alt.nylon.net

How to create an ALT newsgroup

("Anarchists, Lunatics, Terrorists")

Last changed: October 26, 2013
Fluffy vs Newbie. Fluffy owns Usenet. Meow.

From one newbie to another
by nylon.net, 1998-2008

Send feedback, flames, corrections, updates, photographs of Sabrina to me at

Read up on How Alt Newsgroups Work - by BarB, alt.config resident goddess

If you think this page is helpful, please click the +1 button below

 

A quick summary for impatient mad newgroupers

Preparing the proposal for alt.config

1

The group must not already exist

2

Naming your newsgroup

3

Numerical justification - what to do and what to avoid

4

The charter
5
Sending your proposal to alt.config

Creating the newsgroup

6
The control message headers and programs you may need
7
The control message body: "For your newsgroups file:" &c
8
Sending the Control Message to create the group
9
Sending a Booster message

PREAMBLE

In the following discussion there are references to "the gods": these are the people lurking around the alt.config news group waiting to assess your entry to the wonderful world of newsgroup creation.

Be warned: the gods are bloody mean sometimes. Don't complain if your feelings get hurt.

The typical Net-God (TM)
Most of them look like this, except BarB.

Rule #1: listen to BarB on alt.config.

She is considerably more knowledgeable and tolerant that she should be, considering the years of newbies, clowns and lunatics she has had to deal with.Listen closely.Obey.
BarB is the alt.config goddess.

Warning: If you disrespect BarB, we will find Oliver1 (who looks very much more violent than the picture above)
and send him around to give you a real thrashing!

Newsgroups are discussion boards which people use to send messages to each other. It's like email, but it's all in public. But you knew that.

The Big Browsers (Netscape, IE) have built in newsgroup ("Discussion group") message readers. There is also a truckload of good dedicated newsreader software. If you haven't looked at newsgroups before, look now. But you already have. Otherwise you wouldn't be burning with the idea of creating your own group.

Creating an ALT newsgroup is largely a do-it-yourself activity. The gods at alt.config can certainly help you, but it is your job to do the research and write a proposal. Do not just wander into alt.config and say:

Hi. I'm Amanda. There is no group for discussing giggling cheerleaders. Can someone create it for me? Tee hee hee. CYA. Luv Amanda.

You'll be picking buckshot out of your arse for a month afterwards.

What is alt?


Alt is a rather special part of Usenet. It is anarchic - there is no central committee that runs it. It is operated by those who use it. Other parts of Usenet (e.g. the "Big-8") have complex and rigid procedures for creating groups. Alt does not. New groups can be created by anyone.

What is alt.config?

The alt.* hierarchy of Usenet was created with no administrator - no head honcho with the power of life or death over all groups. There is no central committee, but the alt.config gods here have a large influence. Alt was created with the intention that it be overseen by alt.config, a group of knowledgeable volunteers who help people create viable groups. Anyone can be a contributor to alt.config: lurk there, read and learn the ropes.


TINC

TIP: Some conspiracy theorists say there is a secret alt.config cabal who meet in obscure parking lots in their bulletproof limousines to smoke cigars, drink cognac and manipulate alt.config in order to achieve even more obscure and nefarious Usenet objectives.

There is some truth to this, but always remember: TINC. There Is No Cabal.

I should know. I'm a member. O bugger. Sorry. Ignore that. It's a joke... honestly. Really... no cabals at all.


What does alt.config do?

Alt.config' s role is to advise proponents of new alt groups. Alt.config does not have the real power of a hierarchy administrator, but its opinions matter a lot to the people you are really trying to convince when you propose a group: the news administrators (newsadmins).

As one news administrator said, when it came to deciding what are 'real' groups and what are not... "Alt.* has no coordinator, so we ... follow the consensus of discussions in alt.config."

Why are newsadmins (news administrators) the important people? Who are they?

News administrators work for ISPs and other organisations that provide Usenet feeds. They decide what groups they will and will not carry on their service. When they receive a control message asking them to honour a new alt group, they usually:

1. Check that a properly formatted and justified control message has been lodged at isc.org

2. See what alt.config's opinion of the proposal was. Many newsadmins watch alt.config and if they see a group newgrouped without it being discussed here first... well... don't say you weren't warned.

If they are unhappy with the proposal or the control message, they will not honour your group and no-one using their newsgroup feed will see or be able to post to your group. That's why it's so important to get your proposal right: it's the newsadmins you're trying to convince. Alt.config can help you convince the newsadmins, but you've got to convince alt.config first!


To create a newsgroup in alt, you first propose a group to alt.config. The gods will offer advice, point out technical errors, and may help with sending control messages.

Alternatively, they will:

  • kick the faeces out of your precious and world-altering idea
  • humiliate you
  • swear at you
  • make you feel really unhappy

unless you follow the wisdom on this page.

If they don't rip your proposal to shreds you can send a control message to get it newgrouped. There's nothing to stop you going ahead and newgrouping a group even if it receives a hostile reception, but the gods may well rmgroup it ("remove group") and it WILL NOT PROSPER.

This is pretty well guaranteed - alt.config is Valhalla* as far as ISPs are concerned. They don't have the the time to assess each proposed newgroup. They trust alt.config to do that for them.

