• Tolkien Newsgroups FAQ (1/4)

    From Steuard Jensen@21:1/5 to All on Fri Feb 21 22:14:01 2020
    XPost: alt.fan.tolkien

    Posted-By: auto-faq 3.3.1 (Perl 5.020)
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    URL: http://tolkien.slimy.com/

    TOLKIEN NEWSGROUPS FAQ

    Copyright (C) 1999-2012 by Steuard Jensen

    (Created 17 Aug 1999)
    (Last updated 11 Mar 2012)



    For many years, the Tolkien Usenet newsgroups have been home to a
    pair of excellent Frequently Asked Questions lists about Tolkien and Middle-earth, compiled by William D. B. Loos. These sources contain a
    wealth of information, but are no longer maintained (the last update
    seems to have been in July 1996). This means that quite a few issues
    of current interest to the groups are not fully addressed in those
    documents.

    This FAQ supplements, updates, and expands on the earlier ones,
    though it is not meant to replace them entirely. It includes new and
    corrected information on some of the old discussions, numerous entries
    on topics not covered in the older FAQs, and a broad discussion of the
    Tolkien newsgroups and common standards of netiquette. This FAQ is
    intended both as an introduction for newcomers to the newsgroups and as
    a source of information for anyone exploring Middle-earth.

    The official HTML version of the FAQ is on the web at

    http://tolkien.slimy.com/faq/

    The plain text version is posted to Usenet on the 22nd of each month
    and is also available on the web, at

    http://tolkien.slimy.com/faq/TolkNgFaq.txt

    For a unified and easy to use interface to this FAQ, the Loos FAQs, and
    others, consider visiting the Tolkien Meta-FAQ, at

    http://tolkien.slimy.com/

    I would like to give my sincere thanks to the many, many people on
    the newsgroups and elsewhere who have given criticism, suggestions, and encouragement as I wrote this FAQ. This project would never have
    succeeded without their wonderful support.

    Steuard Jensen
    steuard@slimy.com ------------------------------------------------------------------------ ------------------------------------------------------------------------


    Table of Contents

    Sections/questions marked: * have been revised since the last release
    ** are new since the last release

    I. Changes Since the Last Release *

    II. Newsgroups and Netiquette

    A. Information on the Tolkien Newsgroups
    1. What newsgroups are we talking about again?
    2. Why are there two groups?
    3. Do I have to have a Ph.D. in Tolkienology to post?
    4. What questions and topics are appropriate?
    5. What does a tilde (~) in the subject mean? and
    Is it acceptable to post messages with sexual content?
    6. What common mistakes should I try to avoid?
    7. What do all the abbreviations used on the groups mean?

    B. The Basics of Netiquette
    1. What is the proper subject line for my post?
    2. What should I do when replying to an earlier article?
    For example, should I "top post" or "bottom post"?
    3. When should I "cross-post" to multiple newsgroups?
    4. I am able to post my messages with HTML formatting. Should I?
    5. If someone insults me or otherwise makes me upset, should I
    flame them back?
    6. Even if my reputation and honor are at stake?
    7. Where can I go for more information on netiquette, and on
    Usenet in general?

    III. Debates and Discussion

    A. Story External Questions
    1. What is the best order in which to read the books?
    2. What books about Middle-earth are considered "canonical"?
    3. How does /The Silmarillion/ as published differ from what
    Tolkien intended?
    4. Which are "The Two Towers"?
    5. Which books /about/ Tolkien are good, and which aren't?
    6. Is Middle-earth Medieval?
    7. Was Tolkien racist? Were his works?
    8. Are there electronic versions of Tolkien's books?
    9. Where can I report copyright violations that I observe?

    B. Story Internal Questions: Creatures and Characters
    1. Did Balrogs have wings?
    2. Could Balrogs fly?
    3. What was Tom Bombadil?
    4. Did Elves have pointed ears?
    5. Did Elves have beards?
    6. What happened to Elves after they died?
    7. Was Glorfindel of Rivendell the same as Glorfindel of Gondolin?
    8. Who was Gil-galad's father?
    9. Did Dwarf women have beards?
    10. Was there "telepathy" in Middle-earth?
    11. Did Sauron have a physical form during /The Lord of the
    Rings/? *
    12. What were the names of the Nazgul?
    13. What was Gothmog (the lieutenant of Morgul)?
    14. What was the origin of Orcs?
    15. Were Orcs immortal, and what happened to them after death?
    16. What was the relationship between Orcs and Goblins?
    17. What was the origin of Saruman's Uruk-hai?
    18. What was the origin of Trolls?
    19. What were the giants (seen by Bilbo in /The Hobbit/)?

    C. Story Internal Questions: History and Happenings
    1. Why didn't they just have an Eagle fly the Ring to Mt. Doom?
    2. Were the barrow blades magical? In what way?
    3. Why didn't the Nazgul take the Ring at Weathertop?
    4. Who killed the Witch-king, Merry or Eowyn?
    5. Did Frodo and the other mortals who passed over the Sea
    eventually die?
    6. Did Sam follow Frodo into the West?
    7. What is known about the Blue Wizards?
    8. Who was aware that a Balrog lived in Moria?
    9. Did Elves and Dwarves generally get along?
    10. Where was the Ring when Numenor was destroyed?
    11. Who was the oldest inhabitant of Middle-earth?

    IV. External Resources

    A. Where else can I find general information about Middle-earth?
    1. The Tolkien Meta-FAQ
    2. The Tolkien FAQ and LessFAQ
    3. The "FAQ of the Rings"
    4. The Letters FAQ
    5. Google's Usenet archive

    B. Where can I learn more about Tolkien's languages?

    C. Stories of Middle-earth in many forms
    1. What editions of Tolkien's books are best?
    2. What audio versions of Tolkien's books are available?
    3. What is the groups' view of the recent /Lord of the Rings/
    movies?
    4. Where can I find out about music related to Middle-earth?

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------ ------------------------------------------------------------------------

    I. CHANGES SINCE THE LAST RELEASE

    Adjusted wording of question III.B.11 about Sauron's physical form
    to emphasize the relevance of the evidence to the period of LotR.

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------ ------------------------------------------------------------------------

    II. NEWSGROUPS AND NETIQUETTE

    When discussing Tolkien (or anything else) online, it is important
    to know at least a little about the "culture" of the discussion forum
    that you are participating in. The information in this section is
    intended to give an idea of "appropriate" behavior on the Tolkien
    Usenet newsgroups. To make our discussions as enjoyable as possible,
    every participant should try to be familiar with what follows.

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------

    II.A. INFORMATION ON THE TOLKIEN NEWSGROUPS

    1. What newsgroups are we talking about again?

    There are several Usenet newsgroups specific to Tolkien and his
    works. However, the two most widely read and distributed of these are rec.arts.books.tolkien and alt.fan.tolkien, commonly abbreviated either
    r.a.b.t or RABT and a.f.t or AFT, respectively.

    The official rec.arts.books.tolkien charter can be found at

    http://tolkien.slimy.com/newsgroups/RABTcharter.txt

    Alt.fan.tolkien does not have a formal charter.
    -------

    2. Why are there two groups?

    Originally, AFT was the only Tolkien newsgroup on Usenet. RABT was
    created (when the approval vote passed on 26 Mar 1993) as a replacement
    for AFT which would be carried by a larger fraction of news servers.
    However, AFT was never removed, and both groups currently enjoy
    substantial readership. While only RABT has a formal charter (see
    question II.A.1 for reference), the two groups are virtually identical
    in intended content.

    Many participants see a tendency for RABT to be somewhat more
    "scholarly" in tone while AFT is a bit more "conversational", and some
    suggest that this distinction is useful and should be encouraged.
    Other participants draw less of a distinction between the two groups,
    and often believe that a difference in focus would be both undesirable
    and impossible to achieve. In practice, everyone decides for
    themselves how they want to treat the two groups, and most people
    generally don't complain one way or the other.
    -------

    3. Do I have to have a Ph.D. in Tolkienology to post?

    By no means! People with any amount of Tolkien "lore" are welcome
    to participate. It is advisable, however, to have read /The Hobbit/
    and /The Lord of the Rings/ before spending much time here, as
    otherwise you run the risk of many, many spoilers for both books.

    When you do participate in discussions, just use whatever Tolkien
    knowledge you have: you can have great ideas regardless of how much
    you've read. Occasionally, others will cite sources (often obscure but
    just as often authoritative) that weaken or disprove your arguments.
    When this happens (as it does to every one of us), nobody will think
    less of you for not knowing the reference; treat it as a chance to
    learn something new about Middle-earth.
    -------

    4. What questions and topics are appropriate?

    Virtually any topic related (even distantly) to Tolkien and his
    works is fair game. If you post a purely "factual" question (like "How
    many Ringwraiths were there?"), it's a good idea to explain why you're
    asking: we periodically see questions from students who hope we will do
    their homework for them, and the last thing we want to do is help
    people to avoid reading the books!

    It is appreciated if articles that have absolutely nothing to do
    with Tolkien have subject lines beginning with "OT:" ("Off Topic"). The
    Tolkien newsgroups are a sufficiently social community that threads
    often do drift away from their initial topics, and while this should
    not be discouraged, it is polite to label it when it happens. On the
    other hand, off topic discussions that get too intense or go on too
    long can interfere with others' enjoyment of the groups, and should be
    avoided.

    Binary files, such as images or sounds, are NEVER appropriate in a non-binaries newsgroup. To share a binary file with people in the
    Tolkien groups, you have two main options. One is to find an
    appropriate newsgroup in the alt.binaries.* hierarchy, post the file
    there, and then post a message here telling us where to look. Another
    (more common) method is to put the file on the Web and post the URL on
    the newsgroups.
    -------

    5. What does a tilde (~) in the subject mean? and
    Is it acceptable to post messages with sexual content?

    Articles posted to these newsgroups occasionally contain comments
    that some consider inappropriate for younger readers. After much
    discussion, most participants agreed to mark messages with /sexual/
    content with a tilde in the subject line. Individuals can then create
    killfiles to screen out such messages as desired. While not everyone
    agrees that such a system is beneficial, following this convention is
    the polite thing to do. The newsgroup charter recommends the use of
    ROT-13 "encryption" for this purpose, but this has become less common.
    -------

    6. What common mistakes should I try to avoid?

    By and large, the participants in the Tolkien newsgroups try to
    judge others based on their ideas rather than on details of grammar and
    posting style. However, there are a few types of simple mistakes that
    tend to cause some level of bias and annoyance among many group
    members, which in turn can distract them from your real message. Most
    of these are covered in the "Netiquette" section below.

    One common mistake of this type that is not related to netiquette is confusing the singular and plural forms of common Elvish words. On the
    Tolkien newsgroups, these words are so familiar that the phrase "Manwe
    is a Valar" sounds just as jarring and strange as "Finrod is an Elves."
    To reduce this problem, a list of some of the most commonly confused singular/plural pairs is given below. Note the patterns!

    Singular: Vala Maia Elda Noldo Teler Istar Adan
    Plural: Valar Maiar Eldar Noldor Teleri Istari Edain

    Another issue that arises periodically is whether or not /The Lord
    of the Rings/ should be referred to as a "trilogy". Tolkien said quite
    clearly in Letter #165 that "The book is /not/ of course a 'trilogy'",
    and some people make a point of correcting those who use the term.
    However, in Letter #252, Tolkien himself refers to "my trilogy", so
    most of us agree that using the term is an acceptable shorthand, if
    nothing else.
    -------

    7. What do all the abbreviations used on the groups mean?

    [More abbreviations can be found in section IV of the Tolkien FAQ.]

    Some names and phrases come up so frequently on the Tolkien
    newsgroups that they are often abbreviated for convenience. A few of
    the very most common are defined below; these definitions are excerpted
    from Sir Confused-a-Lot's old AFT Glossary, now online at

    http://silenceisdefeat.com/~aft-rabt/glossary/

    JRRT: John Ronald Reuel Tolkien
    ME: Middle-earth
    LotR: /The Lord of the Rings/
    FotR: /The Fellowship of the Ring/
    TT: /The Two Towers/
    RotK: /The Return of the King/
    Silm.: /The Silmarillion/
    UT: /Unfinished Tales/
    HoMe: the "History of Middle-earth" series
    Letters: /The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien/
    Narn: The "Narn I Hin Hurin" in UT
    Athrabeth: The "Athrabeth Finrod Ah Andreth" in /Morgoth's Ring/

    NG: Newsgroup
    TEUNC: "Tolkien Eccentric Unusual Nut Cases", an eGroup of
    Tolkien fans, some of whom frequent the newsgroups
    LOL: Laughing Out Loud
    ROTFL: Rolling On The Floor Laughing

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------

    II.B. THE BASICS OF NETIQUETTE

    1. What is the proper subject line for my post?

    Make sure that the "Subject:" line of your post matches the topic
    that you are discussing. Be concise, but specific: subject lines such
    as "The Lord of the Rings" or "Tolkien" give no useful information
    about the contents of your post. Note that this does not only apply to
    the first post in a thread: if you see that the subject line no longer
    matches the topic of a thread, change it when you reply! Also, follow
    the "OT:" convention for off-topic posts (mentioned in question II.A.4
    above).

    When you do change the subject line, it is polite to indicate the
    subject of the previous post. For example, "Balrog Wings" might become
    "Balrog Flight (was Balrog Wings)" and then "Eagles (was Balrog
    Flight)". This helps people follow the history of the thread.
    -------

    2. What should I do when replying to an earlier article?
    For example, should I "top post" or "bottom post"?

    First and foremost, make sure to retain the attribution of any
    quoted text, so others know who said the things you are replying to.
    Almost equally important, make sure that you trim the previous post as
    much as possible:

    * If you are replying to one specific comment in the previous
    article, delete all of the previous text except that comment. If
    the comment is at all long, try to trim it down to its essence.
    Type your reply directly beneath the quoted comment.

    * If you are replying to several distinct points individually, quote
    each one as above and type your reply immediately below it (and
    above the next point).

    * If you are replying to a long section that cannot be easily
    trimmed down (for example, an original poem or story), quote only
    its first and last lines (and perhaps put "[snip]" or "..." on a
    line in between the two). If there are particular pieces that
    you want to respond to individually, do so as described above.

    There are two general rules of thumb to follow in connection with
    the above guidelines:

    * Any article you post should have more lines of new text than lines
    of quoted text. It is generally acceptable to ignore this rule
    if the entire post (including basic headers and any signature) is
    short enough to fit on a single 24 line screen.

    * Any comments specifically replying to the previous article should
    come /below/ the relevant part of the previous article. This
    makes reading the article more like reading a conversation, and
    therefore much easier to follow.

    This obviously means that "top posting" is strongly discouraged: it
    forces readers to scroll up and down between the new and old material,
    and it usually involves quoting the entire previous post(s) untrimmed..
    Whether you call our practice "bottom posting", "middle posting", or
    "standard netiquette" is up to you.

    An example of a post that follows these guidelines can be found on
    the web at

    http://tolkien.slimy.com/newsgroups/EssayDiscuss.txt

    This long message (from a discussion of my essay on Tom Bombadil) would
    be all but impossible to follow if the point by point replies were not organized as described above.

    Finally, make sure to keep the subject line up to date, as discussed
    in question II.B.1.
    -------

    3. When should I "cross-post" to multiple newsgroups?

    Generally, you should post an article to the single most appropriate
    group: a question about /The Hobbit/ is more appropriate on rec.arts.books.tolkien than on rec.arts.books. However, there are cases
    when several groups are appropriate: a discussion of the influence of
    Tolkien's faith on his writings could be interesting to readers of both soc.religion.christian.roman-catholic and rec.arts.books.tolkien.
    (Cases in which more than two or three groups are truly appropriate are extremely rare!)

    In such cases, it is almost always better to "cross-post" the
    article to multiple groups than to post separately to each. To do
    this, list all of the relevant groups together on the "Newsgroups:"
    line, separated by commas but /no/ spaces (many posts here list
    "Newsgroups: alt.fan.tolkien,rec.arts.books.tolkien"). Cross-posting
    has several advantages, the most important being that responses to a cross-posted article are also cross-posted. That ensures that everyone involved in the discussion sees every reply.

    Some internet service providers (notably AOL) misguidedly forbid cross-posting, probably because /inappropriate/ cross-posting is very
    bad netiquette and is often used to "spam" many groups at once. If you
    have this problem, it may be better to choose just one "best" group for
    your post than to post separate copies to multiple groups.
    -------

    4. I am able to post my messages with HTML formatting. Should I?

    Generally, no. Many of us use simple text-based programs to read
    news, and posts with HTML formatting can be very difficult to read.
    You can generally turn off this behavior from the "Preferences" or
    "Options" section of your newsreader. For some newsreaders, you will
    need to change more than one setting to completely eliminate this
    behavior.
    -------

    5. If someone insults me or otherwise makes me upset, should I flame
    them back?

    No.

    6. Even if my reputation and honor are at stake?

    Feel free to post any corrections or differences in opinion that you
    feel are necessary. Feel free to indicate that you are hurt, unhappy,
    or insulted because of their comments. But by no means escalate the
    budding flame war, and try your hardest to be polite in your response:
    this tends to get the group's sentiments on your side far better than
    any exchange of name-calling ever could. People are usually fairly
    good at recognizing when someone is being terribly unfair. Yes, it is undoubtedly your right to flame if you want to, but the vast majority
    of the group would be happier if you did not.

    In general, try to give others the benefit of the doubt: with only
    text to go on, it's hard to judge their real intent. Could you have
    misread the insulting lines in their post? Could they have been
    speaking tongue in cheek? Maybe they only meant to tease you, not
    realizing that you would really be insulted. Assuming the worst is a depressing way to live one's life.

    Finally, be particularly careful not to reply to a "troll", someone
    who intentionally fishes for arguments and flames. These people seem
    to take great personal delight in inspiring people to anger or
    indignation; the best reaction to them is generally to ignore them
    altogether.
    -------

    7. Where can I go for more information on netiquette, and on Usenet in
    general?

    One of the best places to start has always been the newsgroup news.announce.newusers. This group is home to a wide range of articles
    that provide introductory information about many aspects of Usenet
    news. Unfortunately, most of these articles are no longer being posted regularly to the group. It may be more effective to read archived
    copies of them at

    ftp://rtfm.mit.edu/pub/usenet/news.announce.newusers/

    Read the "Welcome to Usenet!" article there first.

    The information on netiquette and on Usenet in general in the news.announce.newusers articles remains very relevant today, but those
    articles are several years old. More recent information on similar
    topics can be found at the web sites associated with the news.newusers.questions newsgroup. A list of these sites around the
    world can be found at

    http://users.rcn.com/kateshort/nnq/nnqlinks.html

    (among many other places).

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------ ------------------------------------------------------------------------

    III. DEBATES AND DISCUSSION

    A great many questions about Tolkien and his books arise repeatedly
    on the Tolkien newsgroups. The starting point of each debate is the
    same almost every time, and it takes a long time for the discussion to
    reach "new ground." In the worst cases, bitter and longstanding
    arguments about the basics get in the way before new progress can be
    made at all.

    The purpose of a FAQ is to avoid this problem by setting down the
    basics in a common place so that the discussion can deal with new
    issues from the start. However, it is very difficult to balance the
    need for conciseness with the need for completeness: many debates that repeatedly appear on the Tolkien newsgroups have generated very large
    amounts of "known territory."

    Keep in mind that this FAQ provides only summaries of these debates:
    many of their subtleties are omitted for the sake of brevity. Most of
    these topics have been discussed at length by many intelligent In these
    cases, it is extremely unlikely that any unambiguous "proof" of one
    position exists. With this in mind, try to be respectful toward those
    who disagree with you. To get more information on the usual content of
    common discussions, it is often helpful to browse those discussions
    themselves at the Google Groups Usenet archive (see question IV.A.5 for
    more information).

    Finally, be sure to read question III.A.2, dealing with "canonical"
    texts. This FAQ addresses only the state of Middle-earth after LotR
    was written, which corresponds roughly to the material included in the published /Silmarillion/. Details from earlier versions of the
    mythology will not be discussed in this document (and are generally
    given very limited weight in debates about the later state of the
    mythology).

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------

    III.A. STORY EXTERNAL QUESTIONS

    1. What is the best order in which to read the books?

    This depends on each person's personal preferences. Unless you
    strongly dislike stories written for children, most recommend reading
    /The Hobbit/ first. /The Lord of the Rings/ is certainly next (feel
    free to skip the Prologue if you find it dull, and after the main text
    try to read at least Appendix A.I.v, "The Tale of Aragorn and Arwen").

    If you enjoy any part of the Appendices to LotR, there are things in Tolkien's other books that you are likely to enjoy as well. Most
    suggest reading /The Children of Hurin/, /Unfinished Tales/, /The Silmarillion/, and /The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien/ next, in some order
    (perhaps that one). /The Children of Hurin/ is the only complete novel
    about Middle-earth published after Tolkien's death (although it takes
    place long before the events of LotR, it probably isn't necessary to
    read Silm. first). The stories and essays in UT can be read in any
    order, so the "Third Age" material is a good starting point for those
    coming straight from LotR (the "First Age" stories are excellent, but
    are easier to follow after reading Silm.; the other parts of UT are
    mostly accessible to those who have read LotR and its appendices).
    Many people find the early parts of Silm. slow to read (like a history
    book or the Bible), but it is often a favorite among those who have
    read it. /Letters/ contains insights into both Middle-earth and Tolkien
    as a person.

    For more details (and more books), try getting a personalized
    recommendation from the Custom Tolkien Book List, on the web at

    http://tolkien.slimy.com/books.html

    (This URL redirects to the longer and messier URL of the actual list.)
    -------

    2. What books about Middle-earth are considered "canonical"?

    [I have written an essay on this topic, including general observations
    and my own approach. It is on the web at: http://tolkien.slimy.com/essays/TolkParish.html.]

    As the term is used on the Tolkien newsgroups, a "canonical" text is
    one which is believed to provide authoritative information about
    Middle-earth. This concept is more subtle than it may appear at first
    glance, in part because most of Tolkien's mythology remained incomplete
    when he died. Books or even individual chapters or essays may be
    regarded as more or less "trustworthy" than others, and many people
    reject the idea that there is a single "true" Middle-earth entirely.

    Among those who accept the concept of "canon" to at least some
    degree, almost all agree that /The Lord of the Rings/ is a canonical
    text and most assign equal or near equal weight to /The Hobbit/ (the
    other books about Middle-earth published in Tolkien's lifetime are
    treated similarly). However, due to heavy and unmarked posthumous
    editing, /The Silmarillion/ is considered by many /not/ to be canonical
    (see question III.A.3 for details).

    People put various amounts of trust in the many drafts and essays in /Unfinished Tales/ and the "History of Middle-earth" series. In cases
    where Tolkien's intent seems particularly stable and clear, some trust
    these sources almost as much as /The Hobbit/ and LotR themselves. In
    practice, this means that most of the more trustworthy material is
    found in /Unfinished Tales/ and in volumes X-XII of the HoMe series.
    Opinions on how much to trust /The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien/ are
    mixed, but its contents are generally respected as long as they are not contradicted by other (more canonical) texts. The pictures in /J.R.R.
    Tolkien: Artist and Illustrator/ by Wayne Hammond and Christina Scull
    may also be considered somewhat canonical.

    It is important to note that many aspects of Middle-earth changed substantially over the course of Tolkien's life. Because of this,
    facts taken from the early versions of the mythology can be misleading
    or just plain wrong when used to draw conclusions about LotR or later
    versions of the mythology. This means that while the early versions
    can provide valuable hints about Tolkien's thoughts on an issue, they
    are rarely considered to provide definitive evidence for any position.

    The Custom Tolkien Book List (mentioned in question III.A.1)
    includes my own perspective on the "canonicity" of each section of each
    book in the list. While those are just one person's opinions, they are
    fairly typical. A static version of the list in publication order can
    be found on the web at

    http://tolkien.slimy.com/publist.html

    That static list still contains a link to the customizable version.
    -------

    3. How does /The Silmarillion/ as published differ from what Tolkien
    intended?

    This is a complicated question that is essentially unanswerable:
    despite his lifelong effort, Tolkien never came close to completing
    /The Silmarillion/. At Tolkien's request, after his death his son
    Christopher (with some help from Guy Kay) worked to "bring the work
    into publishable form"; Christopher discusses the difficulties involved
    in the book's Foreword. To understand why /The Silmarillion/ took the
    form that it did (and why it is rarely considered "canonical", as
    mentioned in question III.A.2), it is worth exploring those editorial
    changes. The full story can be found in the "History of Middle-earth"
    books, particularly /Morgoth's Ring/ and /The War of the Jewels/
    (volumes X-XI).

    The most basic editorial decision was which writings to include in
    the book at all. The "Quenta Silmarillion" is of course the central
    text, but Tolkien also wrote numerous associated stories and essays.
    Charles Noad explored this question as part of his essay "On the
    Construction of 'The Silmarillion'" (published in /Tolkien's
    Legendarium/; see question III.A.5), where he suggests an "outline for
    'The Silmarillion' as Tolkien may have intended it". In addition to the
    texts in the published book, Noad includes expanded versions of four
    stories: "The Lay of Leithian" (possibly in poetic form), "Narn i Chin
    Hurin", "The Fall of Gondolin", and "Earendil the Wanderer" (which
    Tolkien never even fully sketched). He also includes five
    "Appendices": writings about Middle-earth and its inhabitants such as
    "Laws and Customs among the Eldar" and the "Athrabeth Finrod ah
    Andreth" (most of these were published in HoMe X-XI). Sadly, a book
    with this outline could never be made satisfying with just the texts
    that Tolkien left us.

    Moving on to the texts that were actually included in /The
    Silmarillion/ as published, there were three types of problems to
    overcome. In the worst cases, there were crucial gaps in the narrative
    where Tolkien had never written more than an outline of the story (or
    where the most recent version was hopelessly outdated). Much more
    frequently, Tolkien's years of revisions led to factual inconsistencies
    between stories written at various times (especially between writings
    before and after /The Lord of the Rings/). And finally, Tolkien's
    writings differed markedly in tone, ranging from vivid narratives to
    terse annals to philosophical essays. To assemble a single text,
    consistent in style and detail, from such a range of source material
    clearly required substantial editing.

    Despite that pessimistic assessment, the vast majority of the
    published /Silmarillion/ is taken directly from Tolkien's work and
    seems to come quite close to what he intended, as far as it goes. (None
    of the "expanded" tales were ever completed, but what exists of them
    can be found for the most part in /Unfinished Tales/, /The Lays of
    Beleriand/, and the other "History of Middle-earth" books mentioned
    above.) Still, mild editing is not uncommon, and can be difficult to
    identify even by comparison to the source texts as published in HoMe.
    Thus, /The Silmarillion/ is often not treated as a final authority in
    scholarly discussions of Middle-earth. (A classic example is its
    mistaken ancestry of Gil-galad, as discussed in question III.B.8.)

    The greatest concern, of course, comes from those few cases where
    large gaps had to be filled by the editors. This happened to some
    extent for "Of Tuor and the Fall of Gondolin" and "Of the Voyage of
    Earendil and the War of Wrath", but the most substantial editorial
    "invention" came in the chapter "Of the Ruin of Doriath". The episode

    [continued in next message]

    --- SoupGate-Win32 v1.05
    * Origin: fsxNet Usenet Gateway (21:1/5)
  • From Steuard Jensen@21:1/5 to All on Sat Mar 21 23:14:01 2020
    XPost: alt.fan.tolkien

    Posted-By: auto-faq 3.3.1 (Perl 5.020)
    Posting-Frequency: monthly
    URL: http://tolkien.slimy.com/

    TOLKIEN NEWSGROUPS FAQ

    Copyright (C) 1999-2012 by Steuard Jensen

    (Created 17 Aug 1999)
    (Last updated 11 Mar 2012)



    For many years, the Tolkien Usenet newsgroups have been home to a
    pair of excellent Frequently Asked Questions lists about Tolkien and Middle-earth, compiled by William D. B. Loos. These sources contain a
    wealth of information, but are no longer maintained (the last update
    seems to have been in July 1996). This means that quite a few issues
    of current interest to the groups are not fully addressed in those
    documents.

    This FAQ supplements, updates, and expands on the earlier ones,
    though it is not meant to replace them entirely. It includes new and
    corrected information on some of the old discussions, numerous entries
    on topics not covered in the older FAQs, and a broad discussion of the
    Tolkien newsgroups and common standards of netiquette. This FAQ is
    intended both as an introduction for newcomers to the newsgroups and as
    a source of information for anyone exploring Middle-earth.

    The official HTML version of the FAQ is on the web at

    http://tolkien.slimy.com/faq/

    The plain text version is posted to Usenet on the 22nd of each month
    and is also available on the web, at

    http://tolkien.slimy.com/faq/TolkNgFaq.txt

    For a unified and easy to use interface to this FAQ, the Loos FAQs, and
    others, consider visiting the Tolkien Meta-FAQ, at

    http://tolkien.slimy.com/

    I would like to give my sincere thanks to the many, many people on
    the newsgroups and elsewhere who have given criticism, suggestions, and encouragement as I wrote this FAQ. This project would never have
    succeeded without their wonderful support.

    Steuard Jensen
    steuard@slimy.com ------------------------------------------------------------------------ ------------------------------------------------------------------------


    Table of Contents

    Sections/questions marked: * have been revised since the last release
    ** are new since the last release

    I. Changes Since the Last Release *

    II. Newsgroups and Netiquette

    A. Information on the Tolkien Newsgroups
    1. What newsgroups are we talking about again?
    2. Why are there two groups?
    3. Do I have to have a Ph.D. in Tolkienology to post?
    4. What questions and topics are appropriate?
    5. What does a tilde (~) in the subject mean? and
    Is it acceptable to post messages with sexual content?
    6. What common mistakes should I try to avoid?
    7. What do all the abbreviations used on the groups mean?

    B. The Basics of Netiquette
    1. What is the proper subject line for my post?
    2. What should I do when replying to an earlier article?
    For example, should I "top post" or "bottom post"?
    3. When should I "cross-post" to multiple newsgroups?
    4. I am able to post my messages with HTML formatting. Should I?
    5. If someone insults me or otherwise makes me upset, should I
    flame them back?
    6. Even if my reputation and honor are at stake?
    7. Where can I go for more information on netiquette, and on
    Usenet in general?

    III. Debates and Discussion

    A. Story External Questions
    1. What is the best order in which to read the books?
    2. What books about Middle-earth are considered "canonical"?
    3. How does /The Silmarillion/ as published differ from what
    Tolkien intended?
    4. Which are "The Two Towers"?
    5. Which books /about/ Tolkien are good, and which aren't?
    6. Is Middle-earth Medieval?
    7. Was Tolkien racist? Were his works?
    8. Are there electronic versions of Tolkien's books?
    9. Where can I report copyright violations that I observe?

    B. Story Internal Questions: Creatures and Characters
    1. Did Balrogs have wings?
    2. Could Balrogs fly?
    3. What was Tom Bombadil?
    4. Did Elves have pointed ears?
    5. Did Elves have beards?
    6. What happened to Elves after they died?
    7. Was Glorfindel of Rivendell the same as Glorfindel of Gondolin?
    8. Who was Gil-galad's father?
    9. Did Dwarf women have beards?
    10. Was there "telepathy" in Middle-earth?
    11. Did Sauron have a physical form during /The Lord of the
    Rings/? *
    12. What were the names of the Nazgul?
    13. What was Gothmog (the lieutenant of Morgul)?
    14. What was the origin of Orcs?
    15. Were Orcs immortal, and what happened to them after death?
    16. What was the relationship between Orcs and Goblins?
    17. What was the origin of Saruman's Uruk-hai?
    18. What was the origin of Trolls?
    19. What were the giants (seen by Bilbo in /The Hobbit/)?

    C. Story Internal Questions: History and Happenings
    1. Why didn't they just have an Eagle fly the Ring to Mt. Doom?
    2. Were the barrow blades magical? In what way?
    3. Why didn't the Nazgul take the Ring at Weathertop?
    4. Who killed the Witch-king, Merry or Eowyn?
    5. Did Frodo and the other mortals who passed over the Sea
    eventually die?
    6. Did Sam follow Frodo into the West?
    7. What is known about the Blue Wizards?
    8. Who was aware that a Balrog lived in Moria?
    9. Did Elves and Dwarves generally get along?
    10. Where was the Ring when Numenor was destroyed?
    11. Who was the oldest inhabitant of Middle-earth?

    IV. External Resources

    A. Where else can I find general information about Middle-earth?
    1. The Tolkien Meta-FAQ
    2. The Tolkien FAQ and LessFAQ
    3. The "FAQ of the Rings"
    4. The Letters FAQ
    5. Google's Usenet archive

    B. Where can I learn more about Tolkien's languages?

    C. Stories of Middle-earth in many forms
    1. What editions of Tolkien's books are best?
    2. What audio versions of Tolkien's books are available?
    3. What is the groups' view of the recent /Lord of the Rings/
    movies?
    4. Where can I find out about music related to Middle-earth?

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------ ------------------------------------------------------------------------

    I. CHANGES SINCE THE LAST RELEASE

    Adjusted wording of question III.B.11 about Sauron's physical form
    to emphasize the relevance of the evidence to the period of LotR.

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------ ------------------------------------------------------------------------

    II. NEWSGROUPS AND NETIQUETTE

    When discussing Tolkien (or anything else) online, it is important
    to know at least a little about the "culture" of the discussion forum
    that you are participating in. The information in this section is
    intended to give an idea of "appropriate" behavior on the Tolkien
    Usenet newsgroups. To make our discussions as enjoyable as possible,
    every participant should try to be familiar with what follows.

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------

    II.A. INFORMATION ON THE TOLKIEN NEWSGROUPS

    1. What newsgroups are we talking about again?

    There are several Usenet newsgroups specific to Tolkien and his
    works. However, the two most widely read and distributed of these are rec.arts.books.tolkien and alt.fan.tolkien, commonly abbreviated either
    r.a.b.t or RABT and a.f.t or AFT, respectively.

    The official rec.arts.books.tolkien charter can be found at

    http://tolkien.slimy.com/newsgroups/RABTcharter.txt

    Alt.fan.tolkien does not have a formal charter.
    -------

    2. Why are there two groups?

    Originally, AFT was the only Tolkien newsgroup on Usenet. RABT was
    created (when the approval vote passed on 26 Mar 1993) as a replacement
    for AFT which would be carried by a larger fraction of news servers.
    However, AFT was never removed, and both groups currently enjoy
    substantial readership. While only RABT has a formal charter (see
    question II.A.1 for reference), the two groups are virtually identical
    in intended content.

    Many participants see a tendency for RABT to be somewhat more
    "scholarly" in tone while AFT is a bit more "conversational", and some
    suggest that this distinction is useful and should be encouraged.
    Other participants draw less of a distinction between the two groups,
    and often believe that a difference in focus would be both undesirable
    and impossible to achieve. In practice, everyone decides for
    themselves how they want to treat the two groups, and most people
    generally don't complain one way or the other.
    -------

    3. Do I have to have a Ph.D. in Tolkienology to post?

    By no means! People with any amount of Tolkien "lore" are welcome
    to participate. It is advisable, however, to have read /The Hobbit/
    and /The Lord of the Rings/ before spending much time here, as
    otherwise you run the risk of many, many spoilers for both books.

    When you do participate in discussions, just use whatever Tolkien
    knowledge you have: you can have great ideas regardless of how much
    you've read. Occasionally, others will cite sources (often obscure but
    just as often authoritative) that weaken or disprove your arguments.
    When this happens (as it does to every one of us), nobody will think
    less of you for not knowing the reference; treat it as a chance to
    learn something new about Middle-earth.
    -------

    4. What questions and topics are appropriate?

    Virtually any topic related (even distantly) to Tolkien and his
    works is fair game. If you post a purely "factual" question (like "How
    many Ringwraiths were there?"), it's a good idea to explain why you're
    asking: we periodically see questions from students who hope we will do
    their homework for them, and the last thing we want to do is help
    people to avoid reading the books!

    It is appreciated if articles that have absolutely nothing to do
    with Tolkien have subject lines beginning with "OT:" ("Off Topic"). The
    Tolkien newsgroups are a sufficiently social community that threads
    often do drift away from their initial topics, and while this should
    not be discouraged, it is polite to label it when it happens. On the
    other hand, off topic discussions that get too intense or go on too
    long can interfere with others' enjoyment of the groups, and should be
    avoided.

    Binary files, such as images or sounds, are NEVER appropriate in a non-binaries newsgroup. To share a binary file with people in the
    Tolkien groups, you have two main options. One is to find an
    appropriate newsgroup in the alt.binaries.* hierarchy, post the file
    there, and then post a message here telling us where to look. Another
    (more common) method is to put the file on the Web and post the URL on
    the newsgroups.
    -------

    5. What does a tilde (~) in the subject mean? and
    Is it acceptable to post messages with sexual content?

    Articles posted to these newsgroups occasionally contain comments
    that some consider inappropriate for younger readers. After much
    discussion, most participants agreed to mark messages with /sexual/
    content with a tilde in the subject line. Individuals can then create
    killfiles to screen out such messages as desired. While not everyone
    agrees that such a system is beneficial, following this convention is
    the polite thing to do. The newsgroup charter recommends the use of
    ROT-13 "encryption" for this purpose, but this has become less common.
    -------

    6. What common mistakes should I try to avoid?

    By and large, the participants in the Tolkien newsgroups try to
    judge others based on their ideas rather than on details of grammar and
    posting style. However, there are a few types of simple mistakes that
    tend to cause some level of bias and annoyance among many group
    members, which in turn can distract them from your real message. Most
    of these are covered in the "Netiquette" section below.

    One common mistake of this type that is not related to netiquette is confusing the singular and plural forms of common Elvish words. On the
    Tolkien newsgroups, these words are so familiar that the phrase "Manwe
    is a Valar" sounds just as jarring and strange as "Finrod is an Elves."
    To reduce this problem, a list of some of the most commonly confused singular/plural pairs is given below. Note the patterns!

    Singular: Vala Maia Elda Noldo Teler Istar Adan
    Plural: Valar Maiar Eldar Noldor Teleri Istari Edain

    Another issue that arises periodically is whether or not /The Lord
    of the Rings/ should be referred to as a "trilogy". Tolkien said quite
    clearly in Letter #165 that "The book is /not/ of course a 'trilogy'",
    and some people make a point of correcting those who use the term.
    However, in Letter #252, Tolkien himself refers to "my trilogy", so
    most of us agree that using the term is an acceptable shorthand, if
    nothing else.
    -------

    7. What do all the abbreviations used on the groups mean?

    [More abbreviations can be found in section IV of the Tolkien FAQ.]

    Some names and phrases come up so frequently on the Tolkien
    newsgroups that they are often abbreviated for convenience. A few of
    the very most common are defined below; these definitions are excerpted
    from Sir Confused-a-Lot's old AFT Glossary, now online at

    http://silenceisdefeat.com/~aft-rabt/glossary/

    JRRT: John Ronald Reuel Tolkien
    ME: Middle-earth
    LotR: /The Lord of the Rings/
    FotR: /The Fellowship of the Ring/
    TT: /The Two Towers/
    RotK: /The Return of the King/
    Silm.: /The Silmarillion/
    UT: /Unfinished Tales/
    HoMe: the "History of Middle-earth" series
    Letters: /The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien/
    Narn: The "Narn I Hin Hurin" in UT
    Athrabeth: The "Athrabeth Finrod Ah Andreth" in /Morgoth's Ring/

    NG: Newsgroup
    TEUNC: "Tolkien Eccentric Unusual Nut Cases", an eGroup of
    Tolkien fans, some of whom frequent the newsgroups
    LOL: Laughing Out Loud
    ROTFL: Rolling On The Floor Laughing

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------

    II.B. THE BASICS OF NETIQUETTE

    1. What is the proper subject line for my post?

    Make sure that the "Subject:" line of your post matches the topic
    that you are discussing. Be concise, but specific: subject lines such
    as "The Lord of the Rings" or "Tolkien" give no useful information
    about the contents of your post. Note that this does not only apply to
    the first post in a thread: if you see that the subject line no longer
    matches the topic of a thread, change it when you reply! Also, follow
    the "OT:" convention for off-topic posts (mentioned in question II.A.4
    above).

    When you do change the subject line, it is polite to indicate the
    subject of the previous post. For example, "Balrog Wings" might become
    "Balrog Flight (was Balrog Wings)" and then "Eagles (was Balrog
    Flight)". This helps people follow the history of the thread.
    -------

    2. What should I do when replying to an earlier article?
    For example, should I "top post" or "bottom post"?

    First and foremost, make sure to retain the attribution of any
    quoted text, so others know who said the things you are replying to.
    Almost equally important, make sure that you trim the previous post as
    much as possible:

    * If you are replying to one specific comment in the previous
    article, delete all of the previous text except that comment. If
    the comment is at all long, try to trim it down to its essence.
    Type your reply directly beneath the quoted comment.

    * If you are replying to several distinct points individually, quote
    each one as above and type your reply immediately below it (and
    above the next point).

    * If you are replying to a long section that cannot be easily
    trimmed down (for example, an original poem or story), quote only
    its first and last lines (and perhaps put "[snip]" or "..." on a
    line in between the two). If there are particular pieces that
    you want to respond to individually, do so as described above.

    There are two general rules of thumb to follow in connection with
    the above guidelines:

    * Any article you post should have more lines of new text than lines
    of quoted text. It is generally acceptable to ignore this rule
    if the entire post (including basic headers and any signature) is
    short enough to fit on a single 24 line screen.

    * Any comments specifically replying to the previous article should
    come /below/ the relevant part of the previous article. This
    makes reading the article more like reading a conversation, and
    therefore much easier to follow.

    This obviously means that "top posting" is strongly discouraged: it
    forces readers to scroll up and down between the new and old material,
    and it usually involves quoting the entire previous post(s) untrimmed..
    Whether you call our practice "bottom posting", "middle posting", or
    "standard netiquette" is up to you.

    An example of a post that follows these guidelines can be found on
    the web at

    http://tolkien.slimy.com/newsgroups/EssayDiscuss.txt

    This long message (from a discussion of my essay on Tom Bombadil) would
    be all but impossible to follow if the point by point replies were not organized as described above.

    Finally, make sure to keep the subject line up to date, as discussed
    in question II.B.1.
    -------

    3. When should I "cross-post" to multiple newsgroups?

    Generally, you should post an article to the single most appropriate
    group: a question about /The Hobbit/ is more appropriate on rec.arts.books.tolkien than on rec.arts.books. However, there are cases
    when several groups are appropriate: a discussion of the influence of
    Tolkien's faith on his writings could be interesting to readers of both soc.religion.christian.roman-catholic and rec.arts.books.tolkien.
    (Cases in which more than two or three groups are truly appropriate are extremely rare!)

    In such cases, it is almost always better to "cross-post" the
    article to multiple groups than to post separately to each. To do
    this, list all of the relevant groups together on the "Newsgroups:"
    line, separated by commas but /no/ spaces (many posts here list
    "Newsgroups: alt.fan.tolkien,rec.arts.books.tolkien"). Cross-posting
    has several advantages, the most important being that responses to a cross-posted article are also cross-posted. That ensures that everyone involved in the discussion sees every reply.

    Some internet service providers (notably AOL) misguidedly forbid cross-posting, probably because /inappropriate/ cross-posting is very
    bad netiquette and is often used to "spam" many groups at once. If you
    have this problem, it may be better to choose just one "best" group for
    your post than to post separate copies to multiple groups.
    -------

    4. I am able to post my messages with HTML formatting. Should I?

    Generally, no. Many of us use simple text-based programs to read
    news, and posts with HTML formatting can be very difficult to read.
    You can generally turn off this behavior from the "Preferences" or
    "Options" section of your newsreader. For some newsreaders, you will
    need to change more than one setting to completely eliminate this
    behavior.
    -------

    5. If someone insults me or otherwise makes me upset, should I flame
    them back?

    No.

    6. Even if my reputation and honor are at stake?

    Feel free to post any corrections or differences in opinion that you
    feel are necessary. Feel free to indicate that you are hurt, unhappy,
    or insulted because of their comments. But by no means escalate the
    budding flame war, and try your hardest to be polite in your response:
    this tends to get the group's sentiments on your side far better than
    any exchange of name-calling ever could. People are usually fairly
    good at recognizing when someone is being terribly unfair. Yes, it is undoubtedly your right to flame if you want to, but the vast majority
    of the group would be happier if you did not.

    In general, try to give others the benefit of the doubt: with only
    text to go on, it's hard to judge their real intent. Could you have
    misread the insulting lines in their post? Could they have been
    speaking tongue in cheek? Maybe they only meant to tease you, not
    realizing that you would really be insulted. Assuming the worst is a depressing way to live one's life.

    Finally, be particularly careful not to reply to a "troll", someone
    who intentionally fishes for arguments and flames. These people seem
    to take great personal delight in inspiring people to anger or
    indignation; the best reaction to them is generally to ignore them
    altogether.
    -------

    7. Where can I go for more information on netiquette, and on Usenet in
    general?

    One of the best places to start has always been the newsgroup news.announce.newusers. This group is home to a wide range of articles
    that provide introductory information about many aspects of Usenet
    news. Unfortunately, most of these articles are no longer being posted regularly to the group. It may be more effective to read archived
    copies of them at

    ftp://rtfm.mit.edu/pub/usenet/news.announce.newusers/

    Read the "Welcome to Usenet!" article there first.

    The information on netiquette and on Usenet in general in the news.announce.newusers articles remains very relevant today, but those
    articles are several years old. More recent information on similar
    topics can be found at the web sites associated with the news.newusers.questions newsgroup. A list of these sites around the
    world can be found at

    http://users.rcn.com/kateshort/nnq/nnqlinks.html

    (among many other places).

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------ ------------------------------------------------------------------------

    III. DEBATES AND DISCUSSION

    A great many questions about Tolkien and his books arise repeatedly
    on the Tolkien newsgroups. The starting point of each debate is the
    same almost every time, and it takes a long time for the discussion to
    reach "new ground." In the worst cases, bitter and longstanding
    arguments about the basics get in the way before new progress can be
    made at all.

    The purpose of a FAQ is to avoid this problem by setting down the
    basics in a common place so that the discussion can deal with new
    issues from the start. However, it is very difficult to balance the
    need for conciseness with the need for completeness: many debates that repeatedly appear on the Tolkien newsgroups have generated very large
    amounts of "known territory."

    Keep in mind that this FAQ provides only summaries of these debates:
    many of their subtleties are omitted for the sake of brevity. Most of
    these topics have been discussed at length by many intelligent In these
    cases, it is extremely unlikely that any unambiguous "proof" of one
    position exists. With this in mind, try to be respectful toward those
    who disagree with you. To get more information on the usual content of
    common discussions, it is often helpful to browse those discussions
    themselves at the Google Groups Usenet archive (see question IV.A.5 for
    more information).

    Finally, be sure to read question III.A.2, dealing with "canonical"
    texts. This FAQ addresses only the state of Middle-earth after LotR
    was written, which corresponds roughly to the material included in the published /Silmarillion/. Details from earlier versions of the
    mythology will not be discussed in this document (and are generally
    given very limited weight in debates about the later state of the
    mythology).

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------

    III.A. STORY EXTERNAL QUESTIONS

    1. What is the best order in which to read the books?

    This depends on each person's personal preferences. Unless you
    strongly dislike stories written for children, most recommend reading
    /The Hobbit/ first. /The Lord of the Rings/ is certainly next (feel
    free to skip the Prologue if you find it dull, and after the main text
    try to read at least Appendix A.I.v, "The Tale of Aragorn and Arwen").

    If you enjoy any part of the Appendices to LotR, there are things in Tolkien's other books that you are likely to enjoy as well. Most
    suggest reading /The Children of Hurin/, /Unfinished Tales/, /The Silmarillion/, and /The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien/ next, in some order
    (perhaps that one). /The Children of Hurin/ is the only complete novel
    about Middle-earth published after Tolkien's death (although it takes
    place long before the events of LotR, it probably isn't necessary to
    read Silm. first). The stories and essays in UT can be read in any
    order, so the "Third Age" material is a good starting point for those
    coming straight from LotR (the "First Age" stories are excellent, but
    are easier to follow after reading Silm.; the other parts of UT are
    mostly accessible to those who have read LotR and its appendices).
    Many people find the early parts of Silm. slow to read (like a history
    book or the Bible), but it is often a favorite among those who have
    read it. /Letters/ contains insights into both Middle-earth and Tolkien
    as a person.

    For more details (and more books), try getting a personalized
    recommendation from the Custom Tolkien Book List, on the web at

    http://tolkien.slimy.com/books.html

    (This URL redirects to the longer and messier URL of the actual list.)
    -------

    2. What books about Middle-earth are considered "canonical"?

    [I have written an essay on this topic, including general observations
    and my own approach. It is on the web at: http://tolkien.slimy.com/essays/TolkParish.html.]

    As the term is used on the Tolkien newsgroups, a "canonical" text is
    one which is believed to provide authoritative information about
    Middle-earth. This concept is more subtle than it may appear at first
    glance, in part because most of Tolkien's mythology remained incomplete
    when he died. Books or even individual chapters or essays may be
    regarded as more or less "trustworthy" than others, and many people
    reject the idea that there is a single "true" Middle-earth entirely.

    Among those who accept the concept of "canon" to at least some
    degree, almost all agree that /The Lord of the Rings/ is a canonical
    text and most assign equal or near equal weight to /The Hobbit/ (the
    other books about Middle-earth published in Tolkien's lifetime are
    treated similarly). However, due to heavy and unmarked posthumous
    editing, /The Silmarillion/ is considered by many /not/ to be canonical
    (see question III.A.3 for details).

    People put various amounts of trust in the many drafts and essays in /Unfinished Tales/ and the "History of Middle-earth" series. In cases
    where Tolkien's intent seems particularly stable and clear, some trust
    these sources almost as much as /The Hobbit/ and LotR themselves. In
    practice, this means that most of the more trustworthy material is
    found in /Unfinished Tales/ and in volumes X-XII of the HoMe series.
    Opinions on how much to trust /The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien/ are
    mixed, but its contents are generally respected as long as they are not contradicted by other (more canonical) texts. The pictures in /J.R.R.
    Tolkien: Artist and Illustrator/ by Wayne Hammond and Christina Scull
    may also be considered somewhat canonical.

    It is important to note that many aspects of Middle-earth changed substantially over the course of Tolkien's life. Because of this,
    facts taken from the early versions of the mythology can be misleading
    or just plain wrong when used to draw conclusions about LotR or later
    versions of the mythology. This means that while the early versions
    can provide valuable hints about Tolkien's thoughts on an issue, they
    are rarely considered to provide definitive evidence for any position.

    The Custom Tolkien Book List (mentioned in question III.A.1)
    includes my own perspective on the "canonicity" of each section of each
    book in the list. While those are just one person's opinions, they are
    fairly typical. A static version of the list in publication order can
    be found on the web at

    http://tolkien.slimy.com/publist.html

    That static list still contains a link to the customizable version.
    -------

    3. How does /The Silmarillion/ as published differ from what Tolkien
    intended?

    This is a complicated question that is essentially unanswerable:
    despite his lifelong effort, Tolkien never came close to completing
    /The Silmarillion/. At Tolkien's request, after his death his son
    Christopher (with some help from Guy Kay) worked to "bring the work
    into publishable form"; Christopher discusses the difficulties involved
    in the book's Foreword. To understand why /The Silmarillion/ took the
    form that it did (and why it is rarely considered "canonical", as
    mentioned in question III.A.2), it is worth exploring those editorial
    changes. The full story can be found in the "History of Middle-earth"
    books, particularly /Morgoth's Ring/ and /The War of the Jewels/
    (volumes X-XI).

    The most basic editorial decision was which writings to include in
    the book at all. The "Quenta Silmarillion" is of course the central
    text, but Tolkien also wrote numerous associated stories and essays.
    Charles Noad explored this question as part of his essay "On the
    Construction of 'The Silmarillion'" (published in /Tolkien's
    Legendarium/; see question III.A.5), where he suggests an "outline for
    'The Silmarillion' as Tolkien may have intended it". In addition to the
    texts in the published book, Noad includes expanded versions of four
    stories: "The Lay of Leithian" (possibly in poetic form), "Narn i Chin
    Hurin", "The Fall of Gondolin", and "Earendil the Wanderer" (which
    Tolkien never even fully sketched). He also includes five
    "Appendices": writings about Middle-earth and its inhabitants such as
    "Laws and Customs among the Eldar" and the "Athrabeth Finrod ah
    Andreth" (most of these were published in HoMe X-XI). Sadly, a book
    with this outline could never be made satisfying with just the texts
    that Tolkien left us.

    Moving on to the texts that were actually included in /The
    Silmarillion/ as published, there were three types of problems to
    overcome. In the worst cases, there were crucial gaps in the narrative
    where Tolkien had never written more than an outline of the story (or
    where the most recent version was hopelessly outdated). Much more
    frequently, Tolkien's years of revisions led to factual inconsistencies
    between stories written at various times (especially between writings
    before and after /The Lord of the Rings/). And finally, Tolkien's
    writings differed markedly in tone, ranging from vivid narratives to
    terse annals to philosophical essays. To assemble a single text,
    consistent in style and detail, from such a range of source material
    clearly required substantial editing.

    Despite that pessimistic assessment, the vast majority of the
    published /Silmarillion/ is taken directly from Tolkien's work and
    seems to come quite close to what he intended, as far as it goes. (None
    of the "expanded" tales were ever completed, but what exists of them
    can be found for the most part in /Unfinished Tales/, /The Lays of
    Beleriand/, and the other "History of Middle-earth" books mentioned
    above.) Still, mild editing is not uncommon, and can be difficult to
    identify even by comparison to the source texts as published in HoMe.
    Thus, /The Silmarillion/ is often not treated as a final authority in
    scholarly discussions of Middle-earth. (A classic example is its
    mistaken ancestry of Gil-galad, as discussed in question III.B.8.)

    The greatest concern, of course, comes from those few cases where
    large gaps had to be filled by the editors. This happened to some
    extent for "Of Tuor and the Fall of Gondolin" and "Of the Voyage of
    Earendil and the War of Wrath", but the most substantial editorial
    "invention" came in the chapter "Of the Ruin of Doriath". The episode

    [continued in next message]

    --- SoupGate-Win32 v1.05
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  • From Steuard Jensen@21:1/5 to All on Tue Apr 21 23:14:01 2020
    XPost: alt.fan.tolkien

    Posted-By: auto-faq 3.3.1 (Perl 5.020)
    Posting-Frequency: monthly
    URL: http://tolkien.slimy.com/

    TOLKIEN NEWSGROUPS FAQ

    Copyright (C) 1999-2012 by Steuard Jensen

    (Created 17 Aug 1999)
    (Last updated 11 Mar 2012)



    For many years, the Tolkien Usenet newsgroups have been home to a
    pair of excellent Frequently Asked Questions lists about Tolkien and Middle-earth, compiled by William D. B. Loos. These sources contain a
    wealth of information, but are no longer maintained (the last update
    seems to have been in July 1996). This means that quite a few issues
    of current interest to the groups are not fully addressed in those
    documents.

    This FAQ supplements, updates, and expands on the earlier ones,
    though it is not meant to replace them entirely. It includes new and
    corrected information on some of the old discussions, numerous entries
    on topics not covered in the older FAQs, and a broad discussion of the
    Tolkien newsgroups and common standards of netiquette. This FAQ is
    intended both as an introduction for newcomers to the newsgroups and as
    a source of information for anyone exploring Middle-earth.

    The official HTML version of the FAQ is on the web at

    http://tolkien.slimy.com/faq/

    The plain text version is posted to Usenet on the 22nd of each month
    and is also available on the web, at

    http://tolkien.slimy.com/faq/TolkNgFaq.txt

    For a unified and easy to use interface to this FAQ, the Loos FAQs, and
    others, consider visiting the Tolkien Meta-FAQ, at

    http://tolkien.slimy.com/

    I would like to give my sincere thanks to the many, many people on
    the newsgroups and elsewhere who have given criticism, suggestions, and encouragement as I wrote this FAQ. This project would never have
    succeeded without their wonderful support.

    Steuard Jensen
    steuard@slimy.com ------------------------------------------------------------------------ ------------------------------------------------------------------------


    Table of Contents

    Sections/questions marked: * have been revised since the last release
    ** are new since the last release

    I. Changes Since the Last Release *

    II. Newsgroups and Netiquette

    A. Information on the Tolkien Newsgroups
    1. What newsgroups are we talking about again?
    2. Why are there two groups?
    3. Do I have to have a Ph.D. in Tolkienology to post?
    4. What questions and topics are appropriate?
    5. What does a tilde (~) in the subject mean? and
    Is it acceptable to post messages with sexual content?
    6. What common mistakes should I try to avoid?
    7. What do all the abbreviations used on the groups mean?

    B. The Basics of Netiquette
    1. What is the proper subject line for my post?
    2. What should I do when replying to an earlier article?
    For example, should I "top post" or "bottom post"?
    3. When should I "cross-post" to multiple newsgroups?
    4. I am able to post my messages with HTML formatting. Should I?
    5. If someone insults me or otherwise makes me upset, should I
    flame them back?
    6. Even if my reputation and honor are at stake?
    7. Where can I go for more information on netiquette, and on
    Usenet in general?

    III. Debates and Discussion

    A. Story External Questions
    1. What is the best order in which to read the books?
    2. What books about Middle-earth are considered "canonical"?
    3. How does /The Silmarillion/ as published differ from what
    Tolkien intended?
    4. Which are "The Two Towers"?
    5. Which books /about/ Tolkien are good, and which aren't?
    6. Is Middle-earth Medieval?
    7. Was Tolkien racist? Were his works?
    8. Are there electronic versions of Tolkien's books?
    9. Where can I report copyright violations that I observe?

    B. Story Internal Questions: Creatures and Characters
    1. Did Balrogs have wings?
    2. Could Balrogs fly?
    3. What was Tom Bombadil?
    4. Did Elves have pointed ears?
    5. Did Elves have beards?
    6. What happened to Elves after they died?
    7. Was Glorfindel of Rivendell the same as Glorfindel of Gondolin?
    8. Who was Gil-galad's father?
    9. Did Dwarf women have beards?
    10. Was there "telepathy" in Middle-earth?
    11. Did Sauron have a physical form during /The Lord of the
    Rings/? *
    12. What were the names of the Nazgul?
    13. What was Gothmog (the lieutenant of Morgul)?
    14. What was the origin of Orcs?
    15. Were Orcs immortal, and what happened to them after death?
    16. What was the relationship between Orcs and Goblins?
    17. What was the origin of Saruman's Uruk-hai?
    18. What was the origin of Trolls?
    19. What were the giants (seen by Bilbo in /The Hobbit/)?

    C. Story Internal Questions: History and Happenings
    1. Why didn't they just have an Eagle fly the Ring to Mt. Doom?
    2. Were the barrow blades magical? In what way?
    3. Why didn't the Nazgul take the Ring at Weathertop?
    4. Who killed the Witch-king, Merry or Eowyn?
    5. Did Frodo and the other mortals who passed over the Sea
    eventually die?
    6. Did Sam follow Frodo into the West?
    7. What is known about the Blue Wizards?
    8. Who was aware that a Balrog lived in Moria?
    9. Did Elves and Dwarves generally get along?
    10. Where was the Ring when Numenor was destroyed?
    11. Who was the oldest inhabitant of Middle-earth?

    IV. External Resources

    A. Where else can I find general information about Middle-earth?
    1. The Tolkien Meta-FAQ
    2. The Tolkien FAQ and LessFAQ
    3. The "FAQ of the Rings"
    4. The Letters FAQ
    5. Google's Usenet archive

    B. Where can I learn more about Tolkien's languages?

    C. Stories of Middle-earth in many forms
    1. What editions of Tolkien's books are best?
    2. What audio versions of Tolkien's books are available?
    3. What is the groups' view of the recent /Lord of the Rings/
    movies?
    4. Where can I find out about music related to Middle-earth?

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------ ------------------------------------------------------------------------

    I. CHANGES SINCE THE LAST RELEASE

    Adjusted wording of question III.B.11 about Sauron's physical form
    to emphasize the relevance of the evidence to the period of LotR.

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------ ------------------------------------------------------------------------

    II. NEWSGROUPS AND NETIQUETTE

    When discussing Tolkien (or anything else) online, it is important
    to know at least a little about the "culture" of the discussion forum
    that you are participating in. The information in this section is
    intended to give an idea of "appropriate" behavior on the Tolkien
    Usenet newsgroups. To make our discussions as enjoyable as possible,
    every participant should try to be familiar with what follows.

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------

    II.A. INFORMATION ON THE TOLKIEN NEWSGROUPS

    1. What newsgroups are we talking about again?

    There are several Usenet newsgroups specific to Tolkien and his
    works. However, the two most widely read and distributed of these are rec.arts.books.tolkien and alt.fan.tolkien, commonly abbreviated either
    r.a.b.t or RABT and a.f.t or AFT, respectively.

    The official rec.arts.books.tolkien charter can be found at

    http://tolkien.slimy.com/newsgroups/RABTcharter.txt

    Alt.fan.tolkien does not have a formal charter.
    -------

    2. Why are there two groups?

    Originally, AFT was the only Tolkien newsgroup on Usenet. RABT was
    created (when the approval vote passed on 26 Mar 1993) as a replacement
    for AFT which would be carried by a larger fraction of news servers.
    However, AFT was never removed, and both groups currently enjoy
    substantial readership. While only RABT has a formal charter (see
    question II.A.1 for reference), the two groups are virtually identical
    in intended content.

    Many participants see a tendency for RABT to be somewhat more
    "scholarly" in tone while AFT is a bit more "conversational", and some
    suggest that this distinction is useful and should be encouraged.
    Other participants draw less of a distinction between the two groups,
    and often believe that a difference in focus would be both undesirable
    and impossible to achieve. In practice, everyone decides for
    themselves how they want to treat the two groups, and most people
    generally don't complain one way or the other.
    -------

    3. Do I have to have a Ph.D. in Tolkienology to post?

    By no means! People with any amount of Tolkien "lore" are welcome
    to participate. It is advisable, however, to have read /The Hobbit/
    and /The Lord of the Rings/ before spending much time here, as
    otherwise you run the risk of many, many spoilers for both books.

    When you do participate in discussions, just use whatever Tolkien
    knowledge you have: you can have great ideas regardless of how much
    you've read. Occasionally, others will cite sources (often obscure but
    just as often authoritative) that weaken or disprove your arguments.
    When this happens (as it does to every one of us), nobody will think
    less of you for not knowing the reference; treat it as a chance to
    learn something new about Middle-earth.
    -------

    4. What questions and topics are appropriate?

    Virtually any topic related (even distantly) to Tolkien and his
    works is fair game. If you post a purely "factual" question (like "How
    many Ringwraiths were there?"), it's a good idea to explain why you're
    asking: we periodically see questions from students who hope we will do
    their homework for them, and the last thing we want to do is help
    people to avoid reading the books!

    It is appreciated if articles that have absolutely nothing to do
    with Tolkien have subject lines beginning with "OT:" ("Off Topic"). The
    Tolkien newsgroups are a sufficiently social community that threads
    often do drift away from their initial topics, and while this should
    not be discouraged, it is polite to label it when it happens. On the
    other hand, off topic discussions that get too intense or go on too
    long can interfere with others' enjoyment of the groups, and should be
    avoided.

    Binary files, such as images or sounds, are NEVER appropriate in a non-binaries newsgroup. To share a binary file with people in the
    Tolkien groups, you have two main options. One is to find an
    appropriate newsgroup in the alt.binaries.* hierarchy, post the file
    there, and then post a message here telling us where to look. Another
    (more common) method is to put the file on the Web and post the URL on
    the newsgroups.
    -------

    5. What does a tilde (~) in the subject mean? and
    Is it acceptable to post messages with sexual content?

    Articles posted to these newsgroups occasionally contain comments
    that some consider inappropriate for younger readers. After much
    discussion, most participants agreed to mark messages with /sexual/
    content with a tilde in the subject line. Individuals can then create
    killfiles to screen out such messages as desired. While not everyone
    agrees that such a system is beneficial, following this convention is
    the polite thing to do. The newsgroup charter recommends the use of
    ROT-13 "encryption" for this purpose, but this has become less common.
    -------

    6. What common mistakes should I try to avoid?

    By and large, the participants in the Tolkien newsgroups try to
    judge others based on their ideas rather than on details of grammar and
    posting style. However, there are a few types of simple mistakes that
    tend to cause some level of bias and annoyance among many group
    members, which in turn can distract them from your real message. Most
    of these are covered in the "Netiquette" section below.

    One common mistake of this type that is not related to netiquette is confusing the singular and plural forms of common Elvish words. On the
    Tolkien newsgroups, these words are so familiar that the phrase "Manwe
    is a Valar" sounds just as jarring and strange as "Finrod is an Elves."
    To reduce this problem, a list of some of the most commonly confused singular/plural pairs is given below. Note the patterns!

    Singular: Vala Maia Elda Noldo Teler Istar Adan
    Plural: Valar Maiar Eldar Noldor Teleri Istari Edain

    Another issue that arises periodically is whether or not /The Lord
    of the Rings/ should be referred to as a "trilogy". Tolkien said quite
    clearly in Letter #165 that "The book is /not/ of course a 'trilogy'",
    and some people make a point of correcting those who use the term.
    However, in Letter #252, Tolkien himself refers to "my trilogy", so
    most of us agree that using the term is an acceptable shorthand, if
    nothing else.
    -------

    7. What do all the abbreviations used on the groups mean?

    [More abbreviations can be found in section IV of the Tolkien FAQ.]

    Some names and phrases come up so frequently on the Tolkien
    newsgroups that they are often abbreviated for convenience. A few of
    the very most common are defined below; these definitions are excerpted
    from Sir Confused-a-Lot's old AFT Glossary, now online at

    http://silenceisdefeat.com/~aft-rabt/glossary/

    JRRT: John Ronald Reuel Tolkien
    ME: Middle-earth
    LotR: /The Lord of the Rings/
    FotR: /The Fellowship of the Ring/
    TT: /The Two Towers/
    RotK: /The Return of the King/
    Silm.: /The Silmarillion/
    UT: /Unfinished Tales/
    HoMe: the "History of Middle-earth" series
    Letters: /The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien/
    Narn: The "Narn I Hin Hurin" in UT
    Athrabeth: The "Athrabeth Finrod Ah Andreth" in /Morgoth's Ring/

    NG: Newsgroup
    TEUNC: "Tolkien Eccentric Unusual Nut Cases", an eGroup of
    Tolkien fans, some of whom frequent the newsgroups
    LOL: Laughing Out Loud
    ROTFL: Rolling On The Floor Laughing

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------

    II.B. THE BASICS OF NETIQUETTE

    1. What is the proper subject line for my post?

    Make sure that the "Subject:" line of your post matches the topic
    that you are discussing. Be concise, but specific: subject lines such
    as "The Lord of the Rings" or "Tolkien" give no useful information
    about the contents of your post. Note that this does not only apply to
    the first post in a thread: if you see that the subject line no longer
    matches the topic of a thread, change it when you reply! Also, follow
    the "OT:" convention for off-topic posts (mentioned in question II.A.4
    above).

    When you do change the subject line, it is polite to indicate the
    subject of the previous post. For example, "Balrog Wings" might become
    "Balrog Flight (was Balrog Wings)" and then "Eagles (was Balrog
    Flight)". This helps people follow the history of the thread.
    -------

    2. What should I do when replying to an earlier article?
    For example, should I "top post" or "bottom post"?

    First and foremost, make sure to retain the attribution of any
    quoted text, so others know who said the things you are replying to.
    Almost equally important, make sure that you trim the previous post as
    much as possible:

    * If you are replying to one specific comment in the previous
    article, delete all of the previous text except that comment. If
    the comment is at all long, try to trim it down to its essence.
    Type your reply directly beneath the quoted comment.

    * If you are replying to several distinct points individually, quote
    each one as above and type your reply immediately below it (and
    above the next point).

    * If you are replying to a long section that cannot be easily
    trimmed down (for example, an original poem or story), quote only
    its first and last lines (and perhaps put "[snip]" or "..." on a
    line in between the two). If there are particular pieces that
    you want to respond to individually, do so as described above.

    There are two general rules of thumb to follow in connection with
    the above guidelines:

    * Any article you post should have more lines of new text than lines
    of quoted text. It is generally acceptable to ignore this rule
    if the entire post (including basic headers and any signature) is
    short enough to fit on a single 24 line screen.

    * Any comments specifically replying to the previous article should
    come /below/ the relevant part of the previous article. This
    makes reading the article more like reading a conversation, and
    therefore much easier to follow.

    This obviously means that "top posting" is strongly discouraged: it
    forces readers to scroll up and down between the new and old material,
    and it usually involves quoting the entire previous post(s) untrimmed..
    Whether you call our practice "bottom posting", "middle posting", or
    "standard netiquette" is up to you.

    An example of a post that follows these guidelines can be found on
    the web at

    http://tolkien.slimy.com/newsgroups/EssayDiscuss.txt

    This long message (from a discussion of my essay on Tom Bombadil) would
    be all but impossible to follow if the point by point replies were not organized as described above.

    Finally, make sure to keep the subject line up to date, as discussed
    in question II.B.1.
    -------

    3. When should I "cross-post" to multiple newsgroups?

    Generally, you should post an article to the single most appropriate
    group: a question about /The Hobbit/ is more appropriate on rec.arts.books.tolkien than on rec.arts.books. However, there are cases
    when several groups are appropriate: a discussion of the influence of
    Tolkien's faith on his writings could be interesting to readers of both soc.religion.christian.roman-catholic and rec.arts.books.tolkien.
    (Cases in which more than two or three groups are truly appropriate are extremely rare!)

    In such cases, it is almost always better to "cross-post" the
    article to multiple groups than to post separately to each. To do
    this, list all of the relevant groups together on the "Newsgroups:"
    line, separated by commas but /no/ spaces (many posts here list
    "Newsgroups: alt.fan.tolkien,rec.arts.books.tolkien"). Cross-posting
    has several advantages, the most important being that responses to a cross-posted article are also cross-posted. That ensures that everyone involved in the discussion sees every reply.

    Some internet service providers (notably AOL) misguidedly forbid cross-posting, probably because /inappropriate/ cross-posting is very
    bad netiquette and is often used to "spam" many groups at once. If you
    have this problem, it may be better to choose just one "best" group for
    your post than to post separate copies to multiple groups.
    -------

    4. I am able to post my messages with HTML formatting. Should I?

    Generally, no. Many of us use simple text-based programs to read
    news, and posts with HTML formatting can be very difficult to read.
    You can generally turn off this behavior from the "Preferences" or
    "Options" section of your newsreader. For some newsreaders, you will
    need to change more than one setting to completely eliminate this
    behavior.
    -------

    5. If someone insults me or otherwise makes me upset, should I flame
    them back?

    No.

    6. Even if my reputation and honor are at stake?

    Feel free to post any corrections or differences in opinion that you
    feel are necessary. Feel free to indicate that you are hurt, unhappy,
    or insulted because of their comments. But by no means escalate the
    budding flame war, and try your hardest to be polite in your response:
    this tends to get the group's sentiments on your side far better than
    any exchange of name-calling ever could. People are usually fairly
    good at recognizing when someone is being terribly unfair. Yes, it is undoubtedly your right to flame if you want to, but the vast majority
    of the group would be happier if you did not.

    In general, try to give others the benefit of the doubt: with only
    text to go on, it's hard to judge their real intent. Could you have
    misread the insulting lines in their post? Could they have been
    speaking tongue in cheek? Maybe they only meant to tease you, not
    realizing that you would really be insulted. Assuming the worst is a depressing way to live one's life.

    Finally, be particularly careful not to reply to a "troll", someone
    who intentionally fishes for arguments and flames. These people seem
    to take great personal delight in inspiring people to anger or
    indignation; the best reaction to them is generally to ignore them
    altogether.
    -------

    7. Where can I go for more information on netiquette, and on Usenet in
    general?

    One of the best places to start has always been the newsgroup news.announce.newusers. This group is home to a wide range of articles
    that provide introductory information about many aspects of Usenet
    news. Unfortunately, most of these articles are no longer being posted regularly to the group. It may be more effective to read archived
    copies of them at

    ftp://rtfm.mit.edu/pub/usenet/news.announce.newusers/

    Read the "Welcome to Usenet!" article there first.

    The information on netiquette and on Usenet in general in the news.announce.newusers articles remains very relevant today, but those
    articles are several years old. More recent information on similar
    topics can be found at the web sites associated with the news.newusers.questions newsgroup. A list of these sites around the
    world can be found at

    http://users.rcn.com/kateshort/nnq/nnqlinks.html

    (among many other places).

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------ ------------------------------------------------------------------------

    III. DEBATES AND DISCUSSION

    A great many questions about Tolkien and his books arise repeatedly
    on the Tolkien newsgroups. The starting point of each debate is the
    same almost every time, and it takes a long time for the discussion to
    reach "new ground." In the worst cases, bitter and longstanding
    arguments about the basics get in the way before new progress can be
    made at all.

    The purpose of a FAQ is to avoid this problem by setting down the
    basics in a common place so that the discussion can deal with new
    issues from the start. However, it is very difficult to balance the
    need for conciseness with the need for completeness: many debates that repeatedly appear on the Tolkien newsgroups have generated very large
    amounts of "known territory."

    Keep in mind that this FAQ provides only summaries of these debates:
    many of their subtleties are omitted for the sake of brevity. Most of
    these topics have been discussed at length by many intelligent In these
    cases, it is extremely unlikely that any unambiguous "proof" of one
    position exists. With this in mind, try to be respectful toward those
    who disagree with you. To get more information on the usual content of
    common discussions, it is often helpful to browse those discussions
    themselves at the Google Groups Usenet archive (see question IV.A.5 for
    more information).

    Finally, be sure to read question III.A.2, dealing with "canonical"
    texts. This FAQ addresses only the state of Middle-earth after LotR
    was written, which corresponds roughly to the material included in the published /Silmarillion/. Details from earlier versions of the
    mythology will not be discussed in this document (and are generally
    given very limited weight in debates about the later state of the
    mythology).

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------

    III.A. STORY EXTERNAL QUESTIONS

    1. What is the best order in which to read the books?

    This depends on each person's personal preferences. Unless you
    strongly dislike stories written for children, most recommend reading
    /The Hobbit/ first. /The Lord of the Rings/ is certainly next (feel
    free to skip the Prologue if you find it dull, and after the main text
    try to read at least Appendix A.I.v, "The Tale of Aragorn and Arwen").

    If you enjoy any part of the Appendices to LotR, there are things in Tolkien's other books that you are likely to enjoy as well. Most
    suggest reading /The Children of Hurin/, /Unfinished Tales/, /The Silmarillion/, and /The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien/ next, in some order
    (perhaps that one). /The Children of Hurin/ is the only complete novel
    about Middle-earth published after Tolkien's death (although it takes
    place long before the events of LotR, it probably isn't necessary to
    read Silm. first). The stories and essays in UT can be read in any
    order, so the "Third Age" material is a good starting point for those
    coming straight from LotR (the "First Age" stories are excellent, but
    are easier to follow after reading Silm.; the other parts of UT are
    mostly accessible to those who have read LotR and its appendices).
    Many people find the early parts of Silm. slow to read (like a history
    book or the Bible), but it is often a favorite among those who have
    read it. /Letters/ contains insights into both Middle-earth and Tolkien
    as a person.

    For more details (and more books), try getting a personalized
    recommendation from the Custom Tolkien Book List, on the web at

    http://tolkien.slimy.com/books.html

    (This URL redirects to the longer and messier URL of the actual list.)
    -------

    2. What books about Middle-earth are considered "canonical"?

    [I have written an essay on this topic, including general observations
    and my own approach. It is on the web at: http://tolkien.slimy.com/essays/TolkParish.html.]

    As the term is used on the Tolkien newsgroups, a "canonical" text is
    one which is believed to provide authoritative information about
    Middle-earth. This concept is more subtle than it may appear at first
    glance, in part because most of Tolkien's mythology remained incomplete
    when he died. Books or even individual chapters or essays may be
    regarded as more or less "trustworthy" than others, and many people
    reject the idea that there is a single "true" Middle-earth entirely.

    Among those who accept the concept of "canon" to at least some
    degree, almost all agree that /The Lord of the Rings/ is a canonical
    text and most assign equal or near equal weight to /The Hobbit/ (the
    other books about Middle-earth published in Tolkien's lifetime are
    treated similarly). However, due to heavy and unmarked posthumous
    editing, /The Silmarillion/ is considered by many /not/ to be canonical
    (see question III.A.3 for details).

    People put various amounts of trust in the many drafts and essays in /Unfinished Tales/ and the "History of Middle-earth" series. In cases
    where Tolkien's intent seems particularly stable and clear, some trust
    these sources almost as much as /The Hobbit/ and LotR themselves. In
    practice, this means that most of the more trustworthy material is
    found in /Unfinished Tales/ and in volumes X-XII of the HoMe series.
    Opinions on how much to trust /The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien/ are
    mixed, but its contents are generally respected as long as they are not contradicted by other (more canonical) texts. The pictures in /J.R.R.
    Tolkien: Artist and Illustrator/ by Wayne Hammond and Christina Scull
    may also be considered somewhat canonical.

    It is important to note that many aspects of Middle-earth changed substantially over the course of Tolkien's life. Because of this,
    facts taken from the early versions of the mythology can be misleading
    or just plain wrong when used to draw conclusions about LotR or later
    versions of the mythology. This means that while the early versions
    can provide valuable hints about Tolkien's thoughts on an issue, they
    are rarely considered to provide definitive evidence for any position.

    The Custom Tolkien Book List (mentioned in question III.A.1)
    includes my own perspective on the "canonicity" of each section of each
    book in the list. While those are just one person's opinions, they are
    fairly typical. A static version of the list in publication order can
    be found on the web at

    http://tolkien.slimy.com/publist.html

    That static list still contains a link to the customizable version.
    -------

    3. How does /The Silmarillion/ as published differ from what Tolkien
    intended?

    This is a complicated question that is essentially unanswerable:
    despite his lifelong effort, Tolkien never came close to completing
    /The Silmarillion/. At Tolkien's request, after his death his son
    Christopher (with some help from Guy Kay) worked to "bring the work
    into publishable form"; Christopher discusses the difficulties involved
    in the book's Foreword. To understand why /The Silmarillion/ took the
    form that it did (and why it is rarely considered "canonical", as
    mentioned in question III.A.2), it is worth exploring those editorial
    changes. The full story can be found in the "History of Middle-earth"
    books, particularly /Morgoth's Ring/ and /The War of the Jewels/
    (volumes X-XI).

    The most basic editorial decision was which writings to include in
    the book at all. The "Quenta Silmarillion" is of course the central
    text, but Tolkien also wrote numerous associated stories and essays.
    Charles Noad explored this question as part of his essay "On the
    Construction of 'The Silmarillion'" (published in /Tolkien's
    Legendarium/; see question III.A.5), where he suggests an "outline for
    'The Silmarillion' as Tolkien may have intended it". In addition to the
    texts in the published book, Noad includes expanded versions of four
    stories: "The Lay of Leithian" (possibly in poetic form), "Narn i Chin
    Hurin", "The Fall of Gondolin", and "Earendil the Wanderer" (which
    Tolkien never even fully sketched). He also includes five
    "Appendices": writings about Middle-earth and its inhabitants such as
    "Laws and Customs among the Eldar" and the "Athrabeth Finrod ah
    Andreth" (most of these were published in HoMe X-XI). Sadly, a book
    with this outline could never be made satisfying with just the texts
    that Tolkien left us.

    Moving on to the texts that were actually included in /The
    Silmarillion/ as published, there were three types of problems to
    overcome. In the worst cases, there were crucial gaps in the narrative
    where Tolkien had never written more than an outline of the story (or
    where the most recent version was hopelessly outdated). Much more
    frequently, Tolkien's years of revisions led to factual inconsistencies
    between stories written at various times (especially between writings
    before and after /The Lord of the Rings/). And finally, Tolkien's
    writings differed markedly in tone, ranging from vivid narratives to
    terse annals to philosophical essays. To assemble a single text,
    consistent in style and detail, from such a range of source material
    clearly required substantial editing.

    Despite that pessimistic assessment, the vast majority of the
    published /Silmarillion/ is taken directly from Tolkien's work and
    seems to come quite close to what he intended, as far as it goes. (None
    of the "expanded" tales were ever completed, but what exists of them
    can be found for the most part in /Unfinished Tales/, /The Lays of
    Beleriand/, and the other "History of Middle-earth" books mentioned
    above.) Still, mild editing is not uncommon, and can be difficult to
    identify even by comparison to the source texts as published in HoMe.
    Thus, /The Silmarillion/ is often not treated as a final authority in
    scholarly discussions of Middle-earth. (A classic example is its
    mistaken ancestry of Gil-galad, as discussed in question III.B.8.)

    The greatest concern, of course, comes from those few cases where
    large gaps had to be filled by the editors. This happened to some
    extent for "Of Tuor and the Fall of Gondolin" and "Of the Voyage of
    Earendil and the War of Wrath", but the most substantial editorial
    "invention" came in the chapter "Of the Ruin of Doriath". The episode

    [continued in next message]

    --- SoupGate-Win32 v1.05
    * Origin: fsxNet Usenet Gateway (21:1/5)
  • From Steuard Jensen@21:1/5 to All on Thu May 21 23:14:01 2020
    XPost: alt.fan.tolkien

    Posted-By: auto-faq 3.3.1 (Perl 5.020)
    Posting-Frequency: monthly
    URL: http://tolkien.slimy.com/

    TOLKIEN NEWSGROUPS FAQ

    Copyright (C) 1999-2012 by Steuard Jensen

    (Created 17 Aug 1999)
    (Last updated 11 Mar 2012)



    For many years, the Tolkien Usenet newsgroups have been home to a
    pair of excellent Frequently Asked Questions lists about Tolkien and Middle-earth, compiled by William D. B. Loos. These sources contain a
    wealth of information, but are no longer maintained (the last update
    seems to have been in July 1996). This means that quite a few issues
    of current interest to the groups are not fully addressed in those
    documents.

    This FAQ supplements, updates, and expands on the earlier ones,
    though it is not meant to replace them entirely. It includes new and
    corrected information on some of the old discussions, numerous entries
    on topics not covered in the older FAQs, and a broad discussion of the
    Tolkien newsgroups and common standards of netiquette. This FAQ is
    intended both as an introduction for newcomers to the newsgroups and as
    a source of information for anyone exploring Middle-earth.

    The official HTML version of the FAQ is on the web at

    http://tolkien.slimy.com/faq/

    The plain text version is posted to Usenet on the 22nd of each month
    and is also available on the web, at

    http://tolkien.slimy.com/faq/TolkNgFaq.txt

    For a unified and easy to use interface to this FAQ, the Loos FAQs, and
    others, consider visiting the Tolkien Meta-FAQ, at

    http://tolkien.slimy.com/

    I would like to give my sincere thanks to the many, many people on
    the newsgroups and elsewhere who have given criticism, suggestions, and encouragement as I wrote this FAQ. This project would never have
    succeeded without their wonderful support.

    Steuard Jensen
    steuard@slimy.com ------------------------------------------------------------------------ ------------------------------------------------------------------------


    Table of Contents

    Sections/questions marked: * have been revised since the last release
    ** are new since the last release

    I. Changes Since the Last Release *

    II. Newsgroups and Netiquette

    A. Information on the Tolkien Newsgroups
    1. What newsgroups are we talking about again?
    2. Why are there two groups?
    3. Do I have to have a Ph.D. in Tolkienology to post?
    4. What questions and topics are appropriate?
    5. What does a tilde (~) in the subject mean? and
    Is it acceptable to post messages with sexual content?
    6. What common mistakes should I try to avoid?
    7. What do all the abbreviations used on the groups mean?

    B. The Basics of Netiquette
    1. What is the proper subject line for my post?
    2. What should I do when replying to an earlier article?
    For example, should I "top post" or "bottom post"?
    3. When should I "cross-post" to multiple newsgroups?
    4. I am able to post my messages with HTML formatting. Should I?
    5. If someone insults me or otherwise makes me upset, should I
    flame them back?
    6. Even if my reputation and honor are at stake?
    7. Where can I go for more information on netiquette, and on
    Usenet in general?

    III. Debates and Discussion

    A. Story External Questions
    1. What is the best order in which to read the books?
    2. What books about Middle-earth are considered "canonical"?
    3. How does /The Silmarillion/ as published differ from what
    Tolkien intended?
    4. Which are "The Two Towers"?
    5. Which books /about/ Tolkien are good, and which aren't?
    6. Is Middle-earth Medieval?
    7. Was Tolkien racist? Were his works?
    8. Are there electronic versions of Tolkien's books?
    9. Where can I report copyright violations that I observe?

    B. Story Internal Questions: Creatures and Characters
    1. Did Balrogs have wings?
    2. Could Balrogs fly?
    3. What was Tom Bombadil?
    4. Did Elves have pointed ears?
    5. Did Elves have beards?
    6. What happened to Elves after they died?
    7. Was Glorfindel of Rivendell the same as Glorfindel of Gondolin?
    8. Who was Gil-galad's father?
    9. Did Dwarf women have beards?
    10. Was there "telepathy" in Middle-earth?
    11. Did Sauron have a physical form during /The Lord of the
    Rings/? *
    12. What were the names of the Nazgul?
    13. What was Gothmog (the lieutenant of Morgul)?
    14. What was the origin of Orcs?
    15. Were Orcs immortal, and what happened to them after death?
    16. What was the relationship between Orcs and Goblins?
    17. What was the origin of Saruman's Uruk-hai?
    18. What was the origin of Trolls?
    19. What were the giants (seen by Bilbo in /The Hobbit/)?

    C. Story Internal Questions: History and Happenings
    1. Why didn't they just have an Eagle fly the Ring to Mt. Doom?
    2. Were the barrow blades magical? In what way?
    3. Why didn't the Nazgul take the Ring at Weathertop?
    4. Who killed the Witch-king, Merry or Eowyn?
    5. Did Frodo and the other mortals who passed over the Sea
    eventually die?
    6. Did Sam follow Frodo into the West?
    7. What is known about the Blue Wizards?
    8. Who was aware that a Balrog lived in Moria?
    9. Did Elves and Dwarves generally get along?
    10. Where was the Ring when Numenor was destroyed?
    11. Who was the oldest inhabitant of Middle-earth?

    IV. External Resources

    A. Where else can I find general information about Middle-earth?
    1. The Tolkien Meta-FAQ
    2. The Tolkien FAQ and LessFAQ
    3. The "FAQ of the Rings"
    4. The Letters FAQ
    5. Google's Usenet archive

    B. Where can I learn more about Tolkien's languages?

    C. Stories of Middle-earth in many forms
    1. What editions of Tolkien's books are best?
    2. What audio versions of Tolkien's books are available?
    3. What is the groups' view of the recent /Lord of the Rings/
    movies?
    4. Where can I find out about music related to Middle-earth?

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------ ------------------------------------------------------------------------

    I. CHANGES SINCE THE LAST RELEASE

    Adjusted wording of question III.B.11 about Sauron's physical form
    to emphasize the relevance of the evidence to the period of LotR.

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------ ------------------------------------------------------------------------

    II. NEWSGROUPS AND NETIQUETTE

    When discussing Tolkien (or anything else) online, it is important
    to know at least a little about the "culture" of the discussion forum
    that you are participating in. The information in this section is
    intended to give an idea of "appropriate" behavior on the Tolkien
    Usenet newsgroups. To make our discussions as enjoyable as possible,
    every participant should try to be familiar with what follows.

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------

    II.A. INFORMATION ON THE TOLKIEN NEWSGROUPS

    1. What newsgroups are we talking about again?

    There are several Usenet newsgroups specific to Tolkien and his
    works. However, the two most widely read and distributed of these are rec.arts.books.tolkien and alt.fan.tolkien, commonly abbreviated either
    r.a.b.t or RABT and a.f.t or AFT, respectively.

    The official rec.arts.books.tolkien charter can be found at

    http://tolkien.slimy.com/newsgroups/RABTcharter.txt

    Alt.fan.tolkien does not have a formal charter.
    -------

    2. Why are there two groups?

    Originally, AFT was the only Tolkien newsgroup on Usenet. RABT was
    created (when the approval vote passed on 26 Mar 1993) as a replacement
    for AFT which would be carried by a larger fraction of news servers.
    However, AFT was never removed, and both groups currently enjoy
    substantial readership. While only RABT has a formal charter (see
    question II.A.1 for reference), the two groups are virtually identical
    in intended content.

    Many participants see a tendency for RABT to be somewhat more
    "scholarly" in tone while AFT is a bit more "conversational", and some
    suggest that this distinction is useful and should be encouraged.
    Other participants draw less of a distinction between the two groups,
    and often believe that a difference in focus would be both undesirable
    and impossible to achieve. In practice, everyone decides for
    themselves how they want to treat the two groups, and most people
    generally don't complain one way or the other.
    -------

    3. Do I have to have a Ph.D. in Tolkienology to post?

    By no means! People with any amount of Tolkien "lore" are welcome
    to participate. It is advisable, however, to have read /The Hobbit/
    and /The Lord of the Rings/ before spending much time here, as
    otherwise you run the risk of many, many spoilers for both books.

    When you do participate in discussions, just use whatever Tolkien
    knowledge you have: you can have great ideas regardless of how much
    you've read. Occasionally, others will cite sources (often obscure but
    just as often authoritative) that weaken or disprove your arguments.
    When this happens (as it does to every one of us), nobody will think
    less of you for not knowing the reference; treat it as a chance to
    learn something new about Middle-earth.
    -------

    4. What questions and topics are appropriate?

    Virtually any topic related (even distantly) to Tolkien and his
    works is fair game. If you post a purely "factual" question (like "How
    many Ringwraiths were there?"), it's a good idea to explain why you're
    asking: we periodically see questions from students who hope we will do
    their homework for them, and the last thing we want to do is help
    people to avoid reading the books!

    It is appreciated if articles that have absolutely nothing to do
    with Tolkien have subject lines beginning with "OT:" ("Off Topic"). The
    Tolkien newsgroups are a sufficiently social community that threads
    often do drift away from their initial topics, and while this should
    not be discouraged, it is polite to label it when it happens. On the
    other hand, off topic discussions that get too intense or go on too
    long can interfere with others' enjoyment of the groups, and should be
    avoided.

    Binary files, such as images or sounds, are NEVER appropriate in a non-binaries newsgroup. To share a binary file with people in the
    Tolkien groups, you have two main options. One is to find an
    appropriate newsgroup in the alt.binaries.* hierarchy, post the file
    there, and then post a message here telling us where to look. Another
    (more common) method is to put the file on the Web and post the URL on
    the newsgroups.
    -------

    5. What does a tilde (~) in the subject mean? and
    Is it acceptable to post messages with sexual content?

    Articles posted to these newsgroups occasionally contain comments
    that some consider inappropriate for younger readers. After much
    discussion, most participants agreed to mark messages with /sexual/
    content with a tilde in the subject line. Individuals can then create
    killfiles to screen out such messages as desired. While not everyone
    agrees that such a system is beneficial, following this convention is
    the polite thing to do. The newsgroup charter recommends the use of
    ROT-13 "encryption" for this purpose, but this has become less common.
    -------

    6. What common mistakes should I try to avoid?

    By and large, the participants in the Tolkien newsgroups try to
    judge others based on their ideas rather than on details of grammar and
    posting style. However, there are a few types of simple mistakes that
    tend to cause some level of bias and annoyance among many group
    members, which in turn can distract them from your real message. Most
    of these are covered in the "Netiquette" section below.

