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USENET
version 3.01
Internet Divisions What is USENET?
Http  - Ftp  -  Smtp  - Nntp  Usenet "Packets".
   How Big is Usenet?
 What is Spam - really!  Netiquette in Large Binaries Newsgroups
Let's Wipe Out Spam!  Feeding Trolls & Flames
Usenet Resources Format and Consequences of a Correct Cancel


Internet Divisions
Usenet is the correct name for what some ISP's call "newsgroups."  Each part of the Internet was designed to carry certain types of data; that is, they use different "transfer protocols."  For instance:
The Web is HTTP, HyperText Transfer Protocol. (Hypertext refers to the links you see in web pages and help files.)  Web pages can contain text, videos, music, java scripts - just about anything.
Information is stored in one location (this server computer), and your computer goes there to get it.

File Transfer Protocol is FTP. Direct computer to computer transfer. Again, just about anything can be accepted by FTP servers. One computer stores the info, other computers one at a time download from the one.

Email servers use SMTP, Simple Mail Transfer Protocol, limited to ASCII text.  But you can email binary attachments, yeah, but by Encoding them - just like Usenet.  Read on! One to one computer transfer, via one to infinite other computers.

Usenet is Network News Transfer Protocol (NNTP), with articles sent from one news server to another like email,.  Each article is first stored on that server's hard drive, then forwarded to the server's  "mailing list" of other news servers. Each of them in turn stores it on their hard drive, and  sends the articles to their list of servers, and so on.  Usenet article "packets" ripple out from the originating site, taking varying amounts of time and various routes to travel to you.  Usenet was never meant to handle binary material; just ASCII text. To work around this block, methods were devised to convert (encode) binaries into text for posting, and then back to their original binary form (decode) after downloading.  Many encoding schemes are available, but UUencode/UUdecode are the most accepted Usenet standards. yEnc is the current "Hot" trend in encoding binaries due to it's reduced transmitted file size.

Usenet Packets
  In binary postings, the files are often broken up into smaller files, then encoded by a Usenet protocol (UUE and yEnc being the most common) into much smaller packet sizes for transmittal as articles, each with it's own message ID # and trace information. This encoding action  increases the over-all size of the information between 3% for yEnc to as much as 40% for Uue. The "article" size allowed by most Usenet systems is often limited, in some older systems to as little as 512k. So, to get a complete binary file from usenet, you must have the software to collect all of these articles, decode them from their transmitted protocol, assemble them into their component parts, reassemble these pieces into a single file, and have the codec to play them. See, nothing to it!


What is Usenet?
   Long ago, back when computers were hand cranked, there were BBS's (bulletin board systems). You would dial up to a particular BBS, sit quietly watching the lights flicker on your modem as you read and posted replies to messages from others. As the internet grew from a very few locations to a nation wide connection, the need for a similar system grew, and usenet was born. More and more messages were posted, and a "grouping" of messages was developed to provide for easier finding of a desired subject. The "Big 8" groups are:
news.*            For information and Information about Usenet News
biz.*                For Business products, services, reviews
rec.*               For Games and gamers, hobbies, sports
comp.*            For Computer information of all sorts - Hardware, software, consumer info
sci.*                For applied science, social science...
humanities.*  For Fine art, literature, philosophy
soc.*               For Social issues, culture...
misc.*             For Employment, health, and much more...
alt.*                For everything else, which we'll delve into in much more detail
Within the alt.* groups, their developed a group sharing binaries - pictures and programs, which caused the creation of a subgroup -
alt.binaries.*    for the exchange of this type of message - which brought on it's own problems as the entire system had been set up for text only. This problem is addressed here. For now, it's enough to know that the groups split further into sub interests;
alt.binaries.*software-of-one-or-another* - groups like alt.binaries.warez, alt.binaries.auto-cad, etc.
alt.binaries.pictures.* - as it's name implies - for photos
alt.binaries.multimedia.* - for motion photos - movies, clips, you name it.
    and of course, many sub groups of a.b.m
and many more of a.b.*
And there are also what are refereed to as "local" groups - those not really intended to be picked up outside of a particular area or network.  Some are *.uk - for groups of the United Kingdom, and rr.* - for Roadrunner newsgroups.
As always in human nature, the busiest of these are the binary groups, simply because they use the most volume (bandwidth) to transmit and store on the different servers. Sadly, the net heads that set the protocols for Usenet weren't video heads as well, so the system they designed was set up to handle SMALL posting units (much smaller than the data contained on this page).


How Big is Usenet?

