ASCEM, A Guide to Infinite Combinations.

FAQ for alt.startrek.creative.erotica.moderated

Version 3.07

Table of Contents:
  1. An Introduction
    1. An Introduction
    2. Charter
    3. More on that
  2. How things Work
    1. Moderation Process
    2. E-mail and Newsgroup Delivery
    3. Moderation verse Censorship
    4. Technical Process\
  3. Reading, Posting, Replying
    1. Reading
    2. Posting
    3. Replying
    4. Technical Guidelines
  4. Discussion of Stories and Ideas
    1. Stories and Ideas
    2. Feedback
    3. Critique and Debate
  5. Writing Stories
    1. Disclaimer
    2. Header
    3. Content
    4. Style
    5. Formatting Suggestions
    6. Codes and Labels Pointer
  6. Special Posts and Services
    1. Status of Stories
    2. FAQs
    3. The Archive
    4. Golden Orgasms
  7. Contacts
    1. ASCEM
    2. ASC
    3. ASCA
    4. Archive Team
  8. Credits
I. An Introduction
A. An Introduction
In the beginning there was the word, and the ... oops, wrong FAQ.

This is the FAQ and purpose of alt.startrek.creative.erotica.moderated (ASCEM), a USENET newsgroup, the successor to (ASFS) and alt.startrek.creative.erotica (ASCEM) Please read in its entirety.

B. Charter
"alt.startrek.creative.erotica.moderated is a newsgroup for the lustful devotion to Star Trek characters, technology, and ideas. More specifically, it is for erotic Star Trek fan fiction ranging from mild to NC-17."

C. More on that
ASCEML is how we refer to the mailing list version of ASCEM, which gets everything that goes to the newsgroup. We are a moderated group, which means we don't accept spam. That's our only restriction. The charter you see above is as it appears on the new group message sent out in 1997. I should note that the more specifically phrase should probably be worded center of group, as the group's reason for being is that, but you will see quite a bit of chatter not associated with a particular story.

Our sister groups are alt.startrek.creative (ASC) and alt.startrek.creative.all-ages (ASCA)

II. How things Work
A. Moderation Process
ASCEM(L) is moderated through a process known as a white list. Accounts subscribed via the yahoogroup (ASCEML) are given moderation free posting rights after a few posts are determined to not be subscribed for spam purposes.

Moderation is currently done by the Divine Dina, who goes and approves posts that are from accounts not yet white listed or posts that arrive via the newsgroup moderation account (ascem She also white lists accounts.

B. E-mail and Newsgroup Delivery
You can receive ASCEM via two methods:

Newsgroup Delivery
This is via your Internet Service Provider's Newsserver, Look for the newsgroup alt.startrek.creative.erotica.moderated

E-mail Delivery
Via the yahoo group ASCEML E-mail: asceml-subscribe There is also a stories only version via ASCEMS E-mail: ascem-s-subscribe

C. Moderation vs. Censorship
Moderation is not Censorship. The Divine Dina is only allowed to reject posts that are defined as spam (advertisements, chain-letters, or cross-posted all over the universe). She can not reject posts because she hates you (she most likely doesn't know you) or doesn't like the sexual content or pairings. This is an equal opportunity perversion posting newsgroup.

The Current FAQ Maintainer will note that there have been debates about content restrictions that have even included his own works. We intend to never go down the slippery slope of restricting what one can or can not do in a story.

D. Technical Process
A post can enter the newsgroup via one of two ways. Via the newsgroup, or via the mailing list. The latter of these is the quickest to get to the group.

A post to the newsgroup on a properly configured server will result in that post being e-mailed to the Divine Dina. She, on a regular basis, goes through these e-mails and forwards them to the mailing list.

A post to the mailing list, should the address not be on the white list yet (and our Divine Moderator adds people to this white list on a regular basis) will also wait for her attention.

Once a post gets to the mailing list, it goes out to everyone who kept their account set to e-mail them. It also goes to our mail to news interface, created by Randall Raemon, which then sends it with the proper headers to the newsgroup.