    One common mistake of this type that is not related to netiquette is confusing the singular and plural forms of common Elvish words. On the
    Tolkien newsgroups, these words are so familiar that the phrase "Manwe
    is a Valar" sounds just as jarring and strange as "Finrod is an Elves."
    To reduce this problem, a list of some of the most commonly confused singular/plural pairs is given below. Note the patterns!

    Singular: Vala Maia Elda Noldo Teler Istar Adan
    Plural: Valar Maiar Eldar Noldor Teleri Istari Edain

    Another issue that arises periodically is whether or not /The Lord
    of the Rings/ should be referred to as a "trilogy". Tolkien said quite
    clearly in Letter #165 that "The book is /not/ of course a 'trilogy'",
    and some people make a point of correcting those who use the term.
    However, in Letter #252, Tolkien himself refers to "my trilogy", so
    most of us agree that using the term is an acceptable shorthand, if
    nothing else.
    -------

    7. What do all the abbreviations used on the groups mean?

    [More abbreviations can be found in section IV of the Tolkien FAQ.]

    Some names and phrases come up so frequently on the Tolkien
    newsgroups that they are often abbreviated for convenience. A few of
    the very most common are defined below; these definitions are excerpted
    from Sir Confused-a-Lot's old AFT Glossary, now online at

    http://silenceisdefeat.com/~aft-rabt/glossary/

    JRRT: John Ronald Reuel Tolkien
    ME: Middle-earth
    LotR: /The Lord of the Rings/
    FotR: /The Fellowship of the Ring/
    TT: /The Two Towers/
    RotK: /The Return of the King/
    Silm.: /The Silmarillion/
    UT: /Unfinished Tales/
    HoMe: the "History of Middle-earth" series
    Letters: /The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien/
    Narn: The "Narn I Hin Hurin" in UT
    Athrabeth: The "Athrabeth Finrod Ah Andreth" in /Morgoth's Ring/

    NG: Newsgroup
    TEUNC: "Tolkien Eccentric Unusual Nut Cases", an eGroup of
    Tolkien fans, some of whom frequent the newsgroups
    LOL: Laughing Out Loud
    ROTFL: Rolling On The Floor Laughing

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------

    II.B. THE BASICS OF NETIQUETTE

    1. What is the proper subject line for my post?

    Make sure that the "Subject:" line of your post matches the topic
    that you are discussing. Be concise, but specific: subject lines such
    as "The Lord of the Rings" or "Tolkien" give no useful information
    about the contents of your post. Note that this does not only apply to
    the first post in a thread: if you see that the subject line no longer
    matches the topic of a thread, change it when you reply! Also, follow
    the "OT:" convention for off-topic posts (mentioned in question II.A.4
    above).

    When you do change the subject line, it is polite to indicate the
    subject of the previous post. For example, "Balrog Wings" might become
    "Balrog Flight (was Balrog Wings)" and then "Eagles (was Balrog
    Flight)". This helps people follow the history of the thread.
    -------

    2. What should I do when replying to an earlier article?
    For example, should I "top post" or "bottom post"?

    First and foremost, make sure to retain the attribution of any
    quoted text, so others know who said the things you are replying to.
    Almost equally important, make sure that you trim the previous post as
    much as possible:

    * If you are replying to one specific comment in the previous
    article, delete all of the previous text except that comment. If
    the comment is at all long, try to trim it down to its essence.
    Type your reply directly beneath the quoted comment.

    * If you are replying to several distinct points individually, quote
    each one as above and type your reply immediately below it (and
    above the next point).

    * If you are replying to a long section that cannot be easily
    trimmed down (for example, an original poem or story), quote only
    its first and last lines (and perhaps put "[snip]" or "..." on a
    line in between the two). If there are particular pieces that
    you want to respond to individually, do so as described above.

    There are two general rules of thumb to follow in connection with
    the above guidelines:

    * Any article you post should have more lines of new text than lines
    of quoted text. It is generally acceptable to ignore this rule
    if the entire post (including basic headers and any signature) is
    short enough to fit on a single 24 line screen.

    * Any comments specifically replying to the previous article should
    come /below/ the relevant part of the previous article. This
    makes reading the article more like reading a conversation, and
    therefore much easier to follow.

    This obviously means that "top posting" is strongly discouraged: it
    forces readers to scroll up and down between the new and old material,
    and it usually involves quoting the entire previous post(s) untrimmed..
    Whether you call our practice "bottom posting", "middle posting", or
    "standard netiquette" is up to you.

    An example of a post that follows these guidelines can be found on
    the web at

    http://tolkien.slimy.com/newsgroups/EssayDiscuss.txt

    This long message (from a discussion of my essay on Tom Bombadil) would
    be all but impossible to follow if the point by point replies were not organized as described above.

    Finally, make sure to keep the subject line up to date, as discussed
    in question II.B.1.
    -------

    3. When should I "cross-post" to multiple newsgroups?

    Generally, you should post an article to the single most appropriate
    group: a question about /The Hobbit/ is more appropriate on rec.arts.books.tolkien than on rec.arts.books. However, there are cases
    when several groups are appropriate: a discussion of the influence of
    Tolkien's faith on his writings could be interesting to readers of both soc.religion.christian.roman-catholic and rec.arts.books.tolkien.
    (Cases in which more than two or three groups are truly appropriate are extremely rare!)

    In such cases, it is almost always better to "cross-post" the
    article to multiple groups than to post separately to each. To do
    this, list all of the relevant groups together on the "Newsgroups:"
    line, separated by commas but /no/ spaces (many posts here list
    "Newsgroups: alt.fan.tolkien,rec.arts.books.tolkien"). Cross-posting
    has several advantages, the most important being that responses to a cross-posted article are also cross-posted. That ensures that everyone involved in the discussion sees every reply.

    Some internet service providers (notably AOL) misguidedly forbid cross-posting, probably because /inappropriate/ cross-posting is very
    bad netiquette and is often used to "spam" many groups at once. If you
    have this problem, it may be better to choose just one "best" group for
    your post than to post separate copies to multiple groups.
    -------

    4. I am able to post my messages with HTML formatting. Should I?

    Generally, no. Many of us use simple text-based programs to read
    news, and posts with HTML formatting can be very difficult to read.
    You can generally turn off this behavior from the "Preferences" or
    "Options" section of your newsreader. For some newsreaders, you will
    need to change more than one setting to completely eliminate this
    behavior.
    -------

    5. If someone insults me or otherwise makes me upset, should I flame
    them back?

    No.

    6. Even if my reputation and honor are at stake?

    Feel free to post any corrections or differences in opinion that you
    feel are necessary. Feel free to indicate that you are hurt, unhappy,
    or insulted because of their comments. But by no means escalate the
    budding flame war, and try your hardest to be polite in your response:
    this tends to get the group's sentiments on your side far better than
    any exchange of name-calling ever could. People are usually fairly
    good at recognizing when someone is being terribly unfair. Yes, it is undoubtedly your right to flame if you want to, but the vast majority
    of the group would be happier if you did not.

    In general, try to give others the benefit of the doubt: with only
    text to go on, it's hard to judge their real intent. Could you have
    misread the insulting lines in their post? Could they have been
    speaking tongue in cheek? Maybe they only meant to tease you, not
    realizing that you would really be insulted. Assuming the worst is a depressing way to live one's life.

    Finally, be particularly careful not to reply to a "troll", someone
    who intentionally fishes for arguments and flames. These people seem
    to take great personal delight in inspiring people to anger or
    indignation; the best reaction to them is generally to ignore them
    altogether.
    -------

    7. Where can I go for more information on netiquette, and on Usenet in
    general?

    One of the best places to start has always been the newsgroup news.announce.newusers. This group is home to a wide range of articles
    that provide introductory information about many aspects of Usenet
    news. Unfortunately, most of these articles are no longer being posted regularly to the group. It may be more effective to read archived
    copies of them at

    ftp://rtfm.mit.edu/pub/usenet/news.announce.newusers/

    Read the "Welcome to Usenet!" article there first.

    The information on netiquette and on Usenet in general in the news.announce.newusers articles remains very relevant today, but those
    articles are several years old. More recent information on similar
    topics can be found at the web sites associated with the news.newusers.questions newsgroup. A list of these sites around the
    world can be found at

    http://users.rcn.com/kateshort/nnq/nnqlinks.html

    (among many other places).

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------ ------------------------------------------------------------------------

    III. DEBATES AND DISCUSSION

    A great many questions about Tolkien and his books arise repeatedly
    on the Tolkien newsgroups. The starting point of each debate is the
    same almost every time, and it takes a long time for the discussion to
    reach "new ground." In the worst cases, bitter and longstanding
    arguments about the basics get in the way before new progress can be
    made at all.

    The purpose of a FAQ is to avoid this problem by setting down the
    basics in a common place so that the discussion can deal with new
    issues from the start. However, it is very difficult to balance the
    need for conciseness with the need for completeness: many debates that repeatedly appear on the Tolkien newsgroups have generated very large
    amounts of "known territory."

    Keep in mind that this FAQ provides only summaries of these debates:
    many of their subtleties are omitted for the sake of brevity. Most of
    these topics have been discussed at length by many intelligent In these
    cases, it is extremely unlikely that any unambiguous "proof" of one
    position exists. With this in mind, try to be respectful toward those
    who disagree with you. To get more information on the usual content of
    common discussions, it is often helpful to browse those discussions
    themselves at the Google Groups Usenet archive (see question IV.A.5 for
    more information).

    Finally, be sure to read question III.A.2, dealing with "canonical"
    texts. This FAQ addresses only the state of Middle-earth after LotR
    was written, which corresponds roughly to the material included in the published /Silmarillion/. Details from earlier versions of the
    mythology will not be discussed in this document (and are generally
    given very limited weight in debates about the later state of the
    mythology).

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------

    III.A. STORY EXTERNAL QUESTIONS

    1. What is the best order in which to read the books?

    This depends on each person's personal preferences. Unless you
    strongly dislike stories written for children, most recommend reading
    /The Hobbit/ first. /The Lord of the Rings/ is certainly next (feel
    free to skip the Prologue if you find it dull, and after the main text
    try to read at least Appendix A.I.v, "The Tale of Aragorn and Arwen").

    If you enjoy any part of the Appendices to LotR, there are things in Tolkien's other books that you are likely to enjoy as well. Most
    suggest reading /The Children of Hurin/, /Unfinished Tales/, /The Silmarillion/, and /The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien/ next, in some order
    (perhaps that one). /The Children of Hurin/ is the only complete novel
    about Middle-earth published after Tolkien's death (although it takes
    place long before the events of LotR, it probably isn't necessary to
    read Silm. first). The stories and essays in UT can be read in any
    order, so the "Third Age" material is a good starting point for those
    coming straight from LotR (the "First Age" stories are excellent, but
    are easier to follow after reading Silm.; the other parts of UT are
    mostly accessible to those who have read LotR and its appendices).
    Many people find the early parts of Silm. slow to read (like a history
    book or the Bible), but it is often a favorite among those who have
    read it. /Letters/ contains insights into both Middle-earth and Tolkien
    as a person.

    For more details (and more books), try getting a personalized
    recommendation from the Custom Tolkien Book List, on the web at

    http://tolkien.slimy.com/books.html

    (This URL redirects to the longer and messier URL of the actual list.)
    -------

    2. What books about Middle-earth are considered "canonical"?

    [I have written an essay on this topic, including general observations
    and my own approach. It is on the web at: http://tolkien.slimy.com/essays/TolkParish.html.]

    As the term is used on the Tolkien newsgroups, a "canonical" text is
    one which is believed to provide authoritative information about
    Middle-earth. This concept is more subtle than it may appear at first
    glance, in part because most of Tolkien's mythology remained incomplete
    when he died. Books or even individual chapters or essays may be
    regarded as more or less "trustworthy" than others, and many people
    reject the idea that there is a single "true" Middle-earth entirely.

    Among those who accept the concept of "canon" to at least some
    degree, almost all agree that /The Lord of the Rings/ is a canonical
    text and most assign equal or near equal weight to /The Hobbit/ (the
    other books about Middle-earth published in Tolkien's lifetime are
    treated similarly). However, due to heavy and unmarked posthumous
    editing, /The Silmarillion/ is considered by many /not/ to be canonical
    (see question III.A.3 for details).

    People put various amounts of trust in the many drafts and essays in /Unfinished Tales/ and the "History of Middle-earth" series. In cases
    where Tolkien's intent seems particularly stable and clear, some trust
    these sources almost as much as /The Hobbit/ and LotR themselves. In
    practice, this means that most of the more trustworthy material is
    found in /Unfinished Tales/ and in volumes X-XII of the HoMe series.
    Opinions on how much to trust /The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien/ are
    mixed, but its contents are generally respected as long as they are not contradicted by other (more canonical) texts. The pictures in /J.R.R.
    Tolkien: Artist and Illustrator/ by Wayne Hammond and Christina Scull
    may also be considered somewhat canonical.

    It is important to note that many aspects of Middle-earth changed substantially over the course of Tolkien's life. Because of this,
    facts taken from the early versions of the mythology can be misleading
    or just plain wrong when used to draw conclusions about LotR or later
    versions of the mythology. This means that while the early versions
    can provide valuable hints about Tolkien's thoughts on an issue, they
    are rarely considered to provide definitive evidence for any position.

    The Custom Tolkien Book List (mentioned in question III.A.1)
    includes my own perspective on the "canonicity" of each section of each
    book in the list. While those are just one person's opinions, they are
    fairly typical. A static version of the list in publication order can
    be found on the web at

    http://tolkien.slimy.com/publist.html

    That static list still contains a link to the customizable version.
    -------

    3. How does /The Silmarillion/ as published differ from what Tolkien
    intended?

    This is a complicated question that is essentially unanswerable:
    despite his lifelong effort, Tolkien never came close to completing
    /The Silmarillion/. At Tolkien's request, after his death his son
    Christopher (with some help from Guy Kay) worked to "bring the work
    into publishable form"; Christopher discusses the difficulties involved
    in the book's Foreword. To understand why /The Silmarillion/ took the
    form that it did (and why it is rarely considered "canonical", as
    mentioned in question III.A.2), it is worth exploring those editorial
    changes. The full story can be found in the "History of Middle-earth"
    books, particularly /Morgoth's Ring/ and /The War of the Jewels/
    (volumes X-XI).

    The most basic editorial decision was which writings to include in
    the book at all. The "Quenta Silmarillion" is of course the central
    text, but Tolkien also wrote numerous associated stories and essays.
    Charles Noad explored this question as part of his essay "On the
    Construction of 'The Silmarillion'" (published in /Tolkien's
    Legendarium/; see question III.A.5), where he suggests an "outline for
    'The Silmarillion' as Tolkien may have intended it". In addition to the
    texts in the published book, Noad includes expanded versions of four
    stories: "The Lay of Leithian" (possibly in poetic form), "Narn i Chin
    Hurin", "The Fall of Gondolin", and "Earendil the Wanderer" (which
    Tolkien never even fully sketched). He also includes five
    "Appendices": writings about Middle-earth and its inhabitants such as
    "Laws and Customs among the Eldar" and the "Athrabeth Finrod ah
    Andreth" (most of these were published in HoMe X-XI). Sadly, a book
    with this outline could never be made satisfying with just the texts
    that Tolkien left us.

    Moving on to the texts that were actually included in /The
    Silmarillion/ as published, there were three types of problems to
    overcome. In the worst cases, there were crucial gaps in the narrative
    where Tolkien had never written more than an outline of the story (or
    where the most recent version was hopelessly outdated). Much more
    frequently, Tolkien's years of revisions led to factual inconsistencies
    between stories written at various times (especially between writings
    before and after /The Lord of the Rings/). And finally, Tolkien's
    writings differed markedly in tone, ranging from vivid narratives to
    terse annals to philosophical essays. To assemble a single text,
    consistent in style and detail, from such a range of source material
    clearly required substantial editing.

    Despite that pessimistic assessment, the vast majority of the
    published /Silmarillion/ is taken directly from Tolkien's work and
    seems to come quite close to what he intended, as far as it goes. (None
    of the "expanded" tales were ever completed, but what exists of them
    can be found for the most part in /Unfinished Tales/, /The Lays of
    Beleriand/, and the other "History of Middle-earth" books mentioned
    above.) Still, mild editing is not uncommon, and can be difficult to
    identify even by comparison to the source texts as published in HoMe.
    Thus, /The Silmarillion/ is often not treated as a final authority in
    scholarly discussions of Middle-earth. (A classic example is its
    mistaken ancestry of Gil-galad, as discussed in question III.B.8.)

    The greatest concern, of course, comes from those few cases where
    large gaps had to be filled by the editors. This happened to some
    extent for "Of Tuor and the Fall of Gondolin" and "Of the Voyage of
    Earendil and the War of Wrath", but the most substantial editorial
    "invention" came in the chapter "Of the Ruin of Doriath". The episode

    [continued in next message]

    --- SoupGate-Win32 v1.05
    * Origin: fsxNet Usenet Gateway (21:1/5)
  • From Steuard Jensen@21:1/5 to All on Sun Jun 21 23:14:01 2020
    XPost: alt.fan.tolkien

    Posted-By: auto-faq 3.3.1 (Perl 5.020)
    Posting-Frequency: monthly
    URL: http://tolkien.slimy.com/

    TOLKIEN NEWSGROUPS FAQ

    Copyright (C) 1999-2012 by Steuard Jensen

    (Created 17 Aug 1999)
    (Last updated 11 Mar 2012)



    For many years, the Tolkien Usenet newsgroups have been home to a
    pair of excellent Frequently Asked Questions lists about Tolkien and Middle-earth, compiled by William D. B. Loos. These sources contain a
    wealth of information, but are no longer maintained (the last update
    seems to have been in July 1996). This means that quite a few issues
    of current interest to the groups are not fully addressed in those
    documents.

    This FAQ supplements, updates, and expands on the earlier ones,
    though it is not meant to replace them entirely. It includes new and
    corrected information on some of the old discussions, numerous entries
    on topics not covered in the older FAQs, and a broad discussion of the
    Tolkien newsgroups and common standards of netiquette. This FAQ is
    intended both as an introduction for newcomers to the newsgroups and as
    a source of information for anyone exploring Middle-earth.

    The official HTML version of the FAQ is on the web at

    http://tolkien.slimy.com/faq/

    The plain text version is posted to Usenet on the 22nd of each month
    and is also available on the web, at

    http://tolkien.slimy.com/faq/TolkNgFaq.txt

    For a unified and easy to use interface to this FAQ, the Loos FAQs, and
    others, consider visiting the Tolkien Meta-FAQ, at

    http://tolkien.slimy.com/

    I would like to give my sincere thanks to the many, many people on
    the newsgroups and elsewhere who have given criticism, suggestions, and encouragement as I wrote this FAQ. This project would never have
    succeeded without their wonderful support.

    Steuard Jensen
    steuard@slimy.com ------------------------------------------------------------------------ ------------------------------------------------------------------------


    Table of Contents

    Sections/questions marked: * have been revised since the last release
    ** are new since the last release

    I. Changes Since the Last Release *

    II. Newsgroups and Netiquette

    A. Information on the Tolkien Newsgroups
    1. What newsgroups are we talking about again?
    2. Why are there two groups?
    3. Do I have to have a Ph.D. in Tolkienology to post?
    4. What questions and topics are appropriate?
    5. What does a tilde (~) in the subject mean? and
    Is it acceptable to post messages with sexual content?
    6. What common mistakes should I try to avoid?
    7. What do all the abbreviations used on the groups mean?

    B. The Basics of Netiquette
    1. What is the proper subject line for my post?
    2. What should I do when replying to an earlier article?
    For example, should I "top post" or "bottom post"?
    3. When should I "cross-post" to multiple newsgroups?
    4. I am able to post my messages with HTML formatting. Should I?
    5. If someone insults me or otherwise makes me upset, should I
    flame them back?
    6. Even if my reputation and honor are at stake?
    7. Where can I go for more information on netiquette, and on
    Usenet in general?

    III. Debates and Discussion

    A. Story External Questions
    1. What is the best order in which to read the books?
    2. What books about Middle-earth are considered "canonical"?
    3. How does /The Silmarillion/ as published differ from what
    Tolkien intended?
    4. Which are "The Two Towers"?
    5. Which books /about/ Tolkien are good, and which aren't?
    6. Is Middle-earth Medieval?
    7. Was Tolkien racist? Were his works?
    8. Are there electronic versions of Tolkien's books?
    9. Where can I report copyright violations that I observe?

    B. Story Internal Questions: Creatures and Characters
    1. Did Balrogs have wings?
    2. Could Balrogs fly?
    3. What was Tom Bombadil?
    4. Did Elves have pointed ears?
    5. Did Elves have beards?
    6. What happened to Elves after they died?
    7. Was Glorfindel of Rivendell the same as Glorfindel of Gondolin?
    8. Who was Gil-galad's father?
    9. Did Dwarf women have beards?
    10. Was there "telepathy" in Middle-earth?
    11. Did Sauron have a physical form during /The Lord of the
    Rings/? *
    12. What were the names of the Nazgul?
    13. What was Gothmog (the lieutenant of Morgul)?
    14. What was the origin of Orcs?
    15. Were Orcs immortal, and what happened to them after death?
    16. What was the relationship between Orcs and Goblins?
    17. What was the origin of Saruman's Uruk-hai?
    18. What was the origin of Trolls?
    19. What were the giants (seen by Bilbo in /The Hobbit/)?

    C. Story Internal Questions: History and Happenings
    1. Why didn't they just have an Eagle fly the Ring to Mt. Doom?
    2. Were the barrow blades magical? In what way?
    3. Why didn't the Nazgul take the Ring at Weathertop?
    4. Who killed the Witch-king, Merry or Eowyn?
    5. Did Frodo and the other mortals who passed over the Sea
    eventually die?
    6. Did Sam follow Frodo into the West?
    7. What is known about the Blue Wizards?
    8. Who was aware that a Balrog lived in Moria?
    9. Did Elves and Dwarves generally get along?
    10. Where was the Ring when Numenor was destroyed?
    11. Who was the oldest inhabitant of Middle-earth?

    IV. External Resources

    A. Where else can I find general information about Middle-earth?
    1. The Tolkien Meta-FAQ
    2. The Tolkien FAQ and LessFAQ
    3. The "FAQ of the Rings"
    4. The Letters FAQ
    5. Google's Usenet archive

    B. Where can I learn more about Tolkien's languages?

    C. Stories of Middle-earth in many forms
    1. What editions of Tolkien's books are best?
    2. What audio versions of Tolkien's books are available?
    3. What is the groups' view of the recent /Lord of the Rings/
    movies?
    4. Where can I find out about music related to Middle-earth?

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------ ------------------------------------------------------------------------

    I. CHANGES SINCE THE LAST RELEASE

    Adjusted wording of question III.B.11 about Sauron's physical form
    to emphasize the relevance of the evidence to the period of LotR.

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------ ------------------------------------------------------------------------

    II. NEWSGROUPS AND NETIQUETTE

    When discussing Tolkien (or anything else) online, it is important
    to know at least a little about the "culture" of the discussion forum
    that you are participating in. The information in this section is
    intended to give an idea of "appropriate" behavior on the Tolkien
    Usenet newsgroups. To make our discussions as enjoyable as possible,
    every participant should try to be familiar with what follows.

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------

    II.A. INFORMATION ON THE TOLKIEN NEWSGROUPS

    1. What newsgroups are we talking about again?

    There are several Usenet newsgroups specific to Tolkien and his
    works. However, the two most widely read and distributed of these are rec.arts.books.tolkien and alt.fan.tolkien, commonly abbreviated either
    r.a.b.t or RABT and a.f.t or AFT, respectively.

    The official rec.arts.books.tolkien charter can be found at

    http://tolkien.slimy.com/newsgroups/RABTcharter.txt

    Alt.fan.tolkien does not have a formal charter.
    -------

    2. Why are there two groups?

    Originally, AFT was the only Tolkien newsgroup on Usenet. RABT was
    created (when the approval vote passed on 26 Mar 1993) as a replacement
    for AFT which would be carried by a larger fraction of news servers.
    However, AFT was never removed, and both groups currently enjoy
    substantial readership. While only RABT has a formal charter (see
    question II.A.1 for reference), the two groups are virtually identical
    in intended content.

    Many participants see a tendency for RABT to be somewhat more
    "scholarly" in tone while AFT is a bit more "conversational", and some
    suggest that this distinction is useful and should be encouraged.
    Other participants draw less of a distinction between the two groups,
    and often believe that a difference in focus would be both undesirable
    and impossible to achieve. In practice, everyone decides for
    themselves how they want to treat the two groups, and most people
    generally don't complain one way or the other.
    -------

    3. Do I have to have a Ph.D. in Tolkienology to post?

    By no means! People with any amount of Tolkien "lore" are welcome
    to participate. It is advisable, however, to have read /The Hobbit/
    and /The Lord of the Rings/ before spending much time here, as
    otherwise you run the risk of many, many spoilers for both books.

    When you do participate in discussions, just use whatever Tolkien
    knowledge you have: you can have great ideas regardless of how much
    you've read. Occasionally, others will cite sources (often obscure but
    just as often authoritative) that weaken or disprove your arguments.
    When this happens (as it does to every one of us), nobody will think
    less of you for not knowing the reference; treat it as a chance to
    learn something new about Middle-earth.
    -------

    4. What questions and topics are appropriate?

    Virtually any topic related (even distantly) to Tolkien and his
    works is fair game. If you post a purely "factual" question (like "How
    many Ringwraiths were there?"), it's a good idea to explain why you're
    asking: we periodically see questions from students who hope we will do
    their homework for them, and the last thing we want to do is help
    people to avoid reading the books!

    It is appreciated if articles that have absolutely nothing to do
    with Tolkien have subject lines beginning with "OT:" ("Off Topic"). The
    Tolkien newsgroups are a sufficiently social community that threads
    often do drift away from their initial topics, and while this should
    not be discouraged, it is polite to label it when it happens. On the
    other hand, off topic discussions that get too intense or go on too
    long can interfere with others' enjoyment of the groups, and should be
    avoided.

    Binary files, such as images or sounds, are NEVER appropriate in a non-binaries newsgroup. To share a binary file with people in the
    Tolkien groups, you have two main options. One is to find an
    appropriate newsgroup in the alt.binaries.* hierarchy, post the file
    there, and then post a message here telling us where to look. Another
    (more common) method is to put the file on the Web and post the URL on
    the newsgroups.
    -------

    5. What does a tilde (~) in the subject mean? and
    Is it acceptable to post messages with sexual content?

    Articles posted to these newsgroups occasionally contain comments
    that some consider inappropriate for younger readers. After much
    discussion, most participants agreed to mark messages with /sexual/
    content with a tilde in the subject line. Individuals can then create
    killfiles to screen out such messages as desired. While not everyone
    agrees that such a system is beneficial, following this convention is
    the polite thing to do. The newsgroup charter recommends the use of
    ROT-13 "encryption" for this purpose, but this has become less common.
    -------

    6. What common mistakes should I try to avoid?

    By and large, the participants in the Tolkien newsgroups try to
    judge others based on their ideas rather than on details of grammar and
    posting style. However, there are a few types of simple mistakes that
    tend to cause some level of bias and annoyance among many group
    members, which in turn can distract them from your real message. Most
    of these are covered in the "Netiquette" section below.

    One common mistake of this type that is not related to netiquette is confusing the singular and plural forms of common Elvish words. On the
    Tolkien newsgroups, these words are so familiar that the phrase "Manwe
    is a Valar" sounds just as jarring and strange as "Finrod is an Elves."
    To reduce this problem, a list of some of the most commonly confused singular/plural pairs is given below. Note the patterns!

    Singular: Vala Maia Elda Noldo Teler Istar Adan
    Plural: Valar Maiar Eldar Noldor Teleri Istari Edain

    Another issue that arises periodically is whether or not /The Lord
    of the Rings/ should be referred to as a "trilogy". Tolkien said quite
    clearly in Letter #165 that "The book is /not/ of course a 'trilogy'",
    and some people make a point of correcting those who use the term.
    However, in Letter #252, Tolkien himself refers to "my trilogy", so
    most of us agree that using the term is an acceptable shorthand, if
    nothing else.
    -------

    7. What do all the abbreviations used on the groups mean?

    [More abbreviations can be found in section IV of the Tolkien FAQ.]

    Some names and phrases come up so frequently on the Tolkien
    newsgroups that they are often abbreviated for convenience. A few of
    the very most common are defined below; these definitions are excerpted
    from Sir Confused-a-Lot's old AFT Glossary, now online at

    http://silenceisdefeat.com/~aft-rabt/glossary/

    JRRT: John Ronald Reuel Tolkien
    ME: Middle-earth
    LotR: /The Lord of the Rings/
    FotR: /The Fellowship of the Ring/
    TT: /The Two Towers/
    RotK: /The Return of the King/
    Silm.: /The Silmarillion/
    UT: /Unfinished Tales/
    HoMe: the "History of Middle-earth" series
    Letters: /The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien/
    Narn: The "Narn I Hin Hurin" in UT
    Athrabeth: The "Athrabeth Finrod Ah Andreth" in /Morgoth's Ring/

    NG: Newsgroup
    TEUNC: "Tolkien Eccentric Unusual Nut Cases", an eGroup of
    Tolkien fans, some of whom frequent the newsgroups
    LOL: Laughing Out Loud
    ROTFL: Rolling On The Floor Laughing

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------

    II.B. THE BASICS OF NETIQUETTE

    1. What is the proper subject line for my post?

    Make sure that the "Subject:" line of your post matches the topic
    that you are discussing. Be concise, but specific: subject lines such
    as "The Lord of the Rings" or "Tolkien" give no useful information
    about the contents of your post. Note that this does not only apply to
    the first post in a thread: if you see that the subject line no longer
    matches the topic of a thread, change it when you reply! Also, follow
    the "OT:" convention for off-topic posts (mentioned in question II.A.4
    above).

    When you do change the subject line, it is polite to indicate the
    subject of the previous post. For example, "Balrog Wings" might become
    "Balrog Flight (was Balrog Wings)" and then "Eagles (was Balrog
    Flight)". This helps people follow the history of the thread.
    -------

    2. What should I do when replying to an earlier article?
    For example, should I "top post" or "bottom post"?

    First and foremost, make sure to retain the attribution of any
    quoted text, so others know who said the things you are replying to.
    Almost equally important, make sure that you trim the previous post as
    much as possible:

    * If you are replying to one specific comment in the previous
    article, delete all of the previous text except that comment. If
    the comment is at all long, try to trim it down to its essence.
    Type your reply directly beneath the quoted comment.

    * If you are replying to several distinct points individually, quote
    each one as above and type your reply immediately below it (and
    above the next point).

    * If you are replying to a long section that cannot be easily
    trimmed down (for example, an original poem or story), quote only
    its first and last lines (and perhaps put "[snip]" or "..." on a
    line in between the two). If there are particular pieces that
    you want to respond to individually, do so as described above.

    There are two general rules of thumb to follow in connection with
    the above guidelines:

    * Any article you post should have more lines of new text than lines
    of quoted text. It is generally acceptable to ignore this rule
    if the entire post (including basic headers and any signature) is
    short enough to fit on a single 24 line screen.

    * Any comments specifically replying to the previous article should
    come /below/ the relevant part of the previous article. This
    makes reading the article more like reading a conversation, and
    therefore much easier to follow.

    This obviously means that "top posting" is strongly discouraged: it
    forces readers to scroll up and down between the new and old material,
    and it usually involves quoting the entire previous post(s) untrimmed..
    Whether you call our practice "bottom posting", "middle posting", or
    "standard netiquette" is up to you.

    An example of a post that follows these guidelines can be found on
    the web at

    http://tolkien.slimy.com/newsgroups/EssayDiscuss.txt

    This long message (from a discussion of my essay on Tom Bombadil) would
    be all but impossible to follow if the point by point replies were not organized as described above.

    Finally, make sure to keep the subject line up to date, as discussed
    in question II.B.1.
    -------

    3. When should I "cross-post" to multiple newsgroups?

    Generally, you should post an article to the single most appropriate
    group: a question about /The Hobbit/ is more appropriate on rec.arts.books.tolkien than on rec.arts.books. However, there are cases
    when several groups are appropriate: a discussion of the influence of
    Tolkien's faith on his writings could be interesting to readers of both soc.religion.christian.roman-catholic and rec.arts.books.tolkien.
    (Cases in which more than two or three groups are truly appropriate are extremely rare!)

    In such cases, it is almost always better to "cross-post" the
    article to multiple groups than to post separately to each. To do
    this, list all of the relevant groups together on the "Newsgroups:"
    line, separated by commas but /no/ spaces (many posts here list
    "Newsgroups: alt.fan.tolkien,rec.arts.books.tolkien"). Cross-posting
    has several advantages, the most important being that responses to a cross-posted article are also cross-posted. That ensures that everyone involved in the discussion sees every reply.

    Some internet service providers (notably AOL) misguidedly forbid cross-posting, probably because /inappropriate/ cross-posting is very
    bad netiquette and is often used to "spam" many groups at once. If you
    have this problem, it may be better to choose just one "best" group for
    your post than to post separate copies to multiple groups.
    -------

    4. I am able to post my messages with HTML formatting. Should I?

    Generally, no. Many of us use simple text-based programs to read
    news, and posts with HTML formatting can be very difficult to read.
    You can generally turn off this behavior from the "Preferences" or
    "Options" section of your newsreader. For some newsreaders, you will
    need to change more than one setting to completely eliminate this
    behavior.
    -------

    5. If someone insults me or otherwise makes me upset, should I flame
    them back?

    No.

    6. Even if my reputation and honor are at stake?

    Feel free to post any corrections or differences in opinion that you
    feel are necessary. Feel free to indicate that you are hurt, unhappy,
    or insulted because of their comments. But by no means escalate the
    budding flame war, and try your hardest to be polite in your response:
    this tends to get the group's sentiments on your side far better than
    any exchange of name-calling ever could. People are usually fairly
    good at recognizing when someone is being terribly unfair. Yes, it is undoubtedly your right to flame if you want to, but the vast majority
    of the group would be happier if you did not.

    In general, try to give others the benefit of the doubt: with only
    text to go on, it's hard to judge their real intent. Could you have
    misread the insulting lines in their post? Could they have been
    speaking tongue in cheek? Maybe they only meant to tease you, not
    realizing that you would really be insulted. Assuming the worst is a depressing way to live one's life.

    Finally, be particularly careful not to reply to a "troll", someone
    who intentionally fishes for arguments and flames. These people seem
    to take great personal delight in inspiring people to anger or
    indignation; the best reaction to them is generally to ignore them
    altogether.
    -------

    7. Where can I go for more information on netiquette, and on Usenet in
    general?

    One of the best places to start has always been the newsgroup news.announce.newusers. This group is home to a wide range of articles
    that provide introductory information about many aspects of Usenet
    news. Unfortunately, most of these articles are no longer being posted regularly to the group. It may be more effective to read archived
    copies of them at

    ftp://rtfm.mit.edu/pub/usenet/news.announce.newusers/

    Read the "Welcome to Usenet!" article there first.

    The information on netiquette and on Usenet in general in the news.announce.newusers articles remains very relevant today, but those
    articles are several years old. More recent information on similar
    topics can be found at the web sites associated with the news.newusers.questions newsgroup. A list of these sites around the
    world can be found at

    http://users.rcn.com/kateshort/nnq/nnqlinks.html

    (among many other places).

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------ ------------------------------------------------------------------------

    III. DEBATES AND DISCUSSION

    A great many questions about Tolkien and his books arise repeatedly
    on the Tolkien newsgroups. The starting point of each debate is the
    same almost every time, and it takes a long time for the discussion to
    reach "new ground." In the worst cases, bitter and longstanding
    arguments about the basics get in the way before new progress can be
    made at all.

    The purpose of a FAQ is to avoid this problem by setting down the
    basics in a common place so that the discussion can deal with new
    issues from the start. However, it is very difficult to balance the
    need for conciseness with the need for completeness: many debates that repeatedly appear on the Tolkien newsgroups have generated very large
    amounts of "known territory."

    Keep in mind that this FAQ provides only summaries of these debates:
    many of their subtleties are omitted for the sake of brevity. Most of
    these topics have been discussed at length by many intelligent In these
    cases, it is extremely unlikely that any unambiguous "proof" of one
    position exists. With this in mind, try to be respectful toward those
    who disagree with you. To get more information on the usual content of
    common discussions, it is often helpful to browse those discussions
    themselves at the Google Groups Usenet archive (see question IV.A.5 for
    more information).

    Finally, be sure to read question III.A.2, dealing with "canonical"
    texts. This FAQ addresses only the state of Middle-earth after LotR
    was written, which corresponds roughly to the material included in the published /Silmarillion/. Details from earlier versions of the
    mythology will not be discussed in this document (and are generally
    given very limited weight in debates about the later state of the
    mythology).

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------

    III.A. STORY EXTERNAL QUESTIONS

    1. What is the best order in which to read the books?

    This depends on each person's personal preferences. Unless you
    strongly dislike stories written for children, most recommend reading
    /The Hobbit/ first. /The Lord of the Rings/ is certainly next (feel
    free to skip the Prologue if you find it dull, and after the main text
    try to read at least Appendix A.I.v, "The Tale of Aragorn and Arwen").

    If you enjoy any part of the Appendices to LotR, there are things in Tolkien's other books that you are likely to enjoy as well. Most
    suggest reading /The Children of Hurin/, /Unfinished Tales/, /The Silmarillion/, and /The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien/ next, in some order
    (perhaps that one). /The Children of Hurin/ is the only complete novel
    about Middle-earth published after Tolkien's death (although it takes
    place long before the events of LotR, it probably isn't necessary to
    read Silm. first). The stories and essays in UT can be read in any
    order, so the "Third Age" material is a good starting point for those
    coming straight from LotR (the "First Age" stories are excellent, but
    are easier to follow after reading Silm.; the other parts of UT are
    mostly accessible to those who have read LotR and its appendices).
    Many people find the early parts of Silm. slow to read (like a history
    book or the Bible), but it is often a favorite among those who have
    read it. /Letters/ contains insights into both Middle-earth and Tolkien
    as a person.

    For more details (and more books), try getting a personalized
    recommendation from the Custom Tolkien Book List, on the web at

    http://tolkien.slimy.com/books.html

    (This URL redirects to the longer and messier URL of the actual list.)
    -------

    2. What books about Middle-earth are considered "canonical"?

    [I have written an essay on this topic, including general observations
    and my own approach. It is on the web at: http://tolkien.slimy.com/essays/TolkParish.html.]

    As the term is used on the Tolkien newsgroups, a "canonical" text is
    one which is believed to provide authoritative information about
    Middle-earth. This concept is more subtle than it may appear at first
    glance, in part because most of Tolkien's mythology remained incomplete
    when he died. Books or even individual chapters or essays may be
    regarded as more or less "trustworthy" than others, and many people
    reject the idea that there is a single "true" Middle-earth entirely.

    Among those who accept the concept of "canon" to at least some
    degree, almost all agree that /The Lord of the Rings/ is a canonical
    text and most assign equal or near equal weight to /The Hobbit/ (the
    other books about Middle-earth published in Tolkien's lifetime are
    treated similarly). However, due to heavy and unmarked posthumous
    editing, /The Silmarillion/ is considered by many /not/ to be canonical
    (see question III.A.3 for details).

    People put various amounts of trust in the many drafts and essays in /Unfinished Tales/ and the "History of Middle-earth" series. In cases
    where Tolkien's intent seems particularly stable and clear, some trust
    these sources almost as much as /The Hobbit/ and LotR themselves. In
    practice, this means that most of the more trustworthy material is
    found in /Unfinished Tales/ and in volumes X-XII of the HoMe series.
    Opinions on how much to trust /The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien/ are
    mixed, but its contents are generally respected as long as they are not contradicted by other (more canonical) texts. The pictures in /J.R.R.
    Tolkien: Artist and Illustrator/ by Wayne Hammond and Christina Scull
    may also be considered somewhat canonical.

    It is important to note that many aspects of Middle-earth changed substantially over the course of Tolkien's life. Because of this,
    facts taken from the early versions of the mythology can be misleading
    or just plain wrong when used to draw conclusions about LotR or later
    versions of the mythology. This means that while the early versions
    can provide valuable hints about Tolkien's thoughts on an issue, they
    are rarely considered to provide definitive evidence for any position.

    The Custom Tolkien Book List (mentioned in question III.A.1)
    includes my own perspective on the "canonicity" of each section of each
    book in the list. While those are just one person's opinions, they are
    fairly typical. A static version of the list in publication order can
    be found on the web at

    http://tolkien.slimy.com/publist.html

    That static list still contains a link to the customizable version.
    -------

    3. How does /The Silmarillion/ as published differ from what Tolkien
    intended?

    This is a complicated question that is essentially unanswerable:
    despite his lifelong effort, Tolkien never came close to completing
    /The Silmarillion/. At Tolkien's request, after his death his son
    Christopher (with some help from Guy Kay) worked to "bring the work
    into publishable form"; Christopher discusses the difficulties involved
    in the book's Foreword. To understand why /The Silmarillion/ took the
    form that it did (and why it is rarely considered "canonical", as
    mentioned in question III.A.2), it is worth exploring those editorial
    changes. The full story can be found in the "History of Middle-earth"
    books, particularly /Morgoth's Ring/ and /The War of the Jewels/
    (volumes X-XI).

    The most basic editorial decision was which writings to include in
    the book at all. The "Quenta Silmarillion" is of course the central
    text, but Tolkien also wrote numerous associated stories and essays.
    Charles Noad explored this question as part of his essay "On the
    Construction of 'The Silmarillion'" (published in /Tolkien's
    Legendarium/; see question III.A.5), where he suggests an "outline for
    'The Silmarillion' as Tolkien may have intended it". In addition to the
    texts in the published book, Noad includes expanded versions of four
    stories: "The Lay of Leithian" (possibly in poetic form), "Narn i Chin
    Hurin", "The Fall of Gondolin", and "Earendil the Wanderer" (which
    Tolkien never even fully sketched). He also includes five
    "Appendices": writings about Middle-earth and its inhabitants such as
    "Laws and Customs among the Eldar" and the "Athrabeth Finrod ah
    Andreth" (most of these were published in HoMe X-XI). Sadly, a book
    with this outline could never be made satisfying with just the texts
    that Tolkien left us.

    Moving on to the texts that were actually included in /The
    Silmarillion/ as published, there were three types of problems to
    overcome. In the worst cases, there were crucial gaps in the narrative
    where Tolkien had never written more than an outline of the story (or
    where the most recent version was hopelessly outdated). Much more
    frequently, Tolkien's years of revisions led to factual inconsistencies
    between stories written at various times (especially between writings
    before and after /The Lord of the Rings/). And finally, Tolkien's
    writings differed markedly in tone, ranging from vivid narratives to
    terse annals to philosophical essays. To assemble a single text,
    consistent in style and detail, from such a range of source material
    clearly required substantial editing.

    Despite that pessimistic assessment, the vast majority of the
    published /Silmarillion/ is taken directly from Tolkien's work and
    seems to come quite close to what he intended, as far as it goes. (None
    of the "expanded" tales were ever completed, but what exists of them
    can be found for the most part in /Unfinished Tales/, /The Lays of
    Beleriand/, and the other "History of Middle-earth" books mentioned
    above.) Still, mild editing is not uncommon, and can be difficult to
    identify even by comparison to the source texts as published in HoMe.
    Thus, /The Silmarillion/ is often not treated as a final authority in
    scholarly discussions of Middle-earth. (A classic example is its
    mistaken ancestry of Gil-galad, as discussed in question III.B.8.)

    The greatest concern, of course, comes from those few cases where
    large gaps had to be filled by the editors. This happened to some
    extent for "Of Tuor and the Fall of Gondolin" and "Of the Voyage of
    Earendil and the War of Wrath", but the most substantial editorial
    "invention" came in the chapter "Of the Ruin of Doriath". The episode

    [continued in next message]

    --- SoupGate-Win32 v1.05
    * Origin: fsxNet Usenet Gateway (21:1/5)
  • From Steuard Jensen@21:1/5 to All on Tue Jul 21 23:14:01 2020
    XPost: alt.fan.tolkien

    Posted-By: auto-faq 3.3.1 (Perl 5.020)
    Posting-Frequency: monthly
    URL: http://tolkien.slimy.com/

    TOLKIEN NEWSGROUPS FAQ

    Copyright (C) 1999-2012 by Steuard Jensen

    (Created 17 Aug 1999)
    (Last updated 11 Mar 2012)



    For many years, the Tolkien Usenet newsgroups have been home to a
    pair of excellent Frequently Asked Questions lists about Tolkien and Middle-earth, compiled by William D. B. Loos. These sources contain a
    wealth of information, but are no longer maintained (the last update
    seems to have been in July 1996). This means that quite a few issues
    of current interest to the groups are not fully addressed in those
    documents.

    This FAQ supplements, updates, and expands on the earlier ones,
    though it is not meant to replace them entirely. It includes new and
    corrected information on some of the old discussions, numerous entries
    on topics not covered in the older FAQs, and a broad discussion of the
    Tolkien newsgroups and common standards of netiquette. This FAQ is
    intended both as an introduction for newcomers to the newsgroups and as
    a source of information for anyone exploring Middle-earth.

    The official HTML version of the FAQ is on the web at

    http://tolkien.slimy.com/faq/

    The plain text version is posted to Usenet on the 22nd of each month
    and is also available on the web, at

    http://tolkien.slimy.com/faq/TolkNgFaq.txt

    For a unified and easy to use interface to this FAQ, the Loos FAQs, and
    others, consider visiting the Tolkien Meta-FAQ, at

    http://tolkien.slimy.com/

    I would like to give my sincere thanks to the many, many people on
    the newsgroups and elsewhere who have given criticism, suggestions, and encouragement as I wrote this FAQ. This project would never have
    succeeded without their wonderful support.

    Steuard Jensen
    steuard@slimy.com ------------------------------------------------------------------------ ------------------------------------------------------------------------


    Table of Contents

    Sections/questions marked: * have been revised since the last release
    ** are new since the last release

    I. Changes Since the Last Release *

    II. Newsgroups and Netiquette

    A. Information on the Tolkien Newsgroups
    1. What newsgroups are we talking about again?
    2. Why are there two groups?
    3. Do I have to have a Ph.D. in Tolkienology to post?
    4. What questions and topics are appropriate?
    5. What does a tilde (~) in the subject mean? and
    Is it acceptable to post messages with sexual content?
    6. What common mistakes should I try to avoid?
    7. What do all the abbreviations used on the groups mean?

    B. The Basics of Netiquette
    1. What is the proper subject line for my post?
    2. What should I do when replying to an earlier article?
    For example, should I "top post" or "bottom post"?
    3. When should I "cross-post" to multiple newsgroups?
    4. I am able to post my messages with HTML formatting. Should I?
    5. If someone insults me or otherwise makes me upset, should I
    flame them back?
    6. Even if my reputation and honor are at stake?
    7. Where can I go for more information on netiquette, and on
    Usenet in general?

    III. Debates and Discussion

    A. Story External Questions
    1. What is the best order in which to read the books?
    2. What books about Middle-earth are considered "canonical"?
    3. How does /The Silmarillion/ as published differ from what
    Tolkien intended?
    4. Which are "The Two Towers"?
    5. Which books /about/ Tolkien are good, and which aren't?
    6. Is Middle-earth Medieval?
    7. Was Tolkien racist? Were his works?
    8. Are there electronic versions of Tolkien's books?
    9. Where can I report copyright violations that I observe?

    B. Story Internal Questions: Creatures and Characters
    1. Did Balrogs have wings?
    2. Could Balrogs fly?
    3. What was Tom Bombadil?
    4. Did Elves have pointed ears?
    5. Did Elves have beards?
    6. What happened to Elves after they died?
    7. Was Glorfindel of Rivendell the same as Glorfindel of Gondolin?
    8. Who was Gil-galad's father?
    9. Did Dwarf women have beards?
    10. Was there "telepathy" in Middle-earth?
    11. Did Sauron have a physical form during /The Lord of the
    Rings/? *
    12. What were the names of the Nazgul?
    13. What was Gothmog (the lieutenant of Morgul)?
    14. What was the origin of Orcs?
    15. Were Orcs immortal, and what happened to them after death?
    16. What was the relationship between Orcs and Goblins?
    17. What was the origin of Saruman's Uruk-hai?
    18. What was the origin of Trolls?
    19. What were the giants (seen by Bilbo in /The Hobbit/)?

    C. Story Internal Questions: History and Happenings
    1. Why didn't they just have an Eagle fly the Ring to Mt. Doom?
    2. Were the barrow blades magical? In what way?
    3. Why didn't the Nazgul take the Ring at Weathertop?
    4. Who killed the Witch-king, Merry or Eowyn?
    5. Did Frodo and the other mortals who passed over the Sea
    eventually die?
    6. Did Sam follow Frodo into the West?
    7. What is known about the Blue Wizards?
    8. Who was aware that a Balrog lived in Moria?
    9. Did Elves and Dwarves generally get along?
    10. Where was the Ring when Numenor was destroyed?
    11. Who was the oldest inhabitant of Middle-earth?

    IV. External Resources

    A. Where else can I find general information about Middle-earth?
    1. The Tolkien Meta-FAQ
    2. The Tolkien FAQ and LessFAQ
    3. The "FAQ of the Rings"
    4. The Letters FAQ
    5. Google's Usenet archive

    B. Where can I learn more about Tolkien's languages?

    C. Stories of Middle-earth in many forms
    1. What editions of Tolkien's books are best?
    2. What audio versions of Tolkien's books are available?
    3. What is the groups' view of the recent /Lord of the Rings/
    movies?
    4. Where can I find out about music related to Middle-earth?

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------ ------------------------------------------------------------------------

    I. CHANGES SINCE THE LAST RELEASE

    Adjusted wording of question III.B.11 about Sauron's physical form
    to emphasize the relevance of the evidence to the period of LotR.

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------ ------------------------------------------------------------------------

    II. NEWSGROUPS AND NETIQUETTE

    When discussing Tolkien (or anything else) online, it is important
    to know at least a little about the "culture" of the discussion forum
    that you are participating in. The information in this section is
    intended to give an idea of "appropriate" behavior on the Tolkien
    Usenet newsgroups. To make our discussions as enjoyable as possible,
    every participant should try to be familiar with what follows.

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------

    II.A. INFORMATION ON THE TOLKIEN NEWSGROUPS

    1. What newsgroups are we talking about again?

    There are several Usenet newsgroups specific to Tolkien and his
    works. However, the two most widely read and distributed of these are rec.arts.books.tolkien and alt.fan.tolkien, commonly abbreviated either
    r.a.b.t or RABT and a.f.t or AFT, respectively.

    The official rec.arts.books.tolkien charter can be found at

    http://tolkien.slimy.com/newsgroups/RABTcharter.txt

    Alt.fan.tolkien does not have a formal charter.
    -------

    2. Why are there two groups?

    Originally, AFT was the only Tolkien newsgroup on Usenet. RABT was
    created (when the approval vote passed on 26 Mar 1993) as a replacement
    for AFT which would be carried by a larger fraction of news servers.
    However, AFT was never removed, and both groups currently enjoy
    substantial readership. While only RABT has a formal charter (see
    question II.A.1 for reference), the two groups are virtually identical
    in intended content.

    Many participants see a tendency for RABT to be somewhat more
    "scholarly" in tone while AFT is a bit more "conversational", and some
    suggest that this distinction is useful and should be encouraged.
    Other participants draw less of a distinction between the two groups,
    and often believe that a difference in focus would be both undesirable
    and impossible to achieve. In practice, everyone decides for
    themselves how they want to treat the two groups, and most people
    generally don't complain one way or the other.
    -------

    3. Do I have to have a Ph.D. in Tolkienology to post?

    By no means! People with any amount of Tolkien "lore" are welcome
    to participate. It is advisable, however, to have read /The Hobbit/
    and /The Lord of the Rings/ before spending much time here, as
    otherwise you run the risk of many, many spoilers for both books.

    When you do participate in discussions, just use whatever Tolkien
    knowledge you have: you can have great ideas regardless of how much
    you've read. Occasionally, others will cite sources (often obscure but
    just as often authoritative) that weaken or disprove your arguments.
    When this happens (as it does to every one of us), nobody will think
    less of you for not knowing the reference; treat it as a chance to
    learn something new about Middle-earth.
    -------

    4. What questions and topics are appropriate?

    Virtually any topic related (even distantly) to Tolkien and his
    works is fair game. If you post a purely "factual" question (like "How
    many Ringwraiths were there?"), it's a good idea to explain why you're
    asking: we periodically see questions from students who hope we will do
    their homework for them, and the last thing we want to do is help
    people to avoid reading the books!

    It is appreciated if articles that have absolutely nothing to do
    with Tolkien have subject lines beginning with "OT:" ("Off Topic"). The
    Tolkien newsgroups are a sufficiently social community that threads
    often do drift away from their initial topics, and while this should
    not be discouraged, it is polite to label it when it happens. On the
    other hand, off topic discussions that get too intense or go on too
    long can interfere with others' enjoyment of the groups, and should be
    avoided.

    Binary files, such as images or sounds, are NEVER appropriate in a non-binaries newsgroup. To share a binary file with people in the
    Tolkien groups, you have two main options. One is to find an
    appropriate newsgroup in the alt.binaries.* hierarchy, post the file
    there, and then post a message here telling us where to look. Another
    (more common) method is to put the file on the Web and post the URL on
    the newsgroups.
    -------

    5. What does a tilde (~) in the subject mean? and
    Is it acceptable to post messages with sexual content?

    Articles posted to these newsgroups occasionally contain comments
    that some consider inappropriate for younger readers. After much
    discussion, most participants agreed to mark messages with /sexual/
    content with a tilde in the subject line. Individuals can then create
    killfiles to screen out such messages as desired. While not everyone
    agrees that such a system is beneficial, following this convention is
    the polite thing to do. The newsgroup charter recommends the use of
    ROT-13 "encryption" for this purpose, but this has become less common.
    -------

    6. What common mistakes should I try to avoid?

    By and large, the participants in the Tolkien newsgroups try to
    judge others based on their ideas rather than on details of grammar and
    posting style. However, there are a few types of simple mistakes that
    tend to cause some level of bias and annoyance among many group
    members, which in turn can distract them from your real message. Most
    of these are covered in the "Netiquette" section below.

    One common mistake of this type that is not related to netiquette is confusing the singular and plural forms of common Elvish words. On the
    Tolkien newsgroups, these words are so familiar that the phrase "Manwe
    is a Valar" sounds just as jarring and strange as "Finrod is an Elves."
    To reduce this problem, a list of some of the most commonly confused singular/plural pairs is given below. Note the patterns!

    Singular: Vala Maia Elda Noldo Teler Istar Adan
    Plural: Valar Maiar Eldar Noldor Teleri Istari Edain

    Another issue that arises periodically is whether or not /The Lord
    of the Rings/ should be referred to as a "trilogy". Tolkien said quite
    clearly in Letter #165 that "The book is /not/ of course a 'trilogy'",
    and some people make a point of correcting those who use the term.
    However, in Letter #252, Tolkien himself refers to "my trilogy", so
    most of us agree that using the term is an acceptable shorthand, if
    nothing else.
    -------

    7. What do all the abbreviations used on the groups mean?

    [More abbreviations can be found in section IV of the Tolkien FAQ.]

    Some names and phrases come up so frequently on the Tolkien
    newsgroups that they are often abbreviated for convenience. A few of
    the very most common are defined below; these definitions are excerpted
    from Sir Confused-a-Lot's old AFT Glossary, now online at

    http://silenceisdefeat.com/~aft-rabt/glossary/

    JRRT: John Ronald Reuel Tolkien
    ME: Middle-earth
    LotR: /The Lord of the Rings/
    FotR: /The Fellowship of the Ring/
    TT: /The Two Towers/
    RotK: /The Return of the King/
    Silm.: /The Silmarillion/
    UT: /Unfinished Tales/
    HoMe: the "History of Middle-earth" series
    Letters: /The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien/
    Narn: The "Narn I Hin Hurin" in UT
    Athrabeth: The "Athrabeth Finrod Ah Andreth" in /Morgoth's Ring/

    NG: Newsgroup
    TEUNC: "Tolkien Eccentric Unusual Nut Cases", an eGroup of
    Tolkien fans, some of whom frequent the newsgroups
    LOL: Laughing Out Loud
    ROTFL: Rolling On The Floor Laughing

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------

    II.B. THE BASICS OF NETIQUETTE

    1. What is the proper subject line for my post?

    Make sure that the "Subject:" line of your post matches the topic
    that you are discussing. Be concise, but specific: subject lines such
    as "The Lord of the Rings" or "Tolkien" give no useful information
    about the contents of your post. Note that this does not only apply to
    the first post in a thread: if you see that the subject line no longer
    matches the topic of a thread, change it when you reply! Also, follow
    the "OT:" convention for off-topic posts (mentioned in question II.A.4
    above).

    When you do change the subject line, it is polite to indicate the
    subject of the previous post. For example, "Balrog Wings" might become
    "Balrog Flight (was Balrog Wings)" and then "Eagles (was Balrog
    Flight)". This helps people follow the history of the thread.
    -------

    2. What should I do when replying to an earlier article?
    For example, should I "top post" or "bottom post"?

    First and foremost, make sure to retain the attribution of any
    quoted text, so others know who said the things you are replying to.
    Almost equally important, make sure that you trim the previous post as
    much as possible:

    * If you are replying to one specific comment in the previous
    article, delete all of the previous text except that comment. If
    the comment is at all long, try to trim it down to its essence.
    Type your reply directly beneath the quoted comment.

    * If you are replying to several distinct points individually, quote
    each one as above and type your reply immediately below it (and
    above the next point).

    * If you are replying to a long section that cannot be easily
    trimmed down (for example, an original poem or story), quote only
    its first and last lines (and perhaps put "[snip]" or "..." on a
    line in between the two). If there are particular pieces that
    you want to respond to individually, do so as described above.

    There are two general rules of thumb to follow in connection with
    the above guidelines:

    * Any article you post should have more lines of new text than lines
    of quoted text. It is generally acceptable to ignore this rule
    if the entire post (including basic headers and any signature) is
    short enough to fit on a single 24 line screen.

    * Any comments specifically replying to the previous article should
    come /below/ the relevant part of the previous article. This
    makes reading the article more like reading a conversation, and
    therefore much easier to follow.

    This obviously means that "top posting" is strongly discouraged: it
    forces readers to scroll up and down between the new and old material,
    and it usually involves quoting the entire previous post(s) untrimmed..
    Whether you call our practice "bottom posting", "middle posting", or
    "standard netiquette" is up to you.

    An example of a post that follows these guidelines can be found on
    the web at

    http://tolkien.slimy.com/newsgroups/EssayDiscuss.txt

    This long message (from a discussion of my essay on Tom Bombadil) would
    be all but impossible to follow if the point by point replies were not organized as described above.

    Finally, make sure to keep the subject line up to date, as discussed
    in question II.B.1.
    -------

    3. When should I "cross-post" to multiple newsgroups?

    Generally, you should post an article to the single most appropriate
    group: a question about /The Hobbit/ is more appropriate on rec.arts.books.tolkien than on rec.arts.books. However, there are cases
    when several groups are appropriate: a discussion of the influence of
    Tolkien's faith on his writings could be interesting to readers of both soc.religion.christian.roman-catholic and rec.arts.books.tolkien.
    (Cases in which more than two or three groups are truly appropriate are extremely rare!)

    In such cases, it is almost always better to "cross-post" the
    article to multiple groups than to post separately to each. To do
    this, list all of the relevant groups together on the "Newsgroups:"
    line, separated by commas but /no/ spaces (many posts here list
    "Newsgroups: alt.fan.tolkien,rec.arts.books.tolkien"). Cross-posting
    has several advantages, the most important being that responses to a cross-posted article are also cross-posted. That ensures that everyone involved in the discussion sees every reply.

    Some internet service providers (notably AOL) misguidedly forbid cross-posting, probably because /inappropriate/ cross-posting is very
    bad netiquette and is often used to "spam" many groups at once. If you
    have this problem, it may be better to choose just one "best" group for
    your post than to post separate copies to multiple groups.
    -------

    4. I am able to post my messages with HTML formatting. Should I?

    Generally, no. Many of us use simple text-based programs to read
    news, and posts with HTML formatting can be very difficult to read.
    You can generally turn off this behavior from the "Preferences" or
    "Options" section of your newsreader. For some newsreaders, you will
    need to change more than one setting to completely eliminate this
    behavior.
    -------

    5. If someone insults me or otherwise makes me upset, should I flame
    them back?

    No.

    6. Even if my reputation and honor are at stake?

    Feel free to post any corrections or differences in opinion that you
    feel are necessary. Feel free to indicate that you are hurt, unhappy,
    or insulted because of their comments. But by no means escalate the
    budding flame war, and try your hardest to be polite in your response:
    this tends to get the group's sentiments on your side far better than
    any exchange of name-calling ever could. People are usually fairly
    good at recognizing when someone is being terribly unfair. Yes, it is undoubtedly your right to flame if you want to, but the vast majority
    of the group would be happier if you did not.

    In general, try to give others the benefit of the doubt: with only
    text to go on, it's hard to judge their real intent. Could you have
    misread the insulting lines in their post? Could they have been
    speaking tongue in cheek? Maybe they only meant to tease you, not
    realizing that you would really be insulted. Assuming the worst is a depressing way to live one's life.

    Finally, be particularly careful not to reply to a "troll", someone
    who intentionally fishes for arguments and flames. These people seem
    to take great personal delight in inspiring people to anger or
    indignation; the best reaction to them is generally to ignore them
    altogether.
    -------

    7. Where can I go for more information on netiquette, and on Usenet in
    general?

    One of the best places to start has always been the newsgroup news.announce.newusers. This group is home to a wide range of articles
    that provide introductory information about many aspects of Usenet
    news. Unfortunately, most of these articles are no longer being posted regularly to the group. It may be more effective to read archived
    copies of them at

    ftp://rtfm.mit.edu/pub/usenet/news.announce.newusers/

    Read the "Welcome to Usenet!" article there first.

    The information on netiquette and on Usenet in general in the news.announce.newusers articles remains very relevant today, but those
    articles are several years old. More recent information on similar
    topics can be found at the web sites associated with the news.newusers.questions newsgroup. A list of these sites around the
    world can be found at

    http://users.rcn.com/kateshort/nnq/nnqlinks.html

    (among many other places).

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------ ------------------------------------------------------------------------

    III. DEBATES AND DISCUSSION

    A great many questions about Tolkien and his books arise repeatedly
    on the Tolkien newsgroups. The starting point of each debate is the
    same almost every time, and it takes a long time for the discussion to
    reach "new ground." In the worst cases, bitter and longstanding
    arguments about the basics get in the way before new progress can be
    made at all.

    The purpose of a FAQ is to avoid this problem by setting down the
    basics in a common place so that the discussion can deal with new
    issues from the start. However, it is very difficult to balance the
    need for conciseness with the need for completeness: many debates that repeatedly appear on the Tolkien newsgroups have generated very large
    amounts of "known territory."

    Keep in mind that this FAQ provides only summaries of these debates:
    many of their subtleties are omitted for the sake of brevity. Most of
    these topics have been discussed at length by many intelligent In these
    cases, it is extremely unlikely that any unambiguous "proof" of one
    position exists. With this in mind, try to be respectful toward those
    who disagree with you. To get more information on the usual content of
    common discussions, it is often helpful to browse those discussions
    themselves at the Google Groups Usenet archive (see question IV.A.5 for
    more information).

    Finally, be sure to read question III.A.2, dealing with "canonical"
    texts. This FAQ addresses only the state of Middle-earth after LotR
    was written, which corresponds roughly to the material included in the published /Silmarillion/. Details from earlier versions of the
    mythology will not be discussed in this document (and are generally
    given very limited weight in debates about the later state of the
    mythology).

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------

    III.A. STORY EXTERNAL QUESTIONS

    1. What is the best order in which to read the books?

    This depends on each person's personal preferences. Unless you
    strongly dislike stories written for children, most recommend reading
    /The Hobbit/ first. /The Lord of the Rings/ is certainly next (feel
    free to skip the Prologue if you find it dull, and after the main text
    try to read at least Appendix A.I.v, "The Tale of Aragorn and Arwen").

    If you enjoy any part of the Appendices to LotR, there are things in Tolkien's other books that you are likely to enjoy as well. Most
    suggest reading /The Children of Hurin/, /Unfinished Tales/, /The Silmarillion/, and /The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien/ next, in some order
    (perhaps that one). /The Children of Hurin/ is the only complete novel
    about Middle-earth published after Tolkien's death (although it takes
    place long before the events of LotR, it probably isn't necessary to
    read Silm. first). The stories and essays in UT can be read in any
    order, so the "Third Age" material is a good starting point for those
    coming straight from LotR (the "First Age" stories are excellent, but
    are easier to follow after reading Silm.; the other parts of UT are
    mostly accessible to those who have read LotR and its appendices).
    Many people find the early parts of Silm. slow to read (like a history
    book or the Bible), but it is often a favorite among those who have
    read it. /Letters/ contains insights into both Middle-earth and Tolkien
    as a person.

    For more details (and more books), try getting a personalized
    recommendation from the Custom Tolkien Book List, on the web at

    http://tolkien.slimy.com/books.html

    (This URL redirects to the longer and messier URL of the actual list.)
    -------

    2. What books about Middle-earth are considered "canonical"?

    [I have written an essay on this topic, including general observations
    and my own approach. It is on the web at: http://tolkien.slimy.com/essays/TolkParish.html.]

    As the term is used on the Tolkien newsgroups, a "canonical" text is
    one which is believed to provide authoritative information about
    Middle-earth. This concept is more subtle than it may appear at first
    glance, in part because most of Tolkien's mythology remained incomplete
    when he died. Books or even individual chapters or essays may be
    regarded as more or less "trustworthy" than others, and many people
    reject the idea that there is a single "true" Middle-earth entirely.

    Among those who accept the concept of "canon" to at least some
    degree, almost all agree that /The Lord of the Rings/ is a canonical
    text and most assign equal or near equal weight to /The Hobbit/ (the
    other books about Middle-earth published in Tolkien's lifetime are
    treated similarly). However, due to heavy and unmarked posthumous
    editing, /The Silmarillion/ is considered by many /not/ to be canonical
    (see question III.A.3 for details).

    People put various amounts of trust in the many drafts and essays in /Unfinished Tales/ and the "History of Middle-earth" series. In cases
    where Tolkien's intent seems particularly stable and clear, some trust
    these sources almost as much as /The Hobbit/ and LotR themselves. In
    practice, this means that most of the more trustworthy material is
    found in /Unfinished Tales/ and in volumes X-XII of the HoMe series.
    Opinions on how much to trust /The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien/ are
    mixed, but its contents are generally respected as long as they are not contradicted by other (more canonical) texts. The pictures in /J.R.R.
    Tolkien: Artist and Illustrator/ by Wayne Hammond and Christina Scull
    may also be considered somewhat canonical.

    It is important to note that many aspects of Middle-earth changed substantially over the course of Tolkien's life. Because of this,
    facts taken from the early versions of the mythology can be misleading
    or just plain wrong when used to draw conclusions about LotR or later
    versions of the mythology. This means that while the early versions
    can provide valuable hints about Tolkien's thoughts on an issue, they
    are rarely considered to provide definitive evidence for any position.

    The Custom Tolkien Book List (mentioned in question III.A.1)
    includes my own perspective on the "canonicity" of each section of each
    book in the list. While those are just one person's opinions, they are
    fairly typical. A static version of the list in publication order can
    be found on the web at

    http://tolkien.slimy.com/publist.html

    That static list still contains a link to the customizable version.
    -------

    3. How does /The Silmarillion/ as published differ from what Tolkien
    intended?

    This is a complicated question that is essentially unanswerable:
    despite his lifelong effort, Tolkien never came close to completing
    /The Silmarillion/. At Tolkien's request, after his death his son
    Christopher (with some help from Guy Kay) worked to "bring the work
    into publishable form"; Christopher discusses the difficulties involved
    in the book's Foreword. To understand why /The Silmarillion/ took the
    form that it did (and why it is rarely considered "canonical", as
    mentioned in question III.A.2), it is worth exploring those editorial
    changes. The full story can be found in the "History of Middle-earth"
    books, particularly /Morgoth's Ring/ and /The War of the Jewels/
    (volumes X-XI).

    The most basic editorial decision was which writings to include in
    the book at all. The "Quenta Silmarillion" is of course the central
    text, but Tolkien also wrote numerous associated stories and essays.
    Charles Noad explored this question as part of his essay "On the
    Construction of 'The Silmarillion'" (published in /Tolkien's
    Legendarium/; see question III.A.5), where he suggests an "outline for
    'The Silmarillion' as Tolkien may have intended it". In addition to the
    texts in the published book, Noad includes expanded versions of four
    stories: "The Lay of Leithian" (possibly in poetic form), "Narn i Chin
    Hurin", "The Fall of Gondolin", and "Earendil the Wanderer" (which
    Tolkien never even fully sketched). He also includes five
    "Appendices": writings about Middle-earth and its inhabitants such as
    "Laws and Customs among the Eldar" and the "Athrabeth Finrod ah
    Andreth" (most of these were published in HoMe X-XI). Sadly, a book
    with this outline could never be made satisfying with just the texts
    that Tolkien left us.

    Moving on to the texts that were actually included in /The
    Silmarillion/ as published, there were three types of problems to
    overcome. In the worst cases, there were crucial gaps in the narrative
    where Tolkien had never written more than an outline of the story (or
    where the most recent version was hopelessly outdated). Much more
    frequently, Tolkien's years of revisions led to factual inconsistencies
    between stories written at various times (especially between writings
    before and after /The Lord of the Rings/). And finally, Tolkien's
    writings differed markedly in tone, ranging from vivid narratives to
    terse annals to philosophical essays. To assemble a single text,
    consistent in style and detail, from such a range of source material
    clearly required substantial editing.

    Despite that pessimistic assessment, the vast majority of the
    published /Silmarillion/ is taken directly from Tolkien's work and
    seems to come quite close to what he intended, as far as it goes. (None
    of the "expanded" tales were ever completed, but what exists of them
    can be found for the most part in /Unfinished Tales/, /The Lays of
    Beleriand/, and the other "History of Middle-earth" books mentioned
    above.) Still, mild editing is not uncommon, and can be difficult to
    identify even by comparison to the source texts as published in HoMe.
    Thus, /The Silmarillion/ is often not treated as a final authority in
    scholarly discussions of Middle-earth. (A classic example is its
    mistaken ancestry of Gil-galad, as discussed in question III.B.8.)

    The greatest concern, of course, comes from those few cases where
    large gaps had to be filled by the editors. This happened to some
    extent for "Of Tuor and the Fall of Gondolin" and "Of the Voyage of
    Earendil and the War of Wrath", but the most substantial editorial
    "invention" came in the chapter "Of the Ruin of Doriath". The episode

    [continued in next message]

    --- SoupGate-Win32 v1.05
    * Origin: fsxNet Usenet Gateway (21:1/5)
  • From Steuard Jensen@21:1/5 to All on Fri Aug 21 23:14:01 2020
    XPost: alt.fan.tolkien

    Posted-By: auto-faq 3.3.1 (Perl 5.020)
    Posting-Frequency: monthly
    URL: http://tolkien.slimy.com/

    TOLKIEN NEWSGROUPS FAQ

    Copyright (C) 1999-2012 by Steuard Jensen

    (Created 17 Aug 1999)
    (Last updated 11 Mar 2012)



    For many years, the Tolkien Usenet newsgroups have been home to a
    pair of excellent Frequently Asked Questions lists about Tolkien and Middle-earth, compiled by William D. B. Loos. These sources contain a
    wealth of information, but are no longer maintained (the last update
    seems to have been in July 1996). This means that quite a few issues
    of current interest to the groups are not fully addressed in those
    documents.

    This FAQ supplements, updates, and expands on the earlier ones,
    though it is not meant to replace them entirely. It includes new and
    corrected information on some of the old discussions, numerous entries
    on topics not covered in the older FAQs, and a broad discussion of the
    Tolkien newsgroups and common standards of netiquette. This FAQ is
    intended both as an introduction for newcomers to the newsgroups and as
    a source of information for anyone exploring Middle-earth.

    The official HTML version of the FAQ is on the web at

    http://tolkien.slimy.com/faq/

    The plain text version is posted to Usenet on the 22nd of each month
    and is also available on the web, at

    http://tolkien.slimy.com/faq/TolkNgFaq.txt

    For a unified and easy to use interface to this FAQ, the Loos FAQs, and
    others, consider visiting the Tolkien Meta-FAQ, at

    http://tolkien.slimy.com/

    I would like to give my sincere thanks to the many, many people on
    the newsgroups and elsewhere who have given criticism, suggestions, and encouragement as I wrote this FAQ. This project would never have
    succeeded without their wonderful support.

    Steuard Jensen
    steuard@slimy.com ------------------------------------------------------------------------ ------------------------------------------------------------------------


    Table of Contents

    Sections/questions marked: * have been revised since the last release
    ** are new since the last release

    I. Changes Since the Last Release *

    II. Newsgroups and Netiquette

    A. Information on the Tolkien Newsgroups
    1. What newsgroups are we talking about again?
    2. Why are there two groups?
    3. Do I have to have a Ph.D. in Tolkienology to post?
    4. What questions and topics are appropriate?
    5. What does a tilde (~) in the subject mean? and
    Is it acceptable to post messages with sexual content?
    6. What common mistakes should I try to avoid?
    7. What do all the abbreviations used on the groups mean?

    B. The Basics of Netiquette
    1. What is the proper subject line for my post?
    2. What should I do when replying to an earlier article?
    For example, should I "top post" or "bottom post"?
    3. When should I "cross-post" to multiple newsgroups?
    4. I am able to post my messages with HTML formatting. Should I?
    5. If someone insults me or otherwise makes me upset, should I
    flame them back?
    6. Even if my reputation and honor are at stake?
    7. Where can I go for more information on netiquette, and on
    Usenet in general?

    III. Debates and Discussion

    A. Story External Questions
    1. What is the best order in which to read the books?
    2. What books about Middle-earth are considered "canonical"?
    3. How does /The Silmarillion/ as published differ from what
    Tolkien intended?
    4. Which are "The Two Towers"?
    5. Which books /about/ Tolkien are good, and which aren't?
    6. Is Middle-earth Medieval?
    7. Was Tolkien racist? Were his works?
    8. Are there electronic versions of Tolkien's books?
    9. Where can I report copyright violations that I observe?

    B. Story Internal Questions: Creatures and Characters
    1. Did Balrogs have wings?
    2. Could Balrogs fly?
    3. What was Tom Bombadil?
    4. Did Elves have pointed ears?
    5. Did Elves have beards?
    6. What happened to Elves after they died?
    7. Was Glorfindel of Rivendell the same as Glorfindel of Gondolin?
    8. Who was Gil-galad's father?
    9. Did Dwarf women have beards?
    10. Was there "telepathy" in Middle-earth?
    11. Did Sauron have a physical form during /The Lord of the
    Rings/? *
    12. What were the names of the Nazgul?
    13. What was Gothmog (the lieutenant of Morgul)?
    14. What was the origin of Orcs?
    15. Were Orcs immortal, and what happened to them after death?
    16. What was the relationship between Orcs and Goblins?
    17. What was the origin of Saruman's Uruk-hai?
    18. What was the origin of Trolls?
    19. What were the giants (seen by Bilbo in /The Hobbit/)?

    C. Story Internal Questions: History and Happenings
    1. Why didn't they just have an Eagle fly the Ring to Mt. Doom?
    2. Were the barrow blades magical? In what way?
    3. Why didn't the Nazgul take the Ring at Weathertop?
    4. Who killed the Witch-king, Merry or Eowyn?
    5. Did Frodo and the other mortals who passed over the Sea
    eventually die?
    6. Did Sam follow Frodo into the West?
    7. What is known about the Blue Wizards?
    8. Who was aware that a Balrog lived in Moria?
    9. Did Elves and Dwarves generally get along?
    10. Where was the Ring when Numenor was destroyed?
    11. Who was the oldest inhabitant of Middle-earth?

    IV. External Resources

    A. Where else can I find general information about Middle-earth?
    1. The Tolkien Meta-FAQ
    2. The Tolkien FAQ and LessFAQ
    3. The "FAQ of the Rings"
    4. The Letters FAQ
    5. Google's Usenet archive

    B. Where can I learn more about Tolkien's languages?

    C. Stories of Middle-earth in many forms
    1. What editions of Tolkien's books are best?
    2. What audio versions of Tolkien's books are available?
    3. What is the groups' view of the recent /Lord of the Rings/
    movies?
    4. Where can I find out about music related to Middle-earth?

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------ ------------------------------------------------------------------------

    I. CHANGES SINCE THE LAST RELEASE

    Adjusted wording of question III.B.11 about Sauron's physical form
    to emphasize the relevance of the evidence to the period of LotR.

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------ ------------------------------------------------------------------------

    II. NEWSGROUPS AND NETIQUETTE

    When discussing Tolkien (or anything else) online, it is important
    to know at least a little about the "culture" of the discussion forum
    that you are participating in. The information in this section is
    intended to give an idea of "appropriate" behavior on the Tolkien
    Usenet newsgroups. To make our discussions as enjoyable as possible,
    every participant should try to be familiar with what follows.

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------

    II.A. INFORMATION ON THE TOLKIEN NEWSGROUPS

    1. What newsgroups are we talking about again?

    There are several Usenet newsgroups specific to Tolkien and his
    works. However, the two most widely read and distributed of these are rec.arts.books.tolkien and alt.fan.tolkien, commonly abbreviated either
    r.a.b.t or RABT and a.f.t or AFT, respectively.

    The official rec.arts.books.tolkien charter can be found at

    http://tolkien.slimy.com/newsgroups/RABTcharter.txt

    Alt.fan.tolkien does not have a formal charter.
    -------

    2. Why are there two groups?

    Originally, AFT was the only Tolkien newsgroup on Usenet. RABT was
    created (when the approval vote passed on 26 Mar 1993) as a replacement
    for AFT which would be carried by a larger fraction of news servers.
    However, AFT was never removed, and both groups currently enjoy
    substantial readership. While only RABT has a formal charter (see
    question II.A.1 for reference), the two groups are virtually identical
    in intended content.

    Many participants see a tendency for RABT to be somewhat more
    "scholarly" in tone while AFT is a bit more "conversational", and some
    suggest that this distinction is useful and should be encouraged.
    Other participants draw less of a distinction between the two groups,
    and often believe that a difference in focus would be both undesirable
    and impossible to achieve. In practice, everyone decides for
    themselves how they want to treat the two groups, and most people
    generally don't complain one way or the other.
    -------

    3. Do I have to have a Ph.D. in Tolkienology to post?

    By no means! People with any amount of Tolkien "lore" are welcome
    to participate. It is advisable, however, to have read /The Hobbit/
    and /The Lord of the Rings/ before spending much time here, as
    otherwise you run the risk of many, many spoilers for both books.

    When you do participate in discussions, just use whatever Tolkien
    knowledge you have: you can have great ideas regardless of how much
    you've read. Occasionally, others will cite sources (often obscure but
    just as often authoritative) that weaken or disprove your arguments.
    When this happens (as it does to every one of us), nobody will think
    less of you for not knowing the reference; treat it as a chance to
    learn something new about Middle-earth.
    -------

    4. What questions and topics are appropriate?

    Virtually any topic related (even distantly) to Tolkien and his
    works is fair game. If you post a purely "factual" question (like "How
    many Ringwraiths were there?"), it's a good idea to explain why you're
    asking: we periodically see questions from students who hope we will do
    their homework for them, and the last thing we want to do is help
    people to avoid reading the books!

    It is appreciated if articles that have absolutely nothing to do
    with Tolkien have subject lines beginning with "OT:" ("Off Topic"). The
    Tolkien newsgroups are a sufficiently social community that threads
    often do drift away from their initial topics, and while this should
    not be discouraged, it is polite to label it when it happens. On the
    other hand, off topic discussions that get too intense or go on too
    long can interfere with others' enjoyment of the groups, and should be
    avoided.

    Binary files, such as images or sounds, are NEVER appropriate in a non-binaries newsgroup. To share a binary file with people in the
    Tolkien groups, you have two main options. One is to find an
    appropriate newsgroup in the alt.binaries.* hierarchy, post the file
    there, and then post a message here telling us where to look. Another
    (more common) method is to put the file on the Web and post the URL on
    the newsgroups.
    -------

    5. What does a tilde (~) in the subject mean? and
    Is it acceptable to post messages with sexual content?

    Articles posted to these newsgroups occasionally contain comments
    that some consider inappropriate for younger readers. After much
    discussion, most participants agreed to mark messages with /sexual/
    content with a tilde in the subject line. Individuals can then create
    killfiles to screen out such messages as desired. While not everyone
    agrees that such a system is beneficial, following this convention is
    the polite thing to do. The newsgroup charter recommends the use of
    ROT-13 "encryption" for this purpose, but this has become less common.
    -------

    6. What common mistakes should I try to avoid?

    By and large, the participants in the Tolkien newsgroups try to
    judge others based on their ideas rather than on details of grammar and
    posting style. However, there are a few types of simple mistakes that
    tend to cause some level of bias and annoyance among many group
    members, which in turn can distract them from your real message. Most
    of these are covered in the "Netiquette" section below.

    One common mistake of this type that is not related to netiquette is confusing the singular and plural forms of common Elvish words. On the
    Tolkien newsgroups, these words are so familiar that the phrase "Manwe
    is a Valar" sounds just as jarring and strange as "Finrod is an Elves."
    To reduce this problem, a list of some of the most commonly confused singular/plural pairs is given below. Note the patterns!

    Singular: Vala Maia Elda Noldo Teler Istar Adan
    Plural: Valar Maiar Eldar Noldor Teleri Istari Edain

    Another issue that arises periodically is whether or not /The Lord
    of the Rings/ should be referred to as a "trilogy". Tolkien said quite
    clearly in Letter #165 that "The book is /not/ of course a 'trilogy'",
    and some people make a point of correcting those who use the term.
    However, in Letter #252, Tolkien himself refers to "my trilogy", so
    most of us agree that using the term is an acceptable shorthand, if
    nothing else.
    -------

    7. What do all the abbreviations used on the groups mean?

    [More abbreviations can be found in section IV of the Tolkien FAQ.]

    Some names and phrases come up so frequently on the Tolkien
    newsgroups that they are often abbreviated for convenience. A few of
    the very most common are defined below; these definitions are excerpted
    from Sir Confused-a-Lot's old AFT Glossary, now online at

    http://silenceisdefeat.com/~aft-rabt/glossary/

    JRRT: John Ronald Reuel Tolkien
    ME: Middle-earth
    LotR: /The Lord of the Rings/
    FotR: /The Fellowship of the Ring/
    TT: /The Two Towers/
    RotK: /The Return of the King/
    Silm.: /The Silmarillion/
    UT: /Unfinished Tales/
    HoMe: the "History of Middle-earth" series
    Letters: /The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien/
    Narn: The "Narn I Hin Hurin" in UT
    Athrabeth: The "Athrabeth Finrod Ah Andreth" in /Morgoth's Ring/

    NG: Newsgroup
    TEUNC: "Tolkien Eccentric Unusual Nut Cases", an eGroup of
    Tolkien fans, some of whom frequent the newsgroups
    LOL: Laughing Out Loud
    ROTFL: Rolling On The Floor Laughing

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------

    II.B. THE BASICS OF NETIQUETTE

    1. What is the proper subject line for my post?

    Make sure that the "Subject:" line of your post matches the topic
    that you are discussing. Be concise, but specific: subject lines such
    as "The Lord of the Rings" or "Tolkien" give no useful information
    about the contents of your post. Note that this does not only apply to
    the first post in a thread: if you see that the subject line no longer
    matches the topic of a thread, change it when you reply! Also, follow
    the "OT:" convention for off-topic posts (mentioned in question II.A.4
    above).

    When you do change the subject line, it is polite to indicate the
    subject of the previous post. For example, "Balrog Wings" might become
    "Balrog Flight (was Balrog Wings)" and then "Eagles (was Balrog
    Flight)". This helps people follow the history of the thread.
    -------

    2. What should I do when replying to an earlier article?
    For example, should I "top post" or "bottom post"?

    First and foremost, make sure to retain the attribution of any
    quoted text, so others know who said the things you are replying to.
    Almost equally important, make sure that you trim the previous post as
    much as possible:

    * If you are replying to one specific comment in the previous
    article, delete all of the previous text except that comment. If
    the comment is at all long, try to trim it down to its essence.
    Type your reply directly beneath the quoted comment.

    * If you are replying to several distinct points individually, quote
    each one as above and type your reply immediately below it (and
    above the next point).

    * If you are replying to a long section that cannot be easily
    trimmed down (for example, an original poem or story), quote only
    its first and last lines (and perhaps put "[snip]" or "..." on a
    line in between the two). If there are particular pieces that
    you want to respond to individually, do so as described above.

    There are two general rules of thumb to follow in connection with
    the above guidelines:

    * Any article you post should have more lines of new text than lines
    of quoted text. It is generally acceptable to ignore this rule
    if the entire post (including basic headers and any signature) is
    short enough to fit on a single 24 line screen.

    * Any comments specifically replying to the previous article should
    come /below/ the relevant part of the previous article. This
    makes reading the article more like reading a conversation, and
    therefore much easier to follow.

    This obviously means that "top posting" is strongly discouraged: it
    forces readers to scroll up and down between the new and old material,
    and it usually involves quoting the entire previous post(s) untrimmed..
    Whether you call our practice "bottom posting", "middle posting", or
    "standard netiquette" is up to you.

    An example of a post that follows these guidelines can be found on
    the web at

    http://tolkien.slimy.com/newsgroups/EssayDiscuss.txt

    This long message (from a discussion of my essay on Tom Bombadil) would
    be all but impossible to follow if the point by point replies were not organized as described above.

    Finally, make sure to keep the subject line up to date, as discussed
    in question II.B.1.
    -------

    3. When should I "cross-post" to multiple newsgroups?

    Generally, you should post an article to the single most appropriate
    group: a question about /The Hobbit/ is more appropriate on rec.arts.books.tolkien than on rec.arts.books. However, there are cases
    when several groups are appropriate: a discussion of the influence of
    Tolkien's faith on his writings could be interesting to readers of both soc.religion.christian.roman-catholic and rec.arts.books.tolkien.
    (Cases in which more than two or three groups are truly appropriate are extremely rare!)

    In such cases, it is almost always better to "cross-post" the
    article to multiple groups than to post separately to each. To do
    this, list all of the relevant groups together on the "Newsgroups:"
    line, separated by commas but /no/ spaces (many posts here list
    "Newsgroups: alt.fan.tolkien,rec.arts.books.tolkien"). Cross-posting
    has several advantages, the most important being that responses to a cross-posted article are also cross-posted. That ensures that everyone involved in the discussion sees every reply.

    Some internet service providers (notably AOL) misguidedly forbid cross-posting, probably because /inappropriate/ cross-posting is very
    bad netiquette and is often used to "spam" many groups at once. If you
    have this problem, it may be better to choose just one "best" group for
    your post than to post separate copies to multiple groups.
    -------

    4. I am able to post my messages with HTML formatting. Should I?

    Generally, no. Many of us use simple text-based programs to read
    news, and posts with HTML formatting can be very difficult to read.
    You can generally turn off this behavior from the "Preferences" or
    "Options" section of your newsreader. For some newsreaders, you will
    need to change more than one setting to completely eliminate this
    behavior.
    -------

    5. If someone insults me or otherwise makes me upset, should I flame
    them back?

    No.

    6. Even if my reputation and honor are at stake?

    Feel free to post any corrections or differences in opinion that you
    feel are necessary. Feel free to indicate that you are hurt, unhappy,
    or insulted because of their comments. But by no means escalate the
    budding flame war, and try your hardest to be polite in your response:
    this tends to get the group's sentiments on your side far better than
    any exchange of name-calling ever could. People are usually fairly
    good at recognizing when someone is being terribly unfair. Yes, it is undoubtedly your right to flame if you want to, but the vast majority
    of the group would be happier if you did not.

    In general, try to give others the benefit of the doubt: with only
    text to go on, it's hard to judge their real intent. Could you have
    misread the insulting lines in their post? Could they have been
    speaking tongue in cheek? Maybe they only meant to tease you, not
    realizing that you would really be insulted. Assuming the worst is a depressing way to live one's life.

    Finally, be particularly careful not to reply to a "troll", someone
    who intentionally fishes for arguments and flames. These people seem
    to take great personal delight in inspiring people to anger or
    indignation; the best reaction to them is generally to ignore them
    altogether.
    -------

    7. Where can I go for more information on netiquette, and on Usenet in
    general?

    One of the best places to start has always been the newsgroup news.announce.newusers. This group is home to a wide range of articles
    that provide introductory information about many aspects of Usenet
    news. Unfortunately, most of these articles are no longer being posted regularly to the group. It may be more effective to read archived
    copies of them at

    ftp://rtfm.mit.edu/pub/usenet/news.announce.newusers/

    Read the "Welcome to Usenet!" article there first.

    The information on netiquette and on Usenet in general in the news.announce.newusers articles remains very relevant today, but those
    articles are several years old. More recent information on similar
    topics can be found at the web sites associated with the news.newusers.questions newsgroup. A list of these sites around the
    world can be found at

    http://users.rcn.com/kateshort/nnq/nnqlinks.html

    (among many other places).

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------ ------------------------------------------------------------------------

    III. DEBATES AND DISCUSSION

    A great many questions about Tolkien and his books arise repeatedly
    on the Tolkien newsgroups. The starting point of each debate is the
    same almost every time, and it takes a long time for the discussion to
    reach "new ground." In the worst cases, bitter and longstanding
    arguments about the basics get in the way before new progress can be
    made at all.

    The purpose of a FAQ is to avoid this problem by setting down the
    basics in a common place so that the discussion can deal with new
    issues from the start. However, it is very difficult to balance the
    need for conciseness with the need for completeness: many debates that repeatedly appear on the Tolkien newsgroups have generated very large
    amounts of "known territory."

    Keep in mind that this FAQ provides only summaries of these debates:
    many of their subtleties are omitted for the sake of brevity. Most of
    these topics have been discussed at length by many intelligent In these
    cases, it is extremely unlikely that any unambiguous "proof" of one
    position exists. With this in mind, try to be respectful toward those
    who disagree with you. To get more information on the usual content of
    common discussions, it is often helpful to browse those discussions
    themselves at the Google Groups Usenet archive (see question IV.A.5 for
    more information).

    Finally, be sure to read question III.A.2, dealing with "canonical"
    texts. This FAQ addresses only the state of Middle-earth after LotR
    was written, which corresponds roughly to the material included in the published /Silmarillion/. Details from earlier versions of the
    mythology will not be discussed in this document (and are generally
    given very limited weight in debates about the later state of the
    mythology).

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------

    III.A. STORY EXTERNAL QUESTIONS

    1. What is the best order in which to read the books?

    This depends on each person's personal preferences. Unless you
    strongly dislike stories written for children, most recommend reading
    /The Hobbit/ first. /The Lord of the Rings/ is certainly next (feel
    free to skip the Prologue if you find it dull, and after the main text
    try to read at least Appendix A.I.v, "The Tale of Aragorn and Arwen").

