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How (not) to create Alt groups FAQ

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On Mon, 02 Mar 1998 22:37:12 GMT in alt.config David Farrar wrote: in

See reader questions & answers on this topic! - Help others by sharing your knowledge
Archive-name: alt-hierarchies/alt-advice
Posting-Frequency: monthly 
Last-modified: May 15, 1998
Version: 3.3

(posted monthly)

Version 1 by Billy Harris (
Version 2 by Billy Harris and Tim Pierce (
Version 3 by David Farrar (

NOTE : This FAQ uses a type of humour known as sarcasm.  If you can't
recognise this, don't act literally on the advice within.  And see a
doctor quick!

New this post:

Cross-posted to alt.answers and news.answers after approval by
*.answers moderators.

Various updates including reference to the!

This is a revision of the former FAQ last posted in May 1995 and
revived in January 1998.  



1. I want to create a new alt group.  How do I start?

For one thing, make sure you don't talk about it on alt.config. The
only people there are tyrannical, embittered news administrators and
other busybodies who don't like anything that anyone does, so don't
even bother.

 You also need to think of a good name for your group.   Use this
handy checklist in choosing a worthwhile alt name:

   * Use as many periods as possible, for separating words or even
     syllables.  This is the most useful yardstick for measuring a
     newsgroup's importance; the more periods, the merrier!

   * Don't hide your group amongst the others that are already there;
     create a new hierarchy if you possibly can.  Using the existing
     namespace is just no fun.  This may seem to be in conflict with
     the rule above (maximize periods) but there's nothing to stop you
     from creating a new hierarchy and seven or eight sub-hierarchies
     at the same time.

   * Repeat words for emphasis.  For example, alt.flame.joe.blow is
     clearly an inferior choice to alt.flame.joe.blow.die.die.die or,
     better, alt.flame.joe.blow.die.die.die.NOW.NOW.NOW.YES.YES.YES!!
     Both of these attract more attention than the first.  (Also note
     the capital letters and exclamation points -- these are extra
     neat.  See below for information on how to handle pesky system 
     managers who might complain about them.)

   Beware, however, of creating a newsgroup name that is too
   descriptive of its content.  Then people can look at the name and
   tell what the group will discuss.  Random strangers might join your
   group. What you want is a private discussion forum where you can
   exchange inside jokes.  Hence, a better name might be
   alt.flame.jbdddNNNYYY.  (Insert periods at will to improve the
   name.)  For maximal obscurity, choose an unrelated hierarchy under
   which to start the group: alt.sci or alt.comp, for example.

   And remember the maxim of alt: is always a good place for
   *any* newsgroup.


2. If I'm not supposed to post to alt.config, what is alt.config for?

It is there to post the charter 15 minutes before sending the 
newgroup message.  That helps to ensure support for your group because
otherwise, the news admins will only see it once and forget about it 

News admins have very short attention spans.  They are too wrapped up
in playing solitaire to answer anyone's questions if you do happen to
post to alt.config.  Even when bothered to read the group, they are
likely to forget most topics, anyhow.  So, it is best to keep the
discussion going about the newsgroup proposal right away, so that the
subject stays fresh in their minds.  Here are some suggested tactics,
which should be posted in less than 4 hours from posting about your
new newsgroup:

   Thanks for no input, you bunch of (favorite expletive) lusers!!
   Why hasn't my group been created yet?
   There is an immediate need for this group!  We need it now!
   Why hasn't anyone responded?  It's been 20 minutes!  Don't you 
    jerks read this group?

If one of the above doesn't work, try another method thirty minutes 
later, and so on.


3. Okay, I've decided to name my group  What do I do now?

   Create the group by sending the appropriate control message 
   (look in the "control.newgroup" newsgroup for examples).  Since
    news administrators don't care about their jobs (it's all a sham,
   actually), they don't have time to read long control messages,
   so there's no need to put any effort into writing this message.
   Just say, "Please create"
   Above all, you certainly don't need to justify its existence; 
   that's not needed until later. (see Question 7, part B).


4. This newsgroup has been around for about three days, and it
   rocks!!  How can I move it to the rec hierarchy?
   Well, boring administrator types will babble something about David
   Lawrence and news.announce.newgroups, but you don't have time to
   wait for a moderator to approve your post, and you certainly
   don't have time to read news.announce.newgroups for information on
   how to do this.   All you have to do is post a call for discussion
   in news.groups, wait a couple of weeks, and post a call for votes.
   Timing your post for discussion is very important; your discussion
   should take about a month and you want the voting period to 
   coincide with steps 5 and 6 below.

