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Archive-name: alt-sex/stories/moderated-faq
Last-modified: 02 December 1998 17:48:15
Posting-Frequency: monthly
Reason-for-last-modification: new questions, several answers rewritten.
Previous-modification: more changes to remailer info, many small updates.

See reader questions & answers on this topic! - Help others by sharing your knowledge
The questions:

    1. How can I participate in assm?
    2. What is acceptible in assm?
    3. Why have the headers on my post changed?
    4. How does the robomoderator work?
    5. Where can I get an anonymous address?
    6. Where are the stories archived?
    7. Hey! I saw some spam in assm. What's up?
    8. (Advanced) What do you use to moderate the group?
    9. (Advanced) What are some problems that may keep me from reading


The questions and answers:

    1. How can I participate in assm?

       If all is working well at your site, then just posting normally
       will cause the newsserver to forward the article to me for
       approval. If things are not working well any of several things
       could happen.

        your post appears on the group immediately
                Your site doesn't properly handle moderated newsgroups.
                Contact your system or news administrator.

        you get a a bounce from
                Your site has an out of date INN moderators file. Contact
                your system or news administrator.

        you get a bounce from UUnet
                Something odd is wrong. Send me mail.

        any other bounce
                Dunno. Probably something weird with mail somewhere. Try
                sending it again.

       At this point let's assume that the article made it to me. I will
       do one of three things with it.

         i. Approve and post it.

        ii. Reject it and send mail saying why.

       iii. Determine it to have an invalid return address and reject it
            without an email explanation. Spam falls into this category.

       Once I have injected it into the news system, it will take some
       time to propagate back to your host and other hosts. If you don't
       see the post at your site or at either of DejaNews or AltaVista
       within a few days contact me. Assm propagatation should be pretty
       good now, the groups seems fairly well established.

       If it is easier for you (as might be with an anonymous remailer)
       you can bypass your local newsserver when submitting things for
       approval by sending the article to
       <> directly.


    2. What is acceptible in assm?

         A. Stories and reviews only. No requests for stories, no ancedotes.
            No ads or web page announcements, etc. If you want to have an
	    introduction to your story, please post it at the start of the
	    work rather than in a seperate post (eg no "part 0" posts).

         B. Valid email address of submitters. It can be through a
            anonymous remailer, so long as it can be replied to get to
            the submitter. For now (at least) anti-spam munging of
            addresses is allowed.

         C. No HTML, MS Word, Word Perfect, RTF, etc. No poorly formatted
            posts (eg lines over 80 chars). Posts with long lines will be
            reformatted, but this will delay the story.

         D. All postings must allow free archiving at the ASSM newsgroup
	    archive or other free archive of the entire group.

         E. There are no restrictions on violence, spelling, or grammar.
	    It is intended that all stories reguardless of "quality" be

         F. Reposts are allowed, but if too frequent they will be rejected.

         G. Submitter need not be author.


    3. Why have the headers on my post changed?

       To improve propagation of posts the default action is to insist
       upon a crosspost. If one is provided, I will not add any others.
       If none are provided I will add There are some
       groups that I do not allow crossposts to, rec.arts.erotica is
       the most common. net.sexuality.* cannot be crossposted to
       Usenet proper, so  attempts to crosspost there will result in
       two posts. 

       To help provide anonymity for people using Hotmail, etc, all
       non-required headers that can give away identity are either
       removed or -- in the case of Organization: -- replaced.

       Occasionally I will change the Subject: to be more descriptive.


    4. How does the robomoderator work?

       The robomoderator only works with files that are well formatted
       and quite obviously stories.

       It will refuse to post things that are very short (less than 30
       lines in the body) or that have excessive long lines.  Blank lines
       and lines which begin with '>' are not counted towards the number
       of lines in the body.

       A simple math formula is used to determine "excessive long lines".
       Add up the lengths of all the lines which are 88 bytes or longer.
       If that total is above 1000 the story will not be autoposted.

       Additionally it is helpful to know that anything crossposted to
       more than five groups, crossposted to a moderated group, lacks a
       Subject:, or is uuencoded will not be considered for autoposting
       by the software and will be queued for manual posting.

       Base64 encoded and quoted-printable text is decoded in-place on
       the fly for posts received through the normal channels (posted or
       mailed to the <> address).
       Uuencoded text can be decoded, but not automatically.  Unencoded
       submissions are prefered.


    5. Where can I get an anonymous address?

       There are serveral services which offer web-only based replyable
       anonymization. There are also at least two others which can do it
       by email.

