Independent Submission                                        H. Spencer
Request for Comments: 1849                                    SP Systems
Obsoleted by: 5536, 5537                                      March 2010
Category: Historic
ISSN: 2070-1721

          "Son of 1036": News Article Format and Transmission


   By the early 1990s, it had become clear that RFC 1036, then the
   specification for the Interchange of USENET Messages, was badly in
   need of repair.  This "Internet-Draft-to-be", though never formally
   published at that time, was widely circulated and became the de facto
   standard for implementors of News Servers and User Agents, rapidly
   acquiring the nickname "Son of 1036".  Indeed, under that name, it
   could fairly be described as the best-known Internet Draft (n)ever
   published, and it formed the starting point for the recently adopted
   Proposed Standards for Netnews.

   It is being published now in order to provide the historical
   background out of which those standards have grown.  Present-day
   implementors should be aware that it is NOT NOW APPROPRIATE for use
   in current implementations.

Status of This Memo

   This document is not an Internet Standards Track specification; it is
    published for the historical record.

   This document defines a Historic Document for the Internet community.
   This is a contribution to the RFC Series, independently of any other
   RFC stream.  The RFC Editor has chosen to publish this document at
   its discretion and makes no statement about its value for
   implementation or deployment.  Documents approved for publication by
   the RFC Editor are not a candidate for any level of Internet
   Standard; see Section 2 of RFC 5741.

   Information about the current status of this document, any errata,
   and how to provide feedback on it may be obtained at

Spencer                         Historic                        [Page 1]

RFC 1849                       Son of 1036                    March 2010

Copyright Notice

   Copyright (c) 2010 IETF Trust and the persons identified as the
   document authors.  All rights reserved.

   This document is subject to BCP 78 and the IETF Trust's Legal
   Provisions Relating to IETF Documents
   ( in effect on the date of
   publication of this document.  Please review these documents
   carefully, as they describe your rights and restrictions with respect
   to this document.

   This document may not be modified, and derivative works of it may not
   be created, except to format it for publication as an RFC or to
   translate it into languages other than English.

Spencer                         Historic                        [Page 2]

RFC 1849                       Son of 1036                    March 2010

Table of Contents

   Preface ............................................................5
   Original Abstract ..................................................6
   1. Introduction ....................................................6
   2. Definitions, Notations, and Conventions .........................8
      2.1. Textual Notations ..........................................8
      2.2. Syntax Notation ............................................9
      2.3. Definitions ...............................................10
      2.4. End-of-Line ...............................................13
      2.5. Case-Sensitivity ..........................................13
      2.6. Language ..................................................13
   3. Relation to MAIL (RFC822, etc.) ................................14
   4. Basic Format ...................................................15
      4.1. Overall Syntax ............................................15
      4.2. Headers ...................................................16
           4.2.1. Names and Contents .................................16
           4.2.2. Undesirable Headers ................................18
           4.2.3. White Space and Continuations ......................18
      4.3. Body ......................................................19
           4.3.1. Body Format Issues .................................19
           4.3.2. Body Conventions ...................................20
      4.4. Characters and Character Sets .............................23
      4.5. Non-ASCII Characters in Headers ...........................26
      4.6. Size Limits ...............................................28
      4.7. Example ...................................................30
   5. Mandatory Headers ..............................................30
      5.1. Date ......................................................31
      5.2. From ......................................................33
      5.3. Message-ID ................................................35
      5.4. Subject ...................................................36
      5.5. Newsgroups ................................................38
      5.6. Path ......................................................42
   6. Optional Headers ...............................................45
      6.1. Followup-To ...............................................45
      6.2. Expires ...................................................46
      6.3. Reply-To ..................................................47
      6.4. Sender ....................................................47
      6.5. References ................................................48
      6.6. Control ...................................................50
      6.7. Distribution ..............................................51
      6.8. Keywords ..................................................52
      6.9. Summary ...................................................53
      6.10. Approved .................................................53
      6.11. Lines ....................................................54
      6.12. Xref .....................................................55
      6.13. Organization .............................................56
      6.14. Supersedes ...............................................57

Spencer                         Historic                        [Page 3]

RFC 1849                       Son of 1036                    March 2010

      6.15. Also-Control .............................................57
      6.16. See-Also .................................................58
      6.17. Article-Names ............................................58
      6.18. Article-Updates ..........................................60
   7. Control Messages ...............................................60
      7.1. cancel ....................................................61
      7.2. ihave, sendme .............................................64
      7.3. newgroup ..................................................66
      7.4. rmgroup ...................................................68
      7.5. sendsys, version, whogets .................................68
      7.6. checkgroups ...............................................73
   8. Transmission Formats ...........................................74
      8.1. Batches ...................................................74
      8.2. Encoded Batches ...........................................75
      8.3. News within Mail ..........................................76
      8.4. Partial Batches ...........................................77
   9. Propagation and Processing .....................................77
      9.1. Relayer General Issues ....................................78
      9.2. Article Acceptance and Propagation ........................80
      9.3. Administrator Contact .....................................82
   10. Gatewaying ....................................................83
      10.1. General Gatewaying Issues ................................83
      10.2. Header Synthesis .........................................85
      10.3. Message ID Mapping .......................................86
      10.4. Mail to and from News ....................................88
      10.5. Gateway Administration ...................................89
   11. Security and Related Issues ...................................90
      11.1. Leakage ..................................................90
      11.2. Attacks ..................................................91
      11.3. Anarchy ..................................................92
      11.4. Liability ................................................92
   12. References ....................................................93
   Appendix A. Archaeological Notes ..................................96
      A.1. "A News" Article Format ...................................96
      A.2. Early "B News" Article Format .............................96
      A.3. Obsolete Headers ..........................................97
      A.4. Obsolete Control Messages .................................97
   Appendix B. A Quick Tour of MIME ..................................98
   Appendix C. Summary of Changes Since RFC 1036 ....................103
   Appendix D. Summary of Completely New Features ...................104
   Appendix E. Summary of Differences from RFCs 822 and 1123.........105

Spencer                         Historic                        [Page 4]

RFC 1849                       Son of 1036                    March 2010


   Although [RFC1036] was published in 1987, for many years it remained
   the only formally published specification for Netnews format and
   processing.  It was widely considered obsolete within a few years,
   and it has now been superseded by the work of the USEFOR Working
   Group, leading to the publication of [RFC5536] and [RFC5537].
   However, there was an intermediate step that is of some historical

   In 1993-4, Henry Spencer wrote and informally circulated a document
   that became known as "Son of 1036", meant as a first draft of a
   replacement for [RFC1036].  It went no further at the time (although,
   more recently, the USEFOR Working Group started from it), but has
   nevertheless seen considerable use as a technical reference and even
   a de facto standard, despite its informal status.

   The USEFOR work has eliminated any further relevance of Son of 1036
   as a technical reference, but it remains of historical interest.  The
   USEFOR Working Group has asked that it be published as an Historic
   RFC, to ensure its preservation in an accessible form and facilitate
   referencing it.

   This document is identical to the last distributed version of Son of
   1036, dated 2 June 1994, except for reformatting, correction of a few
   minor factual or formatting errors, completion of the then-empty
   Appendix D and of the References section, minor editing to match
   preferred RFC style, and changes to leading and trailing material.
   Remarks enclosed within "{...}" indicate explanatory material not
   present in the original version.  References to the current MIME
   standards (and a few others) have been added (that was an unresolved
   issue in 1994).

   The technical content remains unchanged, including the references to
   the document itself as a Draft rather than an RFC and the presence of
   unresolved issues.  The original section numbering has been
   preserved, although the original pagination has not (among other
   reasons, it did not fully follow IETF formatting standards).

   BE USED AS A TECHNICAL REFERENCE.  Although Son of 1036 largely
   documented existing practice, it also proposed some changes, some of
   which did not catch on or are no longer considered good ideas.  (Of
   particular note, the MIME type "message/news" should not be used.)
   Consult [RFC5536] and [RFC5537] for modern technical information.

Spencer                         Historic                        [Page 5]

RFC 1849                       Son of 1036                    March 2010

   Although a number of people contributed useful comments or criticism
   during the preparation of this document, its contents are entirely
   the opinions of the author circa 1994.  Not even the author himself
   agrees with them all now.

   The author thanks Charles Lindsey for his assistance in getting this
   document cleaned up and formally published at last (not least, for
   supplying some prodding to actually get it done!).

   The author thanks Luc Rooijakkers for supplying the MIME summary that
   Appendix B is based on.

Original Abstract

   This Draft defines the format and procedures for interchange of
   network news articles.  It is hoped that a later version of this
   Draft will obsolete RFC 1036, reflecting more recent experience and
   accommodating future directions.

   Network news articles resemble mail messages but are broadcast to
   potentially large audiences, using a flooding algorithm that
   propagates one copy to each interested host (or group thereof),
   typically stores only one copy per host, and does not require any
   central administration or systematic registration of interested
   users.  Network news originated as the medium of communication for
   Usenet, circa 1980.  Since then, Usenet has grown explosively, and
   many Internet sites participate in it.  In addition, the news
   technology is now in widespread use for other purposes, on the
   Internet and elsewhere.

   This Draft primarily codifies and organizes existing practice.  A few
   small extensions have been added in an attempt to solve problems that
   are considered serious.  Major extensions (e.g., cryptographic
   authentication) that need significant development effort are left to
   be undertaken as independent efforts.

1.  Introduction

   Network news articles resemble mail messages but are broadcast to
   potentially large audiences, using a flooding algorithm that
   propagates one copy to each interested host (or groups thereof),
   typically stores only one copy per host, and does not require any
   central administration or systematic registration of interested
   users.  Network news originated as the medium of communication for
   Usenet, circa 1980.  Since then, Usenet has grown explosively, and
   many Internet sites participate in it.  In addition, the news
   technology is now in widespread use for other purposes, on the
   Internet and elsewhere.

Spencer                         Historic                        [Page 6]

RFC 1849                       Son of 1036                    March 2010

   The earliest news interchange used the so-called "A News" article
   format.  Shortly thereafter, an article format vaguely resembling
   Internet mail was devised and used briefly.  Both of those formats
   are completely obsolete; they are documented in Appendix A for
   historical reasons only.  With the publication of [RFC850] in 1983,
   news articles came to closely resemble Internet mail messages, with
   some restrictions and some additional headers.  In 1987, [RFC1036]
   updated [RFC850] without making major changes.

   In the intervening five years, the [RFC1036] article format has
   proven quite satisfactory, although minor extensions appear desirable
   to match recent developments in areas such as multi-media mail.
   [RFC1036] itself has not proven quite so satisfactory.  It is often
   rather vague and does not address some issues at all; this has caused
   significant interoperability problems at times, and implementations
   have diverged somewhat.  Worse, although it was intended primarily to
   document existing practice, it did not precisely match existing
   practice even at the time it was published, and the deviations have
   grown since.

   This Draft attempts to specify the format of articles, and the
   procedures used to exchange them and process them, in sufficient
   detail to allow full interoperability.  In addition, some tentative
   suggestions are made about directions for future development, in an
   attempt to avert unnecessary divergence and consequent loss of
   interoperability.  Major extensions (e.g., cryptographic
   authentication) that need significant development effort are left to
   be undertaken as independent efforts.

      NOTE: One question all of this may raise is: why is there no News-
      Version header, analogous to MIME-Version, specifying a version
      number corresponding to this specification?  The answer is: it
      doesn't appear to be useful, given news's backward-compatibility
      constraints.  The major use of a version number is indicating
      which of several INCOMPATIBLE interpretations is relevant.  The
      impossibility of orchestrating any sort of simultaneous change
      over news's installed base makes it necessary to avoid such
      incompatible changes (as opposed to extensions) entirely.  MIME
      has a version number mostly because it introduced incompatible
      changes to the interpretation of several "Content-" headers.  This
      Draft attempts no changes in interpretation, and it appears
      doubtful that future Drafts will find it feasible to introduce

      UNRESOLVED ISSUE: Should this be reconsidered?  Only if the header
      has SPECIFIC IDENTIFIABLE uses today.  Otherwise, it's just
      useless added bulk.

Spencer                         Historic                        [Page 7]

RFC 1849                       Son of 1036                    March 2010

   As in this Draft's predecessors, the exact means used to transmit
   articles from one host to another is not specified.  Network News
   Transfer Protocol (NNTP) [RFC977] {since replaced by [RFC3977]} is
   probably the most common transmission method on the Internet, but a
   number of others are known to be in use, including the Unix-To-Unix
   Copy Protocol [UUCP], which was extensively used in the early days of
   Usenet and is still much used on its fringes today.

   Several of the mechanisms described in this Draft may seem somewhat
   strange or even bizarre at first reading.  As with Internet mail,
   there is no reasonable possibility of updating the entire installed
   base of news software promptly, so interoperability with old software
   is crucial and will remain so.  Compatibility with existing practice
   and robustness in an imperfect world necessarily take priority over

2.  Definitions, Notations, and Conventions

2.1.  Textual Notations

   Throughout this Draft, "MAIL" is short for "[RFC822] as amended by
   [RFC1123]".  ([RFC1123]'s amendments are mostly relatively small, but
   they are not insignificant.)  See also the discussion in Section 3
   about this Draft's relationship to MAIL.  "MIME" is short for
   "[RFC1341] and [RFC1342]" (or their {since} updated replacements
   {[RFC2045], [RFC2046], and [RFC2047]}).

      UNRESOLVED ISSUE: Update these numbers {now resolved!}.

      {NOTE: Since the original publication of this Draft [RFC822] has
      been updated, firstly to [RFC2822] and more recently to [RFC5322];
      however, this Draft is firmly rooted in the original [RFC822].
      Similarly, [RFC821] has also received two upgrades in the

   "ASCII" is short for "the ANSI X3.4 character set" [X3.4].  While
   "ASCII" is often misused to refer to various character sets somewhat
   similar to X3.4, in this Draft, "ASCII" means [X3.4] and only [X3.4].

      NOTE: The name is traditional (to the point where the ANSI
      standard sanctions it), even though it is no longer an acronym for
      the name of the standard.

      NOTE: ASCII, X3.4, contains 128 characters, not all of them
      printable.  Character sets with more characters are not ASCII,
      although they may include it as a subset.

Spencer                         Historic                        [Page 8]

RFC 1849                       Son of 1036                    March 2010

   Certain words used to define the significance of individual
   requirements are capitalized.  "MUST" means that the item is an
   absolute requirement of the specification.  "SHOULD" means that the
   item is a strong recommendation: there may be valid reasons to ignore
   it in unusual circumstances, but this should be done only after
   careful study of the full implications and a firm conclusion that it
   is necessary, because there are serious disadvantages to doing so.
   "MAY" means that the item is truly optional, and implementors and
   users are warned that conformance is possible but not to be relied

   The term "compliant", applied to implementations, etc., indicates
   satisfaction of all relevant "MUST" and "SHOULD" requirements.  The
   term "conditionally compliant" indicates satisfaction of all relevant
   "MUST" requirements but violation of at least one relevant "SHOULD"

   This Draft contains explanatory notes using the following format.
   These may be skipped by persons interested solely in the content of
   the specification.  The purpose of the notes is to explain why
   choices were made, to place them in context, or to suggest possible
   implementation techniques.

      NOTE: While such explanatory notes may seem superfluous in
      principle, they often help the less-than-omniscient reader grasp
      the purpose of the specification and the constraints involved.
      Given the limitations of natural language for descriptive
      purposes, this improves the probability that implementors and
      users will understand the true intent of the specification in
      cases where the wording is not entirely clear.

   All numeric values are given in decimal unless otherwise indicated.
   Octets are assumed to be unsigned values for this purpose.  Large
   numbers are written using the North American convention, in which ","
   separates groups of three digits but otherwise has no significance.

2.2.  Syntax Notation

   Although the mechanisms specified in this Draft are all described in
   prose, most are also described formally in the modified BNF notation
   of [RFC822].  Implementors will need to be familiar with this
   notation to fully understand this specification and are referred to
   [RFC822] for a complete explanation of the modified BNF notation.
   Here is a brief illustrative example:

Spencer                         Historic                        [Page 9]

RFC 1849                       Son of 1036                    March 2010

      sentence  = clause *( punct clause ) "."
      punct     = ":" / ";"
      clause    = 1*word [ "(" clause ")" / "," 1*word ]
      word      = <any English word>

   This defines a sentence as some clauses separated by puncts and ended
   by a period, a punct as a colon or semicolon, a clause as at least
   one <word> optionally followed by either a parenthesized clause or a
   comma and at least one more <word>, and a <word> as (informally) any
   English word.  The characters "<>" are used to enclose names when
   (and only when) distinguishing them from surrounding text is useful.
   The full form of the repetition notation is "<m>*<n><thing>",
   denoting <m> through <n> repetitions of <thing>; <m> defaults to
   zero, <n> to infinity, and the "*" and <n> can be omitted if <m> and
   <n> are equal, so 1*word is one or more words, 1*5word is one through
   five words, and 2word is exactly two words.

