Network Working Group advice Request

Found at: 0x1bi.net:70/textfiles/file?internet/usenet_m.dra

Network Working Group                                  Moderators-advice
Request for Comments: XXXX                             Sometime 1994
Category: Informational

                  NetNews Moderator's Handbook

Status of this Memo

    This memo provides information for the Internet community.
    This memo does not specify an Internet standard of any kind.
    Distribution of this memo is unlimited.


    This document provides information concerning moderation of
    NetNews newsgroups.  It describes the moderator-specific
    formats and usage for articles posted to such newsgroups and
    generic practices common to all moderators and newsgroups.
    It does not establish rules but is a general framework of
    accepted practices used by NetNews moderators.

    The goal of this document is to explain the practices currently
    in use for the benefit of new and existing moderators.

moderators-advice                                               [Page 1]
RFC XXXX           NetNews Moderator's Handbook            Sometime 1994

 1.  Introduction ...........................................   ??

 2.  What does 'moderated' mean ? ...........................   ??

 3.  Why do USENET moderated newsgroups exist ? .............   ??

 4.  Role of a moderator ....................................   ??

 5.  How the moderation process works technically ...........   ??
 5.1.  Mailpath usage .......................................   ??
 5.2.  Standard News Header Usage ...........................   ??
 5.2.1.  Approved: Line .....................................   ??
 5.2.2.  Date: Line .........................................   ??
 5.2.3.  Distribution: Line .................................   ??
 5.2.4.  Expires: Line ......................................   ??
 5.2.5.  Followup-To: Line ..................................   ??
 5.2.6.  From: Line .........................................   ??
 5.2.7.  Keywords: Line .....................................   ??
 5.2.8.  Newsgroups: Line ...................................   ??
 5.2.9.  Path: Line .........................................   ??
 5.2.10. References: Line ...................................   ??
 5.2.11. Reply-To: Line .....................................   ??
 5.2.12. Subject: Line ......................................   ??
 5.2.13. Other informational headers ........................   ??
 5.3.  Other headers that should be removed before posting ..   ??
 5.4.  Signatures ...........................................   ??
 5.5.  Creating newsgroup specific headers ..................   ??
 5.6.  Receiving Submissions ................................   ??
 5.6.1.  Articles posted to a moderated group ...............   ??
 5.6.2.  Emailed submissions ................................   ??
 5.7.  Adding moderator comments ............................   ??
 5.8.  Submitting articles ..................................   ??
 5.9.  Canceling articles ...................................   ??
 5.10. Where to find other documentation on moderation ......   ??

 6.  What are the different types of moderated groups ? .....   ??
 6.1.  Announce groups ......................................   ??
 6.2.  Binary groups ........................................   ??
 6.3.  Digests ..............................................   ??
 6.4.  Discussion groups ....................................   ??
 6.5.  Source groups ........................................   ??

 7.  Setting up a new moderated group .......................   ??
 7.1.  Submission aliases ...................................   ??
 7.2.  Email submission servers .............................   ??

 8.  Choosing a moderation policy ...........................   ??
 8.1.  Article rejections ...................................   ??
 8.2.  Copyrights ...........................................   ??
 8.3.  Dealing with forged Approved: headers ................   ??
 8.4.  Commercial postings ..................................   ??
 8.5.  Dealing with cross-posted articles ...................   ??

moderators-advice                                               [Page 2]
RFC XXXX           NetNews Moderators' Handbook            Sometime 1994

 9.  Backup moderators ......................................   ??
 10. Multiple or Team Moderation ............................   ??
 10.1 Team moderator mailing lists ..........................   ??
 10.2 Facilitators ..........................................   ??
 10.3 Rejection Notices .....................................   ??
 10.4. Multiple moderator conflict resolution ...............   ??

 11. Handling temporary moderator absences ..................   ??

 12. Gatewaying your newsgroup to mailing lists .............   ??
 12.1. Newsgate .............................................   ??
 12.2. Listserv .............................................   ??

 13. Creating Periodic Informational Postings ...............   ??
 13.1. Copyright ............................................   ??
 13.2. Frequency of distribution and news.answers ...........   ??

 14. Archiving postings to the group ........................   ??
 14.1.  FTP Archives ........................................   ??
 14.2.  Email Archives ......................................   ??
 14.3   Archives of selected articles .......................   ??

 15.  Tools for moderators ..................................   ??

 16. News transport gotcha's ................................   ??
 16.1.  Line lengths ........................................   ??
 16.2.  Old C News blanks-in-ng bug .........................   ??
 16.3.  B News non-local unapproved articles bug ............   ??
 16.4.  Article size concerns ...............................   ??
 16.5.  Amount of messages posted daily .....................   ??
 16.6.  Cross-posting to other moderated groups .............   ??
 16.7.  Extra headers on directly posted articles ...........   ??
 16.8.  Multiple copies of the same submission received .....   ??
 16.9.  B News static Newsgroups: header limit ..............   ??

 17. How to deal with your readership .......................   ??
 17.1.  Personality of your group ...........................   ??
 17.2.  Deciding a course of action .........................   ??
 17.3.  Community perceived problems with moderation ........   ??
 17.4.  Vocal minority ......................................   ??
 17.5.  Anonymous postings ..................................   ??

 18. Answers to general questions ...........................   ??
 18.1.  How big is my group's readership ? ..................   ??
 18.2.  What mechanisms guard the group
        from unauthorized "Approved:" headers ? .............   ??
 18.3.  Have any moderators gotten paid for what they do ? ..   ??
 18.4.  Why are readers complaining of lost articles ? ......   ??

 19. Passing the torch ......................................   ??

 20. Acknowledgments ........................................   ??

 21. Security Considerations ................................   ??

moderators-advice                                               [Page 3]
RFC XXXX           NetNews Moderators' Handbook            Sometime 1994

 22. Author's Address .......................................   ??

 Appendix A:  USENET Newsgroup Moderation ...................   ??
    A.1. Discussion lists for USENET moderators .............   ??
    A.1.1.  moderators-advice ...............................   ??
    A.1.2.  moderators ......................................   ??

    A.2. Changing moderators ................................   ??
    A.3. USENET moderator replacement concerns ..............   ??
    A.4. Group Charters .....................................   ??
    A.5. Submitting articles thru
         public USENET Mail/News gateways ...................   ??

 Appendix B:  Canned Messages ...............................   ??
    B.1. C News Duplicate headers message template ..........   ??
    B.2. Thanks for FAQ comments ............................   ??
    B.3. Inappropriate submission ...........................   ??
    B.4. Get a Clue .........................................   ??
    B.5. Test elsewhere .....................................   ??

 Appendix C:  Tributes ......................................   ??

moderators-advice                                               [Page 4]
RFC XXXX           NetNews Moderators' Handbook            Sometime 1994

    The purpose of this document is to assist new and existing
    moderators in understanding what is involved in moderating a
    newsgroup.  This document contains information about how the
    moderation process works, how to get started, where to get
    existing moderation posting software, what NetNews related
    problems moderators may encounter, and where to get additional
    help if needed.

    In the past, most moderators learned on-the-job, and there was not
    much documentation available about what was expected of a moderator.
    This document attempts to aid new moderators in understanding what
    it is that they have gotten themselves into.  This document will
    also be useful to those wishing to volunteer to be a moderator.

    Within this document, USENET refers to the traditional core
    hierarchies of comp, misc, news, rec, sci, soc and talk.  The
    term 'Network News' (or 'NetNews') refers to all hierarchies
    that use the same transport and reader mechanisms that the
    traditional core hierarchies do.

    Moderation of newsgroups is transcending the traditional core
    USENET news hierarchies as many organizations begin using NetNews
    software for internal use.  Also, many non-core hierarchies, such
    as alt, biz, bionet, etc., contain moderated newsgroups.

    It is the intent of the author that this document also be of use
    to those who are not USENET moderators but are moderating NetNews
    newsgroups nevertheless.

    It is expected that readers of this document are already familiar
    with NetNews, at least from a user's perspective, and have been
    exposed to network tools such as FTP.  A complete explanation of
    NetNews jargon and culture is beyond the scope of this document.

    'Moderated' means that all postings to the newsgroup go to a mail
    address (e.g. comp.std.unix@uunet.uu.net) instead of appearing
    in the newsgroup directly. The postings are then forwarded via
    email to a moderator, or group of moderators, or even an automated
    program, who decides whether to actually inject the article into
    the newsgroup or to reject it as not meeting guidelines spelled
    out in the group's charter.

    The main purpose of newsgroup moderation is to prevent
    inappropriate posts to the newsgroup.  For example, moderation
    can prevent discussion or requests for software from appearing
    in groups dedicated to posting source code.  It can also be used
    to facilitate discussions, to create a forum for announcements,
    to prevent repeated posts of the same information, or to cut off
    endless uninformative arguments. Some groups, e.g. rec.humor.funny
    and some source groups, also use it to control the traffic volume.

    Moderation should not be used to censor unpopular viewpoints,
    or those that the moderator simply disagrees with.  It is best
    to have a very clear charter and moderation policy for the
    newsgroup, so that newsgroup readers and posters can tell which
    topics are, or are not, appropriate for discussion on the newsgroup.

    Groups on the net are moderated for a variety of reasons.  All
    moderation serves the same basic purpose, to filter out
    inappropriate postings and to deliver timely, on-topic articles.
    Most moderated groups fall into one of five general categories:

       1) Groups with postings of an informative nature not suited to
          discussion and always originating from the same (very small)
          group of posters.   Groups within this category include
          news.lists, news.announce.newusers, and comp.mail.maps.

       2) Groups derived from regular groups with such a high volume
          that it is hard for the average reader to keep up. The
          moderated versions of these groups are an attempt to provide
          a lower volume and higher quality version of the same forum.
          An example of this category is news.announce.newgroups (a
          reduced form of news.groups).

       3) Groups derived from regular groups that have often been
          abused. That is, the regular groups often received postings of
          items that were not germane to the stated topic of the group
          (or sometimes even within the realm of politeness for the net).
          This also includes groups suffering from an annoying number of
          duplicate postings and inappropriate followups. Moderated
          groups in this category include comp.sources.misc.

       4) Groups designed to serve as direct feedback to an off-the-net
          group. The discussion in comp.std.mumps is an example of this.

       5) Groups that are gatewayed into USENET from an Internet
          mailing list. These groups are moderated by someone on the
          Internet side but are shared with the USENET population.
          Submissions mailed to the proper addresses, given below,
          will appear in both the group on USENET, and the Internet list.
          This includes some groups in the "inet" distribution such as
          comp.ai.vision and rec.mag.fsfnet.

    Moderating a newsgroup is a volunteer effort but it carries certain
    responsibilities. The role of a moderator is to review, approve and
    post articles relevant to a newsgroup according to the group's
    charter or guidelines.

    If an article does not qualify for posting, it is to be sent back
    to the author with an explanation of why it is not suitable for

    Depending on the nature of the group, acceptable turnaround time
    can range from a few days to a few weeks.  If posts accepted for
    the group have a long delay before being actually posted, as happens
    with moderated net magazines, it is a good idea to let the submitter
    know that the post was accepted, and what the approximate posting
    date will be.

    This section contains technical information about the news
    mechanisms of concern to newsgroup moderators, including standard
    news headers, dealing with submissions, and generating special
    purpose headers to better serve your newsgroup.

