This document has not been significantly updated in a few years. Some of the locations it refers to are still community gathering places, but many others have been abandoned or changed over time. This should be considered a historical document rather than a source of current information. A few links have been updated to assure a minimal amount of functionality, but there are no plans to bring this page up to date any time soon.
How do I get involved? How do I meet people?
One of the simpler things to do is to cruise the Web, drifting through dragon sites, until you find interesting people, and then e-mail them. (The reason I set up this page is because of the large number of e-mails I've gotten from "newbies".) Although this can work, it's generally a hit-or-miss proposition -- dragons are, on the whole, friendly, but many are just too busy to respond at length to every letter that comes their way.
Unfortunately, the dragons who tend to have the most interesting websites are the ones that have been established the longest and the ones who consequently have many more outside interests and old friends to keep in touch with. Let's assume for a moment that my website is interesting and use me as an example. I'm in the habit of receiving over 10 e-mail messages a day, I spend hours a week maintaining my webpages, and I'm a college student with long hours at a job with the school paper. My average turnaround time on a letter ranges from two days, if you're lucky, to a month. (Despite all this, you're welcome to mail me.)
So what can you do?
Usenet is great, as meeting places go, but many people want more -- the satisfaction of being able to talk to people in real time. The sentiment was strong enough that an official AFD channel formed on what was then a small alternative Internet Relay Chat (IRC) network, Dalnet. Founded by Dalvenjah, an old alt.fan.dragons active, Dalnet soon ballooned to over two dozen servers worldwide and its current popularity of many thousands of users, but channel #afd is still a hangout reserved for dragons and dragonlovers.
Much of the AFD community also congregates in yet other areas -- mostly MU*s (sort of like IRC but within a background setting where people can build rooms as well as hold conversations) and mailing lists. But for the "newbie" -- or "young nut", as you may come to be called -- the best place to make new friends fast is on Usenet or IRC.
First things first: It's a lot more rewarding to read Usenet with a dedicated newsreader (such as MT-NewsWatcher for the Macintosh). If you are very interested in alt.fan.dragons, find a good newsreader and learn how to use it. (Starting from a page like Yahoo's Usenet software listings is a good bet.)
Out of the million or so posts that trickle into Usenet every week, though, the vast majority are made with a Web browser, such as Netscape News or MSIN. (Current statistics for different newsreaders are at http://www.cs.uit.no/~kjelli/newschart.html.) So it's fast becoming acceptable, and maybe even normal, to read news with a web browser. If you want to jump in immediately, this is good news; it takes little effort to post to Usenet.
To get a good idea of what the newsgroup alt.fan.dragons is like, the easiest way to get started is to read articles through an organization such as FeedME.org. Deja News is also a useful site (it contains all back posts as well as current ones). And if you have your browser configured correctly, "news:alt.fan.dragons" should start your browser's newsreader and bring up AFD.
In any case, read through the articles for a while, then write a hello post to the newsgroup letting them know that you're there. People will generally start responding to your article within three days (there's a slight propagation delay with each post). That's it!
Warning! Before you start posting to AFD blithely, make sure you're familiar with the principles of netiquette -- it's just good manners to follow common posting conventions.
First, as usual, you will need the proper software to IRC with.
Once you've got the software, learn how to use it -- the link take you to DALNet's official help page. Once
you're familiar with your software, connect to the server irc.dal.net (port 7000), and join channel #afd. You're
there! Start talking!
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