Search the FAQ Archives

3 - A - B - C - D - E - F - G - H - I - J - K - L - M
N - O - P - Q - R - S - T - U - V - W - X - Y - Z - Internet FAQ Archives

How to Construct the Mailpaths File

[ Usenet FAQs | Web FAQs | Documents | RFC Index | Property taxes ]
Archive-name: mailpaths/part1
Original-author: Gene Spafford (
Comment: enhanced & edited until 5/93 by (Gene Spafford)
Last-change: 25 Sep 1996 by (David C Lawrence)

See reader questions & answers on this topic! - Help others by sharing your knowledge
UNIX News software after B-news version 2.10 -- including C news and
INN -- has been designed to make it simpler to submit articles to
moderated newsgroups and to reply via mail to posted articles.  For
these functions to work, the file "mailpaths" must exist in the news
library and contain current information.  This file describes the
syntax of the contents of the file and how to construct it for your B
News or C News system.

INN's method is described in the moderators(5) and inn.conf(5) manual
pages; if you do not have locally moderated groups to worry about it
is probably easiest to simply define moderatormailer in inn.conf as
one of the machines listed below.

Some systems may not work in precisely the manner described here.  In
particular, some user-agent programs may consult a file of moderator
addresses directly.  The system news administrator should consult the
documentation and man pages to determine if this description applies
to the local configuration and modify it accordiningly.

You can test submissions to moderated newsgroups by posting to the
newsgroup misc.test.moderated.  If your article successfully reached
the moderator of the group then you should receive an automated reply
back confirming the appearance of your message.  There is also a
regular posting in the group that shows the apparent source of
submissions, which may help in diagnosing why your mail was not

All lines in the file consist of a keyword followed by whitespace,
followed by a printf-style format string which is used to encode a
mail address.  The format string should be constructed so that there
is a single "%s" in the field, and other information necessary to
construct a valid address to the appropriate site (see below).

The keyword field consists of either the word "internet", the word
"backbone", or some newsgroup pattern.  These are examined by the
software to determine which format-string to use.  Note that the FIRST
appropriate line matched is the one used -- thus, the "backbone"
keyword line should be placed last in the line if regional or local
moderated groups are supported.

Also note that the match software quits if it runs out of newsgroup
pattern, and if the pattern present matches the newsgroup.  Thus,
having the entries:
would always send mail to the moderator of "" and not to the
moderator of "", no matter which of the two newsgroups was
specified!  For proper operation, you would need to list them thusly:

Addresses that end up with both "!" and "@" symbols in the resulting
address get converted so that only "!" symbols appear in the final
address.  An address of the form "foo!bar!baz@barf" will get converted
to "foo!bar!barf!baz" and then mailed.  This should work properly for
"dumb" mailers but you should test it to make sure; "smart" mailers
should have the format fields encoded as a simple "%s". Note that
*any* address with more than a single "@" in it is illegal.

Submissions to moderated groups
When you attempt to post to a moderated newsgroup (indicated by the
letter "m" in the 4th field of the "active" file for that group), 
the action of "inews" is to mail the submission to the moderator.
This is done by searching through "mailpaths" file for a keyword
matching the newsgroup being posted to, or, by default, the keyword
"backbone".  Matching occurs as in the "sys" file -- thus,
"world" and "all" will also match everything, while "news" or 
"news.all" will only match articles posted in the "news" category.
This feature can be used to support local moderated groups.

Once a line has been matched, the name of the moderated group is
transformed into an address.  This is done by first turning all the
imbedded periods within the newsgroup name into hyphens (e.g.,
"news.lists" becomes "news-lists") because many mailers mishandle
addresses with periods in the username (periods are supposed to be
delimiters only in the host/domain part of RFC822 addresses, but some
mailers "overreact").  Next, the transformed group name is encoded into
an address using the format-string present on the line matched from
"mailpaths" and the article is mailed.  Thus, a posting to "news.lists"
from a site with the line
	backbone        emory!gatech!%s 
in the mailpaths file would have the article mailed to
"emory!gatech!news-lists".  Likewise, a line like
would result in the article being mailed to "".
To make the mechanism for moderated postings simpler, a subset of the 
best-connected sites (plus some others) have committed to keeping a complete
up-to-date set of mail aliases for the moderated groups.  Therefore, to
build this line in your "mailpaths" file, you need only construct
an address to get the mail to one of these sites.  In turn, once the
submission reaches that site, it will be forwarded on to the
appropriate moderator's mailbox.

The sites currently maintaining these lists are given in the following
list.  Pick the one that is "closest" to your site and use it in your
"backbone" format string:                                                                            

The hostname is a pointer to all of the above sites.
If you do not want to depend on any particular site above, you can use
it instead.  However, it will almost certainly be less reliable than
using, which originates the forwarding aliases.

All EUnet customers should use their feeding EUnet news server as
'backbone' for posts to moderated groups.  For example, German EUnet
customers would use  Non-EUnet sites in Europe
may forward through (aka

Internet Mail
If you define the "INTERNET" flag when you build 2.11 news, the
software will use the internet-style "From:" header when addressing
replies mailed to postings.  If your mailer does not have this capability,
you can still (possibly) achieve the same thing by defining the
"internet" line in your "mailpaths" file to forward such mail to
a host that does have a mailer which understands internet-style addresses.

The format of this line is very similar to the "backbone" line.  As an
example, consider:
	internet	emory!gatech!mcnc!%s
Thus, if "INTERNET" was defined when this version of news was built,
any reply to a news article would not travel along the "Path:", but
would instead be sent to "mcnc" for interpretation and remailing.
For example, to reply to this article, the mail would be sent to
"emory!gatech!mcnc!"  ->

Note:  This is being provided as a service to sites which do not
have routing mailers or which have difficulty replying to articles.
It is *NOT* intended for everyone to pass mail to other sites to send.
Excessive use of this feature may result in severe problems for
the sites doing the relaying, so please simply define this field to
be "%s" if your mailer understands domain-style (internet-style)

The following sites will accept internet-format mail for forwarding: 

User Contributions:

Comment about this article, ask questions, or add new information about this topic:

[ Usenet FAQs | Web FAQs | Documents | RFC Index ]

Send corrections/additions to the FAQ Maintainer: (David C Lawrence)

Last Update March 27 2014 @ 02:11 PM