    A moderated newsgroup is marked as such in the news transport
    software (most often with a  trailing "m" flag in the active file of
    news systems).  What this means is that articles must be approved
    before they are accepted in the group.  When an article is posted
    to a moderated group, the news transport software will mail the
    article to the moderator [See Section 5.1 Mailpath Usage] for
    approval and actual injection into the news system.

    Once the moderator has received a submitted article in the incoming
    mailbox, (and if necessary has edited the article's content) the
    moderator needs to process the article's headers a bit before
    actually posting it to the group.  The descriptions below explain
    usage of the various headers.

    Technically, all that the moderator has to do is add an "Approved"
    header, and repost the article.  The only thing that differentiates
    an "approved" from a "non-approved" posting is the existence of the
    "Approved:" header.  The news transport will then accept it and
    transfer it to other machines.

    New moderators, especially those not familiar with news mechanisms,
    may need to refer back to the list of standard news headers (Section
    5.2) often as they familiarize themselves with the moderation

    When a net.citizen posts a message to a moderated newsgroup, the
    news software looks up the moderator's submission address. The
    software then mails the unapproved article to the moderator for
    approval and injection into the news system.

    To make this work the mailpaths file is used on B News or C News
    systems.  INN uses the moderators file and the inn.conf file to
    provide the same functionality.

    The list of moderator addresses can change almost daily and
    trying to keep up with it can be a job in itself at times. For
    that reason the mailpaths file can be configured to send all
    unapproved submissions to moderated newsgroups to a site which
    has volunteered and been approved as a mail forwarder for USENET
    moderators. In almost all cases it is best to configure news
    software to forward unapproved articles to one of the established
    mailpath forwarders.

    David Lawrence  maintains the periodic posting

                "How to Construct the Mailpaths File"

    It describes the syntax of the contents of the file and how to
    construct it for your B News or C News system.  It also lists
    the sites that are maintaining a current listing of moderator
    addresses and are acting as mail forwarders for the USENET
    moderator infrastructure.

    The article is regularly posted to the newsgroups news.lists,
    news.admin.misc and news.answers.

    Articles posted to moderated newsgroups, like all other news
    articles, must conform to the article specifications of the
    USENET news system, as described in RFC 1036.  The list below
    explains the standard news headers as they pertain to moderating
    USENET newsgroups, though if there is any doubt about the
    specifications of a particular header RFC 1036 should be consulted.
    [See Section 5.10 for more information on obtaining RFC 1036 and
    other NetNews related RFCs and doucments.]

    There is no preferred order of headers. Compliant software should
    accept the articles with the following headers in any order.

   Any article posted to a moderated newsgroup must contain an
   Approved: line.  Always sign the approved line with your electronic
   address. The software won't care what is here, but in case something
   goes wrong, the community will know who approved the article.

   Some moderators sign the Approved: line with the moderator's
   submission address, so that any comments-to-the-moderator tend
   to get routed into the moderation mailbox.

   A sample Approved: line:

        Approved: kent@sterling.com (comp.sources.misc)

   If an article has been approved by the moderators of different
   moderated groups, the moderator with final approval should try
   to put the other moderators on the Approved: line as a way of
   documenting that it was approved to appear in multiple groups.

   A sample Approved: line marking approval in more than one group:

        Approved: kent@sterling.com, tale@uunet.uu.net

   While showing multiple approval is not required, it is informative
   to the readership and common courtesy to the other moderator(s) to
   do so.

   [ Beware of approving cross-posted articles.  Refer to "Section   ]
   [ 5.2.8 Newsgroups: Line", "Section 8.5 Dealing with cross-posted ]
   [ articles" and "Section 15.6. Cross-posting to other moderated   ]
   [ groups" for a discussion of the problems.                       ]

    Strip the Date: header from submitted articles, or change it into
    something like X-Original-Date:.  Do not include an X-Original-Date:
    header without a good reason.  For example, an article might refer
    to "today's New York Times", or might mention software "uploaded
    to an FTP site today.  Proving your timeliness isn't a good reason
    unless, for some reason, it has been in question.

    The problem with keeping the original Date: header is that it
    might badly confuse the news posting software, or some latency
    could cause the article to be unnecessarily rejected at sites,
    especially when the date was completely wrong.

    The Distribution: header should be stripped from any submitted
    article.  You should try not to post things of a definite local
    nature to world-wide groups with the current state of network
    news propagation.

    Unfortunately, using the Distribution: header rarely produces the
    intended or desired results.  An article posted with a restrictive
    Distribution: header is almost certain to be propagated far beyond
    the intended area, and will be equally likely to miss some sites
    that would be interested in that region's news, and might even be
    physically located in the intended target zone.

    In addition, many articles are posted with "na" (North America) or
    "usa" (U.S.A.) distributions because of poorly-thought-out software
    defaults, rather than any conscious decision by the poster.  Many
    non-North-American readers are annoyed by this needless limitation
    on what news reaches them.

    In theory the distributions work as intended, but in practice, due
    to lack of verification by posting agents, misconfigured news
    transport agents, wide-area sites which pick up all news regardless
    of distribution, and inadequate controls on the names of the
    distributions, they are relatively useless.

    Moderators should consider adding an Expires: header if the
    information being posted has a limited period of usefulness.
    For example, a Call For Papers (CFP) posted to the group
    news.announce.conferences might be valid only until a certain
    date.  The Expires: header can then be set to expire the article
    the day after the deadline specified in the CFP.

    Many sites with limited news retention times keep articles with
    explicit Expires: headers online longer than the default time
    period, so an Expires: header can help keep periodically posted
    information readily available to readers at all times.

    Your use of the Expires: line should be documented in your group's
    periodic policy posting.

    If you have a policy of directing all followups to the article
    submitter, or if the submitter requests it, use the header line

        Followup-To: poster

    The news reader software will then email followups to the address
    listed in the Reply-To:, and if non-existent, to the From: address.

    In some cases it might be appropriate to place the name of an
    unmoderated discussion group in this header.

    For example:  Comp.sys.amiga.announce does not carry any
    discussions.  Most articles there contain the line

         Followup-To: comp.sys.amiga.misc

    With this header, when a reader with compliant news software
    tries to followup to an article appearing in the group, their
    article is actually redirected to the unmoderated discussion
    group comp.sys.amiga.misc.

    The appropriate use and content of this header are very dependent
    on the community of readers that the newsgroup is serving.

    Note that it is never correct to put an actual email address
    in the Followup-To: line.

    Postings to newsgroups should have a From: line that refers to
    the submitter, unless the posting is a digest, in which case the
    From: line should be that of the compiler of the digest.

    Since most news readers display From: line information, it is
    appropriate to accurately depict who the article's content is
    "From", when possible.

    Keywords: lines should be included as received in the posted
    article.  Some moderators may want to add a Keywords: line if
    it doesn't already exist. Some moderators have added "SPOILERS"
    to the Keywords: line in articles posted to movie or book
    discussion groups if the article gives away the ending.

    Some moderators have a list of all of the keywords used in the
    group and adjust the Keywords: line as needed.  Limiting the set
    of keywords makes keyword searching a lot easier and avoids
    problems with synonyms and variant spellings.

    Keywords: should augment rather than replace keyword usage on the
    Subject: line because, unfortunately, some news reader programs
    cannot use Keywords: to auto-select articles.

    If the moderator receives a request to cross-post an article
    to multiple groups, and the moderator has a policy of honoring
    cross-posting requests, the moderator should try to comply with
    the poster's specification if the other groups make sense and
    are not moderated.

    If the submitter requests cross-posting to newsgroups that the
    moderator cannot post to, the submitter should be so notified,
    unless there is a clear policy statement covering this inability.
    For example, users at many sites cannot post or cross-post articles
    to any alt groups.

    If one or more of the other requested groups are moderated, the
    moderator can either inform the submitter that the article is being
    cross-posted to only unmoderated newsgroups or coordinate with the
    moderator(s) of the other group(s).  Leave the final decision of what
    is relevant on other newsgroups with moderators for those newsgroups.

    Due to the nature of existing news software, an article cross-posted
    by a moderator to multiple moderated newsgroups appears in all the
    specified moderated groups without requiring the further approval
    of the other moderator(s).  A posting of this type will probably
    surprise and may even anger the other moderator(s) if the article
    posted violates the charter of the other moderated newsgroup(s).

    The original Path: line should be removed and the news system
    should be allowed to generate a new one.  The purpose of the Path:
    line is to show the path that the article took since being injected
    into the news system.  Since the moderator is the one that actually
    injects an article into the news system, any previous Path: line
    should be discarded before the moderator posts the article.

    Also insure your news transport software generates a non-replyable
    Path: line.  For example:

                   Path: host!not-for-mail

    This allows it to be propagated back to the site it came from.  It
    also assures that mail from seriously broken news sites is not
    returned to you.

    New moderators shouldn't need to worry about this. If there is not
    a Path: line in an article, most news transport software generate
    one similiar to that shown above.

    The References: header is used by some threaded newsreaders to
    chain a set of articles together.  It allows a discussion thread
    or multi-part posting to be dealt with as a unit.  The second and
    and subsequent articles in a set should include a References:

    News reader software needs to be able to reconstruct the article
    tree even if (a) the root article is missing, such as the article
    has expired, (b) the immediate predecessor is missing as in a
    cancelled article.  The software must do this based solely on
    information from  the References: headers of existing articles.
    Other approaches, eg.  keeping a separate history in something
    like trn's mthreads database, have more or less failed because
    of the high load on the server and the application-specific
    data format.

    There are different ways the References: headers is used today
    to support threading depending on the article flow in the moderated
    group.  If articles are posted so that all linked articles are
    posted in sequence and within a short period, such as is done in
    sources groups, then References: headers can be constructed
    with a minimualist method.  Otherwise, groups where referenced
    articles are not in sequence or are posted days apart should use
    the standard References: header usage.

    The standard and recommended usage of the References: headers
    is to include the Message-ID of both the first and one to three
    immediately prior article(s), in chronological order. The reason for
    this strategy is to keep news reader programs with thread-specific
    kill files happy after some articles have expired.

    With the minimualist method used by source or binary moderated
    newsgroups, the References: header contains the Message-ID of the
    first part of the series (or package).  The References: header
    only lists the Message-ID of the first part posted and not all
    the intermediate parts.

    By using this header, threaded news readers present each set of
    postings as a single item to the user making it much easier for
    them to read.

    Note:  Another way of linking articles is to list the Message-ID of
    every part. This is not recommended as it just increases the size of
    the articles without adding much additional information or utility.

    The Reply-To: line should be preserved if it existed in the
    submission.  This allows the news reader software to email replies
    back to the article's submitter at their preferred address.

    Standardizing your use of the Subject: line somewhat can really
    help readers choose which articles to read and construct accurate
    kill files.  A leading or trailing keyword system can help
    immensely, for example.   Moderators of source and binary newsgroups
    use the Subject: line in a de-facto way to make it easier for the
    readership to see what an article is.  For example:

       v43INF1:  Introduction to comp.sources.misc
       v43i001:  ecuman - Manual for ECU comm package v3.30, Part01/06

    The leading volume-issue and the trailing Part number information
    are helpful in giving the readership quick clues to an article.

    Assure that your use of the Subject: line is documented in the
    newgroup's policy posting so that the readership knows it is
    occurring and can take advantage of it.

    There are additional headers that a submitter may supply from time
    to time.  Informational headers such as Summary: and Organization:
    lines should be included as received in the posted article.