    If you enjoy any part of the Appendices to LotR, there are things in Tolkien's other books that you are likely to enjoy as well. Most
    suggest reading /The Children of Hurin/, /Unfinished Tales/, /The Silmarillion/, and /The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien/ next, in some order
    (perhaps that one). /The Children of Hurin/ is the only complete novel
    about Middle-earth published after Tolkien's death (although it takes
    place long before the events of LotR, it probably isn't necessary to
    read Silm. first). The stories and essays in UT can be read in any
    order, so the "Third Age" material is a good starting point for those
    coming straight from LotR (the "First Age" stories are excellent, but
    are easier to follow after reading Silm.; the other parts of UT are
    mostly accessible to those who have read LotR and its appendices).
    Many people find the early parts of Silm. slow to read (like a history
    book or the Bible), but it is often a favorite among those who have
    read it. /Letters/ contains insights into both Middle-earth and Tolkien
    as a person.

    For more details (and more books), try getting a personalized
    recommendation from the Custom Tolkien Book List, on the web at

    http://tolkien.slimy.com/books.html

    (This URL redirects to the longer and messier URL of the actual list.)
    -------

    2. What books about Middle-earth are considered "canonical"?

    [I have written an essay on this topic, including general observations
    and my own approach. It is on the web at: http://tolkien.slimy.com/essays/TolkParish.html.]

    As the term is used on the Tolkien newsgroups, a "canonical" text is
    one which is believed to provide authoritative information about
    Middle-earth. This concept is more subtle than it may appear at first
    glance, in part because most of Tolkien's mythology remained incomplete
    when he died. Books or even individual chapters or essays may be
    regarded as more or less "trustworthy" than others, and many people
    reject the idea that there is a single "true" Middle-earth entirely.

    Among those who accept the concept of "canon" to at least some
    degree, almost all agree that /The Lord of the Rings/ is a canonical
    text and most assign equal or near equal weight to /The Hobbit/ (the
    other books about Middle-earth published in Tolkien's lifetime are
    treated similarly). However, due to heavy and unmarked posthumous
    editing, /The Silmarillion/ is considered by many /not/ to be canonical
    (see question III.A.3 for details).

    People put various amounts of trust in the many drafts and essays in /Unfinished Tales/ and the "History of Middle-earth" series. In cases
    where Tolkien's intent seems particularly stable and clear, some trust
    these sources almost as much as /The Hobbit/ and LotR themselves. In
    practice, this means that most of the more trustworthy material is
    found in /Unfinished Tales/ and in volumes X-XII of the HoMe series.
    Opinions on how much to trust /The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien/ are
    mixed, but its contents are generally respected as long as they are not contradicted by other (more canonical) texts. The pictures in /J.R.R.
    Tolkien: Artist and Illustrator/ by Wayne Hammond and Christina Scull
    may also be considered somewhat canonical.

    It is important to note that many aspects of Middle-earth changed substantially over the course of Tolkien's life. Because of this,
    facts taken from the early versions of the mythology can be misleading
    or just plain wrong when used to draw conclusions about LotR or later
    versions of the mythology. This means that while the early versions
    can provide valuable hints about Tolkien's thoughts on an issue, they
    are rarely considered to provide definitive evidence for any position.

    The Custom Tolkien Book List (mentioned in question III.A.1)
    includes my own perspective on the "canonicity" of each section of each
    book in the list. While those are just one person's opinions, they are
    fairly typical. A static version of the list in publication order can
    be found on the web at

    http://tolkien.slimy.com/publist.html

    That static list still contains a link to the customizable version.
    -------

    3. How does /The Silmarillion/ as published differ from what Tolkien
    intended?

    This is a complicated question that is essentially unanswerable:
    despite his lifelong effort, Tolkien never came close to completing
    /The Silmarillion/. At Tolkien's request, after his death his son
    Christopher (with some help from Guy Kay) worked to "bring the work
    into publishable form"; Christopher discusses the difficulties involved
    in the book's Foreword. To understand why /The Silmarillion/ took the
    form that it did (and why it is rarely considered "canonical", as
    mentioned in question III.A.2), it is worth exploring those editorial
    changes. The full story can be found in the "History of Middle-earth"
    books, particularly /Morgoth's Ring/ and /The War of the Jewels/
    (volumes X-XI).

    The most basic editorial decision was which writings to include in
    the book at all. The "Quenta Silmarillion" is of course the central
    text, but Tolkien also wrote numerous associated stories and essays.
    Charles Noad explored this question as part of his essay "On the
    Construction of 'The Silmarillion'" (published in /Tolkien's
    Legendarium/; see question III.A.5), where he suggests an "outline for
    'The Silmarillion' as Tolkien may have intended it". In addition to the
    texts in the published book, Noad includes expanded versions of four
    stories: "The Lay of Leithian" (possibly in poetic form), "Narn i Chin
    Hurin", "The Fall of Gondolin", and "Earendil the Wanderer" (which
    Tolkien never even fully sketched). He also includes five
    "Appendices": writings about Middle-earth and its inhabitants such as
    "Laws and Customs among the Eldar" and the "Athrabeth Finrod ah
    Andreth" (most of these were published in HoMe X-XI). Sadly, a book
    with this outline could never be made satisfying with just the texts
    that Tolkien left us.

    Moving on to the texts that were actually included in /The
    Silmarillion/ as published, there were three types of problems to
    overcome. In the worst cases, there were crucial gaps in the narrative
    where Tolkien had never written more than an outline of the story (or
    where the most recent version was hopelessly outdated). Much more
    frequently, Tolkien's years of revisions led to factual inconsistencies
    between stories written at various times (especially between writings
    before and after /The Lord of the Rings/). And finally, Tolkien's
    writings differed markedly in tone, ranging from vivid narratives to
    terse annals to philosophical essays. To assemble a single text,
    consistent in style and detail, from such a range of source material
    clearly required substantial editing.

    Despite that pessimistic assessment, the vast majority of the
    published /Silmarillion/ is taken directly from Tolkien's work and
    seems to come quite close to what he intended, as far as it goes. (None
    of the "expanded" tales were ever completed, but what exists of them
    can be found for the most part in /Unfinished Tales/, /The Lays of
    Beleriand/, and the other "History of Middle-earth" books mentioned
    above.) Still, mild editing is not uncommon, and can be difficult to
    identify even by comparison to the source texts as published in HoMe.
    Thus, /The Silmarillion/ is often not treated as a final authority in
    scholarly discussions of Middle-earth. (A classic example is its
    mistaken ancestry of Gil-galad, as discussed in question III.B.8.)

    The greatest concern, of course, comes from those few cases where
    large gaps had to be filled by the editors. This happened to some
    extent for "Of Tuor and the Fall of Gondolin" and "Of the Voyage of
    Earendil and the War of Wrath", but the most substantial editorial
    "invention" came in the chapter "Of the Ruin of Doriath". The episode

    [continued in next message]

    --- SoupGate-Win32 v1.05
    * Origin: fsxNet Usenet Gateway (21:1/5)
  • From Steuard Jensen@21:1/5 to All on Mon Sep 21 23:14:01 2020
    XPost: alt.fan.tolkien

    Posted-By: auto-faq 3.3.1 (Perl 5.020)
    Posting-Frequency: monthly
    URL: http://tolkien.slimy.com/

    TOLKIEN NEWSGROUPS FAQ

    Copyright (C) 1999-2012 by Steuard Jensen

    (Created 17 Aug 1999)
    (Last updated 11 Mar 2012)



    For many years, the Tolkien Usenet newsgroups have been home to a
    pair of excellent Frequently Asked Questions lists about Tolkien and Middle-earth, compiled by William D. B. Loos. These sources contain a
    wealth of information, but are no longer maintained (the last update
    seems to have been in July 1996). This means that quite a few issues
    of current interest to the groups are not fully addressed in those
    documents.

    This FAQ supplements, updates, and expands on the earlier ones,
    though it is not meant to replace them entirely. It includes new and
    corrected information on some of the old discussions, numerous entries
    on topics not covered in the older FAQs, and a broad discussion of the
    Tolkien newsgroups and common standards of netiquette. This FAQ is
    intended both as an introduction for newcomers to the newsgroups and as
    a source of information for anyone exploring Middle-earth.

    The official HTML version of the FAQ is on the web at

    http://tolkien.slimy.com/faq/

    The plain text version is posted to Usenet on the 22nd of each month
    and is also available on the web, at

    http://tolkien.slimy.com/faq/TolkNgFaq.txt

    For a unified and easy to use interface to this FAQ, the Loos FAQs, and
    others, consider visiting the Tolkien Meta-FAQ, at

    http://tolkien.slimy.com/

    I would like to give my sincere thanks to the many, many people on
    the newsgroups and elsewhere who have given criticism, suggestions, and encouragement as I wrote this FAQ. This project would never have
    succeeded without their wonderful support.

    Steuard Jensen
    steuard@slimy.com ------------------------------------------------------------------------ ------------------------------------------------------------------------


    Table of Contents

    Sections/questions marked: * have been revised since the last release
    ** are new since the last release

    I. Changes Since the Last Release *

    II. Newsgroups and Netiquette

    A. Information on the Tolkien Newsgroups
    1. What newsgroups are we talking about again?
    2. Why are there two groups?
    3. Do I have to have a Ph.D. in Tolkienology to post?
    4. What questions and topics are appropriate?
    5. What does a tilde (~) in the subject mean? and
    Is it acceptable to post messages with sexual content?
    6. What common mistakes should I try to avoid?
    7. What do all the abbreviations used on the groups mean?

    B. The Basics of Netiquette
    1. What is the proper subject line for my post?
    2. What should I do when replying to an earlier article?
    For example, should I "top post" or "bottom post"?
    3. When should I "cross-post" to multiple newsgroups?
    4. I am able to post my messages with HTML formatting. Should I?
    5. If someone insults me or otherwise makes me upset, should I
    flame them back?
    6. Even if my reputation and honor are at stake?
    7. Where can I go for more information on netiquette, and on
    Usenet in general?

    III. Debates and Discussion

    A. Story External Questions
    1. What is the best order in which to read the books?
    2. What books about Middle-earth are considered "canonical"?
    3. How does /The Silmarillion/ as published differ from what
    Tolkien intended?
    4. Which are "The Two Towers"?
    5. Which books /about/ Tolkien are good, and which aren't?
    6. Is Middle-earth Medieval?
    7. Was Tolkien racist? Were his works?
    8. Are there electronic versions of Tolkien's books?
    9. Where can I report copyright violations that I observe?

    B. Story Internal Questions: Creatures and Characters
    1. Did Balrogs have wings?
    2. Could Balrogs fly?
    3. What was Tom Bombadil?
    4. Did Elves have pointed ears?
    5. Did Elves have beards?
    6. What happened to Elves after they died?
    7. Was Glorfindel of Rivendell the same as Glorfindel of Gondolin?
    8. Who was Gil-galad's father?
    9. Did Dwarf women have beards?
    10. Was there "telepathy" in Middle-earth?
    11. Did Sauron have a physical form during /The Lord of the
    Rings/? *
    12. What were the names of the Nazgul?
    13. What was Gothmog (the lieutenant of Morgul)?
    14. What was the origin of Orcs?
    15. Were Orcs immortal, and what happened to them after death?
    16. What was the relationship between Orcs and Goblins?
    17. What was the origin of Saruman's Uruk-hai?
    18. What was the origin of Trolls?
    19. What were the giants (seen by Bilbo in /The Hobbit/)?

    C. Story Internal Questions: History and Happenings
    1. Why didn't they just have an Eagle fly the Ring to Mt. Doom?
    2. Were the barrow blades magical? In what way?
    3. Why didn't the Nazgul take the Ring at Weathertop?
    4. Who killed the Witch-king, Merry or Eowyn?
    5. Did Frodo and the other mortals who passed over the Sea
    eventually die?
    6. Did Sam follow Frodo into the West?
    7. What is known about the Blue Wizards?
    8. Who was aware that a Balrog lived in Moria?
    9. Did Elves and Dwarves generally get along?
    10. Where was the Ring when Numenor was destroyed?
    11. Who was the oldest inhabitant of Middle-earth?

    IV. External Resources

    A. Where else can I find general information about Middle-earth?
    1. The Tolkien Meta-FAQ
    2. The Tolkien FAQ and LessFAQ
    3. The "FAQ of the Rings"
    4. The Letters FAQ
    5. Google's Usenet archive

    B. Where can I learn more about Tolkien's languages?

    C. Stories of Middle-earth in many forms
    1. What editions of Tolkien's books are best?
    2. What audio versions of Tolkien's books are available?
    3. What is the groups' view of the recent /Lord of the Rings/
    movies?
    4. Where can I find out about music related to Middle-earth?

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------ ------------------------------------------------------------------------

    I. CHANGES SINCE THE LAST RELEASE

    Adjusted wording of question III.B.11 about Sauron's physical form
    to emphasize the relevance of the evidence to the period of LotR.

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------ ------------------------------------------------------------------------

    II. NEWSGROUPS AND NETIQUETTE

    When discussing Tolkien (or anything else) online, it is important
    to know at least a little about the "culture" of the discussion forum
    that you are participating in. The information in this section is
    intended to give an idea of "appropriate" behavior on the Tolkien
    Usenet newsgroups. To make our discussions as enjoyable as possible,
    every participant should try to be familiar with what follows.

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------

    II.A. INFORMATION ON THE TOLKIEN NEWSGROUPS

    1. What newsgroups are we talking about again?

    There are several Usenet newsgroups specific to Tolkien and his
    works. However, the two most widely read and distributed of these are rec.arts.books.tolkien and alt.fan.tolkien, commonly abbreviated either
    r.a.b.t or RABT and a.f.t or AFT, respectively.

    The official rec.arts.books.tolkien charter can be found at

    http://tolkien.slimy.com/newsgroups/RABTcharter.txt

    Alt.fan.tolkien does not have a formal charter.
    -------

    2. Why are there two groups?

    Originally, AFT was the only Tolkien newsgroup on Usenet. RABT was
    created (when the approval vote passed on 26 Mar 1993) as a replacement
    for AFT which would be carried by a larger fraction of news servers.
    However, AFT was never removed, and both groups currently enjoy
    substantial readership. While only RABT has a formal charter (see
    question II.A.1 for reference), the two groups are virtually identical
    in intended content.

    Many participants see a tendency for RABT to be somewhat more
    "scholarly" in tone while AFT is a bit more "conversational", and some
    suggest that this distinction is useful and should be encouraged.
    Other participants draw less of a distinction between the two groups,
    and often believe that a difference in focus would be both undesirable
    and impossible to achieve. In practice, everyone decides for
    themselves how they want to treat the two groups, and most people
    generally don't complain one way or the other.
    -------

    3. Do I have to have a Ph.D. in Tolkienology to post?

    By no means! People with any amount of Tolkien "lore" are welcome
    to participate. It is advisable, however, to have read /The Hobbit/
    and /The Lord of the Rings/ before spending much time here, as
    otherwise you run the risk of many, many spoilers for both books.

    When you do participate in discussions, just use whatever Tolkien
    knowledge you have: you can have great ideas regardless of how much
    you've read. Occasionally, others will cite sources (often obscure but
    just as often authoritative) that weaken or disprove your arguments.
    When this happens (as it does to every one of us), nobody will think
    less of you for not knowing the reference; treat it as a chance to
    learn something new about Middle-earth.
    -------

    4. What questions and topics are appropriate?

    Virtually any topic related (even distantly) to Tolkien and his
    works is fair game. If you post a purely "factual" question (like "How
    many Ringwraiths were there?"), it's a good idea to explain why you're
    asking: we periodically see questions from students who hope we will do
    their homework for them, and the last thing we want to do is help
    people to avoid reading the books!

    It is appreciated if articles that have absolutely nothing to do
    with Tolkien have subject lines beginning with "OT:" ("Off Topic"). The
    Tolkien newsgroups are a sufficiently social community that threads
    often do drift away from their initial topics, and while this should
    not be discouraged, it is polite to label it when it happens. On the
    other hand, off topic discussions that get too intense or go on too
    long can interfere with others' enjoyment of the groups, and should be
    avoided.

    Binary files, such as images or sounds, are NEVER appropriate in a non-binaries newsgroup. To share a binary file with people in the
    Tolkien groups, you have two main options. One is to find an
    appropriate newsgroup in the alt.binaries.* hierarchy, post the file
    there, and then post a message here telling us where to look. Another
    (more common) method is to put the file on the Web and post the URL on
    the newsgroups.
    -------

    5. What does a tilde (~) in the subject mean? and
    Is it acceptable to post messages with sexual content?

    Articles posted to these newsgroups occasionally contain comments
    that some consider inappropriate for younger readers. After much
    discussion, most participants agreed to mark messages with /sexual/
    content with a tilde in the subject line. Individuals can then create
    killfiles to screen out such messages as desired. While not everyone
    agrees that such a system is beneficial, following this convention is
    the polite thing to do. The newsgroup charter recommends the use of
    ROT-13 "encryption" for this purpose, but this has become less common.
    -------

    6. What common mistakes should I try to avoid?

    By and large, the participants in the Tolkien newsgroups try to
    judge others based on their ideas rather than on details of grammar and
    posting style. However, there are a few types of simple mistakes that
    tend to cause some level of bias and annoyance among many group
    members, which in turn can distract them from your real message. Most
    of these are covered in the "Netiquette" section below.

    One common mistake of this type that is not related to netiquette is confusing the singular and plural forms of common Elvish words. On the
    Tolkien newsgroups, these words are so familiar that the phrase "Manwe
    is a Valar" sounds just as jarring and strange as "Finrod is an Elves."
    To reduce this problem, a list of some of the most commonly confused singular/plural pairs is given below. Note the patterns!

    Singular: Vala Maia Elda Noldo Teler Istar Adan
    Plural: Valar Maiar Eldar Noldor Teleri Istari Edain

    Another issue that arises periodically is whether or not /The Lord
    of the Rings/ should be referred to as a "trilogy". Tolkien said quite
    clearly in Letter #165 that "The book is /not/ of course a 'trilogy'",
    and some people make a point of correcting those who use the term.
    However, in Letter #252, Tolkien himself refers to "my trilogy", so
    most of us agree that using the term is an acceptable shorthand, if
    nothing else.
    -------

    7. What do all the abbreviations used on the groups mean?

    [More abbreviations can be found in section IV of the Tolkien FAQ.]

    Some names and phrases come up so frequently on the Tolkien
    newsgroups that they are often abbreviated for convenience. A few of
    the very most common are defined below; these definitions are excerpted
    from Sir Confused-a-Lot's old AFT Glossary, now online at

    http://silenceisdefeat.com/~aft-rabt/glossary/

    JRRT: John Ronald Reuel Tolkien
    ME: Middle-earth
    LotR: /The Lord of the Rings/
    FotR: /The Fellowship of the Ring/
    TT: /The Two Towers/
    RotK: /The Return of the King/
    Silm.: /The Silmarillion/
    UT: /Unfinished Tales/
    HoMe: the "History of Middle-earth" series
    Letters: /The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien/
    Narn: The "Narn I Hin Hurin" in UT
    Athrabeth: The "Athrabeth Finrod Ah Andreth" in /Morgoth's Ring/

    NG: Newsgroup
    TEUNC: "Tolkien Eccentric Unusual Nut Cases", an eGroup of
    Tolkien fans, some of whom frequent the newsgroups
    LOL: Laughing Out Loud
    ROTFL: Rolling On The Floor Laughing

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------

    II.B. THE BASICS OF NETIQUETTE

    1. What is the proper subject line for my post?

    Make sure that the "Subject:" line of your post matches the topic
    that you are discussing. Be concise, but specific: subject lines such
    as "The Lord of the Rings" or "Tolkien" give no useful information
    about the contents of your post. Note that this does not only apply to
    the first post in a thread: if you see that the subject line no longer
    matches the topic of a thread, change it when you reply! Also, follow
    the "OT:" convention for off-topic posts (mentioned in question II.A.4
    above).

    When you do change the subject line, it is polite to indicate the
    subject of the previous post. For example, "Balrog Wings" might become
    "Balrog Flight (was Balrog Wings)" and then "Eagles (was Balrog
    Flight)". This helps people follow the history of the thread.
    -------

    2. What should I do when replying to an earlier article?
    For example, should I "top post" or "bottom post"?

    First and foremost, make sure to retain the attribution of any
    quoted text, so others know who said the things you are replying to.
    Almost equally important, make sure that you trim the previous post as
    much as possible:

    * If you are replying to one specific comment in the previous
    article, delete all of the previous text except that comment. If
    the comment is at all long, try to trim it down to its essence.
    Type your reply directly beneath the quoted comment.

    * If you are replying to several distinct points individually, quote
    each one as above and type your reply immediately below it (and
    above the next point).

    * If you are replying to a long section that cannot be easily
    trimmed down (for example, an original poem or story), quote only
    its first and last lines (and perhaps put "[snip]" or "..." on a
    line in between the two). If there are particular pieces that
    you want to respond to individually, do so as described above.

    There are two general rules of thumb to follow in connection with
    the above guidelines:

    * Any article you post should have more lines of new text than lines
    of quoted text. It is generally acceptable to ignore this rule
    if the entire post (including basic headers and any signature) is
    short enough to fit on a single 24 line screen.

    * Any comments specifically replying to the previous article should
    come /below/ the relevant part of the previous article. This
    makes reading the article more like reading a conversation, and
    therefore much easier to follow.

    This obviously means that "top posting" is strongly discouraged: it
    forces readers to scroll up and down between the new and old material,
    and it usually involves quoting the entire previous post(s) untrimmed..
    Whether you call our practice "bottom posting", "middle posting", or
    "standard netiquette" is up to you.

    An example of a post that follows these guidelines can be found on
    the web at

    http://tolkien.slimy.com/newsgroups/EssayDiscuss.txt

    This long message (from a discussion of my essay on Tom Bombadil) would
    be all but impossible to follow if the point by point replies were not organized as described above.

    Finally, make sure to keep the subject line up to date, as discussed
    in question II.B.1.
    -------

    3. When should I "cross-post" to multiple newsgroups?

    Generally, you should post an article to the single most appropriate
    group: a question about /The Hobbit/ is more appropriate on rec.arts.books.tolkien than on rec.arts.books. However, there are cases
    when several groups are appropriate: a discussion of the influence of
    Tolkien's faith on his writings could be interesting to readers of both soc.religion.christian.roman-catholic and rec.arts.books.tolkien.
    (Cases in which more than two or three groups are truly appropriate are extremely rare!)

    In such cases, it is almost always better to "cross-post" the
    article to multiple groups than to post separately to each. To do
    this, list all of the relevant groups together on the "Newsgroups:"
    line, separated by commas but /no/ spaces (many posts here list
    "Newsgroups: alt.fan.tolkien,rec.arts.books.tolkien"). Cross-posting
    has several advantages, the most important being that responses to a cross-posted article are also cross-posted. That ensures that everyone involved in the discussion sees every reply.

    Some internet service providers (notably AOL) misguidedly forbid cross-posting, probably because /inappropriate/ cross-posting is very
    bad netiquette and is often used to "spam" many groups at once. If you
    have this problem, it may be better to choose just one "best" group for
    your post than to post separate copies to multiple groups.
    -------

    4. I am able to post my messages with HTML formatting. Should I?

    Generally, no. Many of us use simple text-based programs to read
    news, and posts with HTML formatting can be very difficult to read.
    You can generally turn off this behavior from the "Preferences" or
    "Options" section of your newsreader. For some newsreaders, you will
    need to change more than one setting to completely eliminate this
    behavior.
    -------

    5. If someone insults me or otherwise makes me upset, should I flame
    them back?

    No.

    6. Even if my reputation and honor are at stake?

    Feel free to post any corrections or differences in opinion that you
    feel are necessary. Feel free to indicate that you are hurt, unhappy,
    or insulted because of their comments. But by no means escalate the
    budding flame war, and try your hardest to be polite in your response:
    this tends to get the group's sentiments on your side far better than
    any exchange of name-calling ever could. People are usually fairly
    good at recognizing when someone is being terribly unfair. Yes, it is undoubtedly your right to flame if you want to, but the vast majority
    of the group would be happier if you did not.

    In general, try to give others the benefit of the doubt: with only
    text to go on, it's hard to judge their real intent. Could you have
    misread the insulting lines in their post? Could they have been
    speaking tongue in cheek? Maybe they only meant to tease you, not
    realizing that you would really be insulted. Assuming the worst is a depressing way to live one's life.

    Finally, be particularly careful not to reply to a "troll", someone
    who intentionally fishes for arguments and flames. These people seem
    to take great personal delight in inspiring people to anger or
    indignation; the best reaction to them is generally to ignore them
    altogether.
    -------

    7. Where can I go for more information on netiquette, and on Usenet in
    general?

    One of the best places to start has always been the newsgroup news.announce.newusers. This group is home to a wide range of articles
    that provide introductory information about many aspects of Usenet
    news. Unfortunately, most of these articles are no longer being posted regularly to the group. It may be more effective to read archived
    copies of them at

    ftp://rtfm.mit.edu/pub/usenet/news.announce.newusers/

    Read the "Welcome to Usenet!" article there first.

    The information on netiquette and on Usenet in general in the news.announce.newusers articles remains very relevant today, but those
    articles are several years old. More recent information on similar
    topics can be found at the web sites associated with the news.newusers.questions newsgroup. A list of these sites around the
    world can be found at

    http://users.rcn.com/kateshort/nnq/nnqlinks.html

    (among many other places).

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------ ------------------------------------------------------------------------

    III. DEBATES AND DISCUSSION

    A great many questions about Tolkien and his books arise repeatedly
    on the Tolkien newsgroups. The starting point of each debate is the
    same almost every time, and it takes a long time for the discussion to
    reach "new ground." In the worst cases, bitter and longstanding
    arguments about the basics get in the way before new progress can be
    made at all.

    The purpose of a FAQ is to avoid this problem by setting down the
    basics in a common place so that the discussion can deal with new
    issues from the start. However, it is very difficult to balance the
    need for conciseness with the need for completeness: many debates that repeatedly appear on the Tolkien newsgroups have generated very large
    amounts of "known territory."

    Keep in mind that this FAQ provides only summaries of these debates:
    many of their subtleties are omitted for the sake of brevity. Most of
    these topics have been discussed at length by many intelligent In these
    cases, it is extremely unlikely that any unambiguous "proof" of one
    position exists. With this in mind, try to be respectful toward those
    who disagree with you. To get more information on the usual content of
    common discussions, it is often helpful to browse those discussions
    themselves at the Google Groups Usenet archive (see question IV.A.5 for
    more information).

    Finally, be sure to read question III.A.2, dealing with "canonical"
    texts. This FAQ addresses only the state of Middle-earth after LotR
    was written, which corresponds roughly to the material included in the published /Silmarillion/. Details from earlier versions of the
    mythology will not be discussed in this document (and are generally
    given very limited weight in debates about the later state of the
    mythology).

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------

    III.A. STORY EXTERNAL QUESTIONS

    1. What is the best order in which to read the books?

    This depends on each person's personal preferences. Unless you
    strongly dislike stories written for children, most recommend reading
    /The Hobbit/ first. /The Lord of the Rings/ is certainly next (feel
    free to skip the Prologue if you find it dull, and after the main text
    try to read at least Appendix A.I.v, "The Tale of Aragorn and Arwen").

    If you enjoy any part of the Appendices to LotR, there are things in Tolkien's other books that you are likely to enjoy as well. Most
    suggest reading /The Children of Hurin/, /Unfinished Tales/, /The Silmarillion/, and /The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien/ next, in some order
    (perhaps that one). /The Children of Hurin/ is the only complete novel
    about Middle-earth published after Tolkien's death (although it takes
    place long before the events of LotR, it probably isn't necessary to
    read Silm. first). The stories and essays in UT can be read in any
    order, so the "Third Age" material is a good starting point for those
    coming straight from LotR (the "First Age" stories are excellent, but
    are easier to follow after reading Silm.; the other parts of UT are
    mostly accessible to those who have read LotR and its appendices).
    Many people find the early parts of Silm. slow to read (like a history
    book or the Bible), but it is often a favorite among those who have
    read it. /Letters/ contains insights into both Middle-earth and Tolkien
    as a person.

    For more details (and more books), try getting a personalized
    recommendation from the Custom Tolkien Book List, on the web at

    http://tolkien.slimy.com/books.html

    (This URL redirects to the longer and messier URL of the actual list.)
    -------

    2. What books about Middle-earth are considered "canonical"?

    [I have written an essay on this topic, including general observations
    and my own approach. It is on the web at: http://tolkien.slimy.com/essays/TolkParish.html.]

    As the term is used on the Tolkien newsgroups, a "canonical" text is
    one which is believed to provide authoritative information about
    Middle-earth. This concept is more subtle than it may appear at first
    glance, in part because most of Tolkien's mythology remained incomplete
    when he died. Books or even individual chapters or essays may be
    regarded as more or less "trustworthy" than others, and many people
    reject the idea that there is a single "true" Middle-earth entirely.

    Among those who accept the concept of "canon" to at least some
    degree, almost all agree that /The Lord of the Rings/ is a canonical
    text and most assign equal or near equal weight to /The Hobbit/ (the
    other books about Middle-earth published in Tolkien's lifetime are
    treated similarly). However, due to heavy and unmarked posthumous
    editing, /The Silmarillion/ is considered by many /not/ to be canonical
    (see question III.A.3 for details).

    People put various amounts of trust in the many drafts and essays in /Unfinished Tales/ and the "History of Middle-earth" series. In cases
    where Tolkien's intent seems particularly stable and clear, some trust
    these sources almost as much as /The Hobbit/ and LotR themselves. In
    practice, this means that most of the more trustworthy material is
    found in /Unfinished Tales/ and in volumes X-XII of the HoMe series.
    Opinions on how much to trust /The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien/ are
    mixed, but its contents are generally respected as long as they are not contradicted by other (more canonical) texts. The pictures in /J.R.R.
    Tolkien: Artist and Illustrator/ by Wayne Hammond and Christina Scull
    may also be considered somewhat canonical.

    It is important to note that many aspects of Middle-earth changed substantially over the course of Tolkien's life. Because of this,
    facts taken from the early versions of the mythology can be misleading
    or just plain wrong when used to draw conclusions about LotR or later
    versions of the mythology. This means that while the early versions
    can provide valuable hints about Tolkien's thoughts on an issue, they
    are rarely considered to provide definitive evidence for any position.

    The Custom Tolkien Book List (mentioned in question III.A.1)
    includes my own perspective on the "canonicity" of each section of each
    book in the list. While those are just one person's opinions, they are
    fairly typical. A static version of the list in publication order can
    be found on the web at

    http://tolkien.slimy.com/publist.html

    That static list still contains a link to the customizable version.
    -------

    3. How does /The Silmarillion/ as published differ from what Tolkien
    intended?

    This is a complicated question that is essentially unanswerable:
    despite his lifelong effort, Tolkien never came close to completing
    /The Silmarillion/. At Tolkien's request, after his death his son
    Christopher (with some help from Guy Kay) worked to "bring the work
    into publishable form"; Christopher discusses the difficulties involved
    in the book's Foreword. To understand why /The Silmarillion/ took the
    form that it did (and why it is rarely considered "canonical", as
    mentioned in question III.A.2), it is worth exploring those editorial
    changes. The full story can be found in the "History of Middle-earth"
    books, particularly /Morgoth's Ring/ and /The War of the Jewels/
    (volumes X-XI).

    The most basic editorial decision was which writings to include in
    the book at all. The "Quenta Silmarillion" is of course the central
    text, but Tolkien also wrote numerous associated stories and essays.
    Charles Noad explored this question as part of his essay "On the
    Construction of 'The Silmarillion'" (published in /Tolkien's
    Legendarium/; see question III.A.5), where he suggests an "outline for
    'The Silmarillion' as Tolkien may have intended it". In addition to the
    texts in the published book, Noad includes expanded versions of four
    stories: "The Lay of Leithian" (possibly in poetic form), "Narn i Chin
    Hurin", "The Fall of Gondolin", and "Earendil the Wanderer" (which
    Tolkien never even fully sketched). He also includes five
    "Appendices": writings about Middle-earth and its inhabitants such as
    "Laws and Customs among the Eldar" and the "Athrabeth Finrod ah
    Andreth" (most of these were published in HoMe X-XI). Sadly, a book
    with this outline could never be made satisfying with just the texts
    that Tolkien left us.

    Moving on to the texts that were actually included in /The
    Silmarillion/ as published, there were three types of problems to
    overcome. In the worst cases, there were crucial gaps in the narrative
    where Tolkien had never written more than an outline of the story (or
    where the most recent version was hopelessly outdated). Much more
    frequently, Tolkien's years of revisions led to factual inconsistencies
    between stories written at various times (especially between writings
    before and after /The Lord of the Rings/). And finally, Tolkien's
    writings differed markedly in tone, ranging from vivid narratives to
    terse annals to philosophical essays. To assemble a single text,
    consistent in style and detail, from such a range of source material
    clearly required substantial editing.

    Despite that pessimistic assessment, the vast majority of the
    published /Silmarillion/ is taken directly from Tolkien's work and
    seems to come quite close to what he intended, as far as it goes. (None
    of the "expanded" tales were ever completed, but what exists of them
    can be found for the most part in /Unfinished Tales/, /The Lays of
    Beleriand/, and the other "History of Middle-earth" books mentioned
    above.) Still, mild editing is not uncommon, and can be difficult to
    identify even by comparison to the source texts as published in HoMe.
    Thus, /The Silmarillion/ is often not treated as a final authority in
    scholarly discussions of Middle-earth. (A classic example is its
    mistaken ancestry of Gil-galad, as discussed in question III.B.8.)

    The greatest concern, of course, comes from those few cases where
    large gaps had to be filled by the editors. This happened to some
    extent for "Of Tuor and the Fall of Gondolin" and "Of the Voyage of
    Earendil and the War of Wrath", but the most substantial editorial
    "invention" came in the chapter "Of the Ruin of Doriath". The episode

    [continued in next message]

    --- SoupGate-Win32 v1.05
    * Origin: fsxNet Usenet Gateway (21:1/5)
  • From Steuard Jensen@21:1/5 to All on Wed Oct 21 23:14:02 2020
    XPost: alt.fan.tolkien

    Posted-By: auto-faq 3.3.1 (Perl 5.020)
    Posting-Frequency: monthly
    URL: http://tolkien.slimy.com/

    TOLKIEN NEWSGROUPS FAQ

    Copyright (C) 1999-2012 by Steuard Jensen

    (Created 17 Aug 1999)
    (Last updated 11 Mar 2012)



    For many years, the Tolkien Usenet newsgroups have been home to a
    pair of excellent Frequently Asked Questions lists about Tolkien and Middle-earth, compiled by William D. B. Loos. These sources contain a
    wealth of information, but are no longer maintained (the last update
    seems to have been in July 1996). This means that quite a few issues
    of current interest to the groups are not fully addressed in those
    documents.

    This FAQ supplements, updates, and expands on the earlier ones,
    though it is not meant to replace them entirely. It includes new and
    corrected information on some of the old discussions, numerous entries
    on topics not covered in the older FAQs, and a broad discussion of the
    Tolkien newsgroups and common standards of netiquette. This FAQ is
    intended both as an introduction for newcomers to the newsgroups and as
    a source of information for anyone exploring Middle-earth.

    The official HTML version of the FAQ is on the web at

    http://tolkien.slimy.com/faq/

    The plain text version is posted to Usenet on the 22nd of each month
    and is also available on the web, at

    http://tolkien.slimy.com/faq/TolkNgFaq.txt

    For a unified and easy to use interface to this FAQ, the Loos FAQs, and
    others, consider visiting the Tolkien Meta-FAQ, at

    http://tolkien.slimy.com/

    I would like to give my sincere thanks to the many, many people on
    the newsgroups and elsewhere who have given criticism, suggestions, and encouragement as I wrote this FAQ. This project would never have
    succeeded without their wonderful support.

    Steuard Jensen
    steuard@slimy.com ------------------------------------------------------------------------ ------------------------------------------------------------------------


    Table of Contents

    Sections/questions marked: * have been revised since the last release
    ** are new since the last release

    I. Changes Since the Last Release *

    II. Newsgroups and Netiquette

    A. Information on the Tolkien Newsgroups
    1. What newsgroups are we talking about again?
    2. Why are there two groups?
    3. Do I have to have a Ph.D. in Tolkienology to post?
    4. What questions and topics are appropriate?
    5. What does a tilde (~) in the subject mean? and
    Is it acceptable to post messages with sexual content?
    6. What common mistakes should I try to avoid?
    7. What do all the abbreviations used on the groups mean?

    B. The Basics of Netiquette
    1. What is the proper subject line for my post?
    2. What should I do when replying to an earlier article?
    For example, should I "top post" or "bottom post"?
    3. When should I "cross-post" to multiple newsgroups?
    4. I am able to post my messages with HTML formatting. Should I?
    5. If someone insults me or otherwise makes me upset, should I
    flame them back?
    6. Even if my reputation and honor are at stake?
    7. Where can I go for more information on netiquette, and on
    Usenet in general?

    III. Debates and Discussion

    A. Story External Questions
    1. What is the best order in which to read the books?
    2. What books about Middle-earth are considered "canonical"?
    3. How does /The Silmarillion/ as published differ from what
    Tolkien intended?
    4. Which are "The Two Towers"?
    5. Which books /about/ Tolkien are good, and which aren't?
    6. Is Middle-earth Medieval?
    7. Was Tolkien racist? Were his works?
    8. Are there electronic versions of Tolkien's books?
    9. Where can I report copyright violations that I observe?

    B. Story Internal Questions: Creatures and Characters
    1. Did Balrogs have wings?
    2. Could Balrogs fly?
    3. What was Tom Bombadil?
    4. Did Elves have pointed ears?
    5. Did Elves have beards?
    6. What happened to Elves after they died?
    7. Was Glorfindel of Rivendell the same as Glorfindel of Gondolin?
    8. Who was Gil-galad's father?
    9. Did Dwarf women have beards?
    10. Was there "telepathy" in Middle-earth?
    11. Did Sauron have a physical form during /The Lord of the
    Rings/? *
    12. What were the names of the Nazgul?
    13. What was Gothmog (the lieutenant of Morgul)?
    14. What was the origin of Orcs?
    15. Were Orcs immortal, and what happened to them after death?
    16. What was the relationship between Orcs and Goblins?
    17. What was the origin of Saruman's Uruk-hai?
    18. What was the origin of Trolls?
    19. What were the giants (seen by Bilbo in /The Hobbit/)?

    C. Story Internal Questions: History and Happenings
    1. Why didn't they just have an Eagle fly the Ring to Mt. Doom?
    2. Were the barrow blades magical? In what way?
    3. Why didn't the Nazgul take the Ring at Weathertop?
    4. Who killed the Witch-king, Merry or Eowyn?
    5. Did Frodo and the other mortals who passed over the Sea
    eventually die?
    6. Did Sam follow Frodo into the West?
    7. What is known about the Blue Wizards?
    8. Who was aware that a Balrog lived in Moria?
    9. Did Elves and Dwarves generally get along?
    10. Where was the Ring when Numenor was destroyed?
    11. Who was the oldest inhabitant of Middle-earth?

    IV. External Resources

    A. Where else can I find general information about Middle-earth?
    1. The Tolkien Meta-FAQ
    2. The Tolkien FAQ and LessFAQ
    3. The "FAQ of the Rings"
    4. The Letters FAQ
    5. Google's Usenet archive

    B. Where can I learn more about Tolkien's languages?

    C. Stories of Middle-earth in many forms
    1. What editions of Tolkien's books are best?
    2. What audio versions of Tolkien's books are available?
    3. What is the groups' view of the recent /Lord of the Rings/
    movies?
    4. Where can I find out about music related to Middle-earth?

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------ ------------------------------------------------------------------------

    I. CHANGES SINCE THE LAST RELEASE

    Adjusted wording of question III.B.11 about Sauron's physical form
    to emphasize the relevance of the evidence to the period of LotR.

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------ ------------------------------------------------------------------------

    II. NEWSGROUPS AND NETIQUETTE

    When discussing Tolkien (or anything else) online, it is important
    to know at least a little about the "culture" of the discussion forum
    that you are participating in. The information in this section is
    intended to give an idea of "appropriate" behavior on the Tolkien
    Usenet newsgroups. To make our discussions as enjoyable as possible,
    every participant should try to be familiar with what follows.

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------

    II.A. INFORMATION ON THE TOLKIEN NEWSGROUPS

    1. What newsgroups are we talking about again?

    There are several Usenet newsgroups specific to Tolkien and his
    works. However, the two most widely read and distributed of these are rec.arts.books.tolkien and alt.fan.tolkien, commonly abbreviated either
    r.a.b.t or RABT and a.f.t or AFT, respectively.

    The official rec.arts.books.tolkien charter can be found at

    http://tolkien.slimy.com/newsgroups/RABTcharter.txt

    Alt.fan.tolkien does not have a formal charter.
    -------

    2. Why are there two groups?

    Originally, AFT was the only Tolkien newsgroup on Usenet. RABT was
    created (when the approval vote passed on 26 Mar 1993) as a replacement
    for AFT which would be carried by a larger fraction of news servers.
    However, AFT was never removed, and both groups currently enjoy
    substantial readership. While only RABT has a formal charter (see
    question II.A.1 for reference), the two groups are virtually identical
    in intended content.

    Many participants see a tendency for RABT to be somewhat more
    "scholarly" in tone while AFT is a bit more "conversational", and some
    suggest that this distinction is useful and should be encouraged.
    Other participants draw less of a distinction between the two groups,
    and often believe that a difference in focus would be both undesirable
    and impossible to achieve. In practice, everyone decides for
    themselves how they want to treat the two groups, and most people
    generally don't complain one way or the other.
    -------

    3. Do I have to have a Ph.D. in Tolkienology to post?

    By no means! People with any amount of Tolkien "lore" are welcome
    to participate. It is advisable, however, to have read /The Hobbit/
    and /The Lord of the Rings/ before spending much time here, as
    otherwise you run the risk of many, many spoilers for both books.

    When you do participate in discussions, just use whatever Tolkien
    knowledge you have: you can have great ideas regardless of how much
    you've read. Occasionally, others will cite sources (often obscure but
    just as often authoritative) that weaken or disprove your arguments.
    When this happens (as it does to every one of us), nobody will think
    less of you for not knowing the reference; treat it as a chance to
    learn something new about Middle-earth.
    -------

    4. What questions and topics are appropriate?

    Virtually any topic related (even distantly) to Tolkien and his
    works is fair game. If you post a purely "factual" question (like "How
    many Ringwraiths were there?"), it's a good idea to explain why you're
    asking: we periodically see questions from students who hope we will do
    their homework for them, and the last thing we want to do is help
    people to avoid reading the books!

    It is appreciated if articles that have absolutely nothing to do
    with Tolkien have subject lines beginning with "OT:" ("Off Topic"). The
    Tolkien newsgroups are a sufficiently social community that threads
    often do drift away from their initial topics, and while this should
    not be discouraged, it is polite to label it when it happens. On the
    other hand, off topic discussions that get too intense or go on too
    long can interfere with others' enjoyment of the groups, and should be
    avoided.

    Binary files, such as images or sounds, are NEVER appropriate in a non-binaries newsgroup. To share a binary file with people in the
    Tolkien groups, you have two main options. One is to find an
    appropriate newsgroup in the alt.binaries.* hierarchy, post the file
    there, and then post a message here telling us where to look. Another
    (more common) method is to put the file on the Web and post the URL on
    the newsgroups.
    -------

    5. What does a tilde (~) in the subject mean? and
    Is it acceptable to post messages with sexual content?

    Articles posted to these newsgroups occasionally contain comments
    that some consider inappropriate for younger readers. After much
    discussion, most participants agreed to mark messages with /sexual/
    content with a tilde in the subject line. Individuals can then create
    killfiles to screen out such messages as desired. While not everyone
    agrees that such a system is beneficial, following this convention is
    the polite thing to do. The newsgroup charter recommends the use of
    ROT-13 "encryption" for this purpose, but this has become less common.
    -------

    6. What common mistakes should I try to avoid?

    By and large, the participants in the Tolkien newsgroups try to
    judge others based on their ideas rather than on details of grammar and
    posting style. However, there are a few types of simple mistakes that
    tend to cause some level of bias and annoyance among many group
    members, which in turn can distract them from your real message. Most
    of these are covered in the "Netiquette" section below.

    One common mistake of this type that is not related to netiquette is confusing the singular and plural forms of common Elvish words. On the
    Tolkien newsgroups, these words are so familiar that the phrase "Manwe
    is a Valar" sounds just as jarring and strange as "Finrod is an Elves."
    To reduce this problem, a list of some of the most commonly confused singular/plural pairs is given below. Note the patterns!

    Singular: Vala Maia Elda Noldo Teler Istar Adan
    Plural: Valar Maiar Eldar Noldor Teleri Istari Edain

    Another issue that arises periodically is whether or not /The Lord
    of the Rings/ should be referred to as a "trilogy". Tolkien said quite
    clearly in Letter #165 that "The book is /not/ of course a 'trilogy'",
    and some people make a point of correcting those who use the term.
    However, in Letter #252, Tolkien himself refers to "my trilogy", so
    most of us agree that using the term is an acceptable shorthand, if
    nothing else.
    -------

    7. What do all the abbreviations used on the groups mean?

    [More abbreviations can be found in section IV of the Tolkien FAQ.]

    Some names and phrases come up so frequently on the Tolkien
    newsgroups that they are often abbreviated for convenience. A few of
    the very most common are defined below; these definitions are excerpted
    from Sir Confused-a-Lot's old AFT Glossary, now online at

    http://silenceisdefeat.com/~aft-rabt/glossary/

    JRRT: John Ronald Reuel Tolkien
    ME: Middle-earth
    LotR: /The Lord of the Rings/
    FotR: /The Fellowship of the Ring/
    TT: /The Two Towers/
    RotK: /The Return of the King/
    Silm.: /The Silmarillion/
    UT: /Unfinished Tales/
    HoMe: the "History of Middle-earth" series
    Letters: /The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien/
    Narn: The "Narn I Hin Hurin" in UT
    Athrabeth: The "Athrabeth Finrod Ah Andreth" in /Morgoth's Ring/

    NG: Newsgroup
    TEUNC: "Tolkien Eccentric Unusual Nut Cases", an eGroup of
    Tolkien fans, some of whom frequent the newsgroups
    LOL: Laughing Out Loud
    ROTFL: Rolling On The Floor Laughing

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------

    II.B. THE BASICS OF NETIQUETTE

    1. What is the proper subject line for my post?

    Make sure that the "Subject:" line of your post matches the topic
    that you are discussing. Be concise, but specific: subject lines such
    as "The Lord of the Rings" or "Tolkien" give no useful information
    about the contents of your post. Note that this does not only apply to
    the first post in a thread: if you see that the subject line no longer
    matches the topic of a thread, change it when you reply! Also, follow
    the "OT:" convention for off-topic posts (mentioned in question II.A.4
    above).

    When you do change the subject line, it is polite to indicate the
    subject of the previous post. For example, "Balrog Wings" might become
    "Balrog Flight (was Balrog Wings)" and then "Eagles (was Balrog
    Flight)". This helps people follow the history of the thread.
    -------

    2. What should I do when replying to an earlier article?
    For example, should I "top post" or "bottom post"?

    First and foremost, make sure to retain the attribution of any
    quoted text, so others know who said the things you are replying to.
    Almost equally important, make sure that you trim the previous post as
    much as possible:

    * If you are replying to one specific comment in the previous
    article, delete all of the previous text except that comment. If
    the comment is at all long, try to trim it down to its essence.
    Type your reply directly beneath the quoted comment.

    * If you are replying to several distinct points individually, quote
    each one as above and type your reply immediately below it (and
    above the next point).

    * If you are replying to a long section that cannot be easily
    trimmed down (for example, an original poem or story), quote only
    its first and last lines (and perhaps put "[snip]" or "..." on a
    line in between the two). If there are particular pieces that
    you want to respond to individually, do so as described above.

    There are two general rules of thumb to follow in connection with
    the above guidelines:

    * Any article you post should have more lines of new text than lines
    of quoted text. It is generally acceptable to ignore this rule
    if the entire post (including basic headers and any signature) is
    short enough to fit on a single 24 line screen.

    * Any comments specifically replying to the previous article should
    come /below/ the relevant part of the previous article. This
    makes reading the article more like reading a conversation, and
    therefore much easier to follow.

    This obviously means that "top posting" is strongly discouraged: it
    forces readers to scroll up and down between the new and old material,
    and it usually involves quoting the entire previous post(s) untrimmed..
    Whether you call our practice "bottom posting", "middle posting", or
    "standard netiquette" is up to you.

    An example of a post that follows these guidelines can be found on
    the web at

    http://tolkien.slimy.com/newsgroups/EssayDiscuss.txt

    This long message (from a discussion of my essay on Tom Bombadil) would
    be all but impossible to follow if the point by point replies were not organized as described above.

    Finally, make sure to keep the subject line up to date, as discussed
    in question II.B.1.
    -------

    3. When should I "cross-post" to multiple newsgroups?

    Generally, you should post an article to the single most appropriate
    group: a question about /The Hobbit/ is more appropriate on rec.arts.books.tolkien than on rec.arts.books. However, there are cases
    when several groups are appropriate: a discussion of the influence of
    Tolkien's faith on his writings could be interesting to readers of both soc.religion.christian.roman-catholic and rec.arts.books.tolkien.
    (Cases in which more than two or three groups are truly appropriate are extremely rare!)

    In such cases, it is almost always better to "cross-post" the
    article to multiple groups than to post separately to each. To do
    this, list all of the relevant groups together on the "Newsgroups:"
    line, separated by commas but /no/ spaces (many posts here list
    "Newsgroups: alt.fan.tolkien,rec.arts.books.tolkien"). Cross-posting
    has several advantages, the most important being that responses to a cross-posted article are also cross-posted. That ensures that everyone involved in the discussion sees every reply.

    Some internet service providers (notably AOL) misguidedly forbid cross-posting, probably because /inappropriate/ cross-posting is very
    bad netiquette and is often used to "spam" many groups at once. If you
    have this problem, it may be better to choose just one "best" group for
    your post than to post separate copies to multiple groups.
    -------

    4. I am able to post my messages with HTML formatting. Should I?

    Generally, no. Many of us use simple text-based programs to read
    news, and posts with HTML formatting can be very difficult to read.
    You can generally turn off this behavior from the "Preferences" or
    "Options" section of your newsreader. For some newsreaders, you will
    need to change more than one setting to completely eliminate this
    behavior.
    -------

    5. If someone insults me or otherwise makes me upset, should I flame
    them back?

    No.

    6. Even if my reputation and honor are at stake?

    Feel free to post any corrections or differences in opinion that you
    feel are necessary. Feel free to indicate that you are hurt, unhappy,
    or insulted because of their comments. But by no means escalate the
    budding flame war, and try your hardest to be polite in your response:
    this tends to get the group's sentiments on your side far better than
    any exchange of name-calling ever could. People are usually fairly
    good at recognizing when someone is being terribly unfair. Yes, it is undoubtedly your right to flame if you want to, but the vast majority
    of the group would be happier if you did not.

    In general, try to give others the benefit of the doubt: with only
    text to go on, it's hard to judge their real intent. Could you have
    misread the insulting lines in their post? Could they have been
    speaking tongue in cheek? Maybe they only meant to tease you, not
    realizing that you would really be insulted. Assuming the worst is a depressing way to live one's life.

    Finally, be particularly careful not to reply to a "troll", someone
    who intentionally fishes for arguments and flames. These people seem
    to take great personal delight in inspiring people to anger or
    indignation; the best reaction to them is generally to ignore them
    altogether.
    -------

    7. Where can I go for more information on netiquette, and on Usenet in
    general?

    One of the best places to start has always been the newsgroup news.announce.newusers. This group is home to a wide range of articles
    that provide introductory information about many aspects of Usenet
    news. Unfortunately, most of these articles are no longer being posted regularly to the group. It may be more effective to read archived
    copies of them at

    ftp://rtfm.mit.edu/pub/usenet/news.announce.newusers/

    Read the "Welcome to Usenet!" article there first.

    The information on netiquette and on Usenet in general in the news.announce.newusers articles remains very relevant today, but those
    articles are several years old. More recent information on similar
    topics can be found at the web sites associated with the news.newusers.questions newsgroup. A list of these sites around the
    world can be found at

    http://users.rcn.com/kateshort/nnq/nnqlinks.html

    (among many other places).

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------ ------------------------------------------------------------------------

    III. DEBATES AND DISCUSSION

    A great many questions about Tolkien and his books arise repeatedly
    on the Tolkien newsgroups. The starting point of each debate is the
    same almost every time, and it takes a long time for the discussion to
    reach "new ground." In the worst cases, bitter and longstanding
    arguments about the basics get in the way before new progress can be
    made at all.

    The purpose of a FAQ is to avoid this problem by setting down the
    basics in a common place so that the discussion can deal with new
    issues from the start. However, it is very difficult to balance the
    need for conciseness with the need for completeness: many debates that repeatedly appear on the Tolkien newsgroups have generated very large
    amounts of "known territory."

    Keep in mind that this FAQ provides only summaries of these debates:
    many of their subtleties are omitted for the sake of brevity. Most of
    these topics have been discussed at length by many intelligent In these
    cases, it is extremely unlikely that any unambiguous "proof" of one
    position exists. With this in mind, try to be respectful toward those
    who disagree with you. To get more information on the usual content of
    common discussions, it is often helpful to browse those discussions
    themselves at the Google Groups Usenet archive (see question IV.A.5 for
    more information).

    Finally, be sure to read question III.A.2, dealing with "canonical"
    texts. This FAQ addresses only the state of Middle-earth after LotR
    was written, which corresponds roughly to the material included in the published /Silmarillion/. Details from earlier versions of the
    mythology will not be discussed in this document (and are generally
    given very limited weight in debates about the later state of the
    mythology).

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------

    III.A. STORY EXTERNAL QUESTIONS

    1. What is the best order in which to read the books?

    This depends on each person's personal preferences. Unless you
    strongly dislike stories written for children, most recommend reading
    /The Hobbit/ first. /The Lord of the Rings/ is certainly next (feel
    free to skip the Prologue if you find it dull, and after the main text
    try to read at least Appendix A.I.v, "The Tale of Aragorn and Arwen").

    If you enjoy any part of the Appendices to LotR, there are things in Tolkien's other books that you are likely to enjoy as well. Most
    suggest reading /The Children of Hurin/, /Unfinished Tales/, /The Silmarillion/, and /The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien/ next, in some order
    (perhaps that one). /The Children of Hurin/ is the only complete novel
    about Middle-earth published after Tolkien's death (although it takes
    place long before the events of LotR, it probably isn't necessary to
    read Silm. first). The stories and essays in UT can be read in any
    order, so the "Third Age" material is a good starting point for those
    coming straight from LotR (the "First Age" stories are excellent, but
    are easier to follow after reading Silm.; the other parts of UT are
    mostly accessible to those who have read LotR and its appendices).
    Many people find the early parts of Silm. slow to read (like a history
    book or the Bible), but it is often a favorite among those who have
    read it. /Letters/ contains insights into both Middle-earth and Tolkien
    as a person.

    For more details (and more books), try getting a personalized
    recommendation from the Custom Tolkien Book List, on the web at

    http://tolkien.slimy.com/books.html

    (This URL redirects to the longer and messier URL of the actual list.)
    -------

    2. What books about Middle-earth are considered "canonical"?

    [I have written an essay on this topic, including general observations
    and my own approach. It is on the web at: http://tolkien.slimy.com/essays/TolkParish.html.]

    As the term is used on the Tolkien newsgroups, a "canonical" text is
    one which is believed to provide authoritative information about
    Middle-earth. This concept is more subtle than it may appear at first
    glance, in part because most of Tolkien's mythology remained incomplete
    when he died. Books or even individual chapters or essays may be
    regarded as more or less "trustworthy" than others, and many people
    reject the idea that there is a single "true" Middle-earth entirely.

    Among those who accept the concept of "canon" to at least some
    degree, almost all agree that /The Lord of the Rings/ is a canonical
    text and most assign equal or near equal weight to /The Hobbit/ (the
    other books about Middle-earth published in Tolkien's lifetime are
    treated similarly). However, due to heavy and unmarked posthumous
    editing, /The Silmarillion/ is considered by many /not/ to be canonical
    (see question III.A.3 for details).

    People put various amounts of trust in the many drafts and essays in /Unfinished Tales/ and the "History of Middle-earth" series. In cases
    where Tolkien's intent seems particularly stable and clear, some trust
    these sources almost as much as /The Hobbit/ and LotR themselves. In
    practice, this means that most of the more trustworthy material is
    found in /Unfinished Tales/ and in volumes X-XII of the HoMe series.
    Opinions on how much to trust /The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien/ are
    mixed, but its contents are generally respected as long as they are not contradicted by other (more canonical) texts. The pictures in /J.R.R.
    Tolkien: Artist and Illustrator/ by Wayne Hammond and Christina Scull
    may also be considered somewhat canonical.

    It is important to note that many aspects of Middle-earth changed substantially over the course of Tolkien's life. Because of this,
    facts taken from the early versions of the mythology can be misleading
    or just plain wrong when used to draw conclusions about LotR or later
    versions of the mythology. This means that while the early versions
    can provide valuable hints about Tolkien's thoughts on an issue, they
    are rarely considered to provide definitive evidence for any position.

    The Custom Tolkien Book List (mentioned in question III.A.1)
    includes my own perspective on the "canonicity" of each section of each
    book in the list. While those are just one person's opinions, they are
    fairly typical. A static version of the list in publication order can
    be found on the web at

    http://tolkien.slimy.com/publist.html

    That static list still contains a link to the customizable version.
    -------

    3. How does /The Silmarillion/ as published differ from what Tolkien
    intended?

    This is a complicated question that is essentially unanswerable:
    despite his lifelong effort, Tolkien never came close to completing
    /The Silmarillion/. At Tolkien's request, after his death his son
    Christopher (with some help from Guy Kay) worked to "bring the work
    into publishable form"; Christopher discusses the difficulties involved
    in the book's Foreword. To understand why /The Silmarillion/ took the
    form that it did (and why it is rarely considered "canonical", as
    mentioned in question III.A.2), it is worth exploring those editorial
    changes. The full story can be found in the "History of Middle-earth"
    books, particularly /Morgoth's Ring/ and /The War of the Jewels/
    (volumes X-XI).

    The most basic editorial decision was which writings to include in
    the book at all. The "Quenta Silmarillion" is of course the central
    text, but Tolkien also wrote numerous associated stories and essays.
    Charles Noad explored this question as part of his essay "On the
    Construction of 'The Silmarillion'" (published in /Tolkien's
    Legendarium/; see question III.A.5), where he suggests an "outline for
    'The Silmarillion' as Tolkien may have intended it". In addition to the
    texts in the published book, Noad includes expanded versions of four
    stories: "The Lay of Leithian" (possibly in poetic form), "Narn i Chin
    Hurin", "The Fall of Gondolin", and "Earendil the Wanderer" (which
    Tolkien never even fully sketched). He also includes five
    "Appendices": writings about Middle-earth and its inhabitants such as
    "Laws and Customs among the Eldar" and the "Athrabeth Finrod ah
    Andreth" (most of these were published in HoMe X-XI). Sadly, a book
    with this outline could never be made satisfying with just the texts
    that Tolkien left us.

    Moving on to the texts that were actually included in /The
    Silmarillion/ as published, there were three types of problems to
    overcome. In the worst cases, there were crucial gaps in the narrative
    where Tolkien had never written more than an outline of the story (or
    where the most recent version was hopelessly outdated). Much more
    frequently, Tolkien's years of revisions led to factual inconsistencies
    between stories written at various times (especially between writings
    before and after /The Lord of the Rings/). And finally, Tolkien's
    writings differed markedly in tone, ranging from vivid narratives to
    terse annals to philosophical essays. To assemble a single text,
    consistent in style and detail, from such a range of source material
    clearly required substantial editing.

    Despite that pessimistic assessment, the vast majority of the
    published /Silmarillion/ is taken directly from Tolkien's work and
    seems to come quite close to what he intended, as far as it goes. (None
    of the "expanded" tales were ever completed, but what exists of them
    can be found for the most part in /Unfinished Tales/, /The Lays of
    Beleriand/, and the other "History of Middle-earth" books mentioned
    above.) Still, mild editing is not uncommon, and can be difficult to
    identify even by comparison to the source texts as published in HoMe.
    Thus, /The Silmarillion/ is often not treated as a final authority in
    scholarly discussions of Middle-earth. (A classic example is its
    mistaken ancestry of Gil-galad, as discussed in question III.B.8.)

    The greatest concern, of course, comes from those few cases where
    large gaps had to be filled by the editors. This happened to some
    extent for "Of Tuor and the Fall of Gondolin" and "Of the Voyage of
    Earendil and the War of Wrath", but the most substantial editorial
    "invention" came in the chapter "Of the Ruin of Doriath". The episode

    [continued in next message]

    --- SoupGate-Win32 v1.05
    * Origin: fsxNet Usenet Gateway (21:1/5)
  • From Steuard Jensen@21:1/5 to All on Sat Nov 21 22:14:01 2020
    XPost: alt.fan.tolkien

    Posted-By: auto-faq 3.3.1 (Perl 5.020)
    Posting-Frequency: monthly
    URL: http://tolkien.slimy.com/

    TOLKIEN NEWSGROUPS FAQ

    Copyright (C) 1999-2012 by Steuard Jensen

    (Created 17 Aug 1999)
    (Last updated 11 Mar 2012)



    For many years, the Tolkien Usenet newsgroups have been home to a
    pair of excellent Frequently Asked Questions lists about Tolkien and Middle-earth, compiled by William D. B. Loos. These sources contain a
    wealth of information, but are no longer maintained (the last update
    seems to have been in July 1996). This means that quite a few issues
    of current interest to the groups are not fully addressed in those
    documents.

    This FAQ supplements, updates, and expands on the earlier ones,
    though it is not meant to replace them entirely. It includes new and
    corrected information on some of the old discussions, numerous entries
    on topics not covered in the older FAQs, and a broad discussion of the
    Tolkien newsgroups and common standards of netiquette. This FAQ is
    intended both as an introduction for newcomers to the newsgroups and as
    a source of information for anyone exploring Middle-earth.

    The official HTML version of the FAQ is on the web at

    http://tolkien.slimy.com/faq/

    The plain text version is posted to Usenet on the 22nd of each month
    and is also available on the web, at

    http://tolkien.slimy.com/faq/TolkNgFaq.txt

    For a unified and easy to use interface to this FAQ, the Loos FAQs, and
    others, consider visiting the Tolkien Meta-FAQ, at

    http://tolkien.slimy.com/

    I would like to give my sincere thanks to the many, many people on
    the newsgroups and elsewhere who have given criticism, suggestions, and encouragement as I wrote this FAQ. This project would never have
    succeeded without their wonderful support.

    Steuard Jensen
    steuard@slimy.com ------------------------------------------------------------------------ ------------------------------------------------------------------------


    Table of Contents

    Sections/questions marked: * have been revised since the last release
    ** are new since the last release

    I. Changes Since the Last Release *

    II. Newsgroups and Netiquette

    A. Information on the Tolkien Newsgroups
    1. What newsgroups are we talking about again?
    2. Why are there two groups?
    3. Do I have to have a Ph.D. in Tolkienology to post?
    4. What questions and topics are appropriate?
    5. What does a tilde (~) in the subject mean? and
    Is it acceptable to post messages with sexual content?
    6. What common mistakes should I try to avoid?
    7. What do all the abbreviations used on the groups mean?

    B. The Basics of Netiquette
    1. What is the proper subject line for my post?
    2. What should I do when replying to an earlier article?
    For example, should I "top post" or "bottom post"?
    3. When should I "cross-post" to multiple newsgroups?
    4. I am able to post my messages with HTML formatting. Should I?
    5. If someone insults me or otherwise makes me upset, should I
    flame them back?
    6. Even if my reputation and honor are at stake?
    7. Where can I go for more information on netiquette, and on
    Usenet in general?

    III. Debates and Discussion

    A. Story External Questions
    1. What is the best order in which to read the books?
    2. What books about Middle-earth are considered "canonical"?
    3. How does /The Silmarillion/ as published differ from what
    Tolkien intended?
    4. Which are "The Two Towers"?
    5. Which books /about/ Tolkien are good, and which aren't?
    6. Is Middle-earth Medieval?
    7. Was Tolkien racist? Were his works?
    8. Are there electronic versions of Tolkien's books?
    9. Where can I report copyright violations that I observe?

    B. Story Internal Questions: Creatures and Characters
    1. Did Balrogs have wings?
    2. Could Balrogs fly?
    3. What was Tom Bombadil?
    4. Did Elves have pointed ears?
    5. Did Elves have beards?
    6. What happened to Elves after they died?
    7. Was Glorfindel of Rivendell the same as Glorfindel of Gondolin?
    8. Who was Gil-galad's father?
    9. Did Dwarf women have beards?
    10. Was there "telepathy" in Middle-earth?
    11. Did Sauron have a physical form during /The Lord of the
    Rings/? *
    12. What were the names of the Nazgul?
    13. What was Gothmog (the lieutenant of Morgul)?
    14. What was the origin of Orcs?
    15. Were Orcs immortal, and what happened to them after death?
    16. What was the relationship between Orcs and Goblins?
    17. What was the origin of Saruman's Uruk-hai?
    18. What was the origin of Trolls?
    19. What were the giants (seen by Bilbo in /The Hobbit/)?

    C. Story Internal Questions: History and Happenings
    1. Why didn't they just have an Eagle fly the Ring to Mt. Doom?
    2. Were the barrow blades magical? In what way?
    3. Why didn't the Nazgul take the Ring at Weathertop?
    4. Who killed the Witch-king, Merry or Eowyn?
    5. Did Frodo and the other mortals who passed over the Sea
    eventually die?
    6. Did Sam follow Frodo into the West?
    7. What is known about the Blue Wizards?
    8. Who was aware that a Balrog lived in Moria?
    9. Did Elves and Dwarves generally get along?
    10. Where was the Ring when Numenor was destroyed?
    11. Who was the oldest inhabitant of Middle-earth?

    IV. External Resources

    A. Where else can I find general information about Middle-earth?
    1. The Tolkien Meta-FAQ
    2. The Tolkien FAQ and LessFAQ
    3. The "FAQ of the Rings"
    4. The Letters FAQ
    5. Google's Usenet archive

    B. Where can I learn more about Tolkien's languages?

    C. Stories of Middle-earth in many forms
    1. What editions of Tolkien's books are best?
    2. What audio versions of Tolkien's books are available?
    3. What is the groups' view of the recent /Lord of the Rings/
    movies?
    4. Where can I find out about music related to Middle-earth?

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------ ------------------------------------------------------------------------

    I. CHANGES SINCE THE LAST RELEASE

    Adjusted wording of question III.B.11 about Sauron's physical form
    to emphasize the relevance of the evidence to the period of LotR.

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------ ------------------------------------------------------------------------

    II. NEWSGROUPS AND NETIQUETTE

    When discussing Tolkien (or anything else) online, it is important
    to know at least a little about the "culture" of the discussion forum
    that you are participating in. The information in this section is
    intended to give an idea of "appropriate" behavior on the Tolkien
    Usenet newsgroups. To make our discussions as enjoyable as possible,
    every participant should try to be familiar with what follows.

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------

    II.A. INFORMATION ON THE TOLKIEN NEWSGROUPS

    1. What newsgroups are we talking about again?

    There are several Usenet newsgroups specific to Tolkien and his
    works. However, the two most widely read and distributed of these are rec.arts.books.tolkien and alt.fan.tolkien, commonly abbreviated either
    r.a.b.t or RABT and a.f.t or AFT, respectively.

    The official rec.arts.books.tolkien charter can be found at

    http://tolkien.slimy.com/newsgroups/RABTcharter.txt

    Alt.fan.tolkien does not have a formal charter.
    -------

    2. Why are there two groups?

    Originally, AFT was the only Tolkien newsgroup on Usenet. RABT was
    created (when the approval vote passed on 26 Mar 1993) as a replacement
    for AFT which would be carried by a larger fraction of news servers.
    However, AFT was never removed, and both groups currently enjoy
    substantial readership. While only RABT has a formal charter (see
    question II.A.1 for reference), the two groups are virtually identical
    in intended content.

    Many participants see a tendency for RABT to be somewhat more
    "scholarly" in tone while AFT is a bit more "conversational", and some
    suggest that this distinction is useful and should be encouraged.
    Other participants draw less of a distinction between the two groups,
    and often believe that a difference in focus would be both undesirable
    and impossible to achieve. In practice, everyone decides for
    themselves how they want to treat the two groups, and most people
    generally don't complain one way or the other.
    -------

    3. Do I have to have a Ph.D. in Tolkienology to post?

    By no means! People with any amount of Tolkien "lore" are welcome
    to participate. It is advisable, however, to have read /The Hobbit/
    and /The Lord of the Rings/ before spending much time here, as
    otherwise you run the risk of many, many spoilers for both books.

    When you do participate in discussions, just use whatever Tolkien
    knowledge you have: you can have great ideas regardless of how much
    you've read. Occasionally, others will cite sources (often obscure but
    just as often authoritative) that weaken or disprove your arguments.
    When this happens (as it does to every one of us), nobody will think
    less of you for not knowing the reference; treat it as a chance to
    learn something new about Middle-earth.
    -------

    4. What questions and topics are appropriate?

    Virtually any topic related (even distantly) to Tolkien and his
    works is fair game. If you post a purely "factual" question (like "How
    many Ringwraiths were there?"), it's a good idea to explain why you're
    asking: we periodically see questions from students who hope we will do
    their homework for them, and the last thing we want to do is help
    people to avoid reading the books!

    It is appreciated if articles that have absolutely nothing to do
    with Tolkien have subject lines beginning with "OT:" ("Off Topic"). The
    Tolkien newsgroups are a sufficiently social community that threads
    often do drift away from their initial topics, and while this should
    not be discouraged, it is polite to label it when it happens. On the
    other hand, off topic discussions that get too intense or go on too
    long can interfere with others' enjoyment of the groups, and should be
    avoided.

    Binary files, such as images or sounds, are NEVER appropriate in a non-binaries newsgroup. To share a binary file with people in the
    Tolkien groups, you have two main options. One is to find an
    appropriate newsgroup in the alt.binaries.* hierarchy, post the file
    there, and then post a message here telling us where to look. Another
    (more common) method is to put the file on the Web and post the URL on
    the newsgroups.
    -------

    5. What does a tilde (~) in the subject mean? and
    Is it acceptable to post messages with sexual content?

    Articles posted to these newsgroups occasionally contain comments
    that some consider inappropriate for younger readers. After much
    discussion, most participants agreed to mark messages with /sexual/
    content with a tilde in the subject line. Individuals can then create
    killfiles to screen out such messages as desired. While not everyone
    agrees that such a system is beneficial, following this convention is
    the polite thing to do. The newsgroup charter recommends the use of
    ROT-13 "encryption" for this purpose, but this has become less common.
    -------

    6. What common mistakes should I try to avoid?

    By and large, the participants in the Tolkien newsgroups try to
    judge others based on their ideas rather than on details of grammar and
    posting style. However, there are a few types of simple mistakes that
    tend to cause some level of bias and annoyance among many group
    members, which in turn can distract them from your real message. Most
    of these are covered in the "Netiquette" section below.

    One common mistake of this type that is not related to netiquette is confusing the singular and plural forms of common Elvish words. On the
    Tolkien newsgroups, these words are so familiar that the phrase "Manwe
    is a Valar" sounds just as jarring and strange as "Finrod is an Elves."
    To reduce this problem, a list of some of the most commonly confused singular/plural pairs is given below. Note the patterns!

    Singular: Vala Maia Elda Noldo Teler Istar Adan
    Plural: Valar Maiar Eldar Noldor Teleri Istari Edain

    Another issue that arises periodically is whether or not /The Lord
    of the Rings/ should be referred to as a "trilogy". Tolkien said quite
    clearly in Letter #165 that "The book is /not/ of course a 'trilogy'",
    and some people make a point of correcting those who use the term.
    However, in Letter #252, Tolkien himself refers to "my trilogy", so
    most of us agree that using the term is an acceptable shorthand, if
    nothing else.
    -------

    7. What do all the abbreviations used on the groups mean?

    [More abbreviations can be found in section IV of the Tolkien FAQ.]

    Some names and phrases come up so frequently on the Tolkien
    newsgroups that they are often abbreviated for convenience. A few of
    the very most common are defined below; these definitions are excerpted
    from Sir Confused-a-Lot's old AFT Glossary, now online at

    http://silenceisdefeat.com/~aft-rabt/glossary/

    JRRT: John Ronald Reuel Tolkien
    ME: Middle-earth
    LotR: /The Lord of the Rings/
    FotR: /The Fellowship of the Ring/
    TT: /The Two Towers/
    RotK: /The Return of the King/
    Silm.: /The Silmarillion/
    UT: /Unfinished Tales/
    HoMe: the "History of Middle-earth" series
    Letters: /The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien/
    Narn: The "Narn I Hin Hurin" in UT
    Athrabeth: The "Athrabeth Finrod Ah Andreth" in /Morgoth's Ring/

    NG: Newsgroup
    TEUNC: "Tolkien Eccentric Unusual Nut Cases", an eGroup of
    Tolkien fans, some of whom frequent the newsgroups
    LOL: Laughing Out Loud
    ROTFL: Rolling On The Floor Laughing

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------

    II.B. THE BASICS OF NETIQUETTE

    1. What is the proper subject line for my post?

    Make sure that the "Subject:" line of your post matches the topic
    that you are discussing. Be concise, but specific: subject lines such
    as "The Lord of the Rings" or "Tolkien" give no useful information
    about the contents of your post. Note that this does not only apply to
    the first post in a thread: if you see that the subject line no longer
    matches the topic of a thread, change it when you reply! Also, follow
    the "OT:" convention for off-topic posts (mentioned in question II.A.4
    above).

    When you do change the subject line, it is polite to indicate the
    subject of the previous post. For example, "Balrog Wings" might become
    "Balrog Flight (was Balrog Wings)" and then "Eagles (was Balrog
    Flight)". This helps people follow the history of the thread.
    -------

    2. What should I do when replying to an earlier article?
    For example, should I "top post" or "bottom post"?

    First and foremost, make sure to retain the attribution of any
    quoted text, so others know who said the things you are replying to.
    Almost equally important, make sure that you trim the previous post as
    much as possible:

    * If you are replying to one specific comment in the previous
    article, delete all of the previous text except that comment. If
    the comment is at all long, try to trim it down to its essence.
    Type your reply directly beneath the quoted comment.

    * If you are replying to several distinct points individually, quote
    each one as above and type your reply immediately below it (and
    above the next point).

    * If you are replying to a long section that cannot be easily
    trimmed down (for example, an original poem or story), quote only
    its first and last lines (and perhaps put "[snip]" or "..." on a
    line in between the two). If there are particular pieces that
    you want to respond to individually, do so as described above.

    There are two general rules of thumb to follow in connection with
    the above guidelines:

    * Any article you post should have more lines of new text than lines
    of quoted text. It is generally acceptable to ignore this rule
    if the entire post (including basic headers and any signature) is
    short enough to fit on a single 24 line screen.

    * Any comments specifically replying to the previous article should
    come /below/ the relevant part of the previous article. This
    makes reading the article more like reading a conversation, and
    therefore much easier to follow.

    This obviously means that "top posting" is strongly discouraged: it
    forces readers to scroll up and down between the new and old material,
    and it usually involves quoting the entire previous post(s) untrimmed..
    Whether you call our practice "bottom posting", "middle posting", or
    "standard netiquette" is up to you.

    An example of a post that follows these guidelines can be found on
    the web at

    http://tolkien.slimy.com/newsgroups/EssayDiscuss.txt

    This long message (from a discussion of my essay on Tom Bombadil) would
    be all but impossible to follow if the point by point replies were not organized as described above.

    Finally, make sure to keep the subject line up to date, as discussed
    in question II.B.1.
    -------

    3. When should I "cross-post" to multiple newsgroups?

    Generally, you should post an article to the single most appropriate
    group: a question about /The Hobbit/ is more appropriate on rec.arts.books.tolkien than on rec.arts.books. However, there are cases
    when several groups are appropriate: a discussion of the influence of
    Tolkien's faith on his writings could be interesting to readers of both soc.religion.christian.roman-catholic and rec.arts.books.tolkien.
    (Cases in which more than two or three groups are truly appropriate are extremely rare!)

    In such cases, it is almost always better to "cross-post" the
    article to multiple groups than to post separately to each. To do
    this, list all of the relevant groups together on the "Newsgroups:"
    line, separated by commas but /no/ spaces (many posts here list
    "Newsgroups: alt.fan.tolkien,rec.arts.books.tolkien"). Cross-posting
    has several advantages, the most important being that responses to a cross-posted article are also cross-posted. That ensures that everyone involved in the discussion sees every reply.

    Some internet service providers (notably AOL) misguidedly forbid cross-posting, probably because /inappropriate/ cross-posting is very
    bad netiquette and is often used to "spam" many groups at once. If you
    have this problem, it may be better to choose just one "best" group for
    your post than to post separate copies to multiple groups.
    -------

    4. I am able to post my messages with HTML formatting. Should I?

    Generally, no. Many of us use simple text-based programs to read
    news, and posts with HTML formatting can be very difficult to read.
    You can generally turn off this behavior from the "Preferences" or
    "Options" section of your newsreader. For some newsreaders, you will
    need to change more than one setting to completely eliminate this
    behavior.
    -------

    5. If someone insults me or otherwise makes me upset, should I flame
    them back?

    No.

    6. Even if my reputation and honor are at stake?

    Feel free to post any corrections or differences in opinion that you
    feel are necessary. Feel free to indicate that you are hurt, unhappy,
    or insulted because of their comments. But by no means escalate the
    budding flame war, and try your hardest to be polite in your response:
    this tends to get the group's sentiments on your side far better than
    any exchange of name-calling ever could. People are usually fairly
    good at recognizing when someone is being terribly unfair. Yes, it is undoubtedly your right to flame if you want to, but the vast majority
    of the group would be happier if you did not.

    In general, try to give others the benefit of the doubt: with only
    text to go on, it's hard to judge their real intent. Could you have
    misread the insulting lines in their post? Could they have been
    speaking tongue in cheek? Maybe they only meant to tease you, not
    realizing that you would really be insulted. Assuming the worst is a depressing way to live one's life.

    Finally, be particularly careful not to reply to a "troll", someone
    who intentionally fishes for arguments and flames. These people seem
    to take great personal delight in inspiring people to anger or
    indignation; the best reaction to them is generally to ignore them
    altogether.
    -------

    7. Where can I go for more information on netiquette, and on Usenet in
    general?

    One of the best places to start has always been the newsgroup news.announce.newusers. This group is home to a wide range of articles
    that provide introductory information about many aspects of Usenet
    news. Unfortunately, most of these articles are no longer being posted regularly to the group. It may be more effective to read archived
    copies of them at

    ftp://rtfm.mit.edu/pub/usenet/news.announce.newusers/

    Read the "Welcome to Usenet!" article there first.

    The information on netiquette and on Usenet in general in the news.announce.newusers articles remains very relevant today, but those
    articles are several years old. More recent information on similar
    topics can be found at the web sites associated with the news.newusers.questions newsgroup. A list of these sites around the
    world can be found at

    http://users.rcn.com/kateshort/nnq/nnqlinks.html

    (among many other places).

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------ ------------------------------------------------------------------------

    III. DEBATES AND DISCUSSION

    A great many questions about Tolkien and his books arise repeatedly
    on the Tolkien newsgroups. The starting point of each debate is the
    same almost every time, and it takes a long time for the discussion to
    reach "new ground." In the worst cases, bitter and longstanding
    arguments about the basics get in the way before new progress can be
    made at all.

    The purpose of a FAQ is to avoid this problem by setting down the
    basics in a common place so that the discussion can deal with new
    issues from the start. However, it is very difficult to balance the
    need for conciseness with the need for completeness: many debates that repeatedly appear on the Tolkien newsgroups have generated very large
    amounts of "known territory."

    Keep in mind that this FAQ provides only summaries of these debates:
    many of their subtleties are omitted for the sake of brevity. Most of
    these topics have been discussed at length by many intelligent In these
    cases, it is extremely unlikely that any unambiguous "proof" of one
    position exists. With this in mind, try to be respectful toward those
    who disagree with you. To get more information on the usual content of
    common discussions, it is often helpful to browse those discussions
    themselves at the Google Groups Usenet archive (see question IV.A.5 for
    more information).

    Finally, be sure to read question III.A.2, dealing with "canonical"
    texts. This FAQ addresses only the state of Middle-earth after LotR
    was written, which corresponds roughly to the material included in the published /Silmarillion/. Details from earlier versions of the
    mythology will not be discussed in this document (and are generally
    given very limited weight in debates about the later state of the
    mythology).

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------

    III.A. STORY EXTERNAL QUESTIONS

    1. What is the best order in which to read the books?

    This depends on each person's personal preferences. Unless you
    strongly dislike stories written for children, most recommend reading
    /The Hobbit/ first. /The Lord of the Rings/ is certainly next (feel
    free to skip the Prologue if you find it dull, and after the main text
    try to read at least Appendix A.I.v, "The Tale of Aragorn and Arwen").

    If you enjoy any part of the Appendices to LotR, there are things in Tolkien's other books that you are likely to enjoy as well. Most
    suggest reading /The Children of Hurin/, /Unfinished Tales/, /The Silmarillion/, and /The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien/ next, in some order
    (perhaps that one). /The Children of Hurin/ is the only complete novel
    about Middle-earth published after Tolkien's death (although it takes
    place long before the events of LotR, it probably isn't necessary to
    read Silm. first). The stories and essays in UT can be read in any
    order, so the "Third Age" material is a good starting point for those
    coming straight from LotR (the "First Age" stories are excellent, but
    are easier to follow after reading Silm.; the other parts of UT are
    mostly accessible to those who have read LotR and its appendices).
    Many people find the early parts of Silm. slow to read (like a history
    book or the Bible), but it is often a favorite among those who have
    read it. /Letters/ contains insights into both Middle-earth and Tolkien
    as a person.

    For more details (and more books), try getting a personalized
    recommendation from the Custom Tolkien Book List, on the web at

    http://tolkien.slimy.com/books.html

    (This URL redirects to the longer and messier URL of the actual list.)
    -------

    2. What books about Middle-earth are considered "canonical"?

    [I have written an essay on this topic, including general observations
    and my own approach. It is on the web at: http://tolkien.slimy.com/essays/TolkParish.html.]

    As the term is used on the Tolkien newsgroups, a "canonical" text is
    one which is believed to provide authoritative information about
    Middle-earth. This concept is more subtle than it may appear at first
    glance, in part because most of Tolkien's mythology remained incomplete
    when he died. Books or even individual chapters or essays may be
    regarded as more or less "trustworthy" than others, and many people
    reject the idea that there is a single "true" Middle-earth entirely.

    Among those who accept the concept of "canon" to at least some
    degree, almost all agree that /The Lord of the Rings/ is a canonical
    text and most assign equal or near equal weight to /The Hobbit/ (the
    other books about Middle-earth published in Tolkien's lifetime are
    treated similarly). However, due to heavy and unmarked posthumous
    editing, /The Silmarillion/ is considered by many /not/ to be canonical
    (see question III.A.3 for details).

    People put various amounts of trust in the many drafts and essays in /Unfinished Tales/ and the "History of Middle-earth" series. In cases
    where Tolkien's intent seems particularly stable and clear, some trust
    these sources almost as much as /The Hobbit/ and LotR themselves. In
    practice, this means that most of the more trustworthy material is
    found in /Unfinished Tales/ and in volumes X-XII of the HoMe series.
    Opinions on how much to trust /The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien/ are
    mixed, but its contents are generally respected as long as they are not contradicted by other (more canonical) texts. The pictures in /J.R.R.
    Tolkien: Artist and Illustrator/ by Wayne Hammond and Christina Scull
    may also be considered somewhat canonical.

    It is important to note that many aspects of Middle-earth changed substantially over the course of Tolkien's life. Because of this,
    facts taken from the early versions of the mythology can be misleading
    or just plain wrong when used to draw conclusions about LotR or later
    versions of the mythology. This means that while the early versions
    can provide valuable hints about Tolkien's thoughts on an issue, they
    are rarely considered to provide definitive evidence for any position.

    The Custom Tolkien Book List (mentioned in question III.A.1)
    includes my own perspective on the "canonicity" of each section of each
    book in the list. While those are just one person's opinions, they are
    fairly typical. A static version of the list in publication order can
    be found on the web at

    http://tolkien.slimy.com/publist.html

    That static list still contains a link to the customizable version.
    -------

    3. How does /The Silmarillion/ as published differ from what Tolkien
    intended?

    This is a complicated question that is essentially unanswerable:
    despite his lifelong effort, Tolkien never came close to completing
    /The Silmarillion/. At Tolkien's request, after his death his son
    Christopher (with some help from Guy Kay) worked to "bring the work
    into publishable form"; Christopher discusses the difficulties involved
    in the book's Foreword. To understand why /The Silmarillion/ took the
    form that it did (and why it is rarely considered "canonical", as
    mentioned in question III.A.2), it is worth exploring those editorial
    changes. The full story can be found in the "History of Middle-earth"
    books, particularly /Morgoth's Ring/ and /The War of the Jewels/
    (volumes X-XI).

    The most basic editorial decision was which writings to include in
    the book at all. The "Quenta Silmarillion" is of course the central
    text, but Tolkien also wrote numerous associated stories and essays.
    Charles Noad explored this question as part of his essay "On the
    Construction of 'The Silmarillion'" (published in /Tolkien's
    Legendarium/; see question III.A.5), where he suggests an "outline for
    'The Silmarillion' as Tolkien may have intended it". In addition to the
    texts in the published book, Noad includes expanded versions of four
    stories: "The Lay of Leithian" (possibly in poetic form), "Narn i Chin
    Hurin", "The Fall of Gondolin", and "Earendil the Wanderer" (which
    Tolkien never even fully sketched). He also includes five
    "Appendices": writings about Middle-earth and its inhabitants such as
    "Laws and Customs among the Eldar" and the "Athrabeth Finrod ah
    Andreth" (most of these were published in HoMe X-XI). Sadly, a book
    with this outline could never be made satisfying with just the texts
    that Tolkien left us.

    Moving on to the texts that were actually included in /The
    Silmarillion/ as published, there were three types of problems to
    overcome. In the worst cases, there were crucial gaps in the narrative
    where Tolkien had never written more than an outline of the story (or
    where the most recent version was hopelessly outdated). Much more
    frequently, Tolkien's years of revisions led to factual inconsistencies
    between stories written at various times (especially between writings
    before and after /The Lord of the Rings/). And finally, Tolkien's
    writings differed markedly in tone, ranging from vivid narratives to
    terse annals to philosophical essays. To assemble a single text,
    consistent in style and detail, from such a range of source material
    clearly required substantial editing.

    Despite that pessimistic assessment, the vast majority of the
    published /Silmarillion/ is taken directly from Tolkien's work and
    seems to come quite close to what he intended, as far as it goes. (None
    of the "expanded" tales were ever completed, but what exists of them
    can be found for the most part in /Unfinished Tales/, /The Lays of
    Beleriand/, and the other "History of Middle-earth" books mentioned
    above.) Still, mild editing is not uncommon, and can be difficult to
    identify even by comparison to the source texts as published in HoMe.
    Thus, /The Silmarillion/ is often not treated as a final authority in
    scholarly discussions of Middle-earth. (A classic example is its
    mistaken ancestry of Gil-galad, as discussed in question III.B.8.)

    The greatest concern, of course, comes from those few cases where
    large gaps had to be filled by the editors. This happened to some
    extent for "Of Tuor and the Fall of Gondolin" and "Of the Voyage of
    Earendil and the War of Wrath", but the most substantial editorial
    "invention" came in the chapter "Of the Ruin of Doriath". The episode

    [continued in next message]

    --- SoupGate-Win32 v1.05
    * Origin: fsxNet Usenet Gateway (21:1/5)
  • From Steuard Jensen@21:1/5 to All on Mon Dec 21 22:14:01 2020
    XPost: alt.fan.tolkien

    Posted-By: auto-faq 3.3.1 (Perl 5.020)
    Posting-Frequency: monthly
    URL: http://tolkien.slimy.com/

    TOLKIEN NEWSGROUPS FAQ

    Copyright (C) 1999-2012 by Steuard Jensen

    (Created 17 Aug 1999)
    (Last updated 11 Mar 2012)



    For many years, the Tolkien Usenet newsgroups have been home to a
    pair of excellent Frequently Asked Questions lists about Tolkien and Middle-earth, compiled by William D. B. Loos. These sources contain a
    wealth of information, but are no longer maintained (the last update
    seems to have been in July 1996). This means that quite a few issues
    of current interest to the groups are not fully addressed in those
    documents.

    This FAQ supplements, updates, and expands on the earlier ones,
    though it is not meant to replace them entirely. It includes new and
    corrected information on some of the old discussions, numerous entries
    on topics not covered in the older FAQs, and a broad discussion of the
    Tolkien newsgroups and common standards of netiquette. This FAQ is
    intended both as an introduction for newcomers to the newsgroups and as
    a source of information for anyone exploring Middle-earth.

    The official HTML version of the FAQ is on the web at

    http://tolkien.slimy.com/faq/

    The plain text version is posted to Usenet on the 22nd of each month
    and is also available on the web, at

    http://tolkien.slimy.com/faq/TolkNgFaq.txt

    For a unified and easy to use interface to this FAQ, the Loos FAQs, and
    others, consider visiting the Tolkien Meta-FAQ, at

    http://tolkien.slimy.com/

    I would like to give my sincere thanks to the many, many people on
    the newsgroups and elsewhere who have given criticism, suggestions, and encouragement as I wrote this FAQ. This project would never have
    succeeded without their wonderful support.

    Steuard Jensen
    steuard@slimy.com ------------------------------------------------------------------------ ------------------------------------------------------------------------


    Table of Contents

    Sections/questions marked: * have been revised since the last release
    ** are new since the last release

    I. Changes Since the Last Release *

    II. Newsgroups and Netiquette

    A. Information on the Tolkien Newsgroups
    1. What newsgroups are we talking about again?
    2. Why are there two groups?
    3. Do I have to have a Ph.D. in Tolkienology to post?
    4. What questions and topics are appropriate?
    5. What does a tilde (~) in the subject mean? and
    Is it acceptable to post messages with sexual content?
    6. What common mistakes should I try to avoid?
    7. What do all the abbreviations used on the groups mean?

    B. The Basics of Netiquette
    1. What is the proper subject line for my post?
    2. What should I do when replying to an earlier article?
    For example, should I "top post" or "bottom post"?
    3. When should I "cross-post" to multiple newsgroups?
    4. I am able to post my messages with HTML formatting. Should I?
    5. If someone insults me or otherwise makes me upset, should I
    flame them back?
    6. Even if my reputation and honor are at stake?
    7. Where can I go for more information on netiquette, and on
    Usenet in general?