*For those who fell asleep during mythology classes, Valhalla is the Home of the Nordic and Usenet Gods.

Think of it like this: you're three years old at the supermarket checkout screaming for a chocolate frog. Who does the checkout chick look to for permission to process the sale: you, or your mum?

The newsadmin is the checkout chick;
alt.config is your mum;
you are an annoying, noisy brown mess on the floor.

OK. We've laboured that point enough. Let's move on.


REPEAT AFTER ME

A newgroup creation message (cmsg) DOES NOT CREATE A NEWSGROUP.

A newgroup creation message (cmsg) DOES NOT CREATE A NEWSGROUP.


It's just a request for newsadmins to add it to their list of newsgroups they feed their customers.
If the newsadmins don't add your newsgroup to their feed, noone they feed will see your group.


In brief:
The people you hope will carry your newsgroup, the newsadmins, trust alt.config.

They do not trust YOU!

You are mere smegma in the genitals of the internet.
Don't fool yourself. It's true. Ask your mother. She knows.


What sorts of topics are discussed in alt newsgroups?

You name it, it is bound to be there. There are over 50,000 alt groups in 2005.

What are all the stupid groups like alt.z.wtdmlkzcwfkl.hyy.i.yp.t.ws.nln?

Since any fool can create an alt group, many fools do. Please resist the temptation to add to the list of useless groups that just waste people's bandwidth. Alt.config's job is to try to help people create new groups that will survive and flourish. Just because other people have created lame or pointless groups, it's no justification for your lame or pointless group to join them.

What groups are not appropriate to alt?

1. Groups of purely local interest. Alt is global: your local nightclub is not. For regional discussion, use a regional group (e.g. in the uk.* hierarchy.) The same applies to groups about TV shows not aired internationally.
2. Vanity groups that only serve to fluff up your ego.
3. Groups that only serve to advertise commercial products.
4. Joke or revenge groups
5. Groups that seem designed or destined to be offensive enough to start huge flame wars (e.g. alt.fan.hitler)

What does alt.config assess in a proposal?

A proposal for a new group is usually just judged on whether it is proposed properly or not - group name, justification, charter etc. The subject matter of the group is not usually relevant. So, if you propose a Britney Spears group, alt.config is not going to attack it simply because they hate Britney Spears as a performer.

However, they will attack if nobody has been posting messages about Ms Spears on Usenet.


So, assuming you've got this far, let's see what you need to do to start up a new group in alt.

Does your group already exist?

Before you waste your time, do a search of newsgroups. Use your newsgroup program to get a list of all newsgroups available to you. You MUST start with a search of existing newsgroups to make sure an identical or very similar group does not already exist. Search for all combinations of keywords that may be similar. The gods will eat your liver with fava beans otherwise.

TIP Obviously if there IS an existing group but your newsgroup feed does not carry it, you won't find it. To see what groups exist that your ISP does not provide you, do a group search in Google Newsgroups. If there is a group that you'd love to get, ask your friendly ISP. They are wary of adding alt.binaries.* groups because of the high bandwidth they require but other groups may be quite OK by them.

If the gods consider an existing newsgroup should serve your purposes, they are unlikely to approve a new group. You need a good reason to want a new group: vanity or laziness are not good reasons.

TIP If you are truly serious about getting the group's name and place in the hierarchy correct, download the current complete list of all newsgroups from ftp://ftp.isc.org/usenet/CONFIG/newsgroups.gz. If you don't have a program that can decompress ".gz" archive files, download the uncompressed plain text version (about 2M).

Research

So you're still interested in a new group? Well, I'll be buggered!

Keep reading. The gods consider this an initiation. If you have the patience and intelligence to wade through the existing information on newsgroup creation, your proposal may warrant merit. The gods will taunt you mercilessly if you obviously have made little effort to unbecome a newbie quicksmart.

Read this page, and maybe check other esteemed resources. Read and become wise.

Reasons for creating a new group

 

If a new group is to be justified, its topic must already be under discussion somewhere in existing Usenet groups. The question is: under what circumstances is a new group warranted?

1. If the topic is consistently dominating discussion in a more general group (e.g. 80% of discussion in alt.books.horror is about one author). Forming a new group because of this reason is called "splitting". If you want to form a newsgroup by splitting from an existing group, you should discuss the idea of a new group in the existing group before coming to alt.config with a proposal. People have to agree that there is a logical way to split the discussion. The old and new group would both be need to be viable after the split.

Make sure the people contributing to the existing group will be happy moving to a new group. Put the findings of your discussion within the group in your proposal.

2. The topic is being discussed in many different groups (and is being cross-posted to those groups) because people can't decide which group is most suitable. (e.g. a game is discussed in several different newsgroups). Forming a new group because of this reason is called "consolidating". You must be able to come to alt.config with numerical evidence that there is enough relevant discussion already happening in existing groups to warrant the new group. More on this later.

Note: you cannot claim that you need a new group because there is no place on Usenet to discuss your topic. If that were true, no-one would be posting to Usenet on that topic, therefore there is no justification for creating the group! Quite logical, really.

