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RHF Submission Guidelines

Read this if you plan to submit a joke

(We mean it)

[Cartoon of The Grim Reaper about to step on a banana peel] Submission of jokes to RHF is done via E-mail. Addresses are listed below. Please just use plain-text E-mail, formatted as below. If your mailer sends just HTML to an address it doesn't know wants it, it's misconfigured, and you should change that. We're not fond of plain & html multipart, but since that's not misconfigured you can do that.

If you plan to submit material for rec.humor.funny, I ask you to follow the set of guidelines detailed below. Some of these may seem contrived and arbitrary, and some exist simply to make my life a little easier. The principle behind this is simple -- if you violate one of my pet peeves in your submission, I'm going to go into your joke already biased against it. As objective as I try to be, that makes it less likely I will accept the joke.

In brief

  • Provide a meaningful subject line
  • Submit to the right address -- there are several
  • One joke per submission
  • Attribute the source
  • Search the archives before submitting
  • No copyrighted works
  • No other people's net postings
  • Clearly mark original submissions
  • Avoid signatures, particularly long ones
  • Plain text E-mail only, thanks. Not HTML, Not multipart
  • Spell check and manually proofread your submissions
  • Check out other formatting and joke type guidelines
  • Beware of jokes of only regional interest
  • Don't trigger the spam filters
  • Images come via the web

In Particular

  • Give your jokes a meaningful Subject line. So many people send me submissions entitled "joke" - as if I were expecting something else. I want a subject line that I can use as the title for your joke. Something that will distinguish it from all the other jokes in the group. Don't spoil the joke, of course.
  • Only put one joke per submission. I rate all the jokes, and it's hard to rate a group of jokes as they will be sure to vary. If you send me a group of jokes, I will often just take the best one.
  • Attribute the source of your joke. Tell me anything you know. If it's one line from a comedian's routine, name the comedian. If you heard it from your brother, say that. If you wrote it yourself, definitely say so, as I will give it preferential treatment. (I know nobody's heard it.)
  • Search the RHF Joke Archives before submitting to make sure your joke hasn't already been done. This is not easy to do, since many jokes come in different forms with different people and places substituted. However, if you submit a joke that is a virtual duplicate of one in the archives, we will be royally ticked at you.
  • Don't send entire copyrighted works. Excerpts are OK, if they take the form of news, or a review of the work. A single line from a show, movie or routine (with attribution) is OK, but not a large collection or verbatim transcript. Don't send me professional columns like Dave Barry's. I just can't send these out without permission.
  • If your submission is original, tell me that clearly. It can then qualify for the RHF original comedy awards (if we get around to them again!). In fact, mail it to original@netfunny.com and it will be tagged as original. If it's topical and original, mail to topical, and say at the top that you wrote it.
  • If you see a copyrighted work you would like to submit, call and ask the copyright holder. You will be surprised -- many are glad to see a reprint with proper credit. Try it!
  • Don't submit other people's postings (unless they were posted from the USA before April 1, 1989 without a copyright notice.) Instead, if you see a posting in a non-humour group that you think would still be very funny when taken completely out of context, mail the poster and encourage him or her to submit it to rec.humor.funny. Mention the RHF policy sheet to them when you send this note of encouragement.
  • Proofread and spell-check your jokes. It's amazing how bad the submissions I get are in this department. You're writing for hundreds of thousands of people. That's more people than would read a typical letter to the editor in the largest daily newspaper. Don't look like an idiot in print.
  • Punctuate quotations properly. Follow the North American typographer's rule that periods and commas ALWAYS go inside closing quotes. Here are some examples of how to do quoting:

    He said, "The best things in life are disgusting," and then went home.
    "You aren't a string, are you?" he asked. (Note no comma)
    She yelled at the umpire, "Your mother was an anti-Christ!"

    Typographer's rules aren't always logical, but anything else looks really bad when typeset.

