Generic Newsgroup Moderators?

      • This is probably online somewhere, but I can’t find it. If I Google “newsgroup faqs” I get listings for different FAQ’s for particular newsgroups, which isn’t what I want… I am wondering: who starts/runs/moderates newsgroups–in short, who owns the darn things? Who decides what names of newsgroups get to be, and who is responsible for their content?


Such a newsgroup actually exits…

Anyone can start a newsgroup in the bloated alt.* hierarchy (which would be why it’s so bloated). According to this FAQ, there are certain informal guidelines for alt., and groups can be rejected for a variety of reasons. That document was, however, written in 1995, and I’ve seen many alt. groups show up since then that should have been rejected for multiple reasons according to the FAQ, so it looks like things have changed since then. Starting your own alt.* newsgroup can be as easy as emailing your Usenet provider.

On the other side of the coin, starting a group in one of the “big eight” hierarchies (comp, humanities, misc, news, rec, sci, soc, talk) can be a much more cumbersome task, involving proposals, discussions, and votes.

See this this FAQ for information on starting a big eight group.

There is no central authority for Usenet. Messages are propagated from server to server around the world, and, from the feed provided, each individual news server admin can decide which groups he wants his particular server to carry. Generally, you’ll find that most servers (especially the ones provided free with ISP accounts) will house about 30-40,000 groups. Some commercial Usenet providers offer over 100,000 groups, but you’ll find that most of those extra 60,000 are empty groups, joke groups, or misspelled binary groups (how do they let those get through?). Virtually all of the extra groups are in the alt.* hierarchy, of course.

A great source for general Usenet information is theUsenet Portal.

I’ve created both an alt group and a big 8 group (in comp). An alt group is dirt simple. All you need to do is send out the create newsgroup message, which you usually don’t have permission to do, so you have to e-mail your ISP and have them do it for you, if they are willing to do so. In my case I e-mailed the system administrator with the create newsgroup message, a detailed explanation of why I wanted to create the newsgroup, and the reason I couldn’t do it myself (no permissions).

The big 8 newsgroup was, as nuetron star pointed out, a bit more cumbersome. First I created a request for discussion, which those of us involved in the newsgroup creation kicked around until we all agreed on it. This included a draft of the newsgroup charter, which wrote down in detail what the group was about, how it would be moderated, and who would do the moderation. This was submitted and discussed, and finally a call for votes was issued. In order for the group to be created, it has to get at least 2/3 of the votes as YES. In my case we received far more than 2/3 as yes, and the newsgroup was created.

In my case, we happened to be a group of people who informally joined together to create the newsgroup. It could just as easily have been done by one person, and that person can choose whether or not the group will be moderated. Generally you have to have a good reason to create a group in the big 8. Any frivolous group will almost assuredly be voted down, assuming it even gets as far as a call for votes.