8 April 2017

Frequently asked questions related to the article ‘How to test an NNTP (news) server by using telnet’

‘What do the various headers mean?’

The Netnews message headers are defined in RFC 1036 (Standard for Interchange of USENET Messages).

Required headers

From:
The address of the person who sent the message.
Date:
The date when the message was posted.
Newsgroups:
The newsgroup(s) in which the message belongs.
Subject:
What the message is about.
Message-ID:
A unique identifier.
Path:
The path the message took to reach the current system.

Optional headers

Reply-To:
Mailed replies to the author should be sent to the name given here.
Sender:
The entity responsible for submitting the message to the network.
Followup-To:
Follow-up messages are to be posted to the newsgroup or newsgroups listed here.
Expires:
A suggested expiration date for the message.
References:
The Message-ID s of any messages prompting the submission of this message.
Control:
If a message contains a Control: line, the message is a control message.
Distribution:
Used to alter the distribution scope of the message.
Organization:
The organisation to which the sender belongs, or to which the machine belongs.
Keywords:
A few well-selected keywords identifying the message.
Summary:
A brief summary of the message.
Approved:
Required for any message posted to a moderated newsgroup.
Lines:
A count of the number of lines in the body of the message.
Xref:
The name of the host and a list of pairs of newsgroup names and message numbers from the spool directory.

“How do I post the same message to more than one newsgroup?”

Posting the same article to separate groups is called crossposting. Enter on the Newsgroups: line the names of all the groups to which you want to post. Separate the names by commas:

Newsgroups: misc.test,alt.test

If your newsreader has a non-conforming user interface, you may need to refer to its documentation.

Before you crosspost, you must make sure that your article is appropriate for all the groups to which you plan to post it. Even if the article is on topic, some servers may drop it because they are configured to throw away crossposted articles. In addition, if one or more of the groups to which you are crossposting is a moderated group, your article will not appear in any group until a moderator has approved it.

Do not confuse crossposting with multiposting, which means posting separate copies of an article to different groups. Multiposting wastes resources and is almost never acceptable.

‘I try to read or post, but I receive the message Permission denied or You have no permission to talk. Goodbye.’

Most news servers are not open to the public, just to users from specific hosts (such as those on the local network or of the same ISP) and/or to users who have an account on the server. To prevent spam, the server may also allow certain classes of users to read news but not to post.

The organisation that provides you with Internet connectivity may also give you access to a news server. If it does, that may be the best means for you to access Netnews.

There are also public news servers that you can try. However, your access privileges on such servers may be highly restricted. If a server appears to have been left ‘open’ accidentally, I advise against using it.

‘I would like a complete list of newsgroups.’

There really is no such thing; every news server has its own file of ‘active’ groups.

  • Not all news administrators want to carry all groups, and of those who try, not all will receive all newgroup messages.
  • Different news administrators may also have different criteria for creating and deleting groups, even if they carry the same hierarchies.
  • Some hierarchies that are intended to remain private are nevertheless leaked.
  • There are other reasons as well.

Because of the above, the appropriate active file for you (as a client) to use is the one your newsreader downloads from your news server. However, you can also download reasonable starting-point active and newsgroup (description) files from the Internet Software Consortium.