    Submitted articles may arrive in your mailbox with one or more
    headers that should be removed before posting.  Automated
    scripts can do this for you, or, for a low-volume group, you might
    prefer to remove them by hand, or write your own pre-processing


    Some moderators allow all postings to go out with the original
    signature block as received.  Others trim excessive signature
    blocks off, or remove all but a few lines.  In other cases, the
    moderator will append a standard newsgroup signature to the bottom
    of the posting, typically containing a line or two describing how
    to submit articles to the newsgroup, how to retrieve the FAQ, or
    other highly condensed information.

    Moderators need to be aware that news software may be appending
    the moderator's own personal signature file to the end of postings.
    This may not be desired and can cause confusion with the original
    submitter's signature.  The moderator should decide what is the
    most appropriate way to deal with their personal signature.

    A moderator may find that their newsgroup is better served with
    the addition of non-standard informational header lines to the
    individual postings.  This can be done with user-definable "X-"
    headers placed in the RFC 1036 header portion of the article or by
    creating auxiliary headers as the comp.sources.* groups have done.

    Source newsgroup moderators have established additional headers
    whose sole purpose is to support the posting of source code,
    automatic archiving and index creation.

    Auxiliary headers do not appear in the RFC 1036 "News" header
    section of an article.  Instead they are the first lines of the
    article text separated from the news headers by a single line
    containing a newline.  The actual article text is then separated
    from the auxiliary headers by another single line containing a

    In either case, the moderator should inform the newsgroup of the
    purpose and use of the new headers.  This should be done in the
    periodic policy posting.

    Submissions are received by the moderator as mail.  Although it is
    possible to use a personal mailbox, it is not advisable.  The
    moderator mailbox should be either a separate account or an alias
    that points to the moderator's personal account. There are various
    reasons for doing this, among them:

        o  Filtering on the To: line to separate submissions from other

        o  Ease of maintenance when the moderator moves or is replaced.

        o  Most important, if it's the same mailbox is very hard to tell
           what's a submission from what's personal mail.

        o  [Others, I am sure]

    Submissions to a moderated group should be automatically
    acknowledged when received.  This can be accomplished using the
    deliver or procmail mail processing packages.  The UCB Vacation
    program can also be used to generate acknowledgements.

    Deliver is available from comp.sources.reviewed archives in volume1.
    Procmail is available from comp.sources.misc archives in volume43.
    Other mail filtering programs may be used as such as 'mh' and the
    'filter' program that comes as part of Elm.


    There are procmail auto-reply tools in the moderators' archive.
    [See Section 15 for the location of the archive.]

    There are a couple ways that a reader can submit an article to be
    posted to a moderated newsgroup.  The reader can post the article to
    the moderated newsgroup as if the group was not moderated.  If the
    news software is properly configured then it will forward the
    article to the appropriate moderator for approval.  Unfortunately,
    it is not unusual for a posting to be lost in a misconfigured news
    system.  Readers then send mail to the moderator wondering where
    their article went to.  The moderator has not seen it and has no
    idea what the submitter is talking about.

    Other problems with encouraging direct posting to newsgroups is that
    the article might be cross-posted or might have been sent without
    knowing the group's moderation status.  Another problem that makes
    directly posted articles harder to deal with is the duplicate
    headers problem described in Section 15.7

    Moderators should consider encouraging submitters to mail articles
    to the submission address directly instead of direct postings to
    the group.  The benefits are users are usually alerted to mail
    problems faster than news problems.  Duplicate headers are not a
    problem and articles received via email are guaranteed not to be
    cross-posted.  All in all, emailed submissions tend to cause
    moderators less grief then do directly posted submissions.

    Comments from the moderator, if necessary, should be added in a
    way that clearly differentiates the comments from the submitted
    article.  This is usually done by including comments enclosed in
    brackets [ such as this ].  Whether the comments are included at
    the beginning or appended to the end of the article does not
    really matter.  It has been suggested that placing the comments
    at the end of a posting is better since it does not interrupt the
    flow of the author's train of thought.

    It is also sometimes appropriate to interject comments into the
    middle of a posted article; for example, if a post gives a vague
    reference to an FTP site, the moderator may wish to add a line
    with a specific reference immediately below that paragraph to
    avoid confusion.

    Also moderators should sign the comments, either with their name
    or some way to identify the moderator (e.g. -mod, -editor or the
    moderator's initials).

    No matter what method is chosen, the moderator should be consistent
    so that the group's readership can easily locate and recognize the
    moderator's comments.

    The software and process a moderator uses to post to a newsgroup
    can be as simple as piping an article through a script from within
    the moderator's mailer which posts it.  It can be as full blown
    as a program that creates Auxiliary headers for a source submission
    and checks for all sorts of potential name conflict problems and
    common posting errors.

    The moderator should determine what is needed to make these tasks
    easier.  Taking the time to try to figure out actual posting
    procedures can potentially save time every day.

    Posting software is available on the moderator tools archive.
    From the simplest "submit" script to the complication of
    "postit", the archive has a wide range of posting tools that
    are there for others to grab and modify for their purposes.
    [See Section 15 for the location of the archive.]

    From time to time you may need to cancel an article. It may be that
    you need to cancel an article with forged approval or an article
    that was posted in error.  Whatever the reason, know how to cancel
    an article so that when the need arises you are prepared to cancel
    it quickly and correctly.

    To cancel an article, create a cancel message and post it the very
    same way the article was originally posted.  The From: and Sender:
    headers need to be the same as they were in the original article.
    Take the Message-ID: of the article being canceled and make it
    the cancel header by "Control: cancel ".

    You should use the same Newsgroups: line as the original, and you
    must have an Approved: line, otherwise it'll get submitted to the
    moderator for approval.

    You might choose to make the Subject: contents the same, but it is
    not necessary.  Finally, if you provide your own Message-IDs for
    your articles make sure that you give the cancel message a new
    Message-ID.  For example, to cancel this message:

         Newsgroups: your.newsgroup,other.newsgroup
         From: I-made-a-mistake@erroneous.com (I. Goofed)
         Sender: usenet@erroneous.com
         Message-ID: <12345abcde@erroneous.com>
         Subject: How to shoot yourself in the foot

    Post this cancel message:

         Newsgroups: your.newsgroup,other.newsgroup
         From: I-made-a-mistake@erroneous.com (I. Goofed)
         Sender: usenet@erroneous.com
         Control: cancel <12345abcde@erroneous.com>
         Subject: Cancelling erroneous article

    Also put a note in the body of the cancellation message explaining
    why you cancelled the article.  This is normally just a one-line

    There are scripts in the moderator tools archive to assist in
    canceling articles.  [See Section 15 for the location of the

    News programs communicate with each other according to standard
    protocols, some of which are described by RFCs.  RFC stands for
    Request For Comment, but might be better described as Requirements
    For Compliance. RFCs describe de-facto standards in the Internet
    Community.  They are a form of a published software standard.
    Copies of RFCs are often posted to the net in the group comp.doc
    and obtainable from archive sites such as ds.internic.net.

    Current news-related RFCs include the following:

        o  RFC 822 specifies the format of messages; RFC 1036 uses this.

        o  RFC 977 specifies NNTP, the Network News Transfer Protocol.

        o  RFC 1036 specifies the format of USENET articles.

        o  RFC 1123 amends RFC 822.

        o  RFC 1153 specifies the digest format some groups use.

    Henry Spencer is currently developing a Son-of-RFC 1036.

                   .ps is the PostScript version.

    Kent Landfield is currently developing an FYI describing
    Sources group moderation.


    Chris Lewis maintains an FAQ that suggests a format for an FAQ.

             "FAQs: A Suggested Minimal Digest Format"

    It is periodically posted to news.admin.misc and

    It is also probably a wise thing to re-read the documents that are
    posted from time to time in news.announce.newusers so that you are
    aware of what the rest of the community is seeing.  It may have
    been a long time since you last read those articles and they have
    changed over the years.

    Moderated groups come in many forms. A brief description of the
    major types follows.

    Announce groups are generally specified as low-volume newsgroups
    that all readers interested in a specific topic may subscribe to.
    Some announce groups serve as a collecting point for FAQs and
    announcements for a set of related newsgroups, such as
    rec.music.info.  Most announce groups are chartered for fast
    turnaround time, which in turn implies only light editing of
    content; comp.newprod is a rare exception.  Moderators of announce
    groups should make the charter as specific as possible, and should
    keep the focus on the value to the readers rather than the posters.

    Binary groups exist to distribute software. [See also Source groups,
    Section 6.5]  Binary groups distribute executable binaries or other
    non-human-readable material, usually for one particular system type.
    Normally binaries are distributed only for systems where many users
    do not have development or compilation facilities, such as personal
    computers of various types.

    Moderators of binary groups should take particular care to prevent
    the distribution of software containing viruses.  Because UNIX
    executables tend to rely on the site-specific configuration, they
    should never be posted to the net.

    In preparing a digest, the moderator packs all accepted articles into
    one file, and posts it to the newsgroup.  Articles are edited to remove
    unuseful mail headers, excessive signatures, and other noise.  A summary,
    table of contents, or other index information is added to the top of the
    digest to assist readers in finding pertinent information.  Depending on
    the nature or volume of the group, digests may be sent out once a day, or
    whenever a certain volume of messages has accumulated.  Special-topic
    digests may also be put out when one topic generates a large number of

    The return address on a digest is the posting address for the group;
    unless specified otherwise, all replies to the digest are considered
    submissions. Digest format makes it difficult for readers to mail
    replies to the authors of individual submissions, and defeats threaded
    news readers; it is discouraged for these reasons.  It is easy to send
    news as separate items to the newsgroup while sending digests to mail
    subscribers, as the Telecom digest does.

    RFC 1153 specifies the digest format used by some moderated groups.
    [See the group comp.risks for an example.]  The "MH" mail package also
    supports building message digests.

    Discussion groups are usually moderated to quell overheated arguments
    or to eliminate certain types of repetitive discussions.  Moderation
    also removes thoroughly inappropriate posts, such as chain letters,
    blanket cross-posts, and topics specifically excluded from the group's

    Discussion groups are frequently used for questions, and moderators
    may want to prepare a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) posting for
    the group, or to delegate another knowledgeable poster to do so.
    Moderators of discussion groups should also be prepared to answer
    common questions offline, perhaps by forwarding the relevant
    section(s) of the FAQ."

    Source newsgroups are moderated newsgroups whose sole purpose is
    for the distribution and archiving of source code.   These groups
    are different from the binary groups in that the distributed code
    is not compiled and is in text format.  The people receiving code
    from these groups are expected to have the facilities to compile
    the programs into executable form.

    This is very dependant on the news system employed (eg. INN, C News,
    ANU). Refer to the documentation supplied as part of the news transport
    software for the specific steps required to set up a moderated group.

    There are, however, a few general steps in common.

       1) Assure that the moderator has an active account on the system
          from which moderation will be performed.  Create it if needed.

       2) Choose and install the submission aliases for the moderator.
          Two aliases are usually needed, one for receiving actual
          submissions, and another for receiving administrative requests.

          news.group.name -> news-group-name & news-group-name-request.

       3) Ensure that whatever server, filter or auto-reply software will
          be used by the moderator is available on the system.  Install
          and test it if necessary.

       4) Install the forwarding entry for the moderated group into the
          mailpaths or moderators file, or equivalent.

       5) Finally, the group must be created and marked moderated,
          using the 'm' flag in the 'active' file. This is done
          using the tool appropriate for your news transport.  (Eg:
          newsbin/maint/addgroup for C News or 'ctlinnd newgroup' for

    The same steps are used to moderate a pre-existing group which is
    being changed from un-moderated to moderated status.