Occasionally, a new poster will wonder what takes his or her posts so long to get out. That's because the Divine Dina is not, nor should she be, on duty 24-7. We do hope she has a life outside of moderation now that she's retired from the Archive Team.

III. Reading, Posting, Replying
A. Reading
Thanks to the wonders of moderation, ASCEML consists of stories, discussions about stories and related things, and no spam. Stories can be quickly identified by their title as found in the title line and message header, usually accompanied by a morass of codes traditionally referred to as "alphabet soup". Later in this FAQ you'll get an explanation of those, and the Codes FAQ (which we share with alt.startrek.creative) will give a full list of them.

If you're new to newsgroups or mailing lists, please read quietly for a bit so as to get the tone and temper of our group. This is called "lurking", and is an honored tradition on much of USENET. Sometimes newsgroup regulars will go to lurker status for a while, if they're overwhelmed by real life, tired of some thread, or need a break. Lurkers are just as valued here as anyone else, and in fact a majority of folks here *are* lurkers. So it doesn't matter that you don't have much to say. You're still welcome.

B. Posting
Firstly, don't send advertisements, binaries, or cross-posts. It wastes your time and ours, and they won't get past the spambot or the moderator. Secondly, try and be courteous. It's a very good idea to send your messages in fixed-width, plain-text format, simply because that way, everyone can read it. A line width of not more than 70 characters is *strongly* recommended. Most word processing programs can be set to do this automatically.

C. Replying
If you're replying to someone else's message, please don't quote their entire message when you're responding to just one point. It wastes space and time. Use common sense and you'll be doing the right thing. Please keep your messages to around 25K in size, for technical reasons as well as kindness to people who use slow, modems (like the FAQ Maintianer). In addition, some ISPs, like aol, chop off posts that are longer than that, meaning folks can't read half of your story.

The nature of UseNet means that topics frequently segue into one another and threads can get wildly off-topic. One helpful way to avoid confusion is to rename the subject header of the message if you feel it doesn't reflect its content any longer. We do debate things over and over, but we're usually a tolerant bunch of people. We try not to be a clique; The Vulcan IDIC (Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combinations) holds true here. Now and then we all fall from grace, but we'll get up and try again.

D. Technical Guidelines
For those unsure of how to measure 25k, in most word processing programs 25k ends up being about 8 or 9 pages of plain text. 500 70-character lines also is a good guide here. Don't post in HTML

IV. Discussion of Stories and Ideas
A. Stories and Ideas
If it's Star Trek, and it's yours, we have no objection. If it's not yours, have permission before posting. That's all I'll say on the subject, and all I should have to.
B. Feedback
The authors of the fan-fiction posted here don't get paid for their work, so a compliment is the best they're hoping for and the nicest way of giving thanks. If you have something to say about a story, please say it. It doesn't matter if you'd prefer to send it privately to the author or would rather reply to the list (as most of us do). Many times the author themselves will state what sort of feedback, if any, they would like, and whether they prefer public or private feedback.

Be sensible; feedback like "This story sucked!" is not real helpful. But if all you can think of is "Wow, I loved it!" -- authors need hugs too. Plain insults are not constructive. If something didn't work for you and you're bothered by it enough to write to the author, a comment such as "I had trouble understanding why you did X with character Y" is much more helpful to them and might be returned with an explanation of why they wrote it that way.

C. Critique and Debate
Public discussion of various stories happens a lot, and more often than not the authors themselves are heavily involved. Try to exercise courtesy if you want to argue a point, because this is the best way to get along well enough to do this. Again, this is simple common sense. Critical acclaim and attack are usually welcomed on this list, but be prepared to back up your opinions and discuss them as the rest of us do. And please respect if an author has said they does not want negative feedback. It's hard to put our babies out there on the firing line, and sometimes an author just is not ready to deal with bad news. Many others welcome feedback, though

Also, some authors are not native English speakers, so keep that in mind. English is tough to learn if you didn't speak it as a child.

