*.answers submission guidelines

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*.answers moderation team

Apr 4, 2004, 6:45:26 AM4/4/04
Archive-name: news-answers/guidelines
Version: $Id: guidelines,v 2.56 2003/06/14 20:00:11 ngb Exp $
Posting-Frequency: monthly
Copyright: see Section 5

[The most recent copy of this document can be obtained via anonymous
FTP as rtfm.mit.edu:/pub/faqs/news-answers/guidelines. If you do not
have access to anonymous FTP, you can get a copy by sending email to
mail-...@rtfm.mit.edu with the command
"send faqs/news-answers/guidelines" in the message.]


Subject: 0. What is this document?

This document describes what you need to do in order to cross-post an
article to news.answers and, if appropriate, one or more of the other
moderated *.answers newsgroups (alt.answers, comp.answers, de.answers,
humanities.answers, misc.answers, rec.answers, sci.answers,
soc.answers, and talk.answers). If you're not familiar with these
newsgroups, please read the posting "Introduction to the *.answers
newsgroups". For help with writing the FAQ itself, try the "FAQs
about FAQs". See Section 4 for how to get a copy of either of these.

These guidelines are pretty long, but you probably won't need to read
all of them. Please at least read all of Section 1, "Probably all
you'll need to know," before submitting your posting. If you have
problems, you're submitting a multi-part posting, or you'll be doing
anything fancy at all, read the appropriate sections of Section 2 as
well. We can help you better and more quickly if you follow the
guidelines as closely as you can.

Please note that you DO NOT need to follow these guidelines if you are
not interested in cross-posting to the *.answers newsgroups. Although
we encourage authors of appropriate postings to submit them for cross-
posting into *.answers, there are numerous reasons why authors may
choose not to do so. If you don't want to cross-post your article but
you'd like it listed in the List of Periodic Informational Postings
and archived at rtfm.mit.edu and various mirrors anyway, see Section 3.2.


Subject: 1. Probably all you'll need to know
1.1 What to do
1.2 Sample posting headers
1.3 Checklist
1.4 The guidelines
A. Normal Usenet header lines
a. Newsgroups (REQUIRED)
b. Subject (REQUIRED)
c. Followup-To (REQUIRED)
d. From (REQUIRED)
e. Summary (OPTIONAL)
B. Auxiliary header lines
a. Archive-name (REQUIRED)
b. Posting-Frequency (OPTIONAL)
c. Last-modified, Version, URL, Copyright, Maintainer (all
1.5 Submitting your article
1.6 What to do next

Subject: 2. More detail and special cases
2.1 More optional headers
A. Expires, Supersedes (both OPTIONAL)
B. Reply-To (OPTIONAL)
C. Other archive names (OPTIONAL)
2.2 Posting frequency
2.3 Mailing lists for periodic informational postings
2.4 Multiple part postings
A. Header example
B. Subject
C. References (OPTIONAL)
D. Archive-name
E. Summary
2.5 Diffs (lists of changes to other files)
2.6 FAQ formats
2.7 Maintenance tools
A. Automatic posting
B. HTML conversion
2.8 Special cases
A. What if you can't follow the guidelines, or don't want to?
B. Posting to multiple moderated newsgroups
C. uk.answers
D. Posting to a foreign-language newsgroup
E. Using PGP or other authentication

Subject: 3. Appendix
3.1 The rtfm.mit.edu archive
3.2 The List of Periodic Informational Postings
3.3 Why we have guidelines

Subject: 4. Where to find related documents
4.1 Introduction to the *.answers newsgroups
4.2 FAQs about FAQs
4.3 Minimal Digest Format
4.4 *.answers post-approval guidelines
4.5 Archive index
4.6 List of Periodic Informational Postings

Subject: 5. About this posting


Subject: 1. Probably all you'll need to know

1.1 What to do

First, make sure your article is appropriate for the newsgroups, then
modify the headers of your posting to conform to the guidelines in
Section 1.4 (and appropriate sections of Section 2). Submit it to us
(see Section 1.5), wait for approval, and then begin cross-posting your
article (see Section 1.6).

1.2 Sample posting headers

A. Full

Here is what the headers of a FAQ might look like, as submitted to
us. For more information, see the checklist and the guidelines
themselves, Sections 1.3 and 1.4.

From: gu...@foosys.com (Joe R. Programmer)
Newsgroups: misc.foo,soc.culture.foo,misc.answers,soc.answers,news.answers
Subject: [soc.culture.foo] Welcome - read this first!
Followup-To: misc.foo,soc.culture.foo
Summary: This posting describes the newsgroup soc.culture.foo, including
where to find more information. It should be read by anyone who
wishes to post to the soc.culture.foo newsgroup.
Expires: Fri, 1 May 1995 00:00:00 GMT
Supersedes: <foo-faq/part2_7...@foosys.com>

Archive-name: foo/welcome
Posting-Frequency: monthly
Last-modified: 1992/03/25
Version: 2.5
URL: http://some-site.org/my_faq.html
Copyright: (c) 1995-1996 Joe Programmer
Maintainer: Joe Programmer <gu...@foosys.com> and Cathy Code <co...@foosys.com>

The line separating the normal header from the auxiliary header
must be completely blank, i.e., with no tabs or spaces; there must
also be one or more lines immediately following the auxiliary
header which are completely blank.

B. Minimal

A minimal set of headers which would still meet these guidelines
might look like this:

From: joe...@somewhere.org
Newsgroups: misc.bar,misc.answers,news.answers
Followup-To: poster
Subject: misc.bar Resource Guide (v. 1.0)

Archive-name: bar/resource-guide

1.3 Checklist

Following is a checklist for your *.answers submission. Please go
through all the questions; if you're not positive you can say "yes" to
all of them, look at the relevant sections of this article, and
correct your submission accordingly. (Even if you can say "yes" to
them all, please look over Section 1.4, the Guidelines, anyway.
They're not that long, and they're packed with vitamins and minerals.)

