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newsgroups - List of newsgroups and their short descriptions
The file pathdb/newsgroups contains a list of newsgroups for which a
short description is available. This file is generally updated by
controlchan(8) whenever a control message is received; it is used by
nnrpd in response to LIST NEWSGROUPS and is only meant to provide
information to users. News readers often show the list of carried
newsgroups along with these descriptions.
It is not necessary that all the groups carried by the news server
(that is to say all the groups listed in the active file) be listed in
the newsgroups file. And it is also not necessary that all the groups
listed in the newsgroups file be carried by the news server.
Nonetheless, it is of course better if the active and newsgroups files
have exactly the same newsgroups.
If you use "ctlinnd newgroup" to manually create a group, only the
active file is updated. You should then edit the newsgroups file in
order to add a short description for the created group. The same goes
for manually removing or changing the status of a newsgroup.
Each line of the newsgroups file consists of two fields separated by at
least one tabulation:
The first field is the name of the newsgroup. The second field is its
You can get the newsgroups file of another NNTP server with getlist(1).
PREFERRED FORMAT FOR A ONE-LINE NEWSGROUP DESCRIPTION
As far as the format of the newsgroups file is concerned, there is a
preferred format for each line. Since news administrators do not
generally have the time to fix up the lines that are being
automatically included from newgroup or checkgroups messages, this
information is provided so that control message senders can craft
better control messages. It will also be useful for news
administrators to know how to format the description of their local
There should be at least one hard tab (8 column tab stops) between the
group name and the description. If the group name is at least 16
characters, it should be followed with one tab. If the group name is
at least 8 characters, it should be followed with two tabs. And in the
unlikely event the group name is less than 8 characters, it should be
followed with three tabs. For instance:
misc.transport.rail.europe Railroads & railways in all of Europe.
news.admin.nocem NoCeM protocol policy issues and information.
news.groups Discussions and lists of newsgroups.
The total line length should be at most 79 columns. The description
should start with a capital and not be more than 55 characters (79 -
24) long. If the group name is longer than 24 characters, the
description should be correspondingly shorter. If the group is
moderated, it should have " (Moderated)" (note the space before the
opening parenthesis) at the very end of the description, not counted as
part of the length of the description. This text must be exactly that,
with no variations, as it is used by news software to find moderated
Here is an example of moderated newsgroup:
news.lists.misc News-related statistics and lists. (Moderated)
Traditionally, all newsgroup descriptions ended with a period, but this
is not necessary and steals away one character that is occasionally
useful for forming a better description.
Some over-long descriptions could be made to easily fit the length by
dropping useless wordings like "Discussion of" which do not
meaningfully contribute to the description. Others are usually pretty
easy to get to no more than column eighty, except when the group names
start getting really long. Hopefully then the group name itself
contains quite a bit of description.
In some cases, a longer description really will be necessary; they can
of course be used within the newsgroups file. However, they will
probably be less readable and less useful for some Usenet users.
Descriptions must not contain any control characters (octets between
0x00 and 0x1F).
ENCODING OF THE DESCRIPTIONS
There is, at present, no good mechanism for managing the character set
of the newsgroup descriptions. Many non-English hierarchies include
newsgroup descriptions in their native languages, since this is more
useful for their users, and those are included verbatim in the
newsgroups file. This unfortunately means that different lines of the
file will require different character set settings to read properly,
and those character sets are not documented in the file. Hopefully
some future standard will provide a way to address this; in the
meantime, using UTF-8 for non-ASCII characters is recommended.
MINIMAL NEWSGROUPS FILE
The minimal newsgroups file shipped with INN is:
control Various control messages (no posting).
control.cancel Cancel messages (no posting).
control.checkgroups Hierarchy check control messages (no posting).
control.newgroup Newsgroup creation control messages (no posting).
control.rmgroup Newsgroup removal control messages (no posting).
junk Unfiled articles (no posting).
These lines must be tab-delimited, so please be careful in case you
copy and paste them from above.
Written by Julien Elie for InterNetNews. The preferred format for a
one-line newsgroup description is based on the policies by which the
newsgroups file in <ftp://ftp.isc.org/pub/usenet/CONFIG/> is
maintained; they were originally written by David Lawrence
<firstname.lastname@example.org> and updated by Russ Allbery <email@example.com>.
$Id: newsgroups.pod 8822 2009-11-20 17:34:15Z iulius $
active(5), controlchan(8), ctlinnd(8), getlist(1), nnrpd(8).