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ATXFA FAQ: Frequently Asked Questions for

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Archive-name: tv/x-files/analysis-faq
Posting-Frequency: monthly
Last-modified: 1998/10/24
Version: 1.33
Authors: Laura Burchard & Loligo Opalescens
Maintainer: Laura Burchard <>

See reader questions & answers on this topic! - Help others by sharing your knowledge
New items are bracketed with *'s and (on the web version) highlighted in
red. The most recent version of this FAQ can always be found at Comments or suggestions for
this FAQ should be directed to

This FAQ is now available in German at, courtesy of our
most kind translator Christian Lischer.

Charter: To provide a more focused subgroup that will allow low-noise
analytical discussion of the writing, filming, acting, social and academic
impact of The X-Files. Not for discussion of the actors or more general
posts. This is a moderated group; binaries, html, ads and sufficiently
off-topic postings will be rejected or canceled.

1. Topics

     1.1 What topics are okay for this newsgroup?
     1.2 Geez, that sounds kind of intimidating... can I post without
     a degree?
     1.3 What about spoilers?
     1.4 Can I post in other languages than English?
     1.5 Should I post a greeting to the group?
     1.6 Can I post about the X-Files computer game?
     1.7 Can I post transcripts of interviews or articles to the

2. Troubles

      2.1 Hey! There's no group on my ISP! How
     do I get it?
      2.2 I have the group, but no posts are appearing. How do I get
      2.3 My post never appeared! Should I repost?
      2.4 I munge my address for spam-protection -- can I still post?
      2.5 My posts were appearing fine -- now the newsgroup isn't
     marked moderated and they are vanishing. What happened?

3. Moderation

     3.1 How is this group moderated?
     3.2 I found a post that looks like a flame/offtopic/forged. What
     do I do about it?
     3.3 I messed up and got put on hand moderation or the blacklist.
     How do I get off?


1.1 What topics are okay for this newsgroup?

This newsgroup is meant to focus on reviews, criticism, commentary and
analysis of the show -- in other words, we're here to talk about the
writing, acting, directing, and production of the show, and its artistic
or social impact. 

There are many X-Files related topics that don't fit the specialized
mission of this group. Here are some examples of posts that would be

   * DD Scheduled to Appear on "Letterman"
   * GA's dress at the Golden Globes
   * Tampa Area X-Philes Get-together
   * XF Mags to Trade

All of these are appropriate for, but NOT here at ATXFA.

In contrast, here are some posts that would be ON-TOPIC here:

   * 10 arguments for why Marita should take a long walk off a short pier
   * how Scully's ever-changing hairstyles reflect the mood of the show
   * analysis of the strengths & weaknesses of Duchovny's acting
   * Jane Doe's review of "Folie a Deux"

Posts should also be more than just statements -- a post that simply says
after Travelers "He was wearing a wedding ring" is a poor choice of posts,
but one discussing whether it would make sense in context of Mulder's
character for him to be married would be appropriate.

Binaries, html, and ads are not allowed. Binaries are auto-rejected, and
if one slips through it will be canceled. HTML is currently not
automatically rejected but probably will be in the future. Configure your
news posting program correctly!  Please also take some care in editing
follow-ups;  don't forget to delete the parts of the message you aren't
referencing. If you have a brief reply to the whole of a long post, it's
best clip the body of the post and replace it with a short summation;
there are few things more annoying than repeating a fifty-line post with a
one line comment appended! 

Posts that consist of a pointer to a review on the web are marginal.
Currently I'm accepting them if the page they point to is non-commercial,
but I would prefer that the full review be posted on ATXFA instead, and a
pointer to the page be added in the .sig or as a line at the end.

There are a handful of cases where I can imagine a commercial posting
being appropriate; for example, if you were publishing an academic book on
the X-Files and wanted to notify people of its existence. If you have a
post that you are afraid will be regarded as an ad, but that you think is
legitimate, mail me at and we can discuss
posting it. 


1.2 Geez, that sounds kind of intimidating... can I post without a degree?

Indeed! You don't have to write papers or add footnotes to post, short
(and snarky) is perfectly okay. Some of the best insights come in short
and to the point messages. Nor do you have to check your sense of humor at
the door. 

On the other hand, those who do want to write long posts with footnotes
are as eagerly welcomed; ATXFA is a democracy of ideas. 