Newsgroups line
Does the posting have a properly-formatted Newsgroups line with at
least one newsgroup other than the *.answers newsgroups?
Does the Newsgroups line contain news.answers?
Are the *.answers newsgroups at the end of the Newsgroups line, with
news.answers last?
Does the Newsgroups line contain all necessary *.answers newsgroups?
Does the Newsgroups line contain only necessary *.answers newsgroups?

Subject line
Does the posting have an informative Subject line?
Is important information in the Subject line near the beginning?

Followup-To line
Does the posting have a valid Followup-To line?
Does the Followup-To line not have any *.answers newsgroups?

From line
Does the posting have a From or Reply-To line with your correct
email address?

Summary line
If your posting has a Summary, and if it's on more than one line,
does each line after the first start with a tab or space?

Auxiliary header
Does the posting have an auxiliary header with (at least) an
Archive-name line?
Is the auxiliary header separated from the main header by exactly
one completely blank line?
Is the auxiliary header separated from the body of your posting by
at least one completely blank line?
Are all the headers in the auxiliary header in a valid format?

Other information
Have you told us the frequency of your posting?
If you want to subscribe to faq-maintainers, have you done so?
If you want to subscribe only to faq-maintainers-announce, have
you told us so?

1.4 The guidelines

The *.answers guidelines don't cover the format or content of your
article at all, as long as it's periodically posted, human-readable
information of some sort, and not overly commercial. (Unbiased
discussions of commercial products are welcome, but advertisements
aren't appropriate in *.answers.) See Section 2.6 for suggestions
about formats, though.

What the guidelines do specify is some of the headers.

A. Normal Usenet header lines

In addition to the headers below, your posting can contain any of
the standard Usenet headers.

a. Newsgroups (REQUIRED)


Newsgroups: misc.foo,soc.culture.foo,misc.answers,soc.answers,news.answers

Include the "home" (appropriate, non-*.answers) newsgroup(s)
for your posting, the corresponding *.answers newsgroup(s) for
the hierarchies of those home newsgroup(s) (e.g., if you post
to any soc.* groups, include soc.answers), and news.answers
(even if you're not posting to any news.* newsgroups). Your
posting must have at least one "home" newsgroup. Put all the
*.answers groups at the end, and news.answers last. Put a
single space after the colon, and no spaces, tabs, or carriage
returns anywhere else in the line. (Many news programs can't
handle multi-line Newsgroups headers.)

b. Subject (REQUIRED)


Subject: [soc.culture.foo] Welcome - read this first!
Subject: Foo FAQ, v. 1.1 (modified 07/11/95)

Make sure your subject is understandable to someone who isn't
familiar with the topic being discussed and doesn't know which
home newsgroup it came from. Put important information near
the beginning, so news readers that truncate Subjects don't
cut it off. Don't start with "The" or "FAQ", or your posting
won't alphabetize nicely. Unless you think your posting will
be read by many people who don't know what the acronym means,
using "FAQ" instead of "Frequently Asked Questions" will be
more legible.

Your Subject must have the exact same capitalization,
punctuation, and spacing every time, but a date or version
number can change, as long as the format stays constant.

c. Followup-To (REQUIRED)


Followup-To: soc.culture.foo
Followup-To: misc.foo,soc.culture.foo
Followup-To: poster

Include a Followup-To header so followup postings don't get
sent to *.answers newsgroups or to the moderators. It can
contain one or more of the home newsgroup(s), or, if you want
followups sent directly to you, the word "poster". Do NOT put
an email address in the Followup-To line.

d. From (REQUIRED)


From: gu...@foosys.com (Joe R. Programmer)

Your posting should have a From line. On nearly all systems,
the From line will automatically contain your correct Internet
address. If it doesn't, see section 2.1B.

e. Summary (OPTIONAL)


Summary: This posting describes the newsgroup soc.culture.foo,
including where to find more information. It should be read by
anyone who wishes to post to the soc.culture.foo newsgroup.

You are encouraged to put a summary of the contents of your
article in the Summary line of the header. There have been
discussions about using the Summary lines of the postings in
*.answers to construct a short "catalog" of the information
available, so think of the Summary line as a catalog entry for
your posting.

Your Summary can span multiple lines, as long as every line
after the first one STARTS with a space or tab.

B. Auxiliary header lines

The auxiliary header looks like the main message header (i.e., has
lines of the format "Line-name: line value"), but it's separated
from the main message header by exactly one completely blank line,
as well as followed by a completely blank line separating it from
the body of the message. The "Line-name" part can't contain any
spaces; use hyphens instead.

a. Archive-name (REQUIRED)


Archive-name: foo/welcome
Archive-name: foo-faq/reading-list

Your posting must include an auxiliary header with an
Archive-name line. Choose a name that's reasonably
comprehensible to someone outside the field; try to avoid
abbreviations. The archive name should describe what's in the
posting, not necessarily the name of the newsgroup it's in.
If you're not sure what name to use, take a guess, and we'll
suggest a different one if we think it would fit better. For
multiple-part postings or diffs (files of changes), see
Sections 2.4 and 2.5.

Separate words with hyphens, and put slashes between name
components. Try to keep each component under 14 characters,
or at least put the important parts in the first 14
characters. Don't use spaces, tabs, punctuation (apart from
hyphens (-), slashes (/), and underscores (_)), or all
uppercase. Only use slashes to show levels in the hierarchy,
since when your posting is archived, components between
slashes will become directory and subdirectory names.