   One key point to remember is that the control freaks on alt.config
   will vote no for EVERYTHING and will in fact actively campaign 
   against you and your group. To offset those NO votes, you need to
   generate lots of YES votes by cross-posting your call for votes to
   lots of newsgroups.  Remember: The more groups you cross-post to, 
   the more YES votes you  will generate. comp.lang.lisp is a great 
   place to generate votes for, 
   because the fascist administrators on alt.config would NEVER think 
   of campaigning there. Be sure and mention that you are also forming
   an alt group; that way, the people of comp.lang.lisp will help you 
   in your fight with the control freaks on alt.config.


5. Somebody told me that my newsgroup is only on 4% of news sites!
   What should I do to correct this heinous injustice?

   Alert the media!  It's a conspiracy.  Consider threatening those 
   news sites who don't carry it with legal action.  The Law Systems 
   Institute ( can help.

   Subscribe to alt.config and post a message complaining about 
   the low propagation of alt.blah.blah. You should post a sharp 
   criticism of the conspiracy of system administrators who have 
   nothing better to do than think of ways to sabotage your news 

   You should moan about the terrible propagation of your group
   and about the severe disservice these system administrators are 
   doing to Usenet in general and to you in particular.  Refer to 
   Question 5 for more detailed information on good rhetoric to 
   use in this post.

   Alternately, you can post a message pleading and begging news
   administrators to carry alt.blah.blah. A message such as
   "Please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please
   carry alt.blah.blah.  Pretty please? With sugar on top?  The entire
   Internet community will thank you if you do and we'll all send you
   money. Pretty please? Please?" should work nicely.

   For even better results, post both types of messages.

6. Someone complained about my group! What should I do?

   Pay no attention.  Administrators are just godless Fascists.

   The most important thing to remember when discussing new alt groups
   on alt.config -- which you shouldn't do anyway -- is that news
   administrators are completely impervious to logic.  It does no good
   to reason with them, so don't try.

   Suggested discussion topics:

      You're just an evil Communist!
      Who appointed you God.
      This is alt!  I can do whatever I want to!
      Why should I listen to you?  Just because you're a news
        administrator?  You're obviously not having any fun.
      Well, you're wrong because I know all about how this works.
      If you cared about your users, you'd carry this group.

   Keep in mind that the administrator probably did *NOT* ask his 
   users whether or not they wished to read this group. Demand that he
   call all 500 of his/her users to find out if any one of them wants 
   to read your group.

   One proven way of gathering support for your group is to list all 
   the really dumb groups that have gotten approved -- such as 
   alt.spleen, alt.enya.puke.puke.pukeSender:, and 
   alt.culture.sardines.  These groups may not exist at your site, but
   they must exist somewhere or the fascist administrators in 
   alt.config wouldn't complain about them so much.  Surely it's 
   obvious, even to the dunderheads in alt.config, that if groups
   like those can exist on one site, your group should exist on ALL 
   NOT TRUE! You must bring this point out explicitly, as the 
   administrators are too self-absorbed to think of this on their own.

   If everyone is conspiring against you, just go on to the next step.
   Railroading proposals through is the alt way of life!


7. I've been rmgroup'ed, what should I do?

Ignore anything in the message, as it is just from some censorious pig
somewhere.  Instead, immediately newgroup it without any text.  Be
sure to forge the From: address so that no one can email complaints to


8. I keep getting rmgroup'ed, what should I do now?

A. Email the abuse department where they work.  Be sure to let them
know what kind of censorious netcop is working for them.  Make sure to
Cc: postmaster, news and the poster as well as any other addresses at
that domain you can find.  If they own their own domain, that will
teach them to screw around with you.  Throw in lots of expletives for
added effect.  Be sure to also post your complaints to alt.config,
news.groups, alt.usenet.kooks and to get
the message to a larger audience.