    If you have further questions, post them in news.software.b or

    When you set up your group you will need to establish two mail
    aliases, so that directly posted articles and emailed submissions
    can reach you.

        o  The address for submissions to the list.  It is better if
           this is not the name of the newsgroup itself, but something
           similarly descriptive. For example, comp.source.reviewed's
           address for submissions might be


        o  An address where requests and administrative information
           should be sent.  Normally this address is FOO-request for
           submission address FOO.  Using the example of
           comp.sources.reviewed above, the associated request list
           address would be


    Depending on the expected newsgroup and administrative volume, it
    may be appropriate to have both aliases point to the same place,
    while retaining the ability to reconfigure the destinations locally.

    You will need to notify the appropriate people to assure the
    mailpaths file is updated. USENET moderators refer to Appendix A.

    If your group is to have multiple moderators then you might want
    to consider setting up a truly co-moderated group.  This would be
    useful for high-volume newsgroups.

    Greg Woods  has written a program to support
    multiple moderators. When mail is sent to the moderated group alias,
    it is routed by sendmail to the program, which randomly selects one
    of the list of moderators to handle the submission.  The submission
    is then forwarded to that moderator.  (The program is available in
    the moderators' tools archive.)

    Before you can write up the policies that are going to guide you
    in moderating your group, there are a few things to consider.

    When an inappropriate posting is submitted to the newsgroup, the
    moderator should send the submitter email informing the sender that
    their submission was inappropriate for posting to the group.
    If possible, suggest a newsgroup where the posting might be
    appropriate.  Forwarding a canned message can save the moderator
    time and assure that the submitter knows which newsgroups might be
    an acceptable alternative.

      "I am sorry but I am unable to post your request to the
       newsgroup comp.sources.misc.  This newsgroup is a moderated
       newsgroup whose sole purpose is for the distribution and
       archiving of source code.

       Requests for software can be made to comp.sources.wanted
       or a more specific newsgroup if one exists.  Requests for
       help with the sources gathered from the net should be made
       to the newsgroups comp.sources.d or comp.sources.bugs
       depending on the type of the problem."

    If the article is cross-posted to other groups, the moderator
    should inform the submitter that the article did not appear in
    the other groups specified in the Newsgroups: line. Do not repost
    it yourself - this may get you into problems.  Send the entire
    article back to the poster, so that he or she can repost it to
    a non-moderated group, if so desired.

    Some common reasons why articles are rejected are:

         o  Submitted article does not fall within the charter of
            the group,

         o  Copyright or reprint permission problems,

         o  Previously posted question has already been answered,

         o  Excessive quoting,

         o  Asking something specified in the group's FAQ or policy

         o  Message not relevant to the group but targeted toward
            one person, and should have been sent via email to that

         o  Articles that are just flames with little to no real

     [See Sections 2 and 17.1 for discussions of the difference between
     moderation and censorship.]

    Copyrighted submissions should not be posted without the explicit
    permission of the copyright holder or the appropriate release
    authority.  Any such release notice should be prominently visible
    in the article.  This rule applies equally to general articles,
    images, and software.  If there are any questions about the legality
    or approval status of a submission, the moderator should not post
    it until appropriate permission has been received.

    There should be no "compilation copyright" placed on the newsgroup
    by the moderator.  The newsgroups are a collective effort, the
    result of the sites that pass the newsgroup around, the kind souls
    that  maintain software and article archives, and -most importantly-
    the people who write the articles.  Please note, in no way can a
    moderator-supplied copyright notice supersede the copyright of the
    individual submitters.

    As moderator of your group, you are within your rights to cancel
    articles with forced Approved: headers at any time you wish.

    It is not possible to stop someone from posting to a moderated
    newsgroup if they know how. All you can do is complain at them,
    or complain to root@ or postmaster@ or usenet@ or newsmaster@ or
    news@ the offending host.

    In the end, if they choose to continue to ignore convention, the
    USENET community can try to get their site's NetNews feeds cut off
    by convincing their neighbors to stop feeding the offenders.

    If there are repeated forgeries, or if a forged article causes
    widespread confusion among readers, it is wise to inform the net
    in the appropriate newsgroups (i.e. news.admin.policy) that these
    are forged postings and of the trouble you are having.  Often a
    public denouncement will be enough to make the offender stop.
    Note that few people bother to denounce forgeries posted on April 1.

    Another approach is to have an auto-canceler script that verifies
    all articles received by the moderator's site in the moderator's
    newsgroup have been posted by the moderator or a backup moderator.
    If an article is encountered that was not posted by the moderator
    then the script automagically cancels the article and a mail message
    is sent to the sender parties involved.  Naturally, this is tricky
    when there are changing or multiple moderators.  There are also
    potential problems generated due to propagation delay.  There are
    auto-canceler scripts available.

    If forgeries are not a common problem on a newsgroup, cancelling
    by hand when they do come up is probably the best option.

    The group charter should state clearly what the policy on posting
    articles of a commercial nature should be.  If the group charter
    does not address this issue, or is unclear, then the moderator must
    define a clear and consistent policy on the subject.  The policy
    should be documented before the issue arises, so that the newsgroup's
    readership knows what to expect to have done.

    Don't believe the myth that commercial postings are not allowed on
    USENET.  In reality, commercial posting have been traversing the
    world via USENET newsgroups almost since the beginning of NetNews.

    With that said, blatant commercials and hyperbole are roundly
    frowned upon.  It is best to spell this out in the policy.  The
    important thing is that you post only what the readers want
    (learned via a survey maybe).  A good way to describe a generally
    acceptable policy:

                "Information, not promotion."

    The moderator needs to determine how cross-posted articles are
    going to be handled for the group.  In some cases the moderator
    may honor the Newsgroups: lines which list other newsgroups outside
    the moderator's control.  In other cases the moderator's policy may
    state that cross-posting will never be done, or will be done only
    at the moderator's discretion.

    If an article submitted to a moderated group is rejected, then it
    does not get posted to the unmoderated groups listed in the
    Newsgroups: line.  This is a little unfair to the submitter if the
    moderator does not inform the submitter of the situation.  Not all
    readers/submitters are aware of how NetNews moderation works.

    Some moderators refuse to honor any cross-postings listed on the
    Newsgroups: line and only post to their own group.  There is nothing
    wrong with this policy but the moderator should assure that the
    group's readership is aware of the policy.

    Articles are sometimes cross-posted to multiple moderated groups.
    In those cases, it is important to make sure that moderators of all
    groups have approved the article before it is actually posted.
    [See Section 16.6]

    Each new moderator should recruit one or more people willing to
    serve as a backup, on a permanent or temporary basis as needed.
    These backups should be located as soon as possible after the
    moderator is selected.

    The need for a backup moderator depends a lot on the nature and
    volume of the group.  A newsgroup that contains mostly pre-approved
    FAQs from other groups, such as some of the *.info groups gaining
    popularity, needs backup moderators a lot less than a high-volume
    discussion group or a time-sensitive *.announce group.

    Having others who can fill in temporarily, if the need arises,
    serves as an insurance policy for the primary moderator.  You may
    need to take some time off from moderator responsibilities due to
    work schedules, vacations, or net connectivity problems, to name a
    few common reasons.  In those cases, having a pre-selected backup
    assures the newsgroup's continuity during periods when you are

    In some cases it might be possible to share a moderation job,
    rotating from one person to another.  No one moderator should
    become hard to replace.  In many cases, a diversity in moderation
    styles and filtering choices will enrich a group.

    If the topic of your group makes it possible for you to split the
    task (by sub-topic or otherwise) consider it desirable to "farm
    out" the work as it reduces moderator burn-out.  As 'titles' are
    an easy reward to give, consider 'Guest Moderators', 'Associate
    Moderators' and 'Co-Moderators'.

    For extremely high volume newsgroups it may be necessary to have
    the group moderated by a team of moderators. Some such groups have
    as many as 10 moderators. There are benefits for having a team of
    moderators, including,

       o  no need for backup moderators,

       o  much easier to go on vacation or take a short break,

       o  consulting/second opinion on topics of concern,

       o  possible to have a moderator dedicated to answering queries.

       o  more bodies working towards making the newsgroup a better

    There are few things to watch out for.  Setting up the process
    and rules of team moderation is critical to a successful group.
    Don't forget team moderation is a real "team" effort.

    Like any other moderated newsgroup, an alias for submissions to
    the newsgroup should be setup. The incoming articles need to be
    distributed among the moderators. There are software packages
    available in the moderators archive which do this. Two strategies
    for submission distribution among moderators are:

        o  systematic distribution,

        o  random distribution.

    Systematic distribution usually targets the next moderator to
    receive a submission in a round-robin fashion.  [See "Section 7.2.
    Email submission servers" for a description of random distribution.]

    Besides the normal submission and administrative list address it
    is necessary to have a list address for the moderation team members.
    In a team moderation scenario, it is recommended that moderators
    communicate closely with each other to enforce a standard moderation
    policy and to discuss matters relating to the newsgroup.

    Any message sent to the team list goes to all the group moderators.
    It is also helpful for any reader who may wish to pose a question or
    make a comment to all the moderators.

    A pointer to the team moderators list should be included in the
    group's FAQ or the group's policy posting.

    Someone needs to be responsible for maintaining the list of
    moderators receiving the submissions. The moderator team list
    needs to be frequently updated as moderators go on leave etc.
    This may be an existing group moderator but it should more
    properly be a non-moderator acting as a facilitator.

    More successful team moderated groups have a group of people
    working with the group moderators supplying unbiased services
    to the team.  For example, facilitators provide additional
    services to the group and the moderation team by:

       o  Maintaining the distribution script

       o  Writing and maintaining FAQs

       o  'Owners' of moderation submission, administrative and
          team mailing list addresses/facilities

       o  Maintaining the official group archives or WWW access

       o  supplying other group specific needs

    What faciliators are NOT expected to do is:

       o  receive articles for the newsgroup

       o  review articles for the newsgroup

       o  post submitted articles to the newsgroup

    In times of group crisis, facilitators should have the right to post
    an article using an 'Approved:' line.  It is expected that facilitators
    would only post original articles explaining the situation or its
    solution as absolutely necessary to resolve a moderator conflict.

    Having a good communication among not only the moderators but also
    the facilitators keeps the newsgroup functionality healthy. An example
    of such a mailing list is: 'srg-admin@aldhfn.org' for the group
    soc.religion.gnosis. Another example is 'ww2-mods@acpub.duke.edu'.
    In this case,the mailing list for the moderators and facilitors is
    the same one.

    It is recommended that all rejection notices sent out, in multiple
    moderators envirnoment, be carbon copied to all the moderators and
    facilitators. This helps in avoiding confusion & conflicts.

    In general, all rejections should be honored by co-moderators,
    unless majority moderators overturn it.

    Sometimes conflicts between moderators can get out of hand and spill
    over into the group.  Then everyone suffers.

    In extreme cases, with a polarized readership, it's generally better to
    have all moderators resign and stand for re-election, or choose some
    other way of letting the readership have its say, rather than relying
    on, for example, confidence motions among the moderators.

    In some cases, it makes sense to use a corporate board of directors
    model for moderatorship, and document it officially.

    This is something that needs to be decided early and not something
    to be decided when the problem arises.  It should be documented in
    the group's policy posting at a minimum and really should be addressed
    in the group's charter if possible.