To make the archives more useful, we encourage collecting
similar postings in the same directory; for example, there are
a number of FAQs about Macintosh computers and software in the
archive, all of whose names begin with "macintosh/". To see
some of the directories that already exist, look at the index
of the archives (see Section 4.5 for how to get it). Don't
worry too much about finding just the right place for your
posting; we will suggest a new name for it if we think it fits
into one of the existing directories.

Your posting will be archived in several different places at
rtfm.mit.edu, but the most stable one is derived from your
archive name: /pub/faqs/ARCHIVE-NAME

b. Posting-Frequency (OPTIONAL)


Posting-Frequency: monthly (except June)

If you specify this line, updates you make to it will be
automatically copied into the "List of Periodic Informational
Postings" (see Section 3.2). You can describe your posting
frequency however you like.

If you don't choose to include a Posting-Frequency header, you
still have to let us know how often you plan to post, so we
can put the information in the List of Periodic Informational
Postings. If it isn't obvious from the Subject or Summary of
your FAQ, you can tell us the frequency in a separate note.

Please note that you're welcome and encouraged to keep posting
regularly even if your FAQ hasn't changed between postings.
If you don't post at least every three months, and you don't
tell us to expect your FAQ less often than that, it may
disappear from the rtfm.mit.edu archive because the automatic
archive cleanup scripts assume it's out of date.

For advice on how often to post and some comments about
posting frequently, see Section 2.2.

c. Last-modified, Version, URL, Copyright, Maintainer (all


Last-modified: March 25, 1995
Version: 2.5
URL: http://some-site.org/my_faq.html
Copyright: (c) 1995-1996 Joe Programmer
Maintainer: Joe Programmer <gu...@foosys.com> and Cathy Code <co...@foosys.com>

You can have other lines in the auxiliary header, if you
want. Some common ones are "Last-modified:", "Version:", and
"Copyright:", which should be self-explanatory. A "URL:" line
could contain a World Wide Web "address," if you have one for
your FAQ. (See Section 2.7B for information about HTML
versions, including some automatically created ones.) The
required "From:" header in the main headers (see Section
1.4A) will usually give the name and email address of the
maintainer, but if you want to provide more information, or if
your FAQ is being posted by someone else (see Section 2.8A),
you may wish to add a "Maintainer:" header.

Our archive scripts and other software "know" about these
particular auxiliary headers, and may attempt to handle them
in special ways. Although it's not specifically required, it
would be best if you stuck to these exact header names for
information which fits these categories, rather than using
arbitary variations on the themes. However, if you have other
types of information to include, you can create new auxiliary
headers as you see fit.

You may put any text you want in these and other unrequired
headers, in any format you like, as long as the name of the
header doesn't have any whitespace; use hyphens instead (i.e.,
"Last-modified: " instead of "Last modified: ").

[However, some formats may enable additional functionality on
certain archives. For example, several formats have been
proposed for auxillary header lines to allow citation of
multiple, not just one, URL's, or which would allow the poster
to control what descriptive text will be displayed for the
hyperlinks corresponding to those URL's after conversion of
the posting by one of the Web-based archives. See the
faq-maintainers mailing list for continuing discussion. If
consensus is reached, examples will be included in future
versions of this document.]

1.5 Submitting your article

A. How actually to submit your postings

After you've changed your posting to follow the guidelines, there
are three ways to submit it to the *.answers moderators for
approval, listed below from most to least recommended.

If your posting does not contain a Posting-Frequency line in the
auxiliary header, please also email us at
news-answe...@mit.edu telling us how often you plan to
post. You should also ask any questions you may have or make any
comments or explanations by sending us email at that time.

Maintainers of FAQs and other periodic informational postings are
strongly urged to join the faq-maintainers mailing list. See
Section 2.3 for more information.

1. The automated FAQ-checker

The recommended method is to use the FAQ-checker, which will
automatically check to be sure that your posting follows these
guidelines and send you a message explaining what's wrong if
it doesn't. If your posting passes, the FAQ-checker will send
it on to us. Articles which have been "okayed" by the
FAQ-checker can be processed by us more quickly.

To use the FAQ-checker, put your whole FAQ, including all the
regular and auxiliary headers, in the BODY of a message sent
to news-answ...@rtfm.mit.edu. (If you're counting on
your news software to include a From: line for you, you'll
have to add it by hand for this submission.) That means that
your final message will have three sets of headers: the email
headers which tell it to go to the FAQ-checker, the main
headers for your news posting, and the auxiliary header which
includes the Archive-name.

Note that the faq-checker doesn't understand MIME, so you
can't just attach your posting to your email. If your mail
software has an "encode" or "quoted-printable" option, turn it
off, and make sure there are no stray 8-bit characters
(accents, "smart" quotes, em dashes, etc.) in your file. You
should also be sure your mailer doesn't split long lines
(e.g., your Newsgroups: header). If the faq-checker can't
find lines that you know are present in your submitted file,
chances are either your lines are being wrapped or your
message is being MIME encoded.

If you want to have your posting checked, but for some reason
you don't want to submit it just yet, include the word
"ignore" in the Subject of your email to the FAQ-checker.
It'll send you the same diagnostic reply, but it won't
actually send your posting to us, even if it has no problems.
Otherwise, you can use whatever you like as the Subject of
your email.

