Introduction to the *.answers newsgroups

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*.answers moderation team

Apr 4, 2004, 6:45:26 AM4/4/04
Archive-name: news-answers/introduction
Version: $Id: Introduction,v 1.132 2001/05/09 17:40:07 ngb Exp $
Posting-Frequency: monthly

[The most recent version of this document is posted periodically in
the *.answers newsgroups, including news.answers, and in
news.announce.newusers. It can also obtained by anonymous FTP as If
you do not have access to anonymous FTP, you can retrieve it by
sending email to with the command
"send faqs/news-answers/introduction" in the message.]


Subject: Introduction

This is the introductory posting for the moderated newsgroups
alt.answers, comp.answers, de.answers, humanities.answers, misc.answers,
news.answers, rec.answers, sci.answers, soc.answers, and talk.answers
(hereafter collectively referred to as "*.answers"). It explains the
purpose of the newsgroups, what kinds of postings can be found in them,
how to submit new postings for them, how to participate in the mailing
list for periodic posting maintainers, and where to find archives of
*.answers postings.

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.


Subject: What is news.answers?

The news.answers newsgroup serves as a repository for periodic
informational postings (many of which are called "Frequently Asked
Questions", or "FAQ's") from other Usenet newsgroups. It's a place to
collect answers, not to ask the questions themselves.

Although it's difficult to say exactly what qualifies as a posting
that belongs in news.answers, the basic description is, "any article
which answers common questions and is meant to be read by human
beings." Furthermore, postings cross-posted in news.answers should
have subject lines that describe their content, with key descriptive
information first. For example, an FAQ posting for
should have a subject line saying something like "
FAQ" or "Chess FAQ," not "Frequently Asked Questions About Chess".

For example, the comp.unix.questions "Unix - Frequently Asked
Questions...." postings and the news.announce.newusers "Emily Postnews
Answers Your Questions on Netiquette" belong in news.answers, as does
the README file from comp.mail.maps. However, the comp.mail.maps map
postings do not, since they are not primarily intended for human

Periodic informational postings from any hierarchy that travels using
"Usenet mechanisms" may be appropriate for cross-posting to
news.answers (i.e., news.answers is not limited to postings from the
comp, sci, misc, soc, talk, news, humanities and rec hierarchies).
Where there is any ambiguity, the *.answers moderators will decide
whether or not a posting belongs in the newsgroup.

There are several reasons why this newsgroup exists. They include:

* It is easier for site administrators to keep periodic
informational postings around for a long time if they are all
cross-posted to one newsgroup. Administrators can make the
maximum expire time for news.answers very long, instead of making
every newsgroup with periodic informational postings in it have a
long maximum expire time.

* It is easier for sites to archive periodic informational
postings, since they will need to watch just one newsgroup rather
than scanning the entire news spool.

* It provides a "quick reference" for users, in several different
respects. Users who want to browse through the various periodic
informational postings that the Usenet has to offer can do so in
just one newsgroup. Or, users who want to find an FAQ from a
particular newsgroup but don't know its subject can search for
that newsgroup in the headers of the postings in news.answers.

* Software for retrieving periodic informational postings can also
be simplified to use news.answers as the basis for searches.


Subject: What are the other *.answers newsgroups?

Each of the other *.answers newsgroups (alt.answers, comp.answers,
de.answers, humanities.answers, misc.answers, rec.answers, sci.answers,
soc.answers, talk.answers) is meant to serve as a repository for postings
that are relevant to its hierarchy. Postings are cross-posted to these
*.answers newsgroups IN ADDITION to, rather than instead of,
news.answers. For example, postings for newsgroups in the "rec"
hierarchy are cross-posted to both rec.answers and news.answers.
There shouldn't be any postings in these *.answers newsgroups that
don't appear in news.answers as well.

Obviously, since all postings in these newsgroups are cross-posted
to news.answers, postings in these newsgroups must conform to the same
guidelines as postings to news.answers.