    Methods of handling inter-moderator conflicts need to be decided
    before conflicts arise, especially in groups which handle a
    controversial or emotional topic.  Once a problem gets out of control,
    it can be difficult to get people to agree on a method for resolving
    it.  These methods should be documented in the group's policy posting
    or available from the official FTP site.

    In the event that a moderator is not able to perform the duties of
    the moderator for some small length of time, such as a vacation, the
    moderator should inform the community by posting to the appropriate
    newsgroup, that there will be a delay in posting articles.  It is
    not usually necessary to give a reason for the delay, though you
    may choose to do so.   If a moderator finds that they will be unable
    to perform their duties for a more extended period of time, they
    should allow the backup moderator to assume posting responsibilities
    until the primary moderator is able to once again assume the
    responsibilities of posting to the newsgroup.   In this manner,
    articles submitted can to be posted to the newsgroup in a timely
    fashion and the newsgroup continues to be a resource the NetNews
    community can depend on.

    There are people who will hear about your group who do not have
    access to network news distributions or software.  You may want
    to set up a mailing list that allows your group to be a resource
    for those who have email access but no NetNews access.  Here are
    a couple of approaches you will want to consider.

    Rich Salz has written a package named "newsgate" that is in wide
    spread use for bidirectionally gatewaying articles posted to a
    newsgroup into email.  It is available in volume 24 of the nearest
    comp.sources.unix archives such as


    His kit provides two programs for "linking" RFC822 Mail messages
    and RFC 1036 Network News articles.  Each half of the conversion
    is handled by a different program, mail2news or news2mail.  A few
    utility programs are also included.

    With these programs and the right set of mail aliases, news sys and
    active file entries, it is possible to build any set of moderated,
    unmoderated, one-way, or bi-directional gateways between any set of
    news and mail groups and lists that you may need to support your

    [ The currently available version of newsgate, from comp.sources.unix ]
    [ archives, does not work with INN.  You just need to make a minor    ]
    [ change to the source.  Change references to getdate() to parsedate()]
    [ and use the parsedate() function that comes with the INN news       ]
    [ software. If you do not wish to do this, contact rsalz@uunet.uu.net ]
    [ for a pre-patched version.                                          ]

    Another method of gatewaying is via LISTSERV gateways.  It is
    relatively easy to arrange a two-way gateway between a BITNET list
    and a moderated group.  (For example, the group comp.compilers and
    the list COMPIL-L@AMERICAN.EDU carry the same content.) It works
    automatically; the gateway there picks up messages from the
    group as they arrive and sends them to the list. It also forwards
    submissions to the moderator.  The moderator can do any necessary
    list maintenance, such as deleting the addresses of people who
    forget to unsubscribe before their accounts expired, via email.

    If you are interested in finding out more about establishing a
    LISTSERV gateway send a message to listserv@auvm.american.edu
    with a body of

        send netgate policy

    and an informational file will be returned via email.  Questions
    about Listserv/NetNews gateways can be posted  to bit.admin or
    sent to news-admin@auvm.american.edu or NEWS-ADM@AUVM.BITNET.

    One of the best ways to communicate with your readership, as
    well as a tool for saving you time, is via a policy posting, and
    potentially additional Frequently Asked Questions postings (FAQ).

    A policy posting is an article that describes how you will run the
    newsgroup.  It should include information describing the use of any
    additional Auxiliary header lines, how and where articles should be
    submitted, and general guidelines for the group (often including the
    charter) used by you in performing the responsibilities as the
    newsgroup's moderator.

    Other things that might be included are:

         o How you will deal with cross-posted submissions,

         o How postings of a commercial nature will be dealt with,

         o Use of backup or multiple moderators,

         o Items concerning the group that have been hashed out via
           the group or moderator lead surveys,

         o Where to obtain a current copy of the informational postings
           outside of the newsgroup.  If possible, an email location or
           mailserver should be included, since not all users have FTP

         o A list of sites, if any, that archive the group as well as
           how to become an archive site,

         o Moderator conflict resolution methods,

         o Moderator replacement policy.

    This posting should be made periodically to the group.

    Your group may be best served by having both a periodic policy posting
    and an FAQ.  Quite often it becomes necessary to have a Frequently Asked
    Questions posting.     Readers drop in and out of newsgroups frequently,
    and may not be familiar with previous discussions.  A FAQ posting can
    help reduce the number of duplicate questions submitted to the newsgroup.

    FAQ posting(s) do not have to be written, or even directly posted,
    by the primary moderator.  Many moderated groups have a group of
    relevant FAQs posted, written by a number of authors.  It is
    perfectly acceptable to simply give an FAQ author permission to post
    or crosspost the FAQ into your newsgroup.  All the poster needs to
    do is add the appropriate Approved: header to the FAQ posting.  (Of
    course, if the moderator gives others permission to post to the
    group, automatic cancellation software, if used, should not cancel
    those articles.)

    More suggestions about writing and maintaining FAQs, as well as
    information about automatic FAQ-posting software, can be gotten
    from the faq-maintainers mailing list.  Write to


    to subscribe. Unfortunately, the list maintainers do not have the time
    to individually answer your questions; as of the writing of this handbook,
    there is no FAQ on writing FAQs.

    Having these types of documents as a consistent part of the group
    will save you from answering the same questions again and again.
    The readership will be able to get the majority of the information
    about the group from the group itself.  When people submit requests
    for information that has already been covered, it is easy to simply
    forward the appropriate informational posting to them, or send them
    a pointer to it.

    Recently there has been a lot of discussion about implicit and explicit
    copyrights on policy and FAQ postings.  This has become an issue, in
    part, due to the increasing number of CD-ROM vendors and Internet
    How-To book authors, who reproduce informational postings in commercial
    products, with or without obtaining the permission of the authors
    or maintainers.

    It is wise to document your copyright and any distribution
    restrictions within your periodic postings.  In most cases
    you should try to be as open as possible.  The purpose of the
    newsgroups is to communicate information to the community at
    large. Your information is probably archived and available in
    many ways and places that you are not aware of; it does not
    make a lot of sense to be overly sensitive to one particular
    use of postings that have already been broadcast freely all
    over the world.  Remember that copyright laws can vary widely
    among the many countries where your posting goes.

    If asked, it is up to you if you want to see your group's
    informational postings included.  A suggestion might be to
    send a message back such as:

        I give you permission to use my FAQ for the group 'your.group'
        as you have requested with the following additional conditions:

         1. You state explicitly that the information in the FAQ may
            not be entirely correct or up to date. That information
            should not be used directly without first checking it out.
            FAQ information is only a guideline.

         2. Do not change the content of the FAQ in any way but may
            reformat it to better integrate with your production media.

         3. Assure that credit is given as appropriate.

         4. You send me a free copy of the {book/cdrom...}

    This is just a suggested starting point; feel free to modify it as
    needed to suit your policies.

    You will need to determine how often your informational postings
    are actually posted to your group.  Sources groups post them at the
    beginning of each new volume in the archives.  Discussion and
    announcement group moderators may decide to post them on a periodic
    basis, usually once a month.  The policy statement should document
    how often informational posting are done.  If there are many
    requests for the FAQ, or repeats of FAQ information, it may
    make sense to post the FAQ more often, or to frequently post
    an explanation of how to obtain the FAQ or policy posting.

    It is strongly suggested that your policy posting and any
    FAQ have a consistent Subject: line every time that it is
    posted, to assist readers in recognizing it.

    You may also want to consider cross-posting your informational
    postings to news.answers and the other appropriate *.answers
    newsgroups.  This requires the prior approval of the *.answers
    moderators.  The process is fairly easy, and is described in
    the postings

        "Introduction to the *.answers Newsgroups"

    posted regularly to news.announce.newusers,news.answers and other
    groups, and

        "*.answers submission guidelines"

    posted regularly to all of the *.answers groups (alt.answers,
    comp.answers, de.answers, misc.answers, news.answers, rec.answers,
    sci.answers, soc.answers, and talk.answers.)

    The basic requirements for cross-posting to *.answers, above basic
    compliance with RFC 1036, are meeting the *.answers standards for
    the consistent content of a few of the standard header lines, and
    the addition of an auxiliary header containing an Archive-name:
    header.  There are no format restrictions whatsoever on the contents
    of postings to *.answers.

    The *.answers groups are archived on rtfm.mit.edu and elsewhere
    around the world. If you are not sure if your group is archived and
    want to make sure that your group's informational postings are available
    to the community, *.answers is a good option.

    Even if you do not want to crosspost your informational posting to
    *.answers, you should have it listed in the

                "List Of Periodic Informational Posts"

    which is posted regularly to news.lists and news.answers.  To have
    your informational posting listed, send it to


    with a note saying what the posting frequency is, and that you
    wish to add your posting to the List of Periodic Informational
    Posts, but are not seeking approval for crossposting to *.answers.

    It is very common for a moderator to keep an archive of the
    discussion in their group.  While this is recommended, disk
    space limitations may prevent it.  Newsgroup archives are more
    feasible on Internet sites where they can be made available via
    anonymous FTP. If you keep an archive accessible via UUCP you'll
    probably get requests for back issues that you may have to fill
    by hand.  LISTSERV gatewayed lists can do this very conveniently,
    complete with automatic archival and on-demand retrieval.

    You should list archives that you consider official in your group's
    policy posting.  There are tools to assist you in keeping your
    archives up to date with a minimum of effort.  An example is the
    "rkive" package written by Kent Landfield .
    It allows you to automatically archive some or all articles as
    they arrive in a newsgroup and will create the appropriate Index

    You may find it useful to set up email-based access to your archives.
    If so, see the FAQ titled

                  "Mail Archive Server Software List,
           A Summary of Available Mail Archive Server Software",

    initially written by Jonathan Kamens and currently maintained
    by Piero Serini.  (piero@strider.st.dsi.unimi.it) and is posted
    monthly to comp.mail.misc, comp.sources.wanted, comp.answers and
    news.answers.  It is also available from sites that archive

    For reference purposes, email-based archive access programs are
    often known as "mailservers."

    Some moderators find it useful to set up selective archives of
    noteworthy articles from their groups.  For example, rec.food.recipes
    has an FTP archive of categorized recipes, and alt.sewing has an
    archive of collected posts about specific sewing techniques.
    Although it takes a great deal of human affort to maintain such
    archives, they are generally more useful than wholesale archives,
    especially for high-volume discussion groups.

    An archive of tools written and used by moderators of USENET
    newsgroups now exists.  In the past, most moderators were forced
    to write much of their posting software by themselves, though
    sometimes other experienced moderators would share their sources
    when asked.  Until recently there has not been a single archive
    where moderators could make what they had available for all to use.

    Moderators both new and existing can see how others with similar
    types of newsgroups are doing their job. A much wider set of
    support software is becoming available to the moderating community
    as we all bring our tools out of the closet.  There is no reason
    new moderators need to develop their own software/support
    environment from scratch as has been the norm in the past.  To
    make the tools most useful, the moderator will probably need to
    be familiar with the 'C' language, UNIX shell and perl scripts,
    in order to adapt them to their own group's needs.

    The contents of the moderators' tools archive have been generously
    made available in an "AS IS" condition.  The archive is a snapshot
    of existing tools, as they are being used, rather than a formal
    release of polished software.  Many of the sources, scripts, and
    supporting documentation are not as pretty as their authors might
    wish, but they work.  The tools are being made available so that
    other moderators can see working examples of how the tasks are
    handled, and potentially use them as a starting point for their
    own custom tools.