    III. Debates and Discussion

    A. Story External Questions
    1. What is the best order in which to read the books?
    2. What books about Middle-earth are considered "canonical"?
    3. How does /The Silmarillion/ as published differ from what
    Tolkien intended?
    4. Which are "The Two Towers"?
    5. Which books /about/ Tolkien are good, and which aren't?
    6. Is Middle-earth Medieval?
    7. Was Tolkien racist? Were his works?
    8. Are there electronic versions of Tolkien's books?
    9. Where can I report copyright violations that I observe?

    B. Story Internal Questions: Creatures and Characters
    1. Did Balrogs have wings?
    2. Could Balrogs fly?
    3. What was Tom Bombadil?
    4. Did Elves have pointed ears?
    5. Did Elves have beards?
    6. What happened to Elves after they died?
    7. Was Glorfindel of Rivendell the same as Glorfindel of Gondolin?
    8. Who was Gil-galad's father?
    9. Did Dwarf women have beards?
    10. Was there "telepathy" in Middle-earth?
    11. Did Sauron have a physical form during /The Lord of the
    Rings/? *
    12. What were the names of the Nazgul?
    13. What was Gothmog (the lieutenant of Morgul)?
    14. What was the origin of Orcs?
    15. Were Orcs immortal, and what happened to them after death?
    16. What was the relationship between Orcs and Goblins?
    17. What was the origin of Saruman's Uruk-hai?
    18. What was the origin of Trolls?
    19. What were the giants (seen by Bilbo in /The Hobbit/)?

    C. Story Internal Questions: History and Happenings
    1. Why didn't they just have an Eagle fly the Ring to Mt. Doom?
    2. Were the barrow blades magical? In what way?
    3. Why didn't the Nazgul take the Ring at Weathertop?
    4. Who killed the Witch-king, Merry or Eowyn?
    5. Did Frodo and the other mortals who passed over the Sea
    eventually die?
    6. Did Sam follow Frodo into the West?
    7. What is known about the Blue Wizards?
    8. Who was aware that a Balrog lived in Moria?
    9. Did Elves and Dwarves generally get along?
    10. Where was the Ring when Numenor was destroyed?
    11. Who was the oldest inhabitant of Middle-earth?

    IV. External Resources

    A. Where else can I find general information about Middle-earth?
    1. The Tolkien Meta-FAQ
    2. The Tolkien FAQ and LessFAQ
    3. The "FAQ of the Rings"
    4. The Letters FAQ
    5. Google's Usenet archive

    B. Where can I learn more about Tolkien's languages?

    C. Stories of Middle-earth in many forms
    1. What editions of Tolkien's books are best?
    2. What audio versions of Tolkien's books are available?
    3. What is the groups' view of the recent /Lord of the Rings/
    movies?
    4. Where can I find out about music related to Middle-earth?

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------ ------------------------------------------------------------------------

    I. CHANGES SINCE THE LAST RELEASE

    Adjusted wording of question III.B.11 about Sauron's physical form
    to emphasize the relevance of the evidence to the period of LotR.

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------ ------------------------------------------------------------------------

    II. NEWSGROUPS AND NETIQUETTE

    When discussing Tolkien (or anything else) online, it is important
    to know at least a little about the "culture" of the discussion forum
    that you are participating in. The information in this section is
    intended to give an idea of "appropriate" behavior on the Tolkien
    Usenet newsgroups. To make our discussions as enjoyable as possible,
    every participant should try to be familiar with what follows.

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------

    II.A. INFORMATION ON THE TOLKIEN NEWSGROUPS

    1. What newsgroups are we talking about again?

    There are several Usenet newsgroups specific to Tolkien and his
    works. However, the two most widely read and distributed of these are rec.arts.books.tolkien and alt.fan.tolkien, commonly abbreviated either
    r.a.b.t or RABT and a.f.t or AFT, respectively.

    The official rec.arts.books.tolkien charter can be found at

    http://tolkien.slimy.com/newsgroups/RABTcharter.txt

    Alt.fan.tolkien does not have a formal charter.
    -------

    2. Why are there two groups?

    Originally, AFT was the only Tolkien newsgroup on Usenet. RABT was
    created (when the approval vote passed on 26 Mar 1993) as a replacement
    for AFT which would be carried by a larger fraction of news servers.
    However, AFT was never removed, and both groups currently enjoy
    substantial readership. While only RABT has a formal charter (see
    question II.A.1 for reference), the two groups are virtually identical
    in intended content.

    Many participants see a tendency for RABT to be somewhat more
    "scholarly" in tone while AFT is a bit more "conversational", and some
    suggest that this distinction is useful and should be encouraged.
    Other participants draw less of a distinction between the two groups,
    and often believe that a difference in focus would be both undesirable
    and impossible to achieve. In practice, everyone decides for
    themselves how they want to treat the two groups, and most people
    generally don't complain one way or the other.
    -------

    3. Do I have to have a Ph.D. in Tolkienology to post?

    By no means! People with any amount of Tolkien "lore" are welcome
    to participate. It is advisable, however, to have read /The Hobbit/
    and /The Lord of the Rings/ before spending much time here, as
    otherwise you run the risk of many, many spoilers for both books.

    When you do participate in discussions, just use whatever Tolkien
    knowledge you have: you can have great ideas regardless of how much
    you've read. Occasionally, others will cite sources (often obscure but
    just as often authoritative) that weaken or disprove your arguments.
    When this happens (as it does to every one of us), nobody will think
    less of you for not knowing the reference; treat it as a chance to
    learn something new about Middle-earth.
    -------

    4. What questions and topics are appropriate?

    Virtually any topic related (even distantly) to Tolkien and his
    works is fair game. If you post a purely "factual" question (like "How
    many Ringwraiths were there?"), it's a good idea to explain why you're
    asking: we periodically see questions from students who hope we will do
    their homework for them, and the last thing we want to do is help
    people to avoid reading the books!

    It is appreciated if articles that have absolutely nothing to do
    with Tolkien have subject lines beginning with "OT:" ("Off Topic"). The
    Tolkien newsgroups are a sufficiently social community that threads
    often do drift away from their initial topics, and while this should
    not be discouraged, it is polite to label it when it happens. On the
    other hand, off topic discussions that get too intense or go on too
    long can interfere with others' enjoyment of the groups, and should be
    avoided.

    Binary files, such as images or sounds, are NEVER appropriate in a non-binaries newsgroup. To share a binary file with people in the
    Tolkien groups, you have two main options. One is to find an
    appropriate newsgroup in the alt.binaries.* hierarchy, post the file
    there, and then post a message here telling us where to look. Another
    (more common) method is to put the file on the Web and post the URL on
    the newsgroups.
    -------

    5. What does a tilde (~) in the subject mean? and
    Is it acceptable to post messages with sexual content?

    Articles posted to these newsgroups occasionally contain comments
    that some consider inappropriate for younger readers. After much
    discussion, most participants agreed to mark messages with /sexual/
    content with a tilde in the subject line. Individuals can then create
    killfiles to screen out such messages as desired. While not everyone
    agrees that such a system is beneficial, following this convention is
    the polite thing to do. The newsgroup charter recommends the use of
    ROT-13 "encryption" for this purpose, but this has become less common.
    -------

    6. What common mistakes should I try to avoid?

    By and large, the participants in the Tolkien newsgroups try to
    judge others based on their ideas rather than on details of grammar and
    posting style. However, there are a few types of simple mistakes that
    tend to cause some level of bias and annoyance among many group
    members, which in turn can distract them from your real message. Most
    of these are covered in the "Netiquette" section below.

    One common mistake of this type that is not related to netiquette is confusing the singular and plural forms of common Elvish words. On the
    Tolkien newsgroups, these words are so familiar that the phrase "Manwe
    is a Valar" sounds just as jarring and strange as "Finrod is an Elves."
    To reduce this problem, a list of some of the most commonly confused singular/plural pairs is given below. Note the patterns!

    Singular: Vala Maia Elda Noldo Teler Istar Adan
    Plural: Valar Maiar Eldar Noldor Teleri Istari Edain

    Another issue that arises periodically is whether or not /The Lord
    of the Rings/ should be referred to as a "trilogy". Tolkien said quite
    clearly in Letter #165 that "The book is /not/ of course a 'trilogy'",
    and some people make a point of correcting those who use the term.
    However, in Letter #252, Tolkien himself refers to "my trilogy", so
    most of us agree that using the term is an acceptable shorthand, if
    nothing else.
    -------

    7. What do all the abbreviations used on the groups mean?

    [More abbreviations can be found in section IV of the Tolkien FAQ.]

    Some names and phrases come up so frequently on the Tolkien
    newsgroups that they are often abbreviated for convenience. A few of
    the very most common are defined below; these definitions are excerpted
    from Sir Confused-a-Lot's old AFT Glossary, now online at

    http://silenceisdefeat.com/~aft-rabt/glossary/

    JRRT: John Ronald Reuel Tolkien
    ME: Middle-earth
    LotR: /The Lord of the Rings/
    FotR: /The Fellowship of the Ring/
    TT: /The Two Towers/
    RotK: /The Return of the King/
    Silm.: /The Silmarillion/
    UT: /Unfinished Tales/
    HoMe: the "History of Middle-earth" series
    Letters: /The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien/
    Narn: The "Narn I Hin Hurin" in UT
    Athrabeth: The "Athrabeth Finrod Ah Andreth" in /Morgoth's Ring/

    NG: Newsgroup
    TEUNC: "Tolkien Eccentric Unusual Nut Cases", an eGroup of
    Tolkien fans, some of whom frequent the newsgroups
    LOL: Laughing Out Loud
    ROTFL: Rolling On The Floor Laughing

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------

    II.B. THE BASICS OF NETIQUETTE

    1. What is the proper subject line for my post?

    Make sure that the "Subject:" line of your post matches the topic
    that you are discussing. Be concise, but specific: subject lines such
    as "The Lord of the Rings" or "Tolkien" give no useful information
    about the contents of your post. Note that this does not only apply to
    the first post in a thread: if you see that the subject line no longer
    matches the topic of a thread, change it when you reply! Also, follow
    the "OT:" convention for off-topic posts (mentioned in question II.A.4
    above).

    When you do change the subject line, it is polite to indicate the
    subject of the previous post. For example, "Balrog Wings" might become
    "Balrog Flight (was Balrog Wings)" and then "Eagles (was Balrog
    Flight)". This helps people follow the history of the thread.
    -------

    2. What should I do when replying to an earlier article?
    For example, should I "top post" or "bottom post"?

    First and foremost, make sure to retain the attribution of any
    quoted text, so others know who said the things you are replying to.
    Almost equally important, make sure that you trim the previous post as
    much as possible:

    * If you are replying to one specific comment in the previous
    article, delete all of the previous text except that comment. If
    the comment is at all long, try to trim it down to its essence.
    Type your reply directly beneath the quoted comment.

    * If you are replying to several distinct points individually, quote
    each one as above and type your reply immediately below it (and
    above the next point).

    * If you are replying to a long section that cannot be easily
    trimmed down (for example, an original poem or story), quote only
    its first and last lines (and perhaps put "[snip]" or "..." on a
    line in between the two). If there are particular pieces that
    you want to respond to individually, do so as described above.

    There are two general rules of thumb to follow in connection with
    the above guidelines:

    * Any article you post should have more lines of new text than lines
    of quoted text. It is generally acceptable to ignore this rule
    if the entire post (including basic headers and any signature) is
    short enough to fit on a single 24 line screen.

    * Any comments specifically replying to the previous article should
    come /below/ the relevant part of the previous article. This
    makes reading the article more like reading a conversation, and
    therefore much easier to follow.

    This obviously means that "top posting" is strongly discouraged: it
    forces readers to scroll up and down between the new and old material,
    and it usually involves quoting the entire previous post(s) untrimmed..
    Whether you call our practice "bottom posting", "middle posting", or
    "standard netiquette" is up to you.

    An example of a post that follows these guidelines can be found on
    the web at

    http://tolkien.slimy.com/newsgroups/EssayDiscuss.txt

    This long message (from a discussion of my essay on Tom Bombadil) would
    be all but impossible to follow if the point by point replies were not organized as described above.

    Finally, make sure to keep the subject line up to date, as discussed
    in question II.B.1.
    -------

    3. When should I "cross-post" to multiple newsgroups?

    Generally, you should post an article to the single most appropriate
    group: a question about /The Hobbit/ is more appropriate on rec.arts.books.tolkien than on rec.arts.books. However, there are cases
    when several groups are appropriate: a discussion of the influence of
    Tolkien's faith on his writings could be interesting to readers of both soc.religion.christian.roman-catholic and rec.arts.books.tolkien.
    (Cases in which more than two or three groups are truly appropriate are extremely rare!)

    In such cases, it is almost always better to "cross-post" the
    article to multiple groups than to post separately to each. To do
    this, list all of the relevant groups together on the "Newsgroups:"
    line, separated by commas but /no/ spaces (many posts here list
    "Newsgroups: alt.fan.tolkien,rec.arts.books.tolkien"). Cross-posting
    has several advantages, the most important being that responses to a cross-posted article are also cross-posted. That ensures that everyone involved in the discussion sees every reply.

    Some internet service providers (notably AOL) misguidedly forbid cross-posting, probably because /inappropriate/ cross-posting is very
    bad netiquette and is often used to "spam" many groups at once. If you
    have this problem, it may be better to choose just one "best" group for
    your post than to post separate copies to multiple groups.
    -------

    4. I am able to post my messages with HTML formatting. Should I?

    Generally, no. Many of us use simple text-based programs to read
    news, and posts with HTML formatting can be very difficult to read.
    You can generally turn off this behavior from the "Preferences" or
    "Options" section of your newsreader. For some newsreaders, you will
    need to change more than one setting to completely eliminate this
    behavior.
    -------

    5. If someone insults me or otherwise makes me upset, should I flame
    them back?

    No.

    6. Even if my reputation and honor are at stake?

    Feel free to post any corrections or differences in opinion that you
    feel are necessary. Feel free to indicate that you are hurt, unhappy,
    or insulted because of their comments. But by no means escalate the
    budding flame war, and try your hardest to be polite in your response:
    this tends to get the group's sentiments on your side far better than
    any exchange of name-calling ever could. People are usually fairly
    good at recognizing when someone is being terribly unfair. Yes, it is undoubtedly your right to flame if you want to, but the vast majority
    of the group would be happier if you did not.

    In general, try to give others the benefit of the doubt: with only
    text to go on, it's hard to judge their real intent. Could you have
    misread the insulting lines in their post? Could they have been
    speaking tongue in cheek? Maybe they only meant to tease you, not
    realizing that you would really be insulted. Assuming the worst is a depressing way to live one's life.

    Finally, be particularly careful not to reply to a "troll", someone
    who intentionally fishes for arguments and flames. These people seem
    to take great personal delight in inspiring people to anger or
    indignation; the best reaction to them is generally to ignore them
    altogether.
    -------

    7. Where can I go for more information on netiquette, and on Usenet in
    general?

    One of the best places to start has always been the newsgroup news.announce.newusers. This group is home to a wide range of articles
    that provide introductory information about many aspects of Usenet
    news. Unfortunately, most of these articles are no longer being posted regularly to the group. It may be more effective to read archived
    copies of them at

    ftp://rtfm.mit.edu/pub/usenet/news.announce.newusers/

    Read the "Welcome to Usenet!" article there first.

    The information on netiquette and on Usenet in general in the news.announce.newusers articles remains very relevant today, but those
    articles are several years old. More recent information on similar
    topics can be found at the web sites associated with the news.newusers.questions newsgroup. A list of these sites around the
    world can be found at

    http://users.rcn.com/kateshort/nnq/nnqlinks.html

    (among many other places).

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------ ------------------------------------------------------------------------

    III. DEBATES AND DISCUSSION

    A great many questions about Tolkien and his books arise repeatedly
    on the Tolkien newsgroups. The starting point of each debate is the
    same almost every time, and it takes a long time for the discussion to
    reach "new ground." In the worst cases, bitter and longstanding
    arguments about the basics get in the way before new progress can be
    made at all.

    The purpose of a FAQ is to avoid this problem by setting down the
    basics in a common place so that the discussion can deal with new
    issues from the start. However, it is very difficult to balance the
    need for conciseness with the need for completeness: many debates that repeatedly appear on the Tolkien newsgroups have generated very large
    amounts of "known territory."

    Keep in mind that this FAQ provides only summaries of these debates:
    many of their subtleties are omitted for the sake of brevity. Most of
    these topics have been discussed at length by many intelligent In these
    cases, it is extremely unlikely that any unambiguous "proof" of one
    position exists. With this in mind, try to be respectful toward those
    who disagree with you. To get more information on the usual content of
    common discussions, it is often helpful to browse those discussions
    themselves at the Google Groups Usenet archive (see question IV.A.5 for
    more information).

    Finally, be sure to read question III.A.2, dealing with "canonical"
    texts. This FAQ addresses only the state of Middle-earth after LotR
    was written, which corresponds roughly to the material included in the published /Silmarillion/. Details from earlier versions of the
    mythology will not be discussed in this document (and are generally
    given very limited weight in debates about the later state of the
    mythology).

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------

    III.A. STORY EXTERNAL QUESTIONS

    1. What is the best order in which to read the books?

    This depends on each person's personal preferences. Unless you
    strongly dislike stories written for children, most recommend reading
    /The Hobbit/ first. /The Lord of the Rings/ is certainly next (feel
    free to skip the Prologue if you find it dull, and after the main text
    try to read at least Appendix A.I.v, "The Tale of Aragorn and Arwen").

    If you enjoy any part of the Appendices to LotR, there are things in Tolkien's other books that you are likely to enjoy as well. Most
    suggest reading /The Children of Hurin/, /Unfinished Tales/, /The Silmarillion/, and /The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien/ next, in some order
    (perhaps that one). /The Children of Hurin/ is the only complete novel
    about Middle-earth published after Tolkien's death (although it takes
    place long before the events of LotR, it probably isn't necessary to
    read Silm. first). The stories and essays in UT can be read in any
    order, so the "Third Age" material is a good starting point for those
    coming straight from LotR (the "First Age" stories are excellent, but
    are easier to follow after reading Silm.; the other parts of UT are
    mostly accessible to those who have read LotR and its appendices).
    Many people find the early parts of Silm. slow to read (like a history
    book or the Bible), but it is often a favorite among those who have
    read it. /Letters/ contains insights into both Middle-earth and Tolkien
    as a person.

    For more details (and more books), try getting a personalized
    recommendation from the Custom Tolkien Book List, on the web at

    http://tolkien.slimy.com/books.html

    (This URL redirects to the longer and messier URL of the actual list.)
    -------

    2. What books about Middle-earth are considered "canonical"?

    [I have written an essay on this topic, including general observations
    and my own approach. It is on the web at: http://tolkien.slimy.com/essays/TolkParish.html.]

    As the term is used on the Tolkien newsgroups, a "canonical" text is
    one which is believed to provide authoritative information about
    Middle-earth. This concept is more subtle than it may appear at first
    glance, in part because most of Tolkien's mythology remained incomplete
    when he died. Books or even individual chapters or essays may be
    regarded as more or less "trustworthy" than others, and many people
    reject the idea that there is a single "true" Middle-earth entirely.

    Among those who accept the concept of "canon" to at least some
    degree, almost all agree that /The Lord of the Rings/ is a canonical
    text and most assign equal or near equal weight to /The Hobbit/ (the
    other books about Middle-earth published in Tolkien's lifetime are
    treated similarly). However, due to heavy and unmarked posthumous
    editing, /The Silmarillion/ is considered by many /not/ to be canonical
    (see question III.A.3 for details).

    People put various amounts of trust in the many drafts and essays in /Unfinished Tales/ and the "History of Middle-earth" series. In cases
    where Tolkien's intent seems particularly stable and clear, some trust
    these sources almost as much as /The Hobbit/ and LotR themselves. In
    practice, this means that most of the more trustworthy material is
    found in /Unfinished Tales/ and in volumes X-XII of the HoMe series.
    Opinions on how much to trust /The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien/ are
    mixed, but its contents are generally respected as long as they are not contradicted by other (more canonical) texts. The pictures in /J.R.R.
    Tolkien: Artist and Illustrator/ by Wayne Hammond and Christina Scull
    may also be considered somewhat canonical.

    It is important to note that many aspects of Middle-earth changed substantially over the course of Tolkien's life. Because of this,
    facts taken from the early versions of the mythology can be misleading
    or just plain wrong when used to draw conclusions about LotR or later
    versions of the mythology. This means that while the early versions
    can provide valuable hints about Tolkien's thoughts on an issue, they
    are rarely considered to provide definitive evidence for any position.

    The Custom Tolkien Book List (mentioned in question III.A.1)
    includes my own perspective on the "canonicity" of each section of each
    book in the list. While those are just one person's opinions, they are
    fairly typical. A static version of the list in publication order can
    be found on the web at

    http://tolkien.slimy.com/publist.html

    That static list still contains a link to the customizable version.
    -------

    3. How does /The Silmarillion/ as published differ from what Tolkien
    intended?

    This is a complicated question that is essentially unanswerable:
    despite his lifelong effort, Tolkien never came close to completing
    /The Silmarillion/. At Tolkien's request, after his death his son
    Christopher (with some help from Guy Kay) worked to "bring the work
    into publishable form"; Christopher discusses the difficulties involved
    in the book's Foreword. To understand why /The Silmarillion/ took the
    form that it did (and why it is rarely considered "canonical", as
    mentioned in question III.A.2), it is worth exploring those editorial
    changes. The full story can be found in the "History of Middle-earth"
    books, particularly /Morgoth's Ring/ and /The War of the Jewels/
    (volumes X-XI).

    The most basic editorial decision was which writings to include in
    the book at all. The "Quenta Silmarillion" is of course the central
    text, but Tolkien also wrote numerous associated stories and essays.
    Charles Noad explored this question as part of his essay "On the
    Construction of 'The Silmarillion'" (published in /Tolkien's
    Legendarium/; see question III.A.5), where he suggests an "outline for
    'The Silmarillion' as Tolkien may have intended it". In addition to the
    texts in the published book, Noad includes expanded versions of four
    stories: "The Lay of Leithian" (possibly in poetic form), "Narn i Chin
    Hurin", "The Fall of Gondolin", and "Earendil the Wanderer" (which
    Tolkien never even fully sketched). He also includes five
    "Appendices": writings about Middle-earth and its inhabitants such as
    "Laws and Customs among the Eldar" and the "Athrabeth Finrod ah
    Andreth" (most of these were published in HoMe X-XI). Sadly, a book
    with this outline could never be made satisfying with just the texts
    that Tolkien left us.

    Moving on to the texts that were actually included in /The
    Silmarillion/ as published, there were three types of problems to
    overcome. In the worst cases, there were crucial gaps in the narrative
    where Tolkien had never written more than an outline of the story (or
    where the most recent version was hopelessly outdated). Much more
    frequently, Tolkien's years of revisions led to factual inconsistencies
    between stories written at various times (especially between writings
    before and after /The Lord of the Rings/). And finally, Tolkien's
    writings differed markedly in tone, ranging from vivid narratives to
    terse annals to philosophical essays. To assemble a single text,
    consistent in style and detail, from such a range of source material
    clearly required substantial editing.

    Despite that pessimistic assessment, the vast majority of the
    published /Silmarillion/ is taken directly from Tolkien's work and
    seems to come quite close to what he intended, as far as it goes. (None
    of the "expanded" tales were ever completed, but what exists of them
    can be found for the most part in /Unfinished Tales/, /The Lays of
    Beleriand/, and the other "History of Middle-earth" books mentioned
    above.) Still, mild editing is not uncommon, and can be difficult to
    identify even by comparison to the source texts as published in HoMe.
    Thus, /The Silmarillion/ is often not treated as a final authority in
    scholarly discussions of Middle-earth. (A classic example is its
    mistaken ancestry of Gil-galad, as discussed in question III.B.8.)

    The greatest concern, of course, comes from those few cases where
    large gaps had to be filled by the editors. This happened to some
    extent for "Of Tuor and the Fall of Gondolin" and "Of the Voyage of
    Earendil and the War of Wrath", but the most substantial editorial
    "invention" came in the chapter "Of the Ruin of Doriath". The episode

    [continued in next message]

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  • From Steuard Jensen@21:1/5 to All on Thu Jan 21 22:14:02 2021
    XPost: alt.fan.tolkien

    Posted-By: auto-faq 3.3.1 (Perl 5.020)
    Posting-Frequency: monthly
    URL: http://tolkien.slimy.com/

    TOLKIEN NEWSGROUPS FAQ

    Copyright (C) 1999-2012 by Steuard Jensen

    (Created 17 Aug 1999)
    (Last updated 11 Mar 2012)



    For many years, the Tolkien Usenet newsgroups have been home to a
    pair of excellent Frequently Asked Questions lists about Tolkien and Middle-earth, compiled by William D. B. Loos. These sources contain a
    wealth of information, but are no longer maintained (the last update
    seems to have been in July 1996). This means that quite a few issues
    of current interest to the groups are not fully addressed in those
    documents.

    This FAQ supplements, updates, and expands on the earlier ones,
    though it is not meant to replace them entirely. It includes new and
    corrected information on some of the old discussions, numerous entries
    on topics not covered in the older FAQs, and a broad discussion of the
    Tolkien newsgroups and common standards of netiquette. This FAQ is
    intended both as an introduction for newcomers to the newsgroups and as
    a source of information for anyone exploring Middle-earth.

    The official HTML version of the FAQ is on the web at

    http://tolkien.slimy.com/faq/

    The plain text version is posted to Usenet on the 22nd of each month
    and is also available on the web, at

    http://tolkien.slimy.com/faq/TolkNgFaq.txt

    For a unified and easy to use interface to this FAQ, the Loos FAQs, and
    others, consider visiting the Tolkien Meta-FAQ, at

    http://tolkien.slimy.com/

    I would like to give my sincere thanks to the many, many people on
    the newsgroups and elsewhere who have given criticism, suggestions, and encouragement as I wrote this FAQ. This project would never have
    succeeded without their wonderful support.

    Steuard Jensen
    steuard@slimy.com ------------------------------------------------------------------------ ------------------------------------------------------------------------


    Table of Contents

    Sections/questions marked: * have been revised since the last release
    ** are new since the last release

    I. Changes Since the Last Release *

    II. Newsgroups and Netiquette

    A. Information on the Tolkien Newsgroups
    1. What newsgroups are we talking about again?
    2. Why are there two groups?
    3. Do I have to have a Ph.D. in Tolkienology to post?
    4. What questions and topics are appropriate?
    5. What does a tilde (~) in the subject mean? and
    Is it acceptable to post messages with sexual content?
    6. What common mistakes should I try to avoid?
    7. What do all the abbreviations used on the groups mean?

    B. The Basics of Netiquette
    1. What is the proper subject line for my post?
    2. What should I do when replying to an earlier article?
    For example, should I "top post" or "bottom post"?
    3. When should I "cross-post" to multiple newsgroups?
    4. I am able to post my messages with HTML formatting. Should I?
    5. If someone insults me or otherwise makes me upset, should I
    flame them back?
    6. Even if my reputation and honor are at stake?
    7. Where can I go for more information on netiquette, and on
    Usenet in general?

    III. Debates and Discussion

    A. Story External Questions
    1. What is the best order in which to read the books?
    2. What books about Middle-earth are considered "canonical"?
    3. How does /The Silmarillion/ as published differ from what
    Tolkien intended?
    4. Which are "The Two Towers"?
    5. Which books /about/ Tolkien are good, and which aren't?
    6. Is Middle-earth Medieval?
    7. Was Tolkien racist? Were his works?
    8. Are there electronic versions of Tolkien's books?
    9. Where can I report copyright violations that I observe?

    B. Story Internal Questions: Creatures and Characters
    1. Did Balrogs have wings?
    2. Could Balrogs fly?
    3. What was Tom Bombadil?
    4. Did Elves have pointed ears?
    5. Did Elves have beards?
    6. What happened to Elves after they died?
    7. Was Glorfindel of Rivendell the same as Glorfindel of Gondolin?
    8. Who was Gil-galad's father?
    9. Did Dwarf women have beards?
    10. Was there "telepathy" in Middle-earth?
    11. Did Sauron have a physical form during /The Lord of the
    Rings/? *
    12. What were the names of the Nazgul?
    13. What was Gothmog (the lieutenant of Morgul)?
    14. What was the origin of Orcs?
    15. Were Orcs immortal, and what happened to them after death?
    16. What was the relationship between Orcs and Goblins?
    17. What was the origin of Saruman's Uruk-hai?
    18. What was the origin of Trolls?
    19. What were the giants (seen by Bilbo in /The Hobbit/)?

    C. Story Internal Questions: History and Happenings
    1. Why didn't they just have an Eagle fly the Ring to Mt. Doom?
    2. Were the barrow blades magical? In what way?
    3. Why didn't the Nazgul take the Ring at Weathertop?
    4. Who killed the Witch-king, Merry or Eowyn?
    5. Did Frodo and the other mortals who passed over the Sea
    eventually die?
    6. Did Sam follow Frodo into the West?
    7. What is known about the Blue Wizards?
    8. Who was aware that a Balrog lived in Moria?
    9. Did Elves and Dwarves generally get along?
    10. Where was the Ring when Numenor was destroyed?
    11. Who was the oldest inhabitant of Middle-earth?

    IV. External Resources

    A. Where else can I find general information about Middle-earth?
    1. The Tolkien Meta-FAQ
    2. The Tolkien FAQ and LessFAQ
    3. The "FAQ of the Rings"
    4. The Letters FAQ
    5. Google's Usenet archive

    B. Where can I learn more about Tolkien's languages?

    C. Stories of Middle-earth in many forms
    1. What editions of Tolkien's books are best?
    2. What audio versions of Tolkien's books are available?
    3. What is the groups' view of the recent /Lord of the Rings/
    movies?
    4. Where can I find out about music related to Middle-earth?

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------ ------------------------------------------------------------------------

    I. CHANGES SINCE THE LAST RELEASE

    Adjusted wording of question III.B.11 about Sauron's physical form
    to emphasize the relevance of the evidence to the period of LotR.

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------ ------------------------------------------------------------------------

    II. NEWSGROUPS AND NETIQUETTE

    When discussing Tolkien (or anything else) online, it is important
    to know at least a little about the "culture" of the discussion forum
    that you are participating in. The information in this section is
    intended to give an idea of "appropriate" behavior on the Tolkien
    Usenet newsgroups. To make our discussions as enjoyable as possible,
    every participant should try to be familiar with what follows.

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------

    II.A. INFORMATION ON THE TOLKIEN NEWSGROUPS

    1. What newsgroups are we talking about again?

    There are several Usenet newsgroups specific to Tolkien and his
    works. However, the two most widely read and distributed of these are rec.arts.books.tolkien and alt.fan.tolkien, commonly abbreviated either
    r.a.b.t or RABT and a.f.t or AFT, respectively.

    The official rec.arts.books.tolkien charter can be found at

    http://tolkien.slimy.com/newsgroups/RABTcharter.txt

    Alt.fan.tolkien does not have a formal charter.
    -------

    2. Why are there two groups?

    Originally, AFT was the only Tolkien newsgroup on Usenet. RABT was
    created (when the approval vote passed on 26 Mar 1993) as a replacement
    for AFT which would be carried by a larger fraction of news servers.
    However, AFT was never removed, and both groups currently enjoy
    substantial readership. While only RABT has a formal charter (see
    question II.A.1 for reference), the two groups are virtually identical
    in intended content.

    Many participants see a tendency for RABT to be somewhat more
    "scholarly" in tone while AFT is a bit more "conversational", and some
    suggest that this distinction is useful and should be encouraged.
    Other participants draw less of a distinction between the two groups,
    and often believe that a difference in focus would be both undesirable
    and impossible to achieve. In practice, everyone decides for
    themselves how they want to treat the two groups, and most people
    generally don't complain one way or the other.
    -------

    3. Do I have to have a Ph.D. in Tolkienology to post?

    By no means! People with any amount of Tolkien "lore" are welcome
    to participate. It is advisable, however, to have read /The Hobbit/
    and /The Lord of the Rings/ before spending much time here, as
    otherwise you run the risk of many, many spoilers for both books.

    When you do participate in discussions, just use whatever Tolkien
    knowledge you have: you can have great ideas regardless of how much
    you've read. Occasionally, others will cite sources (often obscure but
    just as often authoritative) that weaken or disprove your arguments.
    When this happens (as it does to every one of us), nobody will think
    less of you for not knowing the reference; treat it as a chance to
    learn something new about Middle-earth.
    -------

    4. What questions and topics are appropriate?

    Virtually any topic related (even distantly) to Tolkien and his
    works is fair game. If you post a purely "factual" question (like "How
    many Ringwraiths were there?"), it's a good idea to explain why you're
    asking: we periodically see questions from students who hope we will do
    their homework for them, and the last thing we want to do is help
    people to avoid reading the books!

    It is appreciated if articles that have absolutely nothing to do
    with Tolkien have subject lines beginning with "OT:" ("Off Topic"). The
    Tolkien newsgroups are a sufficiently social community that threads
    often do drift away from their initial topics, and while this should
    not be discouraged, it is polite to label it when it happens. On the
    other hand, off topic discussions that get too intense or go on too
    long can interfere with others' enjoyment of the groups, and should be
    avoided.

    Binary files, such as images or sounds, are NEVER appropriate in a non-binaries newsgroup. To share a binary file with people in the
    Tolkien groups, you have two main options. One is to find an
    appropriate newsgroup in the alt.binaries.* hierarchy, post the file
    there, and then post a message here telling us where to look. Another
    (more common) method is to put the file on the Web and post the URL on
    the newsgroups.
    -------

    5. What does a tilde (~) in the subject mean? and
    Is it acceptable to post messages with sexual content?

    Articles posted to these newsgroups occasionally contain comments
    that some consider inappropriate for younger readers. After much
    discussion, most participants agreed to mark messages with /sexual/
    content with a tilde in the subject line. Individuals can then create
    killfiles to screen out such messages as desired. While not everyone
    agrees that such a system is beneficial, following this convention is
    the polite thing to do. The newsgroup charter recommends the use of
    ROT-13 "encryption" for this purpose, but this has become less common.
    -------

    6. What common mistakes should I try to avoid?

    By and large, the participants in the Tolkien newsgroups try to
    judge others based on their ideas rather than on details of grammar and
    posting style. However, there are a few types of simple mistakes that
    tend to cause some level of bias and annoyance among many group
    members, which in turn can distract them from your real message. Most
    of these are covered in the "Netiquette" section below.

    One common mistake of this type that is not related to netiquette is confusing the singular and plural forms of common Elvish words. On the
    Tolkien newsgroups, these words are so familiar that the phrase "Manwe
    is a Valar" sounds just as jarring and strange as "Finrod is an Elves."
    To reduce this problem, a list of some of the most commonly confused singular/plural pairs is given below. Note the patterns!

    Singular: Vala Maia Elda Noldo Teler Istar Adan
    Plural: Valar Maiar Eldar Noldor Teleri Istari Edain

    Another issue that arises periodically is whether or not /The Lord
    of the Rings/ should be referred to as a "trilogy". Tolkien said quite
    clearly in Letter #165 that "The book is /not/ of course a 'trilogy'",
    and some people make a point of correcting those who use the term.
    However, in Letter #252, Tolkien himself refers to "my trilogy", so
    most of us agree that using the term is an acceptable shorthand, if
    nothing else.
    -------

    7. What do all the abbreviations used on the groups mean?

    [More abbreviations can be found in section IV of the Tolkien FAQ.]

    Some names and phrases come up so frequently on the Tolkien
    newsgroups that they are often abbreviated for convenience. A few of
    the very most common are defined below; these definitions are excerpted
    from Sir Confused-a-Lot's old AFT Glossary, now online at

    http://silenceisdefeat.com/~aft-rabt/glossary/

    JRRT: John Ronald Reuel Tolkien
    ME: Middle-earth
    LotR: /The Lord of the Rings/
    FotR: /The Fellowship of the Ring/
    TT: /The Two Towers/
    RotK: /The Return of the King/
    Silm.: /The Silmarillion/
    UT: /Unfinished Tales/
    HoMe: the "History of Middle-earth" series
    Letters: /The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien/
    Narn: The "Narn I Hin Hurin" in UT
    Athrabeth: The "Athrabeth Finrod Ah Andreth" in /Morgoth's Ring/

    NG: Newsgroup
    TEUNC: "Tolkien Eccentric Unusual Nut Cases", an eGroup of
    Tolkien fans, some of whom frequent the newsgroups
    LOL: Laughing Out Loud
    ROTFL: Rolling On The Floor Laughing

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------

    II.B. THE BASICS OF NETIQUETTE

    1. What is the proper subject line for my post?

    Make sure that the "Subject:" line of your post matches the topic
    that you are discussing. Be concise, but specific: subject lines such
    as "The Lord of the Rings" or "Tolkien" give no useful information
    about the contents of your post. Note that this does not only apply to
    the first post in a thread: if you see that the subject line no longer
    matches the topic of a thread, change it when you reply! Also, follow
    the "OT:" convention for off-topic posts (mentioned in question II.A.4
    above).

    When you do change the subject line, it is polite to indicate the
    subject of the previous post. For example, "Balrog Wings" might become
    "Balrog Flight (was Balrog Wings)" and then "Eagles (was Balrog
    Flight)". This helps people follow the history of the thread.
    -------

    2. What should I do when replying to an earlier article?
    For example, should I "top post" or "bottom post"?

    First and foremost, make sure to retain the attribution of any
    quoted text, so others know who said the things you are replying to.
    Almost equally important, make sure that you trim the previous post as
    much as possible:

    * If you are replying to one specific comment in the previous
    article, delete all of the previous text except that comment. If
    the comment is at all long, try to trim it down to its essence.
    Type your reply directly beneath the quoted comment.

    * If you are replying to several distinct points individually, quote
    each one as above and type your reply immediately below it (and
    above the next point).

    * If you are replying to a long section that cannot be easily
    trimmed down (for example, an original poem or story), quote only
    its first and last lines (and perhaps put "[snip]" or "..." on a
    line in between the two). If there are particular pieces that
    you want to respond to individually, do so as described above.

    There are two general rules of thumb to follow in connection with
    the above guidelines:

    * Any article you post should have more lines of new text than lines
    of quoted text. It is generally acceptable to ignore this rule
    if the entire post (including basic headers and any signature) is
    short enough to fit on a single 24 line screen.

    * Any comments specifically replying to the previous article should
    come /below/ the relevant part of the previous article. This
    makes reading the article more like reading a conversation, and
    therefore much easier to follow.

    This obviously means that "top posting" is strongly discouraged: it
    forces readers to scroll up and down between the new and old material,
    and it usually involves quoting the entire previous post(s) untrimmed..
    Whether you call our practice "bottom posting", "middle posting", or
    "standard netiquette" is up to you.

    An example of a post that follows these guidelines can be found on
    the web at

    http://tolkien.slimy.com/newsgroups/EssayDiscuss.txt

    This long message (from a discussion of my essay on Tom Bombadil) would
    be all but impossible to follow if the point by point replies were not organized as described above.

    Finally, make sure to keep the subject line up to date, as discussed
    in question II.B.1.
    -------

    3. When should I "cross-post" to multiple newsgroups?

    Generally, you should post an article to the single most appropriate
    group: a question about /The Hobbit/ is more appropriate on rec.arts.books.tolkien than on rec.arts.books. However, there are cases
    when several groups are appropriate: a discussion of the influence of
    Tolkien's faith on his writings could be interesting to readers of both soc.religion.christian.roman-catholic and rec.arts.books.tolkien.
    (Cases in which more than two or three groups are truly appropriate are extremely rare!)

    In such cases, it is almost always better to "cross-post" the
    article to multiple groups than to post separately to each. To do
    this, list all of the relevant groups together on the "Newsgroups:"
    line, separated by commas but /no/ spaces (many posts here list
    "Newsgroups: alt.fan.tolkien,rec.arts.books.tolkien"). Cross-posting
    has several advantages, the most important being that responses to a cross-posted article are also cross-posted. That ensures that everyone involved in the discussion sees every reply.

    Some internet service providers (notably AOL) misguidedly forbid cross-posting, probably because /inappropriate/ cross-posting is very
    bad netiquette and is often used to "spam" many groups at once. If you
    have this problem, it may be better to choose just one "best" group for
    your post than to post separate copies to multiple groups.
    -------

    4. I am able to post my messages with HTML formatting. Should I?

    Generally, no. Many of us use simple text-based programs to read
    news, and posts with HTML formatting can be very difficult to read.
    You can generally turn off this behavior from the "Preferences" or
    "Options" section of your newsreader. For some newsreaders, you will
    need to change more than one setting to completely eliminate this
    behavior.
    -------

    5. If someone insults me or otherwise makes me upset, should I flame
    them back?

    No.

    6. Even if my reputation and honor are at stake?

    Feel free to post any corrections or differences in opinion that you
    feel are necessary. Feel free to indicate that you are hurt, unhappy,
    or insulted because of their comments. But by no means escalate the
    budding flame war, and try your hardest to be polite in your response:
    this tends to get the group's sentiments on your side far better than
    any exchange of name-calling ever could. People are usually fairly
    good at recognizing when someone is being terribly unfair. Yes, it is undoubtedly your right to flame if you want to, but the vast majority
    of the group would be happier if you did not.

    In general, try to give others the benefit of the doubt: with only
    text to go on, it's hard to judge their real intent. Could you have
    misread the insulting lines in their post? Could they have been
    speaking tongue in cheek? Maybe they only meant to tease you, not
    realizing that you would really be insulted. Assuming the worst is a depressing way to live one's life.

    Finally, be particularly careful not to reply to a "troll", someone
    who intentionally fishes for arguments and flames. These people seem
    to take great personal delight in inspiring people to anger or
    indignation; the best reaction to them is generally to ignore them
    altogether.
    -------

    7. Where can I go for more information on netiquette, and on Usenet in
    general?

    One of the best places to start has always been the newsgroup news.announce.newusers. This group is home to a wide range of articles
    that provide introductory information about many aspects of Usenet
    news. Unfortunately, most of these articles are no longer being posted regularly to the group. It may be more effective to read archived
    copies of them at

    ftp://rtfm.mit.edu/pub/usenet/news.announce.newusers/

    Read the "Welcome to Usenet!" article there first.

    The information on netiquette and on Usenet in general in the news.announce.newusers articles remains very relevant today, but those
    articles are several years old. More recent information on similar
    topics can be found at the web sites associated with the news.newusers.questions newsgroup. A list of these sites around the
    world can be found at

    http://users.rcn.com/kateshort/nnq/nnqlinks.html

    (among many other places).

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------ ------------------------------------------------------------------------

    III. DEBATES AND DISCUSSION

    A great many questions about Tolkien and his books arise repeatedly
    on the Tolkien newsgroups. The starting point of each debate is the
    same almost every time, and it takes a long time for the discussion to
    reach "new ground." In the worst cases, bitter and longstanding
    arguments about the basics get in the way before new progress can be
    made at all.

    The purpose of a FAQ is to avoid this problem by setting down the
    basics in a common place so that the discussion can deal with new
    issues from the start. However, it is very difficult to balance the
    need for conciseness with the need for completeness: many debates that repeatedly appear on the Tolkien newsgroups have generated very large
    amounts of "known territory."

    Keep in mind that this FAQ provides only summaries of these debates:
    many of their subtleties are omitted for the sake of brevity. Most of
    these topics have been discussed at length by many intelligent In these
    cases, it is extremely unlikely that any unambiguous "proof" of one
    position exists. With this in mind, try to be respectful toward those
    who disagree with you. To get more information on the usual content of
    common discussions, it is often helpful to browse those discussions
    themselves at the Google Groups Usenet archive (see question IV.A.5 for
    more information).

    Finally, be sure to read question III.A.2, dealing with "canonical"
    texts. This FAQ addresses only the state of Middle-earth after LotR
    was written, which corresponds roughly to the material included in the published /Silmarillion/. Details from earlier versions of the
    mythology will not be discussed in this document (and are generally
    given very limited weight in debates about the later state of the
    mythology).

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------

    III.A. STORY EXTERNAL QUESTIONS

    1. What is the best order in which to read the books?

    This depends on each person's personal preferences. Unless you
    strongly dislike stories written for children, most recommend reading
    /The Hobbit/ first. /The Lord of the Rings/ is certainly next (feel
    free to skip the Prologue if you find it dull, and after the main text
    try to read at least Appendix A.I.v, "The Tale of Aragorn and Arwen").

    If you enjoy any part of the Appendices to LotR, there are things in Tolkien's other books that you are likely to enjoy as well. Most
    suggest reading /The Children of Hurin/, /Unfinished Tales/, /The Silmarillion/, and /The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien/ next, in some order
    (perhaps that one). /The Children of Hurin/ is the only complete novel
    about Middle-earth published after Tolkien's death (although it takes
    place long before the events of LotR, it probably isn't necessary to
    read Silm. first). The stories and essays in UT can be read in any
    order, so the "Third Age" material is a good starting point for those
    coming straight from LotR (the "First Age" stories are excellent, but
    are easier to follow after reading Silm.; the other parts of UT are
    mostly accessible to those who have read LotR and its appendices).
    Many people find the early parts of Silm. slow to read (like a history
    book or the Bible), but it is often a favorite among those who have
    read it. /Letters/ contains insights into both Middle-earth and Tolkien
    as a person.

    For more details (and more books), try getting a personalized
    recommendation from the Custom Tolkien Book List, on the web at

    http://tolkien.slimy.com/books.html

    (This URL redirects to the longer and messier URL of the actual list.)
    -------

    2. What books about Middle-earth are considered "canonical"?

    [I have written an essay on this topic, including general observations
    and my own approach. It is on the web at: http://tolkien.slimy.com/essays/TolkParish.html.]

    As the term is used on the Tolkien newsgroups, a "canonical" text is
    one which is believed to provide authoritative information about
    Middle-earth. This concept is more subtle than it may appear at first
    glance, in part because most of Tolkien's mythology remained incomplete
    when he died. Books or even individual chapters or essays may be
    regarded as more or less "trustworthy" than others, and many people
    reject the idea that there is a single "true" Middle-earth entirely.

    Among those who accept the concept of "canon" to at least some
    degree, almost all agree that /The Lord of the Rings/ is a canonical
    text and most assign equal or near equal weight to /The Hobbit/ (the
    other books about Middle-earth published in Tolkien's lifetime are
    treated similarly). However, due to heavy and unmarked posthumous
    editing, /The Silmarillion/ is considered by many /not/ to be canonical
    (see question III.A.3 for details).

    People put various amounts of trust in the many drafts and essays in /Unfinished Tales/ and the "History of Middle-earth" series. In cases
    where Tolkien's intent seems particularly stable and clear, some trust
    these sources almost as much as /The Hobbit/ and LotR themselves. In
    practice, this means that most of the more trustworthy material is
    found in /Unfinished Tales/ and in volumes X-XII of the HoMe series.
    Opinions on how much to trust /The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien/ are
    mixed, but its contents are generally respected as long as they are not contradicted by other (more canonical) texts. The pictures in /J.R.R.
    Tolkien: Artist and Illustrator/ by Wayne Hammond and Christina Scull
    may also be considered somewhat canonical.

    It is important to note that many aspects of Middle-earth changed substantially over the course of Tolkien's life. Because of this,
    facts taken from the early versions of the mythology can be misleading
    or just plain wrong when used to draw conclusions about LotR or later
    versions of the mythology. This means that while the early versions
    can provide valuable hints about Tolkien's thoughts on an issue, they
    are rarely considered to provide definitive evidence for any position.

    The Custom Tolkien Book List (mentioned in question III.A.1)
    includes my own perspective on the "canonicity" of each section of each
    book in the list. While those are just one person's opinions, they are
    fairly typical. A static version of the list in publication order can
    be found on the web at

    http://tolkien.slimy.com/publist.html

    That static list still contains a link to the customizable version.
    -------

    3. How does /The Silmarillion/ as published differ from what Tolkien
    intended?

    This is a complicated question that is essentially unanswerable:
    despite his lifelong effort, Tolkien never came close to completing
    /The Silmarillion/. At Tolkien's request, after his death his son
    Christopher (with some help from Guy Kay) worked to "bring the work
    into publishable form"; Christopher discusses the difficulties involved
    in the book's Foreword. To understand why /The Silmarillion/ took the
    form that it did (and why it is rarely considered "canonical", as
    mentioned in question III.A.2), it is worth exploring those editorial
    changes. The full story can be found in the "History of Middle-earth"
    books, particularly /Morgoth's Ring/ and /The War of the Jewels/
    (volumes X-XI).

    The most basic editorial decision was which writings to include in
    the book at all. The "Quenta Silmarillion" is of course the central
    text, but Tolkien also wrote numerous associated stories and essays.
    Charles Noad explored this question as part of his essay "On the
    Construction of 'The Silmarillion'" (published in /Tolkien's
    Legendarium/; see question III.A.5), where he suggests an "outline for
    'The Silmarillion' as Tolkien may have intended it". In addition to the
    texts in the published book, Noad includes expanded versions of four
    stories: "The Lay of Leithian" (possibly in poetic form), "Narn i Chin
    Hurin", "The Fall of Gondolin", and "Earendil the Wanderer" (which
    Tolkien never even fully sketched). He also includes five
    "Appendices": writings about Middle-earth and its inhabitants such as
    "Laws and Customs among the Eldar" and the "Athrabeth Finrod ah
    Andreth" (most of these were published in HoMe X-XI). Sadly, a book
    with this outline could never be made satisfying with just the texts
    that Tolkien left us.

    Moving on to the texts that were actually included in /The
    Silmarillion/ as published, there were three types of problems to
    overcome. In the worst cases, there were crucial gaps in the narrative
    where Tolkien had never written more than an outline of the story (or
    where the most recent version was hopelessly outdated). Much more
    frequently, Tolkien's years of revisions led to factual inconsistencies
    between stories written at various times (especially between writings
    before and after /The Lord of the Rings/). And finally, Tolkien's
    writings differed markedly in tone, ranging from vivid narratives to
    terse annals to philosophical essays. To assemble a single text,
    consistent in style and detail, from such a range of source material
    clearly required substantial editing.

    Despite that pessimistic assessment, the vast majority of the
    published /Silmarillion/ is taken directly from Tolkien's work and
    seems to come quite close to what he intended, as far as it goes. (None
    of the "expanded" tales were ever completed, but what exists of them
    can be found for the most part in /Unfinished Tales/, /The Lays of
    Beleriand/, and the other "History of Middle-earth" books mentioned
    above.) Still, mild editing is not uncommon, and can be difficult to
    identify even by comparison to the source texts as published in HoMe.
    Thus, /The Silmarillion/ is often not treated as a final authority in
    scholarly discussions of Middle-earth. (A classic example is its
    mistaken ancestry of Gil-galad, as discussed in question III.B.8.)

    The greatest concern, of course, comes from those few cases where
    large gaps had to be filled by the editors. This happened to some
    extent for "Of Tuor and the Fall of Gondolin" and "Of the Voyage of
    Earendil and the War of Wrath", but the most substantial editorial
    "invention" came in the chapter "Of the Ruin of Doriath". The episode

    [continued in next message]

    --- SoupGate-Win32 v1.05
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  • From Steuard Jensen@21:1/5 to All on Sun Feb 21 22:14:02 2021
    XPost: alt.fan.tolkien

    Posted-By: auto-faq 3.3.1 (Perl 5.020)
    Posting-Frequency: monthly
    URL: http://tolkien.slimy.com/

    TOLKIEN NEWSGROUPS FAQ

    Copyright (C) 1999-2012 by Steuard Jensen

    (Created 17 Aug 1999)
    (Last updated 11 Mar 2012)



    For many years, the Tolkien Usenet newsgroups have been home to a
    pair of excellent Frequently Asked Questions lists about Tolkien and Middle-earth, compiled by William D. B. Loos. These sources contain a
    wealth of information, but are no longer maintained (the last update
    seems to have been in July 1996). This means that quite a few issues
    of current interest to the groups are not fully addressed in those
    documents.

    This FAQ supplements, updates, and expands on the earlier ones,
    though it is not meant to replace them entirely. It includes new and
    corrected information on some of the old discussions, numerous entries
    on topics not covered in the older FAQs, and a broad discussion of the
    Tolkien newsgroups and common standards of netiquette. This FAQ is
    intended both as an introduction for newcomers to the newsgroups and as
    a source of information for anyone exploring Middle-earth.

    The official HTML version of the FAQ is on the web at

    http://tolkien.slimy.com/faq/

    The plain text version is posted to Usenet on the 22nd of each month
    and is also available on the web, at

    http://tolkien.slimy.com/faq/TolkNgFaq.txt

    For a unified and easy to use interface to this FAQ, the Loos FAQs, and
    others, consider visiting the Tolkien Meta-FAQ, at

    http://tolkien.slimy.com/

    I would like to give my sincere thanks to the many, many people on
    the newsgroups and elsewhere who have given criticism, suggestions, and encouragement as I wrote this FAQ. This project would never have
    succeeded without their wonderful support.

    Steuard Jensen
    steuard@slimy.com ------------------------------------------------------------------------ ------------------------------------------------------------------------


    Table of Contents

    Sections/questions marked: * have been revised since the last release
    ** are new since the last release

    I. Changes Since the Last Release *

    II. Newsgroups and Netiquette

    A. Information on the Tolkien Newsgroups
    1. What newsgroups are we talking about again?
    2. Why are there two groups?
    3. Do I have to have a Ph.D. in Tolkienology to post?
    4. What questions and topics are appropriate?
    5. What does a tilde (~) in the subject mean? and
    Is it acceptable to post messages with sexual content?
    6. What common mistakes should I try to avoid?
    7. What do all the abbreviations used on the groups mean?

    B. The Basics of Netiquette
    1. What is the proper subject line for my post?
    2. What should I do when replying to an earlier article?
    For example, should I "top post" or "bottom post"?
    3. When should I "cross-post" to multiple newsgroups?
    4. I am able to post my messages with HTML formatting. Should I?
    5. If someone insults me or otherwise makes me upset, should I
    flame them back?
    6. Even if my reputation and honor are at stake?
    7. Where can I go for more information on netiquette, and on
    Usenet in general?

    III. Debates and Discussion

    A. Story External Questions
    1. What is the best order in which to read the books?
    2. What books about Middle-earth are considered "canonical"?
    3. How does /The Silmarillion/ as published differ from what
    Tolkien intended?
    4. Which are "The Two Towers"?
    5. Which books /about/ Tolkien are good, and which aren't?
    6. Is Middle-earth Medieval?
    7. Was Tolkien racist? Were his works?
    8. Are there electronic versions of Tolkien's books?
    9. Where can I report copyright violations that I observe?

    B. Story Internal Questions: Creatures and Characters
    1. Did Balrogs have wings?
    2. Could Balrogs fly?
    3. What was Tom Bombadil?
    4. Did Elves have pointed ears?
    5. Did Elves have beards?
    6. What happened to Elves after they died?
    7. Was Glorfindel of Rivendell the same as Glorfindel of Gondolin?
    8. Who was Gil-galad's father?
    9. Did Dwarf women have beards?
    10. Was there "telepathy" in Middle-earth?
    11. Did Sauron have a physical form during /The Lord of the
    Rings/? *
    12. What were the names of the Nazgul?
    13. What was Gothmog (the lieutenant of Morgul)?
    14. What was the origin of Orcs?
    15. Were Orcs immortal, and what happened to them after death?
    16. What was the relationship between Orcs and Goblins?
    17. What was the origin of Saruman's Uruk-hai?
    18. What was the origin of Trolls?
    19. What were the giants (seen by Bilbo in /The Hobbit/)?

    C. Story Internal Questions: History and Happenings
    1. Why didn't they just have an Eagle fly the Ring to Mt. Doom?
    2. Were the barrow blades magical? In what way?
    3. Why didn't the Nazgul take the Ring at Weathertop?
    4. Who killed the Witch-king, Merry or Eowyn?
    5. Did Frodo and the other mortals who passed over the Sea
    eventually die?
    6. Did Sam follow Frodo into the West?
    7. What is known about the Blue Wizards?
    8. Who was aware that a Balrog lived in Moria?
    9. Did Elves and Dwarves generally get along?
    10. Where was the Ring when Numenor was destroyed?
    11. Who was the oldest inhabitant of Middle-earth?

    IV. External Resources

    A. Where else can I find general information about Middle-earth?
    1. The Tolkien Meta-FAQ
    2. The Tolkien FAQ and LessFAQ
    3. The "FAQ of the Rings"
    4. The Letters FAQ
    5. Google's Usenet archive

    B. Where can I learn more about Tolkien's languages?

    C. Stories of Middle-earth in many forms
    1. What editions of Tolkien's books are best?
    2. What audio versions of Tolkien's books are available?
    3. What is the groups' view of the recent /Lord of the Rings/
    movies?
    4. Where can I find out about music related to Middle-earth?

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------ ------------------------------------------------------------------------

    I. CHANGES SINCE THE LAST RELEASE

    Adjusted wording of question III.B.11 about Sauron's physical form
    to emphasize the relevance of the evidence to the period of LotR.

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------ ------------------------------------------------------------------------

    II. NEWSGROUPS AND NETIQUETTE

    When discussing Tolkien (or anything else) online, it is important
    to know at least a little about the "culture" of the discussion forum
    that you are participating in. The information in this section is
    intended to give an idea of "appropriate" behavior on the Tolkien
    Usenet newsgroups. To make our discussions as enjoyable as possible,
    every participant should try to be familiar with what follows.

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------

    II.A. INFORMATION ON THE TOLKIEN NEWSGROUPS

    1. What newsgroups are we talking about again?

    There are several Usenet newsgroups specific to Tolkien and his
    works. However, the two most widely read and distributed of these are rec.arts.books.tolkien and alt.fan.tolkien, commonly abbreviated either
    r.a.b.t or RABT and a.f.t or AFT, respectively.

    The official rec.arts.books.tolkien charter can be found at

    http://tolkien.slimy.com/newsgroups/RABTcharter.txt

    Alt.fan.tolkien does not have a formal charter.
    -------

    2. Why are there two groups?

    Originally, AFT was the only Tolkien newsgroup on Usenet. RABT was
    created (when the approval vote passed on 26 Mar 1993) as a replacement
    for AFT which would be carried by a larger fraction of news servers.
    However, AFT was never removed, and both groups currently enjoy
    substantial readership. While only RABT has a formal charter (see
    question II.A.1 for reference), the two groups are virtually identical
    in intended content.

    Many participants see a tendency for RABT to be somewhat more
    "scholarly" in tone while AFT is a bit more "conversational", and some
    suggest that this distinction is useful and should be encouraged.
    Other participants draw less of a distinction between the two groups,
    and often believe that a difference in focus would be both undesirable
    and impossible to achieve. In practice, everyone decides for
    themselves how they want to treat the two groups, and most people
    generally don't complain one way or the other.
    -------

    3. Do I have to have a Ph.D. in Tolkienology to post?

    By no means! People with any amount of Tolkien "lore" are welcome
    to participate. It is advisable, however, to have read /The Hobbit/
    and /The Lord of the Rings/ before spending much time here, as
    otherwise you run the risk of many, many spoilers for both books.

    When you do participate in discussions, just use whatever Tolkien
    knowledge you have: you can have great ideas regardless of how much
    you've read. Occasionally, others will cite sources (often obscure but
    just as often authoritative) that weaken or disprove your arguments.
    When this happens (as it does to every one of us), nobody will think
    less of you for not knowing the reference; treat it as a chance to
    learn something new about Middle-earth.
    -------

    4. What questions and topics are appropriate?

    Virtually any topic related (even distantly) to Tolkien and his
    works is fair game. If you post a purely "factual" question (like "How
    many Ringwraiths were there?"), it's a good idea to explain why you're
    asking: we periodically see questions from students who hope we will do
    their homework for them, and the last thing we want to do is help
    people to avoid reading the books!

    It is appreciated if articles that have absolutely nothing to do
    with Tolkien have subject lines beginning with "OT:" ("Off Topic"). The
    Tolkien newsgroups are a sufficiently social community that threads
    often do drift away from their initial topics, and while this should
    not be discouraged, it is polite to label it when it happens. On the
    other hand, off topic discussions that get too intense or go on too
    long can interfere with others' enjoyment of the groups, and should be
    avoided.

    Binary files, such as images or sounds, are NEVER appropriate in a non-binaries newsgroup. To share a binary file with people in the
    Tolkien groups, you have two main options. One is to find an
    appropriate newsgroup in the alt.binaries.* hierarchy, post the file
    there, and then post a message here telling us where to look. Another
    (more common) method is to put the file on the Web and post the URL on
    the newsgroups.
    -------

    5. What does a tilde (~) in the subject mean? and
    Is it acceptable to post messages with sexual content?

    Articles posted to these newsgroups occasionally contain comments
    that some consider inappropriate for younger readers. After much
    discussion, most participants agreed to mark messages with /sexual/
    content with a tilde in the subject line. Individuals can then create
    killfiles to screen out such messages as desired. While not everyone
    agrees that such a system is beneficial, following this convention is
    the polite thing to do. The newsgroup charter recommends the use of
    ROT-13 "encryption" for this purpose, but this has become less common.
    -------

    6. What common mistakes should I try to avoid?

    By and large, the participants in the Tolkien newsgroups try to
    judge others based on their ideas rather than on details of grammar and
    posting style. However, there are a few types of simple mistakes that
    tend to cause some level of bias and annoyance among many group
    members, which in turn can distract them from your real message. Most
    of these are covered in the "Netiquette" section below.

    One common mistake of this type that is not related to netiquette is confusing the singular and plural forms of common Elvish words. On the
    Tolkien newsgroups, these words are so familiar that the phrase "Manwe
    is a Valar" sounds just as jarring and strange as "Finrod is an Elves."
    To reduce this problem, a list of some of the most commonly confused singular/plural pairs is given below. Note the patterns!

    Singular: Vala Maia Elda Noldo Teler Istar Adan
    Plural: Valar Maiar Eldar Noldor Teleri Istari Edain

    Another issue that arises periodically is whether or not /The Lord
    of the Rings/ should be referred to as a "trilogy". Tolkien said quite
    clearly in Letter #165 that "The book is /not/ of course a 'trilogy'",
    and some people make a point of correcting those who use the term.
    However, in Letter #252, Tolkien himself refers to "my trilogy", so
    most of us agree that using the term is an acceptable shorthand, if
    nothing else.
    -------

    7. What do all the abbreviations used on the groups mean?

    [More abbreviations can be found in section IV of the Tolkien FAQ.]

    Some names and phrases come up so frequently on the Tolkien
    newsgroups that they are often abbreviated for convenience. A few of
    the very most common are defined below; these definitions are excerpted
    from Sir Confused-a-Lot's old AFT Glossary, now online at

    http://silenceisdefeat.com/~aft-rabt/glossary/

    JRRT: John Ronald Reuel Tolkien
    ME: Middle-earth
    LotR: /The Lord of the Rings/
    FotR: /The Fellowship of the Ring/
    TT: /The Two Towers/
    RotK: /The Return of the King/
    Silm.: /The Silmarillion/
    UT: /Unfinished Tales/
    HoMe: the "History of Middle-earth" series
    Letters: /The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien/
    Narn: The "Narn I Hin Hurin" in UT
    Athrabeth: The "Athrabeth Finrod Ah Andreth" in /Morgoth's Ring/

    NG: Newsgroup
    TEUNC: "Tolkien Eccentric Unusual Nut Cases", an eGroup of
    Tolkien fans, some of whom frequent the newsgroups
    LOL: Laughing Out Loud
    ROTFL: Rolling On The Floor Laughing

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------

    II.B. THE BASICS OF NETIQUETTE

    1. What is the proper subject line for my post?

    Make sure that the "Subject:" line of your post matches the topic
    that you are discussing. Be concise, but specific: subject lines such
    as "The Lord of the Rings" or "Tolkien" give no useful information
    about the contents of your post. Note that this does not only apply to
    the first post in a thread: if you see that the subject line no longer
    matches the topic of a thread, change it when you reply! Also, follow
    the "OT:" convention for off-topic posts (mentioned in question II.A.4
    above).

    When you do change the subject line, it is polite to indicate the
    subject of the previous post. For example, "Balrog Wings" might become
    "Balrog Flight (was Balrog Wings)" and then "Eagles (was Balrog
    Flight)". This helps people follow the history of the thread.
    -------

    2. What should I do when replying to an earlier article?
    For example, should I "top post" or "bottom post"?

    First and foremost, make sure to retain the attribution of any
    quoted text, so others know who said the things you are replying to.
    Almost equally important, make sure that you trim the previous post as
    much as possible:

    * If you are replying to one specific comment in the previous
    article, delete all of the previous text except that comment. If
    the comment is at all long, try to trim it down to its essence.
    Type your reply directly beneath the quoted comment.

    * If you are replying to several distinct points individually, quote
    each one as above and type your reply immediately below it (and
    above the next point).

    * If you are replying to a long section that cannot be easily
    trimmed down (for example, an original poem or story), quote only
    its first and last lines (and perhaps put "[snip]" or "..." on a
    line in between the two). If there are particular pieces that
    you want to respond to individually, do so as described above.

    There are two general rules of thumb to follow in connection with
    the above guidelines:

    * Any article you post should have more lines of new text than lines
    of quoted text. It is generally acceptable to ignore this rule
    if the entire post (including basic headers and any signature) is
    short enough to fit on a single 24 line screen.

    * Any comments specifically replying to the previous article should
    come /below/ the relevant part of the previous article. This
    makes reading the article more like reading a conversation, and
    therefore much easier to follow.

    This obviously means that "top posting" is strongly discouraged: it
    forces readers to scroll up and down between the new and old material,
    and it usually involves quoting the entire previous post(s) untrimmed..
    Whether you call our practice "bottom posting", "middle posting", or
    "standard netiquette" is up to you.

    An example of a post that follows these guidelines can be found on
    the web at

    http://tolkien.slimy.com/newsgroups/EssayDiscuss.txt

    This long message (from a discussion of my essay on Tom Bombadil) would
    be all but impossible to follow if the point by point replies were not organized as described above.

    Finally, make sure to keep the subject line up to date, as discussed
    in question II.B.1.
    -------

    3. When should I "cross-post" to multiple newsgroups?

    Generally, you should post an article to the single most appropriate
    group: a question about /The Hobbit/ is more appropriate on rec.arts.books.tolkien than on rec.arts.books. However, there are cases
    when several groups are appropriate: a discussion of the influence of
    Tolkien's faith on his writings could be interesting to readers of both soc.religion.christian.roman-catholic and rec.arts.books.tolkien.
    (Cases in which more than two or three groups are truly appropriate are extremely rare!)

    In such cases, it is almost always better to "cross-post" the
    article to multiple groups than to post separately to each. To do
    this, list all of the relevant groups together on the "Newsgroups:"
    line, separated by commas but /no/ spaces (many posts here list
    "Newsgroups: alt.fan.tolkien,rec.arts.books.tolkien"). Cross-posting
    has several advantages, the most important being that responses to a cross-posted article are also cross-posted. That ensures that everyone involved in the discussion sees every reply.

    Some internet service providers (notably AOL) misguidedly forbid cross-posting, probably because /inappropriate/ cross-posting is very
    bad netiquette and is often used to "spam" many groups at once. If you
    have this problem, it may be better to choose just one "best" group for
    your post than to post separate copies to multiple groups.
    -------

    4. I am able to post my messages with HTML formatting. Should I?

    Generally, no. Many of us use simple text-based programs to read
    news, and posts with HTML formatting can be very difficult to read.
    You can generally turn off this behavior from the "Preferences" or
    "Options" section of your newsreader. For some newsreaders, you will
    need to change more than one setting to completely eliminate this
    behavior.
    -------

    5. If someone insults me or otherwise makes me upset, should I flame
    them back?

    No.

    6. Even if my reputation and honor are at stake?

    Feel free to post any corrections or differences in opinion that you
    feel are necessary. Feel free to indicate that you are hurt, unhappy,
    or insulted because of their comments. But by no means escalate the
    budding flame war, and try your hardest to be polite in your response:
    this tends to get the group's sentiments on your side far better than
    any exchange of name-calling ever could. People are usually fairly
    good at recognizing when someone is being terribly unfair. Yes, it is undoubtedly your right to flame if you want to, but the vast majority
    of the group would be happier if you did not.

    In general, try to give others the benefit of the doubt: with only
    text to go on, it's hard to judge their real intent. Could you have
    misread the insulting lines in their post? Could they have been
    speaking tongue in cheek? Maybe they only meant to tease you, not
    realizing that you would really be insulted. Assuming the worst is a depressing way to live one's life.

    Finally, be particularly careful not to reply to a "troll", someone
    who intentionally fishes for arguments and flames. These people seem
    to take great personal delight in inspiring people to anger or
    indignation; the best reaction to them is generally to ignore them
    altogether.
    -------

    7. Where can I go for more information on netiquette, and on Usenet in
    general?

    One of the best places to start has always been the newsgroup news.announce.newusers. This group is home to a wide range of articles
    that provide introductory information about many aspects of Usenet
    news. Unfortunately, most of these articles are no longer being posted regularly to the group. It may be more effective to read archived
    copies of them at

    ftp://rtfm.mit.edu/pub/usenet/news.announce.newusers/

    Read the "Welcome to Usenet!" article there first.

    The information on netiquette and on Usenet in general in the news.announce.newusers articles remains very relevant today, but those
    articles are several years old. More recent information on similar
    topics can be found at the web sites associated with the news.newusers.questions newsgroup. A list of these sites around the
    world can be found at

    http://users.rcn.com/kateshort/nnq/nnqlinks.html

    (among many other places).

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------ ------------------------------------------------------------------------

    III. DEBATES AND DISCUSSION

    A great many questions about Tolkien and his books arise repeatedly
    on the Tolkien newsgroups. The starting point of each debate is the
    same almost every time, and it takes a long time for the discussion to
    reach "new ground." In the worst cases, bitter and longstanding
    arguments about the basics get in the way before new progress can be
    made at all.

    The purpose of a FAQ is to avoid this problem by setting down the
    basics in a common place so that the discussion can deal with new
    issues from the start. However, it is very difficult to balance the
    need for conciseness with the need for completeness: many debates that repeatedly appear on the Tolkien newsgroups have generated very large
    amounts of "known territory."

    Keep in mind that this FAQ provides only summaries of these debates:
    many of their subtleties are omitted for the sake of brevity. Most of
    these topics have been discussed at length by many intelligent In these
    cases, it is extremely unlikely that any unambiguous "proof" of one
    position exists. With this in mind, try to be respectful toward those
    who disagree with you. To get more information on the usual content of
    common discussions, it is often helpful to browse those discussions
    themselves at the Google Groups Usenet archive (see question IV.A.5 for
    more information).

    Finally, be sure to read question III.A.2, dealing with "canonical"
    texts. This FAQ addresses only the state of Middle-earth after LotR
    was written, which corresponds roughly to the material included in the published /Silmarillion/. Details from earlier versions of the
    mythology will not be discussed in this document (and are generally
    given very limited weight in debates about the later state of the
    mythology).

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------

    III.A. STORY EXTERNAL QUESTIONS

    1. What is the best order in which to read the books?

    This depends on each person's personal preferences. Unless you
    strongly dislike stories written for children, most recommend reading
    /The Hobbit/ first. /The Lord of the Rings/ is certainly next (feel
    free to skip the Prologue if you find it dull, and after the main text
    try to read at least Appendix A.I.v, "The Tale of Aragorn and Arwen").

    If you enjoy any part of the Appendices to LotR, there are things in Tolkien's other books that you are likely to enjoy as well. Most
    suggest reading /The Children of Hurin/, /Unfinished Tales/, /The Silmarillion/, and /The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien/ next, in some order
    (perhaps that one). /The Children of Hurin/ is the only complete novel
    about Middle-earth published after Tolkien's death (although it takes
    place long before the events of LotR, it probably isn't necessary to
    read Silm. first). The stories and essays in UT can be read in any
    order, so the "Third Age" material is a good starting point for those
    coming straight from LotR (the "First Age" stories are excellent, but
    are easier to follow after reading Silm.; the other parts of UT are
    mostly accessible to those who have read LotR and its appendices).
    Many people find the early parts of Silm. slow to read (like a history
    book or the Bible), but it is often a favorite among those who have
    read it. /Letters/ contains insights into both Middle-earth and Tolkien
    as a person.

    For more details (and more books), try getting a personalized
    recommendation from the Custom Tolkien Book List, on the web at

    http://tolkien.slimy.com/books.html

    (This URL redirects to the longer and messier URL of the actual list.)
    -------

    2. What books about Middle-earth are considered "canonical"?

    [I have written an essay on this topic, including general observations
    and my own approach. It is on the web at: http://tolkien.slimy.com/essays/TolkParish.html.]

    As the term is used on the Tolkien newsgroups, a "canonical" text is
    one which is believed to provide authoritative information about
    Middle-earth. This concept is more subtle than it may appear at first
    glance, in part because most of Tolkien's mythology remained incomplete
    when he died. Books or even individual chapters or essays may be
    regarded as more or less "trustworthy" than others, and many people
    reject the idea that there is a single "true" Middle-earth entirely.

    Among those who accept the concept of "canon" to at least some
    degree, almost all agree that /The Lord of the Rings/ is a canonical
    text and most assign equal or near equal weight to /The Hobbit/ (the
    other books about Middle-earth published in Tolkien's lifetime are
    treated similarly). However, due to heavy and unmarked posthumous
    editing, /The Silmarillion/ is considered by many /not/ to be canonical
    (see question III.A.3 for details).

    People put various amounts of trust in the many drafts and essays in /Unfinished Tales/ and the "History of Middle-earth" series. In cases
    where Tolkien's intent seems particularly stable and clear, some trust
    these sources almost as much as /The Hobbit/ and LotR themselves. In
    practice, this means that most of the more trustworthy material is
    found in /Unfinished Tales/ and in volumes X-XII of the HoMe series.
    Opinions on how much to trust /The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien/ are
    mixed, but its contents are generally respected as long as they are not contradicted by other (more canonical) texts. The pictures in /J.R.R.
    Tolkien: Artist and Illustrator/ by Wayne Hammond and Christina Scull
    may also be considered somewhat canonical.

    It is important to note that many aspects of Middle-earth changed substantially over the course of Tolkien's life. Because of this,
    facts taken from the early versions of the mythology can be misleading
    or just plain wrong when used to draw conclusions about LotR or later
    versions of the mythology. This means that while the early versions
    can provide valuable hints about Tolkien's thoughts on an issue, they
    are rarely considered to provide definitive evidence for any position.

    The Custom Tolkien Book List (mentioned in question III.A.1)
    includes my own perspective on the "canonicity" of each section of each
    book in the list. While those are just one person's opinions, they are
    fairly typical. A static version of the list in publication order can
    be found on the web at

    http://tolkien.slimy.com/publist.html

    That static list still contains a link to the customizable version.
    -------

    3. How does /The Silmarillion/ as published differ from what Tolkien
    intended?

    This is a complicated question that is essentially unanswerable:
    despite his lifelong effort, Tolkien never came close to completing
    /The Silmarillion/. At Tolkien's request, after his death his son
    Christopher (with some help from Guy Kay) worked to "bring the work
    into publishable form"; Christopher discusses the difficulties involved
    in the book's Foreword. To understand why /The Silmarillion/ took the
    form that it did (and why it is rarely considered "canonical", as
    mentioned in question III.A.2), it is worth exploring those editorial
    changes. The full story can be found in the "History of Middle-earth"
    books, particularly /Morgoth's Ring/ and /The War of the Jewels/
    (volumes X-XI).

    The most basic editorial decision was which writings to include in
    the book at all. The "Quenta Silmarillion" is of course the central
    text, but Tolkien also wrote numerous associated stories and essays.
    Charles Noad explored this question as part of his essay "On the
    Construction of 'The Silmarillion'" (published in /Tolkien's
    Legendarium/; see question III.A.5), where he suggests an "outline for
    'The Silmarillion' as Tolkien may have intended it". In addition to the
    texts in the published book, Noad includes expanded versions of four
    stories: "The Lay of Leithian" (possibly in poetic form), "Narn i Chin
    Hurin", "The Fall of Gondolin", and "Earendil the Wanderer" (which
    Tolkien never even fully sketched). He also includes five
    "Appendices": writings about Middle-earth and its inhabitants such as
    "Laws and Customs among the Eldar" and the "Athrabeth Finrod ah
    Andreth" (most of these were published in HoMe X-XI). Sadly, a book
    with this outline could never be made satisfying with just the texts
    that Tolkien left us.

    Moving on to the texts that were actually included in /The
    Silmarillion/ as published, there were three types of problems to
    overcome. In the worst cases, there were crucial gaps in the narrative
    where Tolkien had never written more than an outline of the story (or
    where the most recent version was hopelessly outdated). Much more
    frequently, Tolkien's years of revisions led to factual inconsistencies
    between stories written at various times (especially between writings
    before and after /The Lord of the Rings/). And finally, Tolkien's
    writings differed markedly in tone, ranging from vivid narratives to
    terse annals to philosophical essays. To assemble a single text,
    consistent in style and detail, from such a range of source material
    clearly required substantial editing.

    Despite that pessimistic assessment, the vast majority of the
    published /Silmarillion/ is taken directly from Tolkien's work and
    seems to come quite close to what he intended, as far as it goes. (None
    of the "expanded" tales were ever completed, but what exists of them
    can be found for the most part in /Unfinished Tales/, /The Lays of
    Beleriand/, and the other "History of Middle-earth" books mentioned
    above.) Still, mild editing is not uncommon, and can be difficult to
    identify even by comparison to the source texts as published in HoMe.
    Thus, /The Silmarillion/ is often not treated as a final authority in
    scholarly discussions of Middle-earth. (A classic example is its
    mistaken ancestry of Gil-galad, as discussed in question III.B.8.)

    The greatest concern, of course, comes from those few cases where
    large gaps had to be filled by the editors. This happened to some
    extent for "Of Tuor and the Fall of Gondolin" and "Of the Voyage of
    Earendil and the War of Wrath", but the most substantial editorial
    "invention" came in the chapter "Of the Ruin of Doriath". The episode

    [continued in next message]

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  • From Steuard Jensen@21:1/5 to All on Sun Mar 21 23:14:01 2021
    XPost: alt.fan.tolkien

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    TOLKIEN NEWSGROUPS FAQ

    Copyright (C) 1999-2012 by Steuard Jensen

    (Created 17 Aug 1999)
    (Last updated 11 Mar 2012)



    For many years, the Tolkien Usenet newsgroups have been home to a
    pair of excellent Frequently Asked Questions lists about Tolkien and Middle-earth, compiled by William D. B. Loos. These sources contain a
    wealth of information, but are no longer maintained (the last update
    seems to have been in July 1996). This means that quite a few issues
    of current interest to the groups are not fully addressed in those
    documents.

    This FAQ supplements, updates, and expands on the earlier ones,
    though it is not meant to replace them entirely. It includes new and
    corrected information on some of the old discussions, numerous entries
    on topics not covered in the older FAQs, and a broad discussion of the
    Tolkien newsgroups and common standards of netiquette. This FAQ is
    intended both as an introduction for newcomers to the newsgroups and as
    a source of information for anyone exploring Middle-earth.

    The official HTML version of the FAQ is on the web at

    http://tolkien.slimy.com/faq/

    The plain text version is posted to Usenet on the 22nd of each month
    and is also available on the web, at

    http://tolkien.slimy.com/faq/TolkNgFaq.txt

    For a unified and easy to use interface to this FAQ, the Loos FAQs, and
    others, consider visiting the Tolkien Meta-FAQ, at

    http://tolkien.slimy.com/

    I would like to give my sincere thanks to the many, many people on
    the newsgroups and elsewhere who have given criticism, suggestions, and encouragement as I wrote this FAQ. This project would never have
    succeeded without their wonderful support.

    Steuard Jensen
    steuard@slimy.com ------------------------------------------------------------------------ ------------------------------------------------------------------------


    Table of Contents

    Sections/questions marked: * have been revised since the last release
    ** are new since the last release

    I. Changes Since the Last Release *

    II. Newsgroups and Netiquette

    A. Information on the Tolkien Newsgroups
    1. What newsgroups are we talking about again?
    2. Why are there two groups?
    3. Do I have to have a Ph.D. in Tolkienology to post?
    4. What questions and topics are appropriate?
    5. What does a tilde (~) in the subject mean? and
    Is it acceptable to post messages with sexual content?
    6. What common mistakes should I try to avoid?
    7. What do all the abbreviations used on the groups mean?

    B. The Basics of Netiquette
    1. What is the proper subject line for my post?
    2. What should I do when replying to an earlier article?
    For example, should I "top post" or "bottom post"?
    3. When should I "cross-post" to multiple newsgroups?
    4. I am able to post my messages with HTML formatting. Should I?
    5. If someone insults me or otherwise makes me upset, should I
    flame them back?
    6. Even if my reputation and honor are at stake?
    7. Where can I go for more information on netiquette, and on
    Usenet in general?

    III. Debates and Discussion

    A. Story External Questions
    1. What is the best order in which to read the books?
    2. What books about Middle-earth are considered "canonical"?
    3. How does /The Silmarillion/ as published differ from what
    Tolkien intended?
    4. Which are "The Two Towers"?
    5. Which books /about/ Tolkien are good, and which aren't?
    6. Is Middle-earth Medieval?
    7. Was Tolkien racist? Were his works?
    8. Are there electronic versions of Tolkien's books?
    9. Where can I report copyright violations that I observe?

    B. Story Internal Questions: Creatures and Characters
    1. Did Balrogs have wings?
    2. Could Balrogs fly?
    3. What was Tom Bombadil?
    4. Did Elves have pointed ears?
    5. Did Elves have beards?
    6. What happened to Elves after they died?
    7. Was Glorfindel of Rivendell the same as Glorfindel of Gondolin?
    8. Who was Gil-galad's father?
    9. Did Dwarf women have beards?
    10. Was there "telepathy" in Middle-earth?
    11. Did Sauron have a physical form during /The Lord of the
    Rings/? *
    12. What were the names of the Nazgul?
    13. What was Gothmog (the lieutenant of Morgul)?
    14. What was the origin of Orcs?
    15. Were Orcs immortal, and what happened to them after death?
    16. What was the relationship between Orcs and Goblins?
    17. What was the origin of Saruman's Uruk-hai?
    18. What was the origin of Trolls?
    19. What were the giants (seen by Bilbo in /The Hobbit/)?

    C. Story Internal Questions: History and Happenings
    1. Why didn't they just have an Eagle fly the Ring to Mt. Doom?
    2. Were the barrow blades magical? In what way?
    3. Why didn't the Nazgul take the Ring at Weathertop?
    4. Who killed the Witch-king, Merry or Eowyn?
    5. Did Frodo and the other mortals who passed over the Sea
    eventually die?
    6. Did Sam follow Frodo into the West?
    7. What is known about the Blue Wizards?
    8. Who was aware that a Balrog lived in Moria?
    9. Did Elves and Dwarves generally get along?
    10. Where was the Ring when Numenor was destroyed?
    11. Who was the oldest inhabitant of Middle-earth?

    IV. External Resources

    A. Where else can I find general information about Middle-earth?
    1. The Tolkien Meta-FAQ
    2. The Tolkien FAQ and LessFAQ
    3. The "FAQ of the Rings"
    4. The Letters FAQ
    5. Google's Usenet archive

    B. Where can I learn more about Tolkien's languages?

    C. Stories of Middle-earth in many forms
    1. What editions of Tolkien's books are best?
    2. What audio versions of Tolkien's books are available?
    3. What is the groups' view of the recent /Lord of the Rings/
    movies?
    4. Where can I find out about music related to Middle-earth?

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------ ------------------------------------------------------------------------

    I. CHANGES SINCE THE LAST RELEASE

    Adjusted wording of question III.B.11 about Sauron's physical form
    to emphasize the relevance of the evidence to the period of LotR.

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------ ------------------------------------------------------------------------

    II. NEWSGROUPS AND NETIQUETTE

    When discussing Tolkien (or anything else) online, it is important
    to know at least a little about the "culture" of the discussion forum
    that you are participating in. The information in this section is
    intended to give an idea of "appropriate" behavior on the Tolkien
    Usenet newsgroups. To make our discussions as enjoyable as possible,
    every participant should try to be familiar with what follows.

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------

    II.A. INFORMATION ON THE TOLKIEN NEWSGROUPS

    1. What newsgroups are we talking about again?

    There are several Usenet newsgroups specific to Tolkien and his
    works. However, the two most widely read and distributed of these are rec.arts.books.tolkien and alt.fan.tolkien, commonly abbreviated either
    r.a.b.t or RABT and a.f.t or AFT, respectively.

    The official rec.arts.books.tolkien charter can be found at

    http://tolkien.slimy.com/newsgroups/RABTcharter.txt

    Alt.fan.tolkien does not have a formal charter.
    -------

    2. Why are there two groups?

    Originally, AFT was the only Tolkien newsgroup on Usenet. RABT was
    created (when the approval vote passed on 26 Mar 1993) as a replacement
    for AFT which would be carried by a larger fraction of news servers.
    However, AFT was never removed, and both groups currently enjoy
    substantial readership. While only RABT has a formal charter (see
    question II.A.1 for reference), the two groups are virtually identical
    in intended content.

    Many participants see a tendency for RABT to be somewhat more
    "scholarly" in tone while AFT is a bit more "conversational", and some
    suggest that this distinction is useful and should be encouraged.
    Other participants draw less of a distinction between the two groups,
    and often believe that a difference in focus would be both undesirable
    and impossible to achieve. In practice, everyone decides for
    themselves how they want to treat the two groups, and most people
    generally don't complain one way or the other.
    -------

    3. Do I have to have a Ph.D. in Tolkienology to post?

    By no means! People with any amount of Tolkien "lore" are welcome
    to participate. It is advisable, however, to have read /The Hobbit/
    and /The Lord of the Rings/ before spending much time here, as
    otherwise you run the risk of many, many spoilers for both books.

    When you do participate in discussions, just use whatever Tolkien
    knowledge you have: you can have great ideas regardless of how much
    you've read. Occasionally, others will cite sources (often obscure but
    just as often authoritative) that weaken or disprove your arguments.
    When this happens (as it does to every one of us), nobody will think
    less of you for not knowing the reference; treat it as a chance to
    learn something new about Middle-earth.
    -------

    4. What questions and topics are appropriate?

    Virtually any topic related (even distantly) to Tolkien and his
    works is fair game. If you post a purely "factual" question (like "How
    many Ringwraiths were there?"), it's a good idea to explain why you're
    asking: we periodically see questions from students who hope we will do
    their homework for them, and the last thing we want to do is help
    people to avoid reading the books!

    It is appreciated if articles that have absolutely nothing to do
    with Tolkien have subject lines beginning with "OT:" ("Off Topic"). The
    Tolkien newsgroups are a sufficiently social community that threads
    often do drift away from their initial topics, and while this should
    not be discouraged, it is polite to label it when it happens. On the
    other hand, off topic discussions that get too intense or go on too
    long can interfere with others' enjoyment of the groups, and should be
    avoided.

    Binary files, such as images or sounds, are NEVER appropriate in a non-binaries newsgroup. To share a binary file with people in the
    Tolkien groups, you have two main options. One is to find an
    appropriate newsgroup in the alt.binaries.* hierarchy, post the file
    there, and then post a message here telling us where to look. Another
    (more common) method is to put the file on the Web and post the URL on
    the newsgroups.
    -------

    5. What does a tilde (~) in the subject mean? and
    Is it acceptable to post messages with sexual content?

    Articles posted to these newsgroups occasionally contain comments
    that some consider inappropriate for younger readers. After much
    discussion, most participants agreed to mark messages with /sexual/
    content with a tilde in the subject line. Individuals can then create
    killfiles to screen out such messages as desired. While not everyone
    agrees that such a system is beneficial, following this convention is
    the polite thing to do. The newsgroup charter recommends the use of
    ROT-13 "encryption" for this purpose, but this has become less common.
    -------

    6. What common mistakes should I try to avoid?

    By and large, the participants in the Tolkien newsgroups try to
    judge others based on their ideas rather than on details of grammar and
    posting style. However, there are a few types of simple mistakes that
    tend to cause some level of bias and annoyance among many group
    members, which in turn can distract them from your real message. Most
    of these are covered in the "Netiquette" section below.

    One common mistake of this type that is not related to netiquette is confusing the singular and plural forms of common Elvish words. On the
    Tolkien newsgroups, these words are so familiar that the phrase "Manwe
    is a Valar" sounds just as jarring and strange as "Finrod is an Elves."
    To reduce this problem, a list of some of the most commonly confused singular/plural pairs is given below. Note the patterns!

    Singular: Vala Maia Elda Noldo Teler Istar Adan
    Plural: Valar Maiar Eldar Noldor Teleri Istari Edain

    Another issue that arises periodically is whether or not /The Lord
    of the Rings/ should be referred to as a "trilogy". Tolkien said quite
    clearly in Letter #165 that "The book is /not/ of course a 'trilogy'",
    and some people make a point of correcting those who use the term.
    However, in Letter #252, Tolkien himself refers to "my trilogy", so
    most of us agree that using the term is an acceptable shorthand, if
    nothing else.
    -------

    7. What do all the abbreviations used on the groups mean?

    [More abbreviations can be found in section IV of the Tolkien FAQ.]

    Some names and phrases come up so frequently on the Tolkien
    newsgroups that they are often abbreviated for convenience. A few of
    the very most common are defined below; these definitions are excerpted
    from Sir Confused-a-Lot's old AFT Glossary, now online at

    http://silenceisdefeat.com/~aft-rabt/glossary/

    JRRT: John Ronald Reuel Tolkien
    ME: Middle-earth
    LotR: /The Lord of the Rings/
    FotR: /The Fellowship of the Ring/
    TT: /The Two Towers/
    RotK: /The Return of the King/
    Silm.: /The Silmarillion/
    UT: /Unfinished Tales/
    HoMe: the "History of Middle-earth" series
    Letters: /The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien/
    Narn: The "Narn I Hin Hurin" in UT
    Athrabeth: The "Athrabeth Finrod Ah Andreth" in /Morgoth's Ring/

    NG: Newsgroup
    TEUNC: "Tolkien Eccentric Unusual Nut Cases", an eGroup of
    Tolkien fans, some of whom frequent the newsgroups
    LOL: Laughing Out Loud
    ROTFL: Rolling On The Floor Laughing

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------

    II.B. THE BASICS OF NETIQUETTE

    1. What is the proper subject line for my post?

    Make sure that the "Subject:" line of your post matches the topic
    that you are discussing. Be concise, but specific: subject lines such
    as "The Lord of the Rings" or "Tolkien" give no useful information
    about the contents of your post. Note that this does not only apply to
    the first post in a thread: if you see that the subject line no longer
    matches the topic of a thread, change it when you reply! Also, follow
    the "OT:" convention for off-topic posts (mentioned in question II.A.4
    above).

    When you do change the subject line, it is polite to indicate the
    subject of the previous post. For example, "Balrog Wings" might become
    "Balrog Flight (was Balrog Wings)" and then "Eagles (was Balrog
    Flight)". This helps people follow the history of the thread.
    -------

    2. What should I do when replying to an earlier article?
    For example, should I "top post" or "bottom post"?

    First and foremost, make sure to retain the attribution of any
    quoted text, so others know who said the things you are replying to.
    Almost equally important, make sure that you trim the previous post as
    much as possible:

    * If you are replying to one specific comment in the previous
    article, delete all of the previous text except that comment. If
    the comment is at all long, try to trim it down to its essence.
    Type your reply directly beneath the quoted comment.