   The character "\" is not special in any way in this notation.

   This Draft is intended to be self-contained; all syntax rules used in
   it are defined within it, and a rule with the same name as one found
   in MAIL does not necessarily have the same definition.  The lexical
   layer of MAIL is NOT, repeat NOT, used in this Draft, and its
   presence must not be assumed; notably, this Draft spells out all
   places where white space is permitted/required and all places where
   constructs resembling MAIL comments can occur.

      NOTE: News parsers historically have been much less permissive
      than MAIL parsers.

2.3.  Definitions

   The term "character set", wherever it is used in this Draft, refers
   to a coded character set, in the sense of ISO character set
   standardization work, and must not be misinterpreted as meaning
   merely "a set of characters".

   In this Draft, ASCII character 32 is referred to as "blank"; the word
   "space" has a more generic meaning.

   An "article" is the unit of news, analogous to a MAIL "message".

   A "poster" is a human being (or software equivalent) submitting a
   possibly compliant article to be "posted", i.e., made available for
   reading on all relevant hosts.  A "posting agent" is software that
   assists posters to prepare articles, including determining whether
   the final article is compliant, passing it on to a relayer for
   posting if so, and returning it to the poster with an explanation if

Spencer                         Historic                       [Page 10]

RFC 1849                       Son of 1036                    March 2010

   not.  A "relayer" is software that receives allegedly compliant
   articles from posting agents and/or other relayers, files copies in a
   "news database", and possibly passes copies on to other relayers.

      NOTE: While the same software may well function both as a relayer
      and as part of a posting agent, the two functions are distinct and
      should not be confused.  The posting agent's purpose is (in part)
      to validate an article, supply header information that can or
      should be supplied automatically, and generally take reasonable
      actions in an attempt to transform the poster's submission into a
      compliant article.  The relayer's purpose is to move already-
      compliant articles around efficiently without damaging them.

   A "reader" is a human being reading news articles.  A "reading agent"
   is software that presents articles to a reader.

      NOTE: Informal usage often uses "reader" for both these meanings,
      but this introduces considerable potential for confusion and
      misunderstanding, so this Draft takes care to make the

   A "newsgroup" is a single news forum, a logical bulletin board,
   having a name and nominally intended for articles on a specific
   topic.  An article is "posted to" a single newsgroup or several
   newsgroups.  When an article is posted to more than one newsgroup, it
   is said to be "cross-posted"; note that this differs from posting the
   same text as part of each of several articles, one per newsgroup.  A
   "hierarchy" is the set of all newsgroups whose names share a first
   component (see the name syntax in Section 5.5).

   A newsgroup may be "moderated", in which case submissions are not
   posted directly, but mailed to a "moderator" for consideration and
   possible posting.  Moderators are typically human but may be
   implemented partially or entirely in software.

   A "followup" is an article containing a response to the contents of
   an earlier article (the followup's "precursor").  A "followup agent"
   is a combination of reading agent and posting agent that aids in the
   preparation and posting of a followup.

   Text comparisons are "case-sensitive" if they consider uppercase
   letters (e.g., "A") different from lowercase letters (e.g., "a"), and
   "case-insensitive" if letters differing only in case (e.g., "A" and
   "a") are considered identical.  Categories of text are said to be
   case-(in)sensitive if comparisons of such texts to others are case-

Spencer                         Historic                       [Page 11]

RFC 1849                       Son of 1036                    March 2010

   A "cooperating subnet" is a set of news-exchanging hosts that is
   sufficiently well-coordinated (typically via a central administration
   of some sort) that stronger assumptions can be made about hosts in
   the set than about news hosts in general.  This is typically used to
   relax restrictions that are otherwise required for worst-case
   interoperability; members of a cooperating subnet MAY interchange
   articles that do not conform to this Draft's specifications, provided
   all members have agreed to this and provided the articles are not
   permitted to leak out of the subnet.  The word "subnet" is used to
   emphasize that a cooperating subnet is typically not an isolated
   universe; care must be taken that traffic leaving the subnet complies
   with the restrictions of the larger net, not just those of the
   cooperating subnet.

   A "message ID" is a unique identifier for an article, usually
   supplied by the posting agent that posted it.  It distinguishes the
   article from every other article ever posted anywhere (in theory).
   Articles with the same message ID are treated as identical copies of
   the same article even if they are not in fact identical.

   A "gateway" is software that receives news articles and converts them
   to messages of some other kind (e.g., mail to a mailing list), or
   vice versa; in essence, it is a translating relayer that straddles
   boundaries between different methods of message exchange.  The most
   common type of gateway connects newsgroup(s) to mailing list(s),
   either unidirectionally or bidirectionally, but there are also
   gateways between news networks using this Draft's news format and
   those using other formats.

   A "control message" is an article that is marked as containing
   control information; a relayer receiving such an article will
   (subject to permissions, etc.) take actions beyond just filing and
   passing on the article.

      NOTE: "Control article" would be more consistent terminology, but
      "control message" is already well established.

   An article's "reply address" is the address to which mailed replies
   should be sent.  This is the address specified in the article's From
   header (see Section 5.2), unless it also has a Reply-To header (see
   Section 6.3).

   The notation (for example) "(ASCII 17)" following a name means "this
   name refers to the ASCII character having value 17".  An "ASCII
   printable character" is an ASCII character in the range 33-126.  An
   "ASCII control character" is an ASCII character in the range 0-31, or
   the character DEL (ASCII 127).  A "non-ASCII character" is a
   character having a value exceeding 127.

Spencer                         Historic                       [Page 12]

RFC 1849                       Son of 1036                    March 2010

      NOTE: Blank is neither an "ASCII printable character" nor an
      "ASCII control character".

2.4.  End-of-Line

   How the end of a text line is represented depends on the context and
   the implementation.  For Internet transmission via protocols such as
   SMTP [RFC821], an end-of-line is a CR (ASCII 13) followed by an LF
   (ASCII 10).  ISO C [ISO/IEC9899] and many modern operating systems
   indicate end-of-line with a single character, typically ASCII LF (aka
   "newline"), and this is the normal convention when news is
   transmitted via UUCP.  A variety of other methods are in use,
   including out-of-band methods in which there is no specific character
   that means end-of-line.

   This Draft does not constrain how end-of-line is represented in news,
   except that characters other than CR and LF MUST NOT be usurped for
   use in end-of-line representations.  Also, obviously, all software
   dealing with a particular copy of an article must agree on the
   convention to be used.  "EOL" is used to mean "whatever end-of-line
   representation is appropriate"; it is not necessarily a character or
   sequence of characters.

      NOTE: If faced with picking an EOL representation in the absence
      of other constraints, use of a single character simplifies
      processing, and the ASCII standard [X3.4] specifies that if one
      character is to be used for this purpose, it should be LF (ASCII

      NOTE: Inside MIME encodings, use of the Internet canonical EOL
      representation (CR followed by LF) is mandatory.  See [RFC2049].

2.5.  Case-Sensitivity

   Text in newsgroup names, header parameters, etc. is case-sensitive
   unless stated otherwise.

      NOTE: This is at variance with MAIL, which is case-insensitive
      unless stated otherwise, but is consistent with news historical
      practice and existing news software.  See the comments on backward
      compatibility in Section 1.

2.6.  Language

   Various constant strings in this Draft, such as header names and
   month names, are derived from English words.  Despite their
   derivation, these words do NOT change when the poster or reader
   employing them is interacting in a language other than English.

Spencer                         Historic                       [Page 13]

RFC 1849                       Son of 1036                    March 2010

   Posting and reading agents SHOULD translate as appropriate in their
   interaction with the poster or reader, but the forms that actually
   appear in articles are always the English-derived ones defined in
   this Draft.

3.  Relation to MAIL (RFC822, etc.)

   The primary intent of this Draft is to completely describe the news
   article format as a subset of MAIL's message format (augmented by
   some new headers).  Unless explicitly noted otherwise, the intent
   throughout is that an article MUST also be a valid MAIL message.

      NOTE: Despite obvious similarities between news and mail, opinions
      vary on whether it is possible or desirable to unify them into a
      single service.  However, it is unquestionably both possible and
      useful to employ some of the same tools for manipulating both mail
      messages and news articles, so there is specific advantage to be
      had in defining them compatibly.  Furthermore, there is no
      apparent need to re-invent the wheel when slight extensions to an
      existing definition will suffice.

   Given that this Draft attempts to be self-contained, it inevitably
   contains considerable repetition of information found in MAIL.  This
   raises the possibility of unintentional conflicts.  Unless
   specifically noted otherwise, any wording in this Draft that permits
   behavior that is not MAIL-compliant is erroneous and should be
   followed only to the extent that the result remains compliant with

      NOTE: [RFC1036] said "where this standard conflicts with the
      Internet Standard, RFC 822 should be considered correct and this
      standard in error".  Taken literally, this was obviously
      incorrect, since [RFC1036] imposed a number of restrictions not
      found in [RFC822].  The intent, however, was reasonable: to
      indicate that UNINTENTIONAL differences were errors in [RFC1036].

   Implementors and users should note that MAIL is deliberately an
   extensible standard, and most extensions devised for mail are also
   relevant to (and compatible with) news.  Note particularly MIME,
   summarized briefly in Appendix B, which extends MAIL in a number of
   useful ways that are definitely relevant to news.  Also of note is
   the work in progress on reconciling Privacy Enhanced Mail (PEM),
   which defines extensions for authentication and security) with MIME,
   after which this may also be relevant to news.

      UNRESOLVED ISSUE: Update the MIME/PEM information.

Spencer                         Historic                       [Page 14]

RFC 1849                       Son of 1036                    March 2010

   Similarly, descriptions here of MIME facilities should be considered
   correct only to the extent that they do not require or legitimize
   practices that would violate those RFCs.  (Note that this Draft does
   extend the application of some MIME facilities, but this is an
   extension rather than an alteration.)

4.  Basic Format

4.1.  Overall Syntax

   The overall syntax of a news article is:

      article         = 1*header separator body
      header          = start-line *continuation
      start-line      = header-name ":" space [ nonblank-text ] eol
      continuation    = space nonblank-text eol
      header-name     = 1*name-character *( "-" 1*name-character )
      name-character  = letter / digit
      letter          = <ASCII letter A-Z or a-z>
      digit           = <ASCII digit 0-9>
      separator       = eol
      body            = *( [ nonblank-text / space ] eol )
      eol             = <EOL>
      nonblank-text   = [ space ] text-character *( space-or-text )
      text-character  = <any ASCII character except NUL (ASCII 0),
                          HT (ASCII 9), LF (ASCII 10), CR (ASCII 13),
                          or blank (ASCII 32)>
      space           = 1*( <HT (ASCII 9)> / <blank (ASCII 32)> )
      space-or-text   = space / text-character

   An article consists of some headers followed by a body.  An empty
   line separates the two.  The headers contain structured information
   about the article and its transmission.  A header begins with a
   header name identifying it, and can be continued onto subsequent
   lines by beginning the continuation line(s) with white space.  (Note
   that Section 4.2.3 adds some restrictions to the header syntax
   indicated here.)  The body is largely unstructured text significant
   only to the poster and the readers.

      NOTE: Terminology here follows the current custom in the news
      community, rather than the MAIL convention of (sometimes)
      referring to what is here called a "header" as a "header field" or

   Note that the separator line must be truly empty, and not just a line
   containing white space.  Further empty lines following it are part of
   the body, as are empty lines at the end of the article.

Spencer                         Historic                       [Page 15]

RFC 1849                       Son of 1036                    March 2010

      NOTE: Some systems make no distinction between empty lines and
      lines consisting entirely of white space; indeed, some systems
      cannot represent entirely empty lines.  The grammar's requirement
      that header continuation lines contain some printable text is
      meant to ensure that the empty/space distinction cannot confuse
      identification of the separator line.

      NOTE: It is tempting to authorize posting agents to strip empty
      lines at the beginning and end of the body, but such empty lines
      could possibly be part of a preformatted document.

   Implementors are warned that trailing white space, whether alone on
   the line or not, MAY be significant in the body, notably in early
   versions of the "uuencode" encoding for binary data.  Trailing white
   space MUST be preserved unless the article is known to have
   originated within a cooperating subnet that avoids using significant
   trailing white space, and SHOULD be preserved regardless.  Posters
   SHOULD avoid using conventions or encodings that make trailing white
   space significant; for encoding of binary data, MIME's "base64"
   encoding is recommended.  Implementors are warned that ISO C
   implementations are not required to preserve trailing white space,
   and special precautions may be necessary in implementations that do

      NOTE: Unfortunately, the signature-delimiter convention (described
      in Section 4.3.2) does use significant trailing white space.  It's
      too late to fix this; there is work underway on defining an
      organized signature convention as part of MIME, which is a
      preferable solution in the long run.

   Posters are warned that some very old relayer software misbehaves
   when the first non-empty line of an article body begins with white

4.2.  Headers

4.2.1.  Names and Contents

   Despite the restrictions on header-name syntax imposed by the
   grammar, relayers and reading agents SHOULD tolerate header names
   containing any ASCII printable character other than colon (":",
   ASCII 58).

      NOTE: MAIL header names can contain any ASCII printable character
      (other than colon) in theory, but in practice, arbitrary header
      names are known to cause trouble for some news software.  Section
      4.1's restriction to alphanumeric sequences separated by hyphens
      is believed to permit all widely used header names without causing

Spencer                         Historic                       [Page 16]

RFC 1849                       Son of 1036                    March 2010

      problems for any widely used software.  Software is nevertheless
      encouraged to cope correctly with the full range of possibilities,
      since aberrations are known to occur.

   Relayers MUST disregard headers not described in this Draft (that is,
   with header names not mentioned in this Draft) and pass them on

   Posters wishing to convey non-standard information in headers SHOULD
   use header names beginning with "X-".  No standard header name will
   ever be of this form.  Reading agents SHOULD ignore "X-" headers, or
   at least treat them with great care.

   The order of headers in an article is not significant.  However,
   posting agents are encouraged to put mandatory headers (see
   Section 5) first, followed by optional headers (see Section 6),
   followed by headers not defined in this Draft.

      NOTE: While relayers and reading agents must be prepared to handle
      any order, having the significant headers (the precise definition
      of "significant" depends on context) first can noticeably improve
      efficiency, especially in memory-limited environments where it is
      difficult to buffer up an arbitrary quantity of headers while
      searching for the few that matter.

   Header names are case-insensitive.  There is a preferred case
   convention, which posters and posting agents SHOULD use: each hyphen-
   separated "word" has its initial letter (if any) in uppercase and the
   rest in lowercase, except that some abbreviations have all letters
   uppercase (e.g., "Message-ID" and "MIME-Version").  The forms used in
   this Draft are the preferred forms for the headers described herein.
   Relayers and reading agents are warned that articles might not obey
   this convention.

      NOTE: Although software must be prepared for the possibility of
      random use of case in header names (and other case-independent
      text), establishing a preferred convention reduces pointless
      diversity and may permit optimized software that looks for the
      preferred forms before resorting to less-efficient case-
      insensitive searches.

   In general, a header can consist of several lines, with each
   continuation line beginning with white space.  The EOLs preceding
   continuation lines are ignored when processing such a header,
   effectively combining the start-line and the continuations into a
   single logical line.  The logical line, less the header name, colon,
   and any white space following the colon, is the "header content".

Spencer                         Historic                       [Page 17]

RFC 1849                       Son of 1036                    March 2010

4.2.2.  Undesirable Headers

   A header whose content is empty is said to be an empty header.
   Relayers and reading agents SHOULD NOT consider presence or absence
   of an empty header to alter the semantics of an article (although
   syntactic rules, such as requirements that certain header names
   appear at most once in an article, MUST still be satisfied).  Posting
   agents SHOULD delete empty headers from articles before posting them.

