suffice. The first response would be to post the correct method of advertising on afng. If the multiple commercial posts continue to appear, or the person who sent them begins flaming the newsgroup, then it's time to send someone from afn-g (most likely NightWalker) to email the problem poster. Walker could then send a post to afn-g to let the rest of us know what happened to the poor fool.

c.) Remember not to take everything too personally. Humour on the 'net can *easily* be misinterpreted, especially if it hasn't been labeled with a smiley :-) or a giggle/grin <g>, or some other emoticon (and not each humourous post will have one). Be lighthearted, and if you feel that a post was aimed to hurt you, ask yourself if it could have been interpreted any other way, take a deep breath, and if you're still unsure, ask someone what was meant with the post. In general, Thingies are a very lighthearted and silly lot, if not a bit sarchastic at times. We mean well, even if it doesn't always come across that way. And always remember: It's only Usenet, for cryin' out loud! :-)

2.) Please do not feed the trolls.

Occasionally, there will be a 'troll' problem on the ng. A troll is someone who posts something (usually negative and/or completely off topic) just to get a response and a rise out of the other posters. The best way to get rid of the troll is to ignore it.  This doesn't always work, but it often helps. And by not responding, your posts don't lengthen the unnecessary threads. If you ignore the person and there is still a problem, you can always learn the art of the "killfile".

3.) Respect the big (c).

Copyright is a very big deal around these parts, particularly when it involves Neil's works. If you want to post about copyrighted material, then mention the topic of the work in question, describe it if you want to, and then tell us where we can purchase said item. Please do not post poems, stories, novel excerpts or what have you without express written permission from the author. (Neverwhere NTSC videos are an exception, as Neil has already allowed us this violation; and if the BBC doesn't like it, maybe they'll get off their duffs and release an NTSC version!)

4.) Limit your commercial posting.

Most Thingies are always on the lookout for new Neil-related items to acquire. If you know where we can get some, we want to know! However, commercial postings have been known to get out of hand, so if you are not a current subscriber to this newsgroup, please send your 'ad' to a current Thingie (I'll be happy to do the work for you). If you are a Thingie or a friend of Neil, and are selling Neil/Sandman-related items (personally, or thru an online auction site), please put together a single post with the following information: A list of items for bid or sale with a *brief* description if necessary (this would include an auction deadline) or a note that there are several items for bid, if more than 2 or 3, the name of the auction site (eBay, or some other site, if applicable), a keyword or two to narrow the search at the auction site, and an email address in case anyone has futher questions. *Please avoid direct links to the items for bid, as I understand this is not encouraged by eBay and other providers*

5.) Just say no to picture files on alt.fan.thingie.

*NEVER* post pictures (.jpg, .gif, .bmp, .avi, etc.) to the newsgroup! If you want to share photos, post an address where they can be found on the 'net. Photos can really foul up some newsreaders, so please just don't post any, ever.

6.) Just the FAQs, ma'am.

For those of you interested in further afn-g or Neil-related information, there is a FAQ... but it's down just now (sorry!)


C.)  Thingie Terminology.

What can I say? Sometimes we make up words/acronyms, and other times we have inside jokes that have taken on a life of their own and become a part of us. Hopefully the following will help more than hinder (and it's a VERY incomplete list).

alt.fan.thingie - This came about because it's what Neil calls us. Keep in mind how odd it might sound to say 'alt.fan.neil-gaiman' when you *are* Neil Gaiman.

Thingie (well, it doesn't have to be capitalized) - Any regular subscriber to afn-g.

FOG - Short for Fan Of Gaiman. There are different names that have become associated with different region of FOGs. ba-FOG (bay area, California); sea-FOG (Seattle area, Pacific Northwest); new london-FOG (New London, Connecticut and surrounding area); soupy-FOG (Southern Parts of the US); aus-FOG (Australia); your-FOG (Europe) - these are the first few that come to mind. Make up your own region if you wish. :)

PN or P&N - Preludes & Noctures (Book 1, if you're reading them in order)
DH - Doll's House (Book 2) (Sandman: The Dream Hunters is usually written out)
DC - Dream Country (Book 3) (not to be confused with the comic company)
SoM - Season of Mists (Book 4)
GoY - Game Of You (Book 5)
BL - Brief Lives (Book 6)
FR or F&R - Fables and Reflections (Book 7, although all stories are also stand-alones)
WE - World's End (Book 8)
TKO - The Kindly Ones (Book 9)
(The Wake is Book 10)
A&V - Angels & Visitations, a miscellany of short stories, poetry and stuff.
S&M - <g> no, it's short for Smoke & Mirrors!
BoD or SBoD - The Sandman Book of Dreams, a book about Sandman characters, edited by Neil.
WCL - Warning: Contains Language, a cd of Neil, reading selected works from A&V
BoM - Books of Magic

Some other shortcuts that aren't necessarily thingie-related:

BTW - By the way
AFAIK - As far as I know
ROTF(L) - Rolling on the floor (laughing)
IM(NS)HO - In my (no so) humble opinion
IIRC - If I recall/remember correctly
IRL - In real life (whatever that means)
HTH - Hope that helps
obGaiman (or 'ob'anything) - obligatory comment on Gaiman (or anything), usually to point out something that isn't the topic of the rest of the post.


D.)  Useful Sites

    *Neil sites

The Dreaming


The Wake

    *Thingie Sites

The Official Altfanthingie Con page

    *Book Sites

DreamHaven Books and Comics

Avon Books Online


Barnes & Noble

Borders Books

    *Miscellaneous Sites

Comic Book Legal Defense Fund (CBLDF)

Greenman Press (Charles Vess stuff)

Tips on Netiquette


If you have any further questions regarding any of the information above, or something that has not been posted and should have been, please email me at favourite_stalker@snafu.org.

-Michelle & the Squeaks