The file pathdb/newsgroups contains a list of newsgroups for which
a short description is available. This file is generally updated by
controlchan(8) whenever a control message is received; it is used by
nnrpd in response to LIST NEWSGROUPS and is only meant to provide
information to users. News readers often show the list of carried
newsgroups along with these descriptions.
It is not necessary that all the groups carried by the news server
(that is to say all the groups listed in the active file) be listed
in the newsgroups file. And it is also not necessary that all the
groups listed in the newsgroups file be carried by the news server.
Nonetheless, it is of course better if the active and newsgroups
files have exactly the same newsgroups.
If you use ctlinnd newgroup to manually create a group, only the
active file is updated. You should then edit the newsgroups
file in order to add a short description for the created group. The
same goes for manually removing or changing the status of a newsgroup.
Each line of the newsgroups file consists of two fields separated
by at least one tabulation:
The first field is the name of the newsgroup. The second field is its
You can get the newsgroups file of another NNTP server with getlist(1).
As far as the format of the newsgroups file is concerned, there is a
preferred format for each line. Since news administrators do not generally
have the time to fix up the lines that are being automatically included
from newgroup or checkgroups messages, this information is provided so
that control message senders can craft better control messages. It will
also be useful for news administrators to know how to format the
description of their local newsgroups.
There should be at least one hard tab (8 column tab stops) between the
group name and the description. If the group name is at least 16 characters,
it should be followed with one tab. If the group name is at least 8
characters, it should be followed with two tabs. And in the unlikely event
the group name is less than 8 characters, it should be followed with three
tabs. For instance:
misc.transport.rail.europe Railroads & railways in all of Europe.
news.admin.nocem NoCeM protocol policy issues and information.
news.groups Discussions and lists of newsgroups.
The total line length should be at most 79 columns. The description
should start with a capital and not be more than 55 characters (79 - 24)
long. If the group name is longer than 24 characters, the description
should be correspondingly shorter. If the group is moderated, it should
have (Moderated) (note the space before the opening parenthesis)
at the very end of the description, not counted as part of the length of
the description. This text must be exactly that, with no variations,
as it is used by news software to find moderated groups.
Here is an example of moderated newsgroup:
news.lists.misc News-related statistics and lists. (Moderated)
Traditionally, all newsgroup descriptions ended with a period, but this
is not necessary and steals away one character that is occasionally
useful for forming a better description.
Some over-long descriptions could be made to easily fit the length by
dropping useless wordings like Discussion of which do not meaningfully
contribute to the description. Others are usually pretty easy to get to
no more than column eighty, except when the group names start getting
really long. Hopefully then the group name itself contains quite a bit
In some cases, a longer description really will be necessary; they can
of course be used within the newsgroups file. However, they will
probably be less readable and less useful for some Usenet users.
Descriptions must not contain any control characters (octets between
0x00 and 0x1F).
The minimal newsgroups file shipped with INN is:
control Various control messages (no posting).
control.cancel Cancel messages (no posting).
control.checkgroups Hierarchy check control messages (no posting).
control.newgroup Newsgroup creation control messages (no posting).
control.rmgroup Newsgroup removal control messages (no posting).
junk Unfiled articles (no posting).
These lines must be tab-delimited, so please be careful in case you copy
and paste them from above.