   Headers that merely state defaults explicitly (e.g., a Followup-To
   header with the same content as the Newsgroups header, or a MIME
   Content-Type header with contents "text/plain; charset=us-ascii") or
   state information that reading agents can typically determine easily
   themselves (e.g., the length of the body in octets) are redundant,
   conveying no information whatsoever.  Headers that state information
   that cannot possibly be of use to a significant number of relayers,
   reading agents, or readers (e.g., the name of the software package
   used as the posting agent) are useless and pointless.  Posters and
   posting agents SHOULD avoid including redundant or useless headers in

      NOTE: Information that someone, somewhere, might someday find
      useful is best omitted from headers.  (There's quite enough of it
      in article bodies.)  Headers should contain information of known
      utility only.  This is not meant to preclude inclusion of
      information primarily meant for news-software debugging, but such
      information should be included only if there is real reason,
      preferably based on experience, to suspect that it may be
      genuinely useful.  Articles passing through gateways are the only
      obvious case where inclusion of debugging information appears
      clearly legitimate.  (See Section 10.1.)

      NOTE: A useful rule of thumb for software implementors is: "if I
      had to pay a dollar a day for the transmission of this header,
      would I still think it worthwhile?".

4.2.3.  White Space and Continuations

   The colon following the header name on the start-line MUST be
   followed by white space, even if the header is empty.  If the header
   is not empty, at least some of the content MUST appear on the start-
   line.  Posting agents MUST enforce these restrictions, but relayers
   (etc.) SHOULD accept even articles that violate them.

      NOTE: MAIL does not require white space after the colon, but it is
      usual. [RFC1036] required the white space, even in empty headers,
      and some existing software demands it.  In MAIL, and arguably in
      [RFC1036] (although the wording is vague), it is technically

Spencer                         Historic                       [Page 18]

RFC 1849                       Son of 1036                    March 2010

      legitimate for the white space to be part of a continuation line
      rather than the start-line, but not all existing software will
      accept this.  Deleting empty headers and placing some content on
      the start-line avoids this issue; this is desirable because
      trailing blanks, easily deleted by accident, are best not made
      significant in headers.

   In general, posters and posting agents SHOULD use blank (ASCII 32),
   not tab (ASCII 9), where white space is desired in headers.  Existing
   software does not consistently accept tab as synonymous with blank in
   all contexts.  In particular, [RFC1036] appeared to specify that the
   character immediately following the colon after a header name was
   required to be a blank, and some news software insists on that, so
   this character MUST be a blank.  Again, posting agents MUST enforce
   these restrictions but relayers SHOULD be more tolerant.

   Since the white space beginning a continuation line remains a part of
   the logical line, headers can be "broken" into multiple lines only at
   white space.  Posting agents SHOULD NOT break headers unnecessarily.
   Relayers SHOULD preserve existing header breaks, and SHOULD NOT
   introduce new breaks.  Breaking headers SHOULD be a last resort;
   relayers and reading agents SHOULD handle long header lines
   gracefully.  (See the discussion of size limits in Section 4.6.)

4.3.  Body

   Although the article body is unstructured for most of the purposes of
   this Draft, structure MAY be imposed on it by other means, notably
   MIME headers (see Appendix B).

4.3.1.  Body Format Issues

   The body of an article MAY be empty, although posting agents SHOULD
   consider this an error condition (meriting returning the article to
   the poster for revision).  A posting agent that does not reject such
   an article SHOULD issue a warning message to the poster and supply a
   non-empty body.  Note that the separator line MUST be present even if
   the body is empty.

      NOTE: An empty body is probably a poster error except, arguably,
      for some control messages, and even they really ought to have a
      body explaining the reason for the control message.  Some old
      reading agents are known to generate empty bodies for "cancel"
      control messages, so posting agents might opt not to reject
      bodyless articles in such cases (although it would be better to
      fix the reading agents to request a body).  However, some existing
      news software is known to react badly to bodyless articles, hence
      the request for posting agents to insert a body in such cases.

Spencer                         Historic                       [Page 19]

RFC 1849                       Son of 1036                    March 2010

      NOTE: A possible posting-agent-supplied body text (already used by
      one widespread posting agent) is "This article was probably
      generated by a buggy news reader".  (The use of "reader" to refer
      to the reading agent is traditional, although this Draft uses more
      precise terminology.)

      NOTE: The requirement for the separator line even in a bodyless
      article is inherited from MAIL and also distinguishes legitimately
      bodyless articles from articles accidentally truncated in the
      middle of the headers.

   Note that an article body is a sequence of lines terminated by EOLs,
   not arbitrary binary data, and in particular it MUST end with an EOL.
   However, relayers SHOULD treat the body of an article as an
   uninterpreted sequence of octets (except as mandated by changes of
   EOL representation and by control-message processing) and SHOULD
   avoid imposing constraints on it.  See also Section 4.6.

4.3.2.  Body Conventions

   Although body lines can in principle be very long (see Section 4.6
   for some discussion of length limits), posters SHOULD restrict body
   line lengths to circa 70-75 characters.  On systems where text is
   conventionally stored with EOLs only at paragraph breaks and other
   "hard return" points, with software breaking lines as appropriate for
   display or manipulation, posting agents SHOULD insert EOLs as
   necessary so that posted articles comply with this restriction.

      NOTE: News originated in environments where line breaks in plain
      text files were supplied by the user, not the software.  Be this
      good or bad, much reading-agent and posting-agent software assumes
      that news articles follow this convention, so it is often
      inconvenient to read or respond to articles that violate it.  The
      "70-75" number comes from the widespread use of display devices
      that are 80 columns wide (with the number reduced to provide a bit
      of margin for quoting, see below).

   Reading agents confronted with body lines much longer than the
   available output-device width SHOULD break lines as appropriate.
   Posters are warned that such breaks may not occur exactly where the
   poster intends.

      NOTE: "As appropriate" would typically include breaking lines when
      supplying the text of an article to be quoted in a reply or
      followup, something that line-breaking reading agents often
      neglect to do now.

Spencer                         Historic                       [Page 20]

RFC 1849                       Son of 1036                    March 2010

   Although styles vary widely, for plain text it is usual to use no
   left margin, leave the right edge ragged, use a single empty line to
   separate paragraphs, and employ normal natural-language usage on
   matters such as upper/lowercase.  (In particular, articles SHOULD NOT
   be written entirely in uppercase.  In environments where posters have
   access only to uppercase, posting agents SHOULD translate it to

      NOTE: Most people find substantial bodies of text entirely in
      uppercase relatively hard to read, while all-lowercase text merely
      looks slightly odd.  The common association of uppercase with
      strong emphasis adds to this.

   Tone of voice does not carry well in written text, and
   misunderstandings are common when sarcasm, parody, or exaggeration
   for humorous effect is attempted without explicit warning.  It has
   become conventional to use the sequence ":-)", which (on most output
   devices) resembles a rotated "smiley face" symbol, as a marker for
   text not meant to be taken literally, especially when humor is
   intended.  This practice aids communication and averts unintended
   ill-will; posters are urged to use it.  A variety of analogous
   sequences are used with less-standardized meanings [Sanderson].

   The order of arrival of news articles at a particular host depends
   somewhat on transmission paths, and occasionally articles are lost
   for various reasons.  When responding to a previous article, posters
   SHOULD NOT assume that all readers understand the exact context.  It
   is common to quote some of the previous article to establish context.
   This SHOULD be done by prefacing each quoted line (even if it is
   empty) with the character ">".  This will result in multiple levels
   of ">" when quoted context itself contains quoted context.

      NOTE: It may seem superfluous to put a prefix on empty lines, but
      it simplifies implementation of functions such as "skip all quoted
      text" in reading agents.

   Readability is enhanced if quoted text and new text are separated by
   an empty line.

   Posters SHOULD edit quoted context to trim it down to the minimum
   necessary.  However, posting agents SHOULD NOT attempt to enforce
   this by imposing overly simplistic rules like "no more than 50% of
   the lines should be quotes".

      NOTE: While encouraging trimming is desirable, the 50% rule
      imposed by some old posting agents is both inadequate and
      counterproductive.  Posters do not respond to it by being more
      selective about quoting; they respond by padding short responses,

Spencer                         Historic                       [Page 21]

RFC 1849                       Son of 1036                    March 2010

      or by using different quoting styles to defeat automatic analysis.
      The former adds unnecessary noise and volume, while the latter
      also defeats more useful forms of automatic analysis that reading
      agents might wish to do.

      NOTE: At the very least, if a minimum-unquoted quota is being set,
      article bodies shorter than (say) 20 lines, or perhaps articles
      that exceed the quota by only a few lines, should be exempt.  This
      avoids the ridiculous situation of complaining about a 5-line
      response to a 6-line quote.

      NOTE: A more subtle posting-agent rule, suggested for experimental
      use, is to reject articles that appear to contain quoted
      signatures (see below).  This is almost certainly the result of a
      careless poster not bothering to trim down quoted context.  Also,
      if a posting agent or followup agent presents an article template
      to the poster for editing, it really should take note of whether
      the poster actually made any changes, and refrain from posting an
      unmodified template.

   Some followup agents supply "attribution" lines for quoted context,
   indicating where it first appeared and under whose name.  When
   multiple levels of quoting are present and quoted context is edited
   for brevity, "inner" attribution lines are not always retained.  The
   editing process is also somewhat error-prone.  Reading agents (and
   readers) are warned not to assume that attributions are accurate.

      UNRESOLVED ISSUE: Should a standard format for attribution lines
      be defined?  There is already considerable diversity, but
      automatic news analysis would be substantially aided by a standard

   Early difficulties in inferring return addresses from article headers
   led to "signatures": short closing texts, automatically added to the
   end of articles by posting agents, identifying the poster and giving
   his network addresses, etc.  If a poster or posting agent does append
   a signature to an article, the signature SHOULD be preceded with a
   delimiter line containing (only) two hyphens (ASCII 45) followed by
   one blank (ASCII 32).  Posting agents SHOULD limit the length of
   signatures, since verbose excess bordering on abuse is common if no
   restraint is imposed; 4 lines is a common limit.

      NOTE: While signatures are arguably a blemish, they are a well-
      understood convention, and conveying the same information in
      headers exposes it to mangling and makes it rather less
      conspicuous.  A standard delimiter line makes it possible for
      reading agents to handle signatures specially if desired.

Spencer                         Historic                       [Page 22]

RFC 1849                       Son of 1036                    March 2010

      (This is unfortunately hampered by extensive misunderstanding of,
      and misuse of, the delimiter.)

      NOTE: The choice of delimiter is somewhat unfortunate, since it
      relies on preservation of trailing white space, but it is too
      well-established to change.  There is work underway to define a
      more sophisticated signature scheme as part of MIME, and this will
      presumably supersede the current convention in due time.

      NOTE: Four 75-column lines of signature text is 300 characters,
      which is ample to convey name and mail-address information in all
      but the most bizarre situations.

4.4.  Characters and Character Sets

   Header and body lines MAY contain any ASCII characters other than CR
   (ASCII 13), LF (ASCII 10), and NUL (ASCII 0).

      NOTE: CR and LF are excluded because they clash with common EOL
      conventions.  NUL is excluded because it clashes with the C
      end-of-string convention, which is significant to most existing
      news software.  These three characters are unlikely to be
      transmitted successfully.

   However, posters SHOULD avoid using ASCII control characters except
   for tab (ASCII 9), formfeed (ASCII 12), and backspace (ASCII 8).  Tab
   signifies sufficient horizontal white space to reach the next of a
   set of fixed positions; posters are warned that there is no standard
   set of positions, so tabs should be avoided if precise spacing is
   essential.  Formfeed signifies a point at which a reading agent
   SHOULD pause and await reader interaction before displaying further
   text.  Backspace SHOULD be used only for underlining, done by a
   sequence of underscores (ASCII 95) followed by an equal number of
   backspaces, signifying that the same number of text characters
   following are to be underlined.  Posters are warned that underlining
   is not available on all output devices and is best not relied on for
   essential meaning.  Reading agents SHOULD recognize underlining and
   translate it to the appropriate commands for devices that support it.

      NOTE: Interpretation of almost all control characters is device-
      specific to some degree, and devices differ.  Tabs and underlining
      are supported, to some extent, by most modern devices and reading
      agents, hence the cautious exemptions for them.  The underlining
      method is specified because the inverse method, text and then
      underscores, is tempting to the naive; however, if sent unaltered
      to a device that shows only the most recent of several overstruck
      characters rather than a composite, the result can be utterly

Spencer                         Historic                       [Page 23]

RFC 1849                       Son of 1036                    March 2010

      NOTE: A common interpretation of tab is that it is a request to
      space forward to the next position whose number is one more than a
      multiple of 8, with positions numbered sequentially starting at 1.
      (So tab positions are 9, 17, 25, ...)  Reading agents not
      constrained by existing system conventions might wish to use this

      NOTE: It will typically be necessary for a reading agent to catch
      and interpret formfeed, not just send it to the output device.
      The actions performed by typical output devices on receiving a
      formfeed are neither adequate for, nor appropriate to, the pause-
      for-interaction meaning.

   Cooperating subnets that wish to employ non-ASCII character sets by
   using escape sequences (employing, e.g., ESC (ASCII 27), SO
   (ASCII 14), and SI (ASCII 15)) to alter the meaning of superficially
   ASCII characters MAY do so, but MUST use MIME headers to alert
   reading agents to the particular character set(s) and escape
   sequences in use.  A reading agent SHOULD NOT pass such an escape
   sequence through, unaltered, to the output device unless the agent
   confirms that the sequence is one used to affect character sets and
   has reason to believe that the device is capable of interpreting that
   particular sequence properly.

      NOTE: Cooperating-subnet organizers are warned that some very old
      relayers strip certain control characters out of articles they
      pass along.  ESC is known to be among the affected characters.

      NOTE: There are now standard Internet encodings for Japanese
      [RFC1345] and Vietnamese [RFC1456] in particular.

   Articles MUST NOT contain any octet with value exceeding 127, i.e.,
   any octet that is not an ASCII character.

      NOTE: This rule, like others, may be relaxed by unanimous consent
      of the members of a cooperating subnet, provided suitable
      precautions are taken to ensure that rule-violating articles do
      not leak out of the subnet.  (This has already been done in many
      areas where ASCII is not adequate for the local language(s).)
      Beware that articles containing non-ASCII octets in headers are a
      violation of the MAIL specifications and are not valid MAIL
      messages.  MIME offers a way to encode non-ASCII characters in
      ASCII for use in headers; see Section 4.5.

Spencer                         Historic                       [Page 24]

RFC 1849                       Son of 1036                    March 2010

      NOTE: While there is great interest in using 8-bit character sets,
      not all software can yet handle them correctly, hence the
      restriction to cooperating subnets.  MIME encodings can be used to
      transmit such characters while remaining within the octet

   In anticipation of the day when it is possible to use non-ASCII
   characters safely anywhere, and to provide for the (substantial)
   cooperating subnets that are already using them, transmission paths
   SHOULD treat news articles as uninterpreted sequences of octets
   (except perhaps for transformations between EOL representations) and
   relayers SHOULD treat non-ASCII characters in articles as ordinary

      NOTE: 8-bit enthusiasts are warned that not all software conforms
      to these recommendations yet.  In particular, standard NNTP
      [RFC977] is a 7-bit protocol {but in [RFC3977] it has been upped
      to 8-bit}, and there may be implementations that enforce this
      rule.  Be warned, also, that it will never be safe to send raw
      binary data in the body of news articles, because changes of EOL
      representation may (will!) corrupt it.

   Except where cooperating subnets permit more direct approaches, MIME
   headers and encodings SHOULD be used to transmit non-ASCII content
   using ASCII characters; see Section 4.5, Appendix B, and the MIME
   RFCs for details.  If article content can be expressed in ASCII, it
   SHOULD be.  Failing that, the order of preference for character sets
   is that described in MIME.

      NOTE: Using the MIME facilities, it is possible to transmit ANY
      character set, and ANY form of binary data, using only ASCII
      characters.  Equally important, such articles are self-describing
      and the reading agent can tell which octet-to-symbol mapping is
      intended!  Designation of some preferred character sets is
      intended to minimize the number of character sets that a reading
      agent must understand in order to display most articles properly.