At last count (Jan 2004), and not counting "bootleg" (those groups not properly set up) and "local" (those groups set up to be seen only by a service providers customers or for in house chat) there were somewhere north of 85,000 different groups on usenet. And the volume on the groups - the amount of data being passed through the feed is running about 1,080 GigaBytes each day - that's one Tera Byte. This is up from 200 Gigabytes 2 years ago and 2 gigabytes 5 years ago. Simply put, there are a lot of us out there using usenet very heavily. And as broadband connections become the norm, this is likely to continue to put a strain on the resources.  The current servers in place are having problems keeping up, are replaced, more come on line and more is posted, and the cycle is repeated.

Think of the most congested road in the city where you live, then pass a law requiring every car in the city to drive both ways on that road each and every day. Pretty jammed up, uh? Now what would be the easiest way to fix up that road so it would handle the traffic? Shut it down, close it off, and rebuild the whole thing from the beginning - but then no one could use it. And chances are that during the time the road was being widened to handle the existing load, the traffic trying to use it would get even bigger, so that when it reopened it would still be jammed up.

Now go back and replace the word "city" with "usenet", "car" with "data packet", "road" with "bandwidth", and "jammed up" with "missing packets" and you might begin to understand what can go wrong between the poster's house and yours.



Netiquette in Large Binaries Newsgroups 

Recurring themes across all large binaries newsgroups,

1.  LOOK FOR A FAQ  before you post even a single question.  In groups that provide them, the FAQ is posted from once a day to once a month ( in this group it's posted more than 3 times a week ). Never post any question until you've watched the group daily for at least a few days, then your first post should only be a request to be pointed to the faqs, and nothing else.

2.  LURK AND LEECH for a few weeks before posting anything, including questions.  Find out what's welcome or taboo.  Observing will also help you avoid the mistake of duplicating very recent posts by rushing to contribute without knowing the group's posting history.

3.  RTFM (read the freaking' manual). Learn how to use your computer, software, and basic Internet tools like search engines.  While others are willing to help, don't expect to be spoon-fed.  You can get up to speed on any area of Usenet by reading the information contained here - and the links from here to selected sites. Try reading your Internet Service Provider's FAQs. Also, find out if your provider hosts any "local" newsgroups for members needing tech help, and use them.

4.  LOOK FOR A DISCUSSION GROUP. In Usenet, the common standard for a discussion group is to simply add a ".d" to the end of the group it's for. Hence the main discussion group for ABME is alt.binaries.multimedia.erotica.d. Others have created newsgroup.name.discussion (for the totally lost), and newsgroup.name.help (for those who can't read). While there may be some discussion or help in the last two groups, for the most part in the "alt" groups you'll find the chat confined to the "d" group. As an aside, posing your chat in a binaries group is a great way to be either ignored or flamed into oblivion if there is indeed a ".d" group.

5.  DON'T SHOUT unless you mean it.  In posts and email, THIS IS SHOUTING.  Turn off that caps lock.

6.  CONSERVE BANDWIDTH  All Usenet resources are limited.  The ever-increasing demands on news servers have led to tons of lost posts, shorter retention times and dropped newsgroups.  Wasting bandwidth hurts the whole community, especially in terms of complete posts reaching you. This includes, but is not limited to, posting a clip looking for fills, Posting twenty 1 line requests for clip, when a 6 line note in abmed could produce the file you're looking for much faster.

7. SKIP SPAM.  And please, don't encourage Usenet abuse by patronizing spammers' sites. See below.



Please DO NOT FEED the trolls
While it was not intented that we include any advice, here's two bits, worth 2 cents:
Trolls are that strange lonely form of usenet beast that "troll" usenet newsgroups with the sole hope of creating anger and confusion by posting annoying and abusive messages. Their desire ( and perhaps the only desire they have ) is to attempt to force reactions from otherwise sane people. When you're new to a newsgroup it's difficult to separate a "troll post" from a "flame war", but if you practice watching for awhile it gets easier. Difficult as it can be at times, PLEASE AVOID REPLYING TO ALL SUCH POSTS and thus feeding the trolls. Since trolls exist only for the attention they can generate, they will leave only — and always — when they are simply ignored.

Flame War is an entirely different set of ugly, vile, vulgar set of discussion thread that most typically pit two or more regular posters in a discussion they have already clearly espoused their views on. The tale tail for this is:
post one (from x): Donkey Kong is a great game
post two (from y): Donkey Kong sucks, Ping Pong rules
post three (from x): Pong sucks, and so do you
post four (from y): Pong rules, you suck, and only suckers play Kong
post five (from a poster claiming to be Z, but posting style looks awfully like x): I did your mom, so there
of the five posts, only the first two ( well, really one and a half ) have any value. The record (so far) in the abmed group (back to December 97) would appear to be 215 posts, containing over 10 thousand words, and only 4 statements of fact, the rest being various references to each others private habits and body odors.