The alt.* hierarchy

For newbies, the * means "anything that may follow"

 

ALT is organised in a hierarchical structure, a little like your hard disk. It starts with big topics which are divided into smaller topics, which are divided into even smaller topics, like directories/folders on your hard disk.

e.g. on your hard disk you may have this organisation

C:\
C:\MP3
C:\MP3\CLASSICAL

C:\MP3\CLASSICAL\BEETHOVEN

C:\MP3\CLASSICAL\BEETHOVEN\SYMPHONIES

C:\MP3\CLASSICAL\BEETHOVEN\SYMPHONIES\PASTORAL.MP3

The ALT hierarchical structure is similar:

alt (a 'first level hierarchy')
alt.music (a 'second-level hierarchy' - don't dare ask to create one!)
alt.music.classical (a third-level hierarchy etc etc)
alt.music.classical.beethoven
alt.music.classical.beethoven.symphonies
alt.music.classical.beethoven.symphonies.pastoral

The only difference is that pastoral.mp3 on your hard disk cannot be further subdivided, but alt.music.classical.beethoven.symphonies.pastoral can be divided into subgroups.

When you propose your group, you need to know where it belongs in the existing scheme of things. Use the existing structure to find a logical and comfortable place for your group to live. After all - people will be looking in a logical place for a group like yours. If you want to create alt.music.classical.beethoven.symphonies.persian_cats, don't be surprised if alt.config objects.

Use existing hierarchy names where possible. (e.g. if your group is musical, find a place in alt.music, don't be presumptuous enough to ask for a new second-level hierarchy such as alt.spicegirls) If you really NEED a high-level spot in the hierarchy you'd better be able to justify it exceptionally well. The feeling in alt.config is that new second-level hierarchies will not be supported.

Stealth Groups

A stealth group is one that does not sit in its proper place in the alt.* hierarchy. It especially applies to 'binary posts'.

'Binaries', as they are called, are messages that have attachments that are not pure text: they include photos, WAV files, Word documents, animations, or programs that do things like convert PDF to Word.

ALL GROUPS that are meant to have binaries posted to them must be under alt.binaries.* or similar groups.

Do not propose "stealth" binaries groups outside of alt.binaries (e.g. alt.music.binaries.rem). This will lead to automatic disqualification, 5 demerit points, a beating from the alt.config cabal and a Chinese wrist burn from BarB.

Similarly, any group meant to deal in large multimedia attachments (sound and video) in formats such as mpeg, rm, divx, avi, etc.) should be put in alt.binaries.multimedia.

MP3 groups go into alt.binaries.sounds.mp3.*

There are hierarchies outside multimedia where large binary files are legitimately posted. warez.*, cd.image.* and the e-book groups: the point is, do your research and find a legitimate place to put your group according to its type and needs.

Groups placed in illegitimate places in the hierarchy will get routinely rmgrouped (crippled) as 'stealth multimedia' or 'stealth binary' groups.

Don't ask for a binaries group unless you really need it: because of the huge bandwidth chewed up by binary postings, many newsadmins are unwilling to carry them. Some newsadmins are refusing to carry any binaries groups, or will only feed them if they are specifically requested by customers.

The golden rule on Usenet

Do not post binaries to non-binaries groups.

Unless a group lives within alt.binaries (or another approved binaries group) it is forbidden to send binary (non-text) attachments (pictures - jpg, gif, sounds - wav, music- mp3, movies- avi, mpg, documents - doc, xls, mdb etc) with a message. If a group is non-binary and you desperately want to share an MP3 with your chums, put the file on a website or an existing alt.binaries group and tell your chums where to find it.

A simple name?

Not as simple as it looks...

There are conventions to be followed. Breaking the conventions may cause Usenet software to fail, or your group to be completely ignored, so it's in your best interests to pay attention:

All newsgroup names consist of components, which are the elements of the name between the dots. For example, news.announce.newgroups has three components, "news", "announce" and "newgroups. Groups that do not conform to the following standard for Usenet group names are not created.

  • a component MUST contain at least one letter
  • a component MUST not contain uppercase letters (BAD: alt.music.REM)
  • a component MUST begin with a letter or digit
  • a component may not be 'all' or 'ctl'
  • the name MUST have at least two components (i.e. you can't create new top level hierarchies)
  • No more than 20 letters between the dots. (BAD: alt.music.rem-the-best-band-ever-or-so-they-say)
  • No spaces or underlines. (BAD: alt.music.rem_and radiohead).
  • THIS IS IMPORTANT! Dots are only used to separate parts of the name, such as alt.music.rem
    • Do not use them within name parts (BAD: alt.music.spice.girls).
    • Use a dash instead, (e.g GOOD: alt.music.spice-girls).

Justification-

Part 1 : How to

Before creating a new ALT newsgroup, the big question is whether there is really a need for it. Sure YOU may think that alt.tonkatoys.red-trucks.fireengine.antique is a vital discussion point, but will anyone else? Please understand that your love for a special interest is not, in itself, a reason to create an international discussion group.

The gods will always ask for numerical justification for the creation of a new group.

Let me repeat that a couple of times in a large type face so you can't say you were not told:

The gods will always ask for numerical justification for the creation of a new group.

The gods will always ask for numerical justification for the creation of a new group.

Understand? Good! Let's go on.