   Articles containing non-ASCII characters, articles using ASCII
   characters (values 0 through 127) to refer to non-ASCII symbols, and
   articles using escape sequences to shift character sets SHOULD
   include MIME headers indicating which character set(s) and
   conventions are being used.  They MUST do so unless such articles are
   strictly confined to a cooperating subnet that has its own pre-agreed
   conventions.  MIME encodings are preferred over all of these
   techniques.  If it comes to a relayer's attention that it is being
   asked to pass an article using such techniques outward across what it
   knows to be the boundary of such a cooperating subnet, it MUST report

Spencer                         Historic                       [Page 25]

RFC 1849                       Son of 1036                    March 2010

   this error to its administrator and MAY refuse to pass the article
   beyond the subnet boundary.  If it does pass the article, it MUST
   re-encode it with MIME encodings to make it conform to this Draft.

      NOTE: Such re-encoding is a non-trivial task, due to MIME rules
      such as the prohibition of nested encodings.  It's not just a
      matter of pouring the body through a simple filter.

   Reading agents SHOULD note MIME headers and attempt to show the
   reader the closest possible approximation to the intended content.
   They SHOULD NOT just send the octets of the article to the output
   device unaltered, unless there is reason to believe that the output
   device will indeed interpret them correctly.  Reading agents MUST NOT
   pass ASCII control characters or escape sequences, other than as
   discussed above, unaltered to the output device; only by chance would
   the result be the desired one, and there is serious potential for
   harmful side effects, either accidental or malicious.

      NOTE: Exactly what to do with unwanted control
      characters/sequences depends on the philosophy of the reading
      agent, but passing them straight to the output device is almost
      always wrong.  If the reading agent wants to mark the presence of
      such a character/sequence in circumstances where only ASCII
      printable characters are available, translating it to "#" might be
      a suitable method; "#" is a conspicuous character seldom used in
      normal text.

      NOTE: Reading agents should be aware that many old output devices
      (or the transmission paths to them) zero out the top bit of octets
      sent to them.  This can transform non-ASCII characters into ASCII
      control characters.

   Followup agents MUST be careful to apply appropriate transformations
   of representation to the outbound followup as well as the inbound
   precursor.  A followup to an article containing non-ASCII material is
   very likely to contain non-ASCII material itself.

4.5.  Non-ASCII Characters in Headers

   All octets found in headers MUST be ASCII characters.  However, it is
   desirable to have a way of encoding non-ASCII characters, especially
   in "human-readable" headers such as Subject.  MIME provides a way to
   do this.  Full details may be found in the MIME specifications;
   herewith a quick summary to alert software authors to the issues.

Spencer                         Historic                       [Page 26]

RFC 1849                       Son of 1036                    March 2010

      encoded-word  = "=?" charset "?" encoding "?" codes "?="
      charset       = 1*tag-char
      encoding      = 1*tag-char
      tag-char      = < ASCII printable character except
                                !()<>@,;:\"[]/?= >
      codes         = 1*code-char
      code-char     = <ASCII printable character except ?>

   An encoded word is a sequence of ASCII printable characters that
   specifies the character set, encoding method, and bits of
   (potentially) non-ASCII characters.  Encoded words are allowed only
   in certain positions in certain headers.  Specific headers impose
   restrictions on the content of encoded words beyond that specified in
   this section.  Posting agents MUST ensure that any material
   resembling an encoded word (complete with all delimiters), in a
   context where encoded words may appear, really is an encoded word.

      NOTE: The syntax is a bit ugly, but it was designed to minimize
      chances of confusion with legitimate header contents, and to
      satisfy difficult constraints on use within existing headers.

   An encoded word MUST NOT be more than 75 octets long.  Each line of a
   header containing encoded word(s) MUST be at most 76 octets long, not
   counting the EOL.

      NOTE: These limits are meant to bound the lookahead needed to
      determine whether text that begins with "=?" is really an encoded

   The details of charsets and encodings are defined by MIME; the
   sequence of preferred character sets is the same as MIME's.  Encoded
   words SHOULD NOT be used for content expressible in ASCII.

   When an encoded word is used, other than in a newsgroup name (see
   Section 5.5), it MUST be separated from any adjacent non-space
   characters (including other encoded words) by white space.  Reading
   agents displaying the contents of encoded words (as opposed to their
   encoded form) should ignore white space adjacent to encoded words.

      UNRESOLVED ISSUE: Should this section be deleted entirely, or made
      much more terse?  The material is relevant, but too complex to
      discuss fully.

      NOTE: The deletion of intervening white space permits using
      multiple encoded words, implicitly concatenated by the deletion,
      to encode text that will not fit within a single 75-character
      encoded word.

Spencer                         Historic                       [Page 27]

RFC 1849                       Son of 1036                    March 2010

   Reading-agent implementors are warned that although this Draft
   completely specifies where encoded words may appear in the headers it
   defines, there are other headers (e.g., the MIME Content-Description
   header) that MAY contain them.

4.6.  Size Limits

   Implementations SHOULD avoid fixed constraints on the sizes of lines
   within an article and on the size of the entire article.

   Relayers SHOULD treat the body of an article as an uninterpreted
   sequence of octets (except as mandated by changes of EOL
   representation and processing of control messages), not to be altered
   or constrained in any way.

   If it is absolutely necessary for an implementation to impose a limit
   on the length of header lines, body lines, or header logical lines,
   that limit shall be at least 1000 octets, including EOL
   representations.  Relayers and transmission paths confronted with
   lines beyond their internal limits (if any) MUST NOT simply inject
   EOLs at random places; they MAY break headers (as described in
   Section 4.2.3) as a last resort, and otherwise they MUST either pass
   the long lines through unaltered, or refuse to pass the article at
   all (see Section 9.1 for further discussion).

      NOTE: The limit here is essentially the same minimum as that
      specified for SMTP mail [RFC821].  Implementors are warned that
      Path (see Section 5.6) and References (see Section 6.5) headers,
      in particular, often become several hundred characters long, so
      1000 is not an overly generous limit.

   All implementations MUST be able to handle an article totalling at
   least 65,000 octets, including headers and EOL representations,
   gracefully and efficiently.  All implementations SHOULD be able to
   handle an article totalling at least 1,000,000 (one million) octets,
   including headers and EOL representations, gracefully and
   efficiently.  "Gracefully and efficiently" is intended to preclude
   not only failures, but also major loss of performance, serious
   problems in error recovery, or resource consumption beyond what is
   reasonably necessary.

      NOTE: The intent here is to prohibit lowering the existing de
      facto limit any further, while strongly encouraging movement
      towards a higher one.  Actually, although improvements are
      desirable in some cases, much news software copes reasonably well
      with very large articles.  The same cannot be said of the
      communications software and protocols used to transmit news from
      one host to another, especially when slow communications links are

Spencer                         Historic                       [Page 28]

RFC 1849                       Son of 1036                    March 2010

      involved.  Occasional huge articles that appear now (by accident
      or through ignorance) typically leave trails of failing software,
      system problems, and irate administrators in their wake.

      NOTE: It is intended that the successor to this Draft will raise
      the "MUST" limit to 1,000,000 and the "SHOULD" limit still

   Posters SHOULD limit posted articles to at most 60,000 octets,
   including headers and EOL representations, unless the articles are
   being posted only within a cooperating subnet that is known to be
   capable of handling larger articles gracefully.  Posting agents
   presented with a large article SHOULD warn the poster and request

      NOTE: The difference between this and the earlier "MUST" limit is
      due to margin for header growth, differing EOL representations,
      and transmission overheads.

      NOTE: Disagreeable though these limits are, it is a fact that in
      current networks, an article larger than 64K (after header growth,
      etc.) simply is not transmitted reliably.  Note also the comments
      above on the trauma caused by single extremely large articles now;
      the problems are real and current.  These problems arguably should
      be fixed, but this will not happen network-wide in the immediate
      future, hence the restriction of larger articles to cooperating
      subnets, for now.

   Posters using non-ASCII characters in their text MUST take into
   account the overhead involved in MIME encoding, unless the article's
   propagation will be entirely limited to a cooperating subnet that
   does not use MIME encodings for non-ASCII characters.  For example,
   MIME base64 encoding involves growth by a factor of approximately
   4/3, so an article that would likely have to use this encoding should
   be at most about 45,000 octets before encoding.

   Posters SHOULD use MIME "message/partial" conventions to facilitate
   automatic reassembly of a large document split into smaller pieces
   for posting.  It is recommended that the content identifier used
   should be a message ID, generated by the same means as article
   message IDs (see Section 5.3), and that all parts should have a
   See-Also header (see Section 6.16) giving the message IDs of at least
   the previous parts and preferably all of the parts.

      NOTE: See-Also is more correct for this purpose than References,
      although References is in common use today (with less-formal
      reassembly arrangements).  MIME reassemblers should probably

Spencer                         Historic                       [Page 29]

RFC 1849                       Son of 1036                    March 2010

      examine articles suggested by References headers if See-Also
      headers are not present to indicate the whereabouts of the other
      parts of "message/partial" articles.

   To repeat: implementations SHOULD avoid fixed constraints on the
   sizes of lines within an article and on the size of the entire

4.7.  Example

   Here is a sample article:

      From: jerry@eagle.ATT.COM (Jerry Schwarz)
      Path: cbosgd!mhuxj!mhuxt!eagle!jerry
      Newsgroups: news.announce
      Subject: Usenet Etiquette -- Please Read
      Message-ID: <642@eagle.ATT.COM>
      Date: Mon, 17 Jan 1994 11:14:55 -0500 (EST)
      Followup-To: news.misc
      Expires: Wed, 19 Jan 1994 00:00:00 -0500
      Organization: AT&T Bell Laboratories, Murray Hill


5.  Mandatory Headers

   An article MUST have one, and only one, of each of the following
   headers: Date, From, Message-ID, Subject, Newsgroups, Path.

      NOTE: MAIL specifies (if read most carefully) that there must be
      exactly one Date header and exactly one From header, but otherwise
      does not restrict multiple appearances of headers.  (Notably, it
      permits multiple Message-ID headers!)  This appears singularly
      useless, or even harmful, in the context of news, and much current
      news software will not tolerate multiple appearances of mandatory

   Note also that there are situations, discussed in the relevant parts
   of Section 6, where References, Sender, or Approved headers are

   In the discussions of the individual headers, the content of each is
   specified using the syntax notation.  The convention used is that the
   content of, for example, the Subject header is defined as

Spencer                         Historic                       [Page 30]

RFC 1849                       Son of 1036                    March 2010

5.1.  Date

   The Date header contains the date and time when the article was
   submitted for transmission:

      Date-content  = [ weekday "," space ] date space time
      weekday       = "Mon" / "Tue" / "Wed" / "Thu"
                    / "Fri" / "Sat" / "Sun"
      date          = day space month space year
      day           = 1*2digit
      month         = "Jan" / "Feb" / "Mar" / "Apr" / "May" / "Jun"
                    / "Jul" / "Aug" / "Sep" / "Oct" / "Nov" / "Dec"
      year          = 4digit / 2digit
      time          = hh ":" mm [ ":" ss ] space timezone
      timezone      = "UT" / "GMT"
                    / ( "+" / "-" ) hh mm [ space "(" zone-name ")" ]
      hh            = 2digit
      mm            = 2digit
      ss            = 2digit
      zone-name     = 1*( <ASCII printable character except ()\>
                    / space )

   This is a restricted subset of the MAIL date format.

   If a weekday is given, it MUST be consistent with the date.  The
   modern Gregorian calendar is used, and dates MUST be consistent with
   its usual conventions; for example, if the month is May, the day must
   be between 1 and 31 inclusive.  The year SHOULD be given as four
   digits, and posting agents SHOULD enforce this; however, relayers
   MUST accept the two-digit form, and MUST interpret it as having the
   implicit prefix "19".

      NOTE: Two-digit year numbers can, should, and must be phased out
      by 1999.

   The time is given on the 24-hour clock, e.g., two hours before
   midnight is "22:00" or "22:00:00".  The hh must be between 00 and 23
   inclusive, the mm between 0 and 59 inclusive, and the ss between 0
   and 60 inclusive.

      NOTE: Leap seconds very occasionally result in minutes that are 61
      seconds long.

   The date and time SHOULD be given in the poster's local time zone,
   including a specification of that time zone as a numeric offset
   (which SHOULD include the time zone name, e.g., "EST", supplied in
   parentheses like a MAIL comment).  If not, they MUST be given in
   Universal Time (abbreviated "UT"; "GMT" is a historical synonym for

Spencer                         Historic                       [Page 31]

RFC 1849                       Son of 1036                    March 2010

   "UT").  The time zone name in parentheses, if present, is a comment;
   software MUST ignore it, except that reading agents might wish to
   display it to the reader.  Time zone names other than "UT" and "GMT"
   MUST appear only in the comment.

      NOTE: Attempts to deal with a full set of time zone names have all
      foundered on the vast number of such names in use and the
      duplications (for example, there are at least FIVE different time
      zones called "EST" by somebody).  Even the limited set of North
      American zone names authorized by MAIL is subject to confusion and
      misinterpretation, hence the flat ban on non-UT time zone names,
      except as comments.

      NOTE: [RFC1036] specified that use of GMT (aka UT, UTC) was
      preferred.  However, the local time (in the poster's time zone) is
      arguably information of possible interest to the reader, and this
      requires some indication of the poster's time zone.  Numeric
      offsets are an unambiguous way of doing this, and their use was
      indeed sanctioned by [RFC1036] (that is, this is a change of
      preference only).

      NOTE: There is frequent confusion, including errors in some news
      software, regarding the sign of numeric time zones.  Zones west of
      Greenwich have negative offsets.  For example, North American
      Eastern Standard Time is zone -0500 and North American Eastern
      Daylight Time is zone -0400.

      NOTE: Implementors are warned that the hh in a time zone can go up
      to about 14; it is not limited to 12.  This is because the
      International Date Line does not run exactly along the boundary
      between zone -1200 and zone +1200.

      NOTE: The comments in Section 2.6 regarding translation to other
      languages are relevant here.  The Date-content format, and the
      spellings of its components, as found in articles themselves, are
      always as defined in this Draft, regardless of the language used
      to interact with readers and posters.  Reading and posting agents
      should translate as appropriate.  Actually, even English-language
      reading and posting agents will probably want to do some degree of
      translation on dates, if only to abbreviate the lengthy format and
      (perhaps) translate to and from the reader's time zone.

Spencer                         Historic                       [Page 32]

RFC 1849                       Son of 1036                    March 2010

5.2.  From

   The From header contains the electronic address, and possibly the
   full name, of the article's author:

      From-content  = address [ space "(" paren-phrase ")" ]
                    /  [ plain-phrase space ] "<" address ">"
      paren-phrase  = 1*( paren-char / space / encoded-word )
      paren-char    = <ASCII printable character except ()<>\>
      plain-phrase  = plain-word *( space plain-word )
      plain-word    = unquoted-word / quoted-word / encoded-word
      unquoted-word = 1*unquoted-char
      unquoted-char = <ASCII printable character except !()<>@,;:\".[]>
      quoted-word   = quote 1*( quoted-char / space ) quote
      quote         = <" (ASCII 34)>
      quoted-char   = <ASCII printable character except "()<>\>
      address       = local-part "@" domain
      local-part    = unquoted-word *( "." unquoted-word )
      domain        = unquoted-word *( "." unquoted-word )

   (Encoded words are described in Section 4.5.)  The full name is
   distinguished from the electronic address either by enclosing the
   former in parentheses (making it resemble a MAIL comment, after the
   address) or by enclosing the latter in angle brackets.  The second
   form is preferred.  In the first form, encoded words inside the full
   name MUST be composed entirely of <paren-char>s.  In the second form,
   encoded words inside the full name may not contain characters other
   than letters (of either case), digits, and the characters "!", "*",
   "+", "-", "/", "=", and "_".  The local part is case-sensitive
   (except that all case counterparts of "postmaster" are deemed
   equivalent), the domain is case-insensitive, and all other parts of
   the From content are comments that MUST be ignored by news software
   (except insofar as reading agents may wish to display them to the
   reader).  Posters and posting agents MUST restrict themselves to this
   subset of the MAIL From syntax; relayers MAY accept a broader subset,
   but see the discussion in Section 9.1.

      NOTE: The syntax here is a restricted subset of the MAIL From
      syntax, with quoting particularly restricted, for simple parsing.
      In particular, the presence of "<" in the From content indicates
      that the second form is being used; otherwise, the first form is
      being used.  The major restrictions here are those already de
      facto imposed by existing software.

      NOTE: Overly lenient posting agents sometimes permit the second
      form with a full name containing "(" or ")", but it is extremely
      rare for a full name to contain "<" or ">", even in mail.

