The Alt.Sex.Stories.* Hierarchy and Related Groups FAQ
                     by Apuleius (

                       Version 2.03 - June 19, 2000

Note: It's been a long time since the last version (in February), and
the main reason for that has been the remarkable stability of the
hierarchy so far this year. A great deal of that stability is due to the
stirling efforts of Rey del Sexo and his team at ASSTR.

New in this edition:
Added part numbering recommendation
Further info on ASSTR search engines
Removed reference to Talkway
Various links updated

This document is a guide to the various erotic text newsgroups available
on Usenet. Comments and suggestions regarding this FAQ are welcome; send
to The latest version of this FAQ may always be
found at

Note that this FAQ is quite long; if you just want an introduction to the
basics of reading and posting, please consult Titmouse's "Welcome to the
Funhouse! - Some basic understandings" at

and "Sex Stories - Things You Should Know", originally by Kim, now
maintained by Seurat ( It is available at

This FAQ is copyright 1998-2000 by Apuleius ( It may
be copied and distributed freely, provided that the entire text is
transmitted unaltered (including this message). Use of this document in any
commercial endeavour (for example, members-only websites, CD-ROMs) is


1)  Introduction
2)  What is the history of erotic stories on Usenet?
3)  What are all these groups for?
4)  What do the story code abbreviations mean?
5)  How do I post a story?
6)  Can I repost my story or someone else's?
7)  What about copyright? Is this all legal?
8)  What for?
9)  What's the deal with reviews?
10) How do I thank an author for their work?
11) How do I post anonymously?
12) How do I deal with all this spam?
13) Where can I find good stories?
14) What other documents are there about these groups?
15) Closing Words
Appendix A: Where can I find this story I'm looking for?
Appendix B: How do I use Forte Agent's filtering facility?
Appendix C: How do I convert a MS Word document to plain text?

Section 1: Introduction

Welcome to the Alt.Sex.Stories.* hierarchy FAQ. The purpose of this
document is to answer commonly asked questions regarding the groups, as
well as providing background material and pointers to further resources.
I should point out right away that I have *no* special status within the
hierarchy - I'm just a normal user who has taken the time to write this
guide. Please do *not* email me about anything not directly related to
this FAQ - if you have any general questions, please ask in instead.

The information contained herein is not the "law": no-one has the power
to enforce the suggestions I make within this FAQ. However, most of what
follows are the generally accepted conventions and protocols of the
newsgroups. Following them will make the a.s.s. hierarchy a better place
for everyone.

September 1998

Section 2: What is the history of erotic stories on Usenet?

Erotic stories on Usenet were originally posted to the venerable
Then, rec.arts.erotica was created in March 1990. This was a moderated
group, whose characteristic policy in its later years was the insertion by
the moderator(s) of an extra header marking each story out of 10 and giving
a short comment. R.a.e. tended to focus on the more "literary" material,
and the moderator would delete stories considered to be poorly spelt or
formatted. These two groups formed the basis of erotic story distribution
on the internet until the early 90s.

In response to the increased traffic on, and the rather restrictive
policies of rec.arts.erotica (in particular, the disallowing of reposts), and were created in May-June 1992, as a
non-moderated alternative. As with most of Usenet, complete archives of the
groups are nonexistent until the establishment of Dejanews in early 1995,
but many stories from this time are still extant. Increased traffic on the
group led to the creation of the first subgroups, a.s.s.h in December 1994,
and a.s.s.g in May 1995.

In July 1995, Celeste posted her first Celestial Reviews, beginning a
tradition that continues to this day. A readership report from
around the same time listed as the fourth-most read group
on Usenet, with over 8000 messages posted per month, totalling 58MB, and
an estimated readership of 220,000 people.

In August 1995, Paul Robinson created, but due
to his avoidance of moderatorial responsibility and the fact that
rec.arts.erotica served much the same purpose, the group was virtually
unused until its revival in 1997.

The anonymous posting service, which many people used to
post their stories, ceased operation in September 1996. Many authors,
who had relied on this service, stopped posting altogether and are no
longer contactable.

In 1996-7, the hierarchy began to be seriously affected by spam, in
common with much of Usenet. The number of posts to rec.arts.erotica was
also declining due to moderatorial problems, and many users felt that a
moderated group was needed with a more liberal editorial policy. This
problem was solved in January 1997, when Eli-the-Bearded took over the
moderation of, and established a WWW archive
of all the postings. Eli also created in April
of that year. Meanwhile, a.s.s.d began using the {ASSD} convention to
indicate genuine posts (as opposed to spam). Rec.arts.erotica has since
declined into almost total obscurity.

In March 1999, Eli-the-Bearded effectively retired as moderator of due to personal commitments, and the group was
empty for several months. In November, it was taken over by the
Alt.Sex.Stories Text Repository site (ASSTR), and the group is now
moderated by several people using a web-based system. Several other changes
have also been implemented by ASSTR (including support for attachments and
the X-No-Archive header).

The current number of daily readers of a.s.s and related groups is
unknown, but the previous FAQ put it at over 50,000, and it is undoubtedly
much higher. Since its establishment, writers have constructed a corpus of
stories numbering in the tens of thousands. There does seem to have been a
genuine increase in the average quality of writing, as well as a growing
number of novel-length efforts. Several "stories" are as good as anything
you can buy in book form. Although the web has proved a competitor, the
a.s.s. hierarchy remains the primary place for distribution of quality
erotic literature on the Internet.

Readers interested in notable past contributors may consult the unofficial
"ASS Hall of Fame" at

Section 3: What are all these groups for?

