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13. Creating Periodic Informational Postings

13. Creating Periodic Informational Postings

One of the best ways to communicate with your readership, as well as a tool for saving you time, is via a policy posting, and potentially additional Frequently Asked Questions postings (FAQ).

A policy posting is an article that describes how you will run the newsgroup. It should include information describing the use of any additional Auxiliary header lines, how and where articles should be submitted, and general guidelines for the group (often including the charter) used by you in performing the responsibilities as the newsgroup's moderator.

Other things that might be included are:

  • How you will deal with cross-posted submissions,
  • How postings of a commercial nature will be dealt with,
  • Use of backup or multiple moderators,
  • Items concerning the group that have been hashed out via the group or moderator lead surveys,
  • Where to obtain a current copy of the informational postings outside of the newsgroup. If possible, an email location or mailserver should be included, since not all users have FTP capabilities,
  • A list of sites, if any, that archive the group as well as how to become an archive site,
  • Moderator conflict resolution methods,
  • Moderator replacement policy.

This posting should be made periodically to the group.

Your group may be best served by having both a periodic policy posting and an FAQ. Quite often it becomes necessary to have a Frequently Asked Questions posting. Readers drop in and out of newsgroups frequently, and may not be familiar with previous discussions. A FAQ posting can help reduce the number of duplicate questions submitted to the newsgroup.

FAQ posting(s) do not have to be written, or even directly posted, by the primary moderator. Many moderated groups have a group of relevant FAQs posted, written by a number of authors. It is perfectly acceptable to simply give an FAQ author permission to post or cross-post the FAQ into your newsgroup. All the poster needs to do is add the appropriate Approved: header to the FAQ posting. (Of course, if the moderator gives others permission to post to the group, automatic cancellation software, if used, should not cancel those articles.)

More suggestions about writing and maintaining FAQs, as well as information about automatic FAQ-posting software, can be gotten from the faq-maintainers@faqs.org mailing list. To subscribe, send a message to


There is a good deal of information about writing FAQs and the FAQ posting process available from


Having these types of documents as a consistent part of the group will save you from answering the same questions again and again. The readership will be able to get the majority of the information about the group from the group itself. When people submit requests for information that has already been covered, it is easy to simply forward the appropriate informational posting to them, or send them a pointer to it.

Recently there has been a lot of discussion about implicit and explicit copyrights on policy and FAQ postings. This has become an issue, in part, due to the increasing number of CD-ROM vendors and Internet How-To book authors, who reproduce informational postings in commercial products, with or without obtaining the permission of the authors or maintainers.

It is wise to document your copyright and any distribution restrictions within your periodic postings. In most cases you should try to be as open as possible. The purpose of the newsgroups is to communicate information to the community at large. Your information is probably archived and available in many ways and places that you are not aware of; it does not make a lot of sense to be overly sensitive to one particular use of postings that have already been broadcast freely all over the world. Remember that copyright laws can vary widely among the many countries where your posting goes.

If asked, it is up to you if you want to see your group's informational postings included. A suggestion might be to send a message back such as:

I give you permission to use my FAQ for the group 'your.group' as you have requested with the following additional conditions:

  1. You state explicitly that the information in the FAQ may not be entirely correct or up to date. That information should not be used directly without first checking it out. FAQ information is only a guideline.
  2. Do not change the content of the FAQ in any way but may reformat it to better integrate with your production media.
  3. Assure that credit is given as appropriate.
  4. You send me a free copy of the {book/cdrom…}

This is just a suggested starting point; feel free to modify it as needed to suit your policies.

13.2. Frequency of distribution and news.answers

You will need to determine how often your informational postings are actually posted to your group. Sources groups post them at the beginning of each new volume in the archives. Discussion and announcement group moderators may decide to post them on a periodic basis, usually once a month. The policy statement should document how often informational posting are done. If there are many requests for the FAQ, or repeats of FAQ information, it may make sense to post the FAQ more often, or to frequently post an explanation of how to obtain the FAQ or policy posting.

It is strongly suggested that your policy posting and any FAQ have a consistent Subject: line every time that it is posted, to assist readers in recognizing it.

You may also want to consider cross-posting your informational postings to news.answers and the other appropriate *.answers newsgroups. This requires the prior approval of the *.answers moderators. The process is fairly easy, and is described in the posting

Introduction to the *.answers Newsgroups

posted regularly to news.announce.newusers,news.answers and the other *.answers groups, and

posted regularly to all of the *.answers groups ( alt.answers, comp.answers, humanities.answers, de.answers, misc.answers, news.answers, rec.answers, sci.answers, soc.answers, and talk.answers.) Additionally, they can be found archived at


The basic requirements for cross-posting to *.answers, above basic compliance with RFC 1036, are meeting the *.answers standards for the consistent content of a few of the standard header lines, and the addition of an auxiliary header containing an Archive-name: header. There are no format restrictions whatsoever on the contents of postings to *.answers.

The *.answers groups are archived on rtfm.mit.edu and elsewhere around the world such as on www.faqs.org/faqs/. If you are not sure if your consistent content of a few of the standard header lines, and the addition of an auxiliary header containing an Archive-name: header. There are no format restrictions whatsoever on the contents of postings to *.answers.

Even if you do not want to cross-post your informational posting to *.answers, you should have it listed in the

"List Of Periodic Informational Posts"

which is posted regularly to news.lists and news.answers. To have your informational posting listed, send it to


with a note saying what the posting frequency is, and that you wish to add your posting to the List of Periodic Informational Posts, but are not seeking approval for cross-posting to *.answers.

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