         I. gives users free mailboxes which can
            hide their real address. NetForward is descended from the old

        II. is another good source for free web-access

       III. has also entered the free mailbox game,
            and gives access to the newsgroup as well.

        IV. offered free and commercial anonymous
            remailing. Abuses by spammers forced it to be commercial
            only. It can be operated entirely by email

         V. is another commercial anonymous
            remailer. It seems to be descended from the EDTec remailer. I
            think it can be operated entirely by email.

       Nymserver has an excellent anonymous resources page at
       <URL:>. The newsgroups
       alt.anonymous and alt.privacy.anon-server are also good places to
       find out about other services.

       The Huge Cajones remailer and any other one-address-fits-all
       anonymizers by virtue of not having replyable addresses are not
       allowed. It is too easy to get free two way anonymization for me
       to feel these are necessary.


    6. Where are the stories archived?

       You can get them at <URL:>. The
       archive is free and not always available, but I do my best.


    7. Hey! I saw some spam in assm. What's up?

       There are two basic situations.

       Spamers may have through luck or design managed to get their
       junk through the robomoderator.

       Your newsserver may be misconfigured and accepting posts that
       should have been mailed to me for approval. Turn on the verbose
       headers or show all headers option in your newsreader and look
       for an "X-Moderator-Contact:" header. If it is not there, then
       it did not get approved.

       You may mail the full headers of spam that slips through to
       <> if you think it needs attention.


    8. (Advanced) What do you use to moderate the group?

       I use a system of software largely written by me in perl,
       c, and procmail. The main antispam filters are in my
       sophisticated procmail rc files (see 
       <URL:>) used in conjection
       with a perl scoring script (see
       <URL:>) and
       a hash manager for duplicate detection (see
       You are welcome to try to use this technology for other
       purposes, but be warned that jmdigest is slow.

       The robomoderator was entirely written by me to suit the 
       specialized needs of ASSM. It is not publicly available at
       this time.


    9. (Advanced) What are some problems that may keep me from reading

       Simple story is there are at least tens of thousands of usenet
       news servers around the world. Normally when you post it appears
       first on your local server, and then it distributes it to its
       neighbors and they continue the distribution. (The path header
       records the path it took.) The result is that you can post and see
       something immediately, but it might not be seen by others for
       hours or days.

       With a moderated group everything happens at the newsserver the
       moderator uses, not your local server. This delay is quite
       noticible. And if there is poor connection (for the group[s]
       involved) between your server and the moderator's server you can
       miss articles altogether.

       There are four things required for an article to move between two
       "peering" (directly sharing) news servers. Let's say an article is
       trying to go from X Industries' anvil newsserver to Waterbuffalo
       Breeding Inc's bnafh news-server.

         1. "bnafh" must not appear in the Path: header

         2. bnafh must carry at least one group the article is
            crossposted to

         3. bnafh must not have seen any article with that article's
            message ID in the past month

         4. if the Distribution header is being used, anvil must think
            banfh is part of one of the listed distributions and bnafh
            must think that anvil is allowed to give it articles with
            that distribution

       Distribution is rarely used. Some newsservers add additional
       checks like counting the number of crossposts or making sure the
       file is not too large, but those are fairly uncommon.

       Rule 2 from above can seriously hamper an article's distribution.
       Let's say you have a map like this, boxes denote newsservers,
       lines denote peering.

+-------+  +-------+  +-------+  +-------+
| bnafh |--| vodka |--| books |--| boing |
+---+---+  +-------+  +-------+  +---+---+
    |                                |
+---+---+  +-------+  +-------+  +---+---+
| anvil |--| green |--| money |--| fibre |
+-------+  +-------+  +-------+  +-------+

       Say anvil gets an article for alt.swedish.chef.bork.bork.bork, it
       will try to give it to green and bnafh. Let's say every machine
       but bnafh in the map carries a.s.c.b.b.b, green will accept the
       article, but bnafh will not. So to reach vodka, which is pretty
       close for some groups, that article will have to go through green,
       money, fibre, boing, and books before it will be even offered to
       vodka. On a much bigger map or on one where some of those
       connections are small/slow it is possible the article will never
       reach vodka due to news expiring.

       It also may be pertinant to point out once your newsreader has
       marked an article as read, it may hide if from you even if it is
       there. So "catching up" / "punting" / "marking all as read"
       (different terms I have seen in different newsreaders for the same
       thing) on a group with a lot of noise, eg a.s.s, will result in
       another group 100% cross posted to a.s.s, eg a.s.s.m, to appear

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