The* hierarchy is the primary place for the distribution
of erotic stories on Usenet. The three groups in which you will probably
spend most time are:            Stories, discussion, repost requests and much else
                           (basically, anything that someone sees fit to post)  Stories and reviews only; anything else is rejected          Discussion about stories, repost requests, general
                           talk and argument is a "free-for-all", heavily targeted by spammers. This
freedom is both a strength and a weakness: on the positive side, anything
you post will get through, regardless of its appropriateness (or lack
thereof) for the group; on the negative side, it can be time consuming to
wade through the spam, attachments and flame/trollbait to find what you're
looking for. Hence the development of the other two groups, which have
quite different functions: a.s.s.moderated is a spam-free group intended
specifically for the posting of stories only, and a.s.s.d is a group
intended for talking about stories and related topics. It's quite possible
to ignore entirely and still have a very good idea of the
latest stories and developments.

The following is a list of groups on Usenet which carry erotic stories.
Although Usenet is of course a worldwide network, the basic language of
these groups (with one noted exception) is English; this should not
discourage the posting of non-English stories and discussion, however. Not
all of these groups may be carried on your local news server; for an
excellent list of currently available news servers, see

This group is for erotic texts of *any* subject matter. The amount of
erotic material may be very small, or it may be the primary focus of the
story. It is fair to say that this newsgroup has the largest readership of
them all, and is the group most frequently scanned by "casual" readers.
In a.s.s. you will also find repost requests, a small amount of discussion,
and a large amount of spam from commercial sex-site operators.

Once again, erotic texts of any subject matter. The "moderated" indicates
that all posts to this newsgroup have to be approved by someone before they
appear. Don't let this scare you: the only posts rejected are spam and
off-topic material (i.e. anything that is not a story or review); informal
comments and questions that are accidentally posted here are redirected to more information, please see the ASSM FAQ at

A web archive of all a.s.s.m. posts can be found at (by month) (by week)

(For information on how to prevent archiving of a post, please see "Where
and How to Post" in Section 5). It's important to realise that a.s.s.m. is
not a.s.s. with the spam filtered out - it is a group in its own right.
The group moderation is performed by a number of volunteers using a
web-based accept/reject/redirect system, based at ASSTR
(       (marital infidelity)        (heterosexual)            (same as cuckold, so = significant other)            (transgender)

Not all these "special interest" groups are carried by all servers. Note
that story posters won't necessarily crosspost appropriate stories to
these groups, so if you're looking for a particular genre it's a good
idea to check a.s.s. and a.s.s.m. as well. Some of these groups are
rarely used.

This generally has the same procedure as a.s.s.m. It is moderated by
Mykkhal ( An archive of its stories is available at, and information about it can be found at

Anything about erotic stories which isn't actually a story itself. As
such, it will commonly include reviews of stories, discussions about
writing in general, and requests for reposts. All posters should follow
the {ASSD} convention to indicate non-spam messages. For more
information about this and a.s.s.d in general, see Section 8 of this

Outside the hierarchy:


Erotic texts of any nature. This group was established in an attempt to
avoid spam by staying out of the hierarchy. Although receiving
less spam than other groups, it is not immune to such posts,

This group is for erotic stories of any nature, which are not posted in
normal ASCII format. As such, it can include zip files, HTML documents,
and native word processor files.


From the cursory glance I had, this appears to be a combination
story/discussion group, even including specialised story codes to
indicate characters in the eponymous TV series. For more information,


This group is very rarely used. Although it still shows up on all news
servers, it is unlikely that you will find anything there. For more
information, see Section 2 of this document. The current moderator is
Michael Handler (

Foreign language groups:

German language stories are occasionally posted to (though
the diacriticals for the umlaut etc. can potentially cause problems for
default US ASCII configurations). There is, however, a group catering
specifically for German stories:


This is a combination story/discussion group, which receives a moderate
amount of traffic. It is available on Deja if your news server doesn't
carry it (see Appendix A for more information). Unfortunately, I am unaware
of groups catering for any other languages (if you are aware of any, please
let me know).

Usenet II:


For more information about Usenet II, see The
"czar" for these groups was the former moderator of ASSM, Eli-the-Bearded,
but since his retirement their status is unclear. For more information
about the groups, see Eli's guidelines at

Section 4: What do the story code abbreviations mean?

In any general group such as, it is helpful for readers
to know what they are getting themselves into before they start reading
a story. The groups contain stories with descriptions of every sexual
activity you could think of (and some you couldn't), and people
naturally want to avoid stories that they would be "squicked" by (more
on that term later). Conversely, they would like to know when a story
has a theme which specially interests them (e.g. romance). To solve this
problem, a rather elaborate "coding" system has been developed. Written
properly, the codes indicate the participants, the level of consent and
any other special modifiers.

The only time a story *should* be completely uncoded is when it is
"vanilla" - that is, non-kinky male-female sexual activity between
consenting adults. Unfortunately, readers cannot assume as much from
uncoded stories. Some authors object to this system, feeling that their
stories should be read for their literary value, regardless of what kind
of sex occurs. It also causes problems where pre-disclosure of a
particular sexual activity would "give away" the story. In these
situations, an author or reposter should still put "content warning" or
something similar in the subject header if the story is not completely

Some codes are self-explanatory; the following list describes only those
which are commonly used and require explanation. The explanations are
partly taken from the most complete references on the subject, currently
maintained by Uther Pendragon ( Anyone looking for a
complete listing should consult these documents. There are two, one for
authors and one for readers, available at:
(for readers)
(for authors)


M    An adult male (over 18)
m    Boy - Teenager (not yet 19)
b    Boy - Pre-teen (age 12 or less)
F    An adult female (over 18)
f    Girl - Teenager (not yet 19)
g    Girl - Pre-teen (age 12 or less)
T    Adult transgendered male/female
t    Minor transgendered male/female

These occur in any permutation (so "MF" indicates heterosexual adult
sex, "mf" indicates heterosexual teenage sex, etc). A "+" indicates two
or more of the same sex (e.g. "MF+" means several women with the same
man). Additionally, "-solo" appended to any of the above indicates
masturbation by that participant (e.g. "F-solo").