    * If you are replying to several distinct points individually, quote
    each one as above and type your reply immediately below it (and
    above the next point).

    * If you are replying to a long section that cannot be easily
    trimmed down (for example, an original poem or story), quote only
    its first and last lines (and perhaps put "[snip]" or "..." on a
    line in between the two). If there are particular pieces that
    you want to respond to individually, do so as described above.

    There are two general rules of thumb to follow in connection with
    the above guidelines:

    * Any article you post should have more lines of new text than lines
    of quoted text. It is generally acceptable to ignore this rule
    if the entire post (including basic headers and any signature) is
    short enough to fit on a single 24 line screen.

    * Any comments specifically replying to the previous article should
    come /below/ the relevant part of the previous article. This
    makes reading the article more like reading a conversation, and
    therefore much easier to follow.

    This obviously means that "top posting" is strongly discouraged: it
    forces readers to scroll up and down between the new and old material,
    and it usually involves quoting the entire previous post(s) untrimmed..
    Whether you call our practice "bottom posting", "middle posting", or
    "standard netiquette" is up to you.

    An example of a post that follows these guidelines can be found on
    the web at

    http://tolkien.slimy.com/newsgroups/EssayDiscuss.txt

    This long message (from a discussion of my essay on Tom Bombadil) would
    be all but impossible to follow if the point by point replies were not organized as described above.

    Finally, make sure to keep the subject line up to date, as discussed
    in question II.B.1.
    -------

    3. When should I "cross-post" to multiple newsgroups?

    Generally, you should post an article to the single most appropriate
    group: a question about /The Hobbit/ is more appropriate on rec.arts.books.tolkien than on rec.arts.books. However, there are cases
    when several groups are appropriate: a discussion of the influence of
    Tolkien's faith on his writings could be interesting to readers of both soc.religion.christian.roman-catholic and rec.arts.books.tolkien.
    (Cases in which more than two or three groups are truly appropriate are extremely rare!)

    In such cases, it is almost always better to "cross-post" the
    article to multiple groups than to post separately to each. To do
    this, list all of the relevant groups together on the "Newsgroups:"
    line, separated by commas but /no/ spaces (many posts here list
    "Newsgroups: alt.fan.tolkien,rec.arts.books.tolkien"). Cross-posting
    has several advantages, the most important being that responses to a cross-posted article are also cross-posted. That ensures that everyone involved in the discussion sees every reply.

    Some internet service providers (notably AOL) misguidedly forbid cross-posting, probably because /inappropriate/ cross-posting is very
    bad netiquette and is often used to "spam" many groups at once. If you
    have this problem, it may be better to choose just one "best" group for
    your post than to post separate copies to multiple groups.
    -------

    4. I am able to post my messages with HTML formatting. Should I?

    Generally, no. Many of us use simple text-based programs to read
    news, and posts with HTML formatting can be very difficult to read.
    You can generally turn off this behavior from the "Preferences" or
    "Options" section of your newsreader. For some newsreaders, you will
    need to change more than one setting to completely eliminate this
    behavior.
    -------

    5. If someone insults me or otherwise makes me upset, should I flame
    them back?

    No.

    6. Even if my reputation and honor are at stake?

    Feel free to post any corrections or differences in opinion that you
    feel are necessary. Feel free to indicate that you are hurt, unhappy,
    or insulted because of their comments. But by no means escalate the
    budding flame war, and try your hardest to be polite in your response:
    this tends to get the group's sentiments on your side far better than
    any exchange of name-calling ever could. People are usually fairly
    good at recognizing when someone is being terribly unfair. Yes, it is undoubtedly your right to flame if you want to, but the vast majority
    of the group would be happier if you did not.

    In general, try to give others the benefit of the doubt: with only
    text to go on, it's hard to judge their real intent. Could you have
    misread the insulting lines in their post? Could they have been
    speaking tongue in cheek? Maybe they only meant to tease you, not
    realizing that you would really be insulted. Assuming the worst is a depressing way to live one's life.

    Finally, be particularly careful not to reply to a "troll", someone
    who intentionally fishes for arguments and flames. These people seem
    to take great personal delight in inspiring people to anger or
    indignation; the best reaction to them is generally to ignore them
    altogether.
    -------

    7. Where can I go for more information on netiquette, and on Usenet in
    general?

    One of the best places to start has always been the newsgroup news.announce.newusers. This group is home to a wide range of articles
    that provide introductory information about many aspects of Usenet
    news. Unfortunately, most of these articles are no longer being posted regularly to the group. It may be more effective to read archived
    copies of them at

    ftp://rtfm.mit.edu/pub/usenet/news.announce.newusers/

    Read the "Welcome to Usenet!" article there first.

    The information on netiquette and on Usenet in general in the news.announce.newusers articles remains very relevant today, but those
    articles are several years old. More recent information on similar
    topics can be found at the web sites associated with the news.newusers.questions newsgroup. A list of these sites around the
    world can be found at

    http://users.rcn.com/kateshort/nnq/nnqlinks.html

    (among many other places).

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------ ------------------------------------------------------------------------

    III. DEBATES AND DISCUSSION

    A great many questions about Tolkien and his books arise repeatedly
    on the Tolkien newsgroups. The starting point of each debate is the
    same almost every time, and it takes a long time for the discussion to
    reach "new ground." In the worst cases, bitter and longstanding
    arguments about the basics get in the way before new progress can be
    made at all.

    The purpose of a FAQ is to avoid this problem by setting down the
    basics in a common place so that the discussion can deal with new
    issues from the start. However, it is very difficult to balance the
    need for conciseness with the need for completeness: many debates that repeatedly appear on the Tolkien newsgroups have generated very large
    amounts of "known territory."

    Keep in mind that this FAQ provides only summaries of these debates:
    many of their subtleties are omitted for the sake of brevity. Most of
    these topics have been discussed at length by many intelligent In these
    cases, it is extremely unlikely that any unambiguous "proof" of one
    position exists. With this in mind, try to be respectful toward those
    who disagree with you. To get more information on the usual content of
    common discussions, it is often helpful to browse those discussions
    themselves at the Google Groups Usenet archive (see question IV.A.5 for
    more information).

    Finally, be sure to read question III.A.2, dealing with "canonical"
    texts. This FAQ addresses only the state of Middle-earth after LotR
    was written, which corresponds roughly to the material included in the published /Silmarillion/. Details from earlier versions of the
    mythology will not be discussed in this document (and are generally
    given very limited weight in debates about the later state of the
    mythology).

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------

    III.A. STORY EXTERNAL QUESTIONS

    1. What is the best order in which to read the books?

    This depends on each person's personal preferences. Unless you
    strongly dislike stories written for children, most recommend reading
    /The Hobbit/ first. /The Lord of the Rings/ is certainly next (feel
    free to skip the Prologue if you find it dull, and after the main text
    try to read at least Appendix A.I.v, "The Tale of Aragorn and Arwen").

    If you enjoy any part of the Appendices to LotR, there are things in Tolkien's other books that you are likely to enjoy as well. Most
    suggest reading /The Children of Hurin/, /Unfinished Tales/, /The Silmarillion/, and /The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien/ next, in some order
    (perhaps that one). /The Children of Hurin/ is the only complete novel
    about Middle-earth published after Tolkien's death (although it takes
    place long before the events of LotR, it probably isn't necessary to
    read Silm. first). The stories and essays in UT can be read in any
    order, so the "Third Age" material is a good starting point for those
    coming straight from LotR (the "First Age" stories are excellent, but
    are easier to follow after reading Silm.; the other parts of UT are
    mostly accessible to those who have read LotR and its appendices).
    Many people find the early parts of Silm. slow to read (like a history
    book or the Bible), but it is often a favorite among those who have
    read it. /Letters/ contains insights into both Middle-earth and Tolkien
    as a person.

    For more details (and more books), try getting a personalized
    recommendation from the Custom Tolkien Book List, on the web at

    http://tolkien.slimy.com/books.html

    (This URL redirects to the longer and messier URL of the actual list.)
    -------

    2. What books about Middle-earth are considered "canonical"?

    [I have written an essay on this topic, including general observations
    and my own approach. It is on the web at: http://tolkien.slimy.com/essays/TolkParish.html.]

    As the term is used on the Tolkien newsgroups, a "canonical" text is
    one which is believed to provide authoritative information about
    Middle-earth. This concept is more subtle than it may appear at first
    glance, in part because most of Tolkien's mythology remained incomplete
    when he died. Books or even individual chapters or essays may be
    regarded as more or less "trustworthy" than others, and many people
    reject the idea that there is a single "true" Middle-earth entirely.

    Among those who accept the concept of "canon" to at least some
    degree, almost all agree that /The Lord of the Rings/ is a canonical
    text and most assign equal or near equal weight to /The Hobbit/ (the
    other books about Middle-earth published in Tolkien's lifetime are
    treated similarly). However, due to heavy and unmarked posthumous
    editing, /The Silmarillion/ is considered by many /not/ to be canonical
    (see question III.A.3 for details).

    People put various amounts of trust in the many drafts and essays in /Unfinished Tales/ and the "History of Middle-earth" series. In cases
    where Tolkien's intent seems particularly stable and clear, some trust
    these sources almost as much as /The Hobbit/ and LotR themselves. In
    practice, this means that most of the more trustworthy material is
    found in /Unfinished Tales/ and in volumes X-XII of the HoMe series.
    Opinions on how much to trust /The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien/ are
    mixed, but its contents are generally respected as long as they are not contradicted by other (more canonical) texts. The pictures in /J.R.R.
    Tolkien: Artist and Illustrator/ by Wayne Hammond and Christina Scull
    may also be considered somewhat canonical.

    It is important to note that many aspects of Middle-earth changed substantially over the course of Tolkien's life. Because of this,
    facts taken from the early versions of the mythology can be misleading
    or just plain wrong when used to draw conclusions about LotR or later
    versions of the mythology. This means that while the early versions
    can provide valuable hints about Tolkien's thoughts on an issue, they
    are rarely considered to provide definitive evidence for any position.

    The Custom Tolkien Book List (mentioned in question III.A.1)
    includes my own perspective on the "canonicity" of each section of each
    book in the list. While those are just one person's opinions, they are
    fairly typical. A static version of the list in publication order can
    be found on the web at

    http://tolkien.slimy.com/publist.html

    That static list still contains a link to the customizable version.
    -------

    3. How does /The Silmarillion/ as published differ from what Tolkien
    intended?

    This is a complicated question that is essentially unanswerable:
    despite his lifelong effort, Tolkien never came close to completing
    /The Silmarillion/. At Tolkien's request, after his death his son
    Christopher (with some help from Guy Kay) worked to "bring the work
    into publishable form"; Christopher discusses the difficulties involved
    in the book's Foreword. To understand why /The Silmarillion/ took the
    form that it did (and why it is rarely considered "canonical", as
    mentioned in question III.A.2), it is worth exploring those editorial
    changes. The full story can be found in the "History of Middle-earth"
    books, particularly /Morgoth's Ring/ and /The War of the Jewels/
    (volumes X-XI).

    The most basic editorial decision was which writings to include in
    the book at all. The "Quenta Silmarillion" is of course the central
    text, but Tolkien also wrote numerous associated stories and essays.
    Charles Noad explored this question as part of his essay "On the
    Construction of 'The Silmarillion'" (published in /Tolkien's
    Legendarium/; see question III.A.5), where he suggests an "outline for
    'The Silmarillion' as Tolkien may have intended it". In addition to the
    texts in the published book, Noad includes expanded versions of four
    stories: "The Lay of Leithian" (possibly in poetic form), "Narn i Chin
    Hurin", "The Fall of Gondolin", and "Earendil the Wanderer" (which
    Tolkien never even fully sketched). He also includes five
    "Appendices": writings about Middle-earth and its inhabitants such as
    "Laws and Customs among the Eldar" and the "Athrabeth Finrod ah
    Andreth" (most of these were published in HoMe X-XI). Sadly, a book
    with this outline could never be made satisfying with just the texts
    that Tolkien left us.

    Moving on to the texts that were actually included in /The
    Silmarillion/ as published, there were three types of problems to
    overcome. In the worst cases, there were crucial gaps in the narrative
    where Tolkien had never written more than an outline of the story (or
    where the most recent version was hopelessly outdated). Much more
    frequently, Tolkien's years of revisions led to factual inconsistencies
    between stories written at various times (especially between writings
    before and after /The Lord of the Rings/). And finally, Tolkien's
    writings differed markedly in tone, ranging from vivid narratives to
    terse annals to philosophical essays. To assemble a single text,
    consistent in style and detail, from such a range of source material
    clearly required substantial editing.

    Despite that pessimistic assessment, the vast majority of the
    published /Silmarillion/ is taken directly from Tolkien's work and
    seems to come quite close to what he intended, as far as it goes. (None
    of the "expanded" tales were ever completed, but what exists of them
    can be found for the most part in /Unfinished Tales/, /The Lays of
    Beleriand/, and the other "History of Middle-earth" books mentioned
    above.) Still, mild editing is not uncommon, and can be difficult to
    identify even by comparison to the source texts as published in HoMe.
    Thus, /The Silmarillion/ is often not treated as a final authority in
    scholarly discussions of Middle-earth. (A classic example is its
    mistaken ancestry of Gil-galad, as discussed in question III.B.8.)

    The greatest concern, of course, comes from those few cases where
    large gaps had to be filled by the editors. This happened to some
    extent for "Of Tuor and the Fall of Gondolin" and "Of the Voyage of
    Earendil and the War of Wrath", but the most substantial editorial
    "invention" came in the chapter "Of the Ruin of Doriath". The episode

    [continued in next message]

    --- SoupGate-Win32 v1.05
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  • From Steuard Jensen@21:1/5 to All on Wed Apr 21 23:14:01 2021
    XPost: alt.fan.tolkien

    Posted-By: auto-faq 3.3.1 (Perl 5.020)
    Posting-Frequency: monthly
    URL: http://tolkien.slimy.com/

    TOLKIEN NEWSGROUPS FAQ

    Copyright (C) 1999-2012 by Steuard Jensen

    (Created 17 Aug 1999)
    (Last updated 11 Mar 2012)



    For many years, the Tolkien Usenet newsgroups have been home to a
    pair of excellent Frequently Asked Questions lists about Tolkien and Middle-earth, compiled by William D. B. Loos. These sources contain a
    wealth of information, but are no longer maintained (the last update
    seems to have been in July 1996). This means that quite a few issues
    of current interest to the groups are not fully addressed in those
    documents.

    This FAQ supplements, updates, and expands on the earlier ones,
    though it is not meant to replace them entirely. It includes new and
    corrected information on some of the old discussions, numerous entries
    on topics not covered in the older FAQs, and a broad discussion of the
    Tolkien newsgroups and common standards of netiquette. This FAQ is
    intended both as an introduction for newcomers to the newsgroups and as
    a source of information for anyone exploring Middle-earth.

    The official HTML version of the FAQ is on the web at

    http://tolkien.slimy.com/faq/

    The plain text version is posted to Usenet on the 22nd of each month
    and is also available on the web, at

    http://tolkien.slimy.com/faq/TolkNgFaq.txt

    For a unified and easy to use interface to this FAQ, the Loos FAQs, and
    others, consider visiting the Tolkien Meta-FAQ, at

    http://tolkien.slimy.com/

    I would like to give my sincere thanks to the many, many people on
    the newsgroups and elsewhere who have given criticism, suggestions, and encouragement as I wrote this FAQ. This project would never have
    succeeded without their wonderful support.

    Steuard Jensen
    steuard@slimy.com ------------------------------------------------------------------------ ------------------------------------------------------------------------


    Table of Contents

    Sections/questions marked: * have been revised since the last release
    ** are new since the last release

    I. Changes Since the Last Release *

    II. Newsgroups and Netiquette

    A. Information on the Tolkien Newsgroups
    1. What newsgroups are we talking about again?
    2. Why are there two groups?
    3. Do I have to have a Ph.D. in Tolkienology to post?
    4. What questions and topics are appropriate?
    5. What does a tilde (~) in the subject mean? and
    Is it acceptable to post messages with sexual content?
    6. What common mistakes should I try to avoid?
    7. What do all the abbreviations used on the groups mean?

    B. The Basics of Netiquette
    1. What is the proper subject line for my post?
    2. What should I do when replying to an earlier article?
    For example, should I "top post" or "bottom post"?
    3. When should I "cross-post" to multiple newsgroups?
    4. I am able to post my messages with HTML formatting. Should I?
    5. If someone insults me or otherwise makes me upset, should I
    flame them back?
    6. Even if my reputation and honor are at stake?
    7. Where can I go for more information on netiquette, and on
    Usenet in general?

    III. Debates and Discussion

    A. Story External Questions
    1. What is the best order in which to read the books?
    2. What books about Middle-earth are considered "canonical"?
    3. How does /The Silmarillion/ as published differ from what
    Tolkien intended?
    4. Which are "The Two Towers"?
    5. Which books /about/ Tolkien are good, and which aren't?
    6. Is Middle-earth Medieval?
    7. Was Tolkien racist? Were his works?
    8. Are there electronic versions of Tolkien's books?
    9. Where can I report copyright violations that I observe?

    B. Story Internal Questions: Creatures and Characters
    1. Did Balrogs have wings?
    2. Could Balrogs fly?
    3. What was Tom Bombadil?
    4. Did Elves have pointed ears?
    5. Did Elves have beards?
    6. What happened to Elves after they died?
    7. Was Glorfindel of Rivendell the same as Glorfindel of Gondolin?
    8. Who was Gil-galad's father?
    9. Did Dwarf women have beards?
    10. Was there "telepathy" in Middle-earth?
    11. Did Sauron have a physical form during /The Lord of the
    Rings/? *
    12. What were the names of the Nazgul?
    13. What was Gothmog (the lieutenant of Morgul)?
    14. What was the origin of Orcs?
    15. Were Orcs immortal, and what happened to them after death?
    16. What was the relationship between Orcs and Goblins?
    17. What was the origin of Saruman's Uruk-hai?
    18. What was the origin of Trolls?
    19. What were the giants (seen by Bilbo in /The Hobbit/)?

    C. Story Internal Questions: History and Happenings
    1. Why didn't they just have an Eagle fly the Ring to Mt. Doom?
    2. Were the barrow blades magical? In what way?
    3. Why didn't the Nazgul take the Ring at Weathertop?
    4. Who killed the Witch-king, Merry or Eowyn?
    5. Did Frodo and the other mortals who passed over the Sea
    eventually die?
    6. Did Sam follow Frodo into the West?
    7. What is known about the Blue Wizards?
    8. Who was aware that a Balrog lived in Moria?
    9. Did Elves and Dwarves generally get along?
    10. Where was the Ring when Numenor was destroyed?
    11. Who was the oldest inhabitant of Middle-earth?

    IV. External Resources

    A. Where else can I find general information about Middle-earth?
    1. The Tolkien Meta-FAQ
    2. The Tolkien FAQ and LessFAQ
    3. The "FAQ of the Rings"
    4. The Letters FAQ
    5. Google's Usenet archive

    B. Where can I learn more about Tolkien's languages?

    C. Stories of Middle-earth in many forms
    1. What editions of Tolkien's books are best?
    2. What audio versions of Tolkien's books are available?
    3. What is the groups' view of the recent /Lord of the Rings/
    movies?
    4. Where can I find out about music related to Middle-earth?

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------ ------------------------------------------------------------------------

    I. CHANGES SINCE THE LAST RELEASE

    Adjusted wording of question III.B.11 about Sauron's physical form
    to emphasize the relevance of the evidence to the period of LotR.

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------ ------------------------------------------------------------------------

    II. NEWSGROUPS AND NETIQUETTE

    When discussing Tolkien (or anything else) online, it is important
    to know at least a little about the "culture" of the discussion forum
    that you are participating in. The information in this section is
    intended to give an idea of "appropriate" behavior on the Tolkien
    Usenet newsgroups. To make our discussions as enjoyable as possible,
    every participant should try to be familiar with what follows.

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------

    II.A. INFORMATION ON THE TOLKIEN NEWSGROUPS

    1. What newsgroups are we talking about again?

    There are several Usenet newsgroups specific to Tolkien and his
    works. However, the two most widely read and distributed of these are rec.arts.books.tolkien and alt.fan.tolkien, commonly abbreviated either
    r.a.b.t or RABT and a.f.t or AFT, respectively.

    The official rec.arts.books.tolkien charter can be found at

    http://tolkien.slimy.com/newsgroups/RABTcharter.txt

    Alt.fan.tolkien does not have a formal charter.
    -------

    2. Why are there two groups?

    Originally, AFT was the only Tolkien newsgroup on Usenet. RABT was
    created (when the approval vote passed on 26 Mar 1993) as a replacement
    for AFT which would be carried by a larger fraction of news servers.
    However, AFT was never removed, and both groups currently enjoy
    substantial readership. While only RABT has a formal charter (see
    question II.A.1 for reference), the two groups are virtually identical
    in intended content.

    Many participants see a tendency for RABT to be somewhat more
    "scholarly" in tone while AFT is a bit more "conversational", and some
    suggest that this distinction is useful and should be encouraged.
    Other participants draw less of a distinction between the two groups,
    and often believe that a difference in focus would be both undesirable
    and impossible to achieve. In practice, everyone decides for
    themselves how they want to treat the two groups, and most people
    generally don't complain one way or the other.
    -------

    3. Do I have to have a Ph.D. in Tolkienology to post?

    By no means! People with any amount of Tolkien "lore" are welcome
    to participate. It is advisable, however, to have read /The Hobbit/
    and /The Lord of the Rings/ before spending much time here, as
    otherwise you run the risk of many, many spoilers for both books.

    When you do participate in discussions, just use whatever Tolkien
    knowledge you have: you can have great ideas regardless of how much
    you've read. Occasionally, others will cite sources (often obscure but
    just as often authoritative) that weaken or disprove your arguments.
    When this happens (as it does to every one of us), nobody will think
    less of you for not knowing the reference; treat it as a chance to
    learn something new about Middle-earth.
    -------

    4. What questions and topics are appropriate?

    Virtually any topic related (even distantly) to Tolkien and his
    works is fair game. If you post a purely "factual" question (like "How
    many Ringwraiths were there?"), it's a good idea to explain why you're
    asking: we periodically see questions from students who hope we will do
    their homework for them, and the last thing we want to do is help
    people to avoid reading the books!

    It is appreciated if articles that have absolutely nothing to do
    with Tolkien have subject lines beginning with "OT:" ("Off Topic"). The
    Tolkien newsgroups are a sufficiently social community that threads
    often do drift away from their initial topics, and while this should
    not be discouraged, it is polite to label it when it happens. On the
    other hand, off topic discussions that get too intense or go on too
    long can interfere with others' enjoyment of the groups, and should be
    avoided.

    Binary files, such as images or sounds, are NEVER appropriate in a non-binaries newsgroup. To share a binary file with people in the
    Tolkien groups, you have two main options. One is to find an
    appropriate newsgroup in the alt.binaries.* hierarchy, post the file
    there, and then post a message here telling us where to look. Another
    (more common) method is to put the file on the Web and post the URL on
    the newsgroups.
    -------

    5. What does a tilde (~) in the subject mean? and
    Is it acceptable to post messages with sexual content?

    Articles posted to these newsgroups occasionally contain comments
    that some consider inappropriate for younger readers. After much
    discussion, most participants agreed to mark messages with /sexual/
    content with a tilde in the subject line. Individuals can then create
    killfiles to screen out such messages as desired. While not everyone
    agrees that such a system is beneficial, following this convention is
    the polite thing to do. The newsgroup charter recommends the use of
    ROT-13 "encryption" for this purpose, but this has become less common.
    -------

    6. What common mistakes should I try to avoid?

    By and large, the participants in the Tolkien newsgroups try to
    judge others based on their ideas rather than on details of grammar and
    posting style. However, there are a few types of simple mistakes that
    tend to cause some level of bias and annoyance among many group
    members, which in turn can distract them from your real message. Most
    of these are covered in the "Netiquette" section below.

    One common mistake of this type that is not related to netiquette is confusing the singular and plural forms of common Elvish words. On the
    Tolkien newsgroups, these words are so familiar that the phrase "Manwe
    is a Valar" sounds just as jarring and strange as "Finrod is an Elves."
    To reduce this problem, a list of some of the most commonly confused singular/plural pairs is given below. Note the patterns!

    Singular: Vala Maia Elda Noldo Teler Istar Adan
    Plural: Valar Maiar Eldar Noldor Teleri Istari Edain

    Another issue that arises periodically is whether or not /The Lord
    of the Rings/ should be referred to as a "trilogy". Tolkien said quite
    clearly in Letter #165 that "The book is /not/ of course a 'trilogy'",
    and some people make a point of correcting those who use the term.
    However, in Letter #252, Tolkien himself refers to "my trilogy", so
    most of us agree that using the term is an acceptable shorthand, if
    nothing else.
    -------

    7. What do all the abbreviations used on the groups mean?

    [More abbreviations can be found in section IV of the Tolkien FAQ.]

    Some names and phrases come up so frequently on the Tolkien
    newsgroups that they are often abbreviated for convenience. A few of
    the very most common are defined below; these definitions are excerpted
    from Sir Confused-a-Lot's old AFT Glossary, now online at

    http://silenceisdefeat.com/~aft-rabt/glossary/

    JRRT: John Ronald Reuel Tolkien
    ME: Middle-earth
    LotR: /The Lord of the Rings/
    FotR: /The Fellowship of the Ring/
    TT: /The Two Towers/
    RotK: /The Return of the King/
    Silm.: /The Silmarillion/
    UT: /Unfinished Tales/
    HoMe: the "History of Middle-earth" series
    Letters: /The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien/
    Narn: The "Narn I Hin Hurin" in UT
    Athrabeth: The "Athrabeth Finrod Ah Andreth" in /Morgoth's Ring/

    NG: Newsgroup
    TEUNC: "Tolkien Eccentric Unusual Nut Cases", an eGroup of
    Tolkien fans, some of whom frequent the newsgroups
    LOL: Laughing Out Loud
    ROTFL: Rolling On The Floor Laughing

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------

    II.B. THE BASICS OF NETIQUETTE

    1. What is the proper subject line for my post?

    Make sure that the "Subject:" line of your post matches the topic
    that you are discussing. Be concise, but specific: subject lines such
    as "The Lord of the Rings" or "Tolkien" give no useful information
    about the contents of your post. Note that this does not only apply to
    the first post in a thread: if you see that the subject line no longer
    matches the topic of a thread, change it when you reply! Also, follow
    the "OT:" convention for off-topic posts (mentioned in question II.A.4
    above).

    When you do change the subject line, it is polite to indicate the
    subject of the previous post. For example, "Balrog Wings" might become
    "Balrog Flight (was Balrog Wings)" and then "Eagles (was Balrog
    Flight)". This helps people follow the history of the thread.
    -------

    2. What should I do when replying to an earlier article?
    For example, should I "top post" or "bottom post"?

    First and foremost, make sure to retain the attribution of any
    quoted text, so others know who said the things you are replying to.
    Almost equally important, make sure that you trim the previous post as
    much as possible:

    * If you are replying to one specific comment in the previous
    article, delete all of the previous text except that comment. If
    the comment is at all long, try to trim it down to its essence.
    Type your reply directly beneath the quoted comment.

    * If you are replying to several distinct points individually, quote
    each one as above and type your reply immediately below it (and
    above the next point).

    * If you are replying to a long section that cannot be easily
    trimmed down (for example, an original poem or story), quote only
    its first and last lines (and perhaps put "[snip]" or "..." on a
    line in between the two). If there are particular pieces that
    you want to respond to individually, do so as described above.

    There are two general rules of thumb to follow in connection with
    the above guidelines:

    * Any article you post should have more lines of new text than lines
    of quoted text. It is generally acceptable to ignore this rule
    if the entire post (including basic headers and any signature) is
    short enough to fit on a single 24 line screen.

    * Any comments specifically replying to the previous article should
    come /below/ the relevant part of the previous article. This
    makes reading the article more like reading a conversation, and
    therefore much easier to follow.

    This obviously means that "top posting" is strongly discouraged: it
    forces readers to scroll up and down between the new and old material,
    and it usually involves quoting the entire previous post(s) untrimmed..
    Whether you call our practice "bottom posting", "middle posting", or
    "standard netiquette" is up to you.

    An example of a post that follows these guidelines can be found on
    the web at

    http://tolkien.slimy.com/newsgroups/EssayDiscuss.txt

    This long message (from a discussion of my essay on Tom Bombadil) would
    be all but impossible to follow if the point by point replies were not organized as described above.

    Finally, make sure to keep the subject line up to date, as discussed
    in question II.B.1.
    -------

    3. When should I "cross-post" to multiple newsgroups?

    Generally, you should post an article to the single most appropriate
    group: a question about /The Hobbit/ is more appropriate on rec.arts.books.tolkien than on rec.arts.books. However, there are cases
    when several groups are appropriate: a discussion of the influence of
    Tolkien's faith on his writings could be interesting to readers of both soc.religion.christian.roman-catholic and rec.arts.books.tolkien.
    (Cases in which more than two or three groups are truly appropriate are extremely rare!)

    In such cases, it is almost always better to "cross-post" the
    article to multiple groups than to post separately to each. To do
    this, list all of the relevant groups together on the "Newsgroups:"
    line, separated by commas but /no/ spaces (many posts here list
    "Newsgroups: alt.fan.tolkien,rec.arts.books.tolkien"). Cross-posting
    has several advantages, the most important being that responses to a cross-posted article are also cross-posted. That ensures that everyone involved in the discussion sees every reply.

    Some internet service providers (notably AOL) misguidedly forbid cross-posting, probably because /inappropriate/ cross-posting is very
    bad netiquette and is often used to "spam" many groups at once. If you
    have this problem, it may be better to choose just one "best" group for
    your post than to post separate copies to multiple groups.
    -------

    4. I am able to post my messages with HTML formatting. Should I?

    Generally, no. Many of us use simple text-based programs to read
    news, and posts with HTML formatting can be very difficult to read.
    You can generally turn off this behavior from the "Preferences" or
    "Options" section of your newsreader. For some newsreaders, you will
    need to change more than one setting to completely eliminate this
    behavior.
    -------

    5. If someone insults me or otherwise makes me upset, should I flame
    them back?

    No.

    6. Even if my reputation and honor are at stake?

    Feel free to post any corrections or differences in opinion that you
    feel are necessary. Feel free to indicate that you are hurt, unhappy,
    or insulted because of their comments. But by no means escalate the
    budding flame war, and try your hardest to be polite in your response:
    this tends to get the group's sentiments on your side far better than
    any exchange of name-calling ever could. People are usually fairly
    good at recognizing when someone is being terribly unfair. Yes, it is undoubtedly your right to flame if you want to, but the vast majority
    of the group would be happier if you did not.

    In general, try to give others the benefit of the doubt: with only
    text to go on, it's hard to judge their real intent. Could you have
    misread the insulting lines in their post? Could they have been
    speaking tongue in cheek? Maybe they only meant to tease you, not
    realizing that you would really be insulted. Assuming the worst is a depressing way to live one's life.

    Finally, be particularly careful not to reply to a "troll", someone
    who intentionally fishes for arguments and flames. These people seem
    to take great personal delight in inspiring people to anger or
    indignation; the best reaction to them is generally to ignore them
    altogether.
    -------

    7. Where can I go for more information on netiquette, and on Usenet in
    general?

    One of the best places to start has always been the newsgroup news.announce.newusers. This group is home to a wide range of articles
    that provide introductory information about many aspects of Usenet
    news. Unfortunately, most of these articles are no longer being posted regularly to the group. It may be more effective to read archived
    copies of them at

    ftp://rtfm.mit.edu/pub/usenet/news.announce.newusers/

    Read the "Welcome to Usenet!" article there first.

    The information on netiquette and on Usenet in general in the news.announce.newusers articles remains very relevant today, but those
    articles are several years old. More recent information on similar
    topics can be found at the web sites associated with the news.newusers.questions newsgroup. A list of these sites around the
    world can be found at

    http://users.rcn.com/kateshort/nnq/nnqlinks.html

    (among many other places).

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------ ------------------------------------------------------------------------

    III. DEBATES AND DISCUSSION

    A great many questions about Tolkien and his books arise repeatedly
    on the Tolkien newsgroups. The starting point of each debate is the
    same almost every time, and it takes a long time for the discussion to
    reach "new ground." In the worst cases, bitter and longstanding
    arguments about the basics get in the way before new progress can be
    made at all.

    The purpose of a FAQ is to avoid this problem by setting down the
    basics in a common place so that the discussion can deal with new
    issues from the start. However, it is very difficult to balance the
    need for conciseness with the need for completeness: many debates that repeatedly appear on the Tolkien newsgroups have generated very large
    amounts of "known territory."

    Keep in mind that this FAQ provides only summaries of these debates:
    many of their subtleties are omitted for the sake of brevity. Most of
    these topics have been discussed at length by many intelligent In these
    cases, it is extremely unlikely that any unambiguous "proof" of one
    position exists. With this in mind, try to be respectful toward those
    who disagree with you. To get more information on the usual content of
    common discussions, it is often helpful to browse those discussions
    themselves at the Google Groups Usenet archive (see question IV.A.5 for
    more information).

    Finally, be sure to read question III.A.2, dealing with "canonical"
    texts. This FAQ addresses only the state of Middle-earth after LotR
    was written, which corresponds roughly to the material included in the published /Silmarillion/. Details from earlier versions of the
    mythology will not be discussed in this document (and are generally
    given very limited weight in debates about the later state of the
    mythology).

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------

    III.A. STORY EXTERNAL QUESTIONS

    1. What is the best order in which to read the books?

    This depends on each person's personal preferences. Unless you
    strongly dislike stories written for children, most recommend reading
    /The Hobbit/ first. /The Lord of the Rings/ is certainly next (feel
    free to skip the Prologue if you find it dull, and after the main text
    try to read at least Appendix A.I.v, "The Tale of Aragorn and Arwen").

    If you enjoy any part of the Appendices to LotR, there are things in Tolkien's other books that you are likely to enjoy as well. Most
    suggest reading /The Children of Hurin/, /Unfinished Tales/, /The Silmarillion/, and /The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien/ next, in some order
    (perhaps that one). /The Children of Hurin/ is the only complete novel
    about Middle-earth published after Tolkien's death (although it takes
    place long before the events of LotR, it probably isn't necessary to
    read Silm. first). The stories and essays in UT can be read in any
    order, so the "Third Age" material is a good starting point for those
    coming straight from LotR (the "First Age" stories are excellent, but
    are easier to follow after reading Silm.; the other parts of UT are
    mostly accessible to those who have read LotR and its appendices).
    Many people find the early parts of Silm. slow to read (like a history
    book or the Bible), but it is often a favorite among those who have
    read it. /Letters/ contains insights into both Middle-earth and Tolkien
    as a person.

    For more details (and more books), try getting a personalized
    recommendation from the Custom Tolkien Book List, on the web at

    http://tolkien.slimy.com/books.html

    (This URL redirects to the longer and messier URL of the actual list.)
    -------

    2. What books about Middle-earth are considered "canonical"?

    [I have written an essay on this topic, including general observations
    and my own approach. It is on the web at: http://tolkien.slimy.com/essays/TolkParish.html.]

    As the term is used on the Tolkien newsgroups, a "canonical" text is
    one which is believed to provide authoritative information about
    Middle-earth. This concept is more subtle than it may appear at first
    glance, in part because most of Tolkien's mythology remained incomplete
    when he died. Books or even individual chapters or essays may be
    regarded as more or less "trustworthy" than others, and many people
    reject the idea that there is a single "true" Middle-earth entirely.

    Among those who accept the concept of "canon" to at least some
    degree, almost all agree that /The Lord of the Rings/ is a canonical
    text and most assign equal or near equal weight to /The Hobbit/ (the
    other books about Middle-earth published in Tolkien's lifetime are
    treated similarly). However, due to heavy and unmarked posthumous
    editing, /The Silmarillion/ is considered by many /not/ to be canonical
    (see question III.A.3 for details).

    People put various amounts of trust in the many drafts and essays in /Unfinished Tales/ and the "History of Middle-earth" series. In cases
    where Tolkien's intent seems particularly stable and clear, some trust
    these sources almost as much as /The Hobbit/ and LotR themselves. In
    practice, this means that most of the more trustworthy material is
    found in /Unfinished Tales/ and in volumes X-XII of the HoMe series.
    Opinions on how much to trust /The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien/ are
    mixed, but its contents are generally respected as long as they are not contradicted by other (more canonical) texts. The pictures in /J.R.R.
    Tolkien: Artist and Illustrator/ by Wayne Hammond and Christina Scull
    may also be considered somewhat canonical.

    It is important to note that many aspects of Middle-earth changed substantially over the course of Tolkien's life. Because of this,
    facts taken from the early versions of the mythology can be misleading
    or just plain wrong when used to draw conclusions about LotR or later
    versions of the mythology. This means that while the early versions
    can provide valuable hints about Tolkien's thoughts on an issue, they
    are rarely considered to provide definitive evidence for any position.

    The Custom Tolkien Book List (mentioned in question III.A.1)
    includes my own perspective on the "canonicity" of each section of each
    book in the list. While those are just one person's opinions, they are
    fairly typical. A static version of the list in publication order can
    be found on the web at

    http://tolkien.slimy.com/publist.html

    That static list still contains a link to the customizable version.
    -------

    3. How does /The Silmarillion/ as published differ from what Tolkien
    intended?

    This is a complicated question that is essentially unanswerable:
    despite his lifelong effort, Tolkien never came close to completing
    /The Silmarillion/. At Tolkien's request, after his death his son
    Christopher (with some help from Guy Kay) worked to "bring the work
    into publishable form"; Christopher discusses the difficulties involved
    in the book's Foreword. To understand why /The Silmarillion/ took the
    form that it did (and why it is rarely considered "canonical", as
    mentioned in question III.A.2), it is worth exploring those editorial
    changes. The full story can be found in the "History of Middle-earth"
    books, particularly /Morgoth's Ring/ and /The War of the Jewels/
    (volumes X-XI).

    The most basic editorial decision was which writings to include in
    the book at all. The "Quenta Silmarillion" is of course the central
    text, but Tolkien also wrote numerous associated stories and essays.
    Charles Noad explored this question as part of his essay "On the
    Construction of 'The Silmarillion'" (published in /Tolkien's
    Legendarium/; see question III.A.5), where he suggests an "outline for
    'The Silmarillion' as Tolkien may have intended it". In addition to the
    texts in the published book, Noad includes expanded versions of four
    stories: "The Lay of Leithian" (possibly in poetic form), "Narn i Chin
    Hurin", "The Fall of Gondolin", and "Earendil the Wanderer" (which
    Tolkien never even fully sketched). He also includes five
    "Appendices": writings about Middle-earth and its inhabitants such as
    "Laws and Customs among the Eldar" and the "Athrabeth Finrod ah
    Andreth" (most of these were published in HoMe X-XI). Sadly, a book
    with this outline could never be made satisfying with just the texts
    that Tolkien left us.

    Moving on to the texts that were actually included in /The
    Silmarillion/ as published, there were three types of problems to
    overcome. In the worst cases, there were crucial gaps in the narrative
    where Tolkien had never written more than an outline of the story (or
    where the most recent version was hopelessly outdated). Much more
    frequently, Tolkien's years of revisions led to factual inconsistencies
    between stories written at various times (especially between writings
    before and after /The Lord of the Rings/). And finally, Tolkien's
    writings differed markedly in tone, ranging from vivid narratives to
    terse annals to philosophical essays. To assemble a single text,
    consistent in style and detail, from such a range of source material
    clearly required substantial editing.

    Despite that pessimistic assessment, the vast majority of the
    published /Silmarillion/ is taken directly from Tolkien's work and
    seems to come quite close to what he intended, as far as it goes. (None
    of the "expanded" tales were ever completed, but what exists of them
    can be found for the most part in /Unfinished Tales/, /The Lays of
    Beleriand/, and the other "History of Middle-earth" books mentioned
    above.) Still, mild editing is not uncommon, and can be difficult to
    identify even by comparison to the source texts as published in HoMe.
    Thus, /The Silmarillion/ is often not treated as a final authority in
    scholarly discussions of Middle-earth. (A classic example is its
    mistaken ancestry of Gil-galad, as discussed in question III.B.8.)

    The greatest concern, of course, comes from those few cases where
    large gaps had to be filled by the editors. This happened to some
    extent for "Of Tuor and the Fall of Gondolin" and "Of the Voyage of
    Earendil and the War of Wrath", but the most substantial editorial
    "invention" came in the chapter "Of the Ruin of Doriath". The episode

    [continued in next message]

    --- SoupGate-Win32 v1.05
    * Origin: fsxNet Usenet Gateway (21:1/5)
  • From Steuard Jensen@21:1/5 to All on Fri May 21 23:14:01 2021
    XPost: alt.fan.tolkien

    Posted-By: auto-faq 3.3.1 (Perl 5.020)
    Posting-Frequency: monthly
    URL: http://tolkien.slimy.com/

    TOLKIEN NEWSGROUPS FAQ

    Copyright (C) 1999-2012 by Steuard Jensen

    (Created 17 Aug 1999)
    (Last updated 11 Mar 2012)



    For many years, the Tolkien Usenet newsgroups have been home to a
    pair of excellent Frequently Asked Questions lists about Tolkien and Middle-earth, compiled by William D. B. Loos. These sources contain a
    wealth of information, but are no longer maintained (the last update
    seems to have been in July 1996). This means that quite a few issues
    of current interest to the groups are not fully addressed in those
    documents.

    This FAQ supplements, updates, and expands on the earlier ones,
    though it is not meant to replace them entirely. It includes new and
    corrected information on some of the old discussions, numerous entries
    on topics not covered in the older FAQs, and a broad discussion of the
    Tolkien newsgroups and common standards of netiquette. This FAQ is
    intended both as an introduction for newcomers to the newsgroups and as
    a source of information for anyone exploring Middle-earth.

    The official HTML version of the FAQ is on the web at

    http://tolkien.slimy.com/faq/

    The plain text version is posted to Usenet on the 22nd of each month
    and is also available on the web, at

    http://tolkien.slimy.com/faq/TolkNgFaq.txt

    For a unified and easy to use interface to this FAQ, the Loos FAQs, and
    others, consider visiting the Tolkien Meta-FAQ, at

    http://tolkien.slimy.com/

    I would like to give my sincere thanks to the many, many people on
    the newsgroups and elsewhere who have given criticism, suggestions, and encouragement as I wrote this FAQ. This project would never have
    succeeded without their wonderful support.

    Steuard Jensen
    steuard@slimy.com ------------------------------------------------------------------------ ------------------------------------------------------------------------


    Table of Contents

    Sections/questions marked: * have been revised since the last release
    ** are new since the last release

    I. Changes Since the Last Release *

    II. Newsgroups and Netiquette

    A. Information on the Tolkien Newsgroups
    1. What newsgroups are we talking about again?
    2. Why are there two groups?
    3. Do I have to have a Ph.D. in Tolkienology to post?
    4. What questions and topics are appropriate?
    5. What does a tilde (~) in the subject mean? and
    Is it acceptable to post messages with sexual content?
    6. What common mistakes should I try to avoid?
    7. What do all the abbreviations used on the groups mean?

    B. The Basics of Netiquette
    1. What is the proper subject line for my post?
    2. What should I do when replying to an earlier article?
    For example, should I "top post" or "bottom post"?
    3. When should I "cross-post" to multiple newsgroups?
    4. I am able to post my messages with HTML formatting. Should I?
    5. If someone insults me or otherwise makes me upset, should I
    flame them back?
    6. Even if my reputation and honor are at stake?
    7. Where can I go for more information on netiquette, and on
    Usenet in general?

    III. Debates and Discussion

    A. Story External Questions
    1. What is the best order in which to read the books?
    2. What books about Middle-earth are considered "canonical"?
    3. How does /The Silmarillion/ as published differ from what
    Tolkien intended?
    4. Which are "The Two Towers"?
    5. Which books /about/ Tolkien are good, and which aren't?
    6. Is Middle-earth Medieval?
    7. Was Tolkien racist? Were his works?
    8. Are there electronic versions of Tolkien's books?
    9. Where can I report copyright violations that I observe?

    B. Story Internal Questions: Creatures and Characters
    1. Did Balrogs have wings?
    2. Could Balrogs fly?
    3. What was Tom Bombadil?
    4. Did Elves have pointed ears?
    5. Did Elves have beards?
    6. What happened to Elves after they died?
    7. Was Glorfindel of Rivendell the same as Glorfindel of Gondolin?
    8. Who was Gil-galad's father?
    9. Did Dwarf women have beards?
    10. Was there "telepathy" in Middle-earth?
    11. Did Sauron have a physical form during /The Lord of the
    Rings/? *
    12. What were the names of the Nazgul?
    13. What was Gothmog (the lieutenant of Morgul)?
    14. What was the origin of Orcs?
    15. Were Orcs immortal, and what happened to them after death?
    16. What was the relationship between Orcs and Goblins?
    17. What was the origin of Saruman's Uruk-hai?
    18. What was the origin of Trolls?
    19. What were the giants (seen by Bilbo in /The Hobbit/)?

    C. Story Internal Questions: History and Happenings
    1. Why didn't they just have an Eagle fly the Ring to Mt. Doom?
    2. Were the barrow blades magical? In what way?
    3. Why didn't the Nazgul take the Ring at Weathertop?
    4. Who killed the Witch-king, Merry or Eowyn?
    5. Did Frodo and the other mortals who passed over the Sea
    eventually die?
    6. Did Sam follow Frodo into the West?
    7. What is known about the Blue Wizards?
    8. Who was aware that a Balrog lived in Moria?
    9. Did Elves and Dwarves generally get along?
    10. Where was the Ring when Numenor was destroyed?
    11. Who was the oldest inhabitant of Middle-earth?

    IV. External Resources

    A. Where else can I find general information about Middle-earth?
    1. The Tolkien Meta-FAQ
    2. The Tolkien FAQ and LessFAQ
    3. The "FAQ of the Rings"
    4. The Letters FAQ
    5. Google's Usenet archive

    B. Where can I learn more about Tolkien's languages?

    C. Stories of Middle-earth in many forms
    1. What editions of Tolkien's books are best?
    2. What audio versions of Tolkien's books are available?
    3. What is the groups' view of the recent /Lord of the Rings/
    movies?
    4. Where can I find out about music related to Middle-earth?

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------ ------------------------------------------------------------------------

    I. CHANGES SINCE THE LAST RELEASE

    Adjusted wording of question III.B.11 about Sauron's physical form
    to emphasize the relevance of the evidence to the period of LotR.

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------ ------------------------------------------------------------------------

    II. NEWSGROUPS AND NETIQUETTE

    When discussing Tolkien (or anything else) online, it is important
    to know at least a little about the "culture" of the discussion forum
    that you are participating in. The information in this section is
    intended to give an idea of "appropriate" behavior on the Tolkien
    Usenet newsgroups. To make our discussions as enjoyable as possible,
    every participant should try to be familiar with what follows.

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------

    II.A. INFORMATION ON THE TOLKIEN NEWSGROUPS

    1. What newsgroups are we talking about again?

    There are several Usenet newsgroups specific to Tolkien and his
    works. However, the two most widely read and distributed of these are rec.arts.books.tolkien and alt.fan.tolkien, commonly abbreviated either
    r.a.b.t or RABT and a.f.t or AFT, respectively.

    The official rec.arts.books.tolkien charter can be found at

    http://tolkien.slimy.com/newsgroups/RABTcharter.txt

    Alt.fan.tolkien does not have a formal charter.
    -------

    2. Why are there two groups?

    Originally, AFT was the only Tolkien newsgroup on Usenet. RABT was
    created (when the approval vote passed on 26 Mar 1993) as a replacement
    for AFT which would be carried by a larger fraction of news servers.
    However, AFT was never removed, and both groups currently enjoy
    substantial readership. While only RABT has a formal charter (see
    question II.A.1 for reference), the two groups are virtually identical
    in intended content.

    Many participants see a tendency for RABT to be somewhat more
    "scholarly" in tone while AFT is a bit more "conversational", and some
    suggest that this distinction is useful and should be encouraged.
    Other participants draw less of a distinction between the two groups,
    and often believe that a difference in focus would be both undesirable
    and impossible to achieve. In practice, everyone decides for
    themselves how they want to treat the two groups, and most people
    generally don't complain one way or the other.
    -------

    3. Do I have to have a Ph.D. in Tolkienology to post?

    By no means! People with any amount of Tolkien "lore" are welcome
    to participate. It is advisable, however, to have read /The Hobbit/
    and /The Lord of the Rings/ before spending much time here, as
    otherwise you run the risk of many, many spoilers for both books.

    When you do participate in discussions, just use whatever Tolkien
    knowledge you have: you can have great ideas regardless of how much
    you've read. Occasionally, others will cite sources (often obscure but
    just as often authoritative) that weaken or disprove your arguments.
    When this happens (as it does to every one of us), nobody will think
    less of you for not knowing the reference; treat it as a chance to
    learn something new about Middle-earth.
    -------

    4. What questions and topics are appropriate?

    Virtually any topic related (even distantly) to Tolkien and his
    works is fair game. If you post a purely "factual" question (like "How
    many Ringwraiths were there?"), it's a good idea to explain why you're
    asking: we periodically see questions from students who hope we will do
    their homework for them, and the last thing we want to do is help
    people to avoid reading the books!

    It is appreciated if articles that have absolutely nothing to do
    with Tolkien have subject lines beginning with "OT:" ("Off Topic"). The
    Tolkien newsgroups are a sufficiently social community that threads
    often do drift away from their initial topics, and while this should
    not be discouraged, it is polite to label it when it happens. On the
    other hand, off topic discussions that get too intense or go on too
    long can interfere with others' enjoyment of the groups, and should be
    avoided.

    Binary files, such as images or sounds, are NEVER appropriate in a non-binaries newsgroup. To share a binary file with people in the
    Tolkien groups, you have two main options. One is to find an
    appropriate newsgroup in the alt.binaries.* hierarchy, post the file
    there, and then post a message here telling us where to look. Another
    (more common) method is to put the file on the Web and post the URL on
    the newsgroups.
    -------

    5. What does a tilde (~) in the subject mean? and
    Is it acceptable to post messages with sexual content?

    Articles posted to these newsgroups occasionally contain comments
    that some consider inappropriate for younger readers. After much
    discussion, most participants agreed to mark messages with /sexual/
    content with a tilde in the subject line. Individuals can then create
    killfiles to screen out such messages as desired. While not everyone
    agrees that such a system is beneficial, following this convention is
    the polite thing to do. The newsgroup charter recommends the use of
    ROT-13 "encryption" for this purpose, but this has become less common.
    -------

    6. What common mistakes should I try to avoid?

    By and large, the participants in the Tolkien newsgroups try to
    judge others based on their ideas rather than on details of grammar and
    posting style. However, there are a few types of simple mistakes that
    tend to cause some level of bias and annoyance among many group
    members, which in turn can distract them from your real message. Most
    of these are covered in the "Netiquette" section below.

    One common mistake of this type that is not related to netiquette is confusing the singular and plural forms of common Elvish words. On the
    Tolkien newsgroups, these words are so familiar that the phrase "Manwe
    is a Valar" sounds just as jarring and strange as "Finrod is an Elves."
    To reduce this problem, a list of some of the most commonly confused singular/plural pairs is given below. Note the patterns!

    Singular: Vala Maia Elda Noldo Teler Istar Adan
    Plural: Valar Maiar Eldar Noldor Teleri Istari Edain

    Another issue that arises periodically is whether or not /The Lord
    of the Rings/ should be referred to as a "trilogy". Tolkien said quite
    clearly in Letter #165 that "The book is /not/ of course a 'trilogy'",
    and some people make a point of correcting those who use the term.
    However, in Letter #252, Tolkien himself refers to "my trilogy", so
    most of us agree that using the term is an acceptable shorthand, if
    nothing else.
    -------

    7. What do all the abbreviations used on the groups mean?

    [More abbreviations can be found in section IV of the Tolkien FAQ.]

    Some names and phrases come up so frequently on the Tolkien
    newsgroups that they are often abbreviated for convenience. A few of
    the very most common are defined below; these definitions are excerpted
    from Sir Confused-a-Lot's old AFT Glossary, now online at

    http://silenceisdefeat.com/~aft-rabt/glossary/

    JRRT: John Ronald Reuel Tolkien
    ME: Middle-earth
    LotR: /The Lord of the Rings/
    FotR: /The Fellowship of the Ring/
    TT: /The Two Towers/
    RotK: /The Return of the King/
    Silm.: /The Silmarillion/
    UT: /Unfinished Tales/
    HoMe: the "History of Middle-earth" series
    Letters: /The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien/
    Narn: The "Narn I Hin Hurin" in UT
    Athrabeth: The "Athrabeth Finrod Ah Andreth" in /Morgoth's Ring/

    NG: Newsgroup
    TEUNC: "Tolkien Eccentric Unusual Nut Cases", an eGroup of
    Tolkien fans, some of whom frequent the newsgroups
    LOL: Laughing Out Loud
    ROTFL: Rolling On The Floor Laughing

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------

    II.B. THE BASICS OF NETIQUETTE

    1. What is the proper subject line for my post?

    Make sure that the "Subject:" line of your post matches the topic
    that you are discussing. Be concise, but specific: subject lines such
    as "The Lord of the Rings" or "Tolkien" give no useful information
    about the contents of your post. Note that this does not only apply to
    the first post in a thread: if you see that the subject line no longer
    matches the topic of a thread, change it when you reply! Also, follow
    the "OT:" convention for off-topic posts (mentioned in question II.A.4
    above).

    When you do change the subject line, it is polite to indicate the
    subject of the previous post. For example, "Balrog Wings" might become
    "Balrog Flight (was Balrog Wings)" and then "Eagles (was Balrog
    Flight)". This helps people follow the history of the thread.
    -------

    2. What should I do when replying to an earlier article?
    For example, should I "top post" or "bottom post"?

    First and foremost, make sure to retain the attribution of any
    quoted text, so others know who said the things you are replying to.
    Almost equally important, make sure that you trim the previous post as
    much as possible:

    * If you are replying to one specific comment in the previous
    article, delete all of the previous text except that comment. If
    the comment is at all long, try to trim it down to its essence.
    Type your reply directly beneath the quoted comment.

    * If you are replying to several distinct points individually, quote
    each one as above and type your reply immediately below it (and
    above the next point).

    * If you are replying to a long section that cannot be easily
    trimmed down (for example, an original poem or story), quote only
    its first and last lines (and perhaps put "[snip]" or "..." on a
    line in between the two). If there are particular pieces that
    you want to respond to individually, do so as described above.

    There are two general rules of thumb to follow in connection with
    the above guidelines:

    * Any article you post should have more lines of new text than lines
    of quoted text. It is generally acceptable to ignore this rule
    if the entire post (including basic headers and any signature) is
    short enough to fit on a single 24 line screen.

    * Any comments specifically replying to the previous article should
    come /below/ the relevant part of the previous article. This
    makes reading the article more like reading a conversation, and
    therefore much easier to follow.

    This obviously means that "top posting" is strongly discouraged: it
    forces readers to scroll up and down between the new and old material,
    and it usually involves quoting the entire previous post(s) untrimmed..
    Whether you call our practice "bottom posting", "middle posting", or
    "standard netiquette" is up to you.

    An example of a post that follows these guidelines can be found on
    the web at

    http://tolkien.slimy.com/newsgroups/EssayDiscuss.txt

    This long message (from a discussion of my essay on Tom Bombadil) would
    be all but impossible to follow if the point by point replies were not organized as described above.

    Finally, make sure to keep the subject line up to date, as discussed
    in question II.B.1.
    -------

    3. When should I "cross-post" to multiple newsgroups?

    Generally, you should post an article to the single most appropriate
    group: a question about /The Hobbit/ is more appropriate on rec.arts.books.tolkien than on rec.arts.books. However, there are cases
    when several groups are appropriate: a discussion of the influence of
    Tolkien's faith on his writings could be interesting to readers of both soc.religion.christian.roman-catholic and rec.arts.books.tolkien.
    (Cases in which more than two or three groups are truly appropriate are extremely rare!)

    In such cases, it is almost always better to "cross-post" the
    article to multiple groups than to post separately to each. To do
    this, list all of the relevant groups together on the "Newsgroups:"
    line, separated by commas but /no/ spaces (many posts here list
    "Newsgroups: alt.fan.tolkien,rec.arts.books.tolkien"). Cross-posting
    has several advantages, the most important being that responses to a cross-posted article are also cross-posted. That ensures that everyone involved in the discussion sees every reply.

    Some internet service providers (notably AOL) misguidedly forbid cross-posting, probably because /inappropriate/ cross-posting is very
    bad netiquette and is often used to "spam" many groups at once. If you
    have this problem, it may be better to choose just one "best" group for
    your post than to post separate copies to multiple groups.
    -------

    4. I am able to post my messages with HTML formatting. Should I?

    Generally, no. Many of us use simple text-based programs to read
    news, and posts with HTML formatting can be very difficult to read.
    You can generally turn off this behavior from the "Preferences" or
    "Options" section of your newsreader. For some newsreaders, you will
    need to change more than one setting to completely eliminate this
    behavior.
    -------

    5. If someone insults me or otherwise makes me upset, should I flame
    them back?

    No.

    6. Even if my reputation and honor are at stake?

    Feel free to post any corrections or differences in opinion that you
    feel are necessary. Feel free to indicate that you are hurt, unhappy,
    or insulted because of their comments. But by no means escalate the
    budding flame war, and try your hardest to be polite in your response:
    this tends to get the group's sentiments on your side far better than
    any exchange of name-calling ever could. People are usually fairly
    good at recognizing when someone is being terribly unfair. Yes, it is undoubtedly your right to flame if you want to, but the vast majority
    of the group would be happier if you did not.

    In general, try to give others the benefit of the doubt: with only
    text to go on, it's hard to judge their real intent. Could you have
    misread the insulting lines in their post? Could they have been
    speaking tongue in cheek? Maybe they only meant to tease you, not
    realizing that you would really be insulted. Assuming the worst is a depressing way to live one's life.

    Finally, be particularly careful not to reply to a "troll", someone
    who intentionally fishes for arguments and flames. These people seem
    to take great personal delight in inspiring people to anger or
    indignation; the best reaction to them is generally to ignore them
    altogether.
    -------

    7. Where can I go for more information on netiquette, and on Usenet in
    general?

    One of the best places to start has always been the newsgroup news.announce.newusers. This group is home to a wide range of articles
    that provide introductory information about many aspects of Usenet
    news. Unfortunately, most of these articles are no longer being posted regularly to the group. It may be more effective to read archived
    copies of them at

    ftp://rtfm.mit.edu/pub/usenet/news.announce.newusers/

    Read the "Welcome to Usenet!" article there first.

    The information on netiquette and on Usenet in general in the news.announce.newusers articles remains very relevant today, but those
    articles are several years old. More recent information on similar
    topics can be found at the web sites associated with the news.newusers.questions newsgroup. A list of these sites around the
    world can be found at

    http://users.rcn.com/kateshort/nnq/nnqlinks.html

    (among many other places).

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------ ------------------------------------------------------------------------

    III. DEBATES AND DISCUSSION

    A great many questions about Tolkien and his books arise repeatedly
    on the Tolkien newsgroups. The starting point of each debate is the
    same almost every time, and it takes a long time for the discussion to
    reach "new ground." In the worst cases, bitter and longstanding
    arguments about the basics get in the way before new progress can be
    made at all.

    The purpose of a FAQ is to avoid this problem by setting down the
    basics in a common place so that the discussion can deal with new
    issues from the start. However, it is very difficult to balance the
    need for conciseness with the need for completeness: many debates that repeatedly appear on the Tolkien newsgroups have generated very large
    amounts of "known territory."

    Keep in mind that this FAQ provides only summaries of these debates:
    many of their subtleties are omitted for the sake of brevity. Most of
    these topics have been discussed at length by many intelligent In these
    cases, it is extremely unlikely that any unambiguous "proof" of one
    position exists. With this in mind, try to be respectful toward those
    who disagree with you. To get more information on the usual content of
    common discussions, it is often helpful to browse those discussions
    themselves at the Google Groups Usenet archive (see question IV.A.5 for
    more information).

    Finally, be sure to read question III.A.2, dealing with "canonical"
    texts. This FAQ addresses only the state of Middle-earth after LotR
    was written, which corresponds roughly to the material included in the published /Silmarillion/. Details from earlier versions of the
    mythology will not be discussed in this document (and are generally
    given very limited weight in debates about the later state of the
    mythology).

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------

    III.A. STORY EXTERNAL QUESTIONS

    1. What is the best order in which to read the books?

    This depends on each person's personal preferences. Unless you
    strongly dislike stories written for children, most recommend reading
    /The Hobbit/ first. /The Lord of the Rings/ is certainly next (feel
    free to skip the Prologue if you find it dull, and after the main text
    try to read at least Appendix A.I.v, "The Tale of Aragorn and Arwen").

    If you enjoy any part of the Appendices to LotR, there are things in Tolkien's other books that you are likely to enjoy as well. Most
    suggest reading /The Children of Hurin/, /Unfinished Tales/, /The Silmarillion/, and /The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien/ next, in some order
    (perhaps that one). /The Children of Hurin/ is the only complete novel
    about Middle-earth published after Tolkien's death (although it takes
    place long before the events of LotR, it probably isn't necessary to
    read Silm. first). The stories and essays in UT can be read in any
    order, so the "Third Age" material is a good starting point for those
    coming straight from LotR (the "First Age" stories are excellent, but
    are easier to follow after reading Silm.; the other parts of UT are
    mostly accessible to those who have read LotR and its appendices).
    Many people find the early parts of Silm. slow to read (like a history
    book or the Bible), but it is often a favorite among those who have
    read it. /Letters/ contains insights into both Middle-earth and Tolkien
    as a person.

    For more details (and more books), try getting a personalized
    recommendation from the Custom Tolkien Book List, on the web at

    http://tolkien.slimy.com/books.html

    (This URL redirects to the longer and messier URL of the actual list.)
    -------

    2. What books about Middle-earth are considered "canonical"?

    [I have written an essay on this topic, including general observations
    and my own approach. It is on the web at: http://tolkien.slimy.com/essays/TolkParish.html.]

    As the term is used on the Tolkien newsgroups, a "canonical" text is
    one which is believed to provide authoritative information about
    Middle-earth. This concept is more subtle than it may appear at first
    glance, in part because most of Tolkien's mythology remained incomplete
    when he died. Books or even individual chapters or essays may be
    regarded as more or less "trustworthy" than others, and many people
    reject the idea that there is a single "true" Middle-earth entirely.

    Among those who accept the concept of "canon" to at least some
    degree, almost all agree that /The Lord of the Rings/ is a canonical
    text and most assign equal or near equal weight to /The Hobbit/ (the
    other books about Middle-earth published in Tolkien's lifetime are
    treated similarly). However, due to heavy and unmarked posthumous
    editing, /The Silmarillion/ is considered by many /not/ to be canonical
    (see question III.A.3 for details).

    People put various amounts of trust in the many drafts and essays in /Unfinished Tales/ and the "History of Middle-earth" series. In cases
    where Tolkien's intent seems particularly stable and clear, some trust
    these sources almost as much as /The Hobbit/ and LotR themselves. In
    practice, this means that most of the more trustworthy material is
    found in /Unfinished Tales/ and in volumes X-XII of the HoMe series.
    Opinions on how much to trust /The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien/ are
    mixed, but its contents are generally respected as long as they are not contradicted by other (more canonical) texts. The pictures in /J.R.R.
    Tolkien: Artist and Illustrator/ by Wayne Hammond and Christina Scull
    may also be considered somewhat canonical.

    It is important to note that many aspects of Middle-earth changed substantially over the course of Tolkien's life. Because of this,
    facts taken from the early versions of the mythology can be misleading
    or just plain wrong when used to draw conclusions about LotR or later
    versions of the mythology. This means that while the early versions
    can provide valuable hints about Tolkien's thoughts on an issue, they
    are rarely considered to provide definitive evidence for any position.

    The Custom Tolkien Book List (mentioned in question III.A.1)
    includes my own perspective on the "canonicity" of each section of each
    book in the list. While those are just one person's opinions, they are
    fairly typical. A static version of the list in publication order can
    be found on the web at

    http://tolkien.slimy.com/publist.html

    That static list still contains a link to the customizable version.
    -------

    3. How does /The Silmarillion/ as published differ from what Tolkien
    intended?

    This is a complicated question that is essentially unanswerable:
    despite his lifelong effort, Tolkien never came close to completing
    /The Silmarillion/. At Tolkien's request, after his death his son
    Christopher (with some help from Guy Kay) worked to "bring the work
    into publishable form"; Christopher discusses the difficulties involved
    in the book's Foreword. To understand why /The Silmarillion/ took the
    form that it did (and why it is rarely considered "canonical", as
    mentioned in question III.A.2), it is worth exploring those editorial
    changes. The full story can be found in the "History of Middle-earth"
    books, particularly /Morgoth's Ring/ and /The War of the Jewels/
    (volumes X-XI).

    The most basic editorial decision was which writings to include in
    the book at all. The "Quenta Silmarillion" is of course the central
    text, but Tolkien also wrote numerous associated stories and essays.
    Charles Noad explored this question as part of his essay "On the
    Construction of 'The Silmarillion'" (published in /Tolkien's
    Legendarium/; see question III.A.5), where he suggests an "outline for
    'The Silmarillion' as Tolkien may have intended it". In addition to the
    texts in the published book, Noad includes expanded versions of four
    stories: "The Lay of Leithian" (possibly in poetic form), "Narn i Chin
    Hurin", "The Fall of Gondolin", and "Earendil the Wanderer" (which
    Tolkien never even fully sketched). He also includes five
    "Appendices": writings about Middle-earth and its inhabitants such as
    "Laws and Customs among the Eldar" and the "Athrabeth Finrod ah
    Andreth" (most of these were published in HoMe X-XI). Sadly, a book
    with this outline could never be made satisfying with just the texts
    that Tolkien left us.

    Moving on to the texts that were actually included in /The
    Silmarillion/ as published, there were three types of problems to
    overcome. In the worst cases, there were crucial gaps in the narrative
    where Tolkien had never written more than an outline of the story (or
    where the most recent version was hopelessly outdated). Much more
    frequently, Tolkien's years of revisions led to factual inconsistencies
    between stories written at various times (especially between writings
    before and after /The Lord of the Rings/). And finally, Tolkien's
    writings differed markedly in tone, ranging from vivid narratives to
    terse annals to philosophical essays. To assemble a single text,
    consistent in style and detail, from such a range of source material
    clearly required substantial editing.

    Despite that pessimistic assessment, the vast majority of the
    published /Silmarillion/ is taken directly from Tolkien's work and
    seems to come quite close to what he intended, as far as it goes. (None
    of the "expanded" tales were ever completed, but what exists of them
    can be found for the most part in /Unfinished Tales/, /The Lays of
    Beleriand/, and the other "History of Middle-earth" books mentioned
    above.) Still, mild editing is not uncommon, and can be difficult to
    identify even by comparison to the source texts as published in HoMe.
    Thus, /The Silmarillion/ is often not treated as a final authority in
    scholarly discussions of Middle-earth. (A classic example is its
    mistaken ancestry of Gil-galad, as discussed in question III.B.8.)

    The greatest concern, of course, comes from those few cases where
    large gaps had to be filled by the editors. This happened to some
    extent for "Of Tuor and the Fall of Gondolin" and "Of the Voyage of
    Earendil and the War of Wrath", but the most substantial editorial
    "invention" came in the chapter "Of the Ruin of Doriath". The episode

    [continued in next message]

    --- SoupGate-Win32 v1.05
    * Origin: fsxNet Usenet Gateway (21:1/5)
  • From Steuard Jensen@21:1/5 to All on Mon Jun 21 23:14:01 2021
    XPost: alt.fan.tolkien

    Posted-By: auto-faq 3.3.1 (Perl 5.020)
    Posting-Frequency: monthly
    URL: http://tolkien.slimy.com/

    TOLKIEN NEWSGROUPS FAQ

    Copyright (C) 1999-2012 by Steuard Jensen

    (Created 17 Aug 1999)
    (Last updated 11 Mar 2012)



    For many years, the Tolkien Usenet newsgroups have been home to a
    pair of excellent Frequently Asked Questions lists about Tolkien and Middle-earth, compiled by William D. B. Loos. These sources contain a
    wealth of information, but are no longer maintained (the last update
    seems to have been in July 1996). This means that quite a few issues
    of current interest to the groups are not fully addressed in those
    documents.

    This FAQ supplements, updates, and expands on the earlier ones,
    though it is not meant to replace them entirely. It includes new and
    corrected information on some of the old discussions, numerous entries
    on topics not covered in the older FAQs, and a broad discussion of the
    Tolkien newsgroups and common standards of netiquette. This FAQ is
    intended both as an introduction for newcomers to the newsgroups and as
    a source of information for anyone exploring Middle-earth.

    The official HTML version of the FAQ is on the web at

    http://tolkien.slimy.com/faq/

    The plain text version is posted to Usenet on the 22nd of each month
    and is also available on the web, at

    http://tolkien.slimy.com/faq/TolkNgFaq.txt

    For a unified and easy to use interface to this FAQ, the Loos FAQs, and
    others, consider visiting the Tolkien Meta-FAQ, at

    http://tolkien.slimy.com/

    I would like to give my sincere thanks to the many, many people on
    the newsgroups and elsewhere who have given criticism, suggestions, and encouragement as I wrote this FAQ. This project would never have
    succeeded without their wonderful support.

    Steuard Jensen
    steuard@slimy.com ------------------------------------------------------------------------ ------------------------------------------------------------------------


    Table of Contents

    Sections/questions marked: * have been revised since the last release
    ** are new since the last release

    I. Changes Since the Last Release *

    II. Newsgroups and Netiquette

    A. Information on the Tolkien Newsgroups
    1. What newsgroups are we talking about again?
    2. Why are there two groups?
    3. Do I have to have a Ph.D. in Tolkienology to post?
    4. What questions and topics are appropriate?
    5. What does a tilde (~) in the subject mean? and
    Is it acceptable to post messages with sexual content?
    6. What common mistakes should I try to avoid?
    7. What do all the abbreviations used on the groups mean?

    B. The Basics of Netiquette
    1. What is the proper subject line for my post?
    2. What should I do when replying to an earlier article?
    For example, should I "top post" or "bottom post"?
    3. When should I "cross-post" to multiple newsgroups?
    4. I am able to post my messages with HTML formatting. Should I?
    5. If someone insults me or otherwise makes me upset, should I
    flame them back?
    6. Even if my reputation and honor are at stake?
    7. Where can I go for more information on netiquette, and on
    Usenet in general?

    III. Debates and Discussion

    A. Story External Questions
    1. What is the best order in which to read the books?
    2. What books about Middle-earth are considered "canonical"?
    3. How does /The Silmarillion/ as published differ from what
    Tolkien intended?
    4. Which are "The Two Towers"?
    5. Which books /about/ Tolkien are good, and which aren't?
    6. Is Middle-earth Medieval?
    7. Was Tolkien racist? Were his works?
    8. Are there electronic versions of Tolkien's books?
    9. Where can I report copyright violations that I observe?

    B. Story Internal Questions: Creatures and Characters
    1. Did Balrogs have wings?
    2. Could Balrogs fly?
    3. What was Tom Bombadil?
    4. Did Elves have pointed ears?
    5. Did Elves have beards?
    6. What happened to Elves after they died?
    7. Was Glorfindel of Rivendell the same as Glorfindel of Gondolin?
    8. Who was Gil-galad's father?
    9. Did Dwarf women have beards?
    10. Was there "telepathy" in Middle-earth?
    11. Did Sauron have a physical form during /The Lord of the
    Rings/? *
    12. What were the names of the Nazgul?
    13. What was Gothmog (the lieutenant of Morgul)?
    14. What was the origin of Orcs?
    15. Were Orcs immortal, and what happened to them after death?
    16. What was the relationship between Orcs and Goblins?
    17. What was the origin of Saruman's Uruk-hai?
    18. What was the origin of Trolls?
    19. What were the giants (seen by Bilbo in /The Hobbit/)?

    C. Story Internal Questions: History and Happenings
    1. Why didn't they just have an Eagle fly the Ring to Mt. Doom?
    2. Were the barrow blades magical? In what way?
    3. Why didn't the Nazgul take the Ring at Weathertop?
    4. Who killed the Witch-king, Merry or Eowyn?
    5. Did Frodo and the other mortals who passed over the Sea
    eventually die?
    6. Did Sam follow Frodo into the West?
    7. What is known about the Blue Wizards?
    8. Who was aware that a Balrog lived in Moria?
    9. Did Elves and Dwarves generally get along?
    10. Where was the Ring when Numenor was destroyed?
    11. Who was the oldest inhabitant of Middle-earth?

    IV. External Resources

    A. Where else can I find general information about Middle-earth?
    1. The Tolkien Meta-FAQ
    2. The Tolkien FAQ and LessFAQ
    3. The "FAQ of the Rings"
    4. The Letters FAQ
    5. Google's Usenet archive

    B. Where can I learn more about Tolkien's languages?

    C. Stories of Middle-earth in many forms
    1. What editions of Tolkien's books are best?
    2. What audio versions of Tolkien's books are available?
    3. What is the groups' view of the recent /Lord of the Rings/
    movies?
    4. Where can I find out about music related to Middle-earth?

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------ ------------------------------------------------------------------------

    I. CHANGES SINCE THE LAST RELEASE

    Adjusted wording of question III.B.11 about Sauron's physical form
    to emphasize the relevance of the evidence to the period of LotR.

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------ ------------------------------------------------------------------------

    II. NEWSGROUPS AND NETIQUETTE

    When discussing Tolkien (or anything else) online, it is important
    to know at least a little about the "culture" of the discussion forum
    that you are participating in. The information in this section is
    intended to give an idea of "appropriate" behavior on the Tolkien
    Usenet newsgroups. To make our discussions as enjoyable as possible,
    every participant should try to be familiar with what follows.

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------

    II.A. INFORMATION ON THE TOLKIEN NEWSGROUPS

    1. What newsgroups are we talking about again?

    There are several Usenet newsgroups specific to Tolkien and his
    works. However, the two most widely read and distributed of these are rec.arts.books.tolkien and alt.fan.tolkien, commonly abbreviated either
    r.a.b.t or RABT and a.f.t or AFT, respectively.

    The official rec.arts.books.tolkien charter can be found at

    http://tolkien.slimy.com/newsgroups/RABTcharter.txt

    Alt.fan.tolkien does not have a formal charter.
    -------

    2. Why are there two groups?

    Originally, AFT was the only Tolkien newsgroup on Usenet. RABT was
    created (when the approval vote passed on 26 Mar 1993) as a replacement
    for AFT which would be carried by a larger fraction of news servers.
    However, AFT was never removed, and both groups currently enjoy
    substantial readership. While only RABT has a formal charter (see
    question II.A.1 for reference), the two groups are virtually identical
    in intended content.

    Many participants see a tendency for RABT to be somewhat more
    "scholarly" in tone while AFT is a bit more "conversational", and some
    suggest that this distinction is useful and should be encouraged.
    Other participants draw less of a distinction between the two groups,
    and often believe that a difference in focus would be both undesirable
    and impossible to achieve. In practice, everyone decides for
    themselves how they want to treat the two groups, and most people
    generally don't complain one way or the other.
    -------

    3. Do I have to have a Ph.D. in Tolkienology to post?

    By no means! People with any amount of Tolkien "lore" are welcome
    to participate. It is advisable, however, to have read /The Hobbit/
    and /The Lord of the Rings/ before spending much time here, as
    otherwise you run the risk of many, many spoilers for both books.

    When you do participate in discussions, just use whatever Tolkien
    knowledge you have: you can have great ideas regardless of how much
    you've read. Occasionally, others will cite sources (often obscure but
    just as often authoritative) that weaken or disprove your arguments.
    When this happens (as it does to every one of us), nobody will think
    less of you for not knowing the reference; treat it as a chance to
    learn something new about Middle-earth.
    -------

    4. What questions and topics are appropriate?

    Virtually any topic related (even distantly) to Tolkien and his
    works is fair game. If you post a purely "factual" question (like "How
    many Ringwraiths were there?"), it's a good idea to explain why you're
    asking: we periodically see questions from students who hope we will do
    their homework for them, and the last thing we want to do is help
    people to avoid reading the books!

    It is appreciated if articles that have absolutely nothing to do
    with Tolkien have subject lines beginning with "OT:" ("Off Topic"). The
    Tolkien newsgroups are a sufficiently social community that threads
    often do drift away from their initial topics, and while this should
    not be discouraged, it is polite to label it when it happens. On the
    other hand, off topic discussions that get too intense or go on too
    long can interfere with others' enjoyment of the groups, and should be
    avoided.

    Binary files, such as images or sounds, are NEVER appropriate in a non-binaries newsgroup. To share a binary file with people in the
    Tolkien groups, you have two main options. One is to find an
    appropriate newsgroup in the alt.binaries.* hierarchy, post the file
    there, and then post a message here telling us where to look. Another
    (more common) method is to put the file on the Web and post the URL on
    the newsgroups.
    -------

    5. What does a tilde (~) in the subject mean? and
    Is it acceptable to post messages with sexual content?

    Articles posted to these newsgroups occasionally contain comments
    that some consider inappropriate for younger readers. After much
    discussion, most participants agreed to mark messages with /sexual/
    content with a tilde in the subject line. Individuals can then create
    killfiles to screen out such messages as desired. While not everyone
    agrees that such a system is beneficial, following this convention is
    the polite thing to do. The newsgroup charter recommends the use of
    ROT-13 "encryption" for this purpose, but this has become less common.
    -------

    6. What common mistakes should I try to avoid?

    By and large, the participants in the Tolkien newsgroups try to
    judge others based on their ideas rather than on details of grammar and
    posting style. However, there are a few types of simple mistakes that
    tend to cause some level of bias and annoyance among many group
    members, which in turn can distract them from your real message. Most
    of these are covered in the "Netiquette" section below.

    One common mistake of this type that is not related to netiquette is confusing the singular and plural forms of common Elvish words. On the
    Tolkien newsgroups, these words are so familiar that the phrase "Manwe
    is a Valar" sounds just as jarring and strange as "Finrod is an Elves."
    To reduce this problem, a list of some of the most commonly confused singular/plural pairs is given below. Note the patterns!

    Singular: Vala Maia Elda Noldo Teler Istar Adan
    Plural: Valar Maiar Eldar Noldor Teleri Istari Edain

    Another issue that arises periodically is whether or not /The Lord
    of the Rings/ should be referred to as a "trilogy". Tolkien said quite
    clearly in Letter #165 that "The book is /not/ of course a 'trilogy'",
    and some people make a point of correcting those who use the term.
    However, in Letter #252, Tolkien himself refers to "my trilogy", so
    most of us agree that using the term is an acceptable shorthand, if
    nothing else.
    -------

    7. What do all the abbreviations used on the groups mean?

    [More abbreviations can be found in section IV of the Tolkien FAQ.]

    Some names and phrases come up so frequently on the Tolkien
    newsgroups that they are often abbreviated for convenience. A few of
    the very most common are defined below; these definitions are excerpted
    from Sir Confused-a-Lot's old AFT Glossary, now online at

    http://silenceisdefeat.com/~aft-rabt/glossary/

    JRRT: John Ronald Reuel Tolkien
    ME: Middle-earth
    LotR: /The Lord of the Rings/
    FotR: /The Fellowship of the Ring/
    TT: /The Two Towers/
    RotK: /The Return of the King/
    Silm.: /The Silmarillion/
    UT: /Unfinished Tales/
    HoMe: the "History of Middle-earth" series
    Letters: /The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien/
    Narn: The "Narn I Hin Hurin" in UT
    Athrabeth: The "Athrabeth Finrod Ah Andreth" in /Morgoth's Ring/

    NG: Newsgroup
    TEUNC: "Tolkien Eccentric Unusual Nut Cases", an eGroup of
    Tolkien fans, some of whom frequent the newsgroups
    LOL: Laughing Out Loud
    ROTFL: Rolling On The Floor Laughing

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------

    II.B. THE BASICS OF NETIQUETTE

    1. What is the proper subject line for my post?

    Make sure that the "Subject:" line of your post matches the topic
    that you are discussing. Be concise, but specific: subject lines such
    as "The Lord of the Rings" or "Tolkien" give no useful information
    about the contents of your post. Note that this does not only apply to
    the first post in a thread: if you see that the subject line no longer
    matches the topic of a thread, change it when you reply! Also, follow
    the "OT:" convention for off-topic posts (mentioned in question II.A.4
    above).

    When you do change the subject line, it is polite to indicate the
    subject of the previous post. For example, "Balrog Wings" might become
    "Balrog Flight (was Balrog Wings)" and then "Eagles (was Balrog
    Flight)". This helps people follow the history of the thread.
    -------

    2. What should I do when replying to an earlier article?
    For example, should I "top post" or "bottom post"?

    First and foremost, make sure to retain the attribution of any
    quoted text, so others know who said the things you are replying to.
    Almost equally important, make sure that you trim the previous post as
    much as possible:

    * If you are replying to one specific comment in the previous
    article, delete all of the previous text except that comment. If
    the comment is at all long, try to trim it down to its essence.
    Type your reply directly beneath the quoted comment.

    * If you are replying to several distinct points individually, quote
    each one as above and type your reply immediately below it (and
    above the next point).

    * If you are replying to a long section that cannot be easily
    trimmed down (for example, an original poem or story), quote only
    its first and last lines (and perhaps put "[snip]" or "..." on a
    line in between the two). If there are particular pieces that
    you want to respond to individually, do so as described above.

    There are two general rules of thumb to follow in connection with
    the above guidelines:

    * Any article you post should have more lines of new text than lines
    of quoted text. It is generally acceptable to ignore this rule
    if the entire post (including basic headers and any signature) is
    short enough to fit on a single 24 line screen.

    * Any comments specifically replying to the previous article should
    come /below/ the relevant part of the previous article. This
    makes reading the article more like reading a conversation, and
    therefore much easier to follow.

    This obviously means that "top posting" is strongly discouraged: it
    forces readers to scroll up and down between the new and old material,
    and it usually involves quoting the entire previous post(s) untrimmed..
    Whether you call our practice "bottom posting", "middle posting", or
    "standard netiquette" is up to you.

    An example of a post that follows these guidelines can be found on
    the web at

    http://tolkien.slimy.com/newsgroups/EssayDiscuss.txt

    This long message (from a discussion of my essay on Tom Bombadil) would
    be all but impossible to follow if the point by point replies were not organized as described above.

    Finally, make sure to keep the subject line up to date, as discussed
    in question II.B.1.
    -------

    3. When should I "cross-post" to multiple newsgroups?

    Generally, you should post an article to the single most appropriate
    group: a question about /The Hobbit/ is more appropriate on rec.arts.books.tolkien than on rec.arts.books. However, there are cases
    when several groups are appropriate: a discussion of the influence of
    Tolkien's faith on his writings could be interesting to readers of both soc.religion.christian.roman-catholic and rec.arts.books.tolkien.
    (Cases in which more than two or three groups are truly appropriate are extremely rare!)

    In such cases, it is almost always better to "cross-post" the
    article to multiple groups than to post separately to each. To do
    this, list all of the relevant groups together on the "Newsgroups:"
    line, separated by commas but /no/ spaces (many posts here list
    "Newsgroups: alt.fan.tolkien,rec.arts.books.tolkien"). Cross-posting
    has several advantages, the most important being that responses to a cross-posted article are also cross-posted. That ensures that everyone involved in the discussion sees every reply.

    Some internet service providers (notably AOL) misguidedly forbid cross-posting, probably because /inappropriate/ cross-posting is very
    bad netiquette and is often used to "spam" many groups at once. If you
    have this problem, it may be better to choose just one "best" group for
    your post than to post separate copies to multiple groups.
    -------

    4. I am able to post my messages with HTML formatting. Should I?

    Generally, no. Many of us use simple text-based programs to read
    news, and posts with HTML formatting can be very difficult to read.
    You can generally turn off this behavior from the "Preferences" or
    "Options" section of your newsreader. For some newsreaders, you will
    need to change more than one setting to completely eliminate this
    behavior.
    -------

    5. If someone insults me or otherwise makes me upset, should I flame
    them back?

    No.

    6. Even if my reputation and honor are at stake?

    Feel free to post any corrections or differences in opinion that you
    feel are necessary. Feel free to indicate that you are hurt, unhappy,
    or insulted because of their comments. But by no means escalate the
    budding flame war, and try your hardest to be polite in your response:
    this tends to get the group's sentiments on your side far better than
    any exchange of name-calling ever could. People are usually fairly
    good at recognizing when someone is being terribly unfair. Yes, it is undoubtedly your right to flame if you want to, but the vast majority
    of the group would be happier if you did not.

    In general, try to give others the benefit of the doubt: with only
    text to go on, it's hard to judge their real intent. Could you have
    misread the insulting lines in their post? Could they have been
    speaking tongue in cheek? Maybe they only meant to tease you, not
    realizing that you would really be insulted. Assuming the worst is a depressing way to live one's life.

    Finally, be particularly careful not to reply to a "troll", someone
    who intentionally fishes for arguments and flames. These people seem
    to take great personal delight in inspiring people to anger or
    indignation; the best reaction to them is generally to ignore them
    altogether.
    -------

    7. Where can I go for more information on netiquette, and on Usenet in
    general?

    One of the best places to start has always been the newsgroup news.announce.newusers. This group is home to a wide range of articles
    that provide introductory information about many aspects of Usenet
    news. Unfortunately, most of these articles are no longer being posted regularly to the group. It may be more effective to read archived
    copies of them at

    ftp://rtfm.mit.edu/pub/usenet/news.announce.newusers/

    Read the "Welcome to Usenet!" article there first.

    The information on netiquette and on Usenet in general in the news.announce.newusers articles remains very relevant today, but those
    articles are several years old. More recent information on similar
    topics can be found at the web sites associated with the news.newusers.questions newsgroup. A list of these sites around the
    world can be found at

    http://users.rcn.com/kateshort/nnq/nnqlinks.html

    (among many other places).

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------ ------------------------------------------------------------------------

    III. DEBATES AND DISCUSSION

    A great many questions about Tolkien and his books arise repeatedly
    on the Tolkien newsgroups. The starting point of each debate is the
    same almost every time, and it takes a long time for the discussion to
    reach "new ground." In the worst cases, bitter and longstanding
    arguments about the basics get in the way before new progress can be
    made at all.

    The purpose of a FAQ is to avoid this problem by setting down the
    basics in a common place so that the discussion can deal with new
    issues from the start. However, it is very difficult to balance the
    need for conciseness with the need for completeness: many debates that repeatedly appear on the Tolkien newsgroups have generated very large
    amounts of "known territory."

    Keep in mind that this FAQ provides only summaries of these debates:
    many of their subtleties are omitted for the sake of brevity. Most of
    these topics have been discussed at length by many intelligent In these
    cases, it is extremely unlikely that any unambiguous "proof" of one
    position exists. With this in mind, try to be respectful toward those
    who disagree with you. To get more information on the usual content of
    common discussions, it is often helpful to browse those discussions
    themselves at the Google Groups Usenet archive (see question IV.A.5 for
    more information).

    Finally, be sure to read question III.A.2, dealing with "canonical"
    texts. This FAQ addresses only the state of Middle-earth after LotR
    was written, which corresponds roughly to the material included in the published /Silmarillion/. Details from earlier versions of the
    mythology will not be discussed in this document (and are generally
    given very limited weight in debates about the later state of the
    mythology).

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------

    III.A. STORY EXTERNAL QUESTIONS

    1. What is the best order in which to read the books?

    This depends on each person's personal preferences. Unless you
    strongly dislike stories written for children, most recommend reading
    /The Hobbit/ first. /The Lord of the Rings/ is certainly next (feel
    free to skip the Prologue if you find it dull, and after the main text
    try to read at least Appendix A.I.v, "The Tale of Aragorn and Arwen").

    If you enjoy any part of the Appendices to LotR, there are things in Tolkien's other books that you are likely to enjoy as well. Most
    suggest reading /The Children of Hurin/, /Unfinished Tales/, /The Silmarillion/, and /The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien/ next, in some order
    (perhaps that one). /The Children of Hurin/ is the only complete novel
    about Middle-earth published after Tolkien's death (although it takes
    place long before the events of LotR, it probably isn't necessary to
    read Silm. first). The stories and essays in UT can be read in any
    order, so the "Third Age" material is a good starting point for those
    coming straight from LotR (the "First Age" stories are excellent, but
    are easier to follow after reading Silm.; the other parts of UT are
    mostly accessible to those who have read LotR and its appendices).
    Many people find the early parts of Silm. slow to read (like a history
    book or the Bible), but it is often a favorite among those who have
    read it. /Letters/ contains insights into both Middle-earth and Tolkien
    as a person.

    For more details (and more books), try getting a personalized
    recommendation from the Custom Tolkien Book List, on the web at

    http://tolkien.slimy.com/books.html

    (This URL redirects to the longer and messier URL of the actual list.)
    -------

    2. What books about Middle-earth are considered "canonical"?

    [I have written an essay on this topic, including general observations
    and my own approach. It is on the web at: http://tolkien.slimy.com/essays/TolkParish.html.]

    As the term is used on the Tolkien newsgroups, a "canonical" text is
    one which is believed to provide authoritative information about
    Middle-earth. This concept is more subtle than it may appear at first
    glance, in part because most of Tolkien's mythology remained incomplete
    when he died. Books or even individual chapters or essays may be
    regarded as more or less "trustworthy" than others, and many people
    reject the idea that there is a single "true" Middle-earth entirely.

    Among those who accept the concept of "canon" to at least some
    degree, almost all agree that /The Lord of the Rings/ is a canonical
    text and most assign equal or near equal weight to /The Hobbit/ (the
    other books about Middle-earth published in Tolkien's lifetime are
    treated similarly). However, due to heavy and unmarked posthumous
    editing, /The Silmarillion/ is considered by many /not/ to be canonical
    (see question III.A.3 for details).

    People put various amounts of trust in the many drafts and essays in /Unfinished Tales/ and the "History of Middle-earth" series. In cases
    where Tolkien's intent seems particularly stable and clear, some trust
    these sources almost as much as /The Hobbit/ and LotR themselves. In
    practice, this means that most of the more trustworthy material is
    found in /Unfinished Tales/ and in volumes X-XII of the HoMe series.
    Opinions on how much to trust /The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien/ are
    mixed, but its contents are generally respected as long as they are not contradicted by other (more canonical) texts. The pictures in /J.R.R.
    Tolkien: Artist and Illustrator/ by Wayne Hammond and Christina Scull
    may also be considered somewhat canonical.

    It is important to note that many aspects of Middle-earth changed substantially over the course of Tolkien's life. Because of this,
    facts taken from the early versions of the mythology can be misleading
    or just plain wrong when used to draw conclusions about LotR or later
    versions of the mythology. This means that while the early versions
    can provide valuable hints about Tolkien's thoughts on an issue, they
    are rarely considered to provide definitive evidence for any position.

