9 April 2017

Disappearing netnews articles

This article is based on material authored by members of the news.newusers.questions Moderation Board and nnq-workers mailing list.

News articles need to ‘disappear’ for a couple of reasons.

Articles marked read in your newsreader

Your newsreader might hide the articles you have read, so that you will not have to wade through e.g. 100 articles you have already seen just in order to find 20 new ones. This behaviour depends on how your newsreader is set up.

Expiring articles on your news server

News servers have a finite amount of hard disk space. This is why they must expire (i.e., remove) articles from time to time; they need to make room for new ones.

Example configurations

  • Some servers might cause every article to expire when that article is 14 days old.
  • Others could cause alt.* newsgroup articles to expire after 4 days, but might keep news.* articles around for 21 days.
  • A similar tactic would be to allocate 10% of the total storage space to alt.* and another 10% to news.*, and to expire articles as their volume reaches their predefined quota.
  • Still other servers may cause articles to expire once any newsgroup reaches 10 MB in size, regardless of the amount or age of the articles.

How to locate an expired article

If a given article has expired from your news server, and you really want to read it, you need to obtain it elsewhere.

  • You may find the article in Google Groups or in some other archive.
  • You might also be able to find a ‘public’ news server on which the article is still available.
  • If you post a request to the newsgroup, perhaps either the author or someone else could mail you a copy of the article you want.
  • Maybe one of your friends is lucky enough to have access to a news server with longer expiration times.