2. Cross-posting

If your mailer won't send your submission correctly (for
instance, it insists on splitting long lines) or you're
concerned that your news software won't handle the post
properly, you can also submit it for approval by cross-posting
it to all the newsgroups you would eventually like to post it
to -- unless you're posting to another moderated newsgroup
too, in which case see Section 2.8B. Please send the file
exactly as you plan to post it. As long as you don't have
approval from a newsgroup moderator, your posting will be
mailed to us and will NOT show up in any newsgroup, even if
you list other newsgroups on the Newsgroups line besides
*.answers groups. Therefore, you can and should place ALL
Newsgroups to which you intend to post in the Newsgroups line,
in the order they'll be in when you post.

If you are taking over an existing posting (i.e., the old
maintainer has given responsibility to you for posting), be
sure to remove any existing approval headers before posting it
as a submission, or we won't receive it.

3. Direct submission

If you have problems with the other submission methods, you
can send your posting to us by email to news-a...@mit.edu
instead. Only articles should go to that address, not
comments or questions. For any other *.answers-related
messages, use news-answe...@MIT.EDU.

B. What will we do with your submission

We'll either agree that the posting belongs in *.answers as-is,
ask you to make minor modifications to its headers in order to
make it acceptable, or reject it as inappropriate for *.answers.
If you are asked to make modifications, please do so and resubmit
the posting to us using one of the three methods above.

Note: the *.answers moderators are all volunteers, doing *.answers
moderation in our (sometimes rare) spare time; we receive
thousands of submissions, correspondence, and other email each
month in our roles as *.answers moderators. Therefore, we can't
always process submissions and other *.answers-related
correspondence immediately. As of February 1995, all submissions
and e-mail to the *.answers moderation team are automatically
acknowledged with a return-receipt message to assure submitters
that we have received their articles and will review them
eventually, usually in the order that they were received.

If you do not receive an acknowledgment message from us within 48
hours or so, one of two things has likely happened:

1. If you posted your submission, your news site is misconfigured
and did not send us your posting. You may have to mail it to
news-answ...@rtfm.mit.edu or news-a...@mit.edu
instead (see Section 1.5) and send a bug report to your local
news administrators (usenet@site, where site is your local
domain, works in most cases).

2. We received your article, but our acknowledgment message
bounced because the From: address in your news article was
invalid. Confirm that it is correct and send us a short
followup message to news-answe...@mit.edu asking if we
received it. If E-mail to us does not bounce, and does not
result in an acknowledgment message from us, your site may
have serious configuration problems that need to be brought to
the attention of its administrators (postmaster@site in most

[Special note to America On-Line submitters: There is a
configuration problem in the AOL news server that prevents our
filter program, which is based on Procmail, from sending the
acknowledgment message. The reasons are somewhat complex, but
the general idea is that AOL is doing something non-standard with
its mail-header formatting that fools Procmail into thinking that
AOL submissions might cause a mail loop if they were automatically
replied to. The simplest fix is for AOL to change this to
something standard. We have brought this to their attention and
eagerly await a solution.]

Because of the potential length of delays involved in getting your
postings approved, in the meantime you will probably want to
continue posting your posting in its home newsgroup(s) on its
regular schedule, so that it remains available to the readers

Please do not send email to any individual moderator's address,
even if he or she was the member of the moderation team who dealt
with you most recently; this will only delay the processing of
your submission. Always direct your questions, comments, or
flames to news-answe...@MIT.EDU for anything which is
related to *.answers.

1.6 What to do next

Once your posting has been approved for *.answers, you will cross-post
it directly to all group(s) yourself, by including a special header.
We will explain how to do this in our approval email to you. (Note
that we are intentionally being somewhat vague. When we approve your
posting for *.answers, we will provide more specific instructions.)
The *.answers moderators will NOT be posting your articles for you; it
is up to you to do so. There are several ways to have it posted
automatically; see Section 2.7A for more information.

After your posting has been approved, if any of the required headers,
the maintainer, or the frequency changes, you will probably have to
let us know and wait for reapproval before posting with the changes.
You'll get more detail on this when we approve your posting, or you
can see the "*.answers post-approval guidelines" document (see Section
4.4). You don't need to notify us if you only change the contents or
style of the body of your post.


Subject: 2. More detail and special cases

2.1 More optional headers

A. Expires, Supersedes (both OPTIONAL)


Expires: Fri, 1 May 1995 00:00:00 GMT
Supersedes: <foo-faq/part2_7...@foosys.com>

It is a good idea to use Expires and Supersedes header lines to
make sure that each version of your posting stays around until the
next time it is posted, and so that each posting replaces the
now-outdated previous posting.

The Expires header should contain a date (in the above format)
which is far enough into the future that a new version of the
article will be posted before the one you're posting now expires.
The Supersedes header should contain the Message-ID of the
previously-posted article. Please note that 'Supersedes' does not
contain the letter 'c' -- most Usenet software will ignore
Supersedes: headers that use a variant spelling of the word.

It's easiest to include these by using an automated posting script
or server (see Section 2.7A). We've shown both headers in the
format the post_faq package would use.

B. Reply-To (OPTIONAL)


Reply-To: foo...@foosys.com (Foo FAQ Comments Address)

If you want mail about the posting to go to a different address
than the rest of your mail, put the other address in a Reply-To

Likewise, if your news system doesn't put your correct email
address in the From line, then you will need to either use a
posting package (see Section 2.7A) or use a Reply-To line so that
you can get responses to your post.

C. Other archive names (OPTIONAL)


Misc-foo-archive-name: culture-reading-list
Soc-culture-foo-archive-name: reading-list

As noted above, the software which builds the periodic
informational postings archive on rtfm.mit.edu automatically uses
the "Archive-name:" line for a posting's file name, when saving it
in any newsgroup ending in ".answers" (news.answers,
rec.aviation.answers, etc.). In other archive locations, the file
name is usually derived from the posting's Subject.