Level of Consent:

rom       Romantic: sex between characters in love
con(s)    Consensual, non-romantic sexual activity
reluc     Reluctant: coercion of some kind involved
nc        Non-consensual sexual activity

Other Features:

-dom      Domination by any participant (e.g. Mdom, Fdom)
1st       First time
bd(sm)    Bondage, discipline, sado-masochism
exhib     Exhibitionism: sex in public places
hist      Historical: stories set before c. 1980
hum       Humiliation
(im)preg  Impregnation, sex with pregnant woman
inter(r)  Interracial
inc       Incest
lac       Lactation: (human) milk
mc        Mind control: hypnotism etc.
slow      Sexual description does not commence immediately
sm        Sadomasochism
story     Story has a well-developed plot (not neccessarily sex-related)
tg        Transgender
voy       Voyeurism
ws        Water sports (golden showers)

Although this list may seem intimidating for the "vanilla" reader, a great
many stories, and possibly the majority, would just be coded MF cons
and/or rom.

Section 5: How do I post a story?

If you want a post or repost a story, there are a few conventions which
have been established to make reading easier for everyone. Following
them will ensure that the story is appreciated by the widest possible
readership. As a quick guide, stories should:

* be in plain ASCII text only
* use around 72 characters per line
* be posted to as a first choice
* be no more than 200K per section
* have a Subject line which describes the author, title and content

More detailed explanations of these guidelines follow. There is a FAQ on
the subject by Uther Pendragon still under construction at

Conversion and Formatting Considerations

Word Processors are most useful for spell checking and formatting, but
their native file formats are not a good idea for posting to a.s.s and
its related groups. Stories should be posted in plain ASCII text *only*
(that is, no zip or HTML files), and should include no extended
characters (e.g. "smart quotes" or accent marks), because, after passing
through many different servers, it's most unlikely that they will emerge
intact on the reader's news server. If you must post in a non-ASCII
format, use alt.binaries.stories.erotic. Most word processors provide an
option to save as "Plain Text" or similar. For specific instructions for
one of the most popular, please see Appendix C "Formatting Details for
Word". However, is *is* possible to send an attachment to, provided that the attached file is plain text
only (it will be automatically decoded). Attachments of any other kind
will be rejected.

The line length should be set to no more than 80 characters; 72 and 75
are the most common standards. The following should be avoided: double
spaced lines, justified alignment (where the text fills the line completely
from left to right), and tabs. The interpretation of tabs varies between
different systems, so please use the equivalent number of normal spaces

Where and How to Post

Alt.Sex.Stories.Moderated is probably the first group to consider;
people are much more likely to see your story here since there's no
spam. The system will automatically cross-post your story to, so there's no need to manually add this yourself. In
addition to normal posting methods, a.s.s.m. submissions can be emailed to Even though the group is moderated, there is no
need to have a Subject line such as "Please add this to a.s.s.m", as is
seen occasionally. Just post as you normally would. Stories posted to
a.s.s.m. *must* have a valid return address, or else they will be rejected.

You should be aware that any story sent to a.s.s.m. in addition to
other groups *will not appear* on those other groups until the story
is cleared by a.s.s.m. This leads to occasional problems when a.s.s.m
is temporarily down.

It is possible, of course, to ignore a.s.s.m and post directly to A.s.s. has the advantage of being more widely read, but
it is full of spam. You should also set the "Followup-To:" header to
""; that way, people commenting on your story can just
hit reply and automatically post to the right group (in a.s.s.m., this
is done automatically).

If you don't want your post archived anywhere (e.g. on the ASSM web archive
or Deja), make sure your post has an "X-No-Archive: yes" header, so these
services will ignore it. This applies equally to all groups.

In addition to the above, you should consider cross-posting to one of the
"special interest" groups if your story is appropriate, and also to
alt.erotic.stories. Alt.Binaries.Stories.Erotic should only be used if you
have a really good reason, e.g. your story takes advantage of HTML
formatting. Posts to a.s.s.m.g can be emailed to

To make sure people notice your story, especially if you're a new author,
you might want to post a "Spotlight" in a.s.s.d. For more information, see
Section 8: ASSD.

Part Division

If your story is over 60K in size, consider dividing it up into
sections, preferably at chapter or part divisions. Many stories will be
divided at more frequent intervals, due to the rules imposed by
individual ISPs or the limitations of newsreading software. In general,
however, it's a good idea to keep divisions to a minimum. No-one likes
searching for missing story sections in a spam-filled group like a.s.s. posts will be divided into smaller sections if
they are more than 300K.

Post Structure

The first thing to consider is the format of your Subject line. Readers
browsing the groups will use this to decide whether or not to read a
story, so it's a good idea to make it as informative as possible. It
should contain the following information: the title of the story, the
author, the appropriate codes (unless you object to the idea), and the
chapter or part number (if applicable). There are many ways of
presenting all this; the suggested standard is:

{ASS} Title x/y {Author} (codes)
e.g. {ASS} Fun with Mary [1/2] {John} (MF con)

The {ASS} indicates this is a non-spam post to the
hierarchy. Note also that {ASSM} will automatically be added to the subject
line of posts if not already present. If the
story has more than nine parts, parts 1-9 should be numbered with a
preceding 0 (e.g. 01/10, 02/10) to assist in indexing.

For more information on making a subject line, see Titmouse's FAQ on the
subject at

Regardless of how the information is presented, the most common feature
omitted from the subject line is the author's name; posters are strongly
advised to include this detail for the benefit of readers browsing the

Make sure the author's name, email address and story title are stated at
the start of the story. If this is a section of a multi-part story, you
should indicate as much at the end of the message body (e.g. "End of
Part 1. Continued in Part 2..."). Some authors will restate the story
title and authorship again at the end of the post, as an extra defence
against unscrupulous reposters (see the next section).

