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Appendix B:Canned Messages

Appendix B: Canned Messages

All moderators get a certain amount of wildly off-topic submissions, and it helps to have a form letter that you can send to clueless folks, without having to take the time to figure out why they might have been posting to your group, or where they should have sent their post, or whether it was their brain or their software that erred.

Here are a few types of canned responses that you may want to have handy to save you time and effort:

  • Read the FAQ, where the question you asked is answered.
  • Your message wasn't posted because it was similar to several other messages just posted, but thanks anyway.
  • Your question was answered by past messages, here's how to look in the archives.
  • You have been taken off the mailing list [if your group is two-way gatewayed to a BITNET list] because mail to you bounced. If your mail now works go ahead and resubscribe.
  • To subscribe or unsubscribe to the mailing list, send a message to blah.
  • Your message was cross-posted to other moderated newsgroups and the policy of this newsgroup is no cross-posting. It appeared on this one but no others.
  • Various responses pointing people at on-line resources.

When a spamming message is received, just throw it away with no response at all, particularly if it was cross-posted to a bunch of equally irrelevant groups. There is no reason to alert the spammer to the fact that the message wasn't posted. If it seems like it might be useful, send a polite note to usenet@ or the postmaster@ the spammer's site.

B.1. C News Duplicate headers message template

Dear postmaster/usenet administrator:

I am the moderator of <insert your group here>. I receive emailed submissions for the group. As I get a lot of submissions, it can sometimes be rather time consuming to get incoming articles ready for posting. You appear to be running C News, which has the annoying habit of inserting duplicate sets of headers when the transport software sends the posting from your user to me. While a single posting like this isn't a problem by itself, after the 100th or 1000th time it gets rather tiresome, and it's *very* simple to fix.

Explanation: in C News, the newsbin/relay/injnews script is used by inews to do site-specific header bashing. When it discovers that the newsgroup is moderated, it invokes mail to send off the article to the moderator (via mailpaths). Unlike B News and INN, where time has been spent to configure how to use the mail transport directly (to merge the news headers in with the mail headers), C News blindly punts the article into “mail” which is a user agent, which often refuses to accept “header-like” stuff at the beginning of a message as part of the RFC 822 header block. In essence, mail will often implicitly put a blank line at the beginning of the message, so the headers carefully crafted by injnews end up as part of the body instead of the mail headers.

The solution is simple - change injnews to call the mailer (usually the transport) in such a way that injnews' headers are included in the mail headers. In relaynews/injnews, there is the following line:

mail “$moderator” <$censart

Change it to call the mail transport directly. If you're using sendmail or smail, simply change “mail” to be the full path. Eg:

/usr/lib/sendmail “$moderator” <$censart

Most other transports, such as MMDF or PP should be just as simple. Please note that injnews is intended to be modified for local site policy, so you won't be voiding your warranty ;-)

If you're not using sendmail or smail, or simply wish to test this, try typing:

<your mail transport program <your address> Subject: it worked


It should appear in your mailbox with Subject: properly recognized. If the subject isn't recognized, then it didn't work, and “Subject: it worked” will appear in the body.

If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to contact me. Thank you for your time,

B.2. Thanks for FAQ comments

Thank you for your comments on the <FAQ title here> FAQ. I'm updating the FAQ now, and am including your corrections or additions as appropriate. Expect to see them in the next posting.

<moderator's-fullname> <moderator's-email-address>

B.3. Inappropriate submission

(Begin form letter.)

The message below was submitted by you to the moderator of <newsgroup> either by posting a message to the group, or by sending E-mail to the group's submission address, or by sending mail to the group's administrative address.

Your message is not appropriate for posting to <newsgroup>.

<insert reason here>

<Description of your newsgroup here>

(End form letter.)

<moderator's-fullname>, Moderator of <newsgroup>

B.4. Get a Clue

(Begin form letter.)

The message below was submitted by you to the moderator of <newsgroup> either by posting a message to the group, or by sending E-mail to the group's submission address, or by sending mail to the group's administrative address.

Your message is not appropriate for posting to <newsgroup>.

<Description of your newsgroup here>

Unfortunately, I do not have the time to make specific suggestions as to where your question or post should go but some ideas are included below.

If you are new to Usenet, you should probably read the posts in news.announce.newusers (n.a.n.) – if they are not available in your newsreader, they also available by anonymous FTP in rtfm.mit.edu:/pub/usenet/news.announce.newusers/*

A few that are most likely to be immediately helpful are:

To find what groups are relevant for your question, you might scan through your local list of newsgroups (your .newsrc file on most Unix systems), to see which group names seem related. Then subscribe to those groups, and look at some of the recent traffic, to make sure that your question is suitable for the group. (For example, questions about Microsoft Windows belong in comp.os.ms-windows.*, not comp.windows.*)

On some systems, you will be able to look at a file containing a one-line description of the purpose of each newsgroup (the 'newsgroups' file), or at a longer description of the purpose and contents of each newsgroup (the newsgroup charters.) Ask your local news administrator if these resources are available on your system.

For widely-distributed newsgroups, you can also find the one-line descriptions in the following n.a.n postings:

The 'List' posts describe newsgroups in the comp, misc, news, rec, soc, sci, and talk hierarchies. The 'Alt' posts describe newsgroups in the alt, bionet, bit, biz, clarinet, gnu, hepnet, ieee, inet, info, k12, relcom, u3b, and vmsnet hierarchies. They will not describe groups that are available only in your region or institution.

If these sources of information do not suggest some newsgroups which might be appropriate for your questions, you may wish to post on the newsgroup news.groups.questions, whose charter includes helping users find newsgroups appropriate for their questions. Please consult the above-listed sources before posting on news.groups.questions, however.

Very few sites carry all available newsgroups. Your local newsadmin can help you access newsgroups that are not currently available, or explain why certain groups are not available at your site. If your site does not carry the newsgroup(s) where your post belongs, do NOT post it in other, inappropriate groups.

Think very carefully before cross-posting to more than one, or perhaps two, newsgroups. It is considered highly inappropriate to broadcast your message to a wide selection of newsgroups merely to have more people read it. Follow the general rules of Netiquette (Usenet etiquette) described in the news.announce.newusers postings above.

Once you decide what newsgroup(s) are relevant to your question, make sure that you're not asking questions that are frequently asked and answered. In addition to looking at recent traffic in the group, check whether your question is included in an FAQ (Frequently Asked/Answered Questions) list. Most FAQs are archived at rtfm.mit.edu, in directory /pub/usenet/your.group.name, if they're not available in your newsreader in the specific group or in *.answers. Many groups also have a periodic introductory post that describes the content and purpose of the newsgroup - if one exists, you should read it before posting.

A listing of many of the periodical postings on Usenet can be found in n.a.n. or its archives, as

List of Periodic Informational Postings, Part [1-20]

Following these suggestions will help not only to ensure that your post reaches its intended audience, but to make Usenet more useful for all of us.

(End form letter.)

<moderator's-fullname>, Moderator of <newsgroup>

B.5. Test elsewhere

(Begin form letter.)

The message below was submitted by you to the moderator of <newsgroup> either by posting a message to the group, or by sending E-mail to the group's submission address, or by sending mail to the group's administrative address.

The <newsgroup> is not an appropriate place to send test messages. If you wish to post a test message, there are newsgroups for that purpose, such as alt.test, misc.test, and news.test. Messages sent to the *.test newsgroups are automatically acknowledged by daemons running at many sites. If you want to test your site set up for posting to a moderated group, post your test message to the group misc.test.moderated.

(End form letter.)

<moderator's-fullname>, Moderator of <newsgroup>

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