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Introduction to the *.answers newsgroups

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Archive-name: news-answers/introduction
Version: $Id: Introduction,v 1.132 2001/05/09 17:40:07 ngb Exp $
Posting-Frequency: monthly

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[The most recent version of this document is posted periodically in
the *.answers newsgroups, including news.answers, and in
news.announce.newusers.  It can also obtained by anonymous FTP as  If
you do not have access to anonymous FTP, you can retrieve it by
sending email to with the command
"send faqs/news-answers/introduction" in the message.]

Subject: Introduction This is the introductory posting for the moderated newsgroups alt.answers, comp.answers, de.answers, humanities.answers, misc.answers, news.answers, rec.answers, sci.answers, soc.answers, and talk.answers (hereafter collectively referred to as "*.answers"). It explains the purpose of the newsgroups, what kinds of postings can be found in them, how to submit new postings for them, how to participate in the mailing list for periodic posting maintainers, and where to find archives of *.answers postings. Comments about, suggestions about or corrections to this posting are welcomed. If you would like to ask us to change this posting in some way, the method we appreciate most is for you to actually make the desired modifications to a copy of the posting, and then to send us the modified posting, or a context diff between the posted version and your modified version (if you do the latter, make sure to include in your mail the "Version:" line from the posted version). Submitting changes in this way makes dealing with them easier for us and helps to avoid misunderstandings about what you are suggesting.
Subject: What is news.answers? The news.answers newsgroup serves as a repository for periodic informational postings (many of which are called "Frequently Asked Questions", or "FAQ's") from other Usenet newsgroups. It's a place to collect answers, not to ask the questions themselves. Although it's difficult to say exactly what qualifies as a posting that belongs in news.answers, the basic description is, "any article which answers common questions and is meant to be read by human beings." Furthermore, postings cross-posted in news.answers should have subject lines that describe their content, with key descriptive information first. For example, an FAQ posting for should have a subject line saying something like " FAQ" or "Chess FAQ," not "Frequently Asked Questions About Chess". For example, the comp.unix.questions "Unix - Frequently Asked Questions...." postings and the news.announce.newusers "Emily Postnews Answers Your Questions on Netiquette" belong in news.answers, as does the README file from comp.mail.maps. However, the comp.mail.maps map postings do not, since they are not primarily intended for human perusal. Periodic informational postings from any hierarchy that travels using "Usenet mechanisms" may be appropriate for cross-posting to news.answers (i.e., news.answers is not limited to postings from the comp, sci, misc, soc, talk, news, humanities and rec hierarchies). Where there is any ambiguity, the *.answers moderators will decide whether or not a posting belongs in the newsgroup. There are several reasons why this newsgroup exists. They include: * It is easier for site administrators to keep periodic informational postings around for a long time if they are all cross-posted to one newsgroup. Administrators can make the maximum expire time for news.answers very long, instead of making every newsgroup with periodic informational postings in it have a long maximum expire time. * It is easier for sites to archive periodic informational postings, since they will need to watch just one newsgroup rather than scanning the entire news spool. * It provides a "quick reference" for users, in several different respects. Users who want to browse through the various periodic informational postings that the Usenet has to offer can do so in just one newsgroup. Or, users who want to find an FAQ from a particular newsgroup but don't know its subject can search for that newsgroup in the headers of the postings in news.answers. * Software for retrieving periodic informational postings can also be simplified to use news.answers as the basis for searches.