Section 6: Can I repost my story, or someone else's?

Reposting simply refers to the practice of submitting stories to the
hierarchy which have already appeared there at some time in the past. Due
to the extensive archiving of services like Deja, the need for this
practice is limited. It is recommended that a story should only be reposted
if it is six months or more since its previous publication. An exception
can be made if the story recently received a favourable review, and the
reviewer failed to provide a link to the story on one of the archiving
services. Authors are, of course, welcome to bring attention to their
stories at any time through the use of "spotlights" (see Section 8).

The use of archives instead of reposts has two advantages: they help reduce
traffic on the newsgroups, and potential copyright problems are lessened.
However, they have one major disadvantage: excellent stories from the past
are "hidden away", and newcomers to the groups are limited to whatever is
being currently written. Reposters, therefore, have the primary function of
keeping stories "alive" after their authors have ceased posting them.
Readers should not just let reposters do all the work for them: exploration
of archives such as and
(especially using the "Power Search" facility) is strongly encouraged.
Sometimes, you will turn up "hidden gems" that thoroughly deserve to be

Be wary, however, when reposting stories that are not your own. A few
authors wish to retain *complete* distribution control over their story
(that is, only they themselves can repost it). An author will usually make
this quite clear in his/her introductory remarks, and these wishes should
be respected. This admonition applies equally to anyone planning to make a
story accessible via a WWW archive. It is vital for authors to make clear
exactly what their distribution policy is.

The most common distribution policy in the groups states that copyright
is retained by the author, but the story may be distributed by anyone as
long as no text is changed, the details of authorship are retained, and
the process of distribution makes no money for the distributor. Not
surprisingly, very few people take kindly to the idea of someone making
money from a story which its author made available for free. Note that
this effectively rules out use of a story on commercial sites or

If a story makes no mention of a distribution policy, you should contact
the author and ask him/her whether you can repost or archive it. If the
author's email address is missing or invalid, make every attempt to
discover their current contact details. If contacting the author is still
not possible, it is considered acceptable in some quarters to distribute
the story, following the guidelines given above. Note that this possibly
constitutes copyright infringement, and several people would strongly
oppose this practice (see Section 7). It is impossible to reach a consensus
on this point; it is up to individual reposters to decide for themselves.

There are quite a few stories circulating with unknown or attributed
authorship, including some of exceptional quality. This situation is
partly due to unscrupulous reposters who deliberately remove indications
of authorship and copyright from authors' texts. It is also due to
authors who fail to state their authorship in the body of the message
(as opposed to the Subject line). Authors should *always* restate their
name and email address before the start of the story (and possibly at
its end) to help guard against their authorship being "detached" when
someone else reposts it.

So, if you want to repost a story not written by yourself, please follow
these guidelines:

* Make sure the author has given permission to repost it, if at all
* Indicate that this is a repost, and the story is not by yourself.
* If you are taking the story from an original post by the author,
preserve all the original headers and authorial comments.

Section 7: What about copyright? Is this all legal?

"R.a.e, [and by extension, a.s.s.] by its very nature of being part of
Usenet, is a cesspool with respect to copyright law. Since the mere act
of posting to Usenet causes thousands of copies of the article to be
made, there must be an implicit granting of duplication rights with each
post if Usenet is at all legal under the Berne Convention. How far those
implicit rights extend is the deep murky filth of the cesspool."

- Eli the Bearded

Firstly, anyone interested in the issue of copyright on Usenet should
read Brad Templeton's "10 Big Myths About Copyright Explained" at

This establishes the important point that an author has a copyright on
anything they post to Usenet, regardless of whether he/she actually
states this. It follows that an author could have legal remedies if
someone makes an unauthorized repost, or includes their story on a
website or CD-ROM (such distribution is not "fair use"). Many authors
don't mind people reposting their stories, and will state as much at the
start of the story. Some authors don't want their stories reposted at
all, and there is indeed the possibility of legal action if someone does

So, caveat missor: it is the reposter's responsibility to ensure that
the original author granted general distribution rights. If no statement
was made on this matter, the reposter can assume the _de facto_
"duplication allowed for non-commercial use" principle, but does so at
his/her own risk.

In October 1998, the U.S. Congress passed a bill providing new
safeguards on electronic copyright. Any person found to have removed
or altered an author's legitimate "copyright management information"
(i.e. indications of authorship, title and copying restrictions)
will be liable in civil action. In addition, if the perpetrator is
found to have done this for commercial gain (e.g. a pay site operator)
the act becomes a criminal offence, punishable by up to a $500,000 fine
and/or five years jail. For the text of the bill, see This obviously has
great implications for reposters and commercial story sites.

A quite separate but equally problematic issue is the very legality of
the stories themselves. In Singapore, for example, ISPs are forbidden
from distributing contents which "are pornographic or otherwise
obscene", "promote permissiveness or promiscuity", "depict or promote
gross exploitation of...nudity [or] sex," and many more. Even in
countries with relatively liberal censorship laws, stories which depict
illegal activities could be subject to the same restrictions. All
readers and contributors should be aware of the legal ramifications in
their jurisdictions of possessing and distributing such material. A
useful resource in this respect is the Electronic Frontier Foundation at

Section 8: What's for?

One of the surest signs that the a.s.s. hierarchy supports a "community"
is to be found in a.s.s.d. The "d" stands for discussion - that is,
anything related to erotic stories which isn't actually a story itself.
This is the place to announce new stories, ask for reposts, discuss the
process of writing, and post reviews (and reviews of reviews :-).
Surprisingly, very few of the threads focus on specific stories, and
frequently discussion will move off on a tangent to issues of a more
general nature. The number of active participants is quite small, but
there are many occasional contributors, and almost certainly a high
proportion of lurkers. The readers of a.s.s.d, however, are a small
subset of the total a.s.s. readership.