  • Break paragraphs with a blank line. This will help me a lot when we try to convert your text to HTML so that it can appear on the web. In general, format your jokes the way you might see them in a nice joke book. Don't hyphenate from one line to the next. Indent pre-formatted text and tables by a single space, leave regular text non-indented.
  • Don't right justify your text. Right justified monospaced text is actually harder to read on a CRT screen than plain old, ragged-right text. If you use a formatter, use a 50 column line width. Don't use lines over 80 columns and expect everybody to word wrap.
  • Submissions to funny@netfunny.com get an automatic reply done by software, and a further reply (usually within a week) if they are accepted. Accepted jokes go into a queue that can take a month to empty. Topical jokes go out faster. Some replies don't make it due to bad mailers, I'm afraid. If you don't need any reply, mail to rhf@netfunny.com.
  • If I reply to your joke, and you want to respond, you must include a description of the joke in your response. Remember that I send out around 20 rejection notices a day, and when I get your reply back, I won't have the faintest idea which of many jokes you're talking about. In general, only reply if you must, but if you don't include the context, I will just say, "huh?"
  • Keep a short signature, with just your name and location. If you add extra, I just have to delete it. So there.
  • Mail jokes instead of posting them to the group in the hope that the automatic forwarding software will mail the joke to me. It doesn't always work, and I often can't reply to submissions posted that way, so you will wonder what went on. Mail JOKES, and only jokes, to funny@netfunny.com. Comments and questions (not submissions) go to funny-request@netfunny.com. NOTHING related to the newsgroup should go to a moderator's personal mailbox, unless I mail you a question from that account. Jokes sent to a personal mailbox get rejected unless they're the best joke of the year.
  • If your joke is urgent -- based on current events, and needs faster processing, mail it to topical@netfunny.com. Don't mail non-topical jokes there in the hope that they will be looked at faster, I will throw them away or delay them further. Note this means a joke about the news, not a joke you heard on the news.
  • Anything that's not a joke goes to funny-request@netfunny.com. If you send administrative notes to funny@netfunny.com they will be lost or delayed. "funny" is not even a mailbox. Only funny-request is a mailbox.
  • Don't put form feeds in jokes. Warning people that a punchline is coming is a good way to spoil it for them.
  • Don't encrypt (rot13) jokes that you send to me, although you can add notes indicating that you think they should be rot13. It remains my decision in the end, however.
  • I give a very low rating to puns. I only accept puns that have some humour to them beyond the pun. Make that a lot of humour to them beyond the pun.
  • Collection jokes like light bulb jokes, JAP jokes, WASP jokes, "do its," bumper stickers, T-shirts, licence plates, Tom swifties etc. should go to the collectors who reside in rec.humor. Rarely, I will post particularly funny or original ones that I know are not in the collections.
  • Our mail gets some spam filtering. We try to not have it filter out any actual submissions, but you can do your part to avoid that. Send your joke in plain text -- HTML or multipart/mixed with both text and HTML get a slightly higher weight as spam. Make sure your site's mailer is fully standards compliant. If you have any doubt, use one of the addresses that sends an autoreply to you.
  • Remember that the RHF audience is truly worldwide, although the bulk of it is still in the USA. If your joke depends on national or regional items of public knowledge that are not known well around the world, it may make sense to include a note of explanation at the end of the joke. (Too much preamble ruins a joke, but many who read a joke here that they don't understand still want to find out later what it was about.)
  • Try not to send me too many duplicates. If you send me stuff that's in the rec.humor.funny annual jokebooks, you'll just get back an ad telling you to buy the jokebooks so I don't get burdened with lots of duplicates. When the joke archive is up here, search here first before submitting.
  • If I reject your joke, keep trying. Most people get rejections, and even the people you see who have been published multiple times get lots of rejections.
  • I'm human. I do make mistakes from time to time, and going over thousands of jokes as I do, that adds up to more often than I would like. I forget to rotate some offensive jokes, and I make editing mistakes, too. Just because you knew a joke or didn't find one funny doesn't mean that a lot of people didn't enjoy it. If you must complain, and some people must, remember that while you're typing your complaint on a computer, you're sending it to a human being.
  • RHF is now accepting a limited number of small, very funny images and cartoons. We want to keep it down to just a few a month, so before you submit, make sure everybody is telling you how funny it is. Primarily only original material is accepted, though we will take popular "fax cartoons."

    First get the image down as small as you can. If a JPEG, drop the quality down to at least 60 or less, until just before the artificats start to look ugly. Make it small, though large enough to still get the point. You can always have a link to a larger version. For line-art, make a GIF with 8 levels of gray, and compare with a JPEG to see what gives the best results. In general you should be able to get it down to 20K to 30K.

    Then build a web page with a small amount of text or caption and the image. You can have clicking on the image show a larger one, and have links to your other stuff. E-mail a joke submission with the URL on a line by itself and any prompting text. We'll look at it.

    If you have a fast web server that can take the load, we'll put it there. If you ask really, really nicely we may put it up on our server.

    And make sure it's really funny.

Submission Address Summary


Submitters to RHF grant the editor the right to unlimited electronic distribution of their submission to USENET and other networks, and unless explicitly stated otherwise, rights are also granted for the inclusion of the submitted joke into the printed Jokebooks. The moderator also has the right to make edits which, in the moderator's sole opinion, improve the joke. The moderator will note whenever substantial editing has taken place. Submitters warrant that, as far as they know, they have the right to submit the material in question for publication.

Written Humour

Remember most of all that you're submitting written humour. That's a lot different from spoken humour, standup comedy, situational humour, improvised humour and stories where "you had to be there."

Written humour is perhaps the toughest form. You don't get the advantage of delivery, surprise or a funny face. You don't get a drunk audience (usually) or a chance to use your great German accent. You must prepare a joke that stands on its own.

Worst of all, the person reading the joke is expecting a joke, and that takes out the surprise, one of the most important elements in comedy.

When you submit a joke, try to make it work well as written humour. I reject a lot of stuff that was much funnier when done or said. 95% of standup comedy doesn't work as written humour. Bumper stickers are funny when you see them on a car on a highway, but less so in a book. T-shirt sayings are great on a T-shirt.

Some jokes can be translated if you're careful. But if you submit something from a non-written medium, don't be too surprised if it doesn't make it.

This document was written by, and reflects the policies of the executive moderator, Brad Templeton

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