These *.answers newsgroups have a few additional purposes:

* Site administrators can select which hierarchies' postings their
sites receive with greater granularity than just "receive
everything in news.answers" or "receive nothing in news.answers."
They can receive postings for some newsgroups they don't receive,
without receiving postings for all newsgroups.

* Similarly, people who wish to archive some but not all periodic
informational postings at their sites can choose which postings
to archive with greater granularity, in a simple fashion.

* Users who wish to read the periodic informational postings for
certain hierarchies can read just the *.answers newsgroups for
those hierarchies, rather than having to read news.answers and
skip over the postings they don't want to see.


Subject: How does it work?

A periodic posting maintainer who wants his or her posting(s) to
appear in news.answers (and other *.answers newsgroups) submits it to
the moderators, following the guidelines in the "*.answers submission
guidelines" article for proper submission and format of the posting's
headers. The guidelines article is periodically posted to news.answers;
it can also be retrieved from archives with anonymous FTP
Readers who do not have access to anonymous FTP can retrieve
it by sending email to with the command
"send faqs/news-answers/guidelines" in the message.

The moderators may accept the posting as-is, ask the submitter to
make modifications to the headers, or reject it completely. If header
modifications are requested, the submitter makes the modifications and
resubmits the posting. Once a posting has been approved for *.answers,
the moderators will explain how to indicate in the header of the message
that it was approved by the *.answers moderators, and the maintainer
can then post it directly to the group(s) him- or herself thereafter.

This needs to be emphasized, as it marks a very important difference
between how the *.answers moderated newsgroups work and how most
moderated Usenet newsgroups work: we will not actually post copies of
postings which appear in *.answers. Instead, our job is to approve
such postings (which are then cross-posted by their maintainers
directly into the *.answers newsgroups) and to watch over the
*.answers groups for problem postings. We are happy to render
assistance to maintainers who have problems figuring out how to
post a periodic informational posting as painlessly as possible,
however. (For example, the "*.answers submission guidelines" points
at several software packages available to simplify posting articles on
a regular basis; we also maintain a specialized server which can
periodically post articles, for people who cannot install additional
software packages to help them manage their postings.)


Subject: Where are postings to *.answers archived?

All of the *.answers newsgroups are archived in the periodic posting
archive on []. (Please always reference the
hostname, as IP addresses and canonical names will change
in the future, but will remain correct.)

Postings are located in the anonymous FTP directories
/pub/usenet/alt.answers, /pub/usenet/comp.answers, etc., and are saved
by the "Archive-name" lines contained within the postings. The
directory /pub/usenet/news.answers contains copies of every article
approved for cross-posting to *.answers, and it can also be accessed
as /pub/faqs/ . Other subdirectories of /pub/usenet archive postings
by the normal (i.e., non-*.answers) newsgroup(s) they are posted to;
the postings are saved by Subject line instead of "Archive-name".
These other directories contain many periodic informational postings
not cross-posted to *.answers, but which are listed in the List of
Periodic Informational Postings (LoPIP, itself periodically posted to
the news.lists.misc and news.answers newsgroups). For more
information about having a posting added to the LoPIP and archived at, see the *.answers submission guidelines.

For example, a posting with the subject "Bar Frequently Asked
Questions", cross-posted to the newsgroups, comp.answers, and
news.answers, with archive name "bar/general-faq", can be retrieved
via anonymous FTP as
or as

If you do not have access to anonymous FTP, you can access the
archives using the mail server. The above example
posting could be retrieved with the mail server command "send
usenet/news.answers/bar/general-faq". For more information, send
email to with "help" and "index" in the body
on separate lines.

Other *.answers and periodic informational postings "mirror"
archives (which make available some or all of the postings in the archive) are listed here, sorted by country. It is
usually faster and less wasteful of network resources to use an
archive located in your country, or on your continent. [If you decide
to archive *.answers and make them available to people for anonymous
FTP, mail archive server, or something else, please let us know so we
can mention your archive in this posting.]