They expect evidence of existing Usenet discussion of the topic your proposed group will cater for. You must gather stats on current numbers of messages in Usenet groups on that topic.

Note: web sites and other non-Usenet (newsgroup) sources do not count as justification for a new Usenet group. It may seem logical that an interest in one corner of the internet should equally apply to other corners but in reality it rarely happens.

The easiest way to gauge existing activity in existing newsgroups to visit Google Groups, search for the specific topic (making sure you don't count a lot of irrelevant posts) and get an exact count of messages for three months.

RELEVANCE: you can only count messages if their discussion is relevant to your groups's topic. The fact that a certain word appears in a message does not guarantee that the message can be counted as relevant for justification purposes. e.g. if you are justifying alt.fan.tits you cannot count all the mesages that are discussing either breasts or small birds. Actually read the Google results: you are looking for relevant discussion of the topic, not mere mentions of the topic.

Recently I searched for a game called "Industry Giant". I used the appropriate "AND" boolean conjunction and Google said there were "about 33,000" hits: quite a lot; I was hopeful. However, most of the message groups seemed to be about jobs. I did individual checks on random messages and found how amazingly often job messages have the words "industry" and "giant" in the same message. Limiting the search to the "games" area showed 33 messages about the game "Industry Giant". It's a bit different to 33,000 - and very embarrassing if you don't notice before you propose your new group.

LIMITING A GOOGLE SEARCH TO CERTAIN GROUPS

You can limit the search to particular Google Groups. For example, if you want to ignore posts unrelated to games, use can specify *games* in the "Return only messages from the newsgroup" text box to search all newsgroups with "games" in their names. The asterisks are wildcards. This will neatly avoid thousands of irrelevant messages.

Similarly, it's amazing how often key words appear in people's signatures or in lists of CDs for sale. These don't count!

LIFETIME: some discussion topics appear suddenly and disappear just as suddenly, so to create a new group the topic must show continued discussion over time. A new TV show, for example, may provoke lots of discussion for a short time and then the show and the discussion will die after one season. For that reason, alt.config does not like proposals for TV shows until they have been renewed for a second season.

You can never prove that any topic will continue to be discussed into the future. Some may, some won't. All you can prove - and need to prove - is that discussion has been already been going on for a reasonable length of time before you propose the new group.

Learn How to Count

You need to count relevant Usenet messages over the last 3 months. You are looking to find at least 10 relevant posts per day: 3 months means you need about 900 messages posted on your topic in existing news groups. If there are only a handful of messages on the subject, the gods will not approve your proposal.

Do not use the standard Google searcher: this does not let you set a starting and ending date for the search. You must get a count within a known period of time (3 months).

1. Use the Advanced Group Search. (http://groups.google.co.in/advanced_group_search)

Fill in the keyword(s) you want to find.

If necessary, fill in the group name to avoid known irrelevant matches.

Fill in the date limits for your search.

In this example, I'm searching from 1 November 2000 to 1 December 2000 - but you should search for the last 3 full months, and not in a time where there was a "message spike" (i.e. where the usual number of messages was artificially inflated by a special event, such as the release of a new film, album etc).

You should specify a recent timeframe because discussion topics can die quickly (e.g. when a movie has been released for a while). Do not quote figures from a year ago: you need to prove there is current interest in a subject.

2. Tell Google to start the search.

On each page of results, you will see an approximate total number of matches.

Google Guestimate

Here, it is guessing 2,550. Ignore it! You will need to scroll though all the pages of finds until you get to the end.

You need to check the messages for relevance (e.g. if you are searching for "Sabrina" the 1950s British model, you need to ignore all messages about Sabrina (the teenage witch) and Sabrina (any of the porn stars). Warning: this can seriously deflate your count, but it needs to be done!

TIP

To do a more precise Google search, you can use the different boxes to specify powerfully specific searches .

This can weed out many irrelevant messages when searching.

This search would find messages containing the word Sabrina, her full real name (Norma Sykes), but would exclude any messages with the word witch. It also excludes any message mentioning Humphrey Bogart and Harrison Ford who made films called "Sabrina"

A more efficient way is to learn Google's keyboard equivalents.

e.g. Typing Sabrina "Norma Sykes" -witch -Bogart -Ford into the first box does the same job, and allows greater power.

If all messages are relevant to your subject, you can more quickly get to the end of the result pages by clicking the biggest number you can see in the Result Page links (above, click "10" to jump to page 10).

Google search, click 2

Now it is showing a maximum of 19 pages. Click the "19".

and so on

Now click "28" and keep doing this until there are no more pages. The "Next" link will be gone.

Google has finished

Look at the Results line and it should look like this (split in half so it fits on this page):

Results line - first bit

Results line - second bit

So, you know there are 710 matching messages (in one month - for a 3 month search you would need 900 relevant messages), as long as they are all relevant to the topic you are proposing.

3. You have your numerical justification. Having limited the search dates, you can safely claim that there was an average of 23 relevant mesages a day - not too shabby.) Any less than about 10 per day would be shaky.

There isn't enough discussion to create a new group!

What else can I do?

