How to create a Usenet Newsgroup

It sounds like a really complex procedure that is bound to involve bizarre occult practices and, indeed, it is occult in the original sense of the word (occult originally meaning obscure) but in fact it is a relatively painless operation.

In this node I will be dealing with the principle as it occurs in the free.* hierarchy of usenet. While the creation method is identical for all newsgroups other hierarchies have voting systems (the big eight) and consultancy procedures(alt.*). You could create a newsgroup within one of those hierarchies but it would be very unlikley to propagate through the net of NNTP servers and, without correct permission, would probably be eradicated eventually.

Creating a newsgroup involves send a control newgroup message to either alt.config or the newsgroup that you are creating. In fact it's best to send it to both. You must also alter certain of the headers in your message. Most software will NOT allow you to do this. Apparently on the Mac there is a piece of software called MT Newswatcher. Since I have no experience of this software I will cut and past a small segment from Eugene A. Calame's document "Guide for creating a newsgroup in the free. hierarchy":

To configure the MT-Newswatcher, perform the following.

  • From the menu
  • click on PREFERENCES
  • Scroll down to Extra header lines
  • Type in control:
  • Type in approved:
  • Click OKAY

For Windows users Forte Agent or free agent will do the job. Again, from Mr Calame's document:

To obtain the required headers with Free Agent you must find the agent.ini file ("agent configure" with windows 95 or just agent).

( Easy way to find the file is to use the find program. Click the START button in the lower left hand corner of the screen. Go up to FIND and over to and click FILES AND FOLDERS. In the box that opens enter AGENT.INI in the NAMED field. Click the FIND NOW button and it will find the AGENT.INI file for you. click on the icon and it will open the file for you to make corrections.)

Open the file by clicking on the icon and using notepad or wordpad. Find the section labelled message and then find ShowAllFields=0.

(again you can find the item easily using the FIND function of notepad)

  • Change ShowAllFields=0 to ShowAllFields=1.
  • Save and Close the file.
  • Close and restart Free Agent.
  • Click Post on the menu.
  • Click New Usenet Message.
  • Click message on the menu
  • Click on All Fields. (An icon at the top of the newsreader
  • )

The last action will open a new fields box. In this new box you will find the new control: and approved: headers. You can scroll the fields using the buttons on the right side of the box. To enter data in the control field highlight the control field by clicking on it. Below the box you will see another box now marked as Value for control. In this box enter the control data. Click on the highlighted control again and the data in the value box will be transferred to the highlighted control field. Repeat the operation for the approved field and all fields you wish to change in the box.

Before creating your newsgroup you obviously have to decide on a name for it. Here are some guidelines:

  • No uppercase letters are allowed
  • Each component of the name must contain at least one letter i.e.alt.d2600 is valid but alt.2600 is not
  • the sequence of letters "all" and "ctl" must not be used as components i.e. alt.pall is okay alt.all is not
  • the name must have at least 2 components
  • the first component must begin with a letter
  • the first component must NOT be "control" or "to"

You will note that the above rules imply that you can create a new base hierarchy if you want to i.e. dave.*. While this is possible it is unlikely that your NG will receive widespread distribution. Best to stick with free.*. For the moment.

Okay. You've got correctly configure browser software and you've decided on a valid name. Now you must set up your message.

while certain things can be varied your control newgroup message MUST have three headers set correctly:

  • Subject: cmsg newgroup (name of newsgroup)
  • Control: newgroup (name of newsgroup)
  • Approved: your e-mail address

you should also have the following headers set like this:

  • From: (email address of person sending this message)
  • Newsgroups: alt.config,(name of newsgroup being created)
  • Summary: this is mine
  • Expires: (this should be left empty, in a newgroup message)
  • Sender: email address of person or administrator sending this message
  • Follow up-To: poster (follow ups default to emailing you, instead of posting
  • Reply-To: email address of person requesting creation of the group
  • Distribution: (this header should be empty except for a single space character; especially don't use "Distribution: world")
  • Organization: your organization or institution may be named here
  • Keywords: (here you may include keywords related to the topic of the group)
  • Cc: (you may specify email addresses to send a copy of this message to)

The message as sent from your program should include a space between headers and body text (the program will probably do this automatically, though it's worth making sure).

The body of your message should read thus:

For your newsgroups file:

(newsgroup name)(tab) A few words describing the newsgroup.

The first line should be included exactly as seen above including capitalisation. The second line must be the name of the newsgroup followed by a tab and the a description. The description must start with a capital letter and end with a period.

Here is an example of what it might look like

From: mre2@everythingdevelopmentco
Newsgroups: alt.config,free.everything2
Control: newgroup free.everything2
Subject: cmsg newgroup free.everything2
Summary: Groovey newsgroup for knowledgable types
Approved: mre2@everythingdevelopmentco
Sender: mre2@everythingdevelopmentco
Follow up-To: poster
Reply-To: mre2@everythingdevelopmentco
Organization: everything development company
Keywords: knowledge
Cc: mre3@everythingdevelopmentco

For your newsgroups file:
freeeverything2 Newsgroup about nodes.

You should cross post you newgroup message to both alt.config and the group you are creating. There should only be a comma between the names, no space.

The group will not come up immediatly. It may take a day or so before it is visable to you.

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