Excel Newsgroups & Searching Newsgroups

Search Newsgroups using Google "Usenet Advanced Search", look at the MS Knowledge Database, other tips.
Location:  http://www.mvps.org/dmcritchie/excel/xlnews.htm
Prepared by David McRitchie

Ever lose track of a newsgroup item?   (#items)

Some frequent questions posted on Newsgroups that could just as easily have been answered by looking in the archived newsgroup postings using the Google "Usenet Advanced Search".  In fact to someone who uses Google these questions look rather out of place in a newsgroup. 

Dreaded Questions in Private Email   (#dreaded)

« http://groups.google.com/advanced_search?q=group:*Excel*&num=100
http://groups.google.com/groups/search?hl=en&num=100&as_ugroup=microsoft.public.excel.*&q=excel « -- to search Google Groups archives limiting to newsgroups with Excel in their names.  Suggest asking for 100 entries at a time, you can change your default options at Google to 100 but if you don't set your options the above link will do it for your current search.
"Usenet Advanced Search"
Google Usenet Advanced Search (coverage extends back to May 12, 1981When Google took over Deja it took a while to get back to Mar 29, 1995 and had almost given up hope.  Google has taken over the D.e.j.a .. N.e.w.s  archives.  Google does not support Boolean searches, and does not provide wildcard asterisk except at the end of newsgroups to search, but it now supports the old D.e.j.a article identifications that you will find in many older articles. 

Google doesn't seem to provide HELP specifically for Groups search but you can find the following information concerning Advanced Search.

Enclose phrases within double quotes, additional words that must be found prefixed with a plus (+), words must not be found prefix with a minus(-) and synonyms with a tilde(~).  The words AND and OR can be used as well. Google does not appear to support parentheses.  Asterisks for wildcards are only supported for the newsgroups at beginning or end and are not supported for other words in search (no word roots)

Message-id (#msgid) is the only real universal unique identifier that a news posting has.
      MakeHTML_Link  personal.xls!MakeHTML_Link,   Message-ID replacements (#, %23), ($, %24), (%, %25)

If a posting is still on the server, you can address it by the server and then the message-id.  For example in the headers you find the line.
  Message-ID: <005501c3d215$b89933a0$a101280a@phx.gbl>
Then you could find that message by pasting the following into the address line of your browser, by including the server.  (Microsoft keeps postings for about 3 months, some servers only keep a posting for 3 days).

But all you see is that one message.  Google Groups makes this a lot easer, you can paste the message-id into the Search Form and be able to see the entire thread, remove the brackets from the message-id when entering.
  Find the message with message ID   005501c3d215$b89933a0$a101280a@phx.gbl

To help with newsgroup postings, I have a macro (MakeHTML_link) to create the Google reference and the news:// reference given the Message-ID line from a posting.  The code is available.  My Excel toolbar icon is an MakeHTML_Link.  The macro also includes original ability to gather together a posted link that gets split up between lines and may include reply characters (>) as well.  (These are the directions for use).

Message-ids found in the headers are once again acceptable identifiers for Google Group searches.  so it is good that this ability to see and use message headers has been restored, .  (was missing for one year after Google took over Deja).

It is possible but a bit convoluted to find the message-id within the URL for instance when you click on View Thread (3 articles) to find the message-id hidden in the URL and found after "&seekm=" and before "#p" depending how used you will probably have to convert the "%40" back to "@" etc.

Other Google features include [portal features]
[Refine your Google Usenet search, reads as if for web pages not for newsgroups] 

Google All About Google
 Advanced Groups Search
This table is a deactivated Example for the narrative describing
Google "Usenet Advanced Search"

Find messages
with all of the words  
with the exact phrase
with any of the words
without the words
Newsgroup Return only messages from the newsgroup

(e.g. rec.games.misc, comp.os.*, *linux*)
Subject Return only messages where the subject contains
Author Return only messages where the author is
Use your own userid here to find you own postings.
Message ID Find the message with message ID
as found in the headers

(e.g. moderated-ng-faq-1-983174581@swcp.com)
Language Return messages written in
Message Dates Return messages posted
  Return messages posted between and
 Google now runs 12 May 1981  to current dateEnding date will default to the current date


2001 Google

A text summary for pasting into a Newsgroup posting (#paste)

Google Advanced Groups Search -- http://groups.google.com/advanced_search?q=group:*Excel*
Find messages with all of the words:  __
with the exact phrase:  __
Help with Excel in Google searches
~extract   related words
file* use of wildcard based on root
sub OR function   OR must be in caps

Groups Search additions:

Web Search additions:
Excel   useful in web searches
inurl:edu   restrict to educational sites
-filetype:pdf   excludes PDF files
-HTH exclude most newsgroup postings

with any of the words:  __
without the words:  __
Newsgroup:  *excel*
Subject:  __
Author:  __ (if appropriate your own email address)
Message ID:  __

When looking at your results be sure to look also at: (#thread)

When using a search engine you should learn all the features generally referred to as Advanced Search or Power search options permitting use of AND, OR, NEAR, and parentheses.  Unfortunately Google does not provide a Boolean search.