Spencer                         Historic                       [Page 33]

RFC 1849                       Son of 1036                    March 2010

      Accordingly, reading agents wishing to robustly determine which
      form is in use in a particular article should key on the presence
      or absence of "<", not the presence or absence of "(".

   The address SHOULD be a valid and complete Internet domain address,
   capable of being successfully mailed to by an Internet host (possibly
   via an MX (Mail Exchange) record and a forwarder).  The pseudo-domain
   ".uucp" MAY be used for hosts registered in the UUCP maps (e.g., name
   "xyz.uucp" for registered site "xyz"), but such hosts SHOULD
   discontinue this usage (either by arranging a proper Internet address
   and forwarder, or by using the "% hack" (see below)), as soon as
   possible.  Bitnet hosts SHOULD use Internet addresses, avoiding the
   obsolescent ".bitnet" pseudo-domain.  Other forms of address MUST NOT
   be used.

      NOTE: "Other forms" specifically include UK-style "backward"
      domains ("uk.oxbridge.cs" is in the Czech Republic, not the UK),
      pure-UUCP addressing ("knee!shin!foot" instead of
      "foot%shin@knee.uucp"), and abbreviated domains ("zebra.zoo"
      instead of "").

   If it is necessary to use the local part to specify a routing
   relative to the nearest Internet host, this MUST be done using the "%
   hack", using "%" as a secondary "@".  For example, to specify that
   mail to the address should go to Internet host "", then to
   non-Internet host "ein", then to non-Internet host "deux", for
   delivery there to mailbox "fred", a suitable address would be:

   Analogous forms using "!" in the local part MUST NOT be used, as they
   are ambiguous; they should be expressed in the "%" form.

      NOTE: "a!b@c" can be interpreted as either "b%c@a" or "b%a@c", and
      there is no consistency in which choice is made.  Such addresses
      consequently are unreliable.  The "%" form does not suffer from
      this problem, and although its use is officially discouraged, it
      is a de facto standard, to the point that MAIL recognizes it.

   Relayers MUST NOT, repeat MUST NOT, repeat MUST NOT, rewrite From
   lines, in any way, however minor or seemingly innocent.  Trying to
   "fix" a non-conforming address has a very high probability of making
   things worse.  Either pass it along unchanged or reject the article.

      NOTE: An additional reason for banning the use of "!"  addressing
      is that it has a much higher probability of being rewritten into
      mangled unrecognizability by old relayers.

Spencer                         Historic                       [Page 34]

RFC 1849                       Son of 1036                    March 2010

   Posters and posting agents SHOULD avoid use of the characters "!" and
   "@" in full names, as they may trigger unwanted header rewriting by
   old, simple-minded news software.

      NOTE: Also, the characters "." and ",", not infrequently found in
      names (e.g., "John W. Campbell, Jr."), are NOT, repeat NOT,
      allowed in an unquoted word.  A From header like the following
      MUST NOT be written without the quotation marks:

      From: "John W. Campbell, Jr." <>

5.3.  Message-ID

   The Message-ID header contains the article's message ID, a unique
   identifier distinguishing the article from every other article:

      Message-ID-content  = message-id
      message-id          = "<" local-part "@" domain ">"

   As with From addresses, a message ID's local part is case-sensitive,
   and its domain is case-insensitive.  The "<" and ">" are parts of the
   message ID, not peculiarities of the Message-ID header.

      NOTE: News message IDs are a restricted subset of MAIL message
      IDs.  In particular, no existing news software copes properly with
      MAIL quoting conventions within the local part, so they are
      forbidden.  This is unfortunate, particularly for X.400 gateways
      that often wish to include characters that are not legal in
      unquoted message IDs, but it is impossible to fix net-wide.  See
      the notes on gatewaying in Section 10.

   The domain in the message ID SHOULD be the full Internet domain name
   of the posting agent's host.  Use of the ".uucp" pseudo-domain (for
   hosts registered in the UUCP maps) or the ".bitnet" pseudo-domain
   (for Bitnet hosts) is permissible but SHOULD be avoided.

   Posters and posting agents MUST generate the local part of a message
   ID using an algorithm that obeys the specified syntax (words
   separated by ".", with certain characters not permitted) (see Section
   5.2 for details) and will not repeat itself (ever).  The algorithm
   SHOULD NOT generate message IDs that differ only in case of letters.
   Note the specification in Section 6.5 of a recommended convention for
   indicating subject changes.  Otherwise, the algorithm is up to the

      NOTE: The crucial use of message IDs is to distinguish circulating
      articles from each other and from articles circulated recently.
      They are also potentially useful as permanent indexing keys, hence

Spencer                         Historic                       [Page 35]

RFC 1849                       Son of 1036                    March 2010

      the requirement for permanent uniqueness, but indexers cannot
      absolutely rely on this because the earlier RFCs urged it but did
      not demand it.  All major implementations have always generated
      permanently unique message IDs by design, but in some cases this
      is sensitive to proper administration, and duplicates may have
      occurred by accident.

      NOTE: The most popular method of generating local parts is to use
      the date and time, plus some way of distinguishing between
      simultaneous postings on the same host (e.g., a process number),
      and encode them in a suitably restricted alphabet.  An older but
      now less-popular alternative is to use a sequence number,
      incremented each time the host generates a new message ID; this is
      workable but requires careful design to cope properly with
      simultaneous posting attempts, and it is not as robust in the
      presence of crashes and other malfunctions.

      NOTE: Some buggy news software considers message IDs completely
      case-insensitive, hence the advice to avoid relying on case
      distinctions.  The restrictions placed on the "alphabet" of local
      parts and domains in Section 5.2 have the useful side effect of
      making it unnecessary to parse message IDs in complex ways to
      break them into case-sensitive and case-insensitive portions.

   The local part of a message ID MUST NOT be "postmaster" or any other
   string that would compare equal to "postmaster" in a case-insensitive
   comparison.  Message IDs MUST be no longer than 250 octets, including
   the "<" and ">".

      NOTE: "Postmaster" is an irksome exception to case-sensitivity in
      local parts, inherited from MAIL, and simply avoiding it is the
      best way to deal with it (not that it's likely, but the issue
      needs to be dealt with).  The length limit is undesirable but is
      present in widely used existing software.  The limit is actually
      255, but a small safety margin is wise.

5.4.  Subject

   The Subject header's content (the "subject" of the article) is a
   short phrase describing the topic of the article:

      Subject-content  = [ "Re: " ] nonblank-text

   Encoded words MAY appear in this header.

Spencer                         Historic                       [Page 36]

RFC 1849                       Son of 1036                    March 2010

   If the article is a followup, the subject SHOULD begin with "Re: " (a
   "back reference").  If the article is not a followup, the subject
   MUST NOT begin with a back reference.  Back references are case-
   insensitive, although "Re: " is the preferred form.  A followup agent
   assisting a poster in preparing a followup SHOULD prepend a back
   reference, UNLESS the subject already begins with one.  If the poster
   determines that the topic of the followup differs significantly from
   what is described in the subject, a new, more descriptive subject
   SHOULD be substituted (with no back reference).  An article whose
   subject begins with a back reference MUST have a References header
   referencing the precursor.

      NOTE: A back reference is FOUR characters, the fourth being a
      blank. [RFC1036] was confused about this.  Observe also that only
      ONE back reference should be present.

      NOTE: There is a semi-standard convention, often used, in which a
      subject change is flagged by making the new Subject-content of the

      new topic (was: old topic)

      possibly with "old topic" somewhat truncated.  Posters wishing to
      do something like this are urged to use this exact form, to
      simplify automated analysis.

   For historical reasons, the subject MUST NOT begin with "cmsg " (note
   that this sequence ends with a blank).

      NOTE: Some old news software takes a subject beginning with
      "cmsg " as an indication that the article is a control message
      (see Sections 6.6 and 7).  This mechanism is obsolete and
      undesirable, but accidental triggering of it is still possible.

   The subject SHOULD be terse.  Posters SHOULD avoid trying to cram
   their entire article into the headers; even the simplest query
   usually benefits from a sentence or two of elaboration and context,
   and the details of header display vary widely among reading agents.

      NOTE: All-in-the-subject articles are sometimes the result of
      misunderstandings over the interaction protocol of a posting
      agent.  Posting agents might wish to give special attention to the
      possibility that a poster specifying a very long subject might
      have thought he was typing the body of the article.

Spencer                         Historic                       [Page 37]

RFC 1849                       Son of 1036                    March 2010

5.5.  Newsgroups

   The Newsgroups header's content specifies to which newsgroup(s) the
   article is posted:

      Newsgroups-content  = newsgroup-name *( ng-delim newsgroup-name )
      newsgroup-name      = plain-component *( "." component )
      component           = plain-component / encoded-word
      plain-component     = component-start *13component-rest
      component-start     = lowercase / digit
      lowercase           = <letter a-z>
      component-rest      = component-start / "+" / "-" / "_"
      ng-delim            = ","

   Encoded words used in newsgroup names MUST NOT contain characters
   other than letters, digits, "+", "-", "/", "_", "=", and "?"
   (although they may encode them).

   A newsgroup name consists of one or more components, which may be
   plain components or (except for the first) encoded words.  A plain
   component MUST contain at least one letter, MUST begin with a letter
   or digit, and MUST NOT be longer than 14 characters.  The first
   component MUST begin with a letter; subsequent components SHOULD
   begin with a letter.  Newsgroup names MUST NOT contain uppercase
   letters, except where required by encodings in encoded words.  The
   sequences "all" and "ctl" MUST NOT be used as components.

      NOTE: The alphabet and syntax specified encompasses all existing
      names of widespread newsgroups, while avoiding various forms that
      are known to cause problems.  Important existing software uses
      various non-alphanumeric characters as punctuation adjacent to
      newsgroup names.  (It would, in fact, be preferable to ban "+"
      from newsgroup names, were it not that several widespread
      newsgroups related to the C++ programming language already use

      NOTE: Much existing software converts the newsgroup name into a
      directory path and stores the articles themselves using numeric
      filenames, so all-digit name components can be troublesome; the
      "Great Renaming" early in the history of Usenet included revisions
      of several newsgroup names to eliminate such components.

      NOTE: The same storage technique is the reason for the
      14-character limit.  The limit is now largely historical, since
      most modern systems have much larger limits on the length of a
      directory entry's name, but many old systems are still in use.
      Systems with shorter limits also exist, but news software on such
      systems has had to deal with the problem already, since there are

Spencer                         Historic                       [Page 38]

RFC 1849                       Son of 1036                    March 2010

      several widespread newsgroups with 14-character components in
      their names.  Implementors are warned that it is intended that the
      successor to this Draft will increase the 14-character limit, and
      they are urged to fix their software to handle longer names
      gracefully (if such fixes are necessary, given the intended domain
      of application of the particular software).

      NOTE: The requirement that the first character of a name be a
      letter accommodates existing software that assumes it can tell the
      difference between a newsgroup name and other possible syntactic
      entities by inspecting the first character.  Similar
      considerations motivate excluding "+", "-", and "_" from coming
      first in a component, and the preference for components that do
      not begin with digits.  The "all" sequence is used as a wildcard
      symbol in much existing software, and the "ctl" sequence was
      involved in an obsolete historical mechanism for marking control
      messages, so they are best avoided.

      NOTE: Possibly newsgroup names should have been case-insensitive,
      but all existing software treats them as case-sensitive.
      ([RFC977] claims that they are case-insensitive in NNTP, but
      existing implementations are believed to ignore this.)  The
      simplest solution is just to ban use of uppercase letters, since
      no widespread newsgroup name uses them anyway; this avoids any
      possibility of confusion.

      NOTE: The syntax has the disadvantage of containing no white
      space, making it impossible to continue a Newsgroups header across
      several lines.  Implementors of relayers and reading agents are
      warned that it is intended that the successor to this Draft will
      change the definition of ng-delim to:

      ng-delim = "," [ space ]

      and are urged to fix their software to handle (i.e., ignore) white
      space following the commas.  Meanwhile, posters must avoid
      inserting such space (despite the natural-language convention that
      permits it), and posting agents should strip it out.

      NOTE: Encoded words as components are somewhat problematic but are
      clearly desirable for use in non-English-speaking nations.  They
      are not subject to the 14-character limit, and this (plus the
      possibility of "/" within them) may require special handling in
      news software.

Spencer                         Historic                       [Page 39]

RFC 1849                       Son of 1036                    March 2010

   Encoded words are allowed in newsgroup names ONLY where non-ASCII
   characters are necessary to the name, and they must use the "b"
   encoding [RFC2045] and the first suitable character set in the MIME
   order of preferred character sets [RFC2047] {ASCII before ISO-8859-*
   before anything else}.

      NOTE: Since the newsgroup name is the encoded form, NOT the
      underlying non-ASCII form, there is room for terrible confusion
      here if the choice of encoding for a particular name is not fully

   Posters SHOULD use only the names of existing newsgroups in the
   Newsgroups header, because newsgroups are NOT created simply by being
   posted to.  However, it is legitimate to cross-post to newsgroup(s)
   that do not exist on the posting agent's host, provided that at least
   one of the newsgroups DOES exist there, and followup agents MUST
   accept this (posting agents MAY accept it, but SHOULD at least alert
   the poster to the situation and request confirmation).  Relayers MUST
   NOT rewrite Newsgroups headers in any way, even if some or all of the
   newsgroups do not exist on the relayer's host.

      NOTE: Early experience with news software that created newsgroups
      when they were mentioned in a Newsgroups header was thoroughly
      negative: posters frequently mistype newsgroup names.

      NOTE: While it is legitimate for some of an article's newsgroups
      not to exist on the host where it is posted, this IS a rather
      unusual situation except in followups (which should go to all
      newsgroups the precursor was posted to, even if not all of them
      reach the site where the followup is being posted).

      NOTE: Rewriting Newsgroups headers to strip locally unknown
      newsgroups is superficially attractive.  However, early experience
      with exactly that policy was thoroughly negative: news propagation
      is more redundant and much less orderly than many people imagine,
      and in particular it is not unheard of for the (sometimes) fastest
      path between two (say) University of Toronto sites to pass outside
      the University of Toronto, in which case newsgroup stripping can
      cause incomplete propagation.  Having an article's set of
      newsgroups change as it propagates can also result in followups
      not achieving the same propagation as the original.  It's been
      tried; it's more trouble than it's worth; don't do it.

      NOTE: In particular, newsgroup stripping superficially looks like
      a solution to the problem of duplicate regional newsgroup names.
      For example, both the University of Toronto and the University of
      Texas have "ut.general" newsgroups, and material cross-posted to
      that name and a global newsgroup appears in both universities'

Spencer                         Historic                       [Page 40]

RFC 1849                       Son of 1036                    March 2010

      local newsgroups.  However, the side effects of stripping are
      sufficiently unacceptable to disqualify it for this purpose.
      Don't do it.

   Cross-posting an article to several relevant newsgroups is far
   superior to posting separate articles with duplicated content to each
   newsgroup, because reading agents can detect the situation and show
   the article to a reader only once.  Posters SHOULD cross-post rather
   than duplicate-post.

      NOTE: On the other hand, cross-posting to a large number of
      newsgroups usually indicates that the poster has not thought about
      his audience; articles are rarely pertinent to more than (say)
      half a dozen newsgroups.  Posting agents might wish to request
      confirmation when the number of newsgroups exceeds (say) five in
      the presence of a Followup-To header, or (say) two in the absence
      of such a header.

      NOTE: One problem with cross-postings is what to do with an
      article cross-posted to a set of newsgroups including both
      moderated and unmoderated ones.  Posters tend to expect such an
      article to show up immediately in the unmoderated newsgroups,
      especially if they do not realize that one or more of the
      newsgroups is moderated.  However, since it is not possible for a
      moderator to retroactively add an already-posted article to a
      moderated newsgroup, the only correct action is to mail such an
      article to one (and only one) of the moderators for action.  It is
      probably best for the posting agent to detect this situation and
      ask the poster what action is preferred.  The acceptable choices
      are to alter the newsgroup list or to mail to a moderator of the
      poster's choice; the posting agent should NOT offer duplicate-
      posting as an easy-to-request option (if only because many
      moderators will reject a submission that has already been posted
      to unmoderated newsgroups).

      NOTE: An article cross-posted to multiple moderated newsgroups
      really should have approval from all of the moderators involved.
      In practice, the only straightforward way to do this is to send
      the article to one of them and have him consult the others.