 

Consider a mailing list

You need about 10 messages per day in existing groups for your proposal to be supported by alt.config. If alt.config knocks down your newsgroup idea because the topic is only averaging 2 to 3 messages a day in existing groups, consider a mailing list instead. You can create one free at:

(Links last verified on January 9, 2005)

Justification -

Part 2 : How NOT to

You need to be able to convince bored and busy news administrators to carry your new group. Make it convincing. It's easier to say what not to do:

    DO NOT USE THESE

    JUSTIFICATIONS

    Thanks to Barbara Pattist for some of these

  • "But there are lots of dumb/empty newgroups here already"
  • Many of them have been around for ages and can't be removed. That's why the vetting goes on: to ensure as few useless groups as possible get started.

  • "<topic> DESERVES a group."
  • No-one deserves a group. The only topics that deserve a group are the ones that Usenet users who are already talking about in existing groups.
  • "There is no group about <topic> so we can't talk about it."
  • If there's not, people will be talking about it somewhere else. Find out where, and get figures.

  • "There are X web sites / message boards / IRC rooms..."
  • Web site traffic and other non-usenet discussion seldom transfers to Usenet. Usenet groups are for those who use Usenet, not other forums.
  • "I expect heavy traffic in the future."
  • Wait until it's here. "Build it and they will come" does not apply to Usenet.

A sample justification is:

 

JUSTIFICATION: A scan of messages in Google Groups in the 3 months from 22/8/98 to 22/11/98 showed *exactly* 1710 relevant matches discussing (not just mentioning) Citrix&Winframe, an average of 19 per day. There is currently no one group devoted to Citrix: these messages were spread across about a dozen newsgroups and a central repository would be convenient.

I have discussed the creation of alt.os.citrix in the groups that currently discuss Citrix Winframe and Metaframe and there has been widespread support for the idea of a dedicated group.

Reminders:

  • do not count obviously irrelevant posts
  • get an exact count - do not use the "of about nnnn" count. (see 'How to Count' above.)

Justfication: Part 3

...please repeat after me...

There is No Voting in ALT!

WARNING: Never invite fans to send mail to alt.config supporting your proposal.

The creation of an alt.* group is not the same as other top-level newsgroups. There is a complicated procedure in non-ALT groups to create a group: calls for votes, voting etc. Voting applies only to the big-8 (most populated newsgroups outside of ALT).

Voting does NOT apply to ALT.

There is no voting in alt.config. Many "me too" messages that offer nothing to the discussion will only piss off alt.config residents. The "me too" messages are irrelevant, will be ignored and the likely responses will offend grandmothers and emotionally-frail people. Do not do it!

If you need support to justify a new group either:

a) the topic does not have the interest you believe it has, or
b) you need to encourage fellow fans to post to existing groups.

The charter

Charter - the purpose and rules of the group

Still with me? Good. So far, you have found out that there is no group that already exists for your topic. You have found that there is enough existing discussion in Usenet to justify a group dedicated to your topic. Now you can start creating a proposal for alt.config.

Your new group needs a reason for being. An identity. A manifesto that makes its aims and purpose clear. It can inform potential posters whether your group is the right place for them to post. It makes it easier for you to flame them when they post inappropriately ;-)

A sample charter (yours does not have to be as long as this):

alt.os.citrix seeks to centralise the discussion of Citrix Metaframe and Winframe thin client operating systems and the ICA protocol. The discussion of Metaframe necessarily includes the discussion of Microsoft NT Terminal Server Edition. While this group is principally concerned with Citrix, general thin client issues will be considered "on-topic". Technologies that are associated with or complementary to thin client networking are relevant to this group (e.g. network computers, radio networking) are also relevant. General networking issues unrelated to Citrix or thin client belong in other groups dedicated to those issues.

Discussion of hacks, cracks, warez, serial numbers or the illegal exchange of copyrighted software is banned.

Flame wars, while briefly entertaining to spectators, are not relevant to the group and should be conducted by private email.

The newsgroup will not be moderated.

It is suggested, to facilitate filters and kill files that all posts include the word "Citrix" somewhere in the message subject. e.g. "Citrix: How do I foo bar?

Binary postings and off-topic postings are not permitted.

It is Usenet policy to prohibit binary posts from groups outside of alt.binaries, but it doesn't hurt to mention it in the charter.

Similarly, saying that "Spam is not allowed" is like saying "Don't rain on me" during a thunderstorm. Once again, it does no harm to say it in the charter.

You might also want to prohibit advertising and off-topic posts.

You might want to set up some basic ground rules for people, e.g. off-topic posts should be preceded by '[OT]', or the subject line must contain specific text to help killfiles weed out spam and cross-posts.

PERSONAL NOTE: I really wish people would mark legitimate messages with a distinctive subject tag e.g. [CITRIX] FOO BAR

It makes the filtering of spam from usegroups SO much easier!

Proposing to alt.config

O.K. This is the big scary step. You have to put your heart, soul and balls on the line and go public with your proposal. (Testicularly-challenged individuals, such as females, may put other gonads on the line.)

You need to create a new message to alt.config.

The subject of the message should be something like: Proposal - alt.fan.wood-duck

You do not have to introduce yourself and the new group. Your name, sorry to say, is not really important, and the charter tells alt.config about the group.

In the message, put your charter and numerical justification.

Say 'thank you' at the end. It's nice to be nice.

 

What does a finished proposal look like?