However, if you have a line of the form
"Newsgroup-name-archive-name: name" in your posting's auxiliary
header ("Newsgroup-name" should be replaced with an actual
newsgroup name, replacing periods with hyphens), the specified
archive name will be used to save in the specified newsgroup.
Such a newsgroup-specific archive name overrides the generic
"Archive-name:" line.

If your posting already has an Archive-name line for other
purposes which is not a valid *.answers archive name and you do
not want to change it (e.g., you are already using an Archive-name
line to specify where your posting should be archived on sites
which archive *.sources newsgroups), you can use a
"News-answers-archive-name:" header line instead.

For example, if you have this in your normal header:

Newsgroups: misc.foo,soc.culture.foo,misc.answers,soc.answers,news.answers
Subject: [soc.culture.foo] Welcome - read this first!

and this in your auxiliary header:

Archive-name: foo/welcome
Misc-foo-archive-name: welcome

then the posting will be saved as "foo/welcome" in the directories
misc.answers/, soc.answers/, and news.answers/ (because they are
all *.answers newsgroups and will use the Archive-name line), but
as "welcome" in misc.foo/. (It will also be archived under its
Subject line in soc.culture.foo/.)

If you do decide to specify additional newsgroup-specific archive
names in your posting, please follow the guidelines for archive
names given in Section 1.4B.

2.2 Posting frequency

The frequency with which you post is left to your discretion. Some
maintainers find that monthly posting, with an Expires header (see
Section 2.1A) to prevent postings from going away before their
replacement is posted, is sufficient. Some other newsgroups are so
busy that weekly posting is needed.

Regardless, you're welcome and encouraged to keep posting regularly
even if your FAQ hasn't changed between postings. If you don't post
at least every three months, and you don't tell us to expect your FAQ
less often than that, it may disappear from the rtfm.mit.edu archive
because the automatic archive cleanup scripts assume it's out of date.

If you choose to post more frequently than once or twice a month, you
might want to consider not cross-posting to *.answers every time you
post, especially if your FAQ is very long or has many parts (this
overrides our previously expressed desire that you keep your
Newsgroups line static). [Note, however, that if you do this, you
can't use Supersedes every time you post, since a posting in just the
home newsgroup(s) should not supersede the posting in both the home
newsgroup(s) and *.answers. You might then want to only use a
Supersedes line in the version you cross-post to *.answers, and live
with the fact that there might be multiple copies of your postings in
the home newsgroup(s), which isn't that big a problem. If you don't
understand this parenthetical comment, don't worry about it.]

Another possibility is to post the complete informational posting(s)
relatively infrequently, while posting a shorter pointer to it (e.g.,
providing instructions for getting it from archives) more frequently.
Such reminder postings could be posted in the home newsgroups(s) as
often as needed and would not need to be cross-posted to *.answers,
since the full FAQ would be posted there occasionally. You could also
keep the full FAQ on a WWW page and only ever post a brief pointer,
which would then go to *.answers as well.

When submitting your posting, please be sure to let us know the
frequency at which you intend to post it to its home newsgroup(s), as
well as the frequency at which you intend to cross-post it to *.answers
(if different). The best way for this is to put this information into
the Posting-Frequency lines of the auxiliary header -- you can describe
your frequency in any format that a person reading it will understand.

If possible, pick some random time of the week or month to do your
posting. For example, don't automatically decide to post it on the
first of the month. This would cause a flood of postings in *.answers
(and on the Usenet in general) at certain times of the month, and would
be big enough to overwhelm some smaller news sites and many readers of

2.3 Mailing lists for periodic informational postings maintainers

All administrative requests related directly to the faq-maintainers
mailing list should be sent to faq-maintai...@faqs.org,
using the commands described below. Requests related to the
faq-maintainers-announce list should be sent to that list's
maintainers at faq-maintainers-...@mit.edu.

Official archives of the faq-maintainers list are available from
rtfm.mit.edu at <ftp://rtfm.mit.edu/pub/faq-maintainers>. Unofficial
archives are also available by FTP from
<ftp://ftp.landfield.com/faq-maintainers/mail-archive/mailbox/> or in
searchable form on the World Wide Web at
<http://www.landfield.com/faq-maintainers/mail-archive/> .

A. faq-maintainers

Maintainers of FAQs and other periodic informational postings are
encouraged to join the faq-maintainers mailing list, which is used
for discussion about the *.answers newsgroups and the maintenance
of Usenet periodic informational postings. Anyone can subscribe
to these mailing lists -- in particular, you're welcome to
subscribe before you even submit your posting to us, or if you
never plan to.

Traffic on faq-maintainers tends to come in bursts -- it averages
three to four messages per day, but during a burst there may be as
many as several dozen messages in a few hours, and in between such
bursts, there may be a week of no messages at all.

To subscribe, send email to faq-maintai...@faqs.orgOA
with the command "subscribe" in the Subject line. For information
about other commands, send the command "help". If you have
problems subscribing or unsubscribing, send email to the list
administrators at <owner-faq-...@faqs.org>.

B. faq-maintainers-announce

If you don't want to be on the discussion list, you may wish to
join the faq-maintainers-announce list, which will be used only
for announcements, instead. Note that subscribers to the
faq-maintainers list automatically receive all messages sent to

Traffic on faq-maintainers-announce is very low; it is not unheard
of for many months to pass with no messages except for a periodic
copy of the mailing lists policy document.

To subscribe only to faq-maintainers-announce, send email to
faq-maintainers-...@mit.edu (read by humans).