There is about a twelve hour delay for postings to make it into Google so it does not provide a useful means to relocate your own postings in the same day.
Google has taken over Deja archives, so much of this page is being changed.  

The first of the following has been stripped the most for a smaller link (the others also work)

Which brings up an interesting question about what is legal in a URL -- just about anything.  These links were posted by Tom Ogilvy, misc, 2001-03-22http://www.w3.org/Addressing/Addressing.html   http://www.w3.org/Addressing/URL/Overview.html   Also interesting how to obscure URL names:  http://www.pc-help.org/obscure.htmInternet Explorer URL Spoofing Vulnerability -- Test (updates for IE available) [Source: Gripes about Firefox web browser]

Suppose someone posts a long URL in a newsgroup pointing to archives at Google, also see
      TIP: Pasting a long web address into your browser (discussion 2001-03-15)
      Using a colon in a subject title is a bad idea it will not sort properly, thinking it is a Reply Prefix (Re:, Se:)

that appears as follows:

http://groups.google.com/groups?q=spline+group:microsoft.public.excel.*&hl=en&lr= &safe=off&as_scoring=relevance&as_drrb=quick&as_qdr=&as_mind=15&as_minm=8&as_miny=2000&as_maxd=15 &as_maxm=3&as_maxy=2001&rnum=1&seld=964837763&ic=1
You cannot use it as it is shown, you would have to paste each line onto the end of your entry line of your browser.  That is tedious.  Better to open up Notepad and paste the whole thing there then remove the hidden new line characters at the end of each line.  Paste the cleaned up URL into your web browser.  [test long link here**] (note this link is so long that you will not see it in the status bar, look at address after invoking the link)

http://groups.google.com/groups?q=spline+group:microsoft.public.excel.*%26hl=en%26amp;lr= %26safe=off%26as_scoring=relevance %26as_drrb=quick%26as_qdr=%26as_mind=15%26as_minm=8%26as_miny=2000%26as_maxd=15 %26as_maxm=3%26as_maxy=2001%26 rnum=1%26seld=964837763%26ic=1

The above link is impractical to post into a newsgroups, and it requires a search to get you to the location.  To post a reasonable link, go to the above link then click on Origin Format in the upper right hand corner.
      View: Complete Thread (3 articles) | Original Format
which will provide the following link, from which you can strip off the unwanted   &output=gplain  to provide you with:
or made shorter by stripping out the first use of "groups" which is redundant
As you work more with this you discover you can get directly to the entire thread by substituting &as_umsgid= with &threadm= here is an example along those lines for a different thread.

Another way to find the Message-ID is to find a message in Outlook Express.
Thunderbird (mozilla.org) users can skip these steps altogether with mozdev.org - messageidfinder: index.

Make A Shorter Link, I find this rather annoying in most cases because the Google Newsgroup archive or something similar later on will be able to locate newsgroup articles based on the Message-ID contained in the link for the next hundred years.  But those who rely on a third part to make the connection between a temporary proprietary link to a newsgroup archive are rather short sighted in my opinion, because if they cease to exist the connection to a message-id archived postings is broken.  Don't expect those those companies to all be around years from now to connect a real message-id to link with something like http://makeashorterlink.com/?T26F32A62

to refer to:
  http://groups.google.com/groups?hl=en%26lr=%26ie=UTF-8%26newwindow=1 %26threadm=OzaP %24pFQBHA.948%40 tkmsftngp05%26rnum=1%26prev=/groups%3Fas_oq%3Dorlando %26safe%3Dimages %26ie %3DISO-8859-1 %26as_ugroup%3Dmicrosoft.public.excel*%26as_uauthors%3Dwillwest22 %40yahoo.com%2520%26lr%3D%26num%3D100%26hl%3Den

without the message-id.  The above links can be reduced in Google Groups to the specific message by choosing the link for "View This Article Only" message which appears as:
  http://groups.google.com/groups?hl=en%26lr=%26ie=UTF-8%26newwindow=1 %26selm=OzaP %24pFQBHA.948%40tkmsftngp05

and you can pare it down by removing English language, and substituting threadm= for selm=

Which includes the all important message-id and because threadm= is used instead of selm= you can see the relative location within the thread.