A few commonly used terms may require explanation. A "stroke" story is
one which does not aspire to be a work of "literature" - its purpose is
sexual arousal only. A "genre" writer is someone who concentrates on
writing about an unusual sexual behaviour, as opposed to "vanilla"
writers who concentrate on stories of the standard adult male-female
consensual variety. There is much discussion about whether these
distinctions should exist. To be "squicked" by a story or genre means
one is repulsed by those activities, and doesn't find them sexually
arousing at all.

If you begin a thread on a.s.s.d, *always* prefix your subject line with
"{ASSD}", e.g. "{ASSD} Literary vs. Stroke". This convention is used to
indicate a genuine post (as opposed to spam), and it has been very
effective. Spammers, being terminally stupid people, haven't worked it
out yet :-) Some readers will filter out posts that don't use this
convention, so make sure you use it. Note, however, that there's no need
to rearrange your newsreader's suggested header for replies; for example
"Re: {ASSD} Literary vs. Stroke" is correct, while "{ASSD} Re: Literary
vs. Stroke" is not. If you discover a genuine post that is not using
this convention, please email the post's author and let them know about

Sometimes you may see a message with a Subject header including the word
"Spot" or "Spotlight". This convention, originally suggested by Malinov
indicates that the message is designed to bring attention to a
particular story which is currently available somewhere on the internet.
The Spotlight may be written by the story's author, or by a reader
wishing to give their quick opinion of the story, as opposed to a more
formal, in-depth "review". Spotlights should always include a link to the
story under discussion, such as its Message ID (if it is currently
available), or a URL where it is archived (such as the ASSM archive and

Frequently discussed topics in ASSD include: reviews and reviewers, the
distinction between erotica and pornography, Internet copyright, the
responsibilities of authors to their readers, "stroke" vs. "literary"
stories, and the amount of thanks (or lack thereof) that authors receive
for their work.

Titmouse's "Welcome to the Funhouse!" (see the beginning of this FAQ for
the address) covers ASSD procedures in some detail.

For an interesting account of the ASSD regulars, see the "Demographics"
thread of May 1999 -

and John A.'s collation of the results at

Details of some current contributors may also be found at

Section 9: What's the deal with reviews?

Undoubtedly, no other subject has caused more disagreement, and indeed
anger within the erotic stories community than the subject of reviews
and reviewing techniques. New readers may wonder what the problem is, so
I will present an overview of the issues involved, followed by an
introduction to well-known reviewers.

Unlike movie and book reviews, where the creator of the work is in a
sense "shielded" from the review by his or her reputation and marketing,
public story reviews take place in a world where everyone is equal.
Equally unlike movie and book reviews, the creator of the work receives
absolutely no remuneration for their efforts, apart from praise (and
criticism) from the community. In such an atmosphere, there is the
danger of authors interpreting all negative comments as a personal
slight, and the impression that reviewers are passing judgement from "on

Almost without exception, reviewers have tended to focus upon the
"literary" aspects of the story, such as the plot, character development
and grammatical details. This conflicts with the primary function of a
great many stories, generally termed "stroke", whose function is purely
to arouse. For these stories, it has been suggested that "literary"
quality is basically irrelevant, and the real measure of quality is how
"hot" the story is. There is disagreement as to how far the standards of
one can be applied to the other.

The most contentious issue of all is whether reviewers should review
stories which contain content that they are "squicked" by. Debate
generally focuses upon whether the reviewer has the "right" to review
the story in the first place, and whether the reviewer's rating of the
story should be affected by the "squick" content. Some would argue that
the only people "qualified" to write a review are those with a special
interest in whatever unusual behaviour is being described, as they are
the ones for whom the story is intended. Others would argue that
standards of writing are the same, regardless of genre, which
makes any story a legitimate subject, regardless of the reviewer's

The centre of the argument rests with the "personal appeal" of the story
to the reviewer. Particular praise and opprobrium has been reserved for
the ratings system of Celeste, which used a three-part rating of
technical quality, plot and character, and "appeal to reviewer". This
method has been criticised as supposedly blurring the distinction
between the essentially "neutral" categories of technical and plot
quality, and the highly personal and subjective "personal appeal".

There is debate also as to what the function of a review should be - a
description of currently available stories, so readers can choose ones
which look interesting, or a literary critique with ratings. All reviews
fulfil both these aspects to some degree (though with varying emphasis),
and it has been argued that these supposedly conflicting functions
should be kept entirely separate.

All these concerns are not so much a problem as they might seem. Most
authors are happy to receive praise and constructive criticisms about
their stories. Most authors also try to write stories that are both
well-written and "hot" at the same time. Most reviewers tend to focus on
stories which they are not "squicked" by. All the same, if an author
does not want a story publicly reviewed, this should be made clear in
the introductory remarks, and these wishes should be respected by a
prospective reviewer. If there are no remarks in the introduction
regarding reviews, this is considered to be permission to review the
story. For one experienced reviewer's guidelines on reviewing, see

There have been three reviewers who have established a sizeable repertory
of "organised" reviews - that is, a group of reviews including editorial
commentary and some sort of ratings system, released together as an
"issue". There are many instances of people starting such endeavours,
and then going quiet after a few issues. The following reviewers have
established reputations, mainly because they have been able to release
their reviews, on something like a regular basis, for a long time. They
hold no "official" status within the groups at all.