V. Writing Stories
A. Disclaimer
There is a very good chance that you don't own Star Trek. So acknowledge that fact. Something like "Star Trek is property of Viacom Inc. I'm not earning one red cent from it. (Just a few green ones.)" This is a good idea. It covers you and us.

This raises two points: (a) you can be amusing in the disclaimer, if you want to be; (b) you *cannot* sell these stories. Even if you have the author's permission -- even if you happen to be the author! It's illegal, and ParaBorg has legions of Ferengi lawyers with nothing better to do than go after copyright violators. Fan-fic is recognized as a "fair-use" usage of the copyrighted material -- but if you sell it somewhere, they *will* hunt you down and beam your atoms into space. (Making you watch bad movies is another fandom)

B. Header
The Story header and Subject line are very important. If you don't follow them, the Archive Team have hired Morag and Kozek to hunt you down. We'll also put your story at the back of the line.

The Subject Line consists of (in this order): Postname, Series, Title, Parts, Codes, Rating.

Examples include:

NEW TNG Morag's Dinner Guest 1/1 (viol) [R]
REP DS9 Never on Sunday 1/7 (Qu/Grilka) [NC-17]
REV VOY Wicked 8/31 (J/C, P/T, bdsm) [NC-17]

You'll find a list of what these parts mean in the Codes FAQ,

The Story Header is a little beginning that makes the archive team's job just a little easier. The data you see in it will be ported directly into the Archive's Index, and I don't change things quickly. The lines are:

Title: Full Title of your Story
Author: Your name as you wish it to appear in the Index
Contact: how to get a hold of you
Series: Series and Subseries this is written in
Rating: MPAA rating and why
Part: 1/6 or the like
Codes: The pairings and story type of your story
Summary: 3-5 lines telling what your story is about. (With a blank line after it)

Include it. Your readers will find it easier, and you won't have to talk with Morag and Kozek.

C. Content
ASCEM(L) wants your treksmut! Any erotic, pornographic, smutty, sexy, romantic, etc. fic you'd care to share with us is appreciated, so long as you base it in one of the Star Trek timelines or even an alternate universe for one or more of them. Bring 'em on!

Your story doesn't need to feature familiar characters, although most stories do. It doesn't need to include sexual or adult-only situations either, although if you're primarily writing non-erotic stories then you ought to think about posting them to ASCA or ASC instead. (Incidentally, ASC welcomes *all* Trekfic, including erotica.) You can also post stories without actual sex -- we call those UST, for "unresolved sexual tension". We also welcome parodies, humour, filksongs, poems, etc. If it's got Trek and sex, we want it.

Equally, authors here don't limit themselves to heterosexual, "vanilla" explorations of sex. There's a lot of different material here, going all the way from m/f just kissing, to dark, disturbing, and seriously kinky. ASCEM(L) is about diversity as much as Star Trek and sex itself are about diversity. Read the codes and the warnings, and if something strikes you as eww, way gross, just remember: Mr. Delete Key is your friend!

D. Style
We have content guidelines based on what we've found works best. We don't have style guidelines; art is subjective, after all. The best style advice is to have some! What that style might be is entirely up to you.

However, remember that your work will be read by most people on a screen, not a printed page. This means that single-spaced lines of text in block paragraphs, separated by a clear line (as in this FAQ), are preferred to indented paragraphs. Netscape tends to eat the indents, as do quite a few other programs, and your story can end up looking like one huge run-on paragraph -- which makes it hard on the reader. You can still add indents if you like -- I do. But it's best not to rely on them alone.

The USENET convention is to use *asterisks* for emphasis (what might otherwise be in italics). ALL CAPS is only used when a character is shouting. Asterisks are also found separating a character's inner thoughts from speech, as is the //double slash// (however this is also used for telepathic speech). Try to be consistent once you have a preference. The underscore is sometimes used similarly, and also for names given in italics. Some of us have used hyphens or <<>>. Doesn't matter much, just pick what you like and stick to it. Remember that word-processing codes like bold and underline and italics will not come through in ASCII text. Likewise, accented letters, word-processing hyphens, non-Roman-alphabet characters etc. will show up as garbage codes, and many readers will just say "aw, screw it" and delete it unread. Stick to plain old boring ASCII text and you won't go wrong. All word processing programs have an export-to-plain-text feature; specifics vary, but you *can* do this. And your readers will be forever grateful.