   A newsgroup SHOULD NOT appear more than once in the Newsgroups

   Newsgroup names having only one component are reserved for newsgroups
   whose propagation is restricted to a single host (or the
   administrative equivalent).  It is inadvisable to name a newsgroup

Spencer                         Historic                       [Page 41]

RFC 1849                       Son of 1036                    March 2010

   "poster" because that word has special meaning in the Followup-To
   header (see Section 6.1).  The names "control" and "junk" are
   frequently used for pseudo-newsgroups internal to relayer
   implementations, and hence are also best avoided.

      NOTE: Beware of the duplicate-regional-newsgroup-names problem
      mentioned above.  In particular, there are many, many hosts with a
      newsgroup named "general", and some surprising things show up in
      such newsgroups when people cross-post.  It is probably better to
      use multi-component names, which are less likely to be duplicated.
      Fred's Widget House should use "fwh.general" rather than just
      "general" as its in-house general-topics newsgroup.

   It is conventional to reserve newsgroup names beginning with "to."
   for test messages sent on an essentially point-to-point basis (see
   also the ihave/sendme protocol described in Section 7.2); newsgroup
   names beginning with "to." SHOULD NOT be used for any other purpose.
   The second (and possibly later) components of such a name should,
   together, comprise the relayer name (see Section 5.6) of a relayer.
   The newsgroup exists only at the named relayer and its neighbors.
   The neighbors all pass that newsgroup to the named relayer, while the
   named relayer does not pass it to anyone.

   The order of newsgroup names in the Newsgroups header is not

5.6.  Path

   The Path header's content indicates which relayers the article has
   already visited, so that unnecessary redundant transmission can be

      Path-content    = [ path-list path-delimiter ] local-part
      path-list       = relayer-name *( path-delimiter relayer-name )
      relayer-name    = 1*rn-char
      rn-char         = letter / digit / "." / "-" / "_"
      path-delimiter  = "!"

   The Path content is a list of relayer names, separated by path
   delimiters, followed (after a final delimiter) by the local part of a
   mailing address.  Each relayer MUST prepend its name, and a
   delimiter, to the Path content in all articles it processes.  A
   relayer MUST NOT pass an article to a neighboring relayer whose name
   is already mentioned in an article's path list, unless this is
   explicitly requested by the neighbor in some way.  The Path content
   is case-sensitive.

Spencer                         Historic                       [Page 42]

RFC 1849                       Son of 1036                    March 2010

      NOTE: The Path header supplied by a posting agent should normally
      contain only the local part.  The relayer that the posting agent
      passes the article to for posting will prepend its relayer name to
      get the path list started.

      NOTE: Observe that the trailing local part is NOT part of the path
      list.  This Path header:

         Path: fee!fie!foe!fum

      contains three relayer names: "fee", "fie", and "foe".  A relayer
      named "fum" is still eligible to be sent this article.

      NOTE: This syntax has the disadvantage of containing no white
      space, making it impossible to continue a Path header across
      several lines.  Implementors of relayers and reading agents are
      warned that it is intended that the successor to this Draft will
      change the definition of path delimiter to:

         path-delimiter = "!" [ space ]

      and are urged to fix their software to handle (i.e., ignore) white
      space following the exclamation points.  They are urged to hurry;
      some ill-behaved systems reportedly already feel free to add such
      white space.

      NOTE: [RFC1036] allows considerably more flexibility in choice of
      delimiter, in theory, but this flexibility has never been used,
      and most news software does not implement it properly.  The
      grammar reflects the current reality.  Note, in particular, that
      [RFC1036] treats "_" as a delimiter, but in fact it is known to
      appear in relayer names occasionally.

   Because an article will not propagate to a relayer already mentioned
   in its path list, the path list MUST NOT contain any names other than
   those of relayers the article has passed through AS NEWS.  This is
   trivially obvious for normal news articles but requires attention
   from the moderators of moderated newsgroups and the implementors and
   maintainers of gateways.

      NOTE: For the same reason, a relayer and its neighbors need to
      agree on the choice of relayer name, and names should not be
      changed without notifying neighbors.

   Relayer names need to be unique among all relayers that will ever see
   the articles using them.  A relayer name is normally either an
   "official" name for the host the relayer runs on, or some other
   "official" name controlled by the same organization.  Except in

Spencer                         Historic                       [Page 43]

RFC 1849                       Son of 1036                    March 2010

   cooperating subnets that agree to some other convention and don't let
   articles using it escape beyond the subnet, a relayer name MUST be
   either a UUCP name registered in the UUCP maps (without any domain
   suffix such as ".UUCP") or a complete Internet domain name.  Use of a
   (registered) UUCP name is recommended, where practical, to keep the
   length of the path list down.

   The use of Internet domain names in the path list presents one
   problem: domain names are case-insensitive, but the path list is
   case-sensitive.  Relayers using domain names as their relayer names
   MUST pick a standard form for the name and use that form consistently
   to the exclusion of all others.  The preferred form for this purpose,
   which relayers SHOULD use, is the all-lowercase form.

      NOTE: It is arguably unfortunate that the path list is case-
      sensitive, but it is much too late to change this.  Most Internet
      sites do, in any event, use one standardized form of their name
      almost everywhere.

   In the ordinary case, where the poster is the author of the article,
   the local part following the path list SHOULD be the local part of
   the poster's full Internet domain mailing address.

      NOTE: It should be just the local part, not the full address.  The
      character "@" does not appear in a Path header.

   The Path content somewhat resembles a mailing address, particularly
   in the UUCP world with its manual routing and "!" address syntax.
   Historically, this resemblance was important, and the Path content
   was often used as a reply address.  This practice has always been
   somewhat unreliable, since news paths are not always mail paths and
   news relayer names are not always recognized by mail handlers, and
   its reliability has generally worsened in recent times.  The
   widespread use of and recognition of Internet domain addresses, even
   outside the actual Internet, has largely eliminated the problem.
   Readers SHOULD NOT use the Path content as a reply address.  On the
   other hand, relayer administrators are urged not to break this usage
   without good reason; where practical, paths followed by news SHOULD
   be traversable by mail, and mail handlers SHOULD recognize relayer
   names as host names.

   It will typically be difficult or impractical for gateways and
   moderators to supply a Path content that is useful as a reply address
   for the author, bearing in mind that the path list they supply will
   normally be empty.  (To reiterate: the path list MUST NOT contain any
   names other than those of relayers the article has passed through AS
   NEWS.)  They SHOULD supply a local part that will result in replies

Spencer                         Historic                       [Page 44]

RFC 1849                       Son of 1036                    March 2010

   to a Path-derived address being returned to the sender with a brief
   explanation.  Software permitting, the local part "not-for-mail" is

      NOTE: A moderator or gateway administrator who supplies a local
      part that delivers such mail to an administrative mailbox will
      quickly discover why it should be bounced automatically!  It is
      best, however, for the returned message to include an explanation
      of what has probably happened, rather than just a mysterious
      "undeliverable mail" complaint, since the sender may not be aware
      that his/her software is unwisely using the Path content as a
      reply address.  Reply software might wish to question attempts to
      reply to a Path-derived address ending in "not-for-mail" (which is
      why a specific name is being recommended here).

6.  Optional Headers

   Many MAIL headers, and many of those specified in present and future
   MAIL extensions, are potentially applicable to news.  Headers
   specific to MAIL's point-to-point transmission paradigm, e.g., To and
   Cc, SHOULD NOT appear in news articles.  (Gateways wishing to
   preserve such information for debugging probably SHOULD hide it under
   different names; prefixing "X-" to the original headers, resulting in
   forms like "X-To", is suggested.)

   The following optional headers are either specific to news or of
   particular note in news articles; an article MAY contain some or all
   of them.  (Note that there are some circumstances in which some of
   them are mandatory; these are explained under the individual
   headers.)  An article MUST NOT contain two or more headers with any
   one of these header names.

      NOTE: The ban on duplicate header names does not apply to headers
      not specified in this Draft, such as "X-" headers.  Software
      should not assume that all header names in a given article are

6.1.  Followup-To

   The Followup-To header contents specify to which newsgroup(s)
   followups should be posted:

      Followup-To-content = Newsgroups-content / "poster"

Spencer                         Historic                       [Page 45]

RFC 1849                       Son of 1036                    March 2010

   The syntax is the same as that of the Newsgroups content, with the
   exception that the magic word "poster" means that followups should be
   mailed to the article's reply address rather than posted.  In the
   absence of Followup-To, the default newsgroup(s) for a followup are
   those in the Newsgroups header.

      NOTE: The way to request that followups be mailed to a specific
      address other than that in the From line is to supply
      "Followup-To: poster" and a Reply-To header.  Putting a mailing
      address in the Followup-To line is incorrect; posting agents
      should reject or rewrite such headers.

      NOTE: There is no syntax for "no followups allowed" because
      "Followup-To: poster" accomplishes this effect without extra

   Although it is generally desirable to limit followups to the smallest
   reasonable set of newsgroups, especially when the precursor was
   cross-posted widely, posting agents SHOULD NOT supply a Followup-To
   header except at the poster's explicit request.

      NOTE: In particular, it is incorrect for the posting agent to
      assume that followups to a cross-posted article should be directed
      to the first newsgroup only.  Trimming the list of newsgroups
      should be the poster's decision, not the posting agent's.
      However, when an article is to be cross-posted to a considerable
      number of newsgroups, a posting agent might wish to SUGGEST to the
      poster that followups go to a shorter list.

6.2.  Expires

   The Expires header content specifies a date and time when the article
   is deemed to be no longer useful and should be removed ("expired"):

      Expires-content = Date-content

   The content syntax is the same as that of the Date content.  In the
   absence of Expires, the default is decided by the administrators of
   each host the article reaches, who MAY also restrict the extent to
   which the Expires header is honored.

   The Expires header has two main applications: removing articles whose
   utility ends on a specific date (e.g., event announcements that can
   be removed once the day of the event has passed) and preserving
   articles expected to be of prolonged usefulness (e.g., information
   aimed at new readers of a newsgroup).  The latter application is
   sometimes abused.  Since individual hosts have local policies for
   expiration of news (depending on available disk space, for instance),

Spencer                         Historic                       [Page 46]

RFC 1849                       Son of 1036                    March 2010

   posters SHOULD NOT provide Expires headers for articles unless there
   is a natural expiration date associated with the topic.  Posting
   agents MUST NOT provide a default Expires header.  Leave it out and
   allow local policies to be used unless there is a good reason not to.
   Expiry dates are properly the decision of individual host
   administrators; posters and moderators SHOULD set only expiry dates
   with which most administrators would agree.

      NOTE: A poster preparing an Expires header for an article whose
      utility ends on a specific day should typically specify the NEXT
      day as the expiry date.  A meeting on July 7th remains of interest
      on the 7th.

6.3.  Reply-To

   The Reply-To header content specifies a reply address different from
   the author's address given in the From header:

      Reply-To-content = From-content

   In the absence of Reply-To, the reply address is the address in the
   From header.

   Use of a Reply-To header is preferable to including a similar request
   in the article body, because reply-preparation software can take
   account of Reply-To automatically.

6.4.  Sender

   The Sender header identifies the poster, in the event that this
   differs from the author identified in the From header:

      Sender-content = From-content

   In the absence of Sender, the default poster is the author (named in
   the From header).

      NOTE: The intent is that the Sender header have a fairly high
      probability of identifying the person who really posted the
      article.  The ability to specify a From header naming someone
      other than the poster is useful but can be abused.

   If the poster supplies a From header, the posting agent MUST ensure
   that a Sender header is present, unless it can verify that the
   mailing address in the From header is a valid mailing address for the
   poster.  A poster-supplied Sender header MAY be used, if its mailing
   address is verifiably a valid mailing address for the poster;

Spencer                         Historic                       [Page 47]

RFC 1849                       Son of 1036                    March 2010

   otherwise, the posting agent MUST supply a Sender header and delete
   (or rename, for example, to X-Unverifiable-Sender) any poster-
   supplied Sender header.

      NOTE: It might be useful to preserve a poster-supplied Sender
      header so that the poster can supply the full-name part of the
      content.  The mailing address, however, must be right, hence, the
      posting agent must generate the Sender header if it is unable to
      verify the mailing address of a poster-supplied one.

      NOTE: NNTP implementors, in particular, are urged to note this
      requirement (which would eliminate the need for ad hoc headers
      like NNTP-Posting-Host), although there are admittedly some
      implementation difficulties.  A user name from an [RFC1413] server
      and a host name from an inverse mapping of the address, perhaps
      with a "full name" comment noting the origin of the information,
      would be at least a first approximation:

      Sender: (RFC-1413@reverse-lookup;
                                    not verified)

   While this does not completely meet the specs, it comes a lot closer
   than not having a Sender header at all.  Even just supplying a
   placeholder for the user name:

      Sender: (user name unknown)

   would be better than nothing.

6.5.  References

   The References header content lists message IDs of precursors:

      References-content = message-id *( space message-id )

   A followup MUST have a References header, and an article that is not
   a followup MUST NOT have a References header.  The References-content
   of a followup MUST be the precursor's References-content (if any)
   followed by the precursor's message ID.

      NOTE: Use the See-Also header (Section 6.16) for interconnection
      of articles that are not in a followup relationship to each other.

      NOTE: In retrospect, RFCs 850 and 1036, and the implementations
      whose practice they represented, erred here.  The proper MAIL
      header to use for references to precursors is In-Reply-To, and the
      References header is meant to be used for the purposes here
      ascribed to See-Also.  This incompatibility is far too solidly

Spencer                         Historic                       [Page 48]

RFC 1849                       Son of 1036                    March 2010

      established to be fixed, unfortunately.  The best that can be done
      is to provide a clear mapping between the two and urge gateways to
      do the transformation.  The news usage is (now) a deliberate
      violation of the MAIL specifications; articles containing news
      References headers are technically not valid MAIL messages,
      although it is unlikely that much MAIL software will notice
      because the incompatibility is at a subtle semantic level that
      does not affect the syntax.

      UNRESOLVED ISSUE: Would it be better to just give up and admit
      that news uses References for both purposes?

      UNRESOLVED ISSUE: Should the syntax be generalized to include URLs
      as alternatives to message IDs?  Perhaps not; too many things know
      about References already.  And non-articles can't be precursors of
      articles, not really.

   Followup agents SHOULD NOT shorten References headers.  If it is
   absolutely necessary to shorten the header, as a desperate last
   resort, a followup agent MAY do this by deleting some of the message
   IDs.  However, it MUST NOT delete the first message ID, the last
   three message IDs (including that of the immediate precursor), or any
   message ID mentioned in the body of the followup.  If it is possible
   for the followup agent to determine the Subject content of the
   articles identified in the References header, it MUST NOT delete the
   message ID of any article where the Subject content changed (other
   than by prepending of a back reference).  The followup agent MUST NOT
   delete any message ID whose local part ends with "_-_" (underscore
   (ASCII 95), hyphen (ASCII 45), underscore); followup agents are urged
   to use this form to mark subject changes and to avoid using it

      NOTE: As software capable of exploiting References chains has
      grown more common, the random shortening permitted by [RFC1036]
      has become increasingly troublesome.  ANY shortening is
      undesirable, and software should do it only in cases of dire
      necessity.  In such cases, these rules attempt to limit the

      NOTE: The first message ID is very important as the starting point
      of the "thread" of discussion and absolutely should not be
      deleted.  Keeping the last three message IDs gives thread-
      following software a fighting chance to reconstruct a full thread
      even if an article or two is missing.  Keeping message IDs
      mentioned in the body is obviously desirable.

Spencer                         Historic                       [Page 49]

RFC 1849                       Son of 1036                    March 2010

      NOTE: Subject changes are difficult to determine, but they are
      significant as possible beginnings of new threads.  The "_-_"
      convention is provided so that posting agents (which have more
      information about subjects) can flag articles containing a subject
      change in a way that followup agents can detect without access to
      the articles themselves.  The sequence is chosen as one that is
      fairly unlikely to occur by accident.

      UNRESOLVED ISSUE: Is "_-_" really worth having?

   When a References header is shortened, at least three blanks SHOULD
   be left between adjacent message IDs at each point where deletions
   were made.  Software preparing new References headers SHOULD preserve
   multiple blanks in older References content.

      NOTE: It's desirable to have some marker of where deletions
      occurred, but the restricted syntax of the header makes this
      difficult.  Extra white space is not a very good marker, since it
      may be deleted by software that ill-advisedly rewrites headers,
      but at least it doesn't break existing software.

   To repeat: followup agents SHOULD NOT shorten References headers.