Something a little like this:


For your newsgroups file:

alt.os.citrix {tab} Citrix Winframe & Metaframe thin client network operating system.

The two lines above are presented in the format you will have to use in your control message later. It is worth formatting them properly here so alt.config can see whether there are any technical errors and suggest corrections.

CHARTER: alt.os.citrix discusses Citrix Metaframe and Winframe thin client operating systems and the ICA protocol. The discussion of Metaframe would necessarily include discussion of Microsoft NT Terminal Server Edition.

The newsgroup will not be moderated. Binary, off-topic, spam and advertising posts are not permitted. Discussion of hacks, cracks, warez, serial numbers or the illegal exchange of copyrighted software is banned.

JUSTIFICATION: A scan of messages in Google Groups in the 3 months from 22/8/98 to 22/11/98 showed *exactly* 1710 relevant matches discussing (not just mentioning) Citrix&Winframe, an average of 19 per day. There is currently no one group devoted to Citrix: these messages were spread across about a dozen newsgroups and a central repository would be convenient.

I have discussed the creation of alt.os.citrix in <list of relevant groups> that currently discuss Citrix Winframe and Metaframe and there has been widespread support for the idea of a dedicated group.

Thank you.

 

Send the proposal message to alt.config.

Be prepared to wait about a week while the gods peruse it. (Yeah, you want it to happen straightabloodyway, but you've got to have some patience. After all, if you were trying to create a "Big-8" group, the proposal may take months.)

Stay tuned to alt.config and read the replies to your proposal. Do not say "Email your comments to me@myemail.com because I don't come here very often" - if you couldn't be bothered returning to alt.config to check for feedback, you don't deserve a group.)

Now, be afraid. Be very afraid. This area is watched over by proud and sarcastic gods who enjoy sacrificing newbies. Especially dumb newbies. I am still pretty much a newbie myself and have the psychological scars to prove it.

Expect to be corrected, baited, roasted, teased and humiliated by the alt.config gods. If you are sensitive to criticism, nitpicking, rejection or blasphemous language, this is not a tender place to be. The most common advice given to proponents of new newsgroups is to "FOAD", which roughly translates as "Enjoy sexual relations as you travel elsewhere and then pass away". It seems to be the gods' principal form of entertainment to sacrifice newbies, especially when the newbies get indignant and scratch back. There must be a competition going on amongst the alt.config gods to see how few words it takes to cripple a newbie's self-esteem. Anyway, they expect lots of newbies. Just don't make the mistake of being a dumb newbie.

If the gods scratch you, don't get abusive beyond the limits of righteous indignation. Take it with a grin and they'll give you a hand - eventually - maybe. Especially if it looks like you're doing your best to not be a newbie any more.

Do anything dumb (e.g. ask questions that are clearly answered on this page, or in the FAQs and a hundred other messages in alt.config every day) and you will be a mere plaything for the alt cat-gods to bat around until you die, or disappear.

I actually enjoy newbie fights against the gods. It's a bit like a black man versus USA law - unless you're OJ or Michael Jackson. The newbie kitten's hissing and scratching is cute and fun - until alt.config eats him as an appetiser.

If the gods suggest weaknesses in your proposal, fix it and resubmit it. Or give up (quitter!). Whatever.

For Fluffy's sake don't start getting abusive and start planning revenge. The whole point of alt.config is to give your new group is best chance of a long and healthy life. They are not there to enjoy tormenting you. (Well, some may well enjoy tormenting you, but that's not the main reason they're there.)

Don't give up and send the control message anyway just to teach alt.config a lesson. We know you can do it if you insist. If you get negative feedback, it's a gentle hint that you shouldn't do it. If your proposal is flawed, the group will not be likely to flourish,

and you want your group to flourish internationally,

don't you?

SIDEBAR A common question is "I proposed a group here a week ago but no-one has said anything about it! Should I newgroup it?"

The answer is probably yes.

In alt.config, most feedback is critical of bad points in a proposal,
so no feedback means people haven't found serious problems with it.
So GO FOR IT!

One week later

 

You've had some interesting discussion with alt.config contributors.

Maybe you've cried a bit or sworn a lot.

You might have had some form of satisfying sexual activity with another person. Alas, this does not count to alt.config (even though photos of the event would be welcomed in many alt groups!).

Anyway, you've rallied, recovered your dignity, read the alt.config replies again with a clear head.

You've patched your proposal in the light of alt.config's feedback.

Maybe you've improved your justification. Maybe you've improved the name of the group. Perhaps you've changed the formatting of the proposal. They're fairly common things to do.

Now it seems alt.config seems pretty happy with your proposal. The gods seem friendlier. You even joke a bit with them. (Just don't expect congratulations and offers of marriage.)

You're ready for the next step. Sending the CONTROL MESSAGE.

 

 

 

Intermission

Grab a beer or a strong cup of tea. Sit on my lap and stroke my thigh in a lusty manner as I tell you a story.

You must understand that there is no central newsgroup server for the whole of Usenet. There is no monotheistic entity who points His divine Finger at a proposal and says, "Lo! That group shall be created and multiply, for that is My will."

Instead, there are thousands of newsgroup servers (such as the one your ISP has) controlled by satanic news administrators (newsadmins) who decide what groups they will and will not feed.