2.4 Multiple part postings

A. Header example

This is what the headers from part 2 of a 2-part posting might
look like:

From: gu...@foosys.com (Joe R. Programmer)
Newsgroups: comp.sys.foo,comp.answers,news.answers
Subject: comp.sys.foo Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ), Part 2/2
Followup-To: comp.sys.foo
Reply-To: faq-...@foosys.com (FAQ Comments address)
Summary: This posting contains a list of Frequently Asked
Questions (and their answers) about Foo computers. It
should be read by anyone who wishes to post to the
comp.sys.foo newsgroup.
Expires: Fri, 1 May 1995 00:00:00 GMT
Supersedes: <foo-faq/part2_7...@foosys.com>
References: <foo-faq/part1_7...@foosys.com>

Archive-name: foo-faq/part2
Posting-Frequency: monthly
Last-modified: 1995/03/25
Version: 2.5 (text)
URL: http://some-site.org/my_faq.html

B. Subject (REQUIRED)


Subject: comp.sys.foo Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ), Part 2/2

For postings which are being split into multiple parts, you should
indicate in each posting's Subject line which part that particular
posting is, and how many parts total there are. Use regular
Arabic numerals instead of Roman numerals, because they're more
easily sorted and manipulated by software.

C. Archive-name (REQUIRED)


Archive-name: foo-faq/part1
Archive-name: foo-faq/part2

Archive-name: bar-faq/intro
Archive-name: bar-faq/history
Archive-name: bar-faq/references

Multi-part postings should be named "name/part1", "name/part2",
etc. If the parts of the postings are split by topic rather than
by size, then you can use short topic names instead. See Section
1.4B for more examples. If you plan to post one or more diffs
(files of changes) for your files, please see Section 2.5.

D. Summary (OPTIONAL)

If you have a group of related postings or a multi-part posting,
you should consider either keeping your summaries in each posting
short (describing only that posting's contents), or having a
completely identical summary for all the postings, describing what
topics the postings collectively cover. If someone uses your
Summary lines to construct a catalog, as mentioned above, having
identical summaries will allow automatic elimination of redundant
summary text in the catalog.

E. References (OPTIONAL)


References: <foo-faq/part1_7...@foosys.com>

If you are posting a multi-part posting or a series of related
postings, it is a good idea to add a "References:" line to all of
the postings except the first one, making the contents of that
line the Message-ID of the first posting in the series. People
who use threaded news readers will then be able to manipulate the
entire series as a single thread, including (for example) saving
the entire thread to a file with one command. The posting tools
mentioned in Section 2.7A all support an option for doing this.

2.5 Diffs (lists of changes to other files)


Archive-name: foo-faq/part1
Archive-name: foo-faq/diff

A diff is a file containing only changes to a larger posting. If you
post a diff for a one-part posting, then the original posting should be
named "name/part1" (or "name/faq", or whatever else has been approved)
and the diff should be named "name/diff".

If you post multiple diffs for multi-part postings, they should be
named "name/diff1", "name/diff2", etc. (If you want to use just one
diff for multi-part postings, use "name/diff" as its name.)

2.6 FAQ formats

These guidelines DO NOT specify a required format for the bodies of
periodic informational postings. Maintainers are free to choose
whatever format they want (assuming that it is human-readable) for the
bodies of their postings. However, you should try to keep your
posting well organized and easy to read.

Articles which contain HTML tags won't be necessarily be rejected, but
they must be coded so that the text remains easily readable in its
original form, without an HTML browser. Since HTML ignores whitespace
nearly everywhere, it's relatively easy to separate tags from the
actual content and keep the file readable.

A few formats have been suggested for FAQs. One which has been
proposed is the "minimal digest format"; see Section 4.3 for how to
get a copy. For other format ideas, browse some of the postings in
the *.answers newsgroups.

These guidelines also DO NOT specify lower or upper limits for the size
of an acceptable posting. However, a pragmatic lower limit is set by
the requirement that the articles be reasonably useful to people. As
for a pragmatic upper limit, maintainers may wish to consider that part
of their audience may not be able to access too large articles due to
intermediary news (and gateway) software problems (64kB is a common
magic size).

2.7 Maintenance tools

Two World Wide Web sites which maintain lists of FAQ maintenance tools
and information resources are David A. Lamb's page of FAQ Maintenance
Aids, at
and Infinite Ink's Writing FAQs and Periodic Postings, at
(primary) http://www.ii.com/ii/internet/faqs/writing/
(mirror) http://www.best.com/~ii/internet/faqs/writing/

A. Automatic posting

Many maintainers post their files by hand with no problems.
However, several packages are available if you want to automate
the process. These all provide options for including Expires,
Supersedes, and References headers and posting multiple parts, as
well as posting on any of a variety of schedules.

a. mail-to-news server

No matter what system you use, you can use the FAQ server
which we run: you use it by mailing your periodic
informational postings and various commands to it, and it
posts them periodically for you, at intervals you specify.
This is a good solution if your site does not have Perl, or
you cannot conveniently install either of the other two
software packages, or your local news server won't let users
post to a moderated newsgroup at all.

For more information about the FAQ server, send e-mail to
faq-s...@rtfm.mit.edu with "help" (without the quotes) in
the Subject line of your message. Note that before you send
your posting to the faq-server, you should get it approved by

b. post_faq

One useful tool for automatically posting your posting at a
frequency you choose is the FAQ poster written by Jonathan
Kamens, which requires the utility program Perl. Post_faq
takes an article with its static headers (i.e., the headers
that don't change each time the article is posted), adds
dynamic headers to it, and posts the article.