Some Tips for posting links in a newsgroup article:
 - Place a space in front of the link so that a quoted copy of your post doesn't mess up the link
 - Do not put punctuation or other characters immediate in front or after the link.
 - Remove the redundant portions of the link, and test it before posting the link.

The visible portion of some of the above links have had some spaces added for illustration purposes so that the lines will wrap nicely within an HTML web page.

TransURL - URL Translation Utility, converts funny URL's back to a normalized readable URL.

What Happened to Deja Archives (#deja)

Bottom line is Google took over the archives.

Before Deja suddenly disappeared on Feb 12, 2001 lots of strange things had happened.  A move of servers in 1999 dumped all but the last three days and they slowly recovered back to about March of 1999 by the time it was announced that Deja was no more and had been taken over by Google.  Eventually Google restored archives back to March 29, 1995 which is where they currently stand.  Deja had promised at least seven years previous to that to essentially pick up every newsgroup posting that was ever posted.

Lack of information is not uncommon.  When stock quotes are not available Intuit will not tell you on their site, nor will those responsible for the feeds.  When MS newsgroups are down, Microsoft will not tell you about problems on their site.  When computer viruses take down sites, you may hear about it from other news sources but never from the affected sites.  What we consider a lack of integrity in keeping you informed, they consider it poor business sense to keep you informed.  Possibly because they could be tracked on uptime/downtime or reliability, and possible to a different standard than others are tracked.

Some newsgroups of possible interest to Excel users (#xlgroups)

Please read articles on posting to Excel Newsgroups, netiquette, plain text posting.

Lists of newsgroups on Microsoft servers can be found at http://support.microsoft.com/support/news/default.asp?FR=0
Go through Office products to get to the Excel for Windows Newsgroups.

Connect directly to the free Microsoft public servers.  There is not need to pay for a newsgroup service.  There is no need to register with a site to obtain a password.  Subscribing to a microsoft.public newsgroup only means that your newsreader is keeping track of postings to your selected newsgroups, not that any registration is required.  Connect as shown below use this link, which will allow you to subscribe to these groups:   news://msnews.microsoft.com
The ONLY reason to ever use a web based newsreader is if you are behind a firewall. 
Everyone should be posting in plain text (No MIME, No HTML) and there are indications that some ISPs (Freeserve) drop HTML postings altogether, which may explain many missing postings.  Clicking on a newsgroup link below will bring postings in that newsgroup into your Outlook Express, or Windows Live Mail, or other newsreader.  Be selective in what you ask for.

The Big Three Excel Newsgroups is now Four (#big4)

Additional Lists and Alphabetized Archives (#moregroups)

Related Lists -- Microsoft Office   (#office)

Clicking on a newsgroup link below will bring postings in that newsgroup into your Outlook Express, or Windows Live Mail, or other newsreader.  Be selective in what you ask for.

Test Posting   (#testposting)

It is rather annoying that people send posts to a newsgroup to find out if they are connected or not.  Seems to me that simply posting a question or replying to someone else's would do the trick. 

There is at least one newsgroup specifically for placing test postings, testing connectivity with your newsreader, and testing replies to your test postings.  Posts in a test newsgroup are intended to expire (not be archived), but mainly so that you do not disrupt usage in working newsgroups.

When testing to the test newsgroup, you want to make sure you are not posting in MIME (/HTML) and that your formulas appear correctly make sure you include some equal signs (=) and less than (<) and greater than (>) signs in your testing.

Posting Directly to the Microsoft Newsgroups   (#postdirect)

Posting directly to the Microsoft newsgroup servers results in the quickest connection and turnaround.

If you have posted a question or a response look at the path in your headers.  Each exclamation mark (!) represents passing off to another server.  Reduction to a single exclamation point is the goal.  See if you can directly access with:
    news://msnews.microsoft.com and then subscribe to microsoft.public.excel.misc

Post through "forums" such as excelforum and other are simply trying to force fed you advertising, and getting you to click on advertising.  The newsgroup are text only there is no need for HTML pages.  The worst problem is that they store postings and replies as their own HTML pages and are picked up in web searches and they should be ignored by web searches.  Those that are actually posted to newsgroup should only be seen in a groups (newsgroups) search. not in web searches.

Connecting directly to Microsoft servers is not possible for everyone.  Many people on AOL or behind firewalls cannot connect directly. 