If none of the newsadmins decides to carry your group because you did things wrong in your proposal, your group will not propagate or spread across Usenet. Sure, your own ISP may carry it, and you can see it in your newsgroup list, but noone else in the world will see it or be able to post to it. You want your group to be carried by most, if not all news servers.

How do you tell Satan - the newsadmin - that you want to create the new group?

How do you convince Satan that the group is valid and worthy of carrying?

Your control message (cmsg). Consider it a properly-formatted prayer to Beelzebub.

The message you sent alt.config with your proposal did not create your group. It only let the gods check the paperwork before you sent your soul to Satan.

After alt.config has blessed your proposal, you need to create a new - a special - message: the control message. The control message is special because it contains magical headers that make the message go straight to the newsadmin.

A properly-formatted control message does not appear in a newsgroup as a standard message.

If it does appear in a newsgroup, you know you've stuffed it up.

So - how do you create a control message?

Keep stroking my thigh - a little more lustily please - as I demonstrate.

 

How to create the control message

You need two things:

1. You need an ISP who allows you to send control messages to send to newadmins who may (or may not) carry your group.

Some ISPs don't let the average wood duck send control messages. My old ISP did. My new one doesn't <mutter> son of a mothermutter curse rant bastard! rave </mutter>. If you can't send control messages, try asking your ISP for permission (good luck!) or politely ask in alt.config for assistance. Be nice. This is a good reason to listen politely while your proposal was open for discussion: if you were a whining brattish pigheaded offensive bitchbastard during discussion and then ask for help sending control messages... guess what!
2. You need a newsgroup program that can have the required "control" fields in its headers.
All newsgroup software has the basic fields such as "Group:", "Subject:" etc that you fill in to send an average Usenet message. To post a newgroup command, you must fill in special fields, e.g. the "control" field, "Approved:" etc. It is the presence of the control field that makes the message special to Usenet. Alas, most average newsreader programs (Netscape, IE) do not offer control fields.
  • Linux folk have many high-powered newsreaders that will suffice.
  • Mac owners may use something like MT Newswatcher.
  • I tried many Windows programs and found News Xpress Version 2.01 (click to download) which is a really nice NG reader with lotsa features including the ability to define your own message header fields. Just add a "Control" field. It has not been updated in a long time, but I believe it still works fine.
  • Forte Agent is also reputed to be good, but needs a little tweaking before it can be used to send control messages.

How To Tweak MS Outlook Express 6 to send control messages
by Bob Flaminio

In Regedit, go to HKCU/Identities/{hex}/Software/Microsoft/Outlook Express/5.0/News (if you don't know what Regedit is, you should not be doing this)

Create two new DWORD values named "Controller" and "Moderator". Set the values to "1".

When creating a new message, choose View > All headers.

Voila. The fields appear. They're grey, but editable. You still need a news server that accepts control messages, but if yours does, it'll work.

 

 

The control message consists of two important parts:

1. The headers - usually you don't see the headers in an email message, apart from "TO", "SUBJECT" etc. The header is EXTREMELY important, and it must be perfectly accurate.

2. The message body: where you put your "For your newsgroups:" lines, charter and justification - like you did in the proposal to alt.config.

 

The control message headers

 

The RED words below are header names created by the newsgroup program. Do NOT type in the red words into the body of a normal email message. They are special headers in the "invisible" part of the message. This is sign #1 of a lazy, illiterate, clueless newbie. Expect to have your gonads roasted on the sulphuric fires of hell (with a lovely balsamic vinegar marinade).

The BLUE bits are typed in by you.

The bold black bits are comments by me. Do not type them in! It will not work and people will laugh at you in alt.config, make snide remarks such as "Guess again", and pat your dog's thigh in an inappropriate manner.

From: youremailaddress@domain.com

Newsgroups: alt.os.citrix

Control: newgroup alt.os.citrix

Subject: cmsg newgroup alt.os.citrix

Summary: discussed in alt.config, no complaints from anyone, appropriate name. Of course I'm lying. I'm just cutting and pasting without knowing what the hell I'm doing.

Expires: {leave this empty}

Approved: youremailaddress@domain.com

Sender: youremailaddress@domain.com

Followup-To: poster

Reply-To: youremailaddress@domain.com

Distribution: {Empty, except for a space after the colon}

Organization: {optional} The Quite Holy Church of Transport Tycoon

Keywords: {optional} Citrix Metaframe Winframe ICA thin-client bandwidth Microsoft Terminal Server Edition Hydra

Comments: Proposed 21 September 1998 in alt.config by nylon.net. Newgroup submitted by nylon.net

The body of the control message

The body section of the control message starts with the "For your newsgroups file:" lines.

The GREEN bits (below) are the body of the message, typed by you.

{empty line}
For your newsgroups file:

alt.os.citrix {tab character} Citrix Winframe & Metaframe thin client network operating system.
{empty line before the charter and justification}

  • You must follow the format above exactly: copy the first line ('For your newsgroups file:') exactly, and on the second line give the name of the newsgroup, followed by one or more spaces or tabs, followed by a few words describing the group.