    The Custom Tolkien Book List (mentioned in question III.A.1)
    includes my own perspective on the "canonicity" of each section of each
    book in the list. While those are just one person's opinions, they are
    fairly typical. A static version of the list in publication order can
    be found on the web at

    http://tolkien.slimy.com/publist.html

    That static list still contains a link to the customizable version.
    -------

    3. How does /The Silmarillion/ as published differ from what Tolkien
    intended?

    This is a complicated question that is essentially unanswerable:
    despite his lifelong effort, Tolkien never came close to completing
    /The Silmarillion/. At Tolkien's request, after his death his son
    Christopher (with some help from Guy Kay) worked to "bring the work
    into publishable form"; Christopher discusses the difficulties involved
    in the book's Foreword. To understand why /The Silmarillion/ took the
    form that it did (and why it is rarely considered "canonical", as
    mentioned in question III.A.2), it is worth exploring those editorial
    changes. The full story can be found in the "History of Middle-earth"
    books, particularly /Morgoth's Ring/ and /The War of the Jewels/
    (volumes X-XI).

    The most basic editorial decision was which writings to include in
    the book at all. The "Quenta Silmarillion" is of course the central
    text, but Tolkien also wrote numerous associated stories and essays.
    Charles Noad explored this question as part of his essay "On the
    Construction of 'The Silmarillion'" (published in /Tolkien's
    Legendarium/; see question III.A.5), where he suggests an "outline for
    'The Silmarillion' as Tolkien may have intended it". In addition to the
    texts in the published book, Noad includes expanded versions of four
    stories: "The Lay of Leithian" (possibly in poetic form), "Narn i Chin
    Hurin", "The Fall of Gondolin", and "Earendil the Wanderer" (which
    Tolkien never even fully sketched). He also includes five
    "Appendices": writings about Middle-earth and its inhabitants such as
    "Laws and Customs among the Eldar" and the "Athrabeth Finrod ah
    Andreth" (most of these were published in HoMe X-XI). Sadly, a book
    with this outline could never be made satisfying with just the texts
    that Tolkien left us.

    Moving on to the texts that were actually included in /The
    Silmarillion/ as published, there were three types of problems to
    overcome. In the worst cases, there were crucial gaps in the narrative
    where Tolkien had never written more than an outline of the story (or
    where the most recent version was hopelessly outdated). Much more
    frequently, Tolkien's years of revisions led to factual inconsistencies
    between stories written at various times (especially between writings
    before and after /The Lord of the Rings/). And finally, Tolkien's
    writings differed markedly in tone, ranging from vivid narratives to
    terse annals to philosophical essays. To assemble a single text,
    consistent in style and detail, from such a range of source material
    clearly required substantial editing.

    Despite that pessimistic assessment, the vast majority of the
    published /Silmarillion/ is taken directly from Tolkien's work and
    seems to come quite close to what he intended, as far as it goes. (None
    of the "expanded" tales were ever completed, but what exists of them
    can be found for the most part in /Unfinished Tales/, /The Lays of
    Beleriand/, and the other "History of Middle-earth" books mentioned
    above.) Still, mild editing is not uncommon, and can be difficult to
    identify even by comparison to the source texts as published in HoMe.
    Thus, /The Silmarillion/ is often not treated as a final authority in
    scholarly discussions of Middle-earth. (A classic example is its
    mistaken ancestry of Gil-galad, as discussed in question III.B.8.)

    The greatest concern, of course, comes from those few cases where
    large gaps had to be filled by the editors. This happened to some
    extent for "Of Tuor and the Fall of Gondolin" and "Of the Voyage of
    Earendil and the War of Wrath", but the most substantial editorial
    "invention" came in the chapter "Of the Ruin of Doriath". The episode

    [continued in next message]

    --- SoupGate-Win32 v1.05
    * Origin: fsxNet Usenet Gateway (21:1/5)
  • From Steuard Jensen@21:1/5 to All on Wed Jul 21 23:14:01 2021
    XPost: alt.fan.tolkien

    Posted-By: auto-faq 3.3.1 (Perl 5.020)
    Posting-Frequency: monthly
    URL: http://tolkien.slimy.com/

    TOLKIEN NEWSGROUPS FAQ

    Copyright (C) 1999-2012 by Steuard Jensen

    (Created 17 Aug 1999)
    (Last updated 11 Mar 2012)



    For many years, the Tolkien Usenet newsgroups have been home to a
    pair of excellent Frequently Asked Questions lists about Tolkien and Middle-earth, compiled by William D. B. Loos. These sources contain a
    wealth of information, but are no longer maintained (the last update
    seems to have been in July 1996). This means that quite a few issues
    of current interest to the groups are not fully addressed in those
    documents.

    This FAQ supplements, updates, and expands on the earlier ones,
    though it is not meant to replace them entirely. It includes new and
    corrected information on some of the old discussions, numerous entries
    on topics not covered in the older FAQs, and a broad discussion of the
    Tolkien newsgroups and common standards of netiquette. This FAQ is
    intended both as an introduction for newcomers to the newsgroups and as
    a source of information for anyone exploring Middle-earth.

    The official HTML version of the FAQ is on the web at

    http://tolkien.slimy.com/faq/

    The plain text version is posted to Usenet on the 22nd of each month
    and is also available on the web, at

    http://tolkien.slimy.com/faq/TolkNgFaq.txt

    For a unified and easy to use interface to this FAQ, the Loos FAQs, and
    others, consider visiting the Tolkien Meta-FAQ, at

    http://tolkien.slimy.com/

    I would like to give my sincere thanks to the many, many people on
    the newsgroups and elsewhere who have given criticism, suggestions, and encouragement as I wrote this FAQ. This project would never have
    succeeded without their wonderful support.

    Steuard Jensen
    steuard@slimy.com ------------------------------------------------------------------------ ------------------------------------------------------------------------


    Table of Contents

    Sections/questions marked: * have been revised since the last release
    ** are new since the last release

    I. Changes Since the Last Release *

    II. Newsgroups and Netiquette

    A. Information on the Tolkien Newsgroups
    1. What newsgroups are we talking about again?
    2. Why are there two groups?
    3. Do I have to have a Ph.D. in Tolkienology to post?
    4. What questions and topics are appropriate?
    5. What does a tilde (~) in the subject mean? and
    Is it acceptable to post messages with sexual content?
    6. What common mistakes should I try to avoid?
    7. What do all the abbreviations used on the groups mean?

    B. The Basics of Netiquette
    1. What is the proper subject line for my post?
    2. What should I do when replying to an earlier article?
    For example, should I "top post" or "bottom post"?
    3. When should I "cross-post" to multiple newsgroups?
    4. I am able to post my messages with HTML formatting. Should I?
    5. If someone insults me or otherwise makes me upset, should I
    flame them back?
    6. Even if my reputation and honor are at stake?
    7. Where can I go for more information on netiquette, and on
    Usenet in general?

    III. Debates and Discussion

    A. Story External Questions
    1. What is the best order in which to read the books?
    2. What books about Middle-earth are considered "canonical"?
    3. How does /The Silmarillion/ as published differ from what
    Tolkien intended?
    4. Which are "The Two Towers"?
    5. Which books /about/ Tolkien are good, and which aren't?
    6. Is Middle-earth Medieval?
    7. Was Tolkien racist? Were his works?
    8. Are there electronic versions of Tolkien's books?
    9. Where can I report copyright violations that I observe?

    B. Story Internal Questions: Creatures and Characters
    1. Did Balrogs have wings?
    2. Could Balrogs fly?
    3. What was Tom Bombadil?
    4. Did Elves have pointed ears?
    5. Did Elves have beards?
    6. What happened to Elves after they died?
    7. Was Glorfindel of Rivendell the same as Glorfindel of Gondolin?
    8. Who was Gil-galad's father?
    9. Did Dwarf women have beards?
    10. Was there "telepathy" in Middle-earth?
    11. Did Sauron have a physical form during /The Lord of the
    Rings/? *
    12. What were the names of the Nazgul?
    13. What was Gothmog (the lieutenant of Morgul)?
    14. What was the origin of Orcs?
    15. Were Orcs immortal, and what happened to them after death?
    16. What was the relationship between Orcs and Goblins?
    17. What was the origin of Saruman's Uruk-hai?
    18. What was the origin of Trolls?
    19. What were the giants (seen by Bilbo in /The Hobbit/)?

    C. Story Internal Questions: History and Happenings
    1. Why didn't they just have an Eagle fly the Ring to Mt. Doom?
    2. Were the barrow blades magical? In what way?
    3. Why didn't the Nazgul take the Ring at Weathertop?
    4. Who killed the Witch-king, Merry or Eowyn?
    5. Did Frodo and the other mortals who passed over the Sea
    eventually die?
    6. Did Sam follow Frodo into the West?
    7. What is known about the Blue Wizards?
    8. Who was aware that a Balrog lived in Moria?
    9. Did Elves and Dwarves generally get along?
    10. Where was the Ring when Numenor was destroyed?
    11. Who was the oldest inhabitant of Middle-earth?

    IV. External Resources

    A. Where else can I find general information about Middle-earth?
    1. The Tolkien Meta-FAQ
    2. The Tolkien FAQ and LessFAQ
    3. The "FAQ of the Rings"
    4. The Letters FAQ
    5. Google's Usenet archive

    B. Where can I learn more about Tolkien's languages?

    C. Stories of Middle-earth in many forms
    1. What editions of Tolkien's books are best?
    2. What audio versions of Tolkien's books are available?
    3. What is the groups' view of the recent /Lord of the Rings/
    movies?
    4. Where can I find out about music related to Middle-earth?

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------ ------------------------------------------------------------------------

    I. CHANGES SINCE THE LAST RELEASE

    Adjusted wording of question III.B.11 about Sauron's physical form
    to emphasize the relevance of the evidence to the period of LotR.

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------ ------------------------------------------------------------------------

    II. NEWSGROUPS AND NETIQUETTE

    When discussing Tolkien (or anything else) online, it is important
    to know at least a little about the "culture" of the discussion forum
    that you are participating in. The information in this section is
    intended to give an idea of "appropriate" behavior on the Tolkien
    Usenet newsgroups. To make our discussions as enjoyable as possible,
    every participant should try to be familiar with what follows.

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------

    II.A. INFORMATION ON THE TOLKIEN NEWSGROUPS

    1. What newsgroups are we talking about again?

    There are several Usenet newsgroups specific to Tolkien and his
    works. However, the two most widely read and distributed of these are rec.arts.books.tolkien and alt.fan.tolkien, commonly abbreviated either
    r.a.b.t or RABT and a.f.t or AFT, respectively.

    The official rec.arts.books.tolkien charter can be found at

    http://tolkien.slimy.com/newsgroups/RABTcharter.txt

    Alt.fan.tolkien does not have a formal charter.
    -------

    2. Why are there two groups?

    Originally, AFT was the only Tolkien newsgroup on Usenet. RABT was
    created (when the approval vote passed on 26 Mar 1993) as a replacement
    for AFT which would be carried by a larger fraction of news servers.
    However, AFT was never removed, and both groups currently enjoy
    substantial readership. While only RABT has a formal charter (see
    question II.A.1 for reference), the two groups are virtually identical
    in intended content.

    Many participants see a tendency for RABT to be somewhat more
    "scholarly" in tone while AFT is a bit more "conversational", and some
    suggest that this distinction is useful and should be encouraged.
    Other participants draw less of a distinction between the two groups,
    and often believe that a difference in focus would be both undesirable
    and impossible to achieve. In practice, everyone decides for
    themselves how they want to treat the two groups, and most people
    generally don't complain one way or the other.
    -------

    3. Do I have to have a Ph.D. in Tolkienology to post?

    By no means! People with any amount of Tolkien "lore" are welcome
    to participate. It is advisable, however, to have read /The Hobbit/
    and /The Lord of the Rings/ before spending much time here, as
    otherwise you run the risk of many, many spoilers for both books.

    When you do participate in discussions, just use whatever Tolkien
    knowledge you have: you can have great ideas regardless of how much
    you've read. Occasionally, others will cite sources (often obscure but
    just as often authoritative) that weaken or disprove your arguments.
    When this happens (as it does to every one of us), nobody will think
    less of you for not knowing the reference; treat it as a chance to
    learn something new about Middle-earth.
    -------

    4. What questions and topics are appropriate?

    Virtually any topic related (even distantly) to Tolkien and his
    works is fair game. If you post a purely "factual" question (like "How
    many Ringwraiths were there?"), it's a good idea to explain why you're
    asking: we periodically see questions from students who hope we will do
    their homework for them, and the last thing we want to do is help
    people to avoid reading the books!

    It is appreciated if articles that have absolutely nothing to do
    with Tolkien have subject lines beginning with "OT:" ("Off Topic"). The
    Tolkien newsgroups are a sufficiently social community that threads
    often do drift away from their initial topics, and while this should
    not be discouraged, it is polite to label it when it happens. On the
    other hand, off topic discussions that get too intense or go on too
    long can interfere with others' enjoyment of the groups, and should be
    avoided.

    Binary files, such as images or sounds, are NEVER appropriate in a non-binaries newsgroup. To share a binary file with people in the
    Tolkien groups, you have two main options. One is to find an
    appropriate newsgroup in the alt.binaries.* hierarchy, post the file
    there, and then post a message here telling us where to look. Another
    (more common) method is to put the file on the Web and post the URL on
    the newsgroups.
    -------

    5. What does a tilde (~) in the subject mean? and
    Is it acceptable to post messages with sexual content?

    Articles posted to these newsgroups occasionally contain comments
    that some consider inappropriate for younger readers. After much
    discussion, most participants agreed to mark messages with /sexual/
    content with a tilde in the subject line. Individuals can then create
    killfiles to screen out such messages as desired. While not everyone
    agrees that such a system is beneficial, following this convention is
    the polite thing to do. The newsgroup charter recommends the use of
    ROT-13 "encryption" for this purpose, but this has become less common.
    -------

    6. What common mistakes should I try to avoid?

    By and large, the participants in the Tolkien newsgroups try to
    judge others based on their ideas rather than on details of grammar and
    posting style. However, there are a few types of simple mistakes that
    tend to cause some level of bias and annoyance among many group
    members, which in turn can distract them from your real message. Most
    of these are covered in the "Netiquette" section below.

    One common mistake of this type that is not related to netiquette is confusing the singular and plural forms of common Elvish words. On the
    Tolkien newsgroups, these words are so familiar that the phrase "Manwe
    is a Valar" sounds just as jarring and strange as "Finrod is an Elves."
    To reduce this problem, a list of some of the most commonly confused singular/plural pairs is given below. Note the patterns!

    Singular: Vala Maia Elda Noldo Teler Istar Adan
    Plural: Valar Maiar Eldar Noldor Teleri Istari Edain

    Another issue that arises periodically is whether or not /The Lord
    of the Rings/ should be referred to as a "trilogy". Tolkien said quite
    clearly in Letter #165 that "The book is /not/ of course a 'trilogy'",
    and some people make a point of correcting those who use the term.
    However, in Letter #252, Tolkien himself refers to "my trilogy", so
    most of us agree that using the term is an acceptable shorthand, if
    nothing else.
    -------

    7. What do all the abbreviations used on the groups mean?

    [More abbreviations can be found in section IV of the Tolkien FAQ.]

    Some names and phrases come up so frequently on the Tolkien
    newsgroups that they are often abbreviated for convenience. A few of
    the very most common are defined below; these definitions are excerpted
    from Sir Confused-a-Lot's old AFT Glossary, now online at

    http://silenceisdefeat.com/~aft-rabt/glossary/

    JRRT: John Ronald Reuel Tolkien
    ME: Middle-earth
    LotR: /The Lord of the Rings/
    FotR: /The Fellowship of the Ring/
    TT: /The Two Towers/
    RotK: /The Return of the King/
    Silm.: /The Silmarillion/
    UT: /Unfinished Tales/
    HoMe: the "History of Middle-earth" series
    Letters: /The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien/
    Narn: The "Narn I Hin Hurin" in UT
    Athrabeth: The "Athrabeth Finrod Ah Andreth" in /Morgoth's Ring/

    NG: Newsgroup
    TEUNC: "Tolkien Eccentric Unusual Nut Cases", an eGroup of
    Tolkien fans, some of whom frequent the newsgroups
    LOL: Laughing Out Loud
    ROTFL: Rolling On The Floor Laughing

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------

    II.B. THE BASICS OF NETIQUETTE

    1. What is the proper subject line for my post?

    Make sure that the "Subject:" line of your post matches the topic
    that you are discussing. Be concise, but specific: subject lines such
    as "The Lord of the Rings" or "Tolkien" give no useful information
    about the contents of your post. Note that this does not only apply to
    the first post in a thread: if you see that the subject line no longer
    matches the topic of a thread, change it when you reply! Also, follow
    the "OT:" convention for off-topic posts (mentioned in question II.A.4
    above).

    When you do change the subject line, it is polite to indicate the
    subject of the previous post. For example, "Balrog Wings" might become
    "Balrog Flight (was Balrog Wings)" and then "Eagles (was Balrog
    Flight)". This helps people follow the history of the thread.
    -------

    2. What should I do when replying to an earlier article?
    For example, should I "top post" or "bottom post"?

    First and foremost, make sure to retain the attribution of any
    quoted text, so others know who said the things you are replying to.
    Almost equally important, make sure that you trim the previous post as
    much as possible:

    * If you are replying to one specific comment in the previous
    article, delete all of the previous text except that comment. If
    the comment is at all long, try to trim it down to its essence.
    Type your reply directly beneath the quoted comment.

    * If you are replying to several distinct points individually, quote
    each one as above and type your reply immediately below it (and
    above the next point).

    * If you are replying to a long section that cannot be easily
    trimmed down (for example, an original poem or story), quote only
    its first and last lines (and perhaps put "[snip]" or "..." on a
    line in between the two). If there are particular pieces that
    you want to respond to individually, do so as described above.

    There are two general rules of thumb to follow in connection with
    the above guidelines:

    * Any article you post should have more lines of new text than lines
    of quoted text. It is generally acceptable to ignore this rule
    if the entire post (including basic headers and any signature) is
    short enough to fit on a single 24 line screen.

    * Any comments specifically replying to the previous article should
    come /below/ the relevant part of the previous article. This
    makes reading the article more like reading a conversation, and
    therefore much easier to follow.

    This obviously means that "top posting" is strongly discouraged: it
    forces readers to scroll up and down between the new and old material,
    and it usually involves quoting the entire previous post(s) untrimmed..
    Whether you call our practice "bottom posting", "middle posting", or
    "standard netiquette" is up to you.

    An example of a post that follows these guidelines can be found on
    the web at

    http://tolkien.slimy.com/newsgroups/EssayDiscuss.txt

    This long message (from a discussion of my essay on Tom Bombadil) would
    be all but impossible to follow if the point by point replies were not organized as described above.

    Finally, make sure to keep the subject line up to date, as discussed
    in question II.B.1.
    -------

    3. When should I "cross-post" to multiple newsgroups?

    Generally, you should post an article to the single most appropriate
    group: a question about /The Hobbit/ is more appropriate on rec.arts.books.tolkien than on rec.arts.books. However, there are cases
    when several groups are appropriate: a discussion of the influence of
    Tolkien's faith on his writings could be interesting to readers of both soc.religion.christian.roman-catholic and rec.arts.books.tolkien.
    (Cases in which more than two or three groups are truly appropriate are extremely rare!)

    In such cases, it is almost always better to "cross-post" the
    article to multiple groups than to post separately to each. To do
    this, list all of the relevant groups together on the "Newsgroups:"
    line, separated by commas but /no/ spaces (many posts here list
    "Newsgroups: alt.fan.tolkien,rec.arts.books.tolkien"). Cross-posting
    has several advantages, the most important being that responses to a cross-posted article are also cross-posted. That ensures that everyone involved in the discussion sees every reply.

    Some internet service providers (notably AOL) misguidedly forbid cross-posting, probably because /inappropriate/ cross-posting is very
    bad netiquette and is often used to "spam" many groups at once. If you
    have this problem, it may be better to choose just one "best" group for
    your post than to post separate copies to multiple groups.
    -------

    4. I am able to post my messages with HTML formatting. Should I?

    Generally, no. Many of us use simple text-based programs to read
    news, and posts with HTML formatting can be very difficult to read.
    You can generally turn off this behavior from the "Preferences" or
    "Options" section of your newsreader. For some newsreaders, you will
    need to change more than one setting to completely eliminate this
    behavior.
    -------

    5. If someone insults me or otherwise makes me upset, should I flame
    them back?

    No.

    6. Even if my reputation and honor are at stake?

    Feel free to post any corrections or differences in opinion that you
    feel are necessary. Feel free to indicate that you are hurt, unhappy,
    or insulted because of their comments. But by no means escalate the
    budding flame war, and try your hardest to be polite in your response:
    this tends to get the group's sentiments on your side far better than
    any exchange of name-calling ever could. People are usually fairly
    good at recognizing when someone is being terribly unfair. Yes, it is undoubtedly your right to flame if you want to, but the vast majority
    of the group would be happier if you did not.

    In general, try to give others the benefit of the doubt: with only
    text to go on, it's hard to judge their real intent. Could you have
    misread the insulting lines in their post? Could they have been
    speaking tongue in cheek? Maybe they only meant to tease you, not
    realizing that you would really be insulted. Assuming the worst is a depressing way to live one's life.

    Finally, be particularly careful not to reply to a "troll", someone
    who intentionally fishes for arguments and flames. These people seem
    to take great personal delight in inspiring people to anger or
    indignation; the best reaction to them is generally to ignore them
    altogether.
    -------

    7. Where can I go for more information on netiquette, and on Usenet in
    general?

    One of the best places to start has always been the newsgroup news.announce.newusers. This group is home to a wide range of articles
    that provide introductory information about many aspects of Usenet
    news. Unfortunately, most of these articles are no longer being posted regularly to the group. It may be more effective to read archived
    copies of them at

    ftp://rtfm.mit.edu/pub/usenet/news.announce.newusers/

    Read the "Welcome to Usenet!" article there first.

    The information on netiquette and on Usenet in general in the news.announce.newusers articles remains very relevant today, but those
    articles are several years old. More recent information on similar
    topics can be found at the web sites associated with the news.newusers.questions newsgroup. A list of these sites around the
    world can be found at

    http://users.rcn.com/kateshort/nnq/nnqlinks.html

    (among many other places).

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------ ------------------------------------------------------------------------

    III. DEBATES AND DISCUSSION

    A great many questions about Tolkien and his books arise repeatedly
    on the Tolkien newsgroups. The starting point of each debate is the
    same almost every time, and it takes a long time for the discussion to
    reach "new ground." In the worst cases, bitter and longstanding
    arguments about the basics get in the way before new progress can be
    made at all.

    The purpose of a FAQ is to avoid this problem by setting down the
    basics in a common place so that the discussion can deal with new
    issues from the start. However, it is very difficult to balance the
    need for conciseness with the need for completeness: many debates that repeatedly appear on the Tolkien newsgroups have generated very large
    amounts of "known territory."

    Keep in mind that this FAQ provides only summaries of these debates:
    many of their subtleties are omitted for the sake of brevity. Most of
    these topics have been discussed at length by many intelligent In these
    cases, it is extremely unlikely that any unambiguous "proof" of one
    position exists. With this in mind, try to be respectful toward those
    who disagree with you. To get more information on the usual content of
    common discussions, it is often helpful to browse those discussions
    themselves at the Google Groups Usenet archive (see question IV.A.5 for
    more information).

    Finally, be sure to read question III.A.2, dealing with "canonical"
    texts. This FAQ addresses only the state of Middle-earth after LotR
    was written, which corresponds roughly to the material included in the published /Silmarillion/. Details from earlier versions of the
    mythology will not be discussed in this document (and are generally
    given very limited weight in debates about the later state of the
    mythology).

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------

    III.A. STORY EXTERNAL QUESTIONS

    1. What is the best order in which to read the books?

    This depends on each person's personal preferences. Unless you
    strongly dislike stories written for children, most recommend reading
    /The Hobbit/ first. /The Lord of the Rings/ is certainly next (feel
    free to skip the Prologue if you find it dull, and after the main text
    try to read at least Appendix A.I.v, "The Tale of Aragorn and Arwen").

    If you enjoy any part of the Appendices to LotR, there are things in Tolkien's other books that you are likely to enjoy as well. Most
    suggest reading /The Children of Hurin/, /Unfinished Tales/, /The Silmarillion/, and /The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien/ next, in some order
    (perhaps that one). /The Children of Hurin/ is the only complete novel
    about Middle-earth published after Tolkien's death (although it takes
    place long before the events of LotR, it probably isn't necessary to
    read Silm. first). The stories and essays in UT can be read in any
    order, so the "Third Age" material is a good starting point for those
    coming straight from LotR (the "First Age" stories are excellent, but
    are easier to follow after reading Silm.; the other parts of UT are
    mostly accessible to those who have read LotR and its appendices).
    Many people find the early parts of Silm. slow to read (like a history
    book or the Bible), but it is often a favorite among those who have
    read it. /Letters/ contains insights into both Middle-earth and Tolkien
    as a person.

    For more details (and more books), try getting a personalized
    recommendation from the Custom Tolkien Book List, on the web at

    http://tolkien.slimy.com/books.html

    (This URL redirects to the longer and messier URL of the actual list.)
    -------

    2. What books about Middle-earth are considered "canonical"?

    [I have written an essay on this topic, including general observations
    and my own approach. It is on the web at: http://tolkien.slimy.com/essays/TolkParish.html.]

    As the term is used on the Tolkien newsgroups, a "canonical" text is
    one which is believed to provide authoritative information about
    Middle-earth. This concept is more subtle than it may appear at first
    glance, in part because most of Tolkien's mythology remained incomplete
    when he died. Books or even individual chapters or essays may be
    regarded as more or less "trustworthy" than others, and many people
    reject the idea that there is a single "true" Middle-earth entirely.

    Among those who accept the concept of "canon" to at least some
    degree, almost all agree that /The Lord of the Rings/ is a canonical
    text and most assign equal or near equal weight to /The Hobbit/ (the
    other books about Middle-earth published in Tolkien's lifetime are
    treated similarly). However, due to heavy and unmarked posthumous
    editing, /The Silmarillion/ is considered by many /not/ to be canonical
    (see question III.A.3 for details).

    People put various amounts of trust in the many drafts and essays in /Unfinished Tales/ and the "History of Middle-earth" series. In cases
    where Tolkien's intent seems particularly stable and clear, some trust
    these sources almost as much as /The Hobbit/ and LotR themselves. In
    practice, this means that most of the more trustworthy material is
    found in /Unfinished Tales/ and in volumes X-XII of the HoMe series.
    Opinions on how much to trust /The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien/ are
    mixed, but its contents are generally respected as long as they are not contradicted by other (more canonical) texts. The pictures in /J.R.R.
    Tolkien: Artist and Illustrator/ by Wayne Hammond and Christina Scull
    may also be considered somewhat canonical.

    It is important to note that many aspects of Middle-earth changed substantially over the course of Tolkien's life. Because of this,
    facts taken from the early versions of the mythology can be misleading
    or just plain wrong when used to draw conclusions about LotR or later
    versions of the mythology. This means that while the early versions
    can provide valuable hints about Tolkien's thoughts on an issue, they
    are rarely considered to provide definitive evidence for any position.

    The Custom Tolkien Book List (mentioned in question III.A.1)
    includes my own perspective on the "canonicity" of each section of each
    book in the list. While those are just one person's opinions, they are
    fairly typical. A static version of the list in publication order can
    be found on the web at

    http://tolkien.slimy.com/publist.html

    That static list still contains a link to the customizable version.
    -------

    3. How does /The Silmarillion/ as published differ from what Tolkien
    intended?

    This is a complicated question that is essentially unanswerable:
    despite his lifelong effort, Tolkien never came close to completing
    /The Silmarillion/. At Tolkien's request, after his death his son
    Christopher (with some help from Guy Kay) worked to "bring the work
    into publishable form"; Christopher discusses the difficulties involved
    in the book's Foreword. To understand why /The Silmarillion/ took the
    form that it did (and why it is rarely considered "canonical", as
    mentioned in question III.A.2), it is worth exploring those editorial
    changes. The full story can be found in the "History of Middle-earth"
    books, particularly /Morgoth's Ring/ and /The War of the Jewels/
    (volumes X-XI).

    The most basic editorial decision was which writings to include in
    the book at all. The "Quenta Silmarillion" is of course the central
    text, but Tolkien also wrote numerous associated stories and essays.
    Charles Noad explored this question as part of his essay "On the
    Construction of 'The Silmarillion'" (published in /Tolkien's
    Legendarium/; see question III.A.5), where he suggests an "outline for
    'The Silmarillion' as Tolkien may have intended it". In addition to the
    texts in the published book, Noad includes expanded versions of four
    stories: "The Lay of Leithian" (possibly in poetic form), "Narn i Chin
    Hurin", "The Fall of Gondolin", and "Earendil the Wanderer" (which
    Tolkien never even fully sketched). He also includes five
    "Appendices": writings about Middle-earth and its inhabitants such as
    "Laws and Customs among the Eldar" and the "Athrabeth Finrod ah
    Andreth" (most of these were published in HoMe X-XI). Sadly, a book
    with this outline could never be made satisfying with just the texts
    that Tolkien left us.

    Moving on to the texts that were actually included in /The
    Silmarillion/ as published, there were three types of problems to
    overcome. In the worst cases, there were crucial gaps in the narrative
    where Tolkien had never written more than an outline of the story (or
    where the most recent version was hopelessly outdated). Much more
    frequently, Tolkien's years of revisions led to factual inconsistencies
    between stories written at various times (especially between writings
    before and after /The Lord of the Rings/). And finally, Tolkien's
    writings differed markedly in tone, ranging from vivid narratives to
    terse annals to philosophical essays. To assemble a single text,
    consistent in style and detail, from such a range of source material
    clearly required substantial editing.

    Despite that pessimistic assessment, the vast majority of the
    published /Silmarillion/ is taken directly from Tolkien's work and
    seems to come quite close to what he intended, as far as it goes. (None
    of the "expanded" tales were ever completed, but what exists of them
    can be found for the most part in /Unfinished Tales/, /The Lays of
    Beleriand/, and the other "History of Middle-earth" books mentioned
    above.) Still, mild editing is not uncommon, and can be difficult to
    identify even by comparison to the source texts as published in HoMe.
    Thus, /The Silmarillion/ is often not treated as a final authority in
    scholarly discussions of Middle-earth. (A classic example is its
    mistaken ancestry of Gil-galad, as discussed in question III.B.8.)

    The greatest concern, of course, comes from those few cases where
    large gaps had to be filled by the editors. This happened to some
    extent for "Of Tuor and the Fall of Gondolin" and "Of the Voyage of
    Earendil and the War of Wrath", but the most substantial editorial
    "invention" came in the chapter "Of the Ruin of Doriath". The episode

    [continued in next message]

    --- SoupGate-Win32 v1.05
    * Origin: fsxNet Usenet Gateway (21:1/5)
  • From Steuard Jensen@21:1/5 to All on Sat Aug 21 23:14:02 2021
    XPost: alt.fan.tolkien

    Posted-By: auto-faq 3.3.1 (Perl 5.020)
    Posting-Frequency: monthly
    URL: http://tolkien.slimy.com/

    TOLKIEN NEWSGROUPS FAQ

    Copyright (C) 1999-2012 by Steuard Jensen

    (Created 17 Aug 1999)
    (Last updated 11 Mar 2012)



    For many years, the Tolkien Usenet newsgroups have been home to a
    pair of excellent Frequently Asked Questions lists about Tolkien and Middle-earth, compiled by William D. B. Loos. These sources contain a
    wealth of information, but are no longer maintained (the last update
    seems to have been in July 1996). This means that quite a few issues
    of current interest to the groups are not fully addressed in those
    documents.

    This FAQ supplements, updates, and expands on the earlier ones,
    though it is not meant to replace them entirely. It includes new and
    corrected information on some of the old discussions, numerous entries
    on topics not covered in the older FAQs, and a broad discussion of the
    Tolkien newsgroups and common standards of netiquette. This FAQ is
    intended both as an introduction for newcomers to the newsgroups and as
    a source of information for anyone exploring Middle-earth.

    The official HTML version of the FAQ is on the web at

    http://tolkien.slimy.com/faq/

    The plain text version is posted to Usenet on the 22nd of each month
    and is also available on the web, at

    http://tolkien.slimy.com/faq/TolkNgFaq.txt

    For a unified and easy to use interface to this FAQ, the Loos FAQs, and
    others, consider visiting the Tolkien Meta-FAQ, at

    http://tolkien.slimy.com/

    I would like to give my sincere thanks to the many, many people on
    the newsgroups and elsewhere who have given criticism, suggestions, and encouragement as I wrote this FAQ. This project would never have
    succeeded without their wonderful support.

    Steuard Jensen
    steuard@slimy.com ------------------------------------------------------------------------ ------------------------------------------------------------------------


    Table of Contents

    Sections/questions marked: * have been revised since the last release
    ** are new since the last release

    I. Changes Since the Last Release *

    II. Newsgroups and Netiquette

    A. Information on the Tolkien Newsgroups
    1. What newsgroups are we talking about again?
    2. Why are there two groups?
    3. Do I have to have a Ph.D. in Tolkienology to post?
    4. What questions and topics are appropriate?
    5. What does a tilde (~) in the subject mean? and
    Is it acceptable to post messages with sexual content?
    6. What common mistakes should I try to avoid?
    7. What do all the abbreviations used on the groups mean?

    B. The Basics of Netiquette
    1. What is the proper subject line for my post?
    2. What should I do when replying to an earlier article?
    For example, should I "top post" or "bottom post"?
    3. When should I "cross-post" to multiple newsgroups?
    4. I am able to post my messages with HTML formatting. Should I?
    5. If someone insults me or otherwise makes me upset, should I
    flame them back?
    6. Even if my reputation and honor are at stake?
    7. Where can I go for more information on netiquette, and on
    Usenet in general?

    III. Debates and Discussion

    A. Story External Questions
    1. What is the best order in which to read the books?
    2. What books about Middle-earth are considered "canonical"?
    3. How does /The Silmarillion/ as published differ from what
    Tolkien intended?
    4. Which are "The Two Towers"?
    5. Which books /about/ Tolkien are good, and which aren't?
    6. Is Middle-earth Medieval?
    7. Was Tolkien racist? Were his works?
    8. Are there electronic versions of Tolkien's books?
    9. Where can I report copyright violations that I observe?

    B. Story Internal Questions: Creatures and Characters
    1. Did Balrogs have wings?
    2. Could Balrogs fly?
    3. What was Tom Bombadil?
    4. Did Elves have pointed ears?
    5. Did Elves have beards?
    6. What happened to Elves after they died?
    7. Was Glorfindel of Rivendell the same as Glorfindel of Gondolin?
    8. Who was Gil-galad's father?
    9. Did Dwarf women have beards?
    10. Was there "telepathy" in Middle-earth?
    11. Did Sauron have a physical form during /The Lord of the
    Rings/? *
    12. What were the names of the Nazgul?
    13. What was Gothmog (the lieutenant of Morgul)?
    14. What was the origin of Orcs?
    15. Were Orcs immortal, and what happened to them after death?
    16. What was the relationship between Orcs and Goblins?
    17. What was the origin of Saruman's Uruk-hai?
    18. What was the origin of Trolls?
    19. What were the giants (seen by Bilbo in /The Hobbit/)?

    C. Story Internal Questions: History and Happenings
    1. Why didn't they just have an Eagle fly the Ring to Mt. Doom?
    2. Were the barrow blades magical? In what way?
    3. Why didn't the Nazgul take the Ring at Weathertop?
    4. Who killed the Witch-king, Merry or Eowyn?
    5. Did Frodo and the other mortals who passed over the Sea
    eventually die?
    6. Did Sam follow Frodo into the West?
    7. What is known about the Blue Wizards?
    8. Who was aware that a Balrog lived in Moria?
    9. Did Elves and Dwarves generally get along?
    10. Where was the Ring when Numenor was destroyed?
    11. Who was the oldest inhabitant of Middle-earth?

    IV. External Resources

    A. Where else can I find general information about Middle-earth?
    1. The Tolkien Meta-FAQ
    2. The Tolkien FAQ and LessFAQ
    3. The "FAQ of the Rings"
    4. The Letters FAQ
    5. Google's Usenet archive

    B. Where can I learn more about Tolkien's languages?

    C. Stories of Middle-earth in many forms
    1. What editions of Tolkien's books are best?
    2. What audio versions of Tolkien's books are available?
    3. What is the groups' view of the recent /Lord of the Rings/
    movies?
    4. Where can I find out about music related to Middle-earth?

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------ ------------------------------------------------------------------------

    I. CHANGES SINCE THE LAST RELEASE

    Adjusted wording of question III.B.11 about Sauron's physical form
    to emphasize the relevance of the evidence to the period of LotR.

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------ ------------------------------------------------------------------------

    II. NEWSGROUPS AND NETIQUETTE

    When discussing Tolkien (or anything else) online, it is important
    to know at least a little about the "culture" of the discussion forum
    that you are participating in. The information in this section is
    intended to give an idea of "appropriate" behavior on the Tolkien
    Usenet newsgroups. To make our discussions as enjoyable as possible,
    every participant should try to be familiar with what follows.

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------

    II.A. INFORMATION ON THE TOLKIEN NEWSGROUPS

    1. What newsgroups are we talking about again?

    There are several Usenet newsgroups specific to Tolkien and his
    works. However, the two most widely read and distributed of these are rec.arts.books.tolkien and alt.fan.tolkien, commonly abbreviated either
    r.a.b.t or RABT and a.f.t or AFT, respectively.

    The official rec.arts.books.tolkien charter can be found at

    http://tolkien.slimy.com/newsgroups/RABTcharter.txt

    Alt.fan.tolkien does not have a formal charter.
    -------

    2. Why are there two groups?

    Originally, AFT was the only Tolkien newsgroup on Usenet. RABT was
    created (when the approval vote passed on 26 Mar 1993) as a replacement
    for AFT which would be carried by a larger fraction of news servers.
    However, AFT was never removed, and both groups currently enjoy
    substantial readership. While only RABT has a formal charter (see
    question II.A.1 for reference), the two groups are virtually identical
    in intended content.

    Many participants see a tendency for RABT to be somewhat more
    "scholarly" in tone while AFT is a bit more "conversational", and some
    suggest that this distinction is useful and should be encouraged.
    Other participants draw less of a distinction between the two groups,
    and often believe that a difference in focus would be both undesirable
    and impossible to achieve. In practice, everyone decides for
    themselves how they want to treat the two groups, and most people
    generally don't complain one way or the other.
    -------

    3. Do I have to have a Ph.D. in Tolkienology to post?

    By no means! People with any amount of Tolkien "lore" are welcome
    to participate. It is advisable, however, to have read /The Hobbit/
    and /The Lord of the Rings/ before spending much time here, as
    otherwise you run the risk of many, many spoilers for both books.

    When you do participate in discussions, just use whatever Tolkien
    knowledge you have: you can have great ideas regardless of how much
    you've read. Occasionally, others will cite sources (often obscure but
    just as often authoritative) that weaken or disprove your arguments.
    When this happens (as it does to every one of us), nobody will think
    less of you for not knowing the reference; treat it as a chance to
    learn something new about Middle-earth.
    -------

    4. What questions and topics are appropriate?

    Virtually any topic related (even distantly) to Tolkien and his
    works is fair game. If you post a purely "factual" question (like "How
    many Ringwraiths were there?"), it's a good idea to explain why you're
    asking: we periodically see questions from students who hope we will do
    their homework for them, and the last thing we want to do is help
    people to avoid reading the books!

    It is appreciated if articles that have absolutely nothing to do
    with Tolkien have subject lines beginning with "OT:" ("Off Topic"). The
    Tolkien newsgroups are a sufficiently social community that threads
    often do drift away from their initial topics, and while this should
    not be discouraged, it is polite to label it when it happens. On the
    other hand, off topic discussions that get too intense or go on too
    long can interfere with others' enjoyment of the groups, and should be
    avoided.

    Binary files, such as images or sounds, are NEVER appropriate in a non-binaries newsgroup. To share a binary file with people in the
    Tolkien groups, you have two main options. One is to find an
    appropriate newsgroup in the alt.binaries.* hierarchy, post the file
    there, and then post a message here telling us where to look. Another
    (more common) method is to put the file on the Web and post the URL on
    the newsgroups.
    -------

    5. What does a tilde (~) in the subject mean? and
    Is it acceptable to post messages with sexual content?

    Articles posted to these newsgroups occasionally contain comments
    that some consider inappropriate for younger readers. After much
    discussion, most participants agreed to mark messages with /sexual/
    content with a tilde in the subject line. Individuals can then create
    killfiles to screen out such messages as desired. While not everyone
    agrees that such a system is beneficial, following this convention is
    the polite thing to do. The newsgroup charter recommends the use of
    ROT-13 "encryption" for this purpose, but this has become less common.
    -------

    6. What common mistakes should I try to avoid?

    By and large, the participants in the Tolkien newsgroups try to
    judge others based on their ideas rather than on details of grammar and
    posting style. However, there are a few types of simple mistakes that
    tend to cause some level of bias and annoyance among many group
    members, which in turn can distract them from your real message. Most
    of these are covered in the "Netiquette" section below.

    One common mistake of this type that is not related to netiquette is confusing the singular and plural forms of common Elvish words. On the
    Tolkien newsgroups, these words are so familiar that the phrase "Manwe
    is a Valar" sounds just as jarring and strange as "Finrod is an Elves."
    To reduce this problem, a list of some of the most commonly confused singular/plural pairs is given below. Note the patterns!

    Singular: Vala Maia Elda Noldo Teler Istar Adan
    Plural: Valar Maiar Eldar Noldor Teleri Istari Edain

    Another issue that arises periodically is whether or not /The Lord
    of the Rings/ should be referred to as a "trilogy". Tolkien said quite
    clearly in Letter #165 that "The book is /not/ of course a 'trilogy'",
    and some people make a point of correcting those who use the term.
    However, in Letter #252, Tolkien himself refers to "my trilogy", so
    most of us agree that using the term is an acceptable shorthand, if
    nothing else.
    -------

    7. What do all the abbreviations used on the groups mean?

    [More abbreviations can be found in section IV of the Tolkien FAQ.]

    Some names and phrases come up so frequently on the Tolkien
    newsgroups that they are often abbreviated for convenience. A few of
    the very most common are defined below; these definitions are excerpted
    from Sir Confused-a-Lot's old AFT Glossary, now online at

    http://silenceisdefeat.com/~aft-rabt/glossary/

    JRRT: John Ronald Reuel Tolkien
    ME: Middle-earth
    LotR: /The Lord of the Rings/
    FotR: /The Fellowship of the Ring/
    TT: /The Two Towers/
    RotK: /The Return of the King/
    Silm.: /The Silmarillion/
    UT: /Unfinished Tales/
    HoMe: the "History of Middle-earth" series
    Letters: /The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien/
    Narn: The "Narn I Hin Hurin" in UT
    Athrabeth: The "Athrabeth Finrod Ah Andreth" in /Morgoth's Ring/

    NG: Newsgroup
    TEUNC: "Tolkien Eccentric Unusual Nut Cases", an eGroup of
    Tolkien fans, some of whom frequent the newsgroups
    LOL: Laughing Out Loud
    ROTFL: Rolling On The Floor Laughing

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------

    II.B. THE BASICS OF NETIQUETTE

    1. What is the proper subject line for my post?

    Make sure that the "Subject:" line of your post matches the topic
    that you are discussing. Be concise, but specific: subject lines such
    as "The Lord of the Rings" or "Tolkien" give no useful information
    about the contents of your post. Note that this does not only apply to
    the first post in a thread: if you see that the subject line no longer
    matches the topic of a thread, change it when you reply! Also, follow
    the "OT:" convention for off-topic posts (mentioned in question II.A.4
    above).

    When you do change the subject line, it is polite to indicate the
    subject of the previous post. For example, "Balrog Wings" might become
    "Balrog Flight (was Balrog Wings)" and then "Eagles (was Balrog
    Flight)". This helps people follow the history of the thread.
    -------

    2. What should I do when replying to an earlier article?
    For example, should I "top post" or "bottom post"?

    First and foremost, make sure to retain the attribution of any
    quoted text, so others know who said the things you are replying to.
    Almost equally important, make sure that you trim the previous post as
    much as possible:

    * If you are replying to one specific comment in the previous
    article, delete all of the previous text except that comment. If
    the comment is at all long, try to trim it down to its essence.
    Type your reply directly beneath the quoted comment.

    * If you are replying to several distinct points individually, quote
    each one as above and type your reply immediately below it (and
    above the next point).

    * If you are replying to a long section that cannot be easily
    trimmed down (for example, an original poem or story), quote only
    its first and last lines (and perhaps put "[snip]" or "..." on a
    line in between the two). If there are particular pieces that
    you want to respond to individually, do so as described above.

    There are two general rules of thumb to follow in connection with
    the above guidelines:

    * Any article you post should have more lines of new text than lines
    of quoted text. It is generally acceptable to ignore this rule
    if the entire post (including basic headers and any signature) is
    short enough to fit on a single 24 line screen.

    * Any comments specifically replying to the previous article should
    come /below/ the relevant part of the previous article. This
    makes reading the article more like reading a conversation, and
    therefore much easier to follow.

    This obviously means that "top posting" is strongly discouraged: it
    forces readers to scroll up and down between the new and old material,
    and it usually involves quoting the entire previous post(s) untrimmed..
    Whether you call our practice "bottom posting", "middle posting", or
    "standard netiquette" is up to you.

    An example of a post that follows these guidelines can be found on
    the web at

    http://tolkien.slimy.com/newsgroups/EssayDiscuss.txt

    This long message (from a discussion of my essay on Tom Bombadil) would
    be all but impossible to follow if the point by point replies were not organized as described above.

    Finally, make sure to keep the subject line up to date, as discussed
    in question II.B.1.
    -------

    3. When should I "cross-post" to multiple newsgroups?

    Generally, you should post an article to the single most appropriate
    group: a question about /The Hobbit/ is more appropriate on rec.arts.books.tolkien than on rec.arts.books. However, there are cases
    when several groups are appropriate: a discussion of the influence of
    Tolkien's faith on his writings could be interesting to readers of both soc.religion.christian.roman-catholic and rec.arts.books.tolkien.
    (Cases in which more than two or three groups are truly appropriate are extremely rare!)

    In such cases, it is almost always better to "cross-post" the
    article to multiple groups than to post separately to each. To do
    this, list all of the relevant groups together on the "Newsgroups:"
    line, separated by commas but /no/ spaces (many posts here list
    "Newsgroups: alt.fan.tolkien,rec.arts.books.tolkien"). Cross-posting
    has several advantages, the most important being that responses to a cross-posted article are also cross-posted. That ensures that everyone involved in the discussion sees every reply.

    Some internet service providers (notably AOL) misguidedly forbid cross-posting, probably because /inappropriate/ cross-posting is very
    bad netiquette and is often used to "spam" many groups at once. If you
    have this problem, it may be better to choose just one "best" group for
    your post than to post separate copies to multiple groups.
    -------

    4. I am able to post my messages with HTML formatting. Should I?

    Generally, no. Many of us use simple text-based programs to read
    news, and posts with HTML formatting can be very difficult to read.
    You can generally turn off this behavior from the "Preferences" or
    "Options" section of your newsreader. For some newsreaders, you will
    need to change more than one setting to completely eliminate this
    behavior.
    -------

    5. If someone insults me or otherwise makes me upset, should I flame
    them back?

    No.

    6. Even if my reputation and honor are at stake?

    Feel free to post any corrections or differences in opinion that you
    feel are necessary. Feel free to indicate that you are hurt, unhappy,
    or insulted because of their comments. But by no means escalate the
    budding flame war, and try your hardest to be polite in your response:
    this tends to get the group's sentiments on your side far better than
    any exchange of name-calling ever could. People are usually fairly
    good at recognizing when someone is being terribly unfair. Yes, it is undoubtedly your right to flame if you want to, but the vast majority
    of the group would be happier if you did not.

    In general, try to give others the benefit of the doubt: with only
    text to go on, it's hard to judge their real intent. Could you have
    misread the insulting lines in their post? Could they have been
    speaking tongue in cheek? Maybe they only meant to tease you, not
    realizing that you would really be insulted. Assuming the worst is a depressing way to live one's life.

    Finally, be particularly careful not to reply to a "troll", someone
    who intentionally fishes for arguments and flames. These people seem
    to take great personal delight in inspiring people to anger or
    indignation; the best reaction to them is generally to ignore them
    altogether.
    -------

    7. Where can I go for more information on netiquette, and on Usenet in
    general?

    One of the best places to start has always been the newsgroup news.announce.newusers. This group is home to a wide range of articles
    that provide introductory information about many aspects of Usenet
    news. Unfortunately, most of these articles are no longer being posted regularly to the group. It may be more effective to read archived
    copies of them at

    ftp://rtfm.mit.edu/pub/usenet/news.announce.newusers/

    Read the "Welcome to Usenet!" article there first.

    The information on netiquette and on Usenet in general in the news.announce.newusers articles remains very relevant today, but those
    articles are several years old. More recent information on similar
    topics can be found at the web sites associated with the news.newusers.questions newsgroup. A list of these sites around the
    world can be found at

    http://users.rcn.com/kateshort/nnq/nnqlinks.html

    (among many other places).

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------ ------------------------------------------------------------------------

    III. DEBATES AND DISCUSSION

    A great many questions about Tolkien and his books arise repeatedly
    on the Tolkien newsgroups. The starting point of each debate is the
    same almost every time, and it takes a long time for the discussion to
    reach "new ground." In the worst cases, bitter and longstanding
    arguments about the basics get in the way before new progress can be
    made at all.

    The purpose of a FAQ is to avoid this problem by setting down the
    basics in a common place so that the discussion can deal with new
    issues from the start. However, it is very difficult to balance the
    need for conciseness with the need for completeness: many debates that repeatedly appear on the Tolkien newsgroups have generated very large
    amounts of "known territory."

    Keep in mind that this FAQ provides only summaries of these debates:
    many of their subtleties are omitted for the sake of brevity. Most of
    these topics have been discussed at length by many intelligent In these
    cases, it is extremely unlikely that any unambiguous "proof" of one
    position exists. With this in mind, try to be respectful toward those
    who disagree with you. To get more information on the usual content of
    common discussions, it is often helpful to browse those discussions
    themselves at the Google Groups Usenet archive (see question IV.A.5 for
    more information).

    Finally, be sure to read question III.A.2, dealing with "canonical"
    texts. This FAQ addresses only the state of Middle-earth after LotR
    was written, which corresponds roughly to the material included in the published /Silmarillion/. Details from earlier versions of the
    mythology will not be discussed in this document (and are generally
    given very limited weight in debates about the later state of the
    mythology).

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------

    III.A. STORY EXTERNAL QUESTIONS

    1. What is the best order in which to read the books?

    This depends on each person's personal preferences. Unless you
    strongly dislike stories written for children, most recommend reading
    /The Hobbit/ first. /The Lord of the Rings/ is certainly next (feel
    free to skip the Prologue if you find it dull, and after the main text
    try to read at least Appendix A.I.v, "The Tale of Aragorn and Arwen").

    If you enjoy any part of the Appendices to LotR, there are things in Tolkien's other books that you are likely to enjoy as well. Most
    suggest reading /The Children of Hurin/, /Unfinished Tales/, /The Silmarillion/, and /The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien/ next, in some order
    (perhaps that one). /The Children of Hurin/ is the only complete novel
    about Middle-earth published after Tolkien's death (although it takes
    place long before the events of LotR, it probably isn't necessary to
    read Silm. first). The stories and essays in UT can be read in any
    order, so the "Third Age" material is a good starting point for those
    coming straight from LotR (the "First Age" stories are excellent, but
    are easier to follow after reading Silm.; the other parts of UT are
    mostly accessible to those who have read LotR and its appendices).
    Many people find the early parts of Silm. slow to read (like a history
    book or the Bible), but it is often a favorite among those who have
    read it. /Letters/ contains insights into both Middle-earth and Tolkien
    as a person.

    For more details (and more books), try getting a personalized
    recommendation from the Custom Tolkien Book List, on the web at

    http://tolkien.slimy.com/books.html

    (This URL redirects to the longer and messier URL of the actual list.)
    -------

    2. What books about Middle-earth are considered "canonical"?

    [I have written an essay on this topic, including general observations
    and my own approach. It is on the web at: http://tolkien.slimy.com/essays/TolkParish.html.]

    As the term is used on the Tolkien newsgroups, a "canonical" text is
    one which is believed to provide authoritative information about
    Middle-earth. This concept is more subtle than it may appear at first
    glance, in part because most of Tolkien's mythology remained incomplete
    when he died. Books or even individual chapters or essays may be
    regarded as more or less "trustworthy" than others, and many people
    reject the idea that there is a single "true" Middle-earth entirely.

    Among those who accept the concept of "canon" to at least some
    degree, almost all agree that /The Lord of the Rings/ is a canonical
    text and most assign equal or near equal weight to /The Hobbit/ (the
    other books about Middle-earth published in Tolkien's lifetime are
    treated similarly). However, due to heavy and unmarked posthumous
    editing, /The Silmarillion/ is considered by many /not/ to be canonical
    (see question III.A.3 for details).

    People put various amounts of trust in the many drafts and essays in /Unfinished Tales/ and the "History of Middle-earth" series. In cases
    where Tolkien's intent seems particularly stable and clear, some trust
    these sources almost as much as /The Hobbit/ and LotR themselves. In
    practice, this means that most of the more trustworthy material is
    found in /Unfinished Tales/ and in volumes X-XII of the HoMe series.
    Opinions on how much to trust /The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien/ are
    mixed, but its contents are generally respected as long as they are not contradicted by other (more canonical) texts. The pictures in /J.R.R.
    Tolkien: Artist and Illustrator/ by Wayne Hammond and Christina Scull
    may also be considered somewhat canonical.

    It is important to note that many aspects of Middle-earth changed substantially over the course of Tolkien's life. Because of this,
    facts taken from the early versions of the mythology can be misleading
    or just plain wrong when used to draw conclusions about LotR or later
    versions of the mythology. This means that while the early versions
    can provide valuable hints about Tolkien's thoughts on an issue, they
    are rarely considered to provide definitive evidence for any position.

    The Custom Tolkien Book List (mentioned in question III.A.1)
    includes my own perspective on the "canonicity" of each section of each
    book in the list. While those are just one person's opinions, they are
    fairly typical. A static version of the list in publication order can
    be found on the web at

    http://tolkien.slimy.com/publist.html

    That static list still contains a link to the customizable version.
    -------

    3. How does /The Silmarillion/ as published differ from what Tolkien
    intended?

    This is a complicated question that is essentially unanswerable:
    despite his lifelong effort, Tolkien never came close to completing
    /The Silmarillion/. At Tolkien's request, after his death his son
    Christopher (with some help from Guy Kay) worked to "bring the work
    into publishable form"; Christopher discusses the difficulties involved
    in the book's Foreword. To understand why /The Silmarillion/ took the
    form that it did (and why it is rarely considered "canonical", as
    mentioned in question III.A.2), it is worth exploring those editorial
    changes. The full story can be found in the "History of Middle-earth"
    books, particularly /Morgoth's Ring/ and /The War of the Jewels/
    (volumes X-XI).

    The most basic editorial decision was which writings to include in
    the book at all. The "Quenta Silmarillion" is of course the central
    text, but Tolkien also wrote numerous associated stories and essays.
    Charles Noad explored this question as part of his essay "On the
    Construction of 'The Silmarillion'" (published in /Tolkien's
    Legendarium/; see question III.A.5), where he suggests an "outline for
    'The Silmarillion' as Tolkien may have intended it". In addition to the
    texts in the published book, Noad includes expanded versions of four
    stories: "The Lay of Leithian" (possibly in poetic form), "Narn i Chin
    Hurin", "The Fall of Gondolin", and "Earendil the Wanderer" (which
    Tolkien never even fully sketched). He also includes five
    "Appendices": writings about Middle-earth and its inhabitants such as
    "Laws and Customs among the Eldar" and the "Athrabeth Finrod ah
    Andreth" (most of these were published in HoMe X-XI). Sadly, a book
    with this outline could never be made satisfying with just the texts
    that Tolkien left us.

    Moving on to the texts that were actually included in /The
    Silmarillion/ as published, there were three types of problems to
    overcome. In the worst cases, there were crucial gaps in the narrative
    where Tolkien had never written more than an outline of the story (or
    where the most recent version was hopelessly outdated). Much more
    frequently, Tolkien's years of revisions led to factual inconsistencies
    between stories written at various times (especially between writings
    before and after /The Lord of the Rings/). And finally, Tolkien's
    writings differed markedly in tone, ranging from vivid narratives to
    terse annals to philosophical essays. To assemble a single text,
    consistent in style and detail, from such a range of source material
    clearly required substantial editing.

    Despite that pessimistic assessment, the vast majority of the
    published /Silmarillion/ is taken directly from Tolkien's work and
    seems to come quite close to what he intended, as far as it goes. (None
    of the "expanded" tales were ever completed, but what exists of them
    can be found for the most part in /Unfinished Tales/, /The Lays of
    Beleriand/, and the other "History of Middle-earth" books mentioned
    above.) Still, mild editing is not uncommon, and can be difficult to
    identify even by comparison to the source texts as published in HoMe.
    Thus, /The Silmarillion/ is often not treated as a final authority in
    scholarly discussions of Middle-earth. (A classic example is its
    mistaken ancestry of Gil-galad, as discussed in question III.B.8.)

    The greatest concern, of course, comes from those few cases where
    large gaps had to be filled by the editors. This happened to some
    extent for "Of Tuor and the Fall of Gondolin" and "Of the Voyage of
    Earendil and the War of Wrath", but the most substantial editorial
    "invention" came in the chapter "Of the Ruin of Doriath". The episode

    [continued in next message]

    --- SoupGate-Win32 v1.05
    * Origin: fsxNet Usenet Gateway (21:1/5)
  • From Steuard Jensen@21:1/5 to All on Tue Sep 21 23:14:01 2021
    XPost: alt.fan.tolkien

    Posted-By: auto-faq 3.3.1 (Perl 5.020)
    Posting-Frequency: monthly
    URL: http://tolkien.slimy.com/

    TOLKIEN NEWSGROUPS FAQ

    Copyright (C) 1999-2012 by Steuard Jensen

    (Created 17 Aug 1999)
    (Last updated 11 Mar 2012)



    For many years, the Tolkien Usenet newsgroups have been home to a
    pair of excellent Frequently Asked Questions lists about Tolkien and Middle-earth, compiled by William D. B. Loos. These sources contain a
    wealth of information, but are no longer maintained (the last update
    seems to have been in July 1996). This means that quite a few issues
    of current interest to the groups are not fully addressed in those
    documents.

    This FAQ supplements, updates, and expands on the earlier ones,
    though it is not meant to replace them entirely. It includes new and
    corrected information on some of the old discussions, numerous entries
    on topics not covered in the older FAQs, and a broad discussion of the
    Tolkien newsgroups and common standards of netiquette. This FAQ is
    intended both as an introduction for newcomers to the newsgroups and as
    a source of information for anyone exploring Middle-earth.

    The official HTML version of the FAQ is on the web at

    http://tolkien.slimy.com/faq/

    The plain text version is posted to Usenet on the 22nd of each month
    and is also available on the web, at

    http://tolkien.slimy.com/faq/TolkNgFaq.txt

    For a unified and easy to use interface to this FAQ, the Loos FAQs, and
    others, consider visiting the Tolkien Meta-FAQ, at

    http://tolkien.slimy.com/

    I would like to give my sincere thanks to the many, many people on
    the newsgroups and elsewhere who have given criticism, suggestions, and encouragement as I wrote this FAQ. This project would never have
    succeeded without their wonderful support.

    Steuard Jensen
    steuard@slimy.com ------------------------------------------------------------------------ ------------------------------------------------------------------------


    Table of Contents

    Sections/questions marked: * have been revised since the last release
    ** are new since the last release

    I. Changes Since the Last Release *

    II. Newsgroups and Netiquette

    A. Information on the Tolkien Newsgroups
    1. What newsgroups are we talking about again?
    2. Why are there two groups?
    3. Do I have to have a Ph.D. in Tolkienology to post?
    4. What questions and topics are appropriate?
    5. What does a tilde (~) in the subject mean? and
    Is it acceptable to post messages with sexual content?
    6. What common mistakes should I try to avoid?
    7. What do all the abbreviations used on the groups mean?

    B. The Basics of Netiquette
    1. What is the proper subject line for my post?
    2. What should I do when replying to an earlier article?
    For example, should I "top post" or "bottom post"?
    3. When should I "cross-post" to multiple newsgroups?
    4. I am able to post my messages with HTML formatting. Should I?
    5. If someone insults me or otherwise makes me upset, should I
    flame them back?
    6. Even if my reputation and honor are at stake?
    7. Where can I go for more information on netiquette, and on
    Usenet in general?

    III. Debates and Discussion

    A. Story External Questions
    1. What is the best order in which to read the books?
    2. What books about Middle-earth are considered "canonical"?
    3. How does /The Silmarillion/ as published differ from what
    Tolkien intended?
    4. Which are "The Two Towers"?
    5. Which books /about/ Tolkien are good, and which aren't?
    6. Is Middle-earth Medieval?
    7. Was Tolkien racist? Were his works?
    8. Are there electronic versions of Tolkien's books?
    9. Where can I report copyright violations that I observe?

    B. Story Internal Questions: Creatures and Characters
    1. Did Balrogs have wings?
    2. Could Balrogs fly?
    3. What was Tom Bombadil?
    4. Did Elves have pointed ears?
    5. Did Elves have beards?
    6. What happened to Elves after they died?
    7. Was Glorfindel of Rivendell the same as Glorfindel of Gondolin?
    8. Who was Gil-galad's father?
    9. Did Dwarf women have beards?
    10. Was there "telepathy" in Middle-earth?
    11. Did Sauron have a physical form during /The Lord of the
    Rings/? *
    12. What were the names of the Nazgul?
    13. What was Gothmog (the lieutenant of Morgul)?
    14. What was the origin of Orcs?
    15. Were Orcs immortal, and what happened to them after death?
    16. What was the relationship between Orcs and Goblins?
    17. What was the origin of Saruman's Uruk-hai?
    18. What was the origin of Trolls?
    19. What were the giants (seen by Bilbo in /The Hobbit/)?

    C. Story Internal Questions: History and Happenings
    1. Why didn't they just have an Eagle fly the Ring to Mt. Doom?
    2. Were the barrow blades magical? In what way?
    3. Why didn't the Nazgul take the Ring at Weathertop?
    4. Who killed the Witch-king, Merry or Eowyn?
    5. Did Frodo and the other mortals who passed over the Sea
    eventually die?
    6. Did Sam follow Frodo into the West?
    7. What is known about the Blue Wizards?
    8. Who was aware that a Balrog lived in Moria?
    9. Did Elves and Dwarves generally get along?
    10. Where was the Ring when Numenor was destroyed?
    11. Who was the oldest inhabitant of Middle-earth?

    IV. External Resources

    A. Where else can I find general information about Middle-earth?
    1. The Tolkien Meta-FAQ
    2. The Tolkien FAQ and LessFAQ
    3. The "FAQ of the Rings"
    4. The Letters FAQ
    5. Google's Usenet archive

    B. Where can I learn more about Tolkien's languages?

    C. Stories of Middle-earth in many forms
    1. What editions of Tolkien's books are best?
    2. What audio versions of Tolkien's books are available?
    3. What is the groups' view of the recent /Lord of the Rings/
    movies?
    4. Where can I find out about music related to Middle-earth?

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------ ------------------------------------------------------------------------

    I. CHANGES SINCE THE LAST RELEASE

    Adjusted wording of question III.B.11 about Sauron's physical form
    to emphasize the relevance of the evidence to the period of LotR.

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------ ------------------------------------------------------------------------

    II. NEWSGROUPS AND NETIQUETTE

    When discussing Tolkien (or anything else) online, it is important
    to know at least a little about the "culture" of the discussion forum
    that you are participating in. The information in this section is
    intended to give an idea of "appropriate" behavior on the Tolkien
    Usenet newsgroups. To make our discussions as enjoyable as possible,
    every participant should try to be familiar with what follows.

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------

    II.A. INFORMATION ON THE TOLKIEN NEWSGROUPS

    1. What newsgroups are we talking about again?

    There are several Usenet newsgroups specific to Tolkien and his
    works. However, the two most widely read and distributed of these are rec.arts.books.tolkien and alt.fan.tolkien, commonly abbreviated either
    r.a.b.t or RABT and a.f.t or AFT, respectively.

    The official rec.arts.books.tolkien charter can be found at

    http://tolkien.slimy.com/newsgroups/RABTcharter.txt

    Alt.fan.tolkien does not have a formal charter.
    -------

    2. Why are there two groups?

    Originally, AFT was the only Tolkien newsgroup on Usenet. RABT was
    created (when the approval vote passed on 26 Mar 1993) as a replacement
    for AFT which would be carried by a larger fraction of news servers.
    However, AFT was never removed, and both groups currently enjoy
    substantial readership. While only RABT has a formal charter (see
    question II.A.1 for reference), the two groups are virtually identical
    in intended content.

    Many participants see a tendency for RABT to be somewhat more
    "scholarly" in tone while AFT is a bit more "conversational", and some
    suggest that this distinction is useful and should be encouraged.
    Other participants draw less of a distinction between the two groups,
    and often believe that a difference in focus would be both undesirable
    and impossible to achieve. In practice, everyone decides for
    themselves how they want to treat the two groups, and most people
    generally don't complain one way or the other.
    -------

    3. Do I have to have a Ph.D. in Tolkienology to post?

    By no means! People with any amount of Tolkien "lore" are welcome
    to participate. It is advisable, however, to have read /The Hobbit/
    and /The Lord of the Rings/ before spending much time here, as
    otherwise you run the risk of many, many spoilers for both books.

    When you do participate in discussions, just use whatever Tolkien
    knowledge you have: you can have great ideas regardless of how much
    you've read. Occasionally, others will cite sources (often obscure but
    just as often authoritative) that weaken or disprove your arguments.
    When this happens (as it does to every one of us), nobody will think
    less of you for not knowing the reference; treat it as a chance to
    learn something new about Middle-earth.
    -------

    4. What questions and topics are appropriate?

    Virtually any topic related (even distantly) to Tolkien and his
    works is fair game. If you post a purely "factual" question (like "How
    many Ringwraiths were there?"), it's a good idea to explain why you're
    asking: we periodically see questions from students who hope we will do
    their homework for them, and the last thing we want to do is help
    people to avoid reading the books!

    It is appreciated if articles that have absolutely nothing to do
    with Tolkien have subject lines beginning with "OT:" ("Off Topic"). The
    Tolkien newsgroups are a sufficiently social community that threads
    often do drift away from their initial topics, and while this should
    not be discouraged, it is polite to label it when it happens. On the
    other hand, off topic discussions that get too intense or go on too
    long can interfere with others' enjoyment of the groups, and should be
    avoided.

    Binary files, such as images or sounds, are NEVER appropriate in a non-binaries newsgroup. To share a binary file with people in the
    Tolkien groups, you have two main options. One is to find an
    appropriate newsgroup in the alt.binaries.* hierarchy, post the file
    there, and then post a message here telling us where to look. Another
    (more common) method is to put the file on the Web and post the URL on
    the newsgroups.
    -------

    5. What does a tilde (~) in the subject mean? and
    Is it acceptable to post messages with sexual content?

    Articles posted to these newsgroups occasionally contain comments
    that some consider inappropriate for younger readers. After much
    discussion, most participants agreed to mark messages with /sexual/
    content with a tilde in the subject line. Individuals can then create
    killfiles to screen out such messages as desired. While not everyone
    agrees that such a system is beneficial, following this convention is
    the polite thing to do. The newsgroup charter recommends the use of
    ROT-13 "encryption" for this purpose, but this has become less common.
    -------

    6. What common mistakes should I try to avoid?

    By and large, the participants in the Tolkien newsgroups try to
    judge others based on their ideas rather than on details of grammar and
    posting style. However, there are a few types of simple mistakes that
    tend to cause some level of bias and annoyance among many group
    members, which in turn can distract them from your real message. Most
    of these are covered in the "Netiquette" section below.

    One common mistake of this type that is not related to netiquette is confusing the singular and plural forms of common Elvish words. On the
    Tolkien newsgroups, these words are so familiar that the phrase "Manwe
    is a Valar" sounds just as jarring and strange as "Finrod is an Elves."
    To reduce this problem, a list of some of the most commonly confused singular/plural pairs is given below. Note the patterns!

    Singular: Vala Maia Elda Noldo Teler Istar Adan
    Plural: Valar Maiar Eldar Noldor Teleri Istari Edain

    Another issue that arises periodically is whether or not /The Lord
    of the Rings/ should be referred to as a "trilogy". Tolkien said quite
    clearly in Letter #165 that "The book is /not/ of course a 'trilogy'",
    and some people make a point of correcting those who use the term.
    However, in Letter #252, Tolkien himself refers to "my trilogy", so
    most of us agree that using the term is an acceptable shorthand, if
    nothing else.
    -------

    7. What do all the abbreviations used on the groups mean?

    [More abbreviations can be found in section IV of the Tolkien FAQ.]

    Some names and phrases come up so frequently on the Tolkien
    newsgroups that they are often abbreviated for convenience. A few of
    the very most common are defined below; these definitions are excerpted
    from Sir Confused-a-Lot's old AFT Glossary, now online at

    http://silenceisdefeat.com/~aft-rabt/glossary/

    JRRT: John Ronald Reuel Tolkien
    ME: Middle-earth
    LotR: /The Lord of the Rings/
    FotR: /The Fellowship of the Ring/
    TT: /The Two Towers/
    RotK: /The Return of the King/
    Silm.: /The Silmarillion/
    UT: /Unfinished Tales/
    HoMe: the "History of Middle-earth" series
    Letters: /The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien/
    Narn: The "Narn I Hin Hurin" in UT
    Athrabeth: The "Athrabeth Finrod Ah Andreth" in /Morgoth's Ring/

    NG: Newsgroup
    TEUNC: "Tolkien Eccentric Unusual Nut Cases", an eGroup of
    Tolkien fans, some of whom frequent the newsgroups
    LOL: Laughing Out Loud
    ROTFL: Rolling On The Floor Laughing

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------

    II.B. THE BASICS OF NETIQUETTE

    1. What is the proper subject line for my post?

    Make sure that the "Subject:" line of your post matches the topic
    that you are discussing. Be concise, but specific: subject lines such
    as "The Lord of the Rings" or "Tolkien" give no useful information
    about the contents of your post. Note that this does not only apply to
    the first post in a thread: if you see that the subject line no longer
    matches the topic of a thread, change it when you reply! Also, follow
    the "OT:" convention for off-topic posts (mentioned in question II.A.4
    above).

    When you do change the subject line, it is polite to indicate the
    subject of the previous post. For example, "Balrog Wings" might become
    "Balrog Flight (was Balrog Wings)" and then "Eagles (was Balrog
    Flight)". This helps people follow the history of the thread.
    -------

    2. What should I do when replying to an earlier article?
    For example, should I "top post" or "bottom post"?

    First and foremost, make sure to retain the attribution of any
    quoted text, so others know who said the things you are replying to.
    Almost equally important, make sure that you trim the previous post as
    much as possible:

    * If you are replying to one specific comment in the previous
    article, delete all of the previous text except that comment. If
    the comment is at all long, try to trim it down to its essence.
    Type your reply directly beneath the quoted comment.

    * If you are replying to several distinct points individually, quote
    each one as above and type your reply immediately below it (and
    above the next point).

    * If you are replying to a long section that cannot be easily
    trimmed down (for example, an original poem or story), quote only
    its first and last lines (and perhaps put "[snip]" or "..." on a
    line in between the two). If there are particular pieces that
    you want to respond to individually, do so as described above.

    There are two general rules of thumb to follow in connection with
    the above guidelines:

    * Any article you post should have more lines of new text than lines
    of quoted text. It is generally acceptable to ignore this rule
    if the entire post (including basic headers and any signature) is
    short enough to fit on a single 24 line screen.

    * Any comments specifically replying to the previous article should
    come /below/ the relevant part of the previous article. This
    makes reading the article more like reading a conversation, and
    therefore much easier to follow.

    This obviously means that "top posting" is strongly discouraged: it
    forces readers to scroll up and down between the new and old material,
    and it usually involves quoting the entire previous post(s) untrimmed..
    Whether you call our practice "bottom posting", "middle posting", or
    "standard netiquette" is up to you.

    An example of a post that follows these guidelines can be found on
    the web at

    http://tolkien.slimy.com/newsgroups/EssayDiscuss.txt

    This long message (from a discussion of my essay on Tom Bombadil) would
    be all but impossible to follow if the point by point replies were not organized as described above.

    Finally, make sure to keep the subject line up to date, as discussed
    in question II.B.1.
    -------

    3. When should I "cross-post" to multiple newsgroups?

    Generally, you should post an article to the single most appropriate
    group: a question about /The Hobbit/ is more appropriate on rec.arts.books.tolkien than on rec.arts.books. However, there are cases
    when several groups are appropriate: a discussion of the influence of
    Tolkien's faith on his writings could be interesting to readers of both soc.religion.christian.roman-catholic and rec.arts.books.tolkien.
    (Cases in which more than two or three groups are truly appropriate are extremely rare!)

    In such cases, it is almost always better to "cross-post" the
    article to multiple groups than to post separately to each. To do
    this, list all of the relevant groups together on the "Newsgroups:"
    line, separated by commas but /no/ spaces (many posts here list
    "Newsgroups: alt.fan.tolkien,rec.arts.books.tolkien"). Cross-posting
    has several advantages, the most important being that responses to a cross-posted article are also cross-posted. That ensures that everyone involved in the discussion sees every reply.

    Some internet service providers (notably AOL) misguidedly forbid cross-posting, probably because /inappropriate/ cross-posting is very
    bad netiquette and is often used to "spam" many groups at once. If you
    have this problem, it may be better to choose just one "best" group for
    your post than to post separate copies to multiple groups.
    -------

    4. I am able to post my messages with HTML formatting. Should I?

    Generally, no. Many of us use simple text-based programs to read
    news, and posts with HTML formatting can be very difficult to read.
    You can generally turn off this behavior from the "Preferences" or
    "Options" section of your newsreader. For some newsreaders, you will
    need to change more than one setting to completely eliminate this
    behavior.
    -------

    5. If someone insults me or otherwise makes me upset, should I flame
    them back?

    No.

    6. Even if my reputation and honor are at stake?

    Feel free to post any corrections or differences in opinion that you
    feel are necessary. Feel free to indicate that you are hurt, unhappy,
    or insulted because of their comments. But by no means escalate the
    budding flame war, and try your hardest to be polite in your response:
    this tends to get the group's sentiments on your side far better than
    any exchange of name-calling ever could. People are usually fairly
    good at recognizing when someone is being terribly unfair. Yes, it is undoubtedly your right to flame if you want to, but the vast majority
    of the group would be happier if you did not.

    In general, try to give others the benefit of the doubt: with only
    text to go on, it's hard to judge their real intent. Could you have
    misread the insulting lines in their post? Could they have been
    speaking tongue in cheek? Maybe they only meant to tease you, not
    realizing that you would really be insulted. Assuming the worst is a depressing way to live one's life.

    Finally, be particularly careful not to reply to a "troll", someone
    who intentionally fishes for arguments and flames. These people seem
    to take great personal delight in inspiring people to anger or
    indignation; the best reaction to them is generally to ignore them
    altogether.
    -------

    7. Where can I go for more information on netiquette, and on Usenet in
    general?

    One of the best places to start has always been the newsgroup news.announce.newusers. This group is home to a wide range of articles
    that provide introductory information about many aspects of Usenet
    news. Unfortunately, most of these articles are no longer being posted regularly to the group. It may be more effective to read archived
    copies of them at

    ftp://rtfm.mit.edu/pub/usenet/news.announce.newusers/

    Read the "Welcome to Usenet!" article there first.

    The information on netiquette and on Usenet in general in the news.announce.newusers articles remains very relevant today, but those
    articles are several years old. More recent information on similar
    topics can be found at the web sites associated with the news.newusers.questions newsgroup. A list of these sites around the
    world can be found at

    http://users.rcn.com/kateshort/nnq/nnqlinks.html

    (among many other places).

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------ ------------------------------------------------------------------------

    III. DEBATES AND DISCUSSION

    A great many questions about Tolkien and his books arise repeatedly
    on the Tolkien newsgroups. The starting point of each debate is the
    same almost every time, and it takes a long time for the discussion to
    reach "new ground." In the worst cases, bitter and longstanding
    arguments about the basics get in the way before new progress can be
    made at all.

    The purpose of a FAQ is to avoid this problem by setting down the
    basics in a common place so that the discussion can deal with new
    issues from the start. However, it is very difficult to balance the
    need for conciseness with the need for completeness: many debates that repeatedly appear on the Tolkien newsgroups have generated very large
    amounts of "known territory."

    Keep in mind that this FAQ provides only summaries of these debates:
    many of their subtleties are omitted for the sake of brevity. Most of
    these topics have been discussed at length by many intelligent In these
    cases, it is extremely unlikely that any unambiguous "proof" of one
    position exists. With this in mind, try to be respectful toward those
    who disagree with you. To get more information on the usual content of
    common discussions, it is often helpful to browse those discussions
    themselves at the Google Groups Usenet archive (see question IV.A.5 for
    more information).

    Finally, be sure to read question III.A.2, dealing with "canonical"
    texts. This FAQ addresses only the state of Middle-earth after LotR
    was written, which corresponds roughly to the material included in the published /Silmarillion/. Details from earlier versions of the
    mythology will not be discussed in this document (and are generally
    given very limited weight in debates about the later state of the
    mythology).

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------

    III.A. STORY EXTERNAL QUESTIONS

    1. What is the best order in which to read the books?

    This depends on each person's personal preferences. Unless you
    strongly dislike stories written for children, most recommend reading
    /The Hobbit/ first. /The Lord of the Rings/ is certainly next (feel
    free to skip the Prologue if you find it dull, and after the main text
    try to read at least Appendix A.I.v, "The Tale of Aragorn and Arwen").

    If you enjoy any part of the Appendices to LotR, there are things in Tolkien's other books that you are likely to enjoy as well. Most
    suggest reading /The Children of Hurin/, /Unfinished Tales/, /The Silmarillion/, and /The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien/ next, in some order
    (perhaps that one). /The Children of Hurin/ is the only complete novel
    about Middle-earth published after Tolkien's death (although it takes
    place long before the events of LotR, it probably isn't necessary to
    read Silm. first). The stories and essays in UT can be read in any
    order, so the "Third Age" material is a good starting point for those
    coming straight from LotR (the "First Age" stories are excellent, but
    are easier to follow after reading Silm.; the other parts of UT are
    mostly accessible to those who have read LotR and its appendices).
    Many people find the early parts of Silm. slow to read (like a history
    book or the Bible), but it is often a favorite among those who have
    read it. /Letters/ contains insights into both Middle-earth and Tolkien
    as a person.

    For more details (and more books), try getting a personalized
    recommendation from the Custom Tolkien Book List, on the web at

    http://tolkien.slimy.com/books.html

    (This URL redirects to the longer and messier URL of the actual list.)
    -------

    2. What books about Middle-earth are considered "canonical"?

    [I have written an essay on this topic, including general observations
    and my own approach. It is on the web at: http://tolkien.slimy.com/essays/TolkParish.html.]

    As the term is used on the Tolkien newsgroups, a "canonical" text is
    one which is believed to provide authoritative information about
    Middle-earth. This concept is more subtle than it may appear at first
    glance, in part because most of Tolkien's mythology remained incomplete
    when he died. Books or even individual chapters or essays may be
    regarded as more or less "trustworthy" than others, and many people
    reject the idea that there is a single "true" Middle-earth entirely.

    Among those who accept the concept of "canon" to at least some
    degree, almost all agree that /The Lord of the Rings/ is a canonical
    text and most assign equal or near equal weight to /The Hobbit/ (the
    other books about Middle-earth published in Tolkien's lifetime are
    treated similarly). However, due to heavy and unmarked posthumous
    editing, /The Silmarillion/ is considered by many /not/ to be canonical
    (see question III.A.3 for details).

    People put various amounts of trust in the many drafts and essays in /Unfinished Tales/ and the "History of Middle-earth" series. In cases
    where Tolkien's intent seems particularly stable and clear, some trust
    these sources almost as much as /The Hobbit/ and LotR themselves. In
    practice, this means that most of the more trustworthy material is
    found in /Unfinished Tales/ and in volumes X-XII of the HoMe series.
    Opinions on how much to trust /The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien/ are
    mixed, but its contents are generally respected as long as they are not contradicted by other (more canonical) texts. The pictures in /J.R.R.
    Tolkien: Artist and Illustrator/ by Wayne Hammond and Christina Scull
    may also be considered somewhat canonical.

    It is important to note that many aspects of Middle-earth changed substantially over the course of Tolkien's life. Because of this,
    facts taken from the early versions of the mythology can be misleading
    or just plain wrong when used to draw conclusions about LotR or later
    versions of the mythology. This means that while the early versions
    can provide valuable hints about Tolkien's thoughts on an issue, they
    are rarely considered to provide definitive evidence for any position.

    The Custom Tolkien Book List (mentioned in question III.A.1)
    includes my own perspective on the "canonicity" of each section of each
    book in the list. While those are just one person's opinions, they are
    fairly typical. A static version of the list in publication order can
    be found on the web at

    http://tolkien.slimy.com/publist.html

    That static list still contains a link to the customizable version.
    -------

    3. How does /The Silmarillion/ as published differ from what Tolkien
    intended?

    This is a complicated question that is essentially unanswerable:
    despite his lifelong effort, Tolkien never came close to completing
    /The Silmarillion/. At Tolkien's request, after his death his son
    Christopher (with some help from Guy Kay) worked to "bring the work
    into publishable form"; Christopher discusses the difficulties involved
    in the book's Foreword. To understand why /The Silmarillion/ took the
    form that it did (and why it is rarely considered "canonical", as
    mentioned in question III.A.2), it is worth exploring those editorial
    changes. The full story can be found in the "History of Middle-earth"
    books, particularly /Morgoth's Ring/ and /The War of the Jewels/
    (volumes X-XI).

    The most basic editorial decision was which writings to include in
    the book at all. The "Quenta Silmarillion" is of course the central
    text, but Tolkien also wrote numerous associated stories and essays.
    Charles Noad explored this question as part of his essay "On the
    Construction of 'The Silmarillion'" (published in /Tolkien's
    Legendarium/; see question III.A.5), where he suggests an "outline for
    'The Silmarillion' as Tolkien may have intended it". In addition to the
    texts in the published book, Noad includes expanded versions of four
    stories: "The Lay of Leithian" (possibly in poetic form), "Narn i Chin
    Hurin", "The Fall of Gondolin", and "Earendil the Wanderer" (which
    Tolkien never even fully sketched). He also includes five
    "Appendices": writings about Middle-earth and its inhabitants such as
    "Laws and Customs among the Eldar" and the "Athrabeth Finrod ah
    Andreth" (most of these were published in HoMe X-XI). Sadly, a book
    with this outline could never be made satisfying with just the texts
    that Tolkien left us.

    Moving on to the texts that were actually included in /The
    Silmarillion/ as published, there were three types of problems to
    overcome. In the worst cases, there were crucial gaps in the narrative
    where Tolkien had never written more than an outline of the story (or
    where the most recent version was hopelessly outdated). Much more
    frequently, Tolkien's years of revisions led to factual inconsistencies
    between stories written at various times (especially between writings
    before and after /The Lord of the Rings/). And finally, Tolkien's
    writings differed markedly in tone, ranging from vivid narratives to
    terse annals to philosophical essays. To assemble a single text,
    consistent in style and detail, from such a range of source material
    clearly required substantial editing.

    Despite that pessimistic assessment, the vast majority of the
    published /Silmarillion/ is taken directly from Tolkien's work and
    seems to come quite close to what he intended, as far as it goes. (None
    of the "expanded" tales were ever completed, but what exists of them
    can be found for the most part in /Unfinished Tales/, /The Lays of
    Beleriand/, and the other "History of Middle-earth" books mentioned
    above.) Still, mild editing is not uncommon, and can be difficult to
    identify even by comparison to the source texts as published in HoMe.
    Thus, /The Silmarillion/ is often not treated as a final authority in
    scholarly discussions of Middle-earth. (A classic example is its
    mistaken ancestry of Gil-galad, as discussed in question III.B.8.)

    The greatest concern, of course, comes from those few cases where
    large gaps had to be filled by the editors. This happened to some
    extent for "Of Tuor and the Fall of Gondolin" and "Of the Voyage of
    Earendil and the War of Wrath", but the most substantial editorial
    "invention" came in the chapter "Of the Ruin of Doriath". The episode

    [continued in next message]

    --- SoupGate-Win32 v1.05
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  • From Steuard Jensen@21:1/5 to All on Thu Oct 21 23:14:01 2021
    XPost: alt.fan.tolkien

    Posted-By: auto-faq 3.3.1 (Perl 5.020)
    Posting-Frequency: monthly
    URL: http://tolkien.slimy.com/

    TOLKIEN NEWSGROUPS FAQ

    Copyright (C) 1999-2012 by Steuard Jensen

    (Created 17 Aug 1999)
    (Last updated 11 Mar 2012)



    For many years, the Tolkien Usenet newsgroups have been home to a
    pair of excellent Frequently Asked Questions lists about Tolkien and Middle-earth, compiled by William D. B. Loos. These sources contain a
    wealth of information, but are no longer maintained (the last update
    seems to have been in July 1996). This means that quite a few issues
    of current interest to the groups are not fully addressed in those
    documents.

    This FAQ supplements, updates, and expands on the earlier ones,
    though it is not meant to replace them entirely. It includes new and
    corrected information on some of the old discussions, numerous entries
    on topics not covered in the older FAQs, and a broad discussion of the
    Tolkien newsgroups and common standards of netiquette. This FAQ is
    intended both as an introduction for newcomers to the newsgroups and as
    a source of information for anyone exploring Middle-earth.

    The official HTML version of the FAQ is on the web at

    http://tolkien.slimy.com/faq/

    The plain text version is posted to Usenet on the 22nd of each month
    and is also available on the web, at

    http://tolkien.slimy.com/faq/TolkNgFaq.txt

    For a unified and easy to use interface to this FAQ, the Loos FAQs, and
    others, consider visiting the Tolkien Meta-FAQ, at

    http://tolkien.slimy.com/

    I would like to give my sincere thanks to the many, many people on
    the newsgroups and elsewhere who have given criticism, suggestions, and encouragement as I wrote this FAQ. This project would never have
    succeeded without their wonderful support.

    Steuard Jensen
    steuard@slimy.com ------------------------------------------------------------------------ ------------------------------------------------------------------------


    Table of Contents

    Sections/questions marked: * have been revised since the last release
    ** are new since the last release

    I. Changes Since the Last Release *

    II. Newsgroups and Netiquette

    A. Information on the Tolkien Newsgroups
    1. What newsgroups are we talking about again?
    2. Why are there two groups?
    3. Do I have to have a Ph.D. in Tolkienology to post?
    4. What questions and topics are appropriate?
    5. What does a tilde (~) in the subject mean? and
    Is it acceptable to post messages with sexual content?
    6. What common mistakes should I try to avoid?
    7. What do all the abbreviations used on the groups mean?

    B. The Basics of Netiquette
    1. What is the proper subject line for my post?
    2. What should I do when replying to an earlier article?
    For example, should I "top post" or "bottom post"?
    3. When should I "cross-post" to multiple newsgroups?
    4. I am able to post my messages with HTML formatting. Should I?
    5. If someone insults me or otherwise makes me upset, should I
    flame them back?
    6. Even if my reputation and honor are at stake?
    7. Where can I go for more information on netiquette, and on
    Usenet in general?

    III. Debates and Discussion

    A. Story External Questions
    1. What is the best order in which to read the books?
    2. What books about Middle-earth are considered "canonical"?
    3. How does /The Silmarillion/ as published differ from what
    Tolkien intended?
    4. Which are "The Two Towers"?
    5. Which books /about/ Tolkien are good, and which aren't?
    6. Is Middle-earth Medieval?
    7. Was Tolkien racist? Were his works?
    8. Are there electronic versions of Tolkien's books?
    9. Where can I report copyright violations that I observe?

    B. Story Internal Questions: Creatures and Characters
    1. Did Balrogs have wings?
    2. Could Balrogs fly?
    3. What was Tom Bombadil?
    4. Did Elves have pointed ears?
    5. Did Elves have beards?
    6. What happened to Elves after they died?
    7. Was Glorfindel of Rivendell the same as Glorfindel of Gondolin?
    8. Who was Gil-galad's father?
    9. Did Dwarf women have beards?
    10. Was there "telepathy" in Middle-earth?
    11. Did Sauron have a physical form during /The Lord of the
    Rings/? *
    12. What were the names of the Nazgul?
    13. What was Gothmog (the lieutenant of Morgul)?
    14. What was the origin of Orcs?
    15. Were Orcs immortal, and what happened to them after death?
    16. What was the relationship between Orcs and Goblins?
    17. What was the origin of Saruman's Uruk-hai?
    18. What was the origin of Trolls?
    19. What were the giants (seen by Bilbo in /The Hobbit/)?

    C. Story Internal Questions: History and Happenings
    1. Why didn't they just have an Eagle fly the Ring to Mt. Doom?
    2. Were the barrow blades magical? In what way?
    3. Why didn't the Nazgul take the Ring at Weathertop?
    4. Who killed the Witch-king, Merry or Eowyn?
    5. Did Frodo and the other mortals who passed over the Sea
    eventually die?
    6. Did Sam follow Frodo into the West?
    7. What is known about the Blue Wizards?
    8. Who was aware that a Balrog lived in Moria?
    9. Did Elves and Dwarves generally get along?
    10. Where was the Ring when Numenor was destroyed?
    11. Who was the oldest inhabitant of Middle-earth?

    IV. External Resources

    A. Where else can I find general information about Middle-earth?
    1. The Tolkien Meta-FAQ
    2. The Tolkien FAQ and LessFAQ
    3. The "FAQ of the Rings"
    4. The Letters FAQ
    5. Google's Usenet archive

    B. Where can I learn more about Tolkien's languages?

    C. Stories of Middle-earth in many forms
    1. What editions of Tolkien's books are best?
    2. What audio versions of Tolkien's books are available?
    3. What is the groups' view of the recent /Lord of the Rings/
    movies?
    4. Where can I find out about music related to Middle-earth?

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------ ------------------------------------------------------------------------

    I. CHANGES SINCE THE LAST RELEASE

    Adjusted wording of question III.B.11 about Sauron's physical form
    to emphasize the relevance of the evidence to the period of LotR.

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------ ------------------------------------------------------------------------

    II. NEWSGROUPS AND NETIQUETTE

    When discussing Tolkien (or anything else) online, it is important
    to know at least a little about the "culture" of the discussion forum
    that you are participating in. The information in this section is
    intended to give an idea of "appropriate" behavior on the Tolkien
    Usenet newsgroups. To make our discussions as enjoyable as possible,
    every participant should try to be familiar with what follows.

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------

    II.A. INFORMATION ON THE TOLKIEN NEWSGROUPS

    1. What newsgroups are we talking about again?

    There are several Usenet newsgroups specific to Tolkien and his
    works. However, the two most widely read and distributed of these are rec.arts.books.tolkien and alt.fan.tolkien, commonly abbreviated either
    r.a.b.t or RABT and a.f.t or AFT, respectively.