It is available from rtfm.mit.edu via anonymous FTP as
/pub/post_faq/post_faq.shar, or via mail server (send e-mail
to mail-...@rtfm.mit.edu with "send post_faq/post_faq.shar"
in the body). The post_faq program is currently maintained by
the *.answers moderators.

c. auto-faq

Another utility, auto-faq, provides more functionality,
including automatic building and insertion of all headers. It
also requires Perl. Originally written by Ian Kluft, it is
now maintained by Paul W. Schleck. If you are looking for
something with a high level of automation to assist you in
your FAQ maintenance and posting, you might want to try
auto-faq instead of post_faq. The latest version as of the
writing of this text is 3.3.1. It may be freely used and
distributed under the terms of the GNU General Public License
(GPL). It may be obtained from:


For further assistance with this particular package, send
e-mail to auto-f...@novia.net. To subscribe to the user's
mailing list, send e-mail to auto-faq-us...@novia.net
with "subscribe auto-faq-users" in the message body. An
acknowledgment and welcome message will follow shortly.

B. HTML conversion

All postings on news.answers are automatically converted to HTML
by, and made available at, several World Wide Web sites; for a
good list, see Infinite Ink's page, listed under the Section 2.7

If you want to make your own HTML version, there are a number of
ways to convert among formats, including HTML, plain text, LaTeX,
SGML, troff, WordPerfect, and Nisus. See the WWW page of FAQ
Maintenance Aids, listed under the Section 2.7 heading, for more

2.8 Special cases

A. What if you can't follow the guidelines, or don't want to?

If, for technical reasons, you cannot post your article on a
regular basis with the required header formats, you may want to
look into using the faq-server mail-to-news server to
automatically post your article(s). (See Section 2.7A.)

Some maintainers choose to have another person post their article
for them, such as a non-*.answers newsgroup moderator, or a friend
who posts other periodic postings. Be careful with this method,
as it may lead to confusion as to who is really maintaining the
post, or to misunderstandings as to when and how the article is to
be posted.

Finally, if you decide not to follow the guidelines at all, you
cannot cross-post your article to the *.answers newsgroups.
However, if it's a periodic informational posting, we would be
glad to list it in the List of Periodic Informational Postings and
archive it at rtfm.mit.edu anyway. See Section 3.2 for more

B. Posting to multiple moderated newsgroups

If you want eventually to post to both *.answers AND one or more
other moderated groups, you need separate approval from each of
the separate moderators. Wait for approval from each (including
us) before actually posting. Some moderators require that all
articles posted to their newsgroup be posted through them; others
allow people who are also posting to *.answers to post themselves,
as *.answers itself does.

We prefer that you obtain approval from any other moderators
before submitting your article to us, in case they refuse your
request and you have to remove one or more groups from your
Newsgroups: header. Once you have received their responses, you
should submit your posting to us via e-mail. If you try to submit
it by posting, it will probably be sent to the moderator of the
first moderated newsgroup on the Newsgroups line, which, if you've
followed the guidelines correctly, will NOT be one of the
*.answers newsgroups. So, submit your posting to us by mailing it
to either the FAQ-checker (see Section 1.5A1) or the direct
submission address (see Section 1.5A3). ONLY SUBMISSIONS SHOULD BE
MAILED TO THOSE ADDRESSES. For any other *.answers-related
messages, use news-answe...@MIT.EDU.

If you're posting to more than one other moderated newsgroup, note
that you will have to submit your file to their moderators by
email as well. If you post it, it will either be forwarded to the
first moderator in the list again, or if you've included approval
headers, it may be posted to moderated newsgroups for which it is
not yet approved. Needless to say, that tends to upset people.

C. uk.answers

The uk.answers newsgroup forms part of the global *.answers system,
but has its own specific requirements and a separate moderator.

If you would like to crosspost your FAQ to uk.answers, please refer to
http://www.usenet.org.uk/uk.answers.html, and then submit your FAQ to
uk-answer...@usenet.org.uk, and NOT to the *.answers moderation
team. The moderator of the uk.answers will then liase with the *.answers
moderators to ensure that your FAQ meets the requirements of both

The *.answers moderators will not accept or approve any posting to
uk.answers without the prior approval of the uk.answers moderator.

D. Posting to a foreign-language newsgroup

Postings in languages other than English are welcome, but we would
prefer that you use an English (or bilingual) Subject or Summary.

There is one exception to the above rule of always cross-posting to
the corresponding *.answers groups: articles cross-posted into a
nation-specific hierarchy in a different language than normally
used in that hierarchy. Such an article should not go into the
corresponding *.answers group for that newsgroup's hierarchy. At
present, the only such case is de.answers, which is for
German-language periodic informational postings only. For
example, an English-language posting may be cross-posted to a de.*
group if the maintainer feels it is useful there, but it should
not be cross-posted to de.answers.

E. Using PGP or other authentication

If you wish to put an authentication wrapper such as a PGP
signature on your post, you will need to start the
authentication section after the blank line following the
auxiliary header. A PGP-signed post would look like this:

From: jane...@some.site.com
Newsgroups: rec.pets.rocks,rec.answers,news.answers
Followup-To: rec.pets.rocks
Subject: rec.pets.rocks FAQ

Archive-name: pets/rocks


Welcome to rec.pets.rocks! Please read this FAQ before posting here.
[Rest of the body of the FAQ.]

Version: 2.6.2



Subject: 3. Appendix

3.1 The rtfm.mit.edu archive

All postings in the List of Periodic Informational Postings (LoPIP;
see Section 3.2), including all the documents about the *.answers
newsgroups themselves, are archived at rtfm.mit.edu ( A
posting does not have to be cross-posted to any *.answers newsgroups
to be stored in the rtfm.mit.edu archive, it just has to be in the
LoPIP. In particular, any PIP which is submitted to the *.answers
moderators, and for which we can determine the author, Subject, and at
least one newsgroup, will be listed in the LoPIP and archived at

Any file at the rtfm.mit.edu archive can be obtained by anonymous FTP
or using an email file server. To request a file, send email to mail-
ser...@rtfm.mit.edu containing:

send usenet/FILENAME

in the body of the message. If you want to find out more about the
mail server, send a message to it containing "help".