Celeste ( began reviewing stories in July 1995,
ancient history in Internet terms. Since then, there have been over 300
issues of the "Celestial Reviews", and it is still going strong. She
also compiles lists of the best stories reviewed each month and year,
administers a proofreading service, and occasionally organises special
competitions (such as the annual award for the best Christmas story).
For more information about Celeste, see her FAQ, posted periodically to
the relevant groups and also available at

From Issue 65, she has used a three-part ratings system, giving a mark
out of ten for technical quality, plot and character development, and
appeal to the reviewer. Guest reviewers (who may use a different ratings
system) have been a regular feature since Issue 193. It has become quite
common practice to cite a review as follows: "10-10-10 CR241", meaning
that the story was reviewed in Celestial Reviews 241, and received top
marks in all categories.

A complete archive of the reviews (including some Top Stories lists) is
available at

Issues 1-154, including the Top Stories List for each month, are
archived at

while Issues 155-287 (some incorrectly indexed), also including the
Top Stories lists, and reviews by others, are at

There was also an archive of most issues, with links to most of the
actual stories, at This is presently
unavailable due to site overloading, and it is unclear whether it
will return.

Lady Cyrrh ( began writing the "Annex" Reviews in May
1997. Her professed intention was to review the kind of stories which
Celeste avoided, which means her reviews generally concentrate on the
less "vanilla" material. She uses a simple ratings scale of A+ to D-,
causing less controversy than Celeste's more elaborate system.
Unfortunately, due to injury she has had to reduce the frequency of
her reviews.

A complete archive of all her reviews, plus a FAQ and much other useful
material, is online at her website:

Lee Vine ( began the organised "Rogue Reviews" in May
1998, although he had posted individual reviews prior to this. A collection
of new reviews is released at least once a month; the selection of stories
is eclectic and does not emphasize any particular genre. Lee has won
acclaim for the highly organised structure of the reviews and his
no-nonsense style. All the reviews are archived at:

Section 10: How do I thank an author for their work?

The development of the internet has allowed the fast and inexpensive
distribution of erotic literature. Yet this very accessibility obscures
one very important point: for every story ever created, there has been
an author. Someone has sat down at their computer and devoted some of
their time and effort to creating that story. Some authors will spend
months, or even years, working on a story, thinking about its
characters, developing its plot, revising and proofreading. They will
then post it, for free.

When you read a story you like, email the author and thank them. It is
no good thinking to yourself "wow, what a great story" if the person to
whom this matters most does not hear it. Emailing an author serves two
important purposes: it tells the author that their work is being read
and appreciated, and it encourages them to write more stories. It
would also be polite, of course, for the author to acknowledge the

Don't think that "someone else will thank them anyway": in many cases,
the sad fact is that an author will receive *no* feedback whatsoever
about their work. Many good authors have quit over the years, citing
lack of support from readers as their main reason for doing so. Thanking
the author can be rewarding for readers, too. You may just receive a
short response thanking you for your comments; some readers, however,
have engaged in extended correspondences with authors about their
stories and characters.

Writing is hard work. Although we are all guilty of freeloading
sometimes, the least an author can expect in payment for their hard work
is the knowledge that their stories are being read and enjoyed, all
around the world.

Section 11: How do I post anonymously?

Due to the nature of many stories posted to the hierarchy (especially in
light of the issues outlined in Section 7), most people who participate
will conceal their identity in some way. There are many different ways
of doing this, with varying degrees of security. I have no intention of
covering this vast topic in any degree of detail; I am just going to
outline some methods of anonymous posting.

One way to post anonymously is to establish a "virtual" email account
which redirects all its mail to your real email address. That way, you
can post and send email using the virtual address, while concealing your
identity from the recipients. An example of this service is (although unfortunately it is not allowing any new
users). Another way is to use one of the burgeoning "free email" accounts,
in conjunction with a mail2news address or a public posting service (such
as Deja). For a list of many providers, see
Note that these services are not designed to be safe anonymizers, and only
provide a very basic level of security.

If you don't require replies to your post, consider using an anonymous
remailer such as Replay posting service (
This will send your post to a newsgroup, but remove all indications of
where it was posted from, and set the Reply-to header to
"", an invalid address. Note that this will not work with as it requires a valid return address.

One service that seems to be quite popular is, at This is an anonymous remailer service
(you get an address like, used in conjunction
with mail2news, and it is very secure. It does, however, require a
knowledge of the encryption program PGP and/or client software such as
Private Idaho. For more information about this, see

Finally, a few services offer anonymous email and Usenet posting at a
cost. See, and for examples. HushMail (
is a free, advertiser-supported version of these.

Section 12: How do I deal with all this spam?

So far, this FAQ has overlooked the reality of browsing an unmoderated
and unfiltered newsgroup within the hierarchy. Typically,
most messages will not be stories at all; they will be spam of the
"VIRGIN SLUT CHEERLEADER WANTS YOUR COCK!!!" variety :-) It is possible,
however, to eliminate most if not all of this spam.

The easiest way to avoid spam is to simply use the group which
eliminates it totally: As stated before,
a.s.s.m. should be the group of choice for both writers and readers
unless they have a good reason not to utilise it.

When browsing unmoderated groups, there are two general methods to avoid
the spam. The first is to use a news server which has software (such as
Spam Hippo) to filter out the spam before the posts reach the reader.
Services such as Newsguy ( offer this service;
they are, however, not free. If you don't mind the advertising, Deja
( is a free WWW-based alternative which
generally does a good job of removing spam.

The second method involves using a newsreader on the reader's local
computer to filter out the spam. Not all news programs provide this
feature; programs that do include the shareware Gravity
(, and the commercial Forte Agent
( Generally, you configure the program to
delete posts based on words that do (or don't) appear in the Subject
lines. For example, in, you can tell the program to
remove any messages that don't have "{ASSD}" in them, since they are
almost certainly spam. For the other groups (e.g., the
program could remove posts which include common spam words, such as
"pics", "slut", etc. It is difficult to give specific details because of
the great variety in program design; see Appendix B "Filtering in Forte
Agent" for detailed instructions on how to achieve this with one of the
most popular newsreaders.