    If you would like to contribute, either send your tools to


    or send email explaining where the tools can be picked up.

    The moderator's tool archive is available via FTP from


    UUNET mirrors the tools directory and has made it available
    via FTP from


     There are a few quirks in the network news transport software that
     you might encounter, and should be aware of.  What follows is far
     from a complete list but does include the ones most commonly

     The NNTP reference implementation (the NNTP 1.x (latest 1.5.11)
     package) in use on the Internet has a limit on the number of
     characters that an individual line may contain.  Submissions
     containing lines longer than 512 bytes will be corrupted
     because the reference servers will truncate the lines longer
     than 512 bytes.

     In general you should limit your individual line lengths to 79
     characters or less if possible.  Systems that have fixed record
     lengths, such as some BITNET IBM servers, can drop text longer
     than that.

     If there is a newsgroup line in an article like this

          Newsgroups: comp.unmoderated, comp.moderated

     some older versions of C News fail to skip the space after the comma
     and so only see the group " comp.moderated" which of course is not
     moderated and passes it along.  When the message hits a B News site,
     the space is squeezed out, the moderated group is seen for the first
     time and the message gets mailed in.  This has been fixed in later
     C News releases, but sites running older software will still act this

     As mentioned in Section 5, most news servers will automatically
     forward unapproved postings to the moderator.  This should only
     occur for local postings, otherwise, situations can occur where
     the moderator gets far more than one copy of the same article.
     B News forwards non-local articles too.  This coupled with the
     old C News blanks-in-ng bug has been responsible for moderators
     being deluged with hundreds of copies of an article.  It's
     particularly nasty when the newsgroup has been recently unmoderated
     and not every server has respected the control message and the
     ex-moderator gets bombed.

     To be fair, the B News behavior of mailing unapproved non-local
     articles to the moderator was not a "bug".  It was a "feature".

     It used to be that B News was the only game in town.  It used to be
     that people ran ancient software versions forever. In such an
     environment, it was useful for a site receiving an article that
     should have gone to the moderator to assume that the previous hosts
     were running old software, and do the moderator-send itself.  That
     is not the case today

     This bug has not been fixed, and never will be because B News is
     no longer being supported.  Fortunately, B News is dying out.

    In some places, such as small systems and news-to-mail gateways,
    there are problems when individual article sizes exceed software
    limits.  We need to either remove builtin system limitations or
    work around them.  Since it takes time to remove old software
    versions and overcome hardware limitations netwide, the best
    course of action is to work around the limitations so that the
    news will get to all sites.

    Individual postings should be less than or equal to 60K.  If it is
    necessary to split the posting into multiple parts, each part should
    be less than or equal to 60K.   This is  due to the  architecture
    restrictions of some older systems.  This restriction is more in the
    minds of the users on the net than the software running it.
    Postings of 90K successfully make it through most present day news
    systems.  Many mail systems have limitations of 100K on messages
    that pass through them.  This is a concern because there are news to
    mail gateways that deliver and post news via electronic mail.

    Note that many new commercial gateways to the Internet have broken
    news and mail software that truncate anything over around 25K.  Most
    are in the process of correcting their sub-standard software but
    at this point that has not been universally acomplished.

    Moderators of high volume newsgroups should try to limit the amount
    of data posted per day so as not to flood news spool directories on
    smaller systems.  A good rule of thumb is to limit posting to 800K
    per day if possible.

    If you are overwhelmed with posts on one day, it may be better to
    hold some articles back until the next day.  Articles can be posted
    either in chronological order, or grouped by subject.  On the other
    hand, it is not a good idea to loosen your acceptance standards
    simply because fewer articles were submitted in a given time
    period - in most cases it is better to have lower volume than
    lower quality.

    None of the NetNews software handles cross-posted moderation very
    well, largely because there is no consensus on what the correct
    action is.  What actually happens is that the posting software
    picks one of the moderated groups more or less at random (usually
    the first moderated group) and mails the message to its moderator.
    If the posting software used by the moderator who received the
    article does not check for other moderated newsgroups, the article
    will appear in the newsgroup of the other moderated group without
    being approved by the appropriate moderator.

    Moderators should try to bullet-proof the posting software by
    making it check cross-posting to multiple moderated groups. But
    until NetNews gets a far more sophisticated posting scheme, e.g.
    one that lets a moderator add a new newsgroup to a message already
    in circulation, glitches like this will happen.

    Remember that it is often VERY desirable to cross-post among
    moderated newsgroups:

        comp.sources.misc "list of sources" also goes to comp.archives
        comp.sources.misc "intro posting" also goes to news.answers

    Many of the postings in news.answers are cross-posted into
    news.answers from other moderated groups.

    Some submissions will arrive with two sets of headers.  The "real"
    headers will be a set of generic mail headers; the news headers will
    be included as text within the body of the mail message.  Even worse,
    in these cases the mail headers may indicate that the article is
    "From" usenet@site or news@site, making it difficult to identify or
    respond to the actual author.

    This is the article-headers-in-body problem caused by C News
    feeding the article into UCB Mail or mailx instead of /bin/mail,
    which usually incorporates the news headers into the mail header.

    Explanation: in C News, the newsbin/relay/injnews script is used by
    inews to do site-specific header bashing.  When it discovers the
    newsgroup is moderated, it invokes mail to send off the article to
    the moderator (via mailpaths).  Unlike B News and INN, where time
    has been spent to configure how to use the mail transport directly
    (to merge the news headers in with the mail headers), C News blindly
    punts the article into "mail" which is a user agent, which often
    refuses to accept "header-like" stuff at the beginning of a message
    as part of the RFC822 header block.  In essence, mail will often
    implicitly put a blank line at the beginning of the message, so the
    headers carefully crafted by injnews end up as part of the body
    instead of the mail headers.

    If this becomes a problem for you, it would be appropriate to send a
    message to usenet@ and/or postmaster@ at the offending site with a
    suggestion on how to fix their C News injnews script.

    [See Appendix B for a description of the solution.  A template
    message is included that will allow you to inform the offending
    site of both the problem and the solution.]

    There are a number of different reasons why you may get many
    copies of a submission:

      o  A mailer or gateway bug that keeps resending the same message
         (distinguished by having the same sites in "Received by"

      o  The posting site doesn't have the group marked as moderated
         (usually you only get a few extra copies of the message, all
         with short "Path" headers, if any).

      o  Interaction with the C-news problem when there is a space
         in the list of newsgroups; when it gets to a B-news site,
         the space is squashed out and the moderated group is
         recognized (there are multiple newsgroups in the header,
         and your moderated group is not the first in the list).

      o  Submitter was unaware that the group was moderated and
         repeatedly attempted to post the article to the group
         since their article did not immediately appear in their
         local newsgroup.

    Contacting the administrator of the site where the problem
    posting was generated is probably a good first step.

    B News inews has a static limit of 256 bytes for header lines.  One
    might think that this limits Newsgroups: headers to about 254 bytes,
    but unfortunately the practical limit is lower than that.  The Xref:
    header, which is generated from the Newsgroups: line plus article
    numbers, is longer than the Newsgroups: header.  If the Xref: header
    at a particular site is longer than 256 bytes, the article simply
    will not appear at that site.

    Since the length of the same article's Xref: header varies from site
    to site, and cannot be easily computed in advance, it is necessary
    to leave some spare room in the Newsgroups: header.  Set a fair limit
    on the size of the Newsgroups: header, and make a policy prohibiting
    crossposting to more groups than will fit on the line.  Some moderators
    have decided on a 200-character limit for the entire Newsgroups: line.

    Moderators need to take the time to figure out how they wish their
    newsgroup to be perceived on the net.  Some of this is forced upon
    the moderator by the group's charter but much of it is up to the
    moderator.  Are you planning on being proactive in keeping
    discussions going and on track ?  Do you see yourself only as a
    filter for the group and keep yourself totally in the shadowd ?  Or
    do you plan to be somewhere in the middle of the two ?  And how will
    you deal with the submitters ?  Much of the perceived success in
    being a moderator is how your deal with your group's readership.

           This is up to you as the moderator to determine.

    The whole point of having a moderator is to act as a filter, so you
    don't get 20 copies of the origin of "foobar" all posted.  In
    general, you decide:

        o  Which submissions are appropriate for the newsgroup,
        o  What format to post them in,
        o  What order to post things in,
        o  Whether to edit the submissions,
        o  How, or in what directions to steer the discussion.

    Because of the very restrictive charter of news.announce.important,
    submissions accepted and posted to the group should be a very
    important article for all NetNews system administrators to read.
    For this reason almost all postings are rejected.  The moderator
    might suggest to the submitter that the submission belongs in
    another group such as news.misc instead.

    However, for most discussion newsgroups, you'll probably want to let
    almost everything through; otherwise you can get a reputation as a
    tyrant or censor.  Most moderators try to help the author say what
    they really meant; if the original submission isn't clear you can
    suggest changes, or suggest a different place where it might belong.
    If you get duplicates, pick the best one and post it, perhaps along
    with an editorial note thanking A, B and C for their similar answer.

    If you get a high noise/signal ratio, you can delete some of the
    noise (like extra mail headers or signature lines).  If the poster
    asks a question that you know the answer to, it's common to post
    the question and give the answer right there in an editorial note
    [such notes are generally in brackets, like this - MRH.]

    Other common editorial practices are to remove excessive quoted
    material, and to reformat paragraphs to be under 80 columns per
    line.  (Some moderators return articles to the author for such
    reformatting, though.)

    If you want to have a lively discussion (or discussions) going, you
    might group related notes (possibly into a digest) and pass almost
    everything through.  If your goal is to improve the quality of the
    newsgroup (like rec.humor.funny does for rec.humor) you might be
    very selective.

   There are times when you may not know the best way to handle an issue
   or policy.  You cannot always be sure what the newsgroup's readership
   actually wants to see happen.  When a significant question or
   controversy arises, you should consider running a survey of the
   readers to determine the appropriate course of action.  Surveys can
   be extremely useful, not only for determining what people want to
   happen on a specific issue, but for the other benefits they can

       o  Once it is documented what the readers want, it is much
          easier to explain to the malcontents why you need to reject
          their submissions.

       o  Readers feel the moderator is listening, and allowing them
          to help improve the group.

       o  Often you receive other comments that are not a part of the
          issue on the table that you find useful to incorporate into
          your group's moderation.

    Censorship - People are afraid they won't be able to get their idea
    out to the masses if the moderator doesn't like it.  You are
    strongly discouraged from ever telling someone "I don't think
    this should be posted to the net" when you get a submission.
    It's almost always possible to say "toplevel.mygroup isn't
    the right place, have you considered net.framus?"

    We should also emphasize that only the moderated groups are
    affected, the unmoderated groups will still exist for those
    who want total freedom and lower quality or higher volume.
    (Hopefully you'll be able to take some of these high volume
    newsgroups and reduce their volume to a manageable level,
    along with increased organization.)  This is only true for
    groups that are parallelled by unmoderated groups.

    Time delays -  When someone posts something to an unmoderated
    group, most of the net sees it within two days.  When submitted
    to a moderator, you introduce a delay, and you submit to the
    net from a different place which might introduce an additional
    delay.  Depending on the nature of your group, it may be very
    important that you process submissions promptly.  A lively
    discussion will die out if turnaround is worse than about one
    day.  On the other hand, groups such as comp.sources.* and
    rec.humor.funny probably can easily tolerate more delays.
    There have been moderators who've gotten way behind on traffic;
    the result has been bad feelings toward the moderator, and in
    extreme cases, a newsgroup that dies out.