Where applicable, the listings below are given as URLs, so that it
is easier to jump directly to the site named, for those using
URL-aware software. The access method is given first, followed by a
colon and two slashes (://), the machine name, and the directory path.
Other necessary information may be given on the same line.

anonymous FTP
World Wide Web

anonymous FTP
gopher gopher://
mail server; command "get avail faqs"

gopher gopher://
World Wide Web

anonymous FTP

anonymous FTP
gopher gopher://
mail server
World Wide Web

anonymous FTP (local access only)
FSP, port 2001
gopher gopher://
gopher index gopher://
mail server
World Wide Web

Hong Kong
anonymous FTP

World Wide Web

anonymous FTP

anonymous FTP

The Netherlands
anonymous FTP
gopher gopher://, port 70
mail server
World Wide Web

World Wide Web

anonymous FTP

South Africa
anonymous FTP

anonymous FTP

anonymous FTP
anonymous UUCP chx400:ftp/info_service/Usenet/periodic-postings
mail server
telnet, log in as "info"

anonymous FTP
mail server

United Kingdom
anonymous FTP
FSP port 21
gopher gopher:// port 70.
mail server
telnet login as sources
World Wide Web

United States
anonymous FTP
gopher gopher://, /pub/rtfm
World Wide Web

Please note that nearly all of these periodic informational postings
are copyrighted by their respective maintainers. (Even postings
without explicit copyright notices are copyrighted under the
international Berne Convention, in effect in most countries.) Some of
the postings, although certainly not all, prohibit redistribution for
any commercial purposes without prior approval; other kinds of
restrictions may also be imposed by the maintainers.

If you have any doubts about whether you may redistribute a particular
posting for some particular purpose, contact its author.


Subject: Searching *.answers postings

Due to the excessive loads imposed on the machine, the ability to
access and search the Usenet archives on via the WAIS
protocol has been disabled indefinitely.

However, searching is available via the World Wide Web mirror at . Searches can be performed on Subject and
Archive-name information, article headers, or the full text of the

The *.answers archives on can be also searched via
the WWW at Please
try not to swamp either service with excessive or frivolous searches.


Subject: Is there a forum to discuss issues related to FAQs?

If you are interested in discussion about the maintenance of Usenet
periodic postings and related topics (e.g. automatic archival of such
postings), you may wish to join the "faq-maintainers" mailing list.
Maintainers of articles cross-posted into *.answers are especially
encouraged to join. If you are not interested in discussion, but you
would still like to receive announcements directed to such
maintainers, then you may wish to join the "faq-maintainers-announce"
list instead. Note that subscribers to faq-maintainers will
automatically receive all messages sent to faq-maintainers-announce;
hence there is no need to subscribe to both mailing lists.

To subscribe to faq-maintainers, send email to the address with the subject line "subscribe"; your request
will be automatically handled by list software. To subscribe to
faq-maintainers-announce, send email to the address with the subject line
"subscribe"; your request will be handled by human beings.

You can access the archives of the faq-maintainers list in via anonymous FTP.


Subject: Acknowledgments

Thanks to the following people for running some of the various FAQ
archives mentioned above:

Zoltan Fekete <>
Martin Berli <>
Torsten Blum <>
Frederic Chauveau <>
Ingo Dressler <>
Thomas A. Fine <>
J. Anthony Fitzgerald <>
Armin Gruner <>
Henk P. Penning <>
Juan G Ruiz Pinto <>
James R. Revell, Jr. <>
Thomas Thissen <>
Herman Van Uytven <>
Arjan de Vet <>
Michael Chan <Michae...@HK.Super.NET>
Bob Hirsh <>
Sheryl Coppenger <>
Bartosz Maruszewski <>

-- (David Alex Lamb) (Nick Boalch) (Jonathan I. Kamens) [Emeritus] (Ping Huang) [Emeritus] (Pamela Greene) [Emeritus]

-- the *.answers moderation team <>


End of "Introduction to the *.answers newsgroups" Digest

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