Guide for creating a newsgroup in the free.* hierarchy
The light of knowledge will banish the shadows of ignorance

Eugene A. Calame



I may tell you more than you really want to know here but I am trying to answer questions that might be asked by readers that have no knowledge of creating a newsgroup.

The first step would to familiarize yourself with the FAQ you will find at . Much to your delight you will find the words by the author Tim Skirvin (, "Everything is permitted. Nothing is forbidden", and that is so.

However, that terrible word however, you must submit a control.newgroup message that follows strict procedures due to software considerations. Should you not do so the group will not be created.

The name must follow some form that can be handled by the software of news servers. You can find a document that outlines that form at written by (David Lawrence). It's only about two and a half pages so it will not take to much time.

I have pasted a portion of the document that pertains to naming requirements below.


All newsgroup names consist of components, which are the elements of
the name between the dots. For example, "news.announce.newgroups" has
three components, "news", "announce" and "newgroups. I do not add
groups that do not conform to the following standard for Usenet group

+ a component MUST contain at least one letter
+ a component MUST not contain uppercase letters
+ a component MUST begin with a letter or digit
+ sequences 'all' and 'ctl' MUST not be used as components
+ the name must have at least two components
+ the first component MUST begin with a letter
+ the first component MUST not be "control" or "to".

Those criteria are based on rules written by Henry Spencer for the
Internet draft standard that is to replace RFC 1036.

The document goes on to say...

the limit on the length of a component.
The de facto limit was 14 octets for over a decade and a
half. It is currently proposed that this be lifted to a "soft" limit
of 30 octets (eg, it is recommended that name components be kept under
30 octets, but it would not be illegal to have an even longer

I think that takes care of the name but you can see that you do still have to follow some rules if you want the group to be accepted by the news server.

Another important item that goes in the body of the message is the For your newsgroups file: line. This should be as follows...

For your newsgroups file:
free.a tab

Again from the document by (David Lawrence)

Here's what I would like to see for each line:

group.namedescription.[ (Moderated)]

There should be one or more hard tabs (assume 8 column tab stops) to
get to a description; if the is more than 24 characters,
just one tab. The description should start with a capital and end in
a period and not be more than 56 characters (80 - 24) long. If the
group is moderated, it should have " (Moderated)" following the
period, not counted as part of the length of the description. The
goal is to keep the total line under 80 columns, so if the group name
is 25 characters long you'd have eight less description characters to
work with.

Some over-long descriptions could be made to easily fit the length by
dropping "puff" phrases like "Discussion of" which don't meaningfully
contribute to the description. Others are usually pretty easy to get
to no more than column eighty, except when the group names start
getting really long. Hopefully then the group name itself contains
quite a bit of description.


The control.newgroup message

The control.newgroup message must absolutely have three components in the header of the message. Subject: cmsg newgroup free. ,
Control: newgroup .
(Do not include the "<" and ">" signs.)
The rest the header fields are added by the newsreader in most cases.

To get these fields you must have a newsreader that allows you to add the fields. There are several newsreaders that will allow this but I have supplied two, and their source, that are freeware. I have also included the process of adding the extra headers.

Windows 95/98

Windows 3.x


The MT-Newswatcher (Macintosh)

To configure the MT-Newswatcher perform the following.

From the menu
click on FILE
Scroll down to Extra header lines
Type in control:
Type in approved:
Click OKAY
For version 3.0 MT-NewsWatcher the following change.
In recent versions, you edit the headers in Personalities... under
the Special menu, or in the "Extra News Headers" tab in the "New Posting" window.

The Free Agent Newsreader
(Agent is essentially the same)

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 labeled [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.

some examples

From: {email address of person sending this message}
Newsgroups: alt.config,{name of newsgroup being created}
Control: newgroup {name of newsgroup being created}
Subject: cmsg newgroup {name of newsgroup being created}
Summary: discussed in alt.config, substantial interest, appropriate name
Expires: {this should be left empty, in a newgroup message}
Approved: {email address of person sending this 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}

(make sure you have a blank line here, between the header, above, and the body, below)

For your newsgroups file:
free.(tab) A few words describing the newsgroup.

{You must follow the format above exactly; copy the first line verbatim, and on the second line give the name of the newsgroup, followed by one or more spaces. or tabs, followed by a few words describing the group. Start with a upper case character and end with a period.Do not run over the end of the line! 80 charters max. Including spaces, tabs and period.)

Not all the header fields in the example above need be added but don't forget; The Subject:, Control:, and Approved: fields *must* be there.

This is a first effort at writing this guide. If you find mistakes or think more needs to be added please contact me at eacalame@excite.comor through the newsgroup


CLICK HERE If you would like to learn more about Usenet and newsgroups

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Eugene A. Calame
Austin, Texas USA