    As moderator of a newsgroup, prepare to be flamed by a vocal
    minority.  Assuming you do your job reasonably well, most of
    the satisfied readers will remain silent.  Whether you deserve
    it or not, you will receive annoyed criticism from readers
    concerning just about everything, typically of the form:

         Why did you reject my article?
         Who made you God?
         How dare you get sick/go on vacation/neglect
         the newsgroup for your real life?

    Remaining calm in the face of this sort of criticism is the
    best defense.  If there are actual facts under the heated
    rhetoric, address those calmly and ignore the tone of the
    criticism.  Apart from that, just ignore the poster.  It helps
    to have form letters to deal with some of these questions,
    particularly the first two. [See Appendix B.]  Keep the charter
    of the newsgroup handy.  Resist the temptation to have the last
    word in an argument, even if the argument is in public.

    On some newsgroups, the moderator will facilitate anonymous postings
    by stripping identifying headers from submissions, if so requested.
    On other newsgroups, the moderator requires that all submissions be
    from identified accounts, going so far as to reject all postings
    submitted through anonymous remailers such as anon.penet.fi.  In
    choosing your policy, you should be aware that even 'identified'
    accounts may have very little connection to a real person.  For all
    practical purposes, most user accounts on large commercial network
    providers such as netcom.com and aol.com are anonymous - the user
    chooses what, if any, identifying information is visible.

    No matter what policy you choose for your newsgroup, it should be
    documented clearly in the group's periodic policy posting.  It might
    also be wise to let the group's readership decide the policy, by
    holding a vote.

    The following section is a frequently asked questions list with
    answers.  They are listed in no particular order.

    The best way at present to determine readership is via the
    newsgroup reports that are posted monthly by Brian Reid
     to news.lists.

    For local or organizational newsgroups, you can obtain the
    arbitron scripts and run them yourself on the local machines.


    None.  The best process is for the moderator to read the group
    from another site and cancel anything posted to his/her group by
    'outsiders'.  (You should try to do it from another site, in
    general, because the type of person who posts their own stuff to
    a moderated group frequently puts your "official" site in the Path:
    line in an attempt to keep you from seeing the posting.)

    Yes.  Sometimes a moderator's employer understands the importance
    of news moderation, and the effort involved in doing a good job,
    and allows the employee to perform some moderation tasks during
    working hours, or on the employer's equipment.  This potentially
    gives the organization greater visibility through an Organization:
    header or signature file in the moderator's postings.  While the
    moderator is not being directly paid for moderation duties, their
    normal compensation covers time spent working on the newsgroup.

    The group comp.research.japan received a grant from the U.S.
    Office of Naval Research to help support the operation of the
    group.  There have been other research oriented groups that
    have received support, but to-date moderation is a volunteer
    position with no compensation other than a grateful community.

    A complaint a moderator hears from time to time concerns lost
    submissions. There are several reasons for these complaints.

    o The reader is unaware of the group's moderated status

        The reader replies to an article or submits a new one and
        does not see it appear within minutes in the newsgroup they
        are reading, as is the case for unmoderated newsgroups.

        Solution: Advertise the moderation status in the newsgroup
                  in the group's periodic posting.

    o Reader turnaround expectation time

        A reader may wish to see the article reviewed and posted
        even before the moderator gets to it.

        Total Turnaround time, barring unusual network problems,
        may be calculated as follows:

        T =   T1 (Time for the submission to the forwarding site
                  for the newsgroup from the site it is submitted)
                  [ 0.5 day ]
            + T2 (Time for the submission to be processed at the
                  forwarding site and transfered to moderator's
                  email address)
                  [ 0.5 day ]
            + T3 (The suggested turnaround time by the moderator)
                  [ X days ]
            + T4 (Time a submission will take after posting at
                  moderators site to propagate to the authors)
                  [ 1 day ]

        T = 2 days + X days.  For example: If a moderator has a turn
        around time of 1 day, it can take up to 3 days for an article
        to re-appear at the submitter's site.

        Solution: Make the total expected turnaround time available.
                  Readers will know to wait before complaining their
                  articles are lost. Request they wait at least 'T'
                  time before flagging their articles as lost.

    o Misconfigured local news software

        Readers may complain that they are posting/sending articles
        which the moderators never see. None of the articles from that
        site ever reach the moderator(s). It is possible the site was
        configured correctly and in an update to the software something
        went wrong and articles no longer reach the moderators.

        Solution: If all the previous options have been exhausted.
                  Ask them to pursue the following:

            1. Send a test submission. [if it fails continue on]
            2. Talk to news@_user_site for an explanation.
            3. Talk to root@_user_site for mailer logs to check
               if the submissions are going out of the site.
            4. In the meantime, request the reader to post thru
               an alternate way by sending submissions to:

                - Mail2News gateways. eg.

                - email submission directly to the moderator's
                  submission address

    o Reader continue to complain

        At this time, don't rule out the possibility of readers
        intentionally creating the problem make moderator(s) appear
        incompetent or to appear as 'victimized' by the moderators
        or any political agenda of their own.

        It is recommended, moderators be upright and honest and inform
        the readership of what is being down to track the lost articles.

   Every system that runs the news software has its own set of article
   expiration times set by its news administrator.  The admin sets the
   expiration period depending on how many groups they carry and how
   much disk space is available.  As a full news feed is over 100 MBytes
   a day and rising, some groups are set to expire very rapidly.  That
   is probably what is happening to the articles your users are worried
   about.  Most news admins expire articles faster in groups they think
   are less important, to make space for those they think really matter.
   For example, some sites keep alt. groups only 1-2 days but keep the
   comp.* groups much longer.

   Tell the readers having the problem to talk to their local news admins.
   Most will extend the life of a particular group their users say they
   find important to them.

   There is a way that you can indicate that your articles should not be
   expired so quickly as the rest - the Expires: header.  However, this
   should not be used for normal articles as it is not reasonable to try
   to override the local news admin's policy on how to use the limited
   disk space on their systems.  If your group has an FAQ or other regular
   monthly information posting, though, you may like to use the Expires:
   header on that article - look in news.answers for lots of FAQ articles,
   many of which will have an Expires:

   Note however that, partly because of misuse of the Expires: header in
   the past, some systems no longer support it and expire all articles at
   the same rate.  The only real way your users can be sure of keeping the
   articles long enough is for them to get the support of their local news

    The worst time for a moderator is when they realize that they
    can no longer provide the time needed to keep their newsgroup
    responsive to the submitters and the group's readership.  It
    is hard to give up something that has been enjoyed in the past
    and to admit to yourself that it is time to move on.  That time
    will come for all moderators at some point.  The best moderators
    are the ones that recognize it is time and then tries to make
    the transition as easy for the new moderator as well as the
    group in general.

    When it is time, there are a few ways to proceed in finding a

         o Post a message to your group or some other appropriate
           group requesting one or more volunteers to take over
           moderation duties.  Be prepared for many responses coming
           back. Also be prepared for no responses coming back.

         o Directly offer the position to someone you feel would
           do a good job, such as your backup moderator, and then
           announce it as a done deal to the group.

         o USENET moderators can post to the moderators mailing list
           and ask for a replacement.

    Some have even resorted to a vote in the past but this is not
    recommended as it is not a win/win situation for the moderator
    or the group.

    Once a replacement moderator is selected, inform the group of the
    change in responsibility and introduce the new moderator to the
    group.  It should not be the new moderator's job to do a self
    introduction.  You as the departing moderator should do so.  Also,
    take the time to thank those who have helped you along the way.

    If you are the moderator of a USENET newsgroup you will need to
    follow the procedures specified in the Changing Moderators section
    of Appendix A:

    Sections of the text in this document are based on and taken
    from emailed responses that appeared on the moderators list and
    moderators-advice mailing list.  The following people contributed
    in that fashion.

           Erik E. Fair 
           Ron Heiby 
           Mark R. Horton 
           Thomas Krueger 
           J. Philip Miller 
           Rich Salz 
           Gene Spafford 
           Werner Uhrig 

    I would also like to thank the moderators-advice list for being
    patient through the many revisions that they saw go by.

    Finally, the author wishes to express his heartfelt thanks to

           David Lawrence 
           John R. Levine 
           Chris Lewis 
           Mark Moraes 
           Scott Hazen Mueller 
           Asim M. Mughal 
           Aliza R. Panitz 
           Matthias Urlichs 
           David Wright 
           Dan Zerkle 

    for help in writing and re-writing sections, reviewing the document,
    answering my silly questions and for making the document's creation
    much easier.  Thanks!

    Security issues are not discussed in this memo.

    Kent Landfield
    Sterling Software
    1404 Ft. Crook Rd. So.
    Bellevue, Nebraska  68005-2969

    Phone: 402-291-8300

    EMail: kent@sterling.com

Appendix A:  USENET Newsgroup Moderation

    For new USENET newsgroups, draft charters and moderation policies
    should be made clear in the Request For Discussion, and final
    versions should be in the Call For Votes.  The process of creating
    new USENET newsgroups is discussed in

                 "How To Create A New Usenet Newsgroup"

    posted periodically to news.admin.misc and news.answers.

A.1. Discussion lists for USENET moderators

    Two mailing lists have been set up to facilitate communication between
    moderators.  They are described below.  These lists are there for your
    benefit.  Use them.  New moderators may feel worried about showing their
    ignorance in front of the list of their new found peers.  Don't!  These
    lists are there to help new USENET moderators.  USENET moderators are
    generally extremely helpful.  Don't try to struggle through when a
    simple request will make your new tasks easier.

A.1.1.  moderators-advice

    The group 'moderators-advice' was formed from a volunteer group of
    USENET moderators  in Fall of 1993. The goal of this group is to
    come up with some practical general guidelines for moderated groups
    on USENET, in the form of a moderators' handbook (this FYI).

    One of the goals of 'moderators-advice' group is to assist, guide
    and answer questions for moderators of USENET.  To facilitate this
    process, this document has been compiled. It is hoped that this
    document gives basic information and general guidelines about the
    moderation process.

    If you have general questions about the moderation process please
    send them to moderators-advice prior to posting to the entire
    moderators mailing list.

A.1.2.  moderators

    A general discussion list for USENET moderators is:


    All changes -- additions, address changes, deletions:


    The traffic on this mailing list varies.  Most of the time it is
    low or quiet, if some discussions starts, it may go up to several
    messages a day. Almost all USENET moderators subscribe to it.

    Incoming USENET moderators are normally added by default.

A.2. Changing moderators

    The official list of moderators is maintained by David Lawrence
    .  The list is posted monthly to the newsgroups
    news.lists, news.groups and news.answers.  It is titled

               "List of Moderators for USENET"

    When a change occurs, the current moderator needs to send a
    message to:


    indicating the change to be made.  The following information must be

          o  The name of the new moderator(s)

          o  An address where requests and administrative info should be
             sent.  Normally this address is FOO-request for submission
             address FOO-.

          o  The address for submissions to the list.  It is better if
             this is not the name of the newsgroup itself, but something
             similarly descriptive.

    The message to initiate the change should only be sent when the old
    and new moderators are ready to actually make the switch.

    It is best if the new moderator also sends a message to the address
    listed to say hello.  This will help speed the change.

    David will update the list and mail it out to all sites acting as
    USENET moderator mail forwarders.