  • The sample description shown on this page may appear to use 2 lines because it's squeezed into a narrow table.
  • Many news readers use the descriptive text to display to users. It should be meaningful, not a list of key words.
  • The description should start with a capital letter and end in a full stop.
  • The newsgroup name plus the description should fit one line, a maximum of 79 characters including the number of spaces that your {TAB} expands to.
    • If the entire group name is 23 characters or less, do not exceed 55 characters for the group description.
    • If the entire group name is 24 to 31 characters, do not exceed 47 characters for the description.
    • As Adam Kerman notes: The reason for using 79 in lieu of 80 is the number of known-to-be-sucky terminal emulations and telnet windows and terminals that don't know what to do with the 80th character and beyond on a line. Some are known to overwrite, while others just send characters after 80 to the next line on the screen.
  • Do not put any other text or spaces at their beginning of either line
  • If the group is to be moderated, add the word (Moderated) to the end of the description. Include the parentheses

 

Then you add the charter and numerical justification that were sent to alt.config in your proposal and discussed and revised, if necessary.

{empty line}
For your newsgroups file:

alt.os.citrix
{tab} Citrix Winframe & Metaframe thin client network operating system.
{empty line}

CHARTER: alt.os.citrix discusses Citrix Metaframe and Winframe thin client operating systems and the ICA protocol. The discussion of Metaframe would necessarily include discussion of Microsoft NT Terminal Server Edition.

The newsgroup will not be moderated. Binary, off-topic, spam and advertising posts are not permitted. Discussion of hacks, cracks, warez, serial numbers or the illegal exchange of copyrighted software is banned.

JUSTIFICATION: A scan of messages in Google Groups in the 3 months from 22/8/98 to 22/11/98 showed *exactly* 1710 relevant matches discussing (not just mentioning) Citrix&Winframe, an average of 19 per day. There is currently no one group devoted to Citrix: these messages were spread across about a dozen newsgroups and a central repository would be convenient.

I have discussed the creation of alt.os.citrix in in <list of relevant groups> that currently discuss Citrix Winframe and Metaframe and there has been widespread support for the creation of a dedicated group.

Thank you.

 

Sending the control message

The next tricky bit is whether you can send the control message successfully in spite of all previous cleverness and hard work. Some ISPs may limit you in this area (filtering out important header lines, for example). Some just don't let you send control messages at all.

If you can post the (perfectly formed) control message yourself, send it to alt.config.

If you can't send control messages, you may politely ask your ISP or one of the alt.config gods for assistance. Often an alt.configger will send the cmsg for you, if you are nice (or sexually attractive.)

Remember: your message SHOULD NOT SHOW UP AS A NORMAL MESSAGE in the newsgroup you sent it to.

The special control fields in the header attract the attention of news administrator software and they grab it and try to interpret it. Many news admins automatically honour newgroup requests, regardless of their stupidity so it may well appear in your newsgroup list within a few minutes. Be warned though: if you have not gone through the validation steps above, the chances are good that the gods will cripple your group ASAP and it won't get further than your own ISP. Hardly a successful ng!

If all goes well, you have a newsgroup on Usenet!. Unless you were a bad person, the group will propagate and spread to other news admins and they will (or won't) add it to their newsgroup lists depending on the quality of your proposal in the control message.

Congratulations! You have a newsgroup!

Or not!

Fascinating
Note

What are 'Rogue groups'? (a.k.a. "Rouge" groups, in honour of some ancient dyslexic newgroup proposer)

"Rogue" groups exist on some servers but have no control message archived at isc.org. They do not enjoy healthy lives. They tend to propagate (spread across Usenet servers) very poorly, since many if not most ISPs and NSPs do not add groups for which no control message exists.

Booster, anyone?

 

Once your group is created, it can need some help propagating across usenet. This can be done with a "booster message" - basically it means sending the control message again so newsadmins who missed it before might see it this time.

Go through the same process as you did to send the original control message, except at the beginning of the body of the message, you put the word "Booster" on a line by itself. Send the booster control message to alt.config and to the group it is boosting.

It probably won't help much since most newsadmins are usually too drunk to read booster messages, or care about them, but it can't hurt to send one :-)

Fluffy says meow.
Fluffy owns Usenet....
or not

Back to nylon.net

Related information

Unrelated but sexy information

Sabrina - the 1950's-1960's droolpet whose 42 inch bust and 17 inch waist defied both gravity and belief

Other related sites worth visiting

To look up archived control messages that created an alt.* group, visit ftp://ftp.isc.org/pub/usenet/control/alt/groupname.gz
(replace groupname with the name of the group you want to investigate. Remember the ".gz" after the group name.
The file is compressed with PKzip, but is still big. Be patient.)

Download a list of all active newsgroups - ftp://ftp.isc.org/usenet/CONFIG/newsgroups

A jolly useful Usenet resource - including free public news feeds - http://www.jammed.com/~newzbot

Featuring: http://www.jammed.com/newzbot-cgi-bin/group-search.pl?group=**** lets you search for newsfeeds carrying the group called **** (don't type "****": replace it with a newsgroup name!)

A jolly nice Usenet reader - newsrover

News Xpress FAQ

How to quote from other messages in newsgroups

After all that reading you probably need some Sabrina


I certainly do!

Send feedback, flames, corrections, photographs of Sabrina