For those using MS Outlook Express, or Netscape there should be no problem.  You can post and check your headers by posting to a test newsgroup.

Setting Up to read Newsgroups in Outlook Express, How to connect to the Microsoft Newsservers, then continue Setting up Message Rules (filters) to help find your own postings, block postings, or making your own postings set on the watched indicator so you can quickly identify replies or related information to your own postings and replies.

When directed to a specific topic on a page, please read the entire page so you don't miss important material.

Microsoft Technical Support -- Knowledge Base   (#mskb)

Access Microsoft's Knowledge Base (MS KB), Troubleshooting Wizards, and downloadable files

Correct syntax for URL's to access a specific article
    where kbnumb is strictly numeric, the recognizable "Q" prefix has been dropped.

You should be able to pick up a Knowledge Base article in Google with:  kbid=kbnumb

Meaning of q= the IE header as in HTTP_ACCEPT_LANGUAGE:en-us,en-ca;q=0.7,fr-ca;q=0.3 is a selection preference number explained in RFC 2616 (rfc2616) - Hypertext Transfer Protocol -- HTTP/1.1

You can often pick up both general information and specific information in the MS KB (Microsoft Knowledge Data Base).  It may be necessary to register first in which case try starting at http://support.microsoft.com/support/


Fill in the product, type of search and question, as follows:
  1) Excel for Windows     or leave this empty
  2) Keyword                   include  XL
  3) conversion and (1-2-3 or lotus)
  Full Text
  Titles with excerpts

Additional Resources (#resources)

A brief summary of Additional Resources can be found as a narrative on Chip Pearson's pages.  Many of the items mentioned there have already been mentioned on this page or on my main page (My Excel Pages) in greater detail.

Posting to newsgroups via Forums is Discouraged (#forums)

The Excel forums sites are mainly vehicles to disperse advertising, and it would be best to stick with newsgroups when posting to newsgroups.

It is rather unfortunate that such sites are merely repetitions of postings to newsgroups.  If you want to search newsgroups you can do that with Google Groups search.  But when newsgroup postings or discussions are mixed in with web pages it can get very difficult to steer clear of them.  This subject is continued on another page – Excel Forums vs Newsgroup, and tells how to eliminate spammy sites from Google web searches with a Firefox extension.

Google Groups Search Orientation   (#ggorientation)

Google Groups has changed a simple and effective results presentation into a very confused and complicated results presentation, confusing everyone, and is apparently designed for use only with a full width window and a minimum resolution of 1024 x 768. 

Firefox users might want to see another page with the gg:fix bookmarklet to remove third column from Google Groups search This section was extracted from a topic on that page.
An interesting site to see the number of postings in newsgroups group can be found at MSR Netscan (Microsoft Research).  Fill in contains with ".excel." as the newsgroups name or begins with "microsoft.public.excel".   If you are just interested in Excel you can visit Mehta Tuschar's site Excel Newsgroup Statistics

I have a Search page that sets out several search sites and places to obtain information.  My favorite web search engine is still AltaVista, but Google web search is also very good, and because it has more content it is the one I use the most.  You will find them both there and references to the MS KB, phone directories, airplane arrivals/departures etc.  You might want to bookmark this page.  Also have a page on Web Search perhaps a little dated now that Google web search is so popular.  Also check out my new page ...

A page to help you specifically search for Search for Excel content on the Web

Some information on using Outlook Express 6.0 as your newsreader.  Setting up Message Rules (filters) to block postings, and Message Views to help find your own postings, or making your own postings set on the watched indicator so you can quickly identify replies or related information to your own postings and replies.  Also check this page if you are having problems not seeing any new postings in the Microsoft newsgroups, you will probably need to RESET that newsgroup.

Forte Agent, some people prefer Agent as their newsreader – Agent Download Page (English), Agent and Free Agent are combined in a single download.

Defining Google - transcript CBS 60 minutes (2005-01-02).

Remediation for Disastrous Google Beta Groups, Latest Disaster for Newsgroups, continuing since Nov 2004, is the HTML versions of threads that destroys message-id, destroys code, makes for a big screen footprint, creates readability problems, and has slower access speed than plain text in the Classic search.

Hints for New Posters, on Chip Pearson's site, is a general introduction to what is considered proper netiquette (net etiquette)  in the Excel groups.  If interested in more detail as an introduction see my page on Posting to Newsgroups, which was actually started  earlier with information on MIME postings and then later  incorporated the early discussion for Excel groups as it progressed and  Chip started posting his hints and later created a  web page..

MSKB 555375 -- How to ask a question, some general guidelines for asking questions in newsgroups.

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