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Subject: Guidelines on Usenet Newsgroup Names

This article was archived around: Tue, 28 Dec 1999 09:00:11 GMT

All FAQs in Directory: usenet/creating-newsgroups/naming
All FAQs posted in: news.announce.newusers, news.groups, news.admin.misc, alt.config
Source: Usenet Version

Original-author: David.W.Wright@bnr.co.uk Archive-name: usenet/creating-newsgroups/naming/part1 Last-change: 13 Jun 1995 by netannounce@deshaw.com (Mark Moraes) Changes-posted-to: news.misc
Guidelines on Usenet Newsgroup Names "To-day we have naming of parts." This document is intended to be a primer for use by those involved in creating new Usenet news groups, namely in the "comp", "humanities", "misc", "news", "rec", "sci", "soc" and "talk" hierarchies. The same principles may be used with other hierarchies, but those are beyond the scope of this document. Usenet news group names are structured, hierarchic, taxonomic but not definitive. They are intended to help users find what they want and news administrators manage their systems, to the benefit of their users. By understanding each of these concepts, you can understand how to select suitable names for new news groups. Structured News group names are structured into parts separated by dots, for example "rec.pets.dogs". Each part may be up to 14 characters long, and should consist only of letters, digits, "+" and "-", with at least one letter. Hierarchic Names fall into clear hierarchies - for example all computer-related groups are in comp. Each may be sub-divided into second, third, and lower level hierarchies, such as sci.physics and comp.sys.sun, by adding more parts to the basic name. The first part is the most general (sci or comp), the second more specific, and so on. The last part completes the actual group name. As each part implies a further level, words at the same level are included into one part using a hyphen - e.g. misc.invest.real-estate rather than misc.invest.estate.real, which would imply that a real was a type of estate! Taxonomic Taxonomy is the science of the classifying things - for example species in biology, or books in a library. Group names classify subjects into areas and hierarchies. Getting these right is not easy, for you have to fit in with those already there, and also allow for likely future growth. Not definitive News group names are inclusive rather than definitive. That is to say, a group name defines an area in which a message may be posted if there is no other group with a better name fit. The name does not define exact limits to the group, eliminating subjects that do not exactly match the definition. Helping users The group name is often the only clue the user has about the group without reading a selection of articles from the group. There are currently over 1300 Usenet news groups, and well over 10,000 groups including all the other news hierarchies from alt to zer. It is not possible for users to read every group to find out which are of interest to them. Similarly, even a very popular group will only be read by 1% of all Usenet users. So the name has to make sense to the 99% who are not reading the group. It should be clear enough to avoid users posting "what is this?" articles, and to ensure that those who *would* like to know more about the subject do recognise the group's purpose and start to read it and join in. Also, bear in mind that Usenet is global, that users come from many different cultures, and that for many, English is not their first language. This leads to some strong guidelines about choosing names: - Group similar subjects together, in the same hierarchy if possible, so that people looking for a related subject will have a good idea where to find it. It is often better to put a new group with others in an approximately right "place" than to insist on getting the name precise at the expense of putting the group in some obscure area that many potential users will not look at. - Create general groups before creating very specific ones. - Dnt Abrv8. Do not abbreviate or use obscure names. Your abbreviation may well be recognised by someone else as meaning something entirely different, especially if English is a second language to them. At the moment, Usenet transport limitations restrict the length of any component to 14 characters. This may sometimes force abbreviation, in this case, create as meaningful an abbreviation as possible within 14 characters. - Use English words in group names. The articles in a group should use whatever language is appropriate for that group, but group names should use English as that is the one language that can be understood by almost all Usenet users. Helping news administrators No site now has the disk space to carry 10,000 news groups and keep all their articles for weeks. So news administrators have to be selective in which groups they carry and how long they keep the articles of each group (expiry times). Yet with so many groups, they cannot manage each one separately. So they make use of the hierarchic property, and control news in hierarchies. For example, one may keep comp articles longer than rec, another may decide not to take any comp.sys.ibm.* groups as none of their users reads them. This is the other reason hierarchies are so important, and why a new group should always be fitted into an existing hierarchy if at all possible. Some new group proposers think it does not matter if their group does not fit in to this scheme, assuming that news administrators who don't want it can select it out individually: this is a mistaken view. Every group that a site gets that its users do not read, makes less disk space and so shorter expiry times for the groups they *do* want. What's next? Think about these guidelines before naming your new news group. Remember that name mistakes made in the past when Usenet was much smaller, or now in uncontrolled parts of the net like alt, are no reason to make more mistakes now. On the contrary, now is the time to correct some of those past mistakes. And if you still need advice, ask group-advice@uunet.uu.net. --