    The official rec.arts.books.tolkien charter can be found at

    http://tolkien.slimy.com/newsgroups/RABTcharter.txt

    Alt.fan.tolkien does not have a formal charter.
    -------

    2. Why are there two groups?

    Originally, AFT was the only Tolkien newsgroup on Usenet. RABT was
    created (when the approval vote passed on 26 Mar 1993) as a replacement
    for AFT which would be carried by a larger fraction of news servers.
    However, AFT was never removed, and both groups currently enjoy
    substantial readership. While only RABT has a formal charter (see
    question II.A.1 for reference), the two groups are virtually identical
    in intended content.

    Many participants see a tendency for RABT to be somewhat more
    "scholarly" in tone while AFT is a bit more "conversational", and some
    suggest that this distinction is useful and should be encouraged.
    Other participants draw less of a distinction between the two groups,
    and often believe that a difference in focus would be both undesirable
    and impossible to achieve. In practice, everyone decides for
    themselves how they want to treat the two groups, and most people
    generally don't complain one way or the other.
    -------

    3. Do I have to have a Ph.D. in Tolkienology to post?

    By no means! People with any amount of Tolkien "lore" are welcome
    to participate. It is advisable, however, to have read /The Hobbit/
    and /The Lord of the Rings/ before spending much time here, as
    otherwise you run the risk of many, many spoilers for both books.

    When you do participate in discussions, just use whatever Tolkien
    knowledge you have: you can have great ideas regardless of how much
    you've read. Occasionally, others will cite sources (often obscure but
    just as often authoritative) that weaken or disprove your arguments.
    When this happens (as it does to every one of us), nobody will think
    less of you for not knowing the reference; treat it as a chance to
    learn something new about Middle-earth.
    -------

    4. What questions and topics are appropriate?

    Virtually any topic related (even distantly) to Tolkien and his
    works is fair game. If you post a purely "factual" question (like "How
    many Ringwraiths were there?"), it's a good idea to explain why you're
    asking: we periodically see questions from students who hope we will do
    their homework for them, and the last thing we want to do is help
    people to avoid reading the books!

    It is appreciated if articles that have absolutely nothing to do
    with Tolkien have subject lines beginning with "OT:" ("Off Topic"). The
    Tolkien newsgroups are a sufficiently social community that threads
    often do drift away from their initial topics, and while this should
    not be discouraged, it is polite to label it when it happens. On the
    other hand, off topic discussions that get too intense or go on too
    long can interfere with others' enjoyment of the groups, and should be
    avoided.

    Binary files, such as images or sounds, are NEVER appropriate in a non-binaries newsgroup. To share a binary file with people in the
    Tolkien groups, you have two main options. One is to find an
    appropriate newsgroup in the alt.binaries.* hierarchy, post the file
    there, and then post a message here telling us where to look. Another
    (more common) method is to put the file on the Web and post the URL on
    the newsgroups.
    -------

    5. What does a tilde (~) in the subject mean? and
    Is it acceptable to post messages with sexual content?

    Articles posted to these newsgroups occasionally contain comments
    that some consider inappropriate for younger readers. After much
    discussion, most participants agreed to mark messages with /sexual/
    content with a tilde in the subject line. Individuals can then create
    killfiles to screen out such messages as desired. While not everyone
    agrees that such a system is beneficial, following this convention is
    the polite thing to do. The newsgroup charter recommends the use of
    ROT-13 "encryption" for this purpose, but this has become less common.
    -------

    6. What common mistakes should I try to avoid?

    By and large, the participants in the Tolkien newsgroups try to
    judge others based on their ideas rather than on details of grammar and
    posting style. However, there are a few types of simple mistakes that
    tend to cause some level of bias and annoyance among many group
    members, which in turn can distract them from your real message. Most
    of these are covered in the "Netiquette" section below.

    One common mistake of this type that is not related to netiquette is confusing the singular and plural forms of common Elvish words. On the
    Tolkien newsgroups, these words are so familiar that the phrase "Manwe
    is a Valar" sounds just as jarring and strange as "Finrod is an Elves."
    To reduce this problem, a list of some of the most commonly confused singular/plural pairs is given below. Note the patterns!

    Singular: Vala Maia Elda Noldo Teler Istar Adan
    Plural: Valar Maiar Eldar Noldor Teleri Istari Edain

    Another issue that arises periodically is whether or not /The Lord
    of the Rings/ should be referred to as a "trilogy". Tolkien said quite
    clearly in Letter #165 that "The book is /not/ of course a 'trilogy'",
    and some people make a point of correcting those who use the term.
    However, in Letter #252, Tolkien himself refers to "my trilogy", so
    most of us agree that using the term is an acceptable shorthand, if
    nothing else.
    -------

    7. What do all the abbreviations used on the groups mean?

    [More abbreviations can be found in section IV of the Tolkien FAQ.]

    Some names and phrases come up so frequently on the Tolkien
    newsgroups that they are often abbreviated for convenience. A few of
    the very most common are defined below; these definitions are excerpted
    from Sir Confused-a-Lot's old AFT Glossary, now online at

    http://silenceisdefeat.com/~aft-rabt/glossary/

    JRRT: John Ronald Reuel Tolkien
    ME: Middle-earth
    LotR: /The Lord of the Rings/
    FotR: /The Fellowship of the Ring/
    TT: /The Two Towers/
    RotK: /The Return of the King/
    Silm.: /The Silmarillion/
    UT: /Unfinished Tales/
    HoMe: the "History of Middle-earth" series
    Letters: /The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien/
    Narn: The "Narn I Hin Hurin" in UT
    Athrabeth: The "Athrabeth Finrod Ah Andreth" in /Morgoth's Ring/

    NG: Newsgroup
    TEUNC: "Tolkien Eccentric Unusual Nut Cases", an eGroup of
    Tolkien fans, some of whom frequent the newsgroups
    LOL: Laughing Out Loud
    ROTFL: Rolling On The Floor Laughing

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------

    II.B. THE BASICS OF NETIQUETTE

    1. What is the proper subject line for my post?

    Make sure that the "Subject:" line of your post matches the topic
    that you are discussing. Be concise, but specific: subject lines such
    as "The Lord of the Rings" or "Tolkien" give no useful information
    about the contents of your post. Note that this does not only apply to
    the first post in a thread: if you see that the subject line no longer
    matches the topic of a thread, change it when you reply! Also, follow
    the "OT:" convention for off-topic posts (mentioned in question II.A.4
    above).

    When you do change the subject line, it is polite to indicate the
    subject of the previous post. For example, "Balrog Wings" might become
    "Balrog Flight (was Balrog Wings)" and then "Eagles (was Balrog
    Flight)". This helps people follow the history of the thread.
    -------

    2. What should I do when replying to an earlier article?
    For example, should I "top post" or "bottom post"?

    First and foremost, make sure to retain the attribution of any
    quoted text, so others know who said the things you are replying to.
    Almost equally important, make sure that you trim the previous post as
    much as possible:

    * If you are replying to one specific comment in the previous
    article, delete all of the previous text except that comment. If
    the comment is at all long, try to trim it down to its essence.
    Type your reply directly beneath the quoted comment.

    * If you are replying to several distinct points individually, quote
    each one as above and type your reply immediately below it (and
    above the next point).

    * If you are replying to a long section that cannot be easily
    trimmed down (for example, an original poem or story), quote only
    its first and last lines (and perhaps put "[snip]" or "..." on a
    line in between the two). If there are particular pieces that
    you want to respond to individually, do so as described above.

    There are two general rules of thumb to follow in connection with
    the above guidelines:

    * Any article you post should have more lines of new text than lines
    of quoted text. It is generally acceptable to ignore this rule
    if the entire post (including basic headers and any signature) is
    short enough to fit on a single 24 line screen.

    * Any comments specifically replying to the previous article should
    come /below/ the relevant part of the previous article. This
    makes reading the article more like reading a conversation, and
    therefore much easier to follow.

    This obviously means that "top posting" is strongly discouraged: it
    forces readers to scroll up and down between the new and old material,
    and it usually involves quoting the entire previous post(s) untrimmed..
    Whether you call our practice "bottom posting", "middle posting", or
    "standard netiquette" is up to you.

    An example of a post that follows these guidelines can be found on
    the web at

    http://tolkien.slimy.com/newsgroups/EssayDiscuss.txt

    This long message (from a discussion of my essay on Tom Bombadil) would
    be all but impossible to follow if the point by point replies were not organized as described above.

    Finally, make sure to keep the subject line up to date, as discussed
    in question II.B.1.
    -------

    3. When should I "cross-post" to multiple newsgroups?

    Generally, you should post an article to the single most appropriate
    group: a question about /The Hobbit/ is more appropriate on rec.arts.books.tolkien than on rec.arts.books. However, there are cases
    when several groups are appropriate: a discussion of the influence of
    Tolkien's faith on his writings could be interesting to readers of both soc.religion.christian.roman-catholic and rec.arts.books.tolkien.
    (Cases in which more than two or three groups are truly appropriate are extremely rare!)

    In such cases, it is almost always better to "cross-post" the
    article to multiple groups than to post separately to each. To do
    this, list all of the relevant groups together on the "Newsgroups:"
    line, separated by commas but /no/ spaces (many posts here list
    "Newsgroups: alt.fan.tolkien,rec.arts.books.tolkien"). Cross-posting
    has several advantages, the most important being that responses to a cross-posted article are also cross-posted. That ensures that everyone involved in the discussion sees every reply.

    Some internet service providers (notably AOL) misguidedly forbid cross-posting, probably because /inappropriate/ cross-posting is very
    bad netiquette and is often used to "spam" many groups at once. If you
    have this problem, it may be better to choose just one "best" group for
    your post than to post separate copies to multiple groups.
    -------

    4. I am able to post my messages with HTML formatting. Should I?

    Generally, no. Many of us use simple text-based programs to read
    news, and posts with HTML formatting can be very difficult to read.
    You can generally turn off this behavior from the "Preferences" or
    "Options" section of your newsreader. For some newsreaders, you will
    need to change more than one setting to completely eliminate this
    behavior.
    -------

    5. If someone insults me or otherwise makes me upset, should I flame
    them back?

    No.

    6. Even if my reputation and honor are at stake?

    Feel free to post any corrections or differences in opinion that you
    feel are necessary. Feel free to indicate that you are hurt, unhappy,
    or insulted because of their comments. But by no means escalate the
    budding flame war, and try your hardest to be polite in your response:
    this tends to get the group's sentiments on your side far better than
    any exchange of name-calling ever could. People are usually fairly
    good at recognizing when someone is being terribly unfair. Yes, it is undoubtedly your right to flame if you want to, but the vast majority
    of the group would be happier if you did not.

    In general, try to give others the benefit of the doubt: with only
    text to go on, it's hard to judge their real intent. Could you have
    misread the insulting lines in their post? Could they have been
    speaking tongue in cheek? Maybe they only meant to tease you, not
    realizing that you would really be insulted. Assuming the worst is a depressing way to live one's life.

    Finally, be particularly careful not to reply to a "troll", someone
    who intentionally fishes for arguments and flames. These people seem
    to take great personal delight in inspiring people to anger or
    indignation; the best reaction to them is generally to ignore them
    altogether.
    -------

    7. Where can I go for more information on netiquette, and on Usenet in
    general?

    One of the best places to start has always been the newsgroup news.announce.newusers. This group is home to a wide range of articles
    that provide introductory information about many aspects of Usenet
    news. Unfortunately, most of these articles are no longer being posted regularly to the group. It may be more effective to read archived
    copies of them at

    ftp://rtfm.mit.edu/pub/usenet/news.announce.newusers/

    Read the "Welcome to Usenet!" article there first.

    The information on netiquette and on Usenet in general in the news.announce.newusers articles remains very relevant today, but those
    articles are several years old. More recent information on similar
    topics can be found at the web sites associated with the news.newusers.questions newsgroup. A list of these sites around the
    world can be found at

    http://users.rcn.com/kateshort/nnq/nnqlinks.html

    (among many other places).

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------ ------------------------------------------------------------------------

    III. DEBATES AND DISCUSSION

    A great many questions about Tolkien and his books arise repeatedly
    on the Tolkien newsgroups. The starting point of each debate is the
    same almost every time, and it takes a long time for the discussion to
    reach "new ground." In the worst cases, bitter and longstanding
    arguments about the basics get in the way before new progress can be
    made at all.

    The purpose of a FAQ is to avoid this problem by setting down the
    basics in a common place so that the discussion can deal with new
    issues from the start. However, it is very difficult to balance the
    need for conciseness with the need for completeness: many debates that repeatedly appear on the Tolkien newsgroups have generated very large
    amounts of "known territory."

    Keep in mind that this FAQ provides only summaries of these debates:
    many of their subtleties are omitted for the sake of brevity. Most of
    these topics have been discussed at length by many intelligent In these
    cases, it is extremely unlikely that any unambiguous "proof" of one
    position exists. With this in mind, try to be respectful toward those
    who disagree with you. To get more information on the usual content of
    common discussions, it is often helpful to browse those discussions
    themselves at the Google Groups Usenet archive (see question IV.A.5 for
    more information).

    Finally, be sure to read question III.A.2, dealing with "canonical"
    texts. This FAQ addresses only the state of Middle-earth after LotR
    was written, which corresponds roughly to the material included in the published /Silmarillion/. Details from earlier versions of the
    mythology will not be discussed in this document (and are generally
    given very limited weight in debates about the later state of the
    mythology).

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------

    III.A. STORY EXTERNAL QUESTIONS

    1. What is the best order in which to read the books?

    This depends on each person's personal preferences. Unless you
    strongly dislike stories written for children, most recommend reading
    /The Hobbit/ first. /The Lord of the Rings/ is certainly next (feel
    free to skip the Prologue if you find it dull, and after the main text
    try to read at least Appendix A.I.v, "The Tale of Aragorn and Arwen").

    If you enjoy any part of the Appendices to LotR, there are things in Tolkien's other books that you are likely to enjoy as well. Most
    suggest reading /The Children of Hurin/, /Unfinished Tales/, /The Silmarillion/, and /The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien/ next, in some order
    (perhaps that one). /The Children of Hurin/ is the only complete novel
    about Middle-earth published after Tolkien's death (although it takes
    place long before the events of LotR, it probably isn't necessary to
    read Silm. first). The stories and essays in UT can be read in any
    order, so the "Third Age" material is a good starting point for those
    coming straight from LotR (the "First Age" stories are excellent, but
    are easier to follow after reading Silm.; the other parts of UT are
    mostly accessible to those who have read LotR and its appendices).
    Many people find the early parts of Silm. slow to read (like a history
    book or the Bible), but it is often a favorite among those who have
    read it. /Letters/ contains insights into both Middle-earth and Tolkien
    as a person.

    For more details (and more books), try getting a personalized
    recommendation from the Custom Tolkien Book List, on the web at

    http://tolkien.slimy.com/books.html

    (This URL redirects to the longer and messier URL of the actual list.)
    -------

    2. What books about Middle-earth are considered "canonical"?

    [I have written an essay on this topic, including general observations
    and my own approach. It is on the web at: http://tolkien.slimy.com/essays/TolkParish.html.]

    As the term is used on the Tolkien newsgroups, a "canonical" text is
    one which is believed to provide authoritative information about
    Middle-earth. This concept is more subtle than it may appear at first
    glance, in part because most of Tolkien's mythology remained incomplete
    when he died. Books or even individual chapters or essays may be
    regarded as more or less "trustworthy" than others, and many people
    reject the idea that there is a single "true" Middle-earth entirely.

    Among those who accept the concept of "canon" to at least some
    degree, almost all agree that /The Lord of the Rings/ is a canonical
    text and most assign equal or near equal weight to /The Hobbit/ (the
    other books about Middle-earth published in Tolkien's lifetime are
    treated similarly). However, due to heavy and unmarked posthumous
    editing, /The Silmarillion/ is considered by many /not/ to be canonical
    (see question III.A.3 for details).

    People put various amounts of trust in the many drafts and essays in /Unfinished Tales/ and the "History of Middle-earth" series. In cases
    where Tolkien's intent seems particularly stable and clear, some trust
    these sources almost as much as /The Hobbit/ and LotR themselves. In
    practice, this means that most of the more trustworthy material is
    found in /Unfinished Tales/ and in volumes X-XII of the HoMe series.
    Opinions on how much to trust /The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien/ are
    mixed, but its contents are generally respected as long as they are not contradicted by other (more canonical) texts. The pictures in /J.R.R.
    Tolkien: Artist and Illustrator/ by Wayne Hammond and Christina Scull
    may also be considered somewhat canonical.

    It is important to note that many aspects of Middle-earth changed substantially over the course of Tolkien's life. Because of this,
    facts taken from the early versions of the mythology can be misleading
    or just plain wrong when used to draw conclusions about LotR or later
    versions of the mythology. This means that while the early versions
    can provide valuable hints about Tolkien's thoughts on an issue, they
    are rarely considered to provide definitive evidence for any position.

    The Custom Tolkien Book List (mentioned in question III.A.1)
    includes my own perspective on the "canonicity" of each section of each
    book in the list. While those are just one person's opinions, they are
    fairly typical. A static version of the list in publication order can
    be found on the web at

    http://tolkien.slimy.com/publist.html

    That static list still contains a link to the customizable version.
    -------

    3. How does /The Silmarillion/ as published differ from what Tolkien
    intended?

    This is a complicated question that is essentially unanswerable:
    despite his lifelong effort, Tolkien never came close to completing
    /The Silmarillion/. At Tolkien's request, after his death his son
    Christopher (with some help from Guy Kay) worked to "bring the work
    into publishable form"; Christopher discusses the difficulties involved
    in the book's Foreword. To understand why /The Silmarillion/ took the
    form that it did (and why it is rarely considered "canonical", as
    mentioned in question III.A.2), it is worth exploring those editorial
    changes. The full story can be found in the "History of Middle-earth"
    books, particularly /Morgoth's Ring/ and /The War of the Jewels/
    (volumes X-XI).

    The most basic editorial decision was which writings to include in
    the book at all. The "Quenta Silmarillion" is of course the central
    text, but Tolkien also wrote numerous associated stories and essays.
    Charles Noad explored this question as part of his essay "On the
    Construction of 'The Silmarillion'" (published in /Tolkien's
    Legendarium/; see question III.A.5), where he suggests an "outline for
    'The Silmarillion' as Tolkien may have intended it". In addition to the
    texts in the published book, Noad includes expanded versions of four
    stories: "The Lay of Leithian" (possibly in poetic form), "Narn i Chin
    Hurin", "The Fall of Gondolin", and "Earendil the Wanderer" (which
    Tolkien never even fully sketched). He also includes five
    "Appendices": writings about Middle-earth and its inhabitants such as
    "Laws and Customs among the Eldar" and the "Athrabeth Finrod ah
    Andreth" (most of these were published in HoMe X-XI). Sadly, a book
    with this outline could never be made satisfying with just the texts
    that Tolkien left us.

    Moving on to the texts that were actually included in /The
    Silmarillion/ as published, there were three types of problems to
    overcome. In the worst cases, there were crucial gaps in the narrative
    where Tolkien had never written more than an outline of the story (or
    where the most recent version was hopelessly outdated). Much more
    frequently, Tolkien's years of revisions led to factual inconsistencies
    between stories written at various times (especially between writings
    before and after /The Lord of the Rings/). And finally, Tolkien's
    writings differed markedly in tone, ranging from vivid narratives to
    terse annals to philosophical essays. To assemble a single text,
    consistent in style and detail, from such a range of source material
    clearly required substantial editing.

    Despite that pessimistic assessment, the vast majority of the
    published /Silmarillion/ is taken directly from Tolkien's work and
    seems to come quite close to what he intended, as far as it goes. (None
    of the "expanded" tales were ever completed, but what exists of them
    can be found for the most part in /Unfinished Tales/, /The Lays of
    Beleriand/, and the other "History of Middle-earth" books mentioned
    above.) Still, mild editing is not uncommon, and can be difficult to
    identify even by comparison to the source texts as published in HoMe.
    Thus, /The Silmarillion/ is often not treated as a final authority in
    scholarly discussions of Middle-earth. (A classic example is its
    mistaken ancestry of Gil-galad, as discussed in question III.B.8.)

    The greatest concern, of course, comes from those few cases where
    large gaps had to be filled by the editors. This happened to some
    extent for "Of Tuor and the Fall of Gondolin" and "Of the Voyage of
    Earendil and the War of Wrath", but the most substantial editorial
    "invention" came in the chapter "Of the Ruin of Doriath". The episode

    [continued in next message]

    --- SoupGate-Win32 v1.05
    * Origin: fsxNet Usenet Gateway (21:1/5)
  • From Steuard Jensen@21:1/5 to All on Sun Nov 21 22:14:01 2021
    XPost: alt.fan.tolkien

    Posted-By: auto-faq 3.3.1 (Perl 5.020)
    Posting-Frequency: monthly
    URL: http://tolkien.slimy.com/

    TOLKIEN NEWSGROUPS FAQ

    Copyright (C) 1999-2012 by Steuard Jensen

    (Created 17 Aug 1999)
    (Last updated 11 Mar 2012)



    For many years, the Tolkien Usenet newsgroups have been home to a
    pair of excellent Frequently Asked Questions lists about Tolkien and Middle-earth, compiled by William D. B. Loos. These sources contain a
    wealth of information, but are no longer maintained (the last update
    seems to have been in July 1996). This means that quite a few issues
    of current interest to the groups are not fully addressed in those
    documents.

    This FAQ supplements, updates, and expands on the earlier ones,
    though it is not meant to replace them entirely. It includes new and
    corrected information on some of the old discussions, numerous entries
    on topics not covered in the older FAQs, and a broad discussion of the
    Tolkien newsgroups and common standards of netiquette. This FAQ is
    intended both as an introduction for newcomers to the newsgroups and as
    a source of information for anyone exploring Middle-earth.

    The official HTML version of the FAQ is on the web at

    http://tolkien.slimy.com/faq/

    The plain text version is posted to Usenet on the 22nd of each month
    and is also available on the web, at

    http://tolkien.slimy.com/faq/TolkNgFaq.txt

    For a unified and easy to use interface to this FAQ, the Loos FAQs, and
    others, consider visiting the Tolkien Meta-FAQ, at

    http://tolkien.slimy.com/

    I would like to give my sincere thanks to the many, many people on
    the newsgroups and elsewhere who have given criticism, suggestions, and encouragement as I wrote this FAQ. This project would never have
    succeeded without their wonderful support.

    Steuard Jensen
    steuard@slimy.com ------------------------------------------------------------------------ ------------------------------------------------------------------------


    Table of Contents

    Sections/questions marked: * have been revised since the last release
    ** are new since the last release

    I. Changes Since the Last Release *

    II. Newsgroups and Netiquette

    A. Information on the Tolkien Newsgroups
    1. What newsgroups are we talking about again?
    2. Why are there two groups?
    3. Do I have to have a Ph.D. in Tolkienology to post?
    4. What questions and topics are appropriate?
    5. What does a tilde (~) in the subject mean? and
    Is it acceptable to post messages with sexual content?
    6. What common mistakes should I try to avoid?
    7. What do all the abbreviations used on the groups mean?

    B. The Basics of Netiquette
    1. What is the proper subject line for my post?
    2. What should I do when replying to an earlier article?
    For example, should I "top post" or "bottom post"?
    3. When should I "cross-post" to multiple newsgroups?
    4. I am able to post my messages with HTML formatting. Should I?
    5. If someone insults me or otherwise makes me upset, should I
    flame them back?
    6. Even if my reputation and honor are at stake?
    7. Where can I go for more information on netiquette, and on
    Usenet in general?

    III. Debates and Discussion

    A. Story External Questions
    1. What is the best order in which to read the books?
    2. What books about Middle-earth are considered "canonical"?
    3. How does /The Silmarillion/ as published differ from what
    Tolkien intended?
    4. Which are "The Two Towers"?
    5. Which books /about/ Tolkien are good, and which aren't?
    6. Is Middle-earth Medieval?
    7. Was Tolkien racist? Were his works?
    8. Are there electronic versions of Tolkien's books?
    9. Where can I report copyright violations that I observe?

    B. Story Internal Questions: Creatures and Characters
    1. Did Balrogs have wings?
    2. Could Balrogs fly?
    3. What was Tom Bombadil?
    4. Did Elves have pointed ears?
    5. Did Elves have beards?
    6. What happened to Elves after they died?
    7. Was Glorfindel of Rivendell the same as Glorfindel of Gondolin?
    8. Who was Gil-galad's father?
    9. Did Dwarf women have beards?
    10. Was there "telepathy" in Middle-earth?
    11. Did Sauron have a physical form during /The Lord of the
    Rings/? *
    12. What were the names of the Nazgul?
    13. What was Gothmog (the lieutenant of Morgul)?
    14. What was the origin of Orcs?
    15. Were Orcs immortal, and what happened to them after death?
    16. What was the relationship between Orcs and Goblins?
    17. What was the origin of Saruman's Uruk-hai?
    18. What was the origin of Trolls?
    19. What were the giants (seen by Bilbo in /The Hobbit/)?

    C. Story Internal Questions: History and Happenings
    1. Why didn't they just have an Eagle fly the Ring to Mt. Doom?
    2. Were the barrow blades magical? In what way?
    3. Why didn't the Nazgul take the Ring at Weathertop?
    4. Who killed the Witch-king, Merry or Eowyn?
    5. Did Frodo and the other mortals who passed over the Sea
    eventually die?
    6. Did Sam follow Frodo into the West?
    7. What is known about the Blue Wizards?
    8. Who was aware that a Balrog lived in Moria?
    9. Did Elves and Dwarves generally get along?
    10. Where was the Ring when Numenor was destroyed?
    11. Who was the oldest inhabitant of Middle-earth?

    IV. External Resources

    A. Where else can I find general information about Middle-earth?
    1. The Tolkien Meta-FAQ
    2. The Tolkien FAQ and LessFAQ
    3. The "FAQ of the Rings"
    4. The Letters FAQ
    5. Google's Usenet archive

    B. Where can I learn more about Tolkien's languages?

    C. Stories of Middle-earth in many forms
    1. What editions of Tolkien's books are best?
    2. What audio versions of Tolkien's books are available?
    3. What is the groups' view of the recent /Lord of the Rings/
    movies?
    4. Where can I find out about music related to Middle-earth?

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------ ------------------------------------------------------------------------

    I. CHANGES SINCE THE LAST RELEASE

    Adjusted wording of question III.B.11 about Sauron's physical form
    to emphasize the relevance of the evidence to the period of LotR.

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------ ------------------------------------------------------------------------

    II. NEWSGROUPS AND NETIQUETTE

    When discussing Tolkien (or anything else) online, it is important
    to know at least a little about the "culture" of the discussion forum
    that you are participating in. The information in this section is
    intended to give an idea of "appropriate" behavior on the Tolkien
    Usenet newsgroups. To make our discussions as enjoyable as possible,
    every participant should try to be familiar with what follows.

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------

    II.A. INFORMATION ON THE TOLKIEN NEWSGROUPS

    1. What newsgroups are we talking about again?

    There are several Usenet newsgroups specific to Tolkien and his
    works. However, the two most widely read and distributed of these are rec.arts.books.tolkien and alt.fan.tolkien, commonly abbreviated either
    r.a.b.t or RABT and a.f.t or AFT, respectively.

    The official rec.arts.books.tolkien charter can be found at

    http://tolkien.slimy.com/newsgroups/RABTcharter.txt

    Alt.fan.tolkien does not have a formal charter.
    -------

    2. Why are there two groups?

    Originally, AFT was the only Tolkien newsgroup on Usenet. RABT was
    created (when the approval vote passed on 26 Mar 1993) as a replacement
    for AFT which would be carried by a larger fraction of news servers.
    However, AFT was never removed, and both groups currently enjoy
    substantial readership. While only RABT has a formal charter (see
    question II.A.1 for reference), the two groups are virtually identical
    in intended content.

    Many participants see a tendency for RABT to be somewhat more
    "scholarly" in tone while AFT is a bit more "conversational", and some
    suggest that this distinction is useful and should be encouraged.
    Other participants draw less of a distinction between the two groups,
    and often believe that a difference in focus would be both undesirable
    and impossible to achieve. In practice, everyone decides for
    themselves how they want to treat the two groups, and most people
    generally don't complain one way or the other.
    -------

    3. Do I have to have a Ph.D. in Tolkienology to post?

    By no means! People with any amount of Tolkien "lore" are welcome
    to participate. It is advisable, however, to have read /The Hobbit/
    and /The Lord of the Rings/ before spending much time here, as
    otherwise you run the risk of many, many spoilers for both books.

    When you do participate in discussions, just use whatever Tolkien
    knowledge you have: you can have great ideas regardless of how much
    you've read. Occasionally, others will cite sources (often obscure but
    just as often authoritative) that weaken or disprove your arguments.
    When this happens (as it does to every one of us), nobody will think
    less of you for not knowing the reference; treat it as a chance to
    learn something new about Middle-earth.
    -------

    4. What questions and topics are appropriate?

    Virtually any topic related (even distantly) to Tolkien and his
    works is fair game. If you post a purely "factual" question (like "How
    many Ringwraiths were there?"), it's a good idea to explain why you're
    asking: we periodically see questions from students who hope we will do
    their homework for them, and the last thing we want to do is help
    people to avoid reading the books!

    It is appreciated if articles that have absolutely nothing to do
    with Tolkien have subject lines beginning with "OT:" ("Off Topic"). The
    Tolkien newsgroups are a sufficiently social community that threads
    often do drift away from their initial topics, and while this should
    not be discouraged, it is polite to label it when it happens. On the
    other hand, off topic discussions that get too intense or go on too
    long can interfere with others' enjoyment of the groups, and should be
    avoided.

    Binary files, such as images or sounds, are NEVER appropriate in a non-binaries newsgroup. To share a binary file with people in the
    Tolkien groups, you have two main options. One is to find an
    appropriate newsgroup in the alt.binaries.* hierarchy, post the file
    there, and then post a message here telling us where to look. Another
    (more common) method is to put the file on the Web and post the URL on
    the newsgroups.
    -------

    5. What does a tilde (~) in the subject mean? and
    Is it acceptable to post messages with sexual content?

    Articles posted to these newsgroups occasionally contain comments
    that some consider inappropriate for younger readers. After much
    discussion, most participants agreed to mark messages with /sexual/
    content with a tilde in the subject line. Individuals can then create
    killfiles to screen out such messages as desired. While not everyone
    agrees that such a system is beneficial, following this convention is
    the polite thing to do. The newsgroup charter recommends the use of
    ROT-13 "encryption" for this purpose, but this has become less common.
    -------

    6. What common mistakes should I try to avoid?

    By and large, the participants in the Tolkien newsgroups try to
    judge others based on their ideas rather than on details of grammar and
    posting style. However, there are a few types of simple mistakes that
    tend to cause some level of bias and annoyance among many group
    members, which in turn can distract them from your real message. Most
    of these are covered in the "Netiquette" section below.

    One common mistake of this type that is not related to netiquette is confusing the singular and plural forms of common Elvish words. On the
    Tolkien newsgroups, these words are so familiar that the phrase "Manwe
    is a Valar" sounds just as jarring and strange as "Finrod is an Elves."
    To reduce this problem, a list of some of the most commonly confused singular/plural pairs is given below. Note the patterns!

    Singular: Vala Maia Elda Noldo Teler Istar Adan
    Plural: Valar Maiar Eldar Noldor Teleri Istari Edain

    Another issue that arises periodically is whether or not /The Lord
    of the Rings/ should be referred to as a "trilogy". Tolkien said quite
    clearly in Letter #165 that "The book is /not/ of course a 'trilogy'",
    and some people make a point of correcting those who use the term.
    However, in Letter #252, Tolkien himself refers to "my trilogy", so
    most of us agree that using the term is an acceptable shorthand, if
    nothing else.
    -------

    7. What do all the abbreviations used on the groups mean?

    [More abbreviations can be found in section IV of the Tolkien FAQ.]

    Some names and phrases come up so frequently on the Tolkien
    newsgroups that they are often abbreviated for convenience. A few of
    the very most common are defined below; these definitions are excerpted
    from Sir Confused-a-Lot's old AFT Glossary, now online at

    http://silenceisdefeat.com/~aft-rabt/glossary/

    JRRT: John Ronald Reuel Tolkien
    ME: Middle-earth
    LotR: /The Lord of the Rings/
    FotR: /The Fellowship of the Ring/
    TT: /The Two Towers/
    RotK: /The Return of the King/
    Silm.: /The Silmarillion/
    UT: /Unfinished Tales/
    HoMe: the "History of Middle-earth" series
    Letters: /The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien/
    Narn: The "Narn I Hin Hurin" in UT
    Athrabeth: The "Athrabeth Finrod Ah Andreth" in /Morgoth's Ring/

    NG: Newsgroup
    TEUNC: "Tolkien Eccentric Unusual Nut Cases", an eGroup of
    Tolkien fans, some of whom frequent the newsgroups
    LOL: Laughing Out Loud
    ROTFL: Rolling On The Floor Laughing

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------

    II.B. THE BASICS OF NETIQUETTE

    1. What is the proper subject line for my post?

    Make sure that the "Subject:" line of your post matches the topic
    that you are discussing. Be concise, but specific: subject lines such
    as "The Lord of the Rings" or "Tolkien" give no useful information
    about the contents of your post. Note that this does not only apply to
    the first post in a thread: if you see that the subject line no longer
    matches the topic of a thread, change it when you reply! Also, follow
    the "OT:" convention for off-topic posts (mentioned in question II.A.4
    above).

    When you do change the subject line, it is polite to indicate the
    subject of the previous post. For example, "Balrog Wings" might become
    "Balrog Flight (was Balrog Wings)" and then "Eagles (was Balrog
    Flight)". This helps people follow the history of the thread.
    -------

    2. What should I do when replying to an earlier article?
    For example, should I "top post" or "bottom post"?

    First and foremost, make sure to retain the attribution of any
    quoted text, so others know who said the things you are replying to.
    Almost equally important, make sure that you trim the previous post as
    much as possible:

    * If you are replying to one specific comment in the previous
    article, delete all of the previous text except that comment. If
    the comment is at all long, try to trim it down to its essence.
    Type your reply directly beneath the quoted comment.

    * If you are replying to several distinct points individually, quote
    each one as above and type your reply immediately below it (and
    above the next point).

    * If you are replying to a long section that cannot be easily
    trimmed down (for example, an original poem or story), quote only
    its first and last lines (and perhaps put "[snip]" or "..." on a
    line in between the two). If there are particular pieces that
    you want to respond to individually, do so as described above.

    There are two general rules of thumb to follow in connection with
    the above guidelines:

    * Any article you post should have more lines of new text than lines
    of quoted text. It is generally acceptable to ignore this rule
    if the entire post (including basic headers and any signature) is
    short enough to fit on a single 24 line screen.

    * Any comments specifically replying to the previous article should
    come /below/ the relevant part of the previous article. This
    makes reading the article more like reading a conversation, and
    therefore much easier to follow.

    This obviously means that "top posting" is strongly discouraged: it
    forces readers to scroll up and down between the new and old material,
    and it usually involves quoting the entire previous post(s) untrimmed..
    Whether you call our practice "bottom posting", "middle posting", or
    "standard netiquette" is up to you.

    An example of a post that follows these guidelines can be found on
    the web at

    http://tolkien.slimy.com/newsgroups/EssayDiscuss.txt

    This long message (from a discussion of my essay on Tom Bombadil) would
    be all but impossible to follow if the point by point replies were not organized as described above.

    Finally, make sure to keep the subject line up to date, as discussed
    in question II.B.1.
    -------

    3. When should I "cross-post" to multiple newsgroups?

    Generally, you should post an article to the single most appropriate
    group: a question about /The Hobbit/ is more appropriate on rec.arts.books.tolkien than on rec.arts.books. However, there are cases
    when several groups are appropriate: a discussion of the influence of
    Tolkien's faith on his writings could be interesting to readers of both soc.religion.christian.roman-catholic and rec.arts.books.tolkien.
    (Cases in which more than two or three groups are truly appropriate are extremely rare!)

    In such cases, it is almost always better to "cross-post" the
    article to multiple groups than to post separately to each. To do
    this, list all of the relevant groups together on the "Newsgroups:"
    line, separated by commas but /no/ spaces (many posts here list
    "Newsgroups: alt.fan.tolkien,rec.arts.books.tolkien"). Cross-posting
    has several advantages, the most important being that responses to a cross-posted article are also cross-posted. That ensures that everyone involved in the discussion sees every reply.

    Some internet service providers (notably AOL) misguidedly forbid cross-posting, probably because /inappropriate/ cross-posting is very
    bad netiquette and is often used to "spam" many groups at once. If you
    have this problem, it may be better to choose just one "best" group for
    your post than to post separate copies to multiple groups.
    -------

    4. I am able to post my messages with HTML formatting. Should I?

    Generally, no. Many of us use simple text-based programs to read
    news, and posts with HTML formatting can be very difficult to read.
    You can generally turn off this behavior from the "Preferences" or
    "Options" section of your newsreader. For some newsreaders, you will
    need to change more than one setting to completely eliminate this
    behavior.
    -------

    5. If someone insults me or otherwise makes me upset, should I flame
    them back?

    No.

    6. Even if my reputation and honor are at stake?

    Feel free to post any corrections or differences in opinion that you
    feel are necessary. Feel free to indicate that you are hurt, unhappy,
    or insulted because of their comments. But by no means escalate the
    budding flame war, and try your hardest to be polite in your response:
    this tends to get the group's sentiments on your side far better than
    any exchange of name-calling ever could. People are usually fairly
    good at recognizing when someone is being terribly unfair. Yes, it is undoubtedly your right to flame if you want to, but the vast majority
    of the group would be happier if you did not.

    In general, try to give others the benefit of the doubt: with only
    text to go on, it's hard to judge their real intent. Could you have
    misread the insulting lines in their post? Could they have been
    speaking tongue in cheek? Maybe they only meant to tease you, not
    realizing that you would really be insulted. Assuming the worst is a depressing way to live one's life.

    Finally, be particularly careful not to reply to a "troll", someone
    who intentionally fishes for arguments and flames. These people seem
    to take great personal delight in inspiring people to anger or
    indignation; the best reaction to them is generally to ignore them
    altogether.
    -------

    7. Where can I go for more information on netiquette, and on Usenet in
    general?

    One of the best places to start has always been the newsgroup news.announce.newusers. This group is home to a wide range of articles
    that provide introductory information about many aspects of Usenet
    news. Unfortunately, most of these articles are no longer being posted regularly to the group. It may be more effective to read archived
    copies of them at

    ftp://rtfm.mit.edu/pub/usenet/news.announce.newusers/

    Read the "Welcome to Usenet!" article there first.

    The information on netiquette and on Usenet in general in the news.announce.newusers articles remains very relevant today, but those
    articles are several years old. More recent information on similar
    topics can be found at the web sites associated with the news.newusers.questions newsgroup. A list of these sites around the
    world can be found at

    http://users.rcn.com/kateshort/nnq/nnqlinks.html

    (among many other places).

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------ ------------------------------------------------------------------------

    III. DEBATES AND DISCUSSION

    A great many questions about Tolkien and his books arise repeatedly
    on the Tolkien newsgroups. The starting point of each debate is the
    same almost every time, and it takes a long time for the discussion to
    reach "new ground." In the worst cases, bitter and longstanding
    arguments about the basics get in the way before new progress can be
    made at all.

    The purpose of a FAQ is to avoid this problem by setting down the
    basics in a common place so that the discussion can deal with new
    issues from the start. However, it is very difficult to balance the
    need for conciseness with the need for completeness: many debates that repeatedly appear on the Tolkien newsgroups have generated very large
    amounts of "known territory."

    Keep in mind that this FAQ provides only summaries of these debates:
    many of their subtleties are omitted for the sake of brevity. Most of
    these topics have been discussed at length by many intelligent In these
    cases, it is extremely unlikely that any unambiguous "proof" of one
    position exists. With this in mind, try to be respectful toward those
    who disagree with you. To get more information on the usual content of
    common discussions, it is often helpful to browse those discussions
    themselves at the Google Groups Usenet archive (see question IV.A.5 for
    more information).

    Finally, be sure to read question III.A.2, dealing with "canonical"
    texts. This FAQ addresses only the state of Middle-earth after LotR
    was written, which corresponds roughly to the material included in the published /Silmarillion/. Details from earlier versions of the
    mythology will not be discussed in this document (and are generally
    given very limited weight in debates about the later state of the
    mythology).

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------

    III.A. STORY EXTERNAL QUESTIONS

    1. What is the best order in which to read the books?

    This depends on each person's personal preferences. Unless you
    strongly dislike stories written for children, most recommend reading
    /The Hobbit/ first. /The Lord of the Rings/ is certainly next (feel
    free to skip the Prologue if you find it dull, and after the main text
    try to read at least Appendix A.I.v, "The Tale of Aragorn and Arwen").

    If you enjoy any part of the Appendices to LotR, there are things in Tolkien's other books that you are likely to enjoy as well. Most
    suggest reading /The Children of Hurin/, /Unfinished Tales/, /The Silmarillion/, and /The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien/ next, in some order
    (perhaps that one). /The Children of Hurin/ is the only complete novel
    about Middle-earth published after Tolkien's death (although it takes
    place long before the events of LotR, it probably isn't necessary to
    read Silm. first). The stories and essays in UT can be read in any
    order, so the "Third Age" material is a good starting point for those
    coming straight from LotR (the "First Age" stories are excellent, but
    are easier to follow after reading Silm.; the other parts of UT are
    mostly accessible to those who have read LotR and its appendices).
    Many people find the early parts of Silm. slow to read (like a history
    book or the Bible), but it is often a favorite among those who have
    read it. /Letters/ contains insights into both Middle-earth and Tolkien
    as a person.

    For more details (and more books), try getting a personalized
    recommendation from the Custom Tolkien Book List, on the web at

    http://tolkien.slimy.com/books.html

    (This URL redirects to the longer and messier URL of the actual list.)
    -------

    2. What books about Middle-earth are considered "canonical"?

    [I have written an essay on this topic, including general observations
    and my own approach. It is on the web at: http://tolkien.slimy.com/essays/TolkParish.html.]

    As the term is used on the Tolkien newsgroups, a "canonical" text is
    one which is believed to provide authoritative information about
    Middle-earth. This concept is more subtle than it may appear at first
    glance, in part because most of Tolkien's mythology remained incomplete
    when he died. Books or even individual chapters or essays may be
    regarded as more or less "trustworthy" than others, and many people
    reject the idea that there is a single "true" Middle-earth entirely.

    Among those who accept the concept of "canon" to at least some
    degree, almost all agree that /The Lord of the Rings/ is a canonical
    text and most assign equal or near equal weight to /The Hobbit/ (the
    other books about Middle-earth published in Tolkien's lifetime are
    treated similarly). However, due to heavy and unmarked posthumous
    editing, /The Silmarillion/ is considered by many /not/ to be canonical
    (see question III.A.3 for details).

    People put various amounts of trust in the many drafts and essays in /Unfinished Tales/ and the "History of Middle-earth" series. In cases
    where Tolkien's intent seems particularly stable and clear, some trust
    these sources almost as much as /The Hobbit/ and LotR themselves. In
    practice, this means that most of the more trustworthy material is
    found in /Unfinished Tales/ and in volumes X-XII of the HoMe series.
    Opinions on how much to trust /The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien/ are
    mixed, but its contents are generally respected as long as they are not contradicted by other (more canonical) texts. The pictures in /J.R.R.
    Tolkien: Artist and Illustrator/ by Wayne Hammond and Christina Scull
    may also be considered somewhat canonical.

    It is important to note that many aspects of Middle-earth changed substantially over the course of Tolkien's life. Because of this,
    facts taken from the early versions of the mythology can be misleading
    or just plain wrong when used to draw conclusions about LotR or later
    versions of the mythology. This means that while the early versions
    can provide valuable hints about Tolkien's thoughts on an issue, they
    are rarely considered to provide definitive evidence for any position.

    The Custom Tolkien Book List (mentioned in question III.A.1)
    includes my own perspective on the "canonicity" of each section of each
    book in the list. While those are just one person's opinions, they are
    fairly typical. A static version of the list in publication order can
    be found on the web at

    http://tolkien.slimy.com/publist.html

    That static list still contains a link to the customizable version.
    -------

    3. How does /The Silmarillion/ as published differ from what Tolkien
    intended?

    This is a complicated question that is essentially unanswerable:
    despite his lifelong effort, Tolkien never came close to completing
    /The Silmarillion/. At Tolkien's request, after his death his son
    Christopher (with some help from Guy Kay) worked to "bring the work
    into publishable form"; Christopher discusses the difficulties involved
    in the book's Foreword. To understand why /The Silmarillion/ took the
    form that it did (and why it is rarely considered "canonical", as
    mentioned in question III.A.2), it is worth exploring those editorial
    changes. The full story can be found in the "History of Middle-earth"
    books, particularly /Morgoth's Ring/ and /The War of the Jewels/
    (volumes X-XI).

    The most basic editorial decision was which writings to include in
    the book at all. The "Quenta Silmarillion" is of course the central
    text, but Tolkien also wrote numerous associated stories and essays.
    Charles Noad explored this question as part of his essay "On the
    Construction of 'The Silmarillion'" (published in /Tolkien's
    Legendarium/; see question III.A.5), where he suggests an "outline for
    'The Silmarillion' as Tolkien may have intended it". In addition to the
    texts in the published book, Noad includes expanded versions of four
    stories: "The Lay of Leithian" (possibly in poetic form), "Narn i Chin
    Hurin", "The Fall of Gondolin", and "Earendil the Wanderer" (which
    Tolkien never even fully sketched). He also includes five
    "Appendices": writings about Middle-earth and its inhabitants such as
    "Laws and Customs among the Eldar" and the "Athrabeth Finrod ah
    Andreth" (most of these were published in HoMe X-XI). Sadly, a book
    with this outline could never be made satisfying with just the texts
    that Tolkien left us.

    Moving on to the texts that were actually included in /The
    Silmarillion/ as published, there were three types of problems to
    overcome. In the worst cases, there were crucial gaps in the narrative
    where Tolkien had never written more than an outline of the story (or
    where the most recent version was hopelessly outdated). Much more
    frequently, Tolkien's years of revisions led to factual inconsistencies
    between stories written at various times (especially between writings
    before and after /The Lord of the Rings/). And finally, Tolkien's
    writings differed markedly in tone, ranging from vivid narratives to
    terse annals to philosophical essays. To assemble a single text,
    consistent in style and detail, from such a range of source material
    clearly required substantial editing.

    Despite that pessimistic assessment, the vast majority of the
    published /Silmarillion/ is taken directly from Tolkien's work and
    seems to come quite close to what he intended, as far as it goes. (None
    of the "expanded" tales were ever completed, but what exists of them
    can be found for the most part in /Unfinished Tales/, /The Lays of
    Beleriand/, and the other "History of Middle-earth" books mentioned
    above.) Still, mild editing is not uncommon, and can be difficult to
    identify even by comparison to the source texts as published in HoMe.
    Thus, /The Silmarillion/ is often not treated as a final authority in
    scholarly discussions of Middle-earth. (A classic example is its
    mistaken ancestry of Gil-galad, as discussed in question III.B.8.)

    The greatest concern, of course, comes from those few cases where
    large gaps had to be filled by the editors. This happened to some
    extent for "Of Tuor and the Fall of Gondolin" and "Of the Voyage of
    Earendil and the War of Wrath", but the most substantial editorial
    "invention" came in the chapter "Of the Ruin of Doriath". The episode

    [continued in next message]

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  • From Steuard Jensen@21:1/5 to All on Tue Dec 21 22:14:01 2021
    XPost: alt.fan.tolkien

    Posted-By: auto-faq 3.3.1 (Perl 5.020)
    Posting-Frequency: monthly
    URL: http://tolkien.slimy.com/

    TOLKIEN NEWSGROUPS FAQ

    Copyright (C) 1999-2012 by Steuard Jensen

    (Created 17 Aug 1999)
    (Last updated 11 Mar 2012)



    For many years, the Tolkien Usenet newsgroups have been home to a
    pair of excellent Frequently Asked Questions lists about Tolkien and Middle-earth, compiled by William D. B. Loos. These sources contain a
    wealth of information, but are no longer maintained (the last update
    seems to have been in July 1996). This means that quite a few issues
    of current interest to the groups are not fully addressed in those
    documents.

    This FAQ supplements, updates, and expands on the earlier ones,
    though it is not meant to replace them entirely. It includes new and
    corrected information on some of the old discussions, numerous entries
    on topics not covered in the older FAQs, and a broad discussion of the
    Tolkien newsgroups and common standards of netiquette. This FAQ is
    intended both as an introduction for newcomers to the newsgroups and as
    a source of information for anyone exploring Middle-earth.

    The official HTML version of the FAQ is on the web at

    http://tolkien.slimy.com/faq/

    The plain text version is posted to Usenet on the 22nd of each month
    and is also available on the web, at

    http://tolkien.slimy.com/faq/TolkNgFaq.txt

    For a unified and easy to use interface to this FAQ, the Loos FAQs, and
    others, consider visiting the Tolkien Meta-FAQ, at

    http://tolkien.slimy.com/

    I would like to give my sincere thanks to the many, many people on
    the newsgroups and elsewhere who have given criticism, suggestions, and encouragement as I wrote this FAQ. This project would never have
    succeeded without their wonderful support.

    Steuard Jensen
    steuard@slimy.com ------------------------------------------------------------------------ ------------------------------------------------------------------------


    Table of Contents

    Sections/questions marked: * have been revised since the last release
    ** are new since the last release

    I. Changes Since the Last Release *

    II. Newsgroups and Netiquette

    A. Information on the Tolkien Newsgroups
    1. What newsgroups are we talking about again?
    2. Why are there two groups?
    3. Do I have to have a Ph.D. in Tolkienology to post?
    4. What questions and topics are appropriate?
    5. What does a tilde (~) in the subject mean? and
    Is it acceptable to post messages with sexual content?
    6. What common mistakes should I try to avoid?
    7. What do all the abbreviations used on the groups mean?

    B. The Basics of Netiquette
    1. What is the proper subject line for my post?
    2. What should I do when replying to an earlier article?
    For example, should I "top post" or "bottom post"?
    3. When should I "cross-post" to multiple newsgroups?
    4. I am able to post my messages with HTML formatting. Should I?
    5. If someone insults me or otherwise makes me upset, should I
    flame them back?
    6. Even if my reputation and honor are at stake?
    7. Where can I go for more information on netiquette, and on
    Usenet in general?

    III. Debates and Discussion

    A. Story External Questions
    1. What is the best order in which to read the books?
    2. What books about Middle-earth are considered "canonical"?
    3. How does /The Silmarillion/ as published differ from what
    Tolkien intended?
    4. Which are "The Two Towers"?
    5. Which books /about/ Tolkien are good, and which aren't?
    6. Is Middle-earth Medieval?
    7. Was Tolkien racist? Were his works?
    8. Are there electronic versions of Tolkien's books?
    9. Where can I report copyright violations that I observe?

    B. Story Internal Questions: Creatures and Characters
    1. Did Balrogs have wings?
    2. Could Balrogs fly?
    3. What was Tom Bombadil?
    4. Did Elves have pointed ears?
    5. Did Elves have beards?
    6. What happened to Elves after they died?
    7. Was Glorfindel of Rivendell the same as Glorfindel of Gondolin?
    8. Who was Gil-galad's father?
    9. Did Dwarf women have beards?
    10. Was there "telepathy" in Middle-earth?
    11. Did Sauron have a physical form during /The Lord of the
    Rings/? *
    12. What were the names of the Nazgul?
    13. What was Gothmog (the lieutenant of Morgul)?
    14. What was the origin of Orcs?
    15. Were Orcs immortal, and what happened to them after death?
    16. What was the relationship between Orcs and Goblins?
    17. What was the origin of Saruman's Uruk-hai?
    18. What was the origin of Trolls?
    19. What were the giants (seen by Bilbo in /The Hobbit/)?

    C. Story Internal Questions: History and Happenings
    1. Why didn't they just have an Eagle fly the Ring to Mt. Doom?
    2. Were the barrow blades magical? In what way?
    3. Why didn't the Nazgul take the Ring at Weathertop?
    4. Who killed the Witch-king, Merry or Eowyn?
    5. Did Frodo and the other mortals who passed over the Sea
    eventually die?
    6. Did Sam follow Frodo into the West?
    7. What is known about the Blue Wizards?
    8. Who was aware that a Balrog lived in Moria?
    9. Did Elves and Dwarves generally get along?
    10. Where was the Ring when Numenor was destroyed?
    11. Who was the oldest inhabitant of Middle-earth?

    IV. External Resources

    A. Where else can I find general information about Middle-earth?
    1. The Tolkien Meta-FAQ
    2. The Tolkien FAQ and LessFAQ
    3. The "FAQ of the Rings"
    4. The Letters FAQ
    5. Google's Usenet archive

    B. Where can I learn more about Tolkien's languages?

    C. Stories of Middle-earth in many forms
    1. What editions of Tolkien's books are best?
    2. What audio versions of Tolkien's books are available?
    3. What is the groups' view of the recent /Lord of the Rings/
    movies?
    4. Where can I find out about music related to Middle-earth?

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------ ------------------------------------------------------------------------

    I. CHANGES SINCE THE LAST RELEASE

    Adjusted wording of question III.B.11 about Sauron's physical form
    to emphasize the relevance of the evidence to the period of LotR.

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------ ------------------------------------------------------------------------

    II. NEWSGROUPS AND NETIQUETTE

    When discussing Tolkien (or anything else) online, it is important
    to know at least a little about the "culture" of the discussion forum
    that you are participating in. The information in this section is
    intended to give an idea of "appropriate" behavior on the Tolkien
    Usenet newsgroups. To make our discussions as enjoyable as possible,
    every participant should try to be familiar with what follows.

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------

    II.A. INFORMATION ON THE TOLKIEN NEWSGROUPS

    1. What newsgroups are we talking about again?

    There are several Usenet newsgroups specific to Tolkien and his
    works. However, the two most widely read and distributed of these are rec.arts.books.tolkien and alt.fan.tolkien, commonly abbreviated either
    r.a.b.t or RABT and a.f.t or AFT, respectively.

    The official rec.arts.books.tolkien charter can be found at

    http://tolkien.slimy.com/newsgroups/RABTcharter.txt

    Alt.fan.tolkien does not have a formal charter.
    -------

    2. Why are there two groups?

    Originally, AFT was the only Tolkien newsgroup on Usenet. RABT was
    created (when the approval vote passed on 26 Mar 1993) as a replacement
    for AFT which would be carried by a larger fraction of news servers.
    However, AFT was never removed, and both groups currently enjoy
    substantial readership. While only RABT has a formal charter (see
    question II.A.1 for reference), the two groups are virtually identical
    in intended content.

    Many participants see a tendency for RABT to be somewhat more
    "scholarly" in tone while AFT is a bit more "conversational", and some
    suggest that this distinction is useful and should be encouraged.
    Other participants draw less of a distinction between the two groups,
    and often believe that a difference in focus would be both undesirable
    and impossible to achieve. In practice, everyone decides for
    themselves how they want to treat the two groups, and most people
    generally don't complain one way or the other.
    -------

    3. Do I have to have a Ph.D. in Tolkienology to post?

    By no means! People with any amount of Tolkien "lore" are welcome
    to participate. It is advisable, however, to have read /The Hobbit/
    and /The Lord of the Rings/ before spending much time here, as
    otherwise you run the risk of many, many spoilers for both books.

    When you do participate in discussions, just use whatever Tolkien
    knowledge you have: you can have great ideas regardless of how much
    you've read. Occasionally, others will cite sources (often obscure but
    just as often authoritative) that weaken or disprove your arguments.
    When this happens (as it does to every one of us), nobody will think
    less of you for not knowing the reference; treat it as a chance to
    learn something new about Middle-earth.
    -------

    4. What questions and topics are appropriate?

    Virtually any topic related (even distantly) to Tolkien and his
    works is fair game. If you post a purely "factual" question (like "How
    many Ringwraiths were there?"), it's a good idea to explain why you're
    asking: we periodically see questions from students who hope we will do
    their homework for them, and the last thing we want to do is help
    people to avoid reading the books!

    It is appreciated if articles that have absolutely nothing to do
    with Tolkien have subject lines beginning with "OT:" ("Off Topic"). The
    Tolkien newsgroups are a sufficiently social community that threads
    often do drift away from their initial topics, and while this should
    not be discouraged, it is polite to label it when it happens. On the
    other hand, off topic discussions that get too intense or go on too
    long can interfere with others' enjoyment of the groups, and should be
    avoided.

    Binary files, such as images or sounds, are NEVER appropriate in a non-binaries newsgroup. To share a binary file with people in the
    Tolkien groups, you have two main options. One is to find an
    appropriate newsgroup in the alt.binaries.* hierarchy, post the file
    there, and then post a message here telling us where to look. Another
    (more common) method is to put the file on the Web and post the URL on
    the newsgroups.
    -------

    5. What does a tilde (~) in the subject mean? and
    Is it acceptable to post messages with sexual content?

    Articles posted to these newsgroups occasionally contain comments
    that some consider inappropriate for younger readers. After much
    discussion, most participants agreed to mark messages with /sexual/
    content with a tilde in the subject line. Individuals can then create
    killfiles to screen out such messages as desired. While not everyone
    agrees that such a system is beneficial, following this convention is
    the polite thing to do. The newsgroup charter recommends the use of
    ROT-13 "encryption" for this purpose, but this has become less common.
    -------

    6. What common mistakes should I try to avoid?

    By and large, the participants in the Tolkien newsgroups try to
    judge others based on their ideas rather than on details of grammar and
    posting style. However, there are a few types of simple mistakes that
    tend to cause some level of bias and annoyance among many group
    members, which in turn can distract them from your real message. Most
    of these are covered in the "Netiquette" section below.

    One common mistake of this type that is not related to netiquette is confusing the singular and plural forms of common Elvish words. On the
    Tolkien newsgroups, these words are so familiar that the phrase "Manwe
    is a Valar" sounds just as jarring and strange as "Finrod is an Elves."
    To reduce this problem, a list of some of the most commonly confused singular/plural pairs is given below. Note the patterns!

    Singular: Vala Maia Elda Noldo Teler Istar Adan
    Plural: Valar Maiar Eldar Noldor Teleri Istari Edain

    Another issue that arises periodically is whether or not /The Lord
    of the Rings/ should be referred to as a "trilogy". Tolkien said quite
    clearly in Letter #165 that "The book is /not/ of course a 'trilogy'",
    and some people make a point of correcting those who use the term.
    However, in Letter #252, Tolkien himself refers to "my trilogy", so
    most of us agree that using the term is an acceptable shorthand, if
    nothing else.
    -------

    7. What do all the abbreviations used on the groups mean?

    [More abbreviations can be found in section IV of the Tolkien FAQ.]

    Some names and phrases come up so frequently on the Tolkien
    newsgroups that they are often abbreviated for convenience. A few of
    the very most common are defined below; these definitions are excerpted
    from Sir Confused-a-Lot's old AFT Glossary, now online at

    http://silenceisdefeat.com/~aft-rabt/glossary/

    JRRT: John Ronald Reuel Tolkien
    ME: Middle-earth
    LotR: /The Lord of the Rings/
    FotR: /The Fellowship of the Ring/
    TT: /The Two Towers/
    RotK: /The Return of the King/
    Silm.: /The Silmarillion/
    UT: /Unfinished Tales/
    HoMe: the "History of Middle-earth" series
    Letters: /The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien/
    Narn: The "Narn I Hin Hurin" in UT
    Athrabeth: The "Athrabeth Finrod Ah Andreth" in /Morgoth's Ring/

    NG: Newsgroup
    TEUNC: "Tolkien Eccentric Unusual Nut Cases", an eGroup of
    Tolkien fans, some of whom frequent the newsgroups
    LOL: Laughing Out Loud
    ROTFL: Rolling On The Floor Laughing

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------

    II.B. THE BASICS OF NETIQUETTE

    1. What is the proper subject line for my post?

    Make sure that the "Subject:" line of your post matches the topic
    that you are discussing. Be concise, but specific: subject lines such
    as "The Lord of the Rings" or "Tolkien" give no useful information
    about the contents of your post. Note that this does not only apply to
    the first post in a thread: if you see that the subject line no longer
    matches the topic of a thread, change it when you reply! Also, follow
    the "OT:" convention for off-topic posts (mentioned in question II.A.4
    above).

    When you do change the subject line, it is polite to indicate the
    subject of the previous post. For example, "Balrog Wings" might become
    "Balrog Flight (was Balrog Wings)" and then "Eagles (was Balrog
    Flight)". This helps people follow the history of the thread.
    -------

    2. What should I do when replying to an earlier article?
    For example, should I "top post" or "bottom post"?

    First and foremost, make sure to retain the attribution of any
    quoted text, so others know who said the things you are replying to.
    Almost equally important, make sure that you trim the previous post as
    much as possible:

    * If you are replying to one specific comment in the previous
    article, delete all of the previous text except that comment. If
    the comment is at all long, try to trim it down to its essence.
    Type your reply directly beneath the quoted comment.

    * If you are replying to several distinct points individually, quote
    each one as above and type your reply immediately below it (and
    above the next point).

    * If you are replying to a long section that cannot be easily
    trimmed down (for example, an original poem or story), quote only
    its first and last lines (and perhaps put "[snip]" or "..." on a
    line in between the two). If there are particular pieces that
    you want to respond to individually, do so as described above.

    There are two general rules of thumb to follow in connection with
    the above guidelines:

    * Any article you post should have more lines of new text than lines
    of quoted text. It is generally acceptable to ignore this rule
    if the entire post (including basic headers and any signature) is
    short enough to fit on a single 24 line screen.

    * Any comments specifically replying to the previous article should
    come /below/ the relevant part of the previous article. This
    makes reading the article more like reading a conversation, and
    therefore much easier to follow.

    This obviously means that "top posting" is strongly discouraged: it
    forces readers to scroll up and down between the new and old material,
    and it usually involves quoting the entire previous post(s) untrimmed..
    Whether you call our practice "bottom posting", "middle posting", or
    "standard netiquette" is up to you.

    An example of a post that follows these guidelines can be found on
    the web at

    http://tolkien.slimy.com/newsgroups/EssayDiscuss.txt

    This long message (from a discussion of my essay on Tom Bombadil) would
    be all but impossible to follow if the point by point replies were not organized as described above.

    Finally, make sure to keep the subject line up to date, as discussed
    in question II.B.1.
    -------

    3. When should I "cross-post" to multiple newsgroups?

    Generally, you should post an article to the single most appropriate
    group: a question about /The Hobbit/ is more appropriate on rec.arts.books.tolkien than on rec.arts.books. However, there are cases
    when several groups are appropriate: a discussion of the influence of
    Tolkien's faith on his writings could be interesting to readers of both soc.religion.christian.roman-catholic and rec.arts.books.tolkien.
    (Cases in which more than two or three groups are truly appropriate are extremely rare!)

    In such cases, it is almost always better to "cross-post" the
    article to multiple groups than to post separately to each. To do
    this, list all of the relevant groups together on the "Newsgroups:"
    line, separated by commas but /no/ spaces (many posts here list
    "Newsgroups: alt.fan.tolkien,rec.arts.books.tolkien"). Cross-posting
    has several advantages, the most important being that responses to a cross-posted article are also cross-posted. That ensures that everyone involved in the discussion sees every reply.

    Some internet service providers (notably AOL) misguidedly forbid cross-posting, probably because /inappropriate/ cross-posting is very
    bad netiquette and is often used to "spam" many groups at once. If you
    have this problem, it may be better to choose just one "best" group for
    your post than to post separate copies to multiple groups.
    -------

    4. I am able to post my messages with HTML formatting. Should I?

    Generally, no. Many of us use simple text-based programs to read
    news, and posts with HTML formatting can be very difficult to read.
    You can generally turn off this behavior from the "Preferences" or
    "Options" section of your newsreader. For some newsreaders, you will
    need to change more than one setting to completely eliminate this
    behavior.
    -------

    5. If someone insults me or otherwise makes me upset, should I flame
    them back?

    No.

    6. Even if my reputation and honor are at stake?

    Feel free to post any corrections or differences in opinion that you
    feel are necessary. Feel free to indicate that you are hurt, unhappy,
    or insulted because of their comments. But by no means escalate the
    budding flame war, and try your hardest to be polite in your response:
    this tends to get the group's sentiments on your side far better than
    any exchange of name-calling ever could. People are usually fairly
    good at recognizing when someone is being terribly unfair. Yes, it is undoubtedly your right to flame if you want to, but the vast majority
    of the group would be happier if you did not.

    In general, try to give others the benefit of the doubt: with only
    text to go on, it's hard to judge their real intent. Could you have
    misread the insulting lines in their post? Could they have been
    speaking tongue in cheek? Maybe they only meant to tease you, not
    realizing that you would really be insulted. Assuming the worst is a depressing way to live one's life.

    Finally, be particularly careful not to reply to a "troll", someone
    who intentionally fishes for arguments and flames. These people seem
    to take great personal delight in inspiring people to anger or
    indignation; the best reaction to them is generally to ignore them
    altogether.
    -------

    7. Where can I go for more information on netiquette, and on Usenet in
    general?

    One of the best places to start has always been the newsgroup news.announce.newusers. This group is home to a wide range of articles
    that provide introductory information about many aspects of Usenet
    news. Unfortunately, most of these articles are no longer being posted regularly to the group. It may be more effective to read archived
    copies of them at

    ftp://rtfm.mit.edu/pub/usenet/news.announce.newusers/

    Read the "Welcome to Usenet!" article there first.

    The information on netiquette and on Usenet in general in the news.announce.newusers articles remains very relevant today, but those
    articles are several years old. More recent information on similar
    topics can be found at the web sites associated with the news.newusers.questions newsgroup. A list of these sites around the
    world can be found at

    http://users.rcn.com/kateshort/nnq/nnqlinks.html

    (among many other places).

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------ ------------------------------------------------------------------------

    III. DEBATES AND DISCUSSION

    A great many questions about Tolkien and his books arise repeatedly
    on the Tolkien newsgroups. The starting point of each debate is the
    same almost every time, and it takes a long time for the discussion to
    reach "new ground." In the worst cases, bitter and longstanding
    arguments about the basics get in the way before new progress can be
    made at all.

    The purpose of a FAQ is to avoid this problem by setting down the
    basics in a common place so that the discussion can deal with new
    issues from the start. However, it is very difficult to balance the
    need for conciseness with the need for completeness: many debates that repeatedly appear on the Tolkien newsgroups have generated very large
    amounts of "known territory."

    Keep in mind that this FAQ provides only summaries of these debates:
    many of their subtleties are omitted for the sake of brevity. Most of
    these topics have been discussed at length by many intelligent In these
    cases, it is extremely unlikely that any unambiguous "proof" of one
    position exists. With this in mind, try to be respectful toward those
    who disagree with you. To get more information on the usual content of
    common discussions, it is often helpful to browse those discussions
    themselves at the Google Groups Usenet archive (see question IV.A.5 for
    more information).

    Finally, be sure to read question III.A.2, dealing with "canonical"
    texts. This FAQ addresses only the state of Middle-earth after LotR
    was written, which corresponds roughly to the material included in the published /Silmarillion/. Details from earlier versions of the
    mythology will not be discussed in this document (and are generally
    given very limited weight in debates about the later state of the
    mythology).

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------

    III.A. STORY EXTERNAL QUESTIONS

    1. What is the best order in which to read the books?

    This depends on each person's personal preferences. Unless you
    strongly dislike stories written for children, most recommend reading
    /The Hobbit/ first. /The Lord of the Rings/ is certainly next (feel
    free to skip the Prologue if you find it dull, and after the main text
    try to read at least Appendix A.I.v, "The Tale of Aragorn and Arwen").

    If you enjoy any part of the Appendices to LotR, there are things in Tolkien's other books that you are likely to enjoy as well. Most
    suggest reading /The Children of Hurin/, /Unfinished Tales/, /The Silmarillion/, and /The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien/ next, in some order
    (perhaps that one). /The Children of Hurin/ is the only complete novel
    about Middle-earth published after Tolkien's death (although it takes
    place long before the events of LotR, it probably isn't necessary to
    read Silm. first). The stories and essays in UT can be read in any
    order, so the "Third Age" material is a good starting point for those
    coming straight from LotR (the "First Age" stories are excellent, but
    are easier to follow after reading Silm.; the other parts of UT are
    mostly accessible to those who have read LotR and its appendices).
    Many people find the early parts of Silm. slow to read (like a history
    book or the Bible), but it is often a favorite among those who have
    read it. /Letters/ contains insights into both Middle-earth and Tolkien
    as a person.

    For more details (and more books), try getting a personalized
    recommendation from the Custom Tolkien Book List, on the web at

    http://tolkien.slimy.com/books.html

    (This URL redirects to the longer and messier URL of the actual list.)
    -------

    2. What books about Middle-earth are considered "canonical"?

    [I have written an essay on this topic, including general observations
    and my own approach. It is on the web at: http://tolkien.slimy.com/essays/TolkParish.html.]

    As the term is used on the Tolkien newsgroups, a "canonical" text is
    one which is believed to provide authoritative information about
    Middle-earth. This concept is more subtle than it may appear at first
    glance, in part because most of Tolkien's mythology remained incomplete
    when he died. Books or even individual chapters or essays may be
    regarded as more or less "trustworthy" than others, and many people
    reject the idea that there is a single "true" Middle-earth entirely.

    Among those who accept the concept of "canon" to at least some
    degree, almost all agree that /The Lord of the Rings/ is a canonical
    text and most assign equal or near equal weight to /The Hobbit/ (the
    other books about Middle-earth published in Tolkien's lifetime are
    treated similarly). However, due to heavy and unmarked posthumous
    editing, /The Silmarillion/ is considered by many /not/ to be canonical
    (see question III.A.3 for details).

    People put various amounts of trust in the many drafts and essays in /Unfinished Tales/ and the "History of Middle-earth" series. In cases
    where Tolkien's intent seems particularly stable and clear, some trust
    these sources almost as much as /The Hobbit/ and LotR themselves. In
    practice, this means that most of the more trustworthy material is
    found in /Unfinished Tales/ and in volumes X-XII of the HoMe series.
    Opinions on how much to trust /The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien/ are
    mixed, but its contents are generally respected as long as they are not contradicted by other (more canonical) texts. The pictures in /J.R.R.
    Tolkien: Artist and Illustrator/ by Wayne Hammond and Christina Scull
    may also be considered somewhat canonical.

    It is important to note that many aspects of Middle-earth changed substantially over the course of Tolkien's life. Because of this,
    facts taken from the early versions of the mythology can be misleading
    or just plain wrong when used to draw conclusions about LotR or later
    versions of the mythology. This means that while the early versions
    can provide valuable hints about Tolkien's thoughts on an issue, they
    are rarely considered to provide definitive evidence for any position.

    The Custom Tolkien Book List (mentioned in question III.A.1)
    includes my own perspective on the "canonicity" of each section of each
    book in the list. While those are just one person's opinions, they are
    fairly typical. A static version of the list in publication order can
    be found on the web at

    http://tolkien.slimy.com/publist.html

    That static list still contains a link to the customizable version.
    -------

    3. How does /The Silmarillion/ as published differ from what Tolkien
    intended?

    This is a complicated question that is essentially unanswerable:
    despite his lifelong effort, Tolkien never came close to completing
    /The Silmarillion/. At Tolkien's request, after his death his son
    Christopher (with some help from Guy Kay) worked to "bring the work
    into publishable form"; Christopher discusses the difficulties involved
    in the book's Foreword. To understand why /The Silmarillion/ took the
    form that it did (and why it is rarely considered "canonical", as
    mentioned in question III.A.2), it is worth exploring those editorial
    changes. The full story can be found in the "History of Middle-earth"
    books, particularly /Morgoth's Ring/ and /The War of the Jewels/
    (volumes X-XI).

    The most basic editorial decision was which writings to include in
    the book at all. The "Quenta Silmarillion" is of course the central
    text, but Tolkien also wrote numerous associated stories and essays.
    Charles Noad explored this question as part of his essay "On the
    Construction of 'The Silmarillion'" (published in /Tolkien's
    Legendarium/; see question III.A.5), where he suggests an "outline for
    'The Silmarillion' as Tolkien may have intended it". In addition to the
    texts in the published book, Noad includes expanded versions of four
    stories: "The Lay of Leithian" (possibly in poetic form), "Narn i Chin
    Hurin", "The Fall of Gondolin", and "Earendil the Wanderer" (which
    Tolkien never even fully sketched). He also includes five
    "Appendices": writings about Middle-earth and its inhabitants such as
    "Laws and Customs among the Eldar" and the "Athrabeth Finrod ah
    Andreth" (most of these were published in HoMe X-XI). Sadly, a book
    with this outline could never be made satisfying with just the texts
    that Tolkien left us.

    Moving on to the texts that were actually included in /The
    Silmarillion/ as published, there were three types of problems to
    overcome. In the worst cases, there were crucial gaps in the narrative
    where Tolkien had never written more than an outline of the story (or
    where the most recent version was hopelessly outdated). Much more
    frequently, Tolkien's years of revisions led to factual inconsistencies
    between stories written at various times (especially between writings
    before and after /The Lord of the Rings/). And finally, Tolkien's
    writings differed markedly in tone, ranging from vivid narratives to
    terse annals to philosophical essays. To assemble a single text,
    consistent in style and detail, from such a range of source material
    clearly required substantial editing.

    Despite that pessimistic assessment, the vast majority of the
    published /Silmarillion/ is taken directly from Tolkien's work and
    seems to come quite close to what he intended, as far as it goes. (None
    of the "expanded" tales were ever completed, but what exists of them
    can be found for the most part in /Unfinished Tales/, /The Lays of
    Beleriand/, and the other "History of Middle-earth" books mentioned
    above.) Still, mild editing is not uncommon, and can be difficult to
    identify even by comparison to the source texts as published in HoMe.
    Thus, /The Silmarillion/ is often not treated as a final authority in
    scholarly discussions of Middle-earth. (A classic example is its
    mistaken ancestry of Gil-galad, as discussed in question III.B.8.)

    The greatest concern, of course, comes from those few cases where
    large gaps had to be filled by the editors. This happened to some
    extent for "Of Tuor and the Fall of Gondolin" and "Of the Voyage of
    Earendil and the War of Wrath", but the most substantial editorial
    "invention" came in the chapter "Of the Ruin of Doriath". The episode

    [continued in next message]

    --- SoupGate-Win32 v1.05
    * Origin: fsxNet Usenet Gateway (21:1/5)
  • From Steuard Jensen@21:1/5 to All on Fri Jan 21 22:14:01 2022
    XPost: alt.fan.tolkien

    Posted-By: auto-faq 3.3.1 (Perl 5.020)
    Posting-Frequency: monthly
    URL: http://tolkien.slimy.com/

    TOLKIEN NEWSGROUPS FAQ

    Copyright (C) 1999-2012 by Steuard Jensen

    (Created 17 Aug 1999)
    (Last updated 11 Mar 2012)



    For many years, the Tolkien Usenet newsgroups have been home to a
    pair of excellent Frequently Asked Questions lists about Tolkien and Middle-earth, compiled by William D. B. Loos. These sources contain a
    wealth of information, but are no longer maintained (the last update
    seems to have been in July 1996). This means that quite a few issues
    of current interest to the groups are not fully addressed in those
    documents.

    This FAQ supplements, updates, and expands on the earlier ones,
    though it is not meant to replace them entirely. It includes new and
    corrected information on some of the old discussions, numerous entries
    on topics not covered in the older FAQs, and a broad discussion of the
    Tolkien newsgroups and common standards of netiquette. This FAQ is
    intended both as an introduction for newcomers to the newsgroups and as
    a source of information for anyone exploring Middle-earth.

    The official HTML version of the FAQ is on the web at

    http://tolkien.slimy.com/faq/

    The plain text version is posted to Usenet on the 22nd of each month
    and is also available on the web, at

    http://tolkien.slimy.com/faq/TolkNgFaq.txt

    For a unified and easy to use interface to this FAQ, the Loos FAQs, and
    others, consider visiting the Tolkien Meta-FAQ, at

    http://tolkien.slimy.com/

    I would like to give my sincere thanks to the many, many people on
    the newsgroups and elsewhere who have given criticism, suggestions, and encouragement as I wrote this FAQ. This project would never have
    succeeded without their wonderful support.

    Steuard Jensen
    steuard@slimy.com ------------------------------------------------------------------------ ------------------------------------------------------------------------


    Table of Contents

    Sections/questions marked: * have been revised since the last release
    ** are new since the last release

    I. Changes Since the Last Release *

    II. Newsgroups and Netiquette

    A. Information on the Tolkien Newsgroups
    1. What newsgroups are we talking about again?
    2. Why are there two groups?
    3. Do I have to have a Ph.D. in Tolkienology to post?
    4. What questions and topics are appropriate?
    5. What does a tilde (~) in the subject mean? and
    Is it acceptable to post messages with sexual content?
    6. What common mistakes should I try to avoid?
    7. What do all the abbreviations used on the groups mean?

    B. The Basics of Netiquette
    1. What is the proper subject line for my post?
    2. What should I do when replying to an earlier article?
    For example, should I "top post" or "bottom post"?
    3. When should I "cross-post" to multiple newsgroups?
    4. I am able to post my messages with HTML formatting. Should I?
    5. If someone insults me or otherwise makes me upset, should I
    flame them back?
    6. Even if my reputation and honor are at stake?
    7. Where can I go for more information on netiquette, and on
    Usenet in general?

    III. Debates and Discussion

    A. Story External Questions
    1. What is the best order in which to read the books?
    2. What books about Middle-earth are considered "canonical"?
    3. How does /The Silmarillion/ as published differ from what
    Tolkien intended?
    4. Which are "The Two Towers"?
    5. Which books /about/ Tolkien are good, and which aren't?
    6. Is Middle-earth Medieval?
    7. Was Tolkien racist? Were his works?
    8. Are there electronic versions of Tolkien's books?
    9. Where can I report copyright violations that I observe?

    B. Story Internal Questions: Creatures and Characters
    1. Did Balrogs have wings?
    2. Could Balrogs fly?
    3. What was Tom Bombadil?
    4. Did Elves have pointed ears?
    5. Did Elves have beards?
    6. What happened to Elves after they died?
    7. Was Glorfindel of Rivendell the same as Glorfindel of Gondolin?
    8. Who was Gil-galad's father?
    9. Did Dwarf women have beards?
    10. Was there "telepathy" in Middle-earth?
    11. Did Sauron have a physical form during /The Lord of the
    Rings/? *
    12. What were the names of the Nazgul?
    13. What was Gothmog (the lieutenant of Morgul)?
    14. What was the origin of Orcs?
    15. Were Orcs immortal, and what happened to them after death?
    16. What was the relationship between Orcs and Goblins?
    17. What was the origin of Saruman's Uruk-hai?
    18. What was the origin of Trolls?
    19. What were the giants (seen by Bilbo in /The Hobbit/)?

    C. Story Internal Questions: History and Happenings
    1. Why didn't they just have an Eagle fly the Ring to Mt. Doom?
    2. Were the barrow blades magical? In what way?
    3. Why didn't the Nazgul take the Ring at Weathertop?
    4. Who killed the Witch-king, Merry or Eowyn?
    5. Did Frodo and the other mortals who passed over the Sea
    eventually die?
    6. Did Sam follow Frodo into the West?
    7. What is known about the Blue Wizards?
    8. Who was aware that a Balrog lived in Moria?
    9. Did Elves and Dwarves generally get along?
    10. Where was the Ring when Numenor was destroyed?
    11. Who was the oldest inhabitant of Middle-earth?

    IV. External Resources

    A. Where else can I find general information about Middle-earth?
    1. The Tolkien Meta-FAQ
    2. The Tolkien FAQ and LessFAQ
    3. The "FAQ of the Rings"
    4. The Letters FAQ
    5. Google's Usenet archive

    B. Where can I learn more about Tolkien's languages?

    C. Stories of Middle-earth in many forms
    1. What editions of Tolkien's books are best?
    2. What audio versions of Tolkien's books are available?
    3. What is the groups' view of the recent /Lord of the Rings/
    movies?
    4. Where can I find out about music related to Middle-earth?

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------ ------------------------------------------------------------------------

    I. CHANGES SINCE THE LAST RELEASE

    Adjusted wording of question III.B.11 about Sauron's physical form
    to emphasize the relevance of the evidence to the period of LotR.

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------ ------------------------------------------------------------------------

    II. NEWSGROUPS AND NETIQUETTE

    When discussing Tolkien (or anything else) online, it is important
    to know at least a little about the "culture" of the discussion forum
    that you are participating in. The information in this section is
    intended to give an idea of "appropriate" behavior on the Tolkien
    Usenet newsgroups. To make our discussions as enjoyable as possible,
    every participant should try to be familiar with what follows.

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------

    II.A. INFORMATION ON THE TOLKIEN NEWSGROUPS

    1. What newsgroups are we talking about again?

    There are several Usenet newsgroups specific to Tolkien and his
    works. However, the two most widely read and distributed of these are rec.arts.books.tolkien and alt.fan.tolkien, commonly abbreviated either
    r.a.b.t or RABT and a.f.t or AFT, respectively.

    The official rec.arts.books.tolkien charter can be found at

    http://tolkien.slimy.com/newsgroups/RABTcharter.txt

    Alt.fan.tolkien does not have a formal charter.
    -------

    2. Why are there two groups?

    Originally, AFT was the only Tolkien newsgroup on Usenet. RABT was
    created (when the approval vote passed on 26 Mar 1993) as a replacement
    for AFT which would be carried by a larger fraction of news servers.
    However, AFT was never removed, and both groups currently enjoy
    substantial readership. While only RABT has a formal charter (see
    question II.A.1 for reference), the two groups are virtually identical
    in intended content.

    Many participants see a tendency for RABT to be somewhat more
    "scholarly" in tone while AFT is a bit more "conversational", and some
    suggest that this distinction is useful and should be encouraged.
    Other participants draw less of a distinction between the two groups,
    and often believe that a difference in focus would be both undesirable
    and impossible to achieve. In practice, everyone decides for
    themselves how they want to treat the two groups, and most people
    generally don't complain one way or the other.
    -------

    3. Do I have to have a Ph.D. in Tolkienology to post?

    By no means! People with any amount of Tolkien "lore" are welcome
    to participate. It is advisable, however, to have read /The Hobbit/
    and /The Lord of the Rings/ before spending much time here, as
    otherwise you run the risk of many, many spoilers for both books.

    When you do participate in discussions, just use whatever Tolkien
    knowledge you have: you can have great ideas regardless of how much
    you've read. Occasionally, others will cite sources (often obscure but
    just as often authoritative) that weaken or disprove your arguments.
    When this happens (as it does to every one of us), nobody will think
    less of you for not knowing the reference; treat it as a chance to
    learn something new about Middle-earth.
    -------

    4. What questions and topics are appropriate?

    Virtually any topic related (even distantly) to Tolkien and his
    works is fair game. If you post a purely "factual" question (like "How
    many Ringwraiths were there?"), it's a good idea to explain why you're
    asking: we periodically see questions from students who hope we will do
    their homework for them, and the last thing we want to do is help
    people to avoid reading the books!

    It is appreciated if articles that have absolutely nothing to do
    with Tolkien have subject lines beginning with "OT:" ("Off Topic"). The
    Tolkien newsgroups are a sufficiently social community that threads
    often do drift away from their initial topics, and while this should
    not be discouraged, it is polite to label it when it happens. On the
    other hand, off topic discussions that get too intense or go on too
    long can interfere with others' enjoyment of the groups, and should be
    avoided.

    Binary files, such as images or sounds, are NEVER appropriate in a non-binaries newsgroup. To share a binary file with people in the
    Tolkien groups, you have two main options. One is to find an
    appropriate newsgroup in the alt.binaries.* hierarchy, post the file
    there, and then post a message here telling us where to look. Another
    (more common) method is to put the file on the Web and post the URL on
    the newsgroups.
    -------

    5. What does a tilde (~) in the subject mean? and
    Is it acceptable to post messages with sexual content?

    Articles posted to these newsgroups occasionally contain comments
    that some consider inappropriate for younger readers. After much
    discussion, most participants agreed to mark messages with /sexual/
    content with a tilde in the subject line. Individuals can then create
    killfiles to screen out such messages as desired. While not everyone
    agrees that such a system is beneficial, following this convention is
    the polite thing to do. The newsgroup charter recommends the use of
    ROT-13 "encryption" for this purpose, but this has become less common.
    -------

    6. What common mistakes should I try to avoid?

    By and large, the participants in the Tolkien newsgroups try to
    judge others based on their ideas rather than on details of grammar and
    posting style. However, there are a few types of simple mistakes that
    tend to cause some level of bias and annoyance among many group
    members, which in turn can distract them from your real message. Most
    of these are covered in the "Netiquette" section below.

    One common mistake of this type that is not related to netiquette is confusing the singular and plural forms of common Elvish words. On the
    Tolkien newsgroups, these words are so familiar that the phrase "Manwe
    is a Valar" sounds just as jarring and strange as "Finrod is an Elves."
    To reduce this problem, a list of some of the most commonly confused singular/plural pairs is given below. Note the patterns!

    Singular: Vala Maia Elda Noldo Teler Istar Adan
    Plural: Valar Maiar Eldar Noldor Teleri Istari Edain

    Another issue that arises periodically is whether or not /The Lord
    of the Rings/ should be referred to as a "trilogy". Tolkien said quite
    clearly in Letter #165 that "The book is /not/ of course a 'trilogy'",
    and some people make a point of correcting those who use the term.
    However, in Letter #252, Tolkien himself refers to "my trilogy", so
    most of us agree that using the term is an acceptable shorthand, if
    nothing else.
    -------

    7. What do all the abbreviations used on the groups mean?

    [More abbreviations can be found in section IV of the Tolkien FAQ.]

    Some names and phrases come up so frequently on the Tolkien
    newsgroups that they are often abbreviated for convenience. A few of
    the very most common are defined below; these definitions are excerpted
    from Sir Confused-a-Lot's old AFT Glossary, now online at

    http://silenceisdefeat.com/~aft-rabt/glossary/

    JRRT: John Ronald Reuel Tolkien
    ME: Middle-earth
    LotR: /The Lord of the Rings/
    FotR: /The Fellowship of the Ring/
    TT: /The Two Towers/
    RotK: /The Return of the King/
    Silm.: /The Silmarillion/
    UT: /Unfinished Tales/
    HoMe: the "History of Middle-earth" series
    Letters: /The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien/
    Narn: The "Narn I Hin Hurin" in UT
    Athrabeth: The "Athrabeth Finrod Ah Andreth" in /Morgoth's Ring/

    NG: Newsgroup
    TEUNC: "Tolkien Eccentric Unusual Nut Cases", an eGroup of
    Tolkien fans, some of whom frequent the newsgroups
    LOL: Laughing Out Loud
    ROTFL: Rolling On The Floor Laughing

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------

    II.B. THE BASICS OF NETIQUETTE

    1. What is the proper subject line for my post?

    Make sure that the "Subject:" line of your post matches the topic
    that you are discussing. Be concise, but specific: subject lines such
    as "The Lord of the Rings" or "Tolkien" give no useful information
    about the contents of your post. Note that this does not only apply to
    the first post in a thread: if you see that the subject line no longer
    matches the topic of a thread, change it when you reply! Also, follow
    the "OT:" convention for off-topic posts (mentioned in question II.A.4
    above).

    When you do change the subject line, it is polite to indicate the
    subject of the previous post. For example, "Balrog Wings" might become
    "Balrog Flight (was Balrog Wings)" and then "Eagles (was Balrog
    Flight)". This helps people follow the history of the thread.
    -------

    2. What should I do when replying to an earlier article?
    For example, should I "top post" or "bottom post"?

    First and foremost, make sure to retain the attribution of any
    quoted text, so others know who said the things you are replying to.
    Almost equally important, make sure that you trim the previous post as
    much as possible:

    * If you are replying to one specific comment in the previous
    article, delete all of the previous text except that comment. If
    the comment is at all long, try to trim it down to its essence.
    Type your reply directly beneath the quoted comment.

    * If you are replying to several distinct points individually, quote
    each one as above and type your reply immediately below it (and
    above the next point).

    * If you are replying to a long section that cannot be easily
    trimmed down (for example, an original poem or story), quote only
    its first and last lines (and perhaps put "[snip]" or "..." on a
    line in between the two). If there are particular pieces that
    you want to respond to individually, do so as described above.

    There are two general rules of thumb to follow in connection with
    the above guidelines:

    * Any article you post should have more lines of new text than lines
    of quoted text. It is generally acceptable to ignore this rule
    if the entire post (including basic headers and any signature) is
    short enough to fit on a single 24 line screen.

    * Any comments specifically replying to the previous article should
    come /below/ the relevant part of the previous article. This
    makes reading the article more like reading a conversation, and
    therefore much easier to follow.

    This obviously means that "top posting" is strongly discouraged: it
    forces readers to scroll up and down between the new and old material,
    and it usually involves quoting the entire previous post(s) untrimmed..
    Whether you call our practice "bottom posting", "middle posting", or
    "standard netiquette" is up to you.

    An example of a post that follows these guidelines can be found on
    the web at

    http://tolkien.slimy.com/newsgroups/EssayDiscuss.txt

    This long message (from a discussion of my essay on Tom Bombadil) would
    be all but impossible to follow if the point by point replies were not organized as described above.

    Finally, make sure to keep the subject line up to date, as discussed
    in question II.B.1.
    -------

    3. When should I "cross-post" to multiple newsgroups?

    Generally, you should post an article to the single most appropriate
    group: a question about /The Hobbit/ is more appropriate on rec.arts.books.tolkien than on rec.arts.books. However, there are cases
    when several groups are appropriate: a discussion of the influence of
    Tolkien's faith on his writings could be interesting to readers of both soc.religion.christian.roman-catholic and rec.arts.books.tolkien.
    (Cases in which more than two or three groups are truly appropriate are extremely rare!)

    In such cases, it is almost always better to "cross-post" the
    article to multiple groups than to post separately to each. To do
    this, list all of the relevant groups together on the "Newsgroups:"
    line, separated by commas but /no/ spaces (many posts here list
    "Newsgroups: alt.fan.tolkien,rec.arts.books.tolkien"). Cross-posting
    has several advantages, the most important being that responses to a cross-posted article are also cross-posted. That ensures that everyone involved in the discussion sees every reply.

    Some internet service providers (notably AOL) misguidedly forbid cross-posting, probably because /inappropriate/ cross-posting is very
    bad netiquette and is often used to "spam" many groups at once. If you
    have this problem, it may be better to choose just one "best" group for
    your post than to post separate copies to multiple groups.
    -------

    4. I am able to post my messages with HTML formatting. Should I?

    Generally, no. Many of us use simple text-based programs to read
    news, and posts with HTML formatting can be very difficult to read.
    You can generally turn off this behavior from the "Preferences" or
    "Options" section of your newsreader. For some newsreaders, you will
    need to change more than one setting to completely eliminate this
    behavior.
    -------

    5. If someone insults me or otherwise makes me upset, should I flame
    them back?

    No.