      NOTE: Unfortunately, reading agents and other software analyzing
      References patterns have to be prepared for the worst anyway.  The
      worst includes random deletions and the possibility of circular
      References chains (when References is misused in place of See-Also
      (Section 6.16)).

6.6.  Control

   The Control header content marks the article as a control message and
   specifies the desired actions (other than the usual ones of filing
   and passing on the article):

      Control-content  = verb *( space argument )
      verb             = 1*( letter / digit )
      argument         = 1*<ASCII printable character>

   The verb indicates what action should be taken, and the argument(s)
   (if any) supply details.  In some cases, the body of the article may
   also contain details.  Section 7 describes the standard verbs.  See
   also the Also-Control header (Section 6.15).

      NOTE: Control messages are often processed and filed rather
      differently than normal articles.

Spencer                         Historic                       [Page 50]

RFC 1849                       Son of 1036                    March 2010

      NOTE: The restriction of verbs to letters and digits is new but is
      consistent with existing practice and potentially simplifies
      implementation by avoiding characters significant to command
      interpreters.  Beware that the arguments are under no such
      restriction in general.

      NOTE: Two other conventions for distinguishing control messages
      from normal articles were formerly in use: a three-component
      newsgroup name ending in ".ctl" or a subject beginning with
      "cmsg " was considered to imply that the article was a control
      message.  These conventions are obsolete.  Do not use them.

   An article with a Control header MUST NOT have an Also-Control or
   Supersedes header.

6.7.  Distribution

   The Distribution header content specifies geographic or
   organizational limits on an article's propagation:

      Distribution-content  = distribution *( dist-delim distribution )
      dist-delim            = ","
      distribution          = plain-component

   A distribution is syntactically identical to a one-component
   newsgroup name and must satisfy the same rules and restrictions.  In
   the absence of Distribution, the default distribution is "world".

      NOTE: This syntax has the disadvantage of containing no white
      space, making it impossible to continue a Distribution header
      across several lines.  Implementors of relayers and reading agents
      are warned that it is intended that the successor to this Draft
      will change the definition of dist delimiter to:

         dist-delim = "," [ space ]

      and are urged to fix their software to handle (i.e., ignore) white
      space following the commas.

   A relayer MUST NOT pass an article to another relayer unless
   configuration information specifies transmission to that other
   relayer of BOTH (a) at least one of the article's newsgroup(s), and
   (b) at least one of the article's distribution(s).  In effect, the
   only role of distributions is to limit propagation, by preventing
   transmission of articles that would have been transmitted had the
   decision been based solely on newsgroups.

Spencer                         Historic                       [Page 51]

RFC 1849                       Son of 1036                    March 2010

   A posting agent might wish to present a menu of possible
   distributions, or suggest a default, but normally SHOULD NOT supply a
   default without giving the poster a chance to override it.  A
   followup agent SHOULD initially supply the same Distribution header
   as found in the precursor, although the poster MAY alter this if

   Despite the syntactic similarity and some historical confusion,
   distributions are NOT newsgroup names.  The whole point of putting a
   distribution on an article is that it is DIFFERENT from the
   newsgroup(s).  In general, a meaningful distribution corresponds to
   some sort of region of propagation: a geographical area, an
   organization, or a cooperating subnet.

      NOTE: Distributions have historically suffered from the completely
      uncontrolled nature of their name space, the lack of feedback to
      posters on incomplete propagation resulting from use of random
      trash in Distribution headers, and confusion with newsgroups
      (arising partly because many regions and organizations DO have
      internal newsgroups with names resembling their internal
      distributions).  This has resulted in much garbage in Distribution
      headers, notably the pointless practice of automatically supplying
      the first component of the newsgroup name as a distribution (which
      is MOST unlikely to restrict propagation!).  Many sites have opted
      to maximize propagation of such ill-formed articles by essentially
      ignoring distributions.  This unfortunately interferes with
      legitimate uses.  The situation is bad enough that distributions
      must be considered largely useless except within cooperating
      subnets that make an organized effort to restrain propagation of
      their internal distributions.

      NOTE: The distributions "world" and "local" have no standard magic
      meaning (except that the former is the default distribution if
      none is given).  Some pieces of software do assign such meanings
      to them.

6.8.  Keywords

   The Keywords header content is one or more phrases intended to
   describe some aspect of the content of the article:

      Keywords-content = plain-phrase *( "," [ space ] plain-phrase )

   Keywords, separated by commas, each follow the <plain-phrase> syntax
   defined in Section 5.2.  Encoded words in keywords MUST NOT contain
   characters other than letters (of either case), digits, and the
   characters "!", "*", "+", "-", "/", "=", and "_".

Spencer                         Historic                       [Page 52]

RFC 1849                       Son of 1036                    March 2010

      NOTE: Posters and posting agents are asked to take note that
      keywords are separated by commas, not by white space.  The
      following Keywords header contains only one keyword (a rather
      unlikely and improbable one):

      Keywords: Thompson Ritchie Multics Linux

      and should probably have been written:

      Keywords: Thompson, Ritchie, Multics, Linux

      This particular error is unfortunately rather widespread.

      NOTE: Reading agents and archivers preparing indexes of articles
      should bear in mind that user-chosen keywords are notoriously poor
      for indexing purposes unless the keywords are picked from a
      predefined set (which they are not in this case).  Also, some
      followup agents unwisely propagate the Keywords header from the
      precursor into the followup by default.  At least one news-based
      experiment has found the contents of Keywords headers to be
      completely valueless for indexing.

6.9.  Summary

   The Summary header content is a short phrase summarizing the
   article's content:

      Summary-content = nonblank-text

   As with the subject, no restriction is placed on the content since it
   is intended solely for display to humans.

      NOTE: Reading agents should be aware that the Summary header is
      often used as a sort of secondary Subject header, and (if present)
      its contents should perhaps be displayed when the subject is

   The summary SHOULD be terse.  Posters SHOULD avoid trying to cram
   their entire article into the headers; even the simplest query
   usually benefits from a sentence or two of elaboration and context,
   and not all reading agents display all headers.

6.10.  Approved

   The Approved header content indicates the mailing addresses (and
   possibly the full names) of the persons or entities approving the
   article for posting:

Spencer                         Historic                       [Page 53]

RFC 1849                       Son of 1036                    March 2010

      Approved-content = From-content *( "," [ space ] From-content )

   An Approved header is required in all postings to moderated
   newsgroups; the presence or absence of this header allows a posting
   agent to distinguish between articles posted by the moderator (which
   are normal articles to be posted normally) and attempted
   contributions by others (which should be mailed to the moderator for
   approval).  An Approved header is also required in certain control
   messages, to reduce the probability of accidental posting of same;
   see the relevant parts of Section 7.

      NOTE: There is, at present, no way to authenticate Approved
      headers to ensure that the claimed approval really was bestowed.
      Nor is there an established mechanism for even maintaining a list
      of legitimate approvers (such a list would quickly become out of
      date if it had to be maintained by hand).  Such mechanisms,
      presumably relying on cryptographic authentication, would be a
      worthwhile extension to this Draft, and experimental work in this
      area is encouraged.  (The problem is harder than it sounds because
      news is used on many systems that do not have real-time access to
      key servers.)

      NOTE: Relayer implementors, please note well: it is the POSTING
      AGENT that is authorized to distinguish between moderator postings
      and attempted contributions, and to mail the latter to the
      moderator.  As discussed in Section 9.1, relayers MUST NOT, repeat
      MUST NOT, send such mail; on receipt of an unApproved article in a
      moderated newsgroup, they should discard the article, NOT
      transform it into a mail message (except perhaps to a local

      NOTE: [RFC1036] restricted Approved to a single From-content.
      However, multiple moderation is no longer rare, and multi-
      moderator Approved headers are already in use.

6.11.  Lines

   The Lines header content indicates the number of lines in the body of
   the article:

      Lines-content = 1*digit

   The line count includes all body lines, including the signature (if
   any) and including empty lines (if any) at the beginning or end of
   the body.  (The single empty separator line between the headers and
   the body is not part of the body.)  The "body" here is the body as
   found in the posted article, AFTER all transformations such as MIME

Spencer                         Historic                       [Page 54]

RFC 1849                       Son of 1036                    March 2010

   Reading agents SHOULD NOT rely on the presence of this header, since
   it is optional (and some posting agents do not supply it).  They MUST
   NOT rely on it being precise, since it frequently is not.

      NOTE: The average line length in article bodies is surprisingly
      consistent at about 40 characters, and since the line count
      typically is used only for approximate judgements ("is this too
      long to read quickly?"), dividing the byte count of the body by 40
      gives an estimate of the body line count that is adequate for
      normal use.  This estimate is NOT adequate if the body has been
      MIME encoded, but neither is the Lines header: at least one major
      relayer will add a Lines header to an article that lacks one,
      without considering the possibility of MIME encodings when
      computing the line count.

      NOTE: It would be better to have a Content-Size header as part of
      MIME, so that body parts could have their own sizes, and so that
      the units used could be appropriate to the data type (line count
      is not a useful measure of the size of an encoded image, for
      example).  Doing this is preferable to trying to fix Lines.

      UNRESOLVED ISSUE: Update on Content-Size?

   Relayers SHOULD discard this header if they find it necessary to
   re-encode the article in such a way that the original Lines header
   would be rendered incorrect.

6.12.  Xref

   The Xref header content indicates where an article was filed by the
   last relayer to process it:

      Xref-content     = relayer 1*( space location )
      relayer          = relayer-name
      location         = newsgroup-name ":" article-locator
      article-locator  = 1*<ASCII printable character>

   The relayer's name is included so that software can determine which
   relayer generated the header (and specifically, whether it really was
   the one that filed the copy being examined).  The locations specify
   what newsgroups the article was filed under (which may differ from
   those in the Newsgroups header) and where it was filed under them.
   The exact form of an article locator is implementation-specific.

      NOTE: Reading agents can exploit this information to avoid
      presenting the same article to a reader several times.  The
      information is sometimes available in system databases, but having
      it in the article is convenient.  Relayers traditionally generate

Spencer                         Historic                       [Page 55]

RFC 1849                       Son of 1036                    March 2010

      an Xref header only if the article is cross-posted, but this is
      not mandatory, and there is at least one new application
      ("mirroring": keeping news databases on two hosts identical) where
      the header is useful in all articles.

      NOTE: The traditional form of an article locator is a decimal
      number, with articles in each newsgroup numbered consecutively
      starting from 1.  NNTP [RFC977] demands that such a model be
      provided, and there may be other software that expects it, but it
      seems desirable to permit flexibility for unorthodox

   A relayer inserting an Xref header into an article MUST delete any
   previous Xref header.  A relayer that is not inserting its own Xref
   header SHOULD delete any previous Xref header.  A relayer MAY delete
   the Xref header when passing an article on to another relayer.

      NOTE: [RFC1036] specified that the Xref header was not transmitted
      when an article was passed to another relayer, but the major news
      implementations have never obeyed this rule, and applications like
      mirroring depend on this disobedience.

   A relayer MUST use the same name in Xref headers as it uses in Path
   headers.  Reading agents MUST ignore an Xref header containing a
   relayer name that differs from the one that begins the path list.

6.13.  Organization

   The Organization header content is a short phrase identifying the
   poster's organization:

      Organization-content = nonblank-text

   This header is typically supplied by the posting agent.  The
   Organization content SHOULD mention geographical location (e.g., city
   and country) when it is not obvious from the organization's name.

      NOTE: The motive here is that the organization is often difficult
      to guess from the mailing address, is not always supplied in a
      signature, and can help identify the poster to the reader.

      NOTE: There is no "s" in "Organization".

   The Organization content is provided for identification only and does
   not imply that the poster speaks for the organization or that the
   article represents organization policy.  Posting agents SHOULD permit
   the poster to override a local default Organization header.

Spencer                         Historic                       [Page 56]

RFC 1849                       Son of 1036                    March 2010

6.14.  Supersedes

   The Supersedes header content specifies articles to be cancelled on
   arrival of this one:

      Supersedes-content = message-id *( space message-id )

   Supersedes is equivalent to Also-Control (Section 6.15) with an
   implicit verb of "cancel" (Section 7.1).

      NOTE: Supersedes is normally used where the article is an updated
      version of the one(s) being cancelled.

      NOTE: Although the ability to use multiple message IDs in
      Supersedes is highly desirable (see Section 7.1), posters are
      warned that existing implementations often do not correctly handle
      more than one.

      NOTE: There is no "c" in "Supersedes".

   An article with a Supersedes header MUST NOT have an Also-Control or
   Control header.

6.15.  Also-Control

   The Also-Control header content marks the article as being a control
   message IN ADDITION to being a normal news article and specifies the
   desired actions:

      Also-Control-content = Control-content

   An article with an Also-Control header is filed and passed on
   normally, but the content of the Also-Control header is processed as
   if it were found in a Control header.

      NOTE: It is sometimes desirable to piggyback control actions on a
      normal article, so that the article will be filed normally but
      will also be acted on as a control message.  This header is
      essentially a generalization of Supersedes.

      NOTE: Be warned that some old relayers do not implement

   An article with an Also-Control header MUST NOT have a Control or
   Supersedes header.

Spencer                         Historic                       [Page 57]

RFC 1849                       Son of 1036                    March 2010

6.16.  See-Also

   The See-Also header content lists message IDs of articles that are
   related to this one but are not its precursors:

      See-Also-content = message-id *( space message-id )

   See-Also resembles References, but without the restrictions imposed
   on References by the followup rules.

      NOTE: See-Also provides a way to group related articles, such as
      the parts of a single document that had to be split across
      multiple articles due to its size, or to cross-reference between
      parallel threads.

      NOTE: See the discussion (in Section 6.5) on MAIL compatibility
      issues of References and See-Also.

      NOTE: In the specific case where it is desired to essentially make
      another article PART of the current one, e.g., for annotation of
      the other article, MIME's "message/external-body" convention can
      be used to do so without actual inclusion.  "news-message-ID" was
      registered as a standard external-body access method, with a
      mandatory NAME parameter giving the message ID and an optional
      SITE parameter suggesting an NNTP site that might have the article
      available (if it is not available locally), by IANA 22 June 1993.

      UNRESOLVED ISSUE: Could the syntax be generalized to include URLs
      as alternatives to message IDs?  Here it makes much more sense
      than in References.

6.17.  Article-Names

   The Article-Names header content indicates any special significance
   the article may have in particular newsgroups:

      Article-Names-content  = 1*( name-clause space )
      name-clause            = newsgroup-name ":" article-name
      article-name           = letter 1*( letter / digit / "-" )

   Each name clause specifies a newsgroup (which SHOULD be among those
   in the Newsgroups header) and an article name local to that
   newsgroup.  Article names MAY be used by relayers to file the article
   in special ways, or they MAY just be noted for possible special
   attention by reading agents.  Article names are case-sensitive.

Spencer                         Historic                       [Page 58]

RFC 1849                       Son of 1036                    March 2010

      NOTE: This header provides a way to mark special postings, such as
      introductions, frequently-asked-question lists, etc., so that
      reading agents have a way of finding them automatically.  The
      newsgroup name is specified for each article name because the
      names may be newsgroup-specific; for example, many frequently-
      asked-question lists are posted to "news.answers" in addition to
      their "home" newsgroup, and they would not be known by the same
      name(s) in both newsgroups.

   The Article-Names header SHOULD be ignored unless the article also
   contains an Approved header.

      NOTE: This stipulation is made in anticipation of the possibility
      that Approved headers will be involved in cryptographic

   The presence of an Article-Names header does not necessarily imply
   that the article will be retained unusually long before expiration,
   or that previous article(s) with similar Article-Names headers will
   be cancelled by its arrival.  Posters preparing special postings
   SHOULD include appropriate other headers, such as Expires and
   Supersedes, to request such actions.

   Different networks MAY establish different sets of article names for
   the special postings they deem significant; it is preferable for
   usage to be standardized within networks, although it might be
   desirable for individual newsgroups to have different naming
   conventions in some situations.  Article names MUST be 14 characters
   or less.  The following names are suggested but are not mandatory:

   intro       Introduction to the newsgroup for newcomers.

   charter     Charter, rules, organization, moderation policies, etc.

   background  Biographies of special participants, history of the
               newsgroup, notes on related newsgroups, etc.

   subgroups   Descriptions of sub-newsgroups under this newsgroup,
               e.g., "" under "".

   facts       Information relating to the purpose of the newsgroup,
               e.g., an acronym glossary in "".

   references  Where to get more information: books, journals, FTP
               repositories, etc.

   faq         Answers to frequently asked questions.