A.3. USENET moderator replacement concerns

    In the past, it has generally been decided (though not quite
    unanimously) that a moderator may not be removed by the group's
    readership.  This topic is a recurring one on the moderators
    mailing list where there are those who feel USENET needs a way
    to remove moderators who have quit supplying their services to
    a newsgroup or who are otherwise not fulfilling their duties in
    a satisfactory manner.  To date there is no accepted process for
    removing a moderator.

    When a moderator has not been posting for a very long time the
    readership can get angry at the moderator and their inactivity.
    Members of the readership have also become vocal when the moderator
    failed to follow the charter of their group when selecting articles
    to post to it.  Whatever the reason, when this happens members of
    the group's readership have flooded associated groups with "Off with
    their head!" or "The moderator of 'your.group' is a worthless ... !"
    messages.  Things start to get ugly at this point.

    Most moderators when confronted with this situation will try to
    find a peaceful way out.  It may be that a polite message posted to
    your group explaining the reason such as "real work has gotten in
    the way and it is temporary situation" will calm the troubled
    savages.  The solution may entail finding a co-moderator/backup
    to assist with the workload or find a permanent replacement.
    Some moderators just ignore these types of problems and continue
    as if the complainers do not exist.

    The later approach does have problems that you should be fully aware
    of.  A rabid readership can't really knock you out of the moderator
    position but they can damage your net.reputation with barrages of
    constant complaints in unmoderated discussion groups relevant to
    the one you moderate.  You may end up spending time responding to
    messages when you could be using that time to post to your group.
    In any case, be prepared for a nasty situation if you chose to
    ignore the problem.

    In the end, you must make your own decision on how to deal with the
    problem.  But please remember that your group is a net.resource to
    many people and when it is not functioning smoothly, it is not useful.

A.4. Group Charters

    These are important! *Don't* lose 'em.  They often come in
    very handy when it's necessary to quote chapter and verse to
    a recalcitrant loudmouth.  And if you wish to make changes to
    it, make sure that you get some sort of public consensus that
    the changes are reasonably acceptable.

    For recently created Usenet groups (since sometime in 1990), group
    charters are available at


    They are archived by hierarchy and newsgroup name.

A.5. Submitting articles thru public USENET Mail/News gateways.

    If you do not have direct access to USENET news, you can still
    moderate a USENET newsgroup.  This can be done by submitting
    articles to the group via electronic mail, instead of posting
    them directly to the group.  There are a several 'public'
    mail/News gateways. Each one has their own ways for addressing
    syntax. The three most common ones are:

           Site:    cs.utexas.edu
           Syntax:  newsgroup-name@cs.utexas.edu
           Example: To send to the newsgroup 'comp.compilers',
                    address the message to


           Site:    newbase.cs.yale.edu
           Syntax:  newsgroup.name-news@newbase.cs.yale.edu
           Example: To send to the newsgroup 'comp.compilers',
                    address the message to


           Site:    decwrl.dec.com
           Syntax:  newsgroup.name@decwrl.dec.com
           Example: To send to the newsgroup 'comp.compliers',
                    address the message to


Appendix B:  Canned Messages

    All moderators get a certain amount of wildly off-topic submissions,
    and it helps to have a form letter that you can send to clueless
    folks, without having to take the time to figure out why they might
    have been posting to your group, or where they should have sent
    their post, or whether it was their brain or their software that

    Here are a few types of canned responses that you may want to have
    handy to save you time and effort:

        o  Read the FAQ, where the question you asked is answered.

        o  Your message wasn't posted because it was similar to several
           other messages just posted, but thanks anyway.

        o  Your question was answered by past messages, here's how to
           look in the archives.

        o  You have been taken off the mailing list [if your group
           is two-way gatewayed to a BITNET list] because mail to you
           bounced.  If your mail now works go ahead and resubscribe.

        o  To subscribe or unsubscribe to the mailing list, send a
           message to blah.

        o  Your message was cross-posted to other moderated newsgroups
           and the policy of this newsgroup is no cross-posting.  It
           appeared on this one but no others.

        o  Various responses pointing people at on-line resources.

    When a spamming message is received, just throw it away with no
    response at all, particularly if it was cross-posted to a bunch of
    equally irrelevant groups.  There is no reason to alert the spammer
    to the fact that the message wasn't posted.  If it seems like it
    might be useful, send a polite note to usenet@ or the postmaster@
    the spammer's site.

B.1. C News Duplicate headers message template

      Dear postmaster/usenet administrator:

      I am the moderator of .  I receive emailed
      submissions for the group.  As I get a lot of submissions, it can
      sometimes be rather time consuming to get incoming articles ready
      for posting.  You appear to be running C News, which has the
      annoying habit of inserting duplicate sets of headers when the
      transport software sends the posting from your user to me.  While
      a single posting like this isn't a problem by itself, after the
      100th or 1000th time it gets rather tiresome, and it's *very*
      simple to fix.

      Explanation: in C News, the newsbin/relay/injnews script is used
      by inews to do site-specific header bashing.  When it discovers
      that the newsgroup is moderated, it invokes mail to send off
      the article to the moderator (via mailpaths).  Unlike B News and
      INN, where time has been spent to configure how to use the mail
      transport directly (to merge the news headers in with the mail
      headers), C News blindly punts the article into "mail" which is
      a user agent, which often refuses to accept "header-like" stuff
      at the beginning of a message as part of the RFC822 header block.
      In essence, mail will often implicitly put a blank line at the
      beginning of the message, so the headers carefully crafted by
      injnews end up as part of the body instead of the mail headers.

      The solution is simple - change injnews to call the mailer
      (usually the transport) in such a way that injnew's headers
      are included in the mail headers.  In relaynews/injnews, there
      is the following line:

                      mail "$moderator" <$censart

      Change it to call the mail transport directly.  If you're
      using sendmail or smail, simply change "mail" to be the
      full path.  Eg:

                      /usr/lib/sendmail "$moderator" <$censart

      Most other transports, such as MMDF or PP should be just as
      simple.  Please note that injnews is intended to be modified for
      local site policy, so you won't be voiding your warranty ;-)

      If you're not using sendmail or smail, or simply wish to test
      this, try typing:

                      Subject: it worked


      It should appear in your mailbox with Subject: properly
      recognized.  If the subject isn't recognized, then it
      didn't work, and "Subject: it worked" will appear in the

      If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to contact me.
      Thank you for your time,

B.2. Thanks for FAQ comments

      Thank you for your comments on the  FAQ.  I'm
      updating the FAQ now, and am including your corrections or
      additions as appropriate.  Expect to see them in the next


B.3. Inappropriate submission

(Begin form letter.)

  The message below was submitted by you to the moderator of 
  either by posting a message to the group, or by sending E-mail to the
  group's submission address, or by sending mail to the group's
  administrative address.

  Your message is not appropriate for posting to .



(End form letter.)

 , Moderator of 

B.4. Get a Clue

(Begin form letter.)

  The message below was submitted by you to the moderator of 
  either by posting a message to the group, or by sending E-mail to the
  group's submission address, or by sending mail to the group's
  administrative address.

  Your message is not appropriate for posting to .


  Unfortunately, I do not have the time to make specific suggestions
  as to where your question or post should go.

  If you are new to USENET, you should probably read the posts in
  news.announce.newusers (n.a.n.) -- if they are not available in your
  newsreader, they also available by anonymous FTP in

  A few that are most likely to be immediately helpful are:

  To find what groups are relevant for your question, you might scan
  through your local list of newsgroups (your .newsrc file on most Unix
  systems), to see which group names seem related.  Then subscribe to
  those groups, and look at some of the recent traffic, to make sure
  that your question is suitable for the group.  (For example, questions
  about Microsoft Windows belong in comp.os.ms-windows.*, not

  On some systems, you will be able to look at a file containing a
  one-line description of the purpose of each newsgroup (the
  'newsgroups' file), or at a longer description of the purpose and
  contents of each newsgroup (the newsgroup charters.)  Ask your local
  news administrator if these resources are available on your system.

  For widely-distributed newsgroups, you can also find the one-line
  descriptions in the following n.a.n postings:


  The 'List' posts describe newsgroups in the comp, misc, news, rec,
  soc, sci, and talk hierarchies. The 'Alt' posts describe newsgroups
  in the alt, bionet, bit, biz, clarinet, gnu, hepnet, ieee, inet, info,
  k12, relcom, u3b, and vmsnet hierarchies.  They will not describe
  groups that are available only in your region or institution.

  If these sources of information do not suggest some newsgroups which
  might be appropriate for your questions, you may wish to post on the
  newsgroup news.groups.questions, whose charter includes helping users
  find newsgroups appropriate for their questions. Please consult the
  above-listed sources before posting on news.groups.questions, however.

  Very few sites carry all available newsgroups.  Your local newsadmin
  can help you access newsgroups that are not currently available, or
  explain why certain groups are not available at your site.  If your
  site does not carry the newsgroup(s) where your post belongs, do NOT
  post it in other, inappropriate groups.

  Think very carefully before cross-posting to more than one, or perhaps
  two, newsgroups.  It is considered highly inappropriate to broadcast
  your message to a wide selection of newsgroups merely to have more
  people read it.  Follow the general rules of Netiquette (USENET
  etiquette) described in the news.announce.newusers postings above.

  Once you decide what newsgroup(s) are relevant to your question, make
  sure that you're not asking questions that are frequently asked and
  answered.  In addition to looking at recent traffic in the group,
  check whether your question is included in an FAQ (Frequently
  Asked/Answered Questions) list.  Most FAQs are archived at
  rtfm.mit.edu, in directory /pub/usenet/your.group.name, if they're
  not available in your newsreader in the specific group or in
  *.answers.  Many groups also have a periodic introductory post that
  describes the content and purpose of the newsgroup - if one exists,
  you should read it before posting.

  A listing of many of the periodical postings on USENET can be found
  in n.a.n. or its archives, as

  Following these suggestions will help not only to ensure that your
  post reaches its intended audience, but to make USENET more useful
  for all of us.

(End form letter.)

 , Moderator of 

B.5. Test elsewhere

(Begin form letter.)

  The message below was submitted by you to the moderator of 
  either by posting a message to the group, or by sending E-mail to the
  group's submission address, or by sending mail to the group's
  administrative address.

  The  is not an appropriate place to send test messages.
  If you wish to post a test message, there are newsgroups for that
  purpose, such as alt.test, misc.test, and news.test.  Messages sent
  to the *.test newsgroups are automatically acknowledged by daemons
  running at many sites.  If you want to test your site set up for
  posting to a moderated group, post your test message to the group

(End form letter.)

 , Moderator of 

Appendix C:  Tributes

   Any person who moderates a newsgroup for over 10 years should have
   it documented somewhere so others can appreciate the effort and

   Our first tribute goes to Gene Spafford .

   For 12 years between April 1981 until April 1993 Gene (spaf)
   maintained and posted *THE* "USENET periodic postings" to the
   net.  The postings included the

           A Primer on How to Work With the Usenet Community,
           Introduction to news.announce,
           Answers to Frequently Asked Questions about Usenet
           Rules for posting to Usenet,
           Hints on writing style for Usenet,
           USENET Software: History and Sources
           What is Usenet?
           How to Construct the Mailpaths File,
           List of Active Newsgroups,
           List of Moderators for Usenet,
           inet Checkgroups,
           non-inet Checkgroups,
           and others.

   He also managed the moderators mailing list during that time.
   The moderator community and the net as a whole owe Spaf a debt of
   gratitute for his dedication and BS&T.  Thanks Spaf!