1.3 What about spoilers?

There's never anything wrong with posting a spoiler header, but you should
be specific -- "Spoilers through S3" "Movie spoiler". However, because the
world can be on as many as three different seasons, the only TV spoilers
that are required will be if you see a show and post before the first
North American broadcast. For the movie, it is best to have a spoiler
header until the series NA premiere in fall. 

And never spoil in a header!

1.4 Can I post in other languages than English?

Yes, you may. The only limit is that this is an ascii group, so no big5 or
cyrillic, please. And people posting in languages other than French,
Spanish, Italian, Portuguese and German (I can read a small amount of
Spanish and French and is my friend) will
either have to establish themselves by posting in English or one of those
languages long enough to get on automatic posting, or their posts will be
delayed while I locate a translator. Bilingual folks who want to volunteer
to translate the FAQ will be happily welcomed.

1.5 Should I post a greeting to the group?

There's a lot of us here; the best way to introduce yourself is to post on

1.6 Can I post about the X-Files computer game?

Depends. If you want hints or other help with game play, no. You should
instead visit or the newsgroups or But if
you want to analyze the characters or discuss the storyline, ATXFA is an
appropriate place. 

1.7 Can I post transcripts of interviews or articles to the group?

Interviews/articles are a little tricky. Anything you did yourself is
okay, of course. Ones posted on the Web should probably be done by posting
a pointer instead of the whole article, or selected quotes if you want to
discuss elements of it here. 

Offline stuff or Web stuff that's disappeared... well, you are going to
have to work out your own interpretation of fair use. From my personal
point of view, I wouldn't post the text of anything that's still on sale. 
You should probably go check out some of the copyright faqs to see what
the law thinks -- is one. 

You should, however, stick to articles and interviews that contain a fair
percentage of talk about the show as opposed to personal life; DD's views
on his character are great, his views on Tea Leoni are irrelevent.


2.1 Hey! There's no group on my ISP! How do I get

The newgroup message for ATXFA was issued June 8th, 1998, and booster
newgroups are periodically issued. It's possible that it will turn up on
your system automatically, but more than likely you'll have to request its
creation. Mail support at your ISP and tell them that you'd like, and it should appear soon after. A copy of the
original control message can be found at if they need to see

You should also keep a copy of any postings you make until you confirm
that your postings are actually making it to me, as some systems may be
initially misconfigured; moderated groups are a little trickier than
unmoderated. Postings can also be sent directly to I
have the software on silent status during the shakedown period, because I
don't want it mailbombing people if misconfigured news software screws
stuff up. You won't get the charter/acknowledgement mail back, therefore. 
Please mail me ( preferred; use if
you can't get through on the former) if you are having any problems with
rejections or bounces; include the rejection or bounce so that I can see
what went wrong. 


2.2 I have the group, but no posts are appearing. How can I get them?

First check in DejaNews to make sure that there really were posts that
should have appeared, and that it's not just a very slow period or a
problem on the moderator's side. If there are, the posts are probably
getting dropped on a newshub before they get to you. First mail support at
your ISP, and if they can't help you, mail me a copy with complete headers
of one of my posts (from, any newsgroup will do) as they
appear from your machine. I'll do a header analysis and see if I can
locate the problem. Meanwhile, try reading the group at My DejaNews or

2.3 My post never appeared! Should I repost?

First check in DejaNews to see if it appeared there; it may just not have
made it to your ISP. If it isn't in DejaNews either, and you don't have
any reason to think it was rejected, go ahead and repost. You can mail it
directly to if you want to be certain it gets to the
moderation program. If you still are having troubles, or you didn't keep a
copy of the post, mail me at with details, and
I'll look into what happened and see if I can find the post. 

If you do think it might have been rejected, hang on for a bit --
sometimes I toss questionable posts out my consultant board, and it might
take a couple of days for it to get back. If you still don't see it by
then, and you didn't get a rejection notice, go ahead

However, the most likely cause of a missing post is not rejection, but
being stuck in the editing queue if there were too many quoted lines

2.4 I munge my address for spam-protection -- can I still post?

Yes, you can. But before you munge, you should read And while it is not required
that you put a human-readable version of your email address in your
footer, it is very much preferred by the moderator; otherwise I have no
way of getting into contact with you if a post is problematic. However you
choose to munge, it's best if you have it both unique to you and the same
from post to post; that way I can still preapprove you. 

