Using the World Wide Web
By Frank DietzTaken from his article "Language Resources on the World Wide Web," published in the Spring 1998 issue of Notis News and in the Chicata News, with permission.
Did you know that you can download foreign-language versions of your browser? Internet Explorer 4.0 (http://microsoft.com/ie/download/), for example comes in Chinese (2 versions), Dutch, German, French, Polish, Greek, Italian, Korean, Japanese, Swedish and Brazilian Portuguese. Netscape products (http://home.netscape.com/download) are also available in many languages.
I want to say a few words about so-called usenet newsgroups. There are tens of thousands of these discussion groups by now (though the number you will be able to access depends on your ISP), and you can read messages and post questions or replies through special newsgroup readers or with the help of browsers such as Netscape Navigator. Here are some pros and cons.
Access to Experts: Where else would you find an expert on avionics or someone who can point you to resources on machine translation? Virtual Community: There are many helpful people out there, who are willing to share information. Posting in a newsgroup can lead to an exchange of email, and after a while you might find that you are part of a cyber-network of colleagues whom you have never met face to face.
Spams: Numerous newsgroups are flooded with messages offering get-rich-quick schemes, pornography, conspiracy theories etc., no matter what the stated topic of the newsgroup is. One way to avoid this is to frequent moderated newsgroup, where a moderator accepts or rejects postings. Flame wars: Some people are downright nasty and insult people who happen to have different opinions. This is less of a problem in professional newsgroup, but not unknown in the soc.culture groups. The best advice: stay out of these childish exchanges of insults. Reliability: Once again, be cautious. How do you know that the person answering you is really an expert in this field? There are a lot of pseudo-experts on the net.
Quick Tip #1
A newsgroup allows you to leave messages ("postings") that others eventually will reply to, thus creating a so-called "thread." The posting will stay online for a while, but eventually will disappear. If you are trying to find an older usenet message concerning a specific topic, go to http://www.dejanews.com/ Here is a list of newsgroups of interest to translators and interpreters. Note, though, that there are thousands of special interest groups that can provide a wealth of information in specific circumstances.
Quick Tip #2
Not every internet service provider (ISP) gives you access to every newsgroup. If you find that your ISP does not carry a newsgroup, you can always ask for it to be added - you might get lucky.
Quick Tip #3
You might "lurk" on a newsgroup for a while (i.e. read messages without posting some of your own), in order to get a feeling for what is appropriate. Many newsgroups also regularly post FAQs (answers to Frequently Asked Questions) which are quite helpful. Note that you are not supposed to post large binary files, such as graphics, to a discussion newsgroup.