    6. Even if my reputation and honor are at stake?

    Feel free to post any corrections or differences in opinion that you
    feel are necessary. Feel free to indicate that you are hurt, unhappy,
    or insulted because of their comments. But by no means escalate the
    budding flame war, and try your hardest to be polite in your response:
    this tends to get the group's sentiments on your side far better than
    any exchange of name-calling ever could. People are usually fairly
    good at recognizing when someone is being terribly unfair. Yes, it is undoubtedly your right to flame if you want to, but the vast majority
    of the group would be happier if you did not.

    In general, try to give others the benefit of the doubt: with only
    text to go on, it's hard to judge their real intent. Could you have
    misread the insulting lines in their post? Could they have been
    speaking tongue in cheek? Maybe they only meant to tease you, not
    realizing that you would really be insulted. Assuming the worst is a depressing way to live one's life.

    Finally, be particularly careful not to reply to a "troll", someone
    who intentionally fishes for arguments and flames. These people seem
    to take great personal delight in inspiring people to anger or
    indignation; the best reaction to them is generally to ignore them
    altogether.
    -------

    7. Where can I go for more information on netiquette, and on Usenet in
    general?

    One of the best places to start has always been the newsgroup news.announce.newusers. This group is home to a wide range of articles
    that provide introductory information about many aspects of Usenet
    news. Unfortunately, most of these articles are no longer being posted regularly to the group. It may be more effective to read archived
    copies of them at

    ftp://rtfm.mit.edu/pub/usenet/news.announce.newusers/

    Read the "Welcome to Usenet!" article there first.

    The information on netiquette and on Usenet in general in the news.announce.newusers articles remains very relevant today, but those
    articles are several years old. More recent information on similar
    topics can be found at the web sites associated with the news.newusers.questions newsgroup. A list of these sites around the
    world can be found at

    http://users.rcn.com/kateshort/nnq/nnqlinks.html

    (among many other places).

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------ ------------------------------------------------------------------------

    III. DEBATES AND DISCUSSION

    A great many questions about Tolkien and his books arise repeatedly
    on the Tolkien newsgroups. The starting point of each debate is the
    same almost every time, and it takes a long time for the discussion to
    reach "new ground." In the worst cases, bitter and longstanding
    arguments about the basics get in the way before new progress can be
    made at all.

    The purpose of a FAQ is to avoid this problem by setting down the
    basics in a common place so that the discussion can deal with new
    issues from the start. However, it is very difficult to balance the
    need for conciseness with the need for completeness: many debates that repeatedly appear on the Tolkien newsgroups have generated very large
    amounts of "known territory."

    Keep in mind that this FAQ provides only summaries of these debates:
    many of their subtleties are omitted for the sake of brevity. Most of
    these topics have been discussed at length by many intelligent In these
    cases, it is extremely unlikely that any unambiguous "proof" of one
    position exists. With this in mind, try to be respectful toward those
    who disagree with you. To get more information on the usual content of
    common discussions, it is often helpful to browse those discussions
    themselves at the Google Groups Usenet archive (see question IV.A.5 for
    more information).

    Finally, be sure to read question III.A.2, dealing with "canonical"
    texts. This FAQ addresses only the state of Middle-earth after LotR
    was written, which corresponds roughly to the material included in the published /Silmarillion/. Details from earlier versions of the
    mythology will not be discussed in this document (and are generally
    given very limited weight in debates about the later state of the
    mythology).

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------

    III.A. STORY EXTERNAL QUESTIONS

    1. What is the best order in which to read the books?

    This depends on each person's personal preferences. Unless you
    strongly dislike stories written for children, most recommend reading
    /The Hobbit/ first. /The Lord of the Rings/ is certainly next (feel
    free to skip the Prologue if you find it dull, and after the main text
    try to read at least Appendix A.I.v, "The Tale of Aragorn and Arwen").

    If you enjoy any part of the Appendices to LotR, there are things in Tolkien's other books that you are likely to enjoy as well. Most
    suggest reading /The Children of Hurin/, /Unfinished Tales/, /The Silmarillion/, and /The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien/ next, in some order
    (perhaps that one). /The Children of Hurin/ is the only complete novel
    about Middle-earth published after Tolkien's death (although it takes
    place long before the events of LotR, it probably isn't necessary to
    read Silm. first). The stories and essays in UT can be read in any
    order, so the "Third Age" material is a good starting point for those
    coming straight from LotR (the "First Age" stories are excellent, but
    are easier to follow after reading Silm.; the other parts of UT are
    mostly accessible to those who have read LotR and its appendices).
    Many people find the early parts of Silm. slow to read (like a history
    book or the Bible), but it is often a favorite among those who have
    read it. /Letters/ contains insights into both Middle-earth and Tolkien
    as a person.

    For more details (and more books), try getting a personalized
    recommendation from the Custom Tolkien Book List, on the web at

    http://tolkien.slimy.com/books.html

    (This URL redirects to the longer and messier URL of the actual list.)
    -------

    2. What books about Middle-earth are considered "canonical"?

    [I have written an essay on this topic, including general observations
    and my own approach. It is on the web at: http://tolkien.slimy.com/essays/TolkParish.html.]

    As the term is used on the Tolkien newsgroups, a "canonical" text is
    one which is believed to provide authoritative information about
    Middle-earth. This concept is more subtle than it may appear at first
    glance, in part because most of Tolkien's mythology remained incomplete
    when he died. Books or even individual chapters or essays may be
    regarded as more or less "trustworthy" than others, and many people
    reject the idea that there is a single "true" Middle-earth entirely.

    Among those who accept the concept of "canon" to at least some
    degree, almost all agree that /The Lord of the Rings/ is a canonical
    text and most assign equal or near equal weight to /The Hobbit/ (the
    other books about Middle-earth published in Tolkien's lifetime are
    treated similarly). However, due to heavy and unmarked posthumous
    editing, /The Silmarillion/ is considered by many /not/ to be canonical
    (see question III.A.3 for details).

    People put various amounts of trust in the many drafts and essays in /Unfinished Tales/ and the "History of Middle-earth" series. In cases
    where Tolkien's intent seems particularly stable and clear, some trust
    these sources almost as much as /The Hobbit/ and LotR themselves. In
    practice, this means that most of the more trustworthy material is
    found in /Unfinished Tales/ and in volumes X-XII of the HoMe series.
    Opinions on how much to trust /The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien/ are
    mixed, but its contents are generally respected as long as they are not contradicted by other (more canonical) texts. The pictures in /J.R.R.
    Tolkien: Artist and Illustrator/ by Wayne Hammond and Christina Scull
    may also be considered somewhat canonical.

    It is important to note that many aspects of Middle-earth changed substantially over the course of Tolkien's life. Because of this,
    facts taken from the early versions of the mythology can be misleading
    or just plain wrong when used to draw conclusions about LotR or later
    versions of the mythology. This means that while the early versions
    can provide valuable hints about Tolkien's thoughts on an issue, they
    are rarely considered to provide definitive evidence for any position.

    The Custom Tolkien Book List (mentioned in question III.A.1)
    includes my own perspective on the "canonicity" of each section of each
    book in the list. While those are just one person's opinions, they are
    fairly typical. A static version of the list in publication order can
    be found on the web at

    http://tolkien.slimy.com/publist.html

    That static list still contains a link to the customizable version.
    -------

    3. How does /The Silmarillion/ as published differ from what Tolkien
    intended?

    This is a complicated question that is essentially unanswerable:
    despite his lifelong effort, Tolkien never came close to completing
    /The Silmarillion/. At Tolkien's request, after his death his son
    Christopher (with some help from Guy Kay) worked to "bring the work
    into publishable form"; Christopher discusses the difficulties involved
    in the book's Foreword. To understand why /The Silmarillion/ took the
    form that it did (and why it is rarely considered "canonical", as
    mentioned in question III.A.2), it is worth exploring those editorial
    changes. The full story can be found in the "History of Middle-earth"
    books, particularly /Morgoth's Ring/ and /The War of the Jewels/
    (volumes X-XI).

    The most basic editorial decision was which writings to include in
    the book at all. The "Quenta Silmarillion" is of course the central
    text, but Tolkien also wrote numerous associated stories and essays.
    Charles Noad explored this question as part of his essay "On the
    Construction of 'The Silmarillion'" (published in /Tolkien's
    Legendarium/; see question III.A.5), where he suggests an "outline for
    'The Silmarillion' as Tolkien may have intended it". In addition to the
    texts in the published book, Noad includes expanded versions of four
    stories: "The Lay of Leithian" (possibly in poetic form), "Narn i Chin
    Hurin", "The Fall of Gondolin", and "Earendil the Wanderer" (which
    Tolkien never even fully sketched). He also includes five
    "Appendices": writings about Middle-earth and its inhabitants such as
    "Laws and Customs among the Eldar" and the "Athrabeth Finrod ah
    Andreth" (most of these were published in HoMe X-XI). Sadly, a book
    with this outline could never be made satisfying with just the texts
    that Tolkien left us.

    Moving on to the texts that were actually included in /The
    Silmarillion/ as published, there were three types of problems to
    overcome. In the worst cases, there were crucial gaps in the narrative
    where Tolkien had never written more than an outline of the story (or
    where the most recent version was hopelessly outdated). Much more
    frequently, Tolkien's years of revisions led to factual inconsistencies
    between stories written at various times (especially between writings
    before and after /The Lord of the Rings/). And finally, Tolkien's
    writings differed markedly in tone, ranging from vivid narratives to
    terse annals to philosophical essays. To assemble a single text,
    consistent in style and detail, from such a range of source material
    clearly required substantial editing.

    Despite that pessimistic assessment, the vast majority of the
    published /Silmarillion/ is taken directly from Tolkien's work and
    seems to come quite close to what he intended, as far as it goes. (None
    of the "expanded" tales were ever completed, but what exists of them
    can be found for the most part in /Unfinished Tales/, /The Lays of
    Beleriand/, and the other "History of Middle-earth" books mentioned
    above.) Still, mild editing is not uncommon, and can be difficult to
    identify even by comparison to the source texts as published in HoMe.
    Thus, /The Silmarillion/ is often not treated as a final authority in
    scholarly discussions of Middle-earth. (A classic example is its
    mistaken ancestry of Gil-galad, as discussed in question III.B.8.)

    The greatest concern, of course, comes from those few cases where
    large gaps had to be filled by the editors. This happened to some
    extent for "Of Tuor and the Fall of Gondolin" and "Of the Voyage of
    Earendil and the War of Wrath", but the most substantial editorial
    "invention" came in the chapter "Of the Ruin of Doriath". The episode

    [continued in next message]

    --- SoupGate-Win32 v1.05
    * Origin: fsxNet Usenet Gateway (21:1/5)
  • From Steuard Jensen@21:1/5 to All on Mon Feb 21 22:14:01 2022
    XPost: alt.fan.tolkien

    Posted-By: auto-faq 3.3.1 (Perl 5.020)
    Posting-Frequency: monthly
    URL: http://tolkien.slimy.com/

    TOLKIEN NEWSGROUPS FAQ

    Copyright (C) 1999-2012 by Steuard Jensen

    (Created 17 Aug 1999)
    (Last updated 11 Mar 2012)



    For many years, the Tolkien Usenet newsgroups have been home to a
    pair of excellent Frequently Asked Questions lists about Tolkien and Middle-earth, compiled by William D. B. Loos. These sources contain a
    wealth of information, but are no longer maintained (the last update
    seems to have been in July 1996). This means that quite a few issues
    of current interest to the groups are not fully addressed in those
    documents.

    This FAQ supplements, updates, and expands on the earlier ones,
    though it is not meant to replace them entirely. It includes new and
    corrected information on some of the old discussions, numerous entries
    on topics not covered in the older FAQs, and a broad discussion of the
    Tolkien newsgroups and common standards of netiquette. This FAQ is
    intended both as an introduction for newcomers to the newsgroups and as
    a source of information for anyone exploring Middle-earth.

    The official HTML version of the FAQ is on the web at

    http://tolkien.slimy.com/faq/

    The plain text version is posted to Usenet on the 22nd of each month
    and is also available on the web, at

    http://tolkien.slimy.com/faq/TolkNgFaq.txt

    For a unified and easy to use interface to this FAQ, the Loos FAQs, and
    others, consider visiting the Tolkien Meta-FAQ, at

    http://tolkien.slimy.com/

    I would like to give my sincere thanks to the many, many people on
    the newsgroups and elsewhere who have given criticism, suggestions, and encouragement as I wrote this FAQ. This project would never have
    succeeded without their wonderful support.

    Steuard Jensen
    steuard@slimy.com ------------------------------------------------------------------------ ------------------------------------------------------------------------


    Table of Contents

    Sections/questions marked: * have been revised since the last release
    ** are new since the last release

    I. Changes Since the Last Release *

    II. Newsgroups and Netiquette

    A. Information on the Tolkien Newsgroups
    1. What newsgroups are we talking about again?
    2. Why are there two groups?
    3. Do I have to have a Ph.D. in Tolkienology to post?
    4. What questions and topics are appropriate?
    5. What does a tilde (~) in the subject mean? and
    Is it acceptable to post messages with sexual content?
    6. What common mistakes should I try to avoid?
    7. What do all the abbreviations used on the groups mean?

    B. The Basics of Netiquette
    1. What is the proper subject line for my post?
    2. What should I do when replying to an earlier article?
    For example, should I "top post" or "bottom post"?
    3. When should I "cross-post" to multiple newsgroups?
    4. I am able to post my messages with HTML formatting. Should I?
    5. If someone insults me or otherwise makes me upset, should I
    flame them back?
    6. Even if my reputation and honor are at stake?
    7. Where can I go for more information on netiquette, and on
    Usenet in general?

    III. Debates and Discussion

    A. Story External Questions
    1. What is the best order in which to read the books?
    2. What books about Middle-earth are considered "canonical"?
    3. How does /The Silmarillion/ as published differ from what
    Tolkien intended?
    4. Which are "The Two Towers"?
    5. Which books /about/ Tolkien are good, and which aren't?
    6. Is Middle-earth Medieval?
    7. Was Tolkien racist? Were his works?
    8. Are there electronic versions of Tolkien's books?
    9. Where can I report copyright violations that I observe?

    B. Story Internal Questions: Creatures and Characters
    1. Did Balrogs have wings?
    2. Could Balrogs fly?
    3. What was Tom Bombadil?
    4. Did Elves have pointed ears?
    5. Did Elves have beards?
    6. What happened to Elves after they died?
    7. Was Glorfindel of Rivendell the same as Glorfindel of Gondolin?
    8. Who was Gil-galad's father?
    9. Did Dwarf women have beards?
    10. Was there "telepathy" in Middle-earth?
    11. Did Sauron have a physical form during /The Lord of the
    Rings/? *
    12. What were the names of the Nazgul?
    13. What was Gothmog (the lieutenant of Morgul)?
    14. What was the origin of Orcs?
    15. Were Orcs immortal, and what happened to them after death?
    16. What was the relationship between Orcs and Goblins?
    17. What was the origin of Saruman's Uruk-hai?
    18. What was the origin of Trolls?
    19. What were the giants (seen by Bilbo in /The Hobbit/)?

    C. Story Internal Questions: History and Happenings
    1. Why didn't they just have an Eagle fly the Ring to Mt. Doom?
    2. Were the barrow blades magical? In what way?
    3. Why didn't the Nazgul take the Ring at Weathertop?
    4. Who killed the Witch-king, Merry or Eowyn?
    5. Did Frodo and the other mortals who passed over the Sea
    eventually die?
    6. Did Sam follow Frodo into the West?
    7. What is known about the Blue Wizards?
    8. Who was aware that a Balrog lived in Moria?
    9. Did Elves and Dwarves generally get along?
    10. Where was the Ring when Numenor was destroyed?
    11. Who was the oldest inhabitant of Middle-earth?

    IV. External Resources

    A. Where else can I find general information about Middle-earth?
    1. The Tolkien Meta-FAQ
    2. The Tolkien FAQ and LessFAQ
    3. The "FAQ of the Rings"
    4. The Letters FAQ
    5. Google's Usenet archive

    B. Where can I learn more about Tolkien's languages?

    C. Stories of Middle-earth in many forms
    1. What editions of Tolkien's books are best?
    2. What audio versions of Tolkien's books are available?
    3. What is the groups' view of the recent /Lord of the Rings/
    movies?
    4. Where can I find out about music related to Middle-earth?

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------ ------------------------------------------------------------------------

    I. CHANGES SINCE THE LAST RELEASE

    Adjusted wording of question III.B.11 about Sauron's physical form
    to emphasize the relevance of the evidence to the period of LotR.

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------ ------------------------------------------------------------------------

    II. NEWSGROUPS AND NETIQUETTE

    When discussing Tolkien (or anything else) online, it is important
    to know at least a little about the "culture" of the discussion forum
    that you are participating in. The information in this section is
    intended to give an idea of "appropriate" behavior on the Tolkien
    Usenet newsgroups. To make our discussions as enjoyable as possible,
    every participant should try to be familiar with what follows.

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------

    II.A. INFORMATION ON THE TOLKIEN NEWSGROUPS

    1. What newsgroups are we talking about again?

    There are several Usenet newsgroups specific to Tolkien and his
    works. However, the two most widely read and distributed of these are rec.arts.books.tolkien and alt.fan.tolkien, commonly abbreviated either
    r.a.b.t or RABT and a.f.t or AFT, respectively.

    The official rec.arts.books.tolkien charter can be found at

    http://tolkien.slimy.com/newsgroups/RABTcharter.txt

    Alt.fan.tolkien does not have a formal charter.
    -------

    2. Why are there two groups?

    Originally, AFT was the only Tolkien newsgroup on Usenet. RABT was
    created (when the approval vote passed on 26 Mar 1993) as a replacement
    for AFT which would be carried by a larger fraction of news servers.
    However, AFT was never removed, and both groups currently enjoy
    substantial readership. While only RABT has a formal charter (see
    question II.A.1 for reference), the two groups are virtually identical
    in intended content.

    Many participants see a tendency for RABT to be somewhat more
    "scholarly" in tone while AFT is a bit more "conversational", and some
    suggest that this distinction is useful and should be encouraged.
    Other participants draw less of a distinction between the two groups,
    and often believe that a difference in focus would be both undesirable
    and impossible to achieve. In practice, everyone decides for
    themselves how they want to treat the two groups, and most people
    generally don't complain one way or the other.
    -------

    3. Do I have to have a Ph.D. in Tolkienology to post?

    By no means! People with any amount of Tolkien "lore" are welcome
    to participate. It is advisable, however, to have read /The Hobbit/
    and /The Lord of the Rings/ before spending much time here, as
    otherwise you run the risk of many, many spoilers for both books.

    When you do participate in discussions, just use whatever Tolkien
    knowledge you have: you can have great ideas regardless of how much
    you've read. Occasionally, others will cite sources (often obscure but
    just as often authoritative) that weaken or disprove your arguments.
    When this happens (as it does to every one of us), nobody will think
    less of you for not knowing the reference; treat it as a chance to
    learn something new about Middle-earth.
    -------

    4. What questions and topics are appropriate?

    Virtually any topic related (even distantly) to Tolkien and his
    works is fair game. If you post a purely "factual" question (like "How
    many Ringwraiths were there?"), it's a good idea to explain why you're
    asking: we periodically see questions from students who hope we will do
    their homework for them, and the last thing we want to do is help
    people to avoid reading the books!

    It is appreciated if articles that have absolutely nothing to do
    with Tolkien have subject lines beginning with "OT:" ("Off Topic"). The
    Tolkien newsgroups are a sufficiently social community that threads
    often do drift away from their initial topics, and while this should
    not be discouraged, it is polite to label it when it happens. On the
    other hand, off topic discussions that get too intense or go on too
    long can interfere with others' enjoyment of the groups, and should be
    avoided.

    Binary files, such as images or sounds, are NEVER appropriate in a non-binaries newsgroup. To share a binary file with people in the
    Tolkien groups, you have two main options. One is to find an
    appropriate newsgroup in the alt.binaries.* hierarchy, post the file
    there, and then post a message here telling us where to look. Another
    (more common) method is to put the file on the Web and post the URL on
    the newsgroups.
    -------

    5. What does a tilde (~) in the subject mean? and
    Is it acceptable to post messages with sexual content?

    Articles posted to these newsgroups occasionally contain comments
    that some consider inappropriate for younger readers. After much
    discussion, most participants agreed to mark messages with /sexual/
    content with a tilde in the subject line. Individuals can then create
    killfiles to screen out such messages as desired. While not everyone
    agrees that such a system is beneficial, following this convention is
    the polite thing to do. The newsgroup charter recommends the use of
    ROT-13 "encryption" for this purpose, but this has become less common.
    -------

    6. What common mistakes should I try to avoid?

    By and large, the participants in the Tolkien newsgroups try to
    judge others based on their ideas rather than on details of grammar and
    posting style. However, there are a few types of simple mistakes that
    tend to cause some level of bias and annoyance among many group
    members, which in turn can distract them from your real message. Most
    of these are covered in the "Netiquette" section below.

    One common mistake of this type that is not related to netiquette is confusing the singular and plural forms of common Elvish words. On the
    Tolkien newsgroups, these words are so familiar that the phrase "Manwe
    is a Valar" sounds just as jarring and strange as "Finrod is an Elves."
    To reduce this problem, a list of some of the most commonly confused singular/plural pairs is given below. Note the patterns!

    Singular: Vala Maia Elda Noldo Teler Istar Adan
    Plural: Valar Maiar Eldar Noldor Teleri Istari Edain

    Another issue that arises periodically is whether or not /The Lord
    of the Rings/ should be referred to as a "trilogy". Tolkien said quite
    clearly in Letter #165 that "The book is /not/ of course a 'trilogy'",
    and some people make a point of correcting those who use the term.
    However, in Letter #252, Tolkien himself refers to "my trilogy", so
    most of us agree that using the term is an acceptable shorthand, if
    nothing else.
    -------

    7. What do all the abbreviations used on the groups mean?

    [More abbreviations can be found in section IV of the Tolkien FAQ.]

    Some names and phrases come up so frequently on the Tolkien
    newsgroups that they are often abbreviated for convenience. A few of
    the very most common are defined below; these definitions are excerpted
    from Sir Confused-a-Lot's old AFT Glossary, now online at

    http://silenceisdefeat.com/~aft-rabt/glossary/

    JRRT: John Ronald Reuel Tolkien
    ME: Middle-earth
    LotR: /The Lord of the Rings/
    FotR: /The Fellowship of the Ring/
    TT: /The Two Towers/
    RotK: /The Return of the King/
    Silm.: /The Silmarillion/
    UT: /Unfinished Tales/
    HoMe: the "History of Middle-earth" series
    Letters: /The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien/
    Narn: The "Narn I Hin Hurin" in UT
    Athrabeth: The "Athrabeth Finrod Ah Andreth" in /Morgoth's Ring/

    NG: Newsgroup
    TEUNC: "Tolkien Eccentric Unusual Nut Cases", an eGroup of
    Tolkien fans, some of whom frequent the newsgroups
    LOL: Laughing Out Loud
    ROTFL: Rolling On The Floor Laughing

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------

    II.B. THE BASICS OF NETIQUETTE

    1. What is the proper subject line for my post?

    Make sure that the "Subject:" line of your post matches the topic
    that you are discussing. Be concise, but specific: subject lines such
    as "The Lord of the Rings" or "Tolkien" give no useful information
    about the contents of your post. Note that this does not only apply to
    the first post in a thread: if you see that the subject line no longer
    matches the topic of a thread, change it when you reply! Also, follow
    the "OT:" convention for off-topic posts (mentioned in question II.A.4
    above).

    When you do change the subject line, it is polite to indicate the
    subject of the previous post. For example, "Balrog Wings" might become
    "Balrog Flight (was Balrog Wings)" and then "Eagles (was Balrog
    Flight)". This helps people follow the history of the thread.
    -------

    2. What should I do when replying to an earlier article?
    For example, should I "top post" or "bottom post"?

    First and foremost, make sure to retain the attribution of any
    quoted text, so others know who said the things you are replying to.
    Almost equally important, make sure that you trim the previous post as
    much as possible:

    * If you are replying to one specific comment in the previous
    article, delete all of the previous text except that comment. If
    the comment is at all long, try to trim it down to its essence.
    Type your reply directly beneath the quoted comment.

    * If you are replying to several distinct points individually, quote
    each one as above and type your reply immediately below it (and
    above the next point).

    * If you are replying to a long section that cannot be easily
    trimmed down (for example, an original poem or story), quote only
    its first and last lines (and perhaps put "[snip]" or "..." on a
    line in between the two). If there are particular pieces that
    you want to respond to individually, do so as described above.

    There are two general rules of thumb to follow in connection with
    the above guidelines:

    * Any article you post should have more lines of new text than lines
    of quoted text. It is generally acceptable to ignore this rule
    if the entire post (including basic headers and any signature) is
    short enough to fit on a single 24 line screen.

    * Any comments specifically replying to the previous article should
    come /below/ the relevant part of the previous article. This
    makes reading the article more like reading a conversation, and
    therefore much easier to follow.

    This obviously means that "top posting" is strongly discouraged: it
    forces readers to scroll up and down between the new and old material,
    and it usually involves quoting the entire previous post(s) untrimmed..
    Whether you call our practice "bottom posting", "middle posting", or
    "standard netiquette" is up to you.

    An example of a post that follows these guidelines can be found on
    the web at

    http://tolkien.slimy.com/newsgroups/EssayDiscuss.txt

    This long message (from a discussion of my essay on Tom Bombadil) would
    be all but impossible to follow if the point by point replies were not organized as described above.

    Finally, make sure to keep the subject line up to date, as discussed
    in question II.B.1.
    -------

    3. When should I "cross-post" to multiple newsgroups?

    Generally, you should post an article to the single most appropriate
    group: a question about /The Hobbit/ is more appropriate on rec.arts.books.tolkien than on rec.arts.books. However, there are cases
    when several groups are appropriate: a discussion of the influence of
    Tolkien's faith on his writings could be interesting to readers of both soc.religion.christian.roman-catholic and rec.arts.books.tolkien.
    (Cases in which more than two or three groups are truly appropriate are extremely rare!)

    In such cases, it is almost always better to "cross-post" the
    article to multiple groups than to post separately to each. To do
    this, list all of the relevant groups together on the "Newsgroups:"
    line, separated by commas but /no/ spaces (many posts here list
    "Newsgroups: alt.fan.tolkien,rec.arts.books.tolkien"). Cross-posting
    has several advantages, the most important being that responses to a cross-posted article are also cross-posted. That ensures that everyone involved in the discussion sees every reply.

    Some internet service providers (notably AOL) misguidedly forbid cross-posting, probably because /inappropriate/ cross-posting is very
    bad netiquette and is often used to "spam" many groups at once. If you
    have this problem, it may be better to choose just one "best" group for
    your post than to post separate copies to multiple groups.
    -------

    4. I am able to post my messages with HTML formatting. Should I?

    Generally, no. Many of us use simple text-based programs to read
    news, and posts with HTML formatting can be very difficult to read.
    You can generally turn off this behavior from the "Preferences" or
    "Options" section of your newsreader. For some newsreaders, you will
    need to change more than one setting to completely eliminate this
    behavior.
    -------

    5. If someone insults me or otherwise makes me upset, should I flame
    them back?

    No.

    6. Even if my reputation and honor are at stake?

    Feel free to post any corrections or differences in opinion that you
    feel are necessary. Feel free to indicate that you are hurt, unhappy,
    or insulted because of their comments. But by no means escalate the
    budding flame war, and try your hardest to be polite in your response:
    this tends to get the group's sentiments on your side far better than
    any exchange of name-calling ever could. People are usually fairly
    good at recognizing when someone is being terribly unfair. Yes, it is undoubtedly your right to flame if you want to, but the vast majority
    of the group would be happier if you did not.

    In general, try to give others the benefit of the doubt: with only
    text to go on, it's hard to judge their real intent. Could you have
    misread the insulting lines in their post? Could they have been
    speaking tongue in cheek? Maybe they only meant to tease you, not
    realizing that you would really be insulted. Assuming the worst is a depressing way to live one's life.

    Finally, be particularly careful not to reply to a "troll", someone
    who intentionally fishes for arguments and flames. These people seem
    to take great personal delight in inspiring people to anger or
    indignation; the best reaction to them is generally to ignore them
    altogether.
    -------

    7. Where can I go for more information on netiquette, and on Usenet in
    general?

    One of the best places to start has always been the newsgroup news.announce.newusers. This group is home to a wide range of articles
    that provide introductory information about many aspects of Usenet
    news. Unfortunately, most of these articles are no longer being posted regularly to the group. It may be more effective to read archived
    copies of them at

    ftp://rtfm.mit.edu/pub/usenet/news.announce.newusers/

    Read the "Welcome to Usenet!" article there first.

    The information on netiquette and on Usenet in general in the news.announce.newusers articles remains very relevant today, but those
    articles are several years old. More recent information on similar
    topics can be found at the web sites associated with the news.newusers.questions newsgroup. A list of these sites around the
    world can be found at

    http://users.rcn.com/kateshort/nnq/nnqlinks.html

    (among many other places).

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------ ------------------------------------------------------------------------

    III. DEBATES AND DISCUSSION

    A great many questions about Tolkien and his books arise repeatedly
    on the Tolkien newsgroups. The starting point of each debate is the
    same almost every time, and it takes a long time for the discussion to
    reach "new ground." In the worst cases, bitter and longstanding
    arguments about the basics get in the way before new progress can be
    made at all.

    The purpose of a FAQ is to avoid this problem by setting down the
    basics in a common place so that the discussion can deal with new
    issues from the start. However, it is very difficult to balance the
    need for conciseness with the need for completeness: many debates that repeatedly appear on the Tolkien newsgroups have generated very large
    amounts of "known territory."

    Keep in mind that this FAQ provides only summaries of these debates:
    many of their subtleties are omitted for the sake of brevity. Most of
    these topics have been discussed at length by many intelligent In these
    cases, it is extremely unlikely that any unambiguous "proof" of one
    position exists. With this in mind, try to be respectful toward those
    who disagree with you. To get more information on the usual content of
    common discussions, it is often helpful to browse those discussions
    themselves at the Google Groups Usenet archive (see question IV.A.5 for
    more information).

    Finally, be sure to read question III.A.2, dealing with "canonical"
    texts. This FAQ addresses only the state of Middle-earth after LotR
    was written, which corresponds roughly to the material included in the published /Silmarillion/. Details from earlier versions of the
    mythology will not be discussed in this document (and are generally
    given very limited weight in debates about the later state of the
    mythology).

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------

    III.A. STORY EXTERNAL QUESTIONS

    1. What is the best order in which to read the books?

    This depends on each person's personal preferences. Unless you
    strongly dislike stories written for children, most recommend reading
    /The Hobbit/ first. /The Lord of the Rings/ is certainly next (feel
    free to skip the Prologue if you find it dull, and after the main text
    try to read at least Appendix A.I.v, "The Tale of Aragorn and Arwen").

    If you enjoy any part of the Appendices to LotR, there are things in Tolkien's other books that you are likely to enjoy as well. Most
    suggest reading /The Children of Hurin/, /Unfinished Tales/, /The Silmarillion/, and /The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien/ next, in some order
    (perhaps that one). /The Children of Hurin/ is the only complete novel
    about Middle-earth published after Tolkien's death (although it takes
    place long before the events of LotR, it probably isn't necessary to
    read Silm. first). The stories and essays in UT can be read in any
    order, so the "Third Age" material is a good starting point for those
    coming straight from LotR (the "First Age" stories are excellent, but
    are easier to follow after reading Silm.; the other parts of UT are
    mostly accessible to those who have read LotR and its appendices).
    Many people find the early parts of Silm. slow to read (like a history
    book or the Bible), but it is often a favorite among those who have
    read it. /Letters/ contains insights into both Middle-earth and Tolkien
    as a person.

    For more details (and more books), try getting a personalized
    recommendation from the Custom Tolkien Book List, on the web at

    http://tolkien.slimy.com/books.html

    (This URL redirects to the longer and messier URL of the actual list.)
    -------

    2. What books about Middle-earth are considered "canonical"?

    [I have written an essay on this topic, including general observations
    and my own approach. It is on the web at: http://tolkien.slimy.com/essays/TolkParish.html.]

    As the term is used on the Tolkien newsgroups, a "canonical" text is
    one which is believed to provide authoritative information about
    Middle-earth. This concept is more subtle than it may appear at first
    glance, in part because most of Tolkien's mythology remained incomplete
    when he died. Books or even individual chapters or essays may be
    regarded as more or less "trustworthy" than others, and many people
    reject the idea that there is a single "true" Middle-earth entirely.

    Among those who accept the concept of "canon" to at least some
    degree, almost all agree that /The Lord of the Rings/ is a canonical
    text and most assign equal or near equal weight to /The Hobbit/ (the
    other books about Middle-earth published in Tolkien's lifetime are
    treated similarly). However, due to heavy and unmarked posthumous
    editing, /The Silmarillion/ is considered by many /not/ to be canonical
    (see question III.A.3 for details).

    People put various amounts of trust in the many drafts and essays in /Unfinished Tales/ and the "History of Middle-earth" series. In cases
    where Tolkien's intent seems particularly stable and clear, some trust
    these sources almost as much as /The Hobbit/ and LotR themselves. In
    practice, this means that most of the more trustworthy material is
    found in /Unfinished Tales/ and in volumes X-XII of the HoMe series.
    Opinions on how much to trust /The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien/ are
    mixed, but its contents are generally respected as long as they are not contradicted by other (more canonical) texts. The pictures in /J.R.R.
    Tolkien: Artist and Illustrator/ by Wayne Hammond and Christina Scull
    may also be considered somewhat canonical.

    It is important to note that many aspects of Middle-earth changed substantially over the course of Tolkien's life. Because of this,
    facts taken from the early versions of the mythology can be misleading
    or just plain wrong when used to draw conclusions about LotR or later
    versions of the mythology. This means that while the early versions
    can provide valuable hints about Tolkien's thoughts on an issue, they
    are rarely considered to provide definitive evidence for any position.

    The Custom Tolkien Book List (mentioned in question III.A.1)
    includes my own perspective on the "canonicity" of each section of each
    book in the list. While those are just one person's opinions, they are
    fairly typical. A static version of the list in publication order can
    be found on the web at

    http://tolkien.slimy.com/publist.html

    That static list still contains a link to the customizable version.
    -------

    3. How does /The Silmarillion/ as published differ from what Tolkien
    intended?

    This is a complicated question that is essentially unanswerable:
    despite his lifelong effort, Tolkien never came close to completing
    /The Silmarillion/. At Tolkien's request, after his death his son
    Christopher (with some help from Guy Kay) worked to "bring the work
    into publishable form"; Christopher discusses the difficulties involved
    in the book's Foreword. To understand why /The Silmarillion/ took the
    form that it did (and why it is rarely considered "canonical", as
    mentioned in question III.A.2), it is worth exploring those editorial
    changes. The full story can be found in the "History of Middle-earth"
    books, particularly /Morgoth's Ring/ and /The War of the Jewels/
    (volumes X-XI).

    The most basic editorial decision was which writings to include in
    the book at all. The "Quenta Silmarillion" is of course the central
    text, but Tolkien also wrote numerous associated stories and essays.
    Charles Noad explored this question as part of his essay "On the
    Construction of 'The Silmarillion'" (published in /Tolkien's
    Legendarium/; see question III.A.5), where he suggests an "outline for
    'The Silmarillion' as Tolkien may have intended it". In addition to the
    texts in the published book, Noad includes expanded versions of four
    stories: "The Lay of Leithian" (possibly in poetic form), "Narn i Chin
    Hurin", "The Fall of Gondolin", and "Earendil the Wanderer" (which
    Tolkien never even fully sketched). He also includes five
    "Appendices": writings about Middle-earth and its inhabitants such as
    "Laws and Customs among the Eldar" and the "Athrabeth Finrod ah
    Andreth" (most of these were published in HoMe X-XI). Sadly, a book
    with this outline could never be made satisfying with just the texts
    that Tolkien left us.

    Moving on to the texts that were actually included in /The
    Silmarillion/ as published, there were three types of problems to
    overcome. In the worst cases, there were crucial gaps in the narrative
    where Tolkien had never written more than an outline of the story (or
    where the most recent version was hopelessly outdated). Much more
    frequently, Tolkien's years of revisions led to factual inconsistencies
    between stories written at various times (especially between writings
    before and after /The Lord of the Rings/). And finally, Tolkien's
    writings differed markedly in tone, ranging from vivid narratives to
    terse annals to philosophical essays. To assemble a single text,
    consistent in style and detail, from such a range of source material
    clearly required substantial editing.

    Despite that pessimistic assessment, the vast majority of the
    published /Silmarillion/ is taken directly from Tolkien's work and
    seems to come quite close to what he intended, as far as it goes. (None
    of the "expanded" tales were ever completed, but what exists of them
    can be found for the most part in /Unfinished Tales/, /The Lays of
    Beleriand/, and the other "History of Middle-earth" books mentioned
    above.) Still, mild editing is not uncommon, and can be difficult to
    identify even by comparison to the source texts as published in HoMe.
    Thus, /The Silmarillion/ is often not treated as a final authority in
    scholarly discussions of Middle-earth. (A classic example is its
    mistaken ancestry of Gil-galad, as discussed in question III.B.8.)

    The greatest concern, of course, comes from those few cases where
    large gaps had to be filled by the editors. This happened to some
    extent for "Of Tuor and the Fall of Gondolin" and "Of the Voyage of
    Earendil and the War of Wrath", but the most substantial editorial
    "invention" came in the chapter "Of the Ruin of Doriath". The episode

    [continued in next message]

    --- SoupGate-Win32 v1.05
    * Origin: fsxNet Usenet Gateway (21:1/5)
  • From Steuard Jensen@21:1/5 to All on Mon Mar 21 23:14:01 2022
    XPost: alt.fan.tolkien

    Posted-By: auto-faq 3.3.1 (Perl 5.020)
    Posting-Frequency: monthly
    URL: http://tolkien.slimy.com/

    TOLKIEN NEWSGROUPS FAQ

    Copyright (C) 1999-2012 by Steuard Jensen

    (Created 17 Aug 1999)
    (Last updated 11 Mar 2012)



    For many years, the Tolkien Usenet newsgroups have been home to a
    pair of excellent Frequently Asked Questions lists about Tolkien and Middle-earth, compiled by William D. B. Loos. These sources contain a
    wealth of information, but are no longer maintained (the last update
    seems to have been in July 1996). This means that quite a few issues
    of current interest to the groups are not fully addressed in those
    documents.

    This FAQ supplements, updates, and expands on the earlier ones,
    though it is not meant to replace them entirely. It includes new and
    corrected information on some of the old discussions, numerous entries
    on topics not covered in the older FAQs, and a broad discussion of the
    Tolkien newsgroups and common standards of netiquette. This FAQ is
    intended both as an introduction for newcomers to the newsgroups and as
    a source of information for anyone exploring Middle-earth.

    The official HTML version of the FAQ is on the web at

    http://tolkien.slimy.com/faq/

    The plain text version is posted to Usenet on the 22nd of each month
    and is also available on the web, at

    http://tolkien.slimy.com/faq/TolkNgFaq.txt

    For a unified and easy to use interface to this FAQ, the Loos FAQs, and
    others, consider visiting the Tolkien Meta-FAQ, at

    http://tolkien.slimy.com/

    I would like to give my sincere thanks to the many, many people on
    the newsgroups and elsewhere who have given criticism, suggestions, and encouragement as I wrote this FAQ. This project would never have
    succeeded without their wonderful support.

    Steuard Jensen
    steuard@slimy.com ------------------------------------------------------------------------ ------------------------------------------------------------------------


    Table of Contents

    Sections/questions marked: * have been revised since the last release
    ** are new since the last release

    I. Changes Since the Last Release *

    II. Newsgroups and Netiquette

    A. Information on the Tolkien Newsgroups
    1. What newsgroups are we talking about again?
    2. Why are there two groups?
    3. Do I have to have a Ph.D. in Tolkienology to post?
    4. What questions and topics are appropriate?
    5. What does a tilde (~) in the subject mean? and
    Is it acceptable to post messages with sexual content?
    6. What common mistakes should I try to avoid?
    7. What do all the abbreviations used on the groups mean?

    B. The Basics of Netiquette
    1. What is the proper subject line for my post?
    2. What should I do when replying to an earlier article?
    For example, should I "top post" or "bottom post"?
    3. When should I "cross-post" to multiple newsgroups?
    4. I am able to post my messages with HTML formatting. Should I?
    5. If someone insults me or otherwise makes me upset, should I
    flame them back?
    6. Even if my reputation and honor are at stake?
    7. Where can I go for more information on netiquette, and on
    Usenet in general?

    III. Debates and Discussion

    A. Story External Questions
    1. What is the best order in which to read the books?
    2. What books about Middle-earth are considered "canonical"?
    3. How does /The Silmarillion/ as published differ from what
    Tolkien intended?
    4. Which are "The Two Towers"?
    5. Which books /about/ Tolkien are good, and which aren't?
    6. Is Middle-earth Medieval?
    7. Was Tolkien racist? Were his works?
    8. Are there electronic versions of Tolkien's books?
    9. Where can I report copyright violations that I observe?

    B. Story Internal Questions: Creatures and Characters
    1. Did Balrogs have wings?
    2. Could Balrogs fly?
    3. What was Tom Bombadil?
    4. Did Elves have pointed ears?
    5. Did Elves have beards?
    6. What happened to Elves after they died?
    7. Was Glorfindel of Rivendell the same as Glorfindel of Gondolin?
    8. Who was Gil-galad's father?
    9. Did Dwarf women have beards?
    10. Was there "telepathy" in Middle-earth?
    11. Did Sauron have a physical form during /The Lord of the
    Rings/? *
    12. What were the names of the Nazgul?
    13. What was Gothmog (the lieutenant of Morgul)?
    14. What was the origin of Orcs?
    15. Were Orcs immortal, and what happened to them after death?
    16. What was the relationship between Orcs and Goblins?
    17. What was the origin of Saruman's Uruk-hai?
    18. What was the origin of Trolls?
    19. What were the giants (seen by Bilbo in /The Hobbit/)?

    C. Story Internal Questions: History and Happenings
    1. Why didn't they just have an Eagle fly the Ring to Mt. Doom?
    2. Were the barrow blades magical? In what way?
    3. Why didn't the Nazgul take the Ring at Weathertop?
    4. Who killed the Witch-king, Merry or Eowyn?
    5. Did Frodo and the other mortals who passed over the Sea
    eventually die?
    6. Did Sam follow Frodo into the West?
    7. What is known about the Blue Wizards?
    8. Who was aware that a Balrog lived in Moria?
    9. Did Elves and Dwarves generally get along?
    10. Where was the Ring when Numenor was destroyed?
    11. Who was the oldest inhabitant of Middle-earth?

    IV. External Resources

    A. Where else can I find general information about Middle-earth?
    1. The Tolkien Meta-FAQ
    2. The Tolkien FAQ and LessFAQ
    3. The "FAQ of the Rings"
    4. The Letters FAQ
    5. Google's Usenet archive

    B. Where can I learn more about Tolkien's languages?

    C. Stories of Middle-earth in many forms
    1. What editions of Tolkien's books are best?
    2. What audio versions of Tolkien's books are available?
    3. What is the groups' view of the recent /Lord of the Rings/
    movies?
    4. Where can I find out about music related to Middle-earth?

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------ ------------------------------------------------------------------------

    I. CHANGES SINCE THE LAST RELEASE

    Adjusted wording of question III.B.11 about Sauron's physical form
    to emphasize the relevance of the evidence to the period of LotR.

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------ ------------------------------------------------------------------------

    II. NEWSGROUPS AND NETIQUETTE

    When discussing Tolkien (or anything else) online, it is important
    to know at least a little about the "culture" of the discussion forum
    that you are participating in. The information in this section is
    intended to give an idea of "appropriate" behavior on the Tolkien
    Usenet newsgroups. To make our discussions as enjoyable as possible,
    every participant should try to be familiar with what follows.

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------

    II.A. INFORMATION ON THE TOLKIEN NEWSGROUPS

    1. What newsgroups are we talking about again?

    There are several Usenet newsgroups specific to Tolkien and his
    works. However, the two most widely read and distributed of these are rec.arts.books.tolkien and alt.fan.tolkien, commonly abbreviated either
    r.a.b.t or RABT and a.f.t or AFT, respectively.

    The official rec.arts.books.tolkien charter can be found at

    http://tolkien.slimy.com/newsgroups/RABTcharter.txt

    Alt.fan.tolkien does not have a formal charter.
    -------

    2. Why are there two groups?

    Originally, AFT was the only Tolkien newsgroup on Usenet. RABT was
    created (when the approval vote passed on 26 Mar 1993) as a replacement
    for AFT which would be carried by a larger fraction of news servers.
    However, AFT was never removed, and both groups currently enjoy
    substantial readership. While only RABT has a formal charter (see
    question II.A.1 for reference), the two groups are virtually identical
    in intended content.

    Many participants see a tendency for RABT to be somewhat more
    "scholarly" in tone while AFT is a bit more "conversational", and some
    suggest that this distinction is useful and should be encouraged.
    Other participants draw less of a distinction between the two groups,
    and often believe that a difference in focus would be both undesirable
    and impossible to achieve. In practice, everyone decides for
    themselves how they want to treat the two groups, and most people
    generally don't complain one way or the other.
    -------

    3. Do I have to have a Ph.D. in Tolkienology to post?

    By no means! People with any amount of Tolkien "lore" are welcome
    to participate. It is advisable, however, to have read /The Hobbit/
    and /The Lord of the Rings/ before spending much time here, as
    otherwise you run the risk of many, many spoilers for both books.

    When you do participate in discussions, just use whatever Tolkien
    knowledge you have: you can have great ideas regardless of how much
    you've read. Occasionally, others will cite sources (often obscure but
    just as often authoritative) that weaken or disprove your arguments.
    When this happens (as it does to every one of us), nobody will think
    less of you for not knowing the reference; treat it as a chance to
    learn something new about Middle-earth.
    -------

    4. What questions and topics are appropriate?

    Virtually any topic related (even distantly) to Tolkien and his
    works is fair game. If you post a purely "factual" question (like "How
    many Ringwraiths were there?"), it's a good idea to explain why you're
    asking: we periodically see questions from students who hope we will do
    their homework for them, and the last thing we want to do is help
    people to avoid reading the books!

    It is appreciated if articles that have absolutely nothing to do
    with Tolkien have subject lines beginning with "OT:" ("Off Topic"). The
    Tolkien newsgroups are a sufficiently social community that threads
    often do drift away from their initial topics, and while this should
    not be discouraged, it is polite to label it when it happens. On the
    other hand, off topic discussions that get too intense or go on too
    long can interfere with others' enjoyment of the groups, and should be
    avoided.

    Binary files, such as images or sounds, are NEVER appropriate in a non-binaries newsgroup. To share a binary file with people in the
    Tolkien groups, you have two main options. One is to find an
    appropriate newsgroup in the alt.binaries.* hierarchy, post the file
    there, and then post a message here telling us where to look. Another
    (more common) method is to put the file on the Web and post the URL on
    the newsgroups.
    -------

    5. What does a tilde (~) in the subject mean? and
    Is it acceptable to post messages with sexual content?

    Articles posted to these newsgroups occasionally contain comments
    that some consider inappropriate for younger readers. After much
    discussion, most participants agreed to mark messages with /sexual/
    content with a tilde in the subject line. Individuals can then create
    killfiles to screen out such messages as desired. While not everyone
    agrees that such a system is beneficial, following this convention is
    the polite thing to do. The newsgroup charter recommends the use of
    ROT-13 "encryption" for this purpose, but this has become less common.
    -------

    6. What common mistakes should I try to avoid?

    By and large, the participants in the Tolkien newsgroups try to
    judge others based on their ideas rather than on details of grammar and
    posting style. However, there are a few types of simple mistakes that
    tend to cause some level of bias and annoyance among many group
    members, which in turn can distract them from your real message. Most
    of these are covered in the "Netiquette" section below.

    One common mistake of this type that is not related to netiquette is confusing the singular and plural forms of common Elvish words. On the
    Tolkien newsgroups, these words are so familiar that the phrase "Manwe
    is a Valar" sounds just as jarring and strange as "Finrod is an Elves."
    To reduce this problem, a list of some of the most commonly confused singular/plural pairs is given below. Note the patterns!

    Singular: Vala Maia Elda Noldo Teler Istar Adan
    Plural: Valar Maiar Eldar Noldor Teleri Istari Edain

    Another issue that arises periodically is whether or not /The Lord
    of the Rings/ should be referred to as a "trilogy". Tolkien said quite
    clearly in Letter #165 that "The book is /not/ of course a 'trilogy'",
    and some people make a point of correcting those who use the term.
    However, in Letter #252, Tolkien himself refers to "my trilogy", so
    most of us agree that using the term is an acceptable shorthand, if
    nothing else.
    -------

    7. What do all the abbreviations used on the groups mean?

    [More abbreviations can be found in section IV of the Tolkien FAQ.]

    Some names and phrases come up so frequently on the Tolkien
    newsgroups that they are often abbreviated for convenience. A few of
    the very most common are defined below; these definitions are excerpted
    from Sir Confused-a-Lot's old AFT Glossary, now online at

    http://silenceisdefeat.com/~aft-rabt/glossary/

    JRRT: John Ronald Reuel Tolkien
    ME: Middle-earth
    LotR: /The Lord of the Rings/
    FotR: /The Fellowship of the Ring/
    TT: /The Two Towers/
    RotK: /The Return of the King/
    Silm.: /The Silmarillion/
    UT: /Unfinished Tales/
    HoMe: the "History of Middle-earth" series
    Letters: /The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien/
    Narn: The "Narn I Hin Hurin" in UT
    Athrabeth: The "Athrabeth Finrod Ah Andreth" in /Morgoth's Ring/

    NG: Newsgroup
    TEUNC: "Tolkien Eccentric Unusual Nut Cases", an eGroup of
    Tolkien fans, some of whom frequent the newsgroups
    LOL: Laughing Out Loud
    ROTFL: Rolling On The Floor Laughing

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------

    II.B. THE BASICS OF NETIQUETTE

    1. What is the proper subject line for my post?

    Make sure that the "Subject:" line of your post matches the topic
    that you are discussing. Be concise, but specific: subject lines such
    as "The Lord of the Rings" or "Tolkien" give no useful information
    about the contents of your post. Note that this does not only apply to
    the first post in a thread: if you see that the subject line no longer
    matches the topic of a thread, change it when you reply! Also, follow
    the "OT:" convention for off-topic posts (mentioned in question II.A.4
    above).

    When you do change the subject line, it is polite to indicate the
    subject of the previous post. For example, "Balrog Wings" might become
    "Balrog Flight (was Balrog Wings)" and then "Eagles (was Balrog
    Flight)". This helps people follow the history of the thread.
    -------

    2. What should I do when replying to an earlier article?
    For example, should I "top post" or "bottom post"?

    First and foremost, make sure to retain the attribution of any
    quoted text, so others know who said the things you are replying to.
    Almost equally important, make sure that you trim the previous post as
    much as possible:

    * If you are replying to one specific comment in the previous
    article, delete all of the previous text except that comment. If
    the comment is at all long, try to trim it down to its essence.
    Type your reply directly beneath the quoted comment.

    * If you are replying to several distinct points individually, quote
    each one as above and type your reply immediately below it (and
    above the next point).

    * If you are replying to a long section that cannot be easily
    trimmed down (for example, an original poem or story), quote only
    its first and last lines (and perhaps put "[snip]" or "..." on a
    line in between the two). If there are particular pieces that
    you want to respond to individually, do so as described above.

    There are two general rules of thumb to follow in connection with
    the above guidelines:

    * Any article you post should have more lines of new text than lines
    of quoted text. It is generally acceptable to ignore this rule
    if the entire post (including basic headers and any signature) is
    short enough to fit on a single 24 line screen.

    * Any comments specifically replying to the previous article should
    come /below/ the relevant part of the previous article. This
    makes reading the article more like reading a conversation, and
    therefore much easier to follow.

    This obviously means that "top posting" is strongly discouraged: it
    forces readers to scroll up and down between the new and old material,
    and it usually involves quoting the entire previous post(s) untrimmed..
    Whether you call our practice "bottom posting", "middle posting", or
    "standard netiquette" is up to you.

    An example of a post that follows these guidelines can be found on
    the web at

    http://tolkien.slimy.com/newsgroups/EssayDiscuss.txt

    This long message (from a discussion of my essay on Tom Bombadil) would
    be all but impossible to follow if the point by point replies were not organized as described above.

    Finally, make sure to keep the subject line up to date, as discussed
    in question II.B.1.
    -------

    3. When should I "cross-post" to multiple newsgroups?

    Generally, you should post an article to the single most appropriate
    group: a question about /The Hobbit/ is more appropriate on rec.arts.books.tolkien than on rec.arts.books. However, there are cases
    when several groups are appropriate: a discussion of the influence of
    Tolkien's faith on his writings could be interesting to readers of both soc.religion.christian.roman-catholic and rec.arts.books.tolkien.
    (Cases in which more than two or three groups are truly appropriate are extremely rare!)

    In such cases, it is almost always better to "cross-post" the
    article to multiple groups than to post separately to each. To do
    this, list all of the relevant groups together on the "Newsgroups:"
    line, separated by commas but /no/ spaces (many posts here list
    "Newsgroups: alt.fan.tolkien,rec.arts.books.tolkien"). Cross-posting
    has several advantages, the most important being that responses to a cross-posted article are also cross-posted. That ensures that everyone involved in the discussion sees every reply.

    Some internet service providers (notably AOL) misguidedly forbid cross-posting, probably because /inappropriate/ cross-posting is very
    bad netiquette and is often used to "spam" many groups at once. If you
    have this problem, it may be better to choose just one "best" group for
    your post than to post separate copies to multiple groups.
    -------

    4. I am able to post my messages with HTML formatting. Should I?

    Generally, no. Many of us use simple text-based programs to read
    news, and posts with HTML formatting can be very difficult to read.
    You can generally turn off this behavior from the "Preferences" or
    "Options" section of your newsreader. For some newsreaders, you will
    need to change more than one setting to completely eliminate this
    behavior.
    -------

    5. If someone insults me or otherwise makes me upset, should I flame
    them back?

    No.

    6. Even if my reputation and honor are at stake?

    Feel free to post any corrections or differences in opinion that you
    feel are necessary. Feel free to indicate that you are hurt, unhappy,
    or insulted because of their comments. But by no means escalate the
    budding flame war, and try your hardest to be polite in your response:
    this tends to get the group's sentiments on your side far better than
    any exchange of name-calling ever could. People are usually fairly
    good at recognizing when someone is being terribly unfair. Yes, it is undoubtedly your right to flame if you want to, but the vast majority
    of the group would be happier if you did not.

    In general, try to give others the benefit of the doubt: with only
    text to go on, it's hard to judge their real intent. Could you have
    misread the insulting lines in their post? Could they have been
    speaking tongue in cheek? Maybe they only meant to tease you, not
    realizing that you would really be insulted. Assuming the worst is a depressing way to live one's life.

    Finally, be particularly careful not to reply to a "troll", someone
    who intentionally fishes for arguments and flames. These people seem
    to take great personal delight in inspiring people to anger or
    indignation; the best reaction to them is generally to ignore them
    altogether.
    -------

    7. Where can I go for more information on netiquette, and on Usenet in
    general?

    One of the best places to start has always been the newsgroup news.announce.newusers. This group is home to a wide range of articles
    that provide introductory information about many aspects of Usenet
    news. Unfortunately, most of these articles are no longer being posted regularly to the group. It may be more effective to read archived
    copies of them at

    ftp://rtfm.mit.edu/pub/usenet/news.announce.newusers/

    Read the "Welcome to Usenet!" article there first.

    The information on netiquette and on Usenet in general in the news.announce.newusers articles remains very relevant today, but those
    articles are several years old. More recent information on similar
    topics can be found at the web sites associated with the news.newusers.questions newsgroup. A list of these sites around the
    world can be found at

    http://users.rcn.com/kateshort/nnq/nnqlinks.html

    (among many other places).

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------ ------------------------------------------------------------------------

    III. DEBATES AND DISCUSSION

    A great many questions about Tolkien and his books arise repeatedly
    on the Tolkien newsgroups. The starting point of each debate is the
    same almost every time, and it takes a long time for the discussion to
    reach "new ground." In the worst cases, bitter and longstanding
    arguments about the basics get in the way before new progress can be
    made at all.

    The purpose of a FAQ is to avoid this problem by setting down the
    basics in a common place so that the discussion can deal with new
    issues from the start. However, it is very difficult to balance the
    need for conciseness with the need for completeness: many debates that repeatedly appear on the Tolkien newsgroups have generated very large
    amounts of "known territory."

    Keep in mind that this FAQ provides only summaries of these debates:
    many of their subtleties are omitted for the sake of brevity. Most of
    these topics have been discussed at length by many intelligent In these
    cases, it is extremely unlikely that any unambiguous "proof" of one
    position exists. With this in mind, try to be respectful toward those
    who disagree with you. To get more information on the usual content of
    common discussions, it is often helpful to browse those discussions
    themselves at the Google Groups Usenet archive (see question IV.A.5 for
    more information).

    Finally, be sure to read question III.A.2, dealing with "canonical"
    texts. This FAQ addresses only the state of Middle-earth after LotR
    was written, which corresponds roughly to the material included in the published /Silmarillion/. Details from earlier versions of the
    mythology will not be discussed in this document (and are generally
    given very limited weight in debates about the later state of the
    mythology).

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------

    III.A. STORY EXTERNAL QUESTIONS

    1. What is the best order in which to read the books?

    This depends on each person's personal preferences. Unless you
    strongly dislike stories written for children, most recommend reading
    /The Hobbit/ first. /The Lord of the Rings/ is certainly next (feel
    free to skip the Prologue if you find it dull, and after the main text
    try to read at least Appendix A.I.v, "The Tale of Aragorn and Arwen").

    If you enjoy any part of the Appendices to LotR, there are things in Tolkien's other books that you are likely to enjoy as well. Most
    suggest reading /The Children of Hurin/, /Unfinished Tales/, /The Silmarillion/, and /The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien/ next, in some order
    (perhaps that one). /The Children of Hurin/ is the only complete novel
    about Middle-earth published after Tolkien's death (although it takes
    place long before the events of LotR, it probably isn't necessary to
    read Silm. first). The stories and essays in UT can be read in any
    order, so the "Third Age" material is a good starting point for those
    coming straight from LotR (the "First Age" stories are excellent, but
    are easier to follow after reading Silm.; the other parts of UT are
    mostly accessible to those who have read LotR and its appendices).
    Many people find the early parts of Silm. slow to read (like a history
    book or the Bible), but it is often a favorite among those who have
    read it. /Letters/ contains insights into both Middle-earth and Tolkien
    as a person.

    For more details (and more books), try getting a personalized
    recommendation from the Custom Tolkien Book List, on the web at

    http://tolkien.slimy.com/books.html

    (This URL redirects to the longer and messier URL of the actual list.)
    -------

    2. What books about Middle-earth are considered "canonical"?

    [I have written an essay on this topic, including general observations
    and my own approach. It is on the web at: http://tolkien.slimy.com/essays/TolkParish.html.]

    As the term is used on the Tolkien newsgroups, a "canonical" text is
    one which is believed to provide authoritative information about
    Middle-earth. This concept is more subtle than it may appear at first
    glance, in part because most of Tolkien's mythology remained incomplete
    when he died. Books or even individual chapters or essays may be
    regarded as more or less "trustworthy" than others, and many people
    reject the idea that there is a single "true" Middle-earth entirely.

    Among those who accept the concept of "canon" to at least some
    degree, almost all agree that /The Lord of the Rings/ is a canonical
    text and most assign equal or near equal weight to /The Hobbit/ (the
    other books about Middle-earth published in Tolkien's lifetime are
    treated similarly). However, due to heavy and unmarked posthumous
    editing, /The Silmarillion/ is considered by many /not/ to be canonical
    (see question III.A.3 for details).

    People put various amounts of trust in the many drafts and essays in /Unfinished Tales/ and the "History of Middle-earth" series. In cases
    where Tolkien's intent seems particularly stable and clear, some trust
    these sources almost as much as /The Hobbit/ and LotR themselves. In
    practice, this means that most of the more trustworthy material is
    found in /Unfinished Tales/ and in volumes X-XII of the HoMe series.
    Opinions on how much to trust /The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien/ are
    mixed, but its contents are generally respected as long as they are not contradicted by other (more canonical) texts. The pictures in /J.R.R.
    Tolkien: Artist and Illustrator/ by Wayne Hammond and Christina Scull
    may also be considered somewhat canonical.

    It is important to note that many aspects of Middle-earth changed substantially over the course of Tolkien's life. Because of this,
    facts taken from the early versions of the mythology can be misleading
    or just plain wrong when used to draw conclusions about LotR or later
    versions of the mythology. This means that while the early versions
    can provide valuable hints about Tolkien's thoughts on an issue, they
    are rarely considered to provide definitive evidence for any position.

    The Custom Tolkien Book List (mentioned in question III.A.1)
    includes my own perspective on the "canonicity" of each section of each
    book in the list. While those are just one person's opinions, they are
    fairly typical. A static version of the list in publication order can
    be found on the web at

    http://tolkien.slimy.com/publist.html

    That static list still contains a link to the customizable version.
    -------

    3. How does /The Silmarillion/ as published differ from what Tolkien
    intended?

    This is a complicated question that is essentially unanswerable:
    despite his lifelong effort, Tolkien never came close to completing
    /The Silmarillion/. At Tolkien's request, after his death his son
    Christopher (with some help from Guy Kay) worked to "bring the work
    into publishable form"; Christopher discusses the difficulties involved
    in the book's Foreword. To understand why /The Silmarillion/ took the
    form that it did (and why it is rarely considered "canonical", as
    mentioned in question III.A.2), it is worth exploring those editorial
    changes. The full story can be found in the "History of Middle-earth"
    books, particularly /Morgoth's Ring/ and /The War of the Jewels/
    (volumes X-XI).

    The most basic editorial decision was which writings to include in
    the book at all. The "Quenta Silmarillion" is of course the central
    text, but Tolkien also wrote numerous associated stories and essays.
    Charles Noad explored this question as part of his essay "On the
    Construction of 'The Silmarillion'" (published in /Tolkien's
    Legendarium/; see question III.A.5), where he suggests an "outline for
    'The Silmarillion' as Tolkien may have intended it". In addition to the
    texts in the published book, Noad includes expanded versions of four
    stories: "The Lay of Leithian" (possibly in poetic form), "Narn i Chin
    Hurin", "The Fall of Gondolin", and "Earendil the Wanderer" (which
    Tolkien never even fully sketched). He also includes five
    "Appendices": writings about Middle-earth and its inhabitants such as
    "Laws and Customs among the Eldar" and the "Athrabeth Finrod ah
    Andreth" (most of these were published in HoMe X-XI). Sadly, a book
    with this outline could never be made satisfying with just the texts
    that Tolkien left us.

    Moving on to the texts that were actually included in /The
    Silmarillion/ as published, there were three types of problems to
    overcome. In the worst cases, there were crucial gaps in the narrative
    where Tolkien had never written more than an outline of the story (or
    where the most recent version was hopelessly outdated). Much more
    frequently, Tolkien's years of revisions led to factual inconsistencies
    between stories written at various times (especially between writings
    before and after /The Lord of the Rings/). And finally, Tolkien's
    writings differed markedly in tone, ranging from vivid narratives to
    terse annals to philosophical essays. To assemble a single text,
    consistent in style and detail, from such a range of source material
    clearly required substantial editing.

    Despite that pessimistic assessment, the vast majority of the
    published /Silmarillion/ is taken directly from Tolkien's work and
    seems to come quite close to what he intended, as far as it goes. (None
    of the "expanded" tales were ever completed, but what exists of them
    can be found for the most part in /Unfinished Tales/, /The Lays of
    Beleriand/, and the other "History of Middle-earth" books mentioned
    above.) Still, mild editing is not uncommon, and can be difficult to
    identify even by comparison to the source texts as published in HoMe.
    Thus, /The Silmarillion/ is often not treated as a final authority in
    scholarly discussions of Middle-earth. (A classic example is its
    mistaken ancestry of Gil-galad, as discussed in question III.B.8.)

    The greatest concern, of course, comes from those few cases where
    large gaps had to be filled by the editors. This happened to some
    extent for "Of Tuor and the Fall of Gondolin" and "Of the Voyage of
    Earendil and the War of Wrath", but the most substantial editorial
    "invention" came in the chapter "Of the Ruin of Doriath". The episode

    [continued in next message]

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  • From Steuard Jensen@21:1/5 to All on Thu Apr 21 23:14:01 2022
    XPost: alt.fan.tolkien

    Posted-By: auto-faq 3.3.1 (Perl 5.020)
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    URL: http://tolkien.slimy.com/

    TOLKIEN NEWSGROUPS FAQ

    Copyright (C) 1999-2012 by Steuard Jensen

    (Created 17 Aug 1999)
    (Last updated 11 Mar 2012)



    For many years, the Tolkien Usenet newsgroups have been home to a
    pair of excellent Frequently Asked Questions lists about Tolkien and Middle-earth, compiled by William D. B. Loos. These sources contain a
    wealth of information, but are no longer maintained (the last update
    seems to have been in July 1996). This means that quite a few issues
    of current interest to the groups are not fully addressed in those
    documents.

    This FAQ supplements, updates, and expands on the earlier ones,
    though it is not meant to replace them entirely. It includes new and
    corrected information on some of the old discussions, numerous entries
    on topics not covered in the older FAQs, and a broad discussion of the
    Tolkien newsgroups and common standards of netiquette. This FAQ is
    intended both as an introduction for newcomers to the newsgroups and as
    a source of information for anyone exploring Middle-earth.

    The official HTML version of the FAQ is on the web at

    http://tolkien.slimy.com/faq/

    The plain text version is posted to Usenet on the 22nd of each month
    and is also available on the web, at

    http://tolkien.slimy.com/faq/TolkNgFaq.txt

    For a unified and easy to use interface to this FAQ, the Loos FAQs, and
    others, consider visiting the Tolkien Meta-FAQ, at

    http://tolkien.slimy.com/

    I would like to give my sincere thanks to the many, many people on
    the newsgroups and elsewhere who have given criticism, suggestions, and encouragement as I wrote this FAQ. This project would never have
    succeeded without their wonderful support.

    Steuard Jensen
    steuard@slimy.com ------------------------------------------------------------------------ ------------------------------------------------------------------------


    Table of Contents

    Sections/questions marked: * have been revised since the last release
    ** are new since the last release

    I. Changes Since the Last Release *

    II. Newsgroups and Netiquette

    A. Information on the Tolkien Newsgroups
    1. What newsgroups are we talking about again?
    2. Why are there two groups?
    3. Do I have to have a Ph.D. in Tolkienology to post?
    4. What questions and topics are appropriate?
    5. What does a tilde (~) in the subject mean? and
    Is it acceptable to post messages with sexual content?
    6. What common mistakes should I try to avoid?
    7. What do all the abbreviations used on the groups mean?

    B. The Basics of Netiquette
    1. What is the proper subject line for my post?
    2. What should I do when replying to an earlier article?
    For example, should I "top post" or "bottom post"?
    3. When should I "cross-post" to multiple newsgroups?
    4. I am able to post my messages with HTML formatting. Should I?
    5. If someone insults me or otherwise makes me upset, should I
    flame them back?
    6. Even if my reputation and honor are at stake?
    7. Where can I go for more information on netiquette, and on
    Usenet in general?

    III. Debates and Discussion

    A. Story External Questions
    1. What is the best order in which to read the books?
    2. What books about Middle-earth are considered "canonical"?
    3. How does /The Silmarillion/ as published differ from what
    Tolkien intended?
    4. Which are "The Two Towers"?
    5. Which books /about/ Tolkien are good, and which aren't?
    6. Is Middle-earth Medieval?
    7. Was Tolkien racist? Were his works?
    8. Are there electronic versions of Tolkien's books?
    9. Where can I report copyright violations that I observe?

    B. Story Internal Questions: Creatures and Characters
    1. Did Balrogs have wings?
    2. Could Balrogs fly?
    3. What was Tom Bombadil?
    4. Did Elves have pointed ears?
    5. Did Elves have beards?
    6. What happened to Elves after they died?
    7. Was Glorfindel of Rivendell the same as Glorfindel of Gondolin?
    8. Who was Gil-galad's father?
    9. Did Dwarf women have beards?
    10. Was there "telepathy" in Middle-earth?
    11. Did Sauron have a physical form during /The Lord of the
    Rings/? *
    12. What were the names of the Nazgul?
    13. What was Gothmog (the lieutenant of Morgul)?
    14. What was the origin of Orcs?
    15. Were Orcs immortal, and what happened to them after death?
    16. What was the relationship between Orcs and Goblins?
    17. What was the origin of Saruman's Uruk-hai?
    18. What was the origin of Trolls?
    19. What were the giants (seen by Bilbo in /The Hobbit/)?

    C. Story Internal Questions: History and Happenings
    1. Why didn't they just have an Eagle fly the Ring to Mt. Doom?
    2. Were the barrow blades magical? In what way?
    3. Why didn't the Nazgul take the Ring at Weathertop?
    4. Who killed the Witch-king, Merry or Eowyn?
    5. Did Frodo and the other mortals who passed over the Sea
    eventually die?
    6. Did Sam follow Frodo into the West?
    7. What is known about the Blue Wizards?
    8. Who was aware that a Balrog lived in Moria?
    9. Did Elves and Dwarves generally get along?
    10. Where was the Ring when Numenor was destroyed?
    11. Who was the oldest inhabitant of Middle-earth?

    IV. External Resources

    A. Where else can I find general information about Middle-earth?
    1. The Tolkien Meta-FAQ
    2. The Tolkien FAQ and LessFAQ
    3. The "FAQ of the Rings"
    4. The Letters FAQ
    5. Google's Usenet archive

    B. Where can I learn more about Tolkien's languages?

    C. Stories of Middle-earth in many forms
    1. What editions of Tolkien's books are best?
    2. What audio versions of Tolkien's books are available?
    3. What is the groups' view of the recent /Lord of the Rings/
    movies?
    4. Where can I find out about music related to Middle-earth?

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------ ------------------------------------------------------------------------

    I. CHANGES SINCE THE LAST RELEASE

    Adjusted wording of question III.B.11 about Sauron's physical form
    to emphasize the relevance of the evidence to the period of LotR.

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------ ------------------------------------------------------------------------

    II. NEWSGROUPS AND NETIQUETTE

    When discussing Tolkien (or anything else) online, it is important
    to know at least a little about the "culture" of the discussion forum
    that you are participating in. The information in this section is
    intended to give an idea of "appropriate" behavior on the Tolkien
    Usenet newsgroups. To make our discussions as enjoyable as possible,
    every participant should try to be familiar with what follows.

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------

    II.A. INFORMATION ON THE TOLKIEN NEWSGROUPS

    1. What newsgroups are we talking about again?

    There are several Usenet newsgroups specific to Tolkien and his
    works. However, the two most widely read and distributed of these are rec.arts.books.tolkien and alt.fan.tolkien, commonly abbreviated either
    r.a.b.t or RABT and a.f.t or AFT, respectively.

    The official rec.arts.books.tolkien charter can be found at

    http://tolkien.slimy.com/newsgroups/RABTcharter.txt

    Alt.fan.tolkien does not have a formal charter.
    -------

    2. Why are there two groups?

    Originally, AFT was the only Tolkien newsgroup on Usenet. RABT was
    created (when the approval vote passed on 26 Mar 1993) as a replacement
    for AFT which would be carried by a larger fraction of news servers.
    However, AFT was never removed, and both groups currently enjoy
    substantial readership. While only RABT has a formal charter (see
    question II.A.1 for reference), the two groups are virtually identical
    in intended content.

    Many participants see a tendency for RABT to be somewhat more
    "scholarly" in tone while AFT is a bit more "conversational", and some
    suggest that this distinction is useful and should be encouraged.
    Other participants draw less of a distinction between the two groups,
    and often believe that a difference in focus would be both undesirable
    and impossible to achieve. In practice, everyone decides for
    themselves how they want to treat the two groups, and most people
    generally don't complain one way or the other.
    -------

    3. Do I have to have a Ph.D. in Tolkienology to post?

    By no means! People with any amount of Tolkien "lore" are welcome
    to participate. It is advisable, however, to have read /The Hobbit/
    and /The Lord of the Rings/ before spending much time here, as
    otherwise you run the risk of many, many spoilers for both books.

    When you do participate in discussions, just use whatever Tolkien
    knowledge you have: you can have great ideas regardless of how much
    you've read. Occasionally, others will cite sources (often obscure but
    just as often authoritative) that weaken or disprove your arguments.
    When this happens (as it does to every one of us), nobody will think
    less of you for not knowing the reference; treat it as a chance to
    learn something new about Middle-earth.
    -------

    4. What questions and topics are appropriate?

    Virtually any topic related (even distantly) to Tolkien and his
    works is fair game. If you post a purely "factual" question (like "How
    many Ringwraiths were there?"), it's a good idea to explain why you're
    asking: we periodically see questions from students who hope we will do
    their homework for them, and the last thing we want to do is help
    people to avoid reading the books!

    It is appreciated if articles that have absolutely nothing to do
    with Tolkien have subject lines beginning with "OT:" ("Off Topic"). The
    Tolkien newsgroups are a sufficiently social community that threads
    often do drift away from their initial topics, and while this should
    not be discouraged, it is polite to label it when it happens. On the
    other hand, off topic discussions that get too intense or go on too
    long can interfere with others' enjoyment of the groups, and should be
    avoided.

    Binary files, such as images or sounds, are NEVER appropriate in a non-binaries newsgroup. To share a binary file with people in the
    Tolkien groups, you have two main options. One is to find an
    appropriate newsgroup in the alt.binaries.* hierarchy, post the file
    there, and then post a message here telling us where to look. Another
    (more common) method is to put the file on the Web and post the URL on
    the newsgroups.
    -------

    5. What does a tilde (~) in the subject mean? and
    Is it acceptable to post messages with sexual content?

    Articles posted to these newsgroups occasionally contain comments
    that some consider inappropriate for younger readers. After much
    discussion, most participants agreed to mark messages with /sexual/
    content with a tilde in the subject line. Individuals can then create
    killfiles to screen out such messages as desired. While not everyone
    agrees that such a system is beneficial, following this convention is
    the polite thing to do. The newsgroup charter recommends the use of
    ROT-13 "encryption" for this purpose, but this has become less common.
    -------

    6. What common mistakes should I try to avoid?

    By and large, the participants in the Tolkien newsgroups try to
    judge others based on their ideas rather than on details of grammar and
    posting style. However, there are a few types of simple mistakes that
    tend to cause some level of bias and annoyance among many group
    members, which in turn can distract them from your real message. Most
    of these are covered in the "Netiquette" section below.

    One common mistake of this type that is not related to netiquette is confusing the singular and plural forms of common Elvish words. On the
    Tolkien newsgroups, these words are so familiar that the phrase "Manwe
    is a Valar" sounds just as jarring and strange as "Finrod is an Elves."
    To reduce this problem, a list of some of the most commonly confused singular/plural pairs is given below. Note the patterns!

    Singular: Vala Maia Elda Noldo Teler Istar Adan
    Plural: Valar Maiar Eldar Noldor Teleri Istari Edain

    Another issue that arises periodically is whether or not /The Lord
    of the Rings/ should be referred to as a "trilogy". Tolkien said quite
    clearly in Letter #165 that "The book is /not/ of course a 'trilogy'",
    and some people make a point of correcting those who use the term.
    However, in Letter #252, Tolkien himself refers to "my trilogy", so
    most of us agree that using the term is an acceptable shorthand, if
    nothing else.
    -------

    7. What do all the abbreviations used on the groups mean?

    [More abbreviations can be found in section IV of the Tolkien FAQ.]

    Some names and phrases come up so frequently on the Tolkien
    newsgroups that they are often abbreviated for convenience. A few of
    the very most common are defined below; these definitions are excerpted
    from Sir Confused-a-Lot's old AFT Glossary, now online at

    http://silenceisdefeat.com/~aft-rabt/glossary/

    JRRT: John Ronald Reuel Tolkien
    ME: Middle-earth
    LotR: /The Lord of the Rings/
    FotR: /The Fellowship of the Ring/
    TT: /The Two Towers/
    RotK: /The Return of the King/
    Silm.: /The Silmarillion/
    UT: /Unfinished Tales/
    HoMe: the "History of Middle-earth" series
    Letters: /The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien/
    Narn: The "Narn I Hin Hurin" in UT
    Athrabeth: The "Athrabeth Finrod Ah Andreth" in /Morgoth's Ring/

    NG: Newsgroup
    TEUNC: "Tolkien Eccentric Unusual Nut Cases", an eGroup of
    Tolkien fans, some of whom frequent the newsgroups
    LOL: Laughing Out Loud
    ROTFL: Rolling On The Floor Laughing

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------

    II.B. THE BASICS OF NETIQUETTE

    1. What is the proper subject line for my post?

    Make sure that the "Subject:" line of your post matches the topic
    that you are discussing. Be concise, but specific: subject lines such
    as "The Lord of the Rings" or "Tolkien" give no useful information
    about the contents of your post. Note that this does not only apply to
    the first post in a thread: if you see that the subject line no longer
    matches the topic of a thread, change it when you reply! Also, follow
    the "OT:" convention for off-topic posts (mentioned in question II.A.4
    above).

    When you do change the subject line, it is polite to indicate the
    subject of the previous post. For example, "Balrog Wings" might become
    "Balrog Flight (was Balrog Wings)" and then "Eagles (was Balrog
    Flight)". This helps people follow the history of the thread.
    -------

    2. What should I do when replying to an earlier article?
    For example, should I "top post" or "bottom post"?

    First and foremost, make sure to retain the attribution of any
    quoted text, so others know who said the things you are replying to.
    Almost equally important, make sure that you trim the previous post as
    much as possible:

    * If you are replying to one specific comment in the previous
    article, delete all of the previous text except that comment. If
    the comment is at all long, try to trim it down to its essence.
    Type your reply directly beneath the quoted comment.

    * If you are replying to several distinct points individually, quote
    each one as above and type your reply immediately below it (and
    above the next point).

    * If you are replying to a long section that cannot be easily
    trimmed down (for example, an original poem or story), quote only
    its first and last lines (and perhaps put "[snip]" or "..." on a
    line in between the two). If there are particular pieces that
    you want to respond to individually, do so as described above.

    There are two general rules of thumb to follow in connection with
    the above guidelines:

    * Any article you post should have more lines of new text than lines
    of quoted text. It is generally acceptable to ignore this rule
    if the entire post (including basic headers and any signature) is
    short enough to fit on a single 24 line screen.

    * Any comments specifically replying to the previous article should
    come /below/ the relevant part of the previous article. This
    makes reading the article more like reading a conversation, and
    therefore much easier to follow.

    This obviously means that "top posting" is strongly discouraged: it
    forces readers to scroll up and down between the new and old material,
    and it usually involves quoting the entire previous post(s) untrimmed..
    Whether you call our practice "bottom posting", "middle posting", or
    "standard netiquette" is up to you.

    An example of a post that follows these guidelines can be found on
    the web at

    http://tolkien.slimy.com/newsgroups/EssayDiscuss.txt

    This long message (from a discussion of my essay on Tom Bombadil) would
    be all but impossible to follow if the point by point replies were not organized as described above.

    Finally, make sure to keep the subject line up to date, as discussed
    in question II.B.1.
    -------

    3. When should I "cross-post" to multiple newsgroups?

    Generally, you should post an article to the single most appropriate
    group: a question about /The Hobbit/ is more appropriate on rec.arts.books.tolkien than on rec.arts.books. However, there are cases
    when several groups are appropriate: a discussion of the influence of
    Tolkien's faith on his writings could be interesting to readers of both soc.religion.christian.roman-catholic and rec.arts.books.tolkien.
    (Cases in which more than two or three groups are truly appropriate are extremely rare!)

    In such cases, it is almost always better to "cross-post" the
    article to multiple groups than to post separately to each. To do
    this, list all of the relevant groups together on the "Newsgroups:"
    line, separated by commas but /no/ spaces (many posts here list
    "Newsgroups: alt.fan.tolkien,rec.arts.books.tolkien"). Cross-posting
    has several advantages, the most important being that responses to a cross-posted article are also cross-posted. That ensures that everyone involved in the discussion sees every reply.

    Some internet service providers (notably AOL) misguidedly forbid cross-posting, probably because /inappropriate/ cross-posting is very
    bad netiquette and is often used to "spam" many groups at once. If you
    have this problem, it may be better to choose just one "best" group for
    your post than to post separate copies to multiple groups.
    -------

    4. I am able to post my messages with HTML formatting. Should I?

    Generally, no. Many of us use simple text-based programs to read
    news, and posts with HTML formatting can be very difficult to read.
    You can generally turn off this behavior from the "Preferences" or
    "Options" section of your newsreader. For some newsreaders, you will
    need to change more than one setting to completely eliminate this
    behavior.
    -------

    5. If someone insults me or otherwise makes me upset, should I flame
    them back?

    No.

    6. Even if my reputation and honor are at stake?

    Feel free to post any corrections or differences in opinion that you
    feel are necessary. Feel free to indicate that you are hurt, unhappy,
    or insulted because of their comments. But by no means escalate the
    budding flame war, and try your hardest to be polite in your response:
    this tends to get the group's sentiments on your side far better than
    any exchange of name-calling ever could. People are usually fairly
    good at recognizing when someone is being terribly unfair. Yes, it is undoubtedly your right to flame if you want to, but the vast majority
    of the group would be happier if you did not.

    In general, try to give others the benefit of the doubt: with only
    text to go on, it's hard to judge their real intent. Could you have
    misread the insulting lines in their post? Could they have been
    speaking tongue in cheek? Maybe they only meant to tease you, not
    realizing that you would really be insulted. Assuming the worst is a depressing way to live one's life.

    Finally, be particularly careful not to reply to a "troll", someone
    who intentionally fishes for arguments and flames. These people seem
    to take great personal delight in inspiring people to anger or
    indignation; the best reaction to them is generally to ignore them
    altogether.
    -------

    7. Where can I go for more information on netiquette, and on Usenet in
    general?

    One of the best places to start has always been the newsgroup news.announce.newusers. This group is home to a wide range of articles
    that provide introductory information about many aspects of Usenet
    news. Unfortunately, most of these articles are no longer being posted regularly to the group. It may be more effective to read archived
    copies of them at

    ftp://rtfm.mit.edu/pub/usenet/news.announce.newusers/

    Read the "Welcome to Usenet!" article there first.

    The information on netiquette and on Usenet in general in the news.announce.newusers articles remains very relevant today, but those
    articles are several years old. More recent information on similar
    topics can be found at the web sites associated with the news.newusers.questions newsgroup. A list of these sites around the
    world can be found at

    http://users.rcn.com/kateshort/nnq/nnqlinks.html

    (among many other places).

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------ ------------------------------------------------------------------------

    III. DEBATES AND DISCUSSION

    A great many questions about Tolkien and his books arise repeatedly
    on the Tolkien newsgroups. The starting point of each debate is the
    same almost every time, and it takes a long time for the discussion to
    reach "new ground." In the worst cases, bitter and longstanding
    arguments about the basics get in the way before new progress can be
    made at all.

    The purpose of a FAQ is to avoid this problem by setting down the
    basics in a common place so that the discussion can deal with new
    issues from the start. However, it is very difficult to balance the
    need for conciseness with the need for completeness: many debates that repeatedly appear on the Tolkien newsgroups have generated very large
    amounts of "known territory."

    Keep in mind that this FAQ provides only summaries of these debates:
    many of their subtleties are omitted for the sake of brevity. Most of
    these topics have been discussed at length by many intelligent In these
    cases, it is extremely unlikely that any unambiguous "proof" of one
    position exists. With this in mind, try to be respectful toward those
    who disagree with you. To get more information on the usual content of
    common discussions, it is often helpful to browse those discussions
    themselves at the Google Groups Usenet archive (see question IV.A.5 for
    more information).

    Finally, be sure to read question III.A.2, dealing with "canonical"
    texts. This FAQ addresses only the state of Middle-earth after LotR
    was written, which corresponds roughly to the material included in the published /Silmarillion/. Details from earlier versions of the
    mythology will not be discussed in this document (and are generally
    given very limited weight in debates about the later state of the
    mythology).

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------

    III.A. STORY EXTERNAL QUESTIONS

    1. What is the best order in which to read the books?

    This depends on each person's personal preferences. Unless you
    strongly dislike stories written for children, most recommend reading
    /The Hobbit/ first. /The Lord of the Rings/ is certainly next (feel
    free to skip the Prologue if you find it dull, and after the main text
    try to read at least Appendix A.I.v, "The Tale of Aragorn and Arwen").

    If you enjoy any part of the Appendices to LotR, there are things in Tolkien's other books that you are likely to enjoy as well. Most
    suggest reading /The Children of Hurin/, /Unfinished Tales/, /The Silmarillion/, and /The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien/ next, in some order
    (perhaps that one). /The Children of Hurin/ is the only complete novel
    about Middle-earth published after Tolkien's death (although it takes
    place long before the events of LotR, it probably isn't necessary to
    read Silm. first). The stories and essays in UT can be read in any
    order, so the "Third Age" material is a good starting point for those
    coming straight from LotR (the "First Age" stories are excellent, but
    are easier to follow after reading Silm.; the other parts of UT are
    mostly accessible to those who have read LotR and its appendices).
    Many people find the early parts of Silm. slow to read (like a history
    book or the Bible), but it is often a favorite among those who have
    read it. /Letters/ contains insights into both Middle-earth and Tolkien
    as a person.

    For more details (and more books), try getting a personalized
    recommendation from the Custom Tolkien Book List, on the web at

    http://tolkien.slimy.com/books.html

    (This URL redirects to the longer and messier URL of the actual list.)
    -------

    2. What books about Middle-earth are considered "canonical"?

    [I have written an essay on this topic, including general observations
    and my own approach. It is on the web at: http://tolkien.slimy.com/essays/TolkParish.html.]

    As the term is used on the Tolkien newsgroups, a "canonical" text is
    one which is believed to provide authoritative information about
    Middle-earth. This concept is more subtle than it may appear at first
    glance, in part because most of Tolkien's mythology remained incomplete
    when he died. Books or even individual chapters or essays may be
    regarded as more or less "trustworthy" than others, and many people
    reject the idea that there is a single "true" Middle-earth entirely.

    Among those who accept the concept of "canon" to at least some
    degree, almost all agree that /The Lord of the Rings/ is a canonical
    text and most assign equal or near equal weight to /The Hobbit/ (the
    other books about Middle-earth published in Tolkien's lifetime are
    treated similarly). However, due to heavy and unmarked posthumous
    editing, /The Silmarillion/ is considered by many /not/ to be canonical
    (see question III.A.3 for details).

    People put various amounts of trust in the many drafts and essays in /Unfinished Tales/ and the "History of Middle-earth" series. In cases
    where Tolkien's intent seems particularly stable and clear, some trust
    these sources almost as much as /The Hobbit/ and LotR themselves. In
    practice, this means that most of the more trustworthy material is
    found in /Unfinished Tales/ and in volumes X-XII of the HoMe series.
    Opinions on how much to trust /The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien/ are
    mixed, but its contents are generally respected as long as they are not contradicted by other (more canonical) texts. The pictures in /J.R.R.
    Tolkien: Artist and Illustrator/ by Wayne Hammond and Christina Scull
    may also be considered somewhat canonical.

    It is important to note that many aspects of Middle-earth changed substantially over the course of Tolkien's life. Because of this,
    facts taken from the early versions of the mythology can be misleading
    or just plain wrong when used to draw conclusions about LotR or later
    versions of the mythology. This means that while the early versions
    can provide valuable hints about Tolkien's thoughts on an issue, they
    are rarely considered to provide definitive evidence for any position.

    The Custom Tolkien Book List (mentioned in question III.A.1)
    includes my own perspective on the "canonicity" of each section of each
    book in the list. While those are just one person's opinions, they are
    fairly typical. A static version of the list in publication order can
    be found on the web at

    http://tolkien.slimy.com/publist.html

    That static list still contains a link to the customizable version.
    -------

    3. How does /The Silmarillion/ as published differ from what Tolkien
    intended?

    This is a complicated question that is essentially unanswerable:
    despite his lifelong effort, Tolkien never came close to completing
    /The Silmarillion/. At Tolkien's request, after his death his son
    Christopher (with some help from Guy Kay) worked to "bring the work
    into publishable form"; Christopher discusses the difficulties involved
    in the book's Foreword. To understand why /The Silmarillion/ took the
    form that it did (and why it is rarely considered "canonical", as
    mentioned in question III.A.2), it is worth exploring those editorial
    changes. The full story can be found in the "History of Middle-earth"
    books, particularly /Morgoth's Ring/ and /The War of the Jewels/
    (volumes X-XI).

    The most basic editorial decision was which writings to include in
    the book at all. The "Quenta Silmarillion" is of course the central
    text, but Tolkien also wrote numerous associated stories and essays.
    Charles Noad explored this question as part of his essay "On the
    Construction of 'The Silmarillion'" (published in /Tolkien's
    Legendarium/; see question III.A.5), where he suggests an "outline for
    'The Silmarillion' as Tolkien may have intended it". In addition to the
    texts in the published book, Noad includes expanded versions of four
    stories: "The Lay of Leithian" (possibly in poetic form), "Narn i Chin
    Hurin", "The Fall of Gondolin", and "Earendil the Wanderer" (which
    Tolkien never even fully sketched). He also includes five
    "Appendices": writings about Middle-earth and its inhabitants such as
    "Laws and Customs among the Eldar" and the "Athrabeth Finrod ah
    Andreth" (most of these were published in HoMe X-XI). Sadly, a book
    with this outline could never be made satisfying with just the texts
    that Tolkien left us.

    Moving on to the texts that were actually included in /The
    Silmarillion/ as published, there were three types of problems to
    overcome. In the worst cases, there were crucial gaps in the narrative
    where Tolkien had never written more than an outline of the story (or
    where the most recent version was hopelessly outdated). Much more
    frequently, Tolkien's years of revisions led to factual inconsistencies
    between stories written at various times (especially between writings
    before and after /The Lord of the Rings/). And finally, Tolkien's
    writings differed markedly in tone, ranging from vivid narratives to
    terse annals to philosophical essays. To assemble a single text,
    consistent in style and detail, from such a range of source material
    clearly required substantial editing.

    Despite that pessimistic assessment, the vast majority of the
    published /Silmarillion/ is taken directly from Tolkien's work and
    seems to come quite close to what he intended, as far as it goes. (None
    of the "expanded" tales were ever completed, but what exists of them
    can be found for the most part in /Unfinished Tales/, /The Lays of
    Beleriand/, and the other "History of Middle-earth" books mentioned
    above.) Still, mild editing is not uncommon, and can be difficult to
    identify even by comparison to the source texts as published in HoMe.
    Thus, /The Silmarillion/ is often not treated as a final authority in
    scholarly discussions of Middle-earth. (A classic example is its
    mistaken ancestry of Gil-galad, as discussed in question III.B.8.)

    The greatest concern, of course, comes from those few cases where
    large gaps had to be filled by the editors. This happened to some
    extent for "Of Tuor and the Fall of Gondolin" and "Of the Voyage of
    Earendil and the War of Wrath", but the most substantial editorial
    "invention" came in the chapter "Of the Ruin of Doriath". The episode

    [continued in next message]

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