This article is based on material authored by members of the news.newusers.questions Moderation Board and nnq-workers mailing list.
Before you get too far into trying to create a newsgroup, you should first make sure that you really want to do this. Learn about the various kinds of forums that you can create on the net, and decide which kind fits your purposes best.
Choose your hierarchy
If you’re still set on creating a newsgroup, you need to decide next what kind of newsgroup you want to create. More technically, you need to decide in which top-level hierarchy you want to put the group. That is, will it be a comp group, a rec group, an alt group, a us group, or what? Different hierarchies of newsgroups have different rules for creating new groups.
Guidelines for choosing a hierarchy
If the topic is of broad international interest, then the logical place is an international hierarchy such as one of the Big Eight (comp, humanities, misc, news, rec, sci, soc, and talk) or alt.
The choice between the Big Eight and alt is a trade-off between ease of creation and speed of propagation of the new group (that is, how rapidly it is created on the tens of thousands of news servers all over the globe). Creating a new group in the Big Eight can be a rather drawn-out and politicized process (figure at least two or three months from start to finish), but once you’ve completed the process successfully, most servers will add the new group fairly rapidly. Creating a new alt group can be very quick (perhaps a couple of weeks), but it can take a long time for a significant number of servers to add the group, and they may need prodding from their own users. In addition, some smaller servers don’t carry alt groups at all.
Regional or local topics
If the topic is of local or regional interest, you should look for an appropriate national, regional or local newsgroup hierarchy. We list sources of information for some of these below; for others, look for a *.general or *.config group in the hierarchy and look for, or ask about, the proper procedures.
How groups are technically created
Fundamentally, no matter what the hierarchy, the process of technically creating a new group starts when someone posts a newgroup control message. This special kind of message asks news server administrators everywhere to create the group locally on their servers.
Depending on the hierarchy, the sender and the server configuration, the server may do one of the following:
- Create the group automatically
- Forward the request to the server administrator, who then decides whether to create the group manually
- Ignore the request completely
Most hierarchies have a designated maintainer who, by general custom and/or agreement, is the official source of newgroup control messages for that hierarchy. The single most important exceptions are the alt and free hierarchies, where (in principle) anyone can post a control message. In most cases, there is a widely accepted procedure that one must – or at least should – follow in order to have an official control message posted or to post a control message oneself.
Newsgroup creation in various hierarchies
Big Eight Usenet newsgroups
The Big Eight management policies were reformed in 2006. Guidelines for creating new groups are available on the Big Eight management board’s web site.
In the alt hierarchy, you should post a proposal for the group in alt.config, and give some justification for it. Listen to suggestions and advice. Make any changes that seem appropriate (e.g. regarding the name of the group). When you get to a point where there are no significant objections, post the newgroup control message yourself, or ask someone in alt.config to do it for you.
There is no official source of newgroup control messages in alt. If you post a newgroup control message against significant objections, you can expect that someone will post rmgroup control messages (requests for servers to remove a group) to try to block the effects of your newgroup messages.
Before you try to make a proposal yourself, you should read alt.config for a while and see what happens there. You might also want to read the &lquo;So you want to create an alt newsgroup’ FAQ written by David Barr.
The biz hierarchy is for commercial and business-related newsgroups. See the biz FAQ.
free is a hierarchy where the only rule is ‘do whatever you want, as long as you’re not destroying somebody else’s words’. Consequently, there are no rules against creating new groups. Of course, there is also no guarantee that any news server will carry your group.
More information is available in the free FAQ.
The de hierarchy is for newsgroups with discussions in German. It is not restricted to Germany-specific topics.
The fr hierarchy is for newsgroups with discussions in French. It is not restricted to France-specific topics.
The newsgroup creation process for fr is explained – in French, naturally – on the page Comment crèer un forum fr.
The aus hierarchy is a national hierarchy for Australia.
The be hierarchy is a national hierarchy for Belgium. Its primary languages are Dutch (Flemish) and French.
The es hierarchy is a national newsgroup hierarchy for Spain. Its primary language is Spanish.
The nl hierarchy is a national hierarchy for the Netherlands. Its primary language is Dutch.
The sfnet hierarchy is a national hierarchy for Finland. Its primary language is Finnish.
The uk hierarchy is a regional hierarchy for the United Kingdom.
The us hierarchy is a national hierarchy for the United States.
If you are thinking of creating a moderated newsgroup (in which all postings are automatically forwarded to a moderator for approval before being posted), you should read the following:
- Denis McKeon’s Moderated Groups FAQ, which discusses general and technical aspects of newsgroup moderation
- Russ Allbery’s Pitfalls of Newsgroup Moderation FAQ, which discusses such things that can go wrong with moderating a newsgroup as of which prospective newsgroup moderators should be aware. Russ is a moderator himself, and he has witnessed the discussion of many proposals for moderated groups.