9. Joe Blow still won't carry my group! What should I do now?

   Name calling is quite productive. If you can't think of any
   good names, try these:

          Control freak
          Mind controlling PC scum 
          Fundamentalist right-wing fanatic
          Hitler (ignore those who quote Godwin's Law)

   Adolf Hitler tortured and killed millions of people. Joe Blow 
   criticized your alt.blah.blah proposal.  Surely everyone can see 
   the similarities between these two events, right?  WRONG! As 
   explained before, system administrators are incapable of thinking 
   logically. No matter how obvious Joe Blow's evil nature is to you, 
   the administrators of alt.config won't notice.  So, you need to 
   publicize Joe Blow's evil nature and point out the comparison to 
   Hitler.  Since no one wants to support a nazi, hundreds
   of sites will add your group.
   Be sure to mention Joe Blow's name several times in the letter, so
   everyone will remember exactly who you are talking about. After
   other system administrators see your vicious post about Joe Blow,
   they will add your group so that you will not similarly insult 

   Finally, at the end of your post, put a line similar to: "P.S. to
   all:  Don't forget to vote for blah.blah by next Weds" Thus, while
   alt.blah.blah is fresh on everyone's minds, you can attract more
   votes for (non-alt) blah.blah. Remember that you need to get at
   least 100 votes to create a non-alt group, so every vote counts. By
   including this PS on a note about alt.blah.blah, you will attract
   several voters who otherwise would not have participated.


10a. All right!! My group passed the mainstream vote!!

   Congratulations; you have proved the worthiness of your topic.
   System Administrators now have no excuse not to carry your alt 
   group, and you can say that publicly. After all, without an alt 
   group,  how can people cross-post the same article to both groups? 
   How would people be confused about which topics go where?
   Clearly, an alt group is needed. Every news group should have a
   corresponding alt group!

10b. Awww.. My group failed the mainstream vote. And we were so close.

   Some people would suggest that you say something logical, such as:
   "My topic has a lot of interest but not quite enough for the 
   mainstream Usenet.  Therefore I recommend an alt group."
   The problem is that this statement makes sense. As stated earlier,
   logic is useless against system administrators. If you absolutely 
   insist, then you can gather together all of the reasons you didn't 
   use before and post them to alt.config.  My advice, however, is
   to follow the suggestions given for Question 10c.


10c. I can't believe it! Usenet voters didn't like my group at all!

   What?? Obviously Joe Blow (who criticized your alt group) has
   formed a conspiracy against you. This is the only reason for
   the skewed vote, since we both know your group is the best thing
   to happen to Usenet since

   Thus, you should post a message explaining the situation to 
   everyone who thought the vote was legitimate. You should accuse Joe
   Blow of ballot stuffing, forgery, bias, murder, and any other 
   crimes you can think of.  Point out that Joe Blow has a well-known,
   long-standing personal vendetta against you and spent 8-12 hours 
   per day trying to sabotage your vote.

   Claim that it is against the constitution and a federal offence not

   to have people create your group.  Join the vote yes organisation 
   ( to help ensure that no groups ever 
   again will be defeated by the evil  If all else fails 
   offer bribes to people to create or vote for your group.

   Something else that can also work is to blame the outcome on the
   incompetence of the vote taker. Sometimes this works even if YOU
   are the vote-taker; accuse yourself of incompetence and demand that
   someone volunteer to collect votes for the also demanded revote of

   Finally, conclude your message by including a line such as:
   "Because that bigot Joe Blow's dictatorial ballot-stuffing
   forgeries have killed blah.blah, you are morally obligated to
   support alt.blah.blah. If you don't, you are just as guilty as Joe
   Blow.  P.S. everyone please mail to root@somewhere demanding a
   revote of blah.blah due to Joe Blow's meddling"


11. I followed all your steps, and my propagation is close to .01%.   
      Now what should I do?

   You should post one more time to alt.config saying "FINE! DON'T 

   POND WATER SCUM!" You may substitute whichever expletives seem 
   appropriate. To emphasize that this message is a spontaneous 
   outburst, you should add few typos caused by your fingers slamming 
   on the keyboard: "FINEW! DON"T SCARRI ALT>BLAH>BLAH!!!! SEE IF I 

   With that final message, you can sit back and relax, safe in the
   knowledge that you have set a new record low for propagation of
   alt.blah.blah: 0!



 Note: Once I get 150 suggestions, I will remove this section and the
 authorship information; by that time, this thing will have become a 
 true group effort.

 Until then, thanks to: for advice on how to get 100 votes for a non-alt
group. for reminding me about ObHitler flames. for improved Hitler flames for idea of bypassing news.announce.newgroup 
moderation for reminding me about, etc. for sections on what alt.config is for and
handling rmgroups for 1/2 authorship and suggesting
the Emily Postnews format in the first place. for original authorship for inventing the Emily Postnews style on which this 
FAQ is modeled

Feedback and changes welcome


For a guide to the alt.* creation process see

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