Spammers typically find valid email addresses by "harvesting" them from
newsgroups. For information about "spam-blocking" your email address,

For more information about spam and how to fight it, see
(The Coalition Against Unsolicited Commercial Email)  (Fight Spam on the Internet) (The Net Abuse FAQ)

Section 13: Where can I find good stories?

In the face of so many thousands of stories, new readers are inevitably
faced with the question "where do I start?". There are several documents
available which provide lists of stories, categorised by author and
title. One is compiled by Ray N. Velez (,
and provides the title, author, genre and a numerical rating for over
2000 stories. It is available at

Annex B of Ole Joe's Guide lists hundreds of stories, by author:

Celeste compiled lists of the Top 100 stories reviewed each year:

* 1995 edition -
* 1996 edition -
* 1997 edition -
(There are no 1998/9 lists)

An excellent resource has been compiled by Bitbard, in the form of links
to almost all of the stories in Celeste's monthly Top 20 lists. These
are available at

The above site also includes links to the Top 100 Stories of 1995,
compiled by the present author. is also a good place to check for announcements and
discussion of good stories. If you have trouble locating a story, you
can request a repost in a.s.s.d; however, the vast majority of stories
are freely available from one of the major archives. For instructions on
finding a particular story, see Appendix A.

Section 14: What other documents are there about these groups?

There are a number of excellent documents which provide additional
information about various aspects of a.s.s. The latest text versions
(if there are any) are always available from

and additional links are listed below for HTML versions, or if the
document has a quasi-"official" location.

The Journal of Desire, edited by Mark Aster (

An erotic webzine, published three to four times a year, it aims to be
"an occasional journal of erotic writing, criticism, and commentary".
The contributors are usually well-known figures in the a.s.s. community,
and the content tends toward the "literary" side of things.

The a.s.s.* Free Story FAQ, by Anne747 (

This is an honourable attempt to drive out the spammers and pay-sites,
by providing a list of free, "author-friendly" websites which are
related in some way to the a.s.s. hierarchy. The official location is:

The Guide to a.s.s, by Ole Joe (,

An amazing achievement, this is an "encyclopedia" of story authors, plus
a very comprehensive list of stories. It is essential reading for anyone
new to the groups, and indispensable as a reference for those creating
story collections of their own. The current version (v.15) is likely to
be the last, unfortunately.

Codes in a.s.s. Stories, by Uther Pendragon (

There are in fact two documents with this title, one designed for
authors and reposters, and one for readers. Both explain the meaning of
the story codes which commonly appear in the Subject header (see Section
4 of this FAQ). Both documents are posted periodically to the
newsgroups and are also available from the site listed above.

The Alt.Sex.Stories.Moderated FAQ, by Eli-the-Bearded (,
updated by Rey del Sexo (

Explains how to post to this newsgroup, with important information about
acceptable content and common problems. First-time posters to a.s.s.m.
are encouraged to read this document first. It is available from:

The Celestial FAQ, by Celeste (

Information about the hierarchy's longest running series of reviews, and
their author. It explains her motivations, rating system, and provides a
list of authors and links. Other documents by Celeste include: Celestial
Grammar, Advanced Celestial Grammar, the story "Virtuous Reality" and
the List of Credulous Assumptions (see CR 175).

Sex Stories: What You Should Know, by Kim and Seurat

A short guide to the basics of reading and posting, this document filled
the need for a descriptive document about the hierarchy
from the cessation of the previous FAQ to the establishment of the
present one. The document is currently maintained by Seurat

Stories List, by Ray N. Velez

A list of over 2460 stories, arranged by title and (in a separate
document) by author. Each entry lists the title, author and genre, and
gives a numerical rating out of 1000. A very wide range of stories is
listed, and later editions include a list of story websites.

Torn Shapes of Desire, by Mary Anne Mohanraj

Not an electronic document, but rather a real book containing stories
previously published on by the author. Published by
Intangible Asset Manufacturing, 1997, ISBN 1885876033. I have no commercial
connection with this book at all. A second volume, to be called
"Maiden Voyage: New Writers in Erotica", containing stories by many
different authors, is reportedly in the works.

Hot Off the Net, edited by Russ Kick

Another book collecting ASS/M stories by many different writers. From one
of the contributors, Bronwen:

"Hot Off the Net" is edited by Russ Kick, and published by Black
Books (ISBN 892723-00-X). It can be bought by credit card over the
'phone or fax. It costs $14.00 (Canada $20).

It's distributed by AK, Alamo Square, Bookazine, Desert Moon, Last
Gasp, Left Bank, Occulture...The URL is"

Section 15: Closing Words

I felt it was appropriate to add some personal thoughts to this FAQ, as
they are relevant to the more philosophical issues surrounding these

The sum total of ASS/M stories provides a reflection of virtually every
human behaviour, from the most depraved cruelty to the most loving
kindness. It is sexuality at its most diverse. There are stories that
have made me utterly disgusted that anyone would write such a thing,
and there are stories that have (once or twice) brought me to tears at
their perfection. All this lies within the imagination of authors.

One cannot assume that an author would personally endorse the
activities contained in his/her story. This is virtually a non-issue
for a "vanilla" story, but some stories, those including adult-minor sex
being obvious examples, are fraught with difficulty. Attitudes to these
stories range from total distaste to total permissiveness. For my part,
I tend towards the former opinion, but I am willing to acknowledge
the widely differing tastes of readers. "If you don't like a story,
don't read it".