What is Spam - really!
Much as reported, the phrase "Spam!" came from that wonderful lunch meat, and our fond memories of the Monty Python song cleverly entitled - wait for it - "Spam". The following is from a "Spam Cancel" I collected during some of my early spam fighter days. No longer practiced quite like this, it still provides a reference point for understanding.
From: clewis@ (Chris Lewis) on 31 Oct 1995
...."There are rules on Usenet regarding the posting of multiple copies of the same article.  When the thresholds are exceeded, the posting is termed "spam", and cancels for the postings can be issued.
  The spam determination is not determined by content: only article count and cross-posting index. Excessive Multi-Posting (EMP) means the same as the term "spam" usually does, but is more accurate and self-explanatory. The Breidbart Index (BI) is defined as the sum of the square roots of how many newsgroups each article was posted to.  This is a measure of Excessive Crossposting (ECP) also known as "Velveeta".

The heuristics for cancels are based _only_ on one or more of the following measures:
1) 20 or more separate copies of essentially the same article were posted (EMP),
2) 5 or more separate copies of essentially the same article were posted and the BI is > 20 (ECP)
3) is a continuation of a previous EMP/ECP, within a 45 day sliding window.  That is: if the articles posted within the past 45 days exceeds the thresholds in (1) or (2), it gets removed.  _Unless_ the originator has made a clear and obvious effort to cease spamming (which includes an apology and undertaking to do so in news.admin.net-abuse.misc).
4) broken gateways regurgitating old articles with new message ids.

The first three are generically called "spam".  The fourth is a "spew". General consensus puts the spam cancel threshold strictly as a BI of 20. These cancels have nothing whatsoever to do with the contents of the message.  It doesn't matter if it's an advertisement, it doesn't matter if it's abusive, it doesn't matter whether it's on-topic in the groups it was posted, it doesn't matter whether the posting is for a "good cause" or not, if it breaks these thresholds it will be cancelled. Therefore, these cancellations are non-content based.  They're not based on _what_ was said, they're based only on _how_ it was said....."
Again, an EDITED Quote from Chris Lewis


Let's Wipe Out Spam - really!
Ok, you wipe it out, after you figure out what it is. Oh, that's not it - or not all of it?
    If you are talking about the guy posting his grand mother's photos to alt.binaires.pictures.old-cars, or pictures to alt.binaries.pictures.discussion, then what he's doing is posting off topic.

    If you are talking about the person posting discussion to a binary group, or pictures ot a multimedia group, then within the confines of the charter of the group and rules of usenet he is TOSSable - as most Isps ( Internet Service Providers ) and Nsps ( Newsgroup Service Providers ) have Terms of Service that require that a poster conform to those during their use of the service. But often it's the number of complaints, not the quality, that carry weight with them. I have gotten many a "gee, we don't care" response from a Isp or Nsp ( one in particular always taking the tone "we aren't wrong, the problem must be on your end"), yet a day or two later the offender is complaining he's in trouble with them. There's a balance here - the faqs would never suggest you attempt to have a person's account blocked, just that you encourage them to follow their own Terms of Service Rule.

    If you're talking about advertisers - well, funny thing - there are good advertisers, and bad. There is nothing in most charters that prevent this form of posting (even if at heart it cuts deeply against the grain of the purpose and use of usenet). If it's not spam, and conforms to the charter and faqs (customs) of the group posted in, then the best you can do is, never ever follow a advertisers link, because he's watching where the link comes from - and if you feed him, he'll come back.


Format and Consequences of a Correct Cancel

Here is the preamble to the document that is linked below. Think carefully before you touch any of this with a ten foot pole. People have been sued, shut down, and hunted all over Usenet, the Internet, and hometowns by those who misunderstand every single word in the linked document.
Quote:

This document contains information about cancel messages on Usenet, such as who is allowed to use them, how they operate, what to do if your message is cancelled, and the like. It does not contain detailed instructions on how to cancel a third party's posts. It is not intended to be a fully technical document; its audience is the average Usenet user, up to a mid-level administrator.

This document is not meant to be a comprehensive explanation of Usenet protocols, or of Usenet itself, but a basic knowledge of these concepts is assumed. Please refer to news.announce.newusers, RFC1036, and/or RFC1036bis if you wish to learn them.

Disclaimers: The information contained within is potentially hazardous; applying it without the permission of your news administrator may cause the revocation of your account, civil action against you, and even the possibility of criminal lawsuits. The author of this document is in no way liable for misuse of the information contained within, nor is he in any way responsible for damages related to the use or accuracy of the information. Proceed at your own risk.
:End Quote
Now if you're certain, read on here.......


Usenet Resources
What is Usenet ?
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

General Usenet Resources

  • PGP Moose
  • Usenet Spam Fighters
  • Usenet Related Publications
  • CancelMoose
  • How to become a Usenet site
  • ewsgroup Charter and Control Archive
  • Usenet Nettique

    Usenet Moderation

    Usenet Software

    Usenet Standards Enhancements



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