E. Formatting Suggestions
Please post in fixed-width, plain-text format. Anything that isn't ASCII text will be zapped, either by the spambots, or by our moderator. They might also have to be fixed before archiving by the archive team.

Also, if you find you're posting a long story and it's totaling more than 30K or so, please try to find a suitable point to break it into two or more posts. Longer posts may not be seen in full or, at best, will annoy the "slow, flaky modem" contingent. With this in mind, please make it obvious which post is which story segment. The best thing to do is include a part number in the title line, like "1/3," and to repeat that part number at the end of each post, like "End of part one of three." This way, folks know they've got the whole post and none of it got chopped off.

F. Codes and Labels Pointer
The Codes FAQ can be found at:

It is also posted along with this FAQ and to ASC monthly.

VI. Special Posts and Services
A. Status of Stories
Special post you'll find is the "Status of Stories" posts; the SOS is a monthly listing of stories posted to the group, a bit like an index. These are compiled by the SOS maintainers, who are more lovely volunteer folks who work hard so all of us can enjoy. SOS is the place to check and see if your story made it into the archive intake queue or not.
This is the primary FAQ for ASCEM, but you'll also wish to check out these other FAQs for this and our sister newsgroups:

Codes ...
The FAQ that tells exactly what all those letters mean in the header. Posted along with this FAQ and weekly on ASC

Introduction ...
Primary FAQ for alt.startrek.creative Posted weekly on ASC

Reader's Guide ...
A Reader's Guide to ASC, known for it's different format.

Advice for Authors ...
Detailed guide to ASC* from the Author's perspective.

Mannerly Art of Crit ...
By Peg Robinson. Posted Monthly on ASC and as needed on ASCEM. A guide to how to criticize a story.

Mannerly Art of Disagreement ...
By Macedon. Posted Monthly on ASC and as needed on ASCEM. How to keep your temper when the group gets hot.

C. The Archive
The group's archive is know as Trekiverse, and can be reached at:

By default, all posts to ASCEML are archived. You have to tell us not to.

The Archive Team currently consists of many volunteers and is led by Constable Katie, and the Insufficiently Reluctant Guy whose writing this FAQ.

D. Golden Orgasms
The Golden Os are the annual Awards for this newsgroup, and are held in February. They comprise the stories posted within the prior calender year. Due to staffing issues, this year they were held in May, but usually they occur in February before the ASC Awards on our sister group, alt.startrek.creative.

The GOs consist of the top 3 vote getters from all stories posted for various categories via the 5x2 rule. Further explanation on voting and categorization can be found in their FAQ.

This year, the winners were announced with an Awards Dinner post. It is hoped that this will be an annual tradition.

VII. Contacts
FAQ Maintainer
Stephen Ratliff


Status of Stories FAQ
Acid Queen

Golden Os Coordinator
Stephen Ratliff

FAQ Maintainer
Stephen Ratliff

FAQ Maintainer
Stephen Ratliff

Senior Moderator
Stephen Ratliff

Jemima Pereira

D. Archive Team
Constable Katie

Index Maintainer
Stephen Ratliff

VIII. Credits
This FAQ was prepared mainly from the text of Greywolf, my predecessor in this job, after the fully rewritten version got swallowed by a hard drive crash. Revision assistance: DataLaur, J.Juls

Previously this FAQ was written by Ned Fox and substantially revised by Greywolf the Wanderer; Thanks to Ruth Gifford (author of the original FAQ), and to many other contributors.

Thanks also to those other hard workers in the newsgroup (I can't do everything, and how would you like to take on ...) The writers and readers.

Stephen Ratliff
ASC* FAQ Maintainer