The issue of those with vulnerable personalities being encouraged to do
in real life what they read in stories is one so emotive and complex
that I will not discuss it here. What I will mention is the fact that
people under the age of 18 may have access to these newsgroups. The
hierarchy is intended for mature adults, obviously. Whether it would be
harmful for minors to access some or all of the stories in ASS/M, and
whether an author bears any kind of "responsibility" for their work, are
issues for individual contributors to decide.

The world in which ASS/M characters live, is, for the most part, one
without sexually transmitted diseases, accidental pregnancy, or the
social _mores_ and inhibitions which we take for granted in real life.
This of course forms a large part of its appeal. It behoves us to remember,
however, that these stories are only constructs of someone's imagination.

I truly believe that the hierarchy contains some of the best writing
available on the internet today. I hope that this FAQ has assisted
in its promotion and appreciation.

Appendix A: Where can I find this story I'm looking for?

There are several huge online archives available which provide access to
thousands of stories. It is likely that at least one of these archives
has the story you're looking for.

Deja (

Deja (formerly Dejanews) is the most important archive of Usenet, with
records dating back to early 1995. Early in 1999, the company embarked on
an aggressive campaign to reorient itself as a repository of "ratings" on
various "products", provided by its users. Thankfully, it has continued to
provide its Usenet archive services. It is recommended that you use the
alternative search dialog at

to minimize the advertising and invitations to rate tennis rackets and
haircare accessories. Wijit's Deja FAQ at

is the main source of information on how to search Deja for erotic stories.
A similar service is Remarq (, although its archive
is much smaller and less intuitive to operate.

The Alt.Sex.Stories Text Repository

The ASSTR search engine is an immensely useful feature of the website. It
indexes the full text of the ASSM and rec.arts.erotica archives, the hosted
authors' websites, and the various collections. It also supports searching
for phrases and the use of operators (plus and minus signs). Given the
comprehensive nature of ASSTR's archives, a very high proportion of past
a.s.s.* stories can be found using this engine. If you want to search
the subject lines of the old ASSM archive only, a much faster engine is
located at


If you can't find the story in any of the above archives, you can post a
request in a.s.s.d for someone to repost it. This is especially useful if
you can't remember the title or author of the story, but can describe the
plot or characters involved.

Metacrawler (

As a last resort, you can try searching the web. It's possible that
someone has established an archive somewhere including the story you're
looking for.

Appendix B: How do I use Forte Agent's filtering facility?

This section is offered as an example of how to implement
newsreader-based filtering. I am explaining Agent's system because it
seems to be one of the most widely used news programs (these
instructions are for Agent 1.5 and higher;
earlier versions may differ slightly).

To establish a news filter in Agent, go to Window -> Open Usenet
Filters. Click the leftmost button on the toolbar (Add Kill Filter). Now
you have to tell Agent what articles to delete; a sample filter
expression for spam is:

pic*|pix|gay*|site*|cum)&!subject:({\{[a-z]|\([a-z]|\[[a-z]}|RP|Re |stor*)

This tells Agent to filter out messages containing entirely capital
letters, messages with numbers at the end of the subject line, and
messages containing probable references to websites and pictures. However,
the message will remain if it contains strong indications that it is a
story. To filter out spam in (using a separate kill
filter), a very effective expression is:

not subject: assd

This tells Agent to delete any article whose subject line doesn't
contain the text "assd" (the a.s.s.d community uses this convention to
indicate genuine posts; see Section 8 of this document). Once the filter
has been defined, click the "Delete" radio button in the "Kill action"
section of the dialog box. In the "Scope" section, choose either
"Global" or a specific group to which the filter will apply, and click
"OK" to close the dialog box. Agent will now filter posts each time it
retrieves new headers from the news server.

The above example is only a very limited demonstration of Agent's
filtering capability. For details about creating more complex
expressions, see Help -> How to use Agent -> How to create message

Appendix C: How do I convert a MS Word document to plain text?

Note: this section is supplemented (and to some extent, superseded) by
Titmouse's "Converting MS Word Documents to Text for Posting" at

It should be consulted in conjunction with this account.

In this section I explain one possible (albeit complicated) way of
converting a Word document to a plain text file, suitable for posting
to Usenet. Word isn't really designed for converting documents to plain
text, but it is possible with a bit of manipulation to achieve this.

Firstly, you must change the default font to Courier: go to Format ->
Font, click Courier in the font list, click Default... and then click
Yes. More advanced users might wish to create a specific template for
writing stories with this option. Next, click Edit -> Select all (or press
Ctrl+A), and change the font to Courier, 10 point. If you find the line
length is too long (more than 80 characters), adjust the left and/or right
margins so that the white portion of the ruler measures 18 centimetres
(or just over 7 inches). Don't confuse the margins with the indents; you
can tell that you're changing the margins when the mouse pointer changes to
the resize cursor. The rightmost characters in your document should now be
at column 72 or similar.

To save the document in the correct format, go to File -> Save As... and
pull down the "Save as type" menu. Choose "MS-DOS Text with Line Breaks"
(not "Text Only with Line Breaks", as this uses the extended ASCII
character set). If your document has unusual formatting (tables, text
columns etc.) use "MS-DOS Text with Layout" instead (note that this
converter has to be manually selected in the Office/Word Setup program).
Name the file and click "Save". You can now (finally) import this file in
your news reader and post it (in Agent, go to File -> Insert Text File).

Note that Word will not preserve any paragraph indentations when it
converts the file, so it's best to use the ASS/M convention of a single
blank line to indicate paragraphs when writing.


I would like to thank all those who have offered comments and advice on
the content of this FAQ, especially See-El, Uther Pendragon, Mat Twassel
and Rey del Sexo. I would especially like to thank the authors of, without whom, after all, this FAQ would never have

                                  The End

The Alt.Sex.Stories.* FAQ, v.2.03
by Apuleius (