Some people use a trick of a From of postmaster@[], in the hopes
of bouncing spam back to the originating system's postmaster. Please don't
do this; in the process of being forwarded to the moderation system, it
gets translated to postmaster of the forwarding system, who will probably
not appreciate getting email meant for you.


2.5 My posts were appearing fine -- now the newsgroup isn't marked
moderated and they are vanishing. What happened?

Usenet newsgroups have been under a series of attacks recently. Among many
other things, vandals have been flooding the control.newgroup group with
bogus newgroup messages setting moderated groups unmoderated. If the group
has been marked moderated and it doesn't show as moderated any more, or if
you had been getting a 'this message has been mailed to the moderator'
message and you don't anymore, this is probably what happened. Contact me
at Also, contact support at your ISP and
suggest that they turn off auto-newgrouping -- that all newgroups should
be either checked against their PGP key and a trusted newgrouper list, or
sent to the news-admin for action.

3.1 How is this group moderated?

The group is robo-moderated, which means that if your first posts are
approved, you will be put on a 'whitelist', and from then on the
moderating software will automatically approve your postings and forward
them to the newgroup. When the newgroup is fully established, your first
post will result in a copy of the FAQ and charter being sent to you; that
is in abeyance at the moment. Posters who repeatedly violate the charter
will be placed on hand-moderation status, while extremely abusive posters
will be placed on auto-block -- a 'blacklist'. 

Vigorous discussion is welcomed and encouraged, but threads that
degenerate into flame wars will be cut off. 

A certain amount of discussion about the newsgroup itself is acceptable,
as it will help the moderator determine more precisely how to moderate,
but the moderator reserves the right to cut off threads if it becomes too
much noise for the group. It is preferred that such metadiscussion have
headers prefixed with META:, to allow those who wish to avoid it to

Crossposting is allowed, but articles crossposted to more than 5 groups
will be automatically rejected, and except in rare cases, articles posted
to more than two groups should have the followup pointed to a single
group.  Please remember to edit newsgroups if the thread begins to move
off topic.  Crossposting between two moderated groups is not allowed; this
is usenet standard, because the Approved header does not distinguish
between groups, and therefore approving a crosspost to another moderated
group would be the equivalent of a forged approval in the latter group. 

The idea is to keep the newgroup focused, not make people paranoid about
posting. One flip reply is not going to be a charter violation. I'm hoping
that nearly everyone will be on autopost/whitelist status, and therefore
that the hand moderation load will be low enough for me to handle alone.
However, I've put the shell of a multi-moderator system in place so that
more moderators can be added easily. If needed, I will ask for volunteer

3.2 I found a post that looks like a flame/offtopic/forged. What do I do
about it?

First -- please don't flame back on the newsgroup! I'll just end up having
to slap your wrist too -- or just yours, if the post turns out to be on
topic. If you find something that you think slipped past, just forward it
to me at with your comment. Even if I don't
agree, it's useful to me to know what people feel is off charter; it helps
me adjust my moderating strategy.

3.3 I messed up and got put on hand moderation or the black list. How do I
get off?

This may sound horribly legalistic -- it's not meant to be, it's so that
people don't get surprised.

My current plan for who goes on the blacklist (auto-rejection) is A) 
people forging approvals B) people posting ads (for ex, 'blizzrd' and his
shills to try to get click throughs for Cybernetic Outpost) and C) being
an extremely, extremely abusive poster: newsgroup bombing, death threats,
et cetera. The only circumstance in which I can imagine 'real' posters
getting black listed is D) being on hand moderated status and mailbombing
the moderators with multiple submission of one article (or say, fifty
separate ones in a day). People in classes A and B will be blacklisted
until they explain themselves to; second
offenses will result in permanent lockout in most cases. Class C I reserve
the right for permanent lockout on first offense. Class D will get an
escalating series of blocks: one month, two months, four months, not to
exceed six months without review. 

Since I expect that most people in hand moderation will be there not
because of malice but because they forget to edit crossposts when going
off topic, it's going to be pretty easy to get off the hand moderated
list;  there will be an escalating series of time periods on hand
moderation: one week without charter violations and you are off hand
moderation, two weeks for the next series of incidents, then one month,
two months, four months, the period never to exceed six months without
review.  If you feel it is a mistake that you are on hand moderation,


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