There are several variations on the process for creating a new Usenet newsgroup, so let's take them one by one. I'll start with the most complex -- getting a new group created in the Big Eight -- because once that's out of the way, it's all downhill from there.

A dreadfully long version of this is available at; while drawing upon that, as well as my own experience as a votetaker, I'll try to avoid the dreaded cut'n'paste thing.

The Big Eight

  • Write a RFD (Request For Discussion) and submit it to the newsgroup news.groups. Expect to get a lot of debate and probably a few irrational flames. Is your topic already discussed somewhere? If it is, why should we expect people to move from wherever that is, to your new group? If not, where are all these readers going to come from? You're asking tens of thousands of system administrators to create this group for you -- you'd better be sure someone's gonna actually use the darn thing. Popularity is pretty much the only concern here, so the wise RFD author will have done some work beforehand, being sure that there are people out there discussing your fabulous topic, and that there is interest in your group.
  • Something will be hideously wrong with your RFD. You'll go through a few drafts of this, until you've got a good name for your proposed group, that doesn't piss off too many people, and a good charter. (This is where you'll have to deal with plenty of other considerations: finding the right namespace for the group, in case it grows and grows and needs to be split into several groups; whether the group should be moderated; and so forth.
  • Discussion will proceed for at least 21 days, and occasionally quite a bit longer.
  • If your spirit hasn't yet been broken, you'll fill out a Proponent Questionnaire and eventually the whole thing will move on to a vote of Usenet-at-large.
  • A member of the Usenet Volunteer Votetakers will issue a CFV (Call For Votes) and start counting. After 21 days, he'll tally 'em all up and your group will either pass or fail. You have to have a 2/3 majority of 'YES' votes, and at least 100 more 'YES' votes than 'NO' votes. If your group fails, you can't try again for six months, so it's in everyone's best interest to get things right the first time.

Whew. The process takes two or three months, at least, including the discussion period, the vote itself, time for people to complain about or dispute the vote, and so on.

Fortunately, things are a bit easier over in...


Generally, here you just visit alt.config and say, "here's my group idea." After a few days, assuming nobody's assassinated you for your awe-inspiring arrogance, you start sending out Control: messages and try to get the group created.

(The benefit of a Big-Eight group is that, on many news servers, new groups will be created more-or-less automagically. For an alt group, you'll probably have to have your legions of loyal readers individually bug their news server administrators, to have the group created.)

According to asterphage, alt.config has gotten just as bad as news.groups, at least for the 'discussion' phase. There's still not a vote, but getting news admins to support your group without the stamp of approval of alt.config is darn near impossible.


Skip right down to 'sending the control message'. By definition, nobody gives a shit. (Note that the actual technical details of such are beyond the scope of this writeup.)

Everywhere Else

The exact rules vary by hierarchy, but usually you look for a group name with something like 'config' or 'newgroups' or something similar, and ask around.