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Subject: NetNews/Mailing List Gateway Policy
This article was archived around: Thu, 13 Mar 1997 15:24:52 EST
All FAQs in Directory: bit
All FAQs posted in: bit.admin
Source: Usenet Version
Last-modified: 1 July 1994
*** General Information on Mailing List/Netnews gateways ***
This document gives general information on gateways between Electronic
Mailing Lists and Netnews as implemented in Netnews version 2.5 by Linda
Littleton at Penn State University. It includes guidelines on how to
establish a new Mailing List/Netnews gateway.
*** What are Electronic Mailing Lists?
Electronic Mailing Lists are controlled by a software package called a
Mailing List Mananger (or MLM). Since the most widely used MLM is called
ListServ many people refer to electronic mailing lists as "Listserv
lists". (Listserv, which stands for List Server, is a MLM that runs on
VM/CMS, AIX, VMS, and other platforms. It is a product of LSoft, Inc.
Write to email@example.com for more information on Listserv.)
MLMs provide "mail-exploding" capabilities so that people with a common
interest can communicate with each other by sending mail to a particular
address (one address per mailing list), which then redistributes the mail
to each person "subscribed" to the list. Each person subscribed to a
particular list gets a copy of each piece of mail in their mailbox.
*** What is Netnews?
Netnews is a bulletin board system in which articles on a variety of
topics are arranged in "newsgroups" and stored in a shared location from
which individual users can read them. These newsgroups can be local
newsgroups, available only at a user's site, or may be shared with other
sites to form a world-wide bulletin board system called Usenet.
*** What does the gateway do?
The gateway software (which is a built-in part of the VM/CMS Netnews
server from Penn State) puts each piece of mail for a particular list
into a corresponding Netnews newsgroup and also sends each Netnews-
originating posting to the newsgroup back to the mailing list. Generally
gatewayed groups on Netnews are given the name bit.listserv.<listname>.
When appropriate, the items in a mailing list might also be cross-posted
to a "mainstream" Usenet group.
*** Moderated or Unmoderated Newsgroup
The newsgroup gatewayed to a list can be either moderated or unmoderated.
If it is unmoderated, all posts are immediately accepted in the newsgroup
and make their way eventually to the mailing list. If the newsgroup is
moderated the posts are not accepted in the newsgroup, but instead sent
through e-mail to a moderator address. This moderator can be a human
being who decides if the post is appropriate, or can even be the mailing
list address (where, for example, the list owner may from time to time
set the list to "Send= Private" to limit the mail coming from Usenet to
the mailing list).
Whether the mailing list is edited is a separate decision from whether
the newsgroup is moderated. Many unedited mailing lists are gatewayed to
moderated newsgroups so the list owner can impose controls when and if
inappropriate posts come from the newgroup to the mailing list.
*** Why have a gateway?
The major reason sites decide to carry gatewayed mailing lists is so
their users can read these lists via shared disks, rather than requiring
each user to receive each item to their mailbox. In addition, the gateway
gives greater exposure and wider readership to the list since the list
can be now be read by users at thousands of Usenet sites.
*** The gateway can be LOCAL or GLOBAL
On a per-group basis, the gateway can be either LOCAL (only users on the
machine where Netnews is running will see the Listserv items) or GLOBAL
(the Listserv items will propagate to other Usenet sites). To avoid
problems that can be caused by multiple sites gatewaying the same group,
we request that only a handful of sites set up global gateways and that
other sites receive these groups through their normal news feeds.
*** AN IMPORTANT PRECAUTION ***
It is important that no more than one site per list set up a GLOBAL
gateway. If more than one site does a GLOBAL gateway for a particular
list, the list may get duplicates of some articles. It is the list
owner's responsibility to make sure there are not multiple global
gateways for the list and to "signoff" any suspect gateway site should
problems start to occur. No GLOBAL gateway should ever be established
without the express permission of the list owner.
In the event that two sites did set up a global gateway for the same
list, here is what might happen. If a user anywhere on the net posted an
article to the group via Netnews and the article found its way to both of
the global gateway sites, both of these sites would forward the article
back to the mailing list. The mailing list would therefore receive two
copies and although Listserv will usually detect the duplicate posting,
it will return one of the copies to the author with a message saying that
the post was a duplicate. Since the author only posted once, this will
cause them some confusion. Also, it is possible that both posts would be
distributed to the list if a MLM other than Listserv is controlling the
mailing list. Netnews would not have a problem handling this (since it
checks message-id's for duplicates), but it is the people who get the
items in their mailboxes who would see two copies of the article.
*** Gateway registration
In order to avoid problems caused by multiple gateways, a list of
gatewayed newsgroups is maintained by David Lawrence (firstname.lastname@example.org).
This list is posted monthly to bit.admin, and copies are available from
email@example.com by sending the command GET NETGATE.GATELIST as the
first and only line in the body of a piece of e-mail. This file is also
available via anonymous ftp from ftp.american.edu.
Please consult this list before establishing a gateway between a mailing
list and a newsgroup to verify no gateway already exists. If you set up a
gateway you should have it added to the list by writing to David Lawrence
at firstname.lastname@example.org, or by writing to email@example.com.
*** Setting up the gateway.
The gateway is set up by having the Netnews service machine subscribe to
the mailing list in the same way that a subscriber would. The MLM must
ensure that each post has a unique Message-ID. If none is present in the
incoming post, the MLM must add one. Also, the posts must come from some
consistent address in the "Return-Path" (generally OWNER-<listname>).
With LSoft's Listserv these requirements can be met by setting the
FULLHDR option on (additionally the NOFILES option should be set, and
NORENEW should be set if the list expires subscriptions).
*** Guidelines for establishing a Mailing List/Netnews gateway.
It is the responsibility of the person requesting the gateway to do the
1. Get the approval of the mailing list owner(s) and the MLM
administrator at the host node. (For Listserv, send a "REVIEW
listname" command to the Listserv at the host node for the names
and addresses of the list owner(s), and a "RELEASE" command to
the same address for the Listserv administor's name and address.)
Send them each a copy of this document. If the list owner or
MLM administrator objects, the gateway is not done.
2. Get the approval of the mailing list readers. This could be done
somewhat informally by posting to the list and asking if there
are objections. If the issue was controversial, a formal vote
should be held according to the same guidelines as for creating a
new Usenet group. If there was no major dissenting opinion a vote
will not be needed.
3. If there is a Usenet group where crossposting would be logical,
get the approval of the people who read that group (in the same
way as approval of the mailing list readers was gotten).
4. Post to bit.admin to see if there are any objections. The subject
of the posting should be "Gateway for <listname> under
discussion". Explain briefly what the list is for. If you are
proposing that the list be gated to something besides
"bit.listserv.<listname>", this should be stated. Again, if there
was no major dissenting opinion within seven days, a vote would
not be needed; otherwise a vote would be held.
Steps 2, 3, and 4 can all be done at the same time.
5. Write to firstname.lastname@example.org to say that all of the criteria
have been met. Indicate the gateway site (if you wish some site
besides auvm.american.edu to be the gateway), mailing list name,
mailing list host node, list owner(s), and a short (45 character
maximum) description of the list. News-admin will establish
and/or register the gateway, and then post to bit.admin to say
that the gateway is operational. The subject of the posting will
be "Gateway for <listname> operational".
If for some reason you cannot follow the steps outlined here (for
example, if you do not get the bit groups, so cannot post to bit.admin),
write to email@example.com to explain the situation.
*** Where to address questions
Questions about Listserv/Netnews gateways can be posted to bit.admin or
sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.