Most postings are stored under several different filenames, using hard
links to save space. For a posting which is cross-posted to
news.answers, the most stable name will be the one derived from its
archive name: /pub/faqs/ARCHIVE-NAME

Other informational postings which do not have archive names are saved
in directories corresponding to their Newsgroups, under names derived
by replacing spaces in their Subject lines with underscores. For
example, a file with the following headers

Subject: Foo Faq (v. 2.5)
Newsgroups: alt.foo

will be stored as /pub/usenet/alt.foo/Foo_Faq_(v._2.5) as well as in
several other places.

3.2 The List of Periodic Informational Postings

Unless you tell us otherwise, we will add any postings submitted to
*.answers to the "List of Periodic Informational Postings" (LoPIP)
articles which appear in news.answers and news.lists.misc, and thus
begin archiving them at rtfm.mit.edu.

Even if you don't want to submit your posting for *.answers at this
time, we would be glad to add it to the LoPIP. You don't need to
follow any guidelines (apart from appropriateness); just send us a
copy of the full headers of your posting, and keep us updated with any
changes. All posts listed in the LoPIP are archived at rtfm.mit.edu
whether or not they are cross-posted to *.answers.

If you would like to get a copy of the LoPIP postings, to see what
they're like or to check if your posting is already listed, see the
instructions in Section 4.6.

3.3 Why we have guidelines

These *.answers submission guidelines serve to ensure that three
overall goals, established when the *.answers newsgroups were created,
are met by postings which appear there.

A. Automatic archiving

One of the main points for having *.answers newsgroups is that
they can be archived automatically in order to build up a database
of periodic informational postings. Requirements such as the
"Archive-name:" line further that goal. Listing home newsgroups
first in the Newsgroups header also helps by providing better key
information for index lists and catalogues of periodic
informational postings.

B. Appropriateness

Only PERIODIC, INFORMATIONAL postings that are intended to be read
by people belong in the *.answers newsgroups. Requirements in the
guidelines such as a valid "Followup-To:" line (to help prevent
replies to particular periodic informational postings from
appearing in the *.answers newsgroups or being mailed to the
moderators) further this goal. Likewise, listing the home
newsgroup(s) first in the Newsgroups line minimizes accidental
postings to the *.answers newsgroups from people using buggy

C. Usefulness to people

The postings should be as useful as possible, both for the people
who read them in the home newsgroups and for the people who read
them in the *.answers newsgroups. Requirements such as
descriptive "Subject:" lines and carefully chosen "Newsgroups:"
lines further this goal.


Subject: 4. Where to find related documents

Any file listed here can be obtained in the listed newsgroups, by
anonymous FTP from rtfm.mit.edu, or by email. To request a file from
the mail server, send email to mail-...@rtfm.mit.edu containing:


where FILENAME is the complete file name listed below.

4.1 Introduction to the *.answers newsgroups

Subject: Introduction to the *.answers newsgroups
Newsgroups: news.announce.newusers,news.answers,....
File name: /pub/faqs/news-answers/introduction

4.2 FAQs about FAQs

Subject: FAQs about FAQs
Newsgroups: news.announce.newusers,news.newusers.questions,news.answers
File name: /pub/faqs/faqs/about-faqs

4.3 Minimal Digest Format

Subject: FAQs: A Suggested Minimal Digest Format
Newsgroups: news.admin.misc,news.software.readers,news.answers
File name: /pub/faqs/faqs/minimal-digest-format

4.4 *.answers post-approval guidelines

Subject: *.answers post-approval guidelines
Newsgroups: news.answers,....
File name: /pub/faqs/news-answers/postapproval-guidelines

4.5 Archive index

(not posted to any newsgroups)
File name: /pub/usenet/news.answers/index

4.6 List of Periodic Informational Postings

There are twenty "List of Periodic Informational Postings" postings.
Part 1 contains introductory information.

Subject: List of Periodic Informational Postings, Part */20
Newsgroups: news.lists.misc,news.answers
File names: /pub/faqs/periodic-postings/*

The mail server will accept wildcards in this format, so sending this
file name, with the '*', will get you all the parts.


Subject: 5. About this posting

(c) Copyright 1991-2002 by the *.answers moderators, all rights
reserved. Redistribution of this document is hereby freely granted so
long as the document is redistributed in its entirety (here
interpreted as all text which were not automated generated by software
as part of the distribution process); in particular, with attributions
and this copyright notice. We would appreciate hearing about any
interesting redistributions.

Comments about, suggestions about or corrections to this posting are
welcomed. If you would like to ask us to change this posting in some
way, the method we appreciate most is for you to actually make the
desired modifications to a copy of the posting, and then to send us the
modified posting, or a context diff between the posted version and your
modified version (if you do the latter, make sure to include in your
mail the "Version:" line from the posted version). Submitting changes
in this way makes dealing with them easier for us and helps to avoid
misunderstandings about what you are suggesting.

Many people have in the past provided feedback and corrections; we
thank them for their input. Remaining ambiguities, errors, and
difficult-to-read passages are not their fault. :)


dal...@qucis.queensu.ca (David Alex Lamb)
n.g.b...@durham.ac.uk (Nick Boalch)

j...@cam.ov.com (Jonathan I. Kamens) [Emeritus]
psh...@mit.edu (Ping Huang) [Emeritus]
pgr...@optics.rochester.edu (Pamela Greene) [Emeritus]

-- the *.answers moderation team <news-answe...@mit.edu>


End of "*.answers submission guidelines" Digest

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