Subject: What are the other *.answers newsgroups? Each of the other *.answers newsgroups (alt.answers, comp.answers, de.answers, humanities.answers, misc.answers, rec.answers, sci.answers, soc.answers, talk.answers) is meant to serve as a repository for postings that are relevant to its hierarchy. Postings are cross-posted to these *.answers newsgroups IN ADDITION to, rather than instead of, news.answers. For example, postings for newsgroups in the "rec" hierarchy are cross-posted to both rec.answers and news.answers. There shouldn't be any postings in these *.answers newsgroups that don't appear in news.answers as well. Obviously, since all postings in these newsgroups are cross-posted to news.answers, postings in these newsgroups must conform to the same guidelines as postings to news.answers. These *.answers newsgroups have a few additional purposes: * Site administrators can select which hierarchies' postings their sites receive with greater granularity than just "receive everything in news.answers" or "receive nothing in news.answers." They can receive postings for some newsgroups they don't receive, without receiving postings for all newsgroups. * Similarly, people who wish to archive some but not all periodic informational postings at their sites can choose which postings to archive with greater granularity, in a simple fashion. * Users who wish to read the periodic informational postings for certain hierarchies can read just the *.answers newsgroups for those hierarchies, rather than having to read news.answers and skip over the postings they don't want to see.
Subject: How does it work? A periodic posting maintainer who wants his or her posting(s) to appear in news.answers (and other *.answers newsgroups) submits it to the moderators, following the guidelines in the "*.answers submission guidelines" article for proper submission and format of the posting's headers. The guidelines article is periodically posted to news.answers; it can also be retrieved from archives with anonymous FTP as Readers who do not have access to anonymous FTP can retrieve it by sending email to with the command "send faqs/news-answers/guidelines" in the message. The moderators may accept the posting as-is, ask the submitter to make modifications to the headers, or reject it completely. If header modifications are requested, the submitter makes the modifications and resubmits the posting. Once a posting has been approved for *.answers, the moderators will explain how to indicate in the header of the message that it was approved by the *.answers moderators, and the maintainer can then post it directly to the group(s) him- or herself thereafter. This needs to be emphasized, as it marks a very important difference between how the *.answers moderated newsgroups work and how most moderated Usenet newsgroups work: we will not actually post copies of postings which appear in *.answers. Instead, our job is to approve such postings (which are then cross-posted by their maintainers directly into the *.answers newsgroups) and to watch over the *.answers groups for problem postings. We are happy to render assistance to maintainers who have problems figuring out how to post a periodic informational posting as painlessly as possible, however. (For example, the "*.answers submission guidelines" points at several software packages available to simplify posting articles on a regular basis; we also maintain a specialized server which can periodically post articles, for people who cannot install additional software packages to help them manage their postings.)
Subject: Where are postings to *.answers archived? All of the *.answers newsgroups are archived in the periodic posting archive on []. (Please always reference the hostname, as IP addresses and canonical names will change in the future, but will remain correct.) Postings are located in the anonymous FTP directories /pub/usenet/alt.answers, /pub/usenet/comp.answers, etc., and are saved by the "Archive-name" lines contained within the postings. The directory /pub/usenet/news.answers contains copies of every article approved for cross-posting to *.answers, and it can also be accessed as /pub/faqs/ . Other subdirectories of /pub/usenet archive postings by the normal (i.e., non-*.answers) newsgroup(s) they are posted to; the postings are saved by Subject line instead of "Archive-name". These other directories contain many periodic informational postings not cross-posted to *.answers, but which are listed in the List of Periodic Informational Postings (LoPIP, itself periodically posted to the news.lists.misc and news.answers newsgroups). For more information about having a posting added to the LoPIP and archived at, see the *.answers submission guidelines. For example, a posting with the subject "Bar Frequently Asked Questions", cross-posted to the newsgroups, comp.answers, and news.answers, with archive name "bar/general-faq", can be retrieved via anonymous FTP as or or as If you do not have access to anonymous FTP, you can access the archives using the mail server. The above example posting could be retrieved with the mail server command "send usenet/news.answers/bar/general-faq". For more information, send email to with "help" and "index" in the body on separate lines. Other *.answers and periodic informational postings "mirror" archives (which make available some or all of the postings in the archive) are listed here, sorted by country. It is usually faster and less wasteful of network resources to use an archive located in your country, or on your continent. [If you decide to archive *.answers and make them available to people for anonymous FTP, mail archive server, or something else, please let us know so we can mention your archive in this posting.] Where applicable, the listings below are given as URLs, so that it is easier to jump directly to the site named, for those using URL-aware software. The access method is given first, followed by a colon and two slashes (://), the machine name, and the directory path. Other necessary information may be given on the same line. Austria ----- anonymous FTP World Wide Web Belgium ------- anonymous FTP gopher gopher:// mail server; command "get avail faqs" Canada ------ gopher gopher:// World Wide Web Finland ------- anonymous FTP France ------ anonymous FTP gopher gopher:// mail server World Wide Web Germany ------- anonymous FTP (local access only) FSP, port 2001 gopher gopher:// gopher:// gopher index gopher:// gopher:// mail server World Wide Web Hong Kong --------- anonymous FTP Japan ----- World Wide Web Korea ----- anonymous FTP Mexico ------ anonymous FTP The Netherlands --------------- anonymous FTP gopher gopher://, port 70 mail server World Wide Web Norway ------ World Wide Web Poland ------ anonymous FTP South Africa ------------ anonymous FTP Sweden ------ anonymous FTP Switzerland ----------- anonymous FTP anonymous UUCP chx400:ftp/info_service/Usenet/periodic-postings mail server telnet, log in as "info" Taiwan ------ anonymous FTP mail server United Kingdom -------------- anonymous FTP FSP port 21 gopher gopher:// port 70. mail server telnet login as sources World Wide Web United States ------------- anonymous FTP gopher gopher://, /pub/rtfm World Wide Web Please note that nearly all of these periodic informational postings are copyrighted by their respective maintainers. (Even postings without explicit copyright notices are copyrighted under the international Berne Convention, in effect in most countries.) Some of the postings, although certainly not all, prohibit redistribution for any commercial purposes without prior approval; other kinds of restrictions may also be imposed by the maintainers. If you have any doubts about whether you may redistribute a particular posting for some particular purpose, contact its author.
Subject: Searching *.answers postings Due to the excessive loads imposed on the machine, the ability to access and search the Usenet archives on via the WAIS protocol has been disabled indefinitely. However, searching is available via the World Wide Web mirror at . Searches can be performed on Subject and Archive-name information, article headers, or the full text of the FAQs. The *.answers archives on can be also searched via the WWW at Please try not to swamp either service with excessive or frivolous searches.
Subject: Is there a forum to discuss issues related to FAQs? If you are interested in discussion about the maintenance of Usenet periodic postings and related topics (e.g. automatic archival of such postings), you may wish to join the "faq-maintainers" mailing list. Maintainers of articles cross-posted into *.answers are especially encouraged to join. If you are not interested in discussion, but you would still like to receive announcements directed to such maintainers, then you may wish to join the "faq-maintainers-announce" list instead. Note that subscribers to faq-maintainers will automatically receive all messages sent to faq-maintainers-announce; hence there is no need to subscribe to both mailing lists. To subscribe to faq-maintainers, send email to the address with the subject line "subscribe"; your request will be automatically handled by list software. To subscribe to faq-maintainers-announce, send email to the address with the subject line "subscribe"; your request will be handled by human beings. You can access the archives of the faq-maintainers list in via anonymous FTP.
Subject: Acknowledgments Thanks to the following people for running some of the various FAQ archives mentioned above: Zoltan Fekete <> Martin Berli <> Torsten Blum <> Frederic Chauveau <> Ingo Dressler <> Thomas A. Fine <> J. Anthony Fitzgerald <> Armin Gruner <> Henk P. Penning <> Juan G Ruiz Pinto <> James R. Revell, Jr. <> Thomas Thissen <> Herman Van Uytven <> Arjan de Vet <> <> Michael Chan <Michael.Chan@HK.Super.NET> Bob Hirsh <> Sheryl Coppenger <> Bartosz Maruszewski <> -- (David Alex Lamb) (Nick Boalch) (Jonathan I. Kamens) [Emeritus] (Ping Huang) [Emeritus] (Pamela Greene) [Emeritus] -- the *.answers moderation team <> ------------------------------ End of "Introduction to the *.answers newsgroups" Digest ********************************************************

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