Spencer                         Historic                       [Page 59]

RFC 1849                       Son of 1036                    March 2010

   menu        If present, a list of all of the other article names
               local to this newsgroup, with brief descriptions of their

   Such articles may be divided into subsections using the MIME
   "multipart/mixed" conventions.  If size considerations make it
   necessary to split such articles, names ending in a hyphen and a part
   number are suggested; for example, a three-part frequently-asked-
   questions list could have article names "faq-1", "faq-2", and

      NOTE: It is somewhat premature to attempt to standardize article
      names, since this is essentially a new feature with no experience
      behind it.  However, if reading agents are to attach special
      significance to these names, some attempt at standard conventions
      is imperative.  This is a first attempt at providing some.

6.18.  Article-Updates

   The Article-Updates header content indicates what previous articles
   this one is deemed (by the poster) to update (i.e., replace):

      Article-Updates-content  = message-id *( space message-id )

   Each message ID identifies a previous article that this one is deemed
   to update.  This MUST NOT cause the previous article(s) to be
   cancelled or otherwise altered, unless this is implied by other
   headers (e.g., Supersedes); Article-Updates is merely an advisory
   that MAY be noted for special attention by reading agents.

      NOTE: This header provides a way to mark articles that are only
      minor updates of previous ones, containing no significant new
      information and not worth reading if the previous ones have been

      NOTE: If suitable conventions using MIME multipart bodies and the
      "message/external-body" body-part type can be developed, a
      replacing article might contain only differences between the old
      text and the new text, rather than a complete new copy.  This is
      the motivation for not making Article-Updates also function as
      Supersedes does: the replacing article might depend on the
      continued presence of the replaced article.

7.  Control Messages

   The following sections document the currently defined control
   messages.  "Message" is used herein as a synonym for "article" unless
   context indicates otherwise.

Spencer                         Historic                       [Page 60]

RFC 1849                       Son of 1036                    March 2010

   Posting agents are warned that since certain control messages require
   article bodies in quite specific formats, signatures SHOULD NOT be
   appended to such articles, and it may be wise to take greater care
   than usual to avoid unintended (although perhaps well-meaning)
   alterations to text supplied by the poster.  Relayers MUST assume
   that control messages mean what they say; they MAY be obeyed as is or
   rejected, but MUST NOT be reinterpreted.

   The execution of the actions requested by control messages is subject
   to local administrative restrictions, which MAY deny requests or
   refer them to an administrator for approval.  The descriptions below
   are generally phrased in terms suggesting mandatory actions, but any
   or all of these MAY be subject to local administrative approval
   (either as a class or case-by-case).  Analogously, where the
   description below specifies that a message or portion thereof is to
   be ignored, this action MAY include reporting it to an administrator.

      NOTE: The exact choice of local action might depend on what action
      the control message requests, who it claims to come from, etc.

   Relayers MUST propagate even control messages they do not understand.

   In the following sections, each type of control message is defined
   syntactically by defining its arguments and its body.  For example,
   "cancel" is defined by defining cancel-arguments and cancel-body.

7.1.  cancel

   The cancel message requests that one or more previous articles be

      cancel-arguments  = message-id *( space message-id )
      cancel-body       = body

   The argument(s) identify the articles to be cancelled, by message ID.
   The body is a comment, which software MUST ignore, and SHOULD contain
   an indication of why the cancellation was requested.  The cancel
   message SHOULD be posted to the same newsgroup(s), with the same
   distribution(s), as the article(s) it is attempting to cancel.

      NOTE: Using the same newsgroups and distributions maximizes the
      chances of the cancel message propagating everywhere the target
      articles went.

      NOTE: [RFC1036] permitted only a single message-id in a cancel
      message.  Support for cancelling multiple articles is highly
      desirable, especially for use with Supersedes (see Section 6.14).
      If several revisions of an article appear in fast succession, each

Spencer                         Historic                       [Page 61]

RFC 1849                       Son of 1036                    March 2010

      using Supersedes to cancel the previous one, it is possible for a
      middle revision to be destroyed by cancellation before it is
      propagated onward to cancel its predecessor.  Allowing each
      article to cancel several predecessors greatly alleviates this
      problem.  (Posting agents preparing a cancel of an article that
      itself cancels other articles might wish to add those articles to
      the cancel-arguments.)  However, posters should be aware that much
      old software does not implement multiple cancellation properly and
      should avoid using it when reliable cancellation is vitally

   When an article (the "target article") is to be cancelled, there are
   four cases of interest: the article hasn't arrived yet, it has
   arrived and been filed and is available for reading, it has expired
   and been archived on some less-accessible storage medium, or it has
   expired and been deleted.  The next few paragraphs discuss each case
   in turn (in reverse order, which is convenient for the explanation).

   EXPIRED AND DELETED.  Take no action.

   EXPIRED AND ARCHIVED.  If the article is readily accessible and can
   be deleted or made unreadable easily, treat as under AVAILABLE below.
   Otherwise, treat as under EXPIRED AND DELETED.

      NOTE: While it is desirable for archived articles to be
      cancellable, this can easily involve rewriting an entire archive
      volume just to get rid of one article, perhaps with manual actions
      required to arrange it.  It is difficult to envision a situation
      so dire as to require such measures from hundreds or thousands of
      administrators, or for that matter one in which widespread
      compliance with such a request is likely.

   AVAILABLE.  Compare the mailing addresses from the From lines of the
   cancel message and the target article, bearing in mind that local
   parts (except for "postmaster") are case-sensitive and domains are
   case-insensitive.  If they do not match, either refer the issue to an
   administrator for a case-by-case decision, or treat as if they

      NOTE: It is generally trivial to forge articles, so nothing short
      of cryptographic authentication is really adequate to ensure that
      a cancel came from the original article's author.  Moreover, it is
      highly desirable to permit authorities other than the author to
      cancel articles, to allow for cases in which the author is
      unavailable, uncooperative, or malicious, and in which damage
      and/or legal problems may be minimized by prompt cancellation.

Spencer                         Historic                       [Page 62]

RFC 1849                       Son of 1036                    March 2010

      Reliable authentication that would permit such administrative
      cancels would be a worthwhile extension to this Draft, and
      experimental work in this area is encouraged.

      NOTE: Meanwhile, a simple check of addresses is useful accident
      prevention and catches at least the most simple-minded forgers.
      Since the intent is accident prevention rather than ironclad
      security, use of the From address is appropriate, all the more so
      because in the presence of gateways (especially redundant multiple
      gateways), the author may not have full control over Sender

      NOTE: The "refer... or treat as if they matched" rule is intended
      to specifically forbid quietly ignoring cancels with mismatched

   If the addresses match, then if technically possible, the relayer
   MUST delete the target article completely and immediately.  Failing
   that, it MUST make the target article unreadable (preferably to
   everyone, minimally to everyone but the administrator) and either
   arrange for it to be deleted as soon as possible or notify an
   administrator at once.

      NOTE: To allow for events such as criminal actions, malicious
      forgeries, and copyright infringements, where damage and/or legal
      problems may be minimized by prompt cancellation, complete removal
      is strongly preferred over merely making the target article
      unreadable.  The potential for malice is outweighed by the
      importance of really getting rid of the target article in some
      legitimate cases.  (In cases of inadvertent copyright violation in
      particular, the ability to quickly remedy the violation is of
      considerable legal importance.)  Failing that, making it
      unreadable is better than nothing.

      NOTE: Merely annotating the article so that readers see an
      indication that the author wanted it cancelled is not acceptable.
      Making the article unreadable is the minimum action.

      NOTE: There have been experiments with making cancelled articles
      unreadable, so that local news administrators could reverse
      cancellations.  In practice, administrators almost never find
      cause to do so.  Removal appears to be clearly preferable where
      technically feasible.

Spencer                         Historic                       [Page 63]

RFC 1849                       Son of 1036                    March 2010

   NOT ARRIVED YET.  If practical, retain the cancel message until the
   target article does arrive, or until there is no further possibility
   of it arriving and being accepted (see Section 9.2), and then treat
   as under AVAILABLE.  Failing that, arrange for the target article to
   be rejected and discarded if it does arrive.

      NOTE: It may well be impractical to retain the control message,
      given uncertainty about whether the target article will ever
      arrive.  Existing practice in such cases is to assume that
      addresses would match and arrange the equivalent of deletion.
      This is often done by making a spurious entry in a database of
      already-seen message IDs (see Section 9.3), so that if the article
      does arrive, it will be rejected as a duplicate.

   The cancel message MUST be propagated onward in the usual fashion,
   regardless of which of the four cases applied, so that the target
   article will be cancelled everywhere even if cancellation and target
   article follow different routes.

      NOTE: [RFC1036] appeared to require stopping cancel propagation in
      the NOT ARRIVED YET case, although the wording was somewhat
      unclear.  This appears to have been an unwise decision; there are
      known cases of important cancellations (in situations of
      inadvertent copyright violation, for example) achieving rather
      poorer propagation than the target article.  News propagation is
      often a much less orderly process than the authors of [RFC1036]
      apparently envisioned.  Modern implementations generally propagate
      the cancellation regardless.

   Posting agents meant for use by ordinary posters SHOULD reject an
   attempt to post a cancel message if the target article is available
   and the mailing address in its From header does not match the one in
   the cancel message's From header.

      NOTE: This, again, is primarily accident prevention.

7.2.  ihave, sendme

   The ihave and sendme control messages implement a crude batched
   predecessor of the NNTP [RFC977] protocol.  They are largely obsolete
   in the Internet but still see use in the UUCP environment, especially
   for backup feeds that normally are active only when a primary feed
   path has failed.

      NOTE: The ihave and sendme messages defined here have ABSOLUTELY
      NOTHING TO DO WITH NNTP, despite similarities of terminology.

Spencer                         Historic                       [Page 64]

RFC 1849                       Son of 1036                    March 2010

   The two messages share the same syntax:

      ihave-arguments   = *( message-id space ) relayer-name
      sendme-arguments  = ihave-arguments
      ihave-body        = *( message-id eol )
      sendme-body       = ihave-body

   Message IDs MUST appear in either the arguments or the body, but not
   both.  Relayers SHOULD generate the form putting message IDs in the
   body, but the other form MUST be supported for backward

      NOTE: [RFC1036] made the relayer name optional, but difficulties
      could easily ensue in determining the origin of the message, and
      this option is believed to be unused nowadays.  Putting the
      message IDs in the body is strongly preferred over putting them in
      the arguments because it lends itself much better to large numbers
      of message IDs and avoids the empty-body problem mentioned in
      Section 4.3.1.

   The ihave message states that the named relayer has filed articles
   with the specified message IDs, which may be of interest to the
   relayer(s) receiving the ihave message.  The sendme message requests
   that the relayer receiving it send the articles having the specified
   message IDs to the named relayer.

   These control messages are normally sent essentially as point-to-
   point messages, by using "to." newsgroups (see Section 5.5) that are
   sent only to the relayer for which the messages are intended.  The
   two relayers MUST be neighbors, exchanging news directly with each
   other.  Each relayer advertises its new arrivals to the other using
   ihave messages, and each uses sendme messages to request the articles
   it lacks.

      NOTE: Arguably these point-to-point control messages should flow
      by some other protocol, e.g., mail, but administrative and
      interfacing issues are simplified if the news system doesn't need
      to talk to the mail system.

   To reduce overhead, ihave and sendme messages SHOULD be sent
   relatively infrequently and SHOULD contain substantial numbers of
   message IDs.  If ihave and sendme are being used to implement a
   backup feed, it may be desirable to insert a delay between reception
   of an ihave and generation of a sendme, so that a slightly slow
   primary feed will not cause large numbers of articles to be requested
   unnecessarily via sendme.

Spencer                         Historic                       [Page 65]

RFC 1849                       Son of 1036                    March 2010

7.3.  newgroup

   The newgroup control message requests that a new newsgroup be

      newgroup-arguments  = newsgroup-name [ space moderation ]
      moderation          = "moderated" / "unmoderated"
      newgroup-body       = body
                          / [ body ] descriptor [ body ]
      descriptor          = descriptor-tag eol description-line eol
      descriptor-tag      = "For your newsgroups file:"
      description-line    = newsgroup-name space description
      description         = nonblank-text [ " (Moderated)" ]

   The first argument names the newsgroup to be created, and the second
   one (if present) indicates whether it is moderated.  If there is no
   second argument, the default is "unmoderated".

      NOTE: Implementors are warned that there is occasional use of
      other forms in the second argument.  It is suggested that such
      violations of this Draft, which are also violations of [RFC1036],
      cause the newgroup message to be ignored. [RFC1036] was slightly
      vague about how second arguments other than "moderated" were to be
      treated (specifically, whether they were illegal or just ignored),
      but it is thought that all existing major implementations will
      handle "unmoderated" correctly, and it appears desirable to
      tighten up the specs to make it possible for other forms to be
      used in future.

   The body is a comment, which software MUST ignore, except that if it
   contains a descriptor, the description line is intended to be
   suitable for addition to a list of newsgroup descriptions.  The
   description cannot be continued onto later lines but is not
   constrained to any particular length.  Moderated newsgroups have
   descriptions that end with the string " (Moderated)" (note that this
   string begins with a blank).

      NOTE: It is unfortunate that the description line is part of the
      body, rather than being supplied in a header, but this is
      established practice.  Newsgroup creators are cautioned that the
      descriptor tag must be reproduced exactly as given above, must be
      alone on a line, and that it is case-sensitive.  (To reduce errors
      in this regard, posting agents might wish to question or reject
      newgroup messages that do not contain a descriptor.)  Given the
      desire for short lines, description writers should avoid content-
      free phrases like "discussion of" and "news about", and stick to
      defining what the newsgroup is about.

Spencer                         Historic                       [Page 66]

RFC 1849                       Son of 1036                    March 2010

   The remainder of the body SHOULD contain an explanation of the
   purpose of the newsgroup and the decision to create it.

      NOTE: Criteria for newsgroup creation vary widely and are outside
      the scope of this Draft, but if formal procedures of one kind or
      another were followed in the decision, the body should mention
      this.  Administrators often look for such information when
      deciding whether to comply with creation/deletion requests.

   A newgroup message that lacks an Approved header MUST be ignored.

      NOTE: It would also be desirable to ignore a newgroup message
      unless its Approved header names a person who is authorized (in
      some sense) to create such a newsgroup.  A cooperating subnet with
      sufficiently strong coordination to maintain a correct and current
      list of authorized creators might wish to do so for its internal
      newsgroups.  It also (or alternatively) might wish to ignore a
      newgroup message for an internal newsgroup that was posted (or
      cross-posted) to a non-internal newsgroup.

      NOTE: As mentioned in Section 6.10, some form of (cryptographic?)
      authentication of Approved headers would be highly desirable,
      especially for control messages.

   It would be desirable to provide some way of supplying a moderator's
   address in a newgroup message for a moderated newsgroup, but this
   will cause problems unless effective authentication is available, so
   it is left for future work.

      NOTE: This leaves news administrators stuck with the annoying
      chore of arranging proper mailing of moderated-newsgroup
      submissions.  On Usenet, this can be simplified by exploiting a
      forwarding facility that some major sites provide: they maintain
      forwarding addresses, each the name of a moderated newsgroup with
      all periods (".", ASCII 46) replaced by hyphens ("-", ASCII 45),
      which forward mail to the current newsgroup moderators.  More
      advice on the subject of forwarding to moderators can be found in
      the document titled "How to Construct the Mailpaths File", posted
      regularly to the Usenet newsgroups news.lists, news.admin.misc,
      and news.answers.

   A newgroup message naming a newsgroup that already exists is
   requesting a change in the moderation status or description of the
   newsgroup.  The same rules apply.

Spencer                         Historic                       [Page 67]

RFC 1849                       Son of 1036                    March 2010

7.4.  rmgroup

   The rmgroup message requests that a newsgroup be deleted:

      rmgroup-arguments  = newsgroup-name
      rmgroup-body       = body

   The sole argument is the newsgroup name.  The body is a comment,
   which software MUST ignore; it SHOULD contain an explanation of the
   decision to delete the newsgroup.

      NOTE: Criteria for newsgroup deletion vary widely and are outside
      the scope of this Draft, but if formal procedures of one kind or
      another were followed in the decision, the body should mention
      this.  Administrators often look for such information when
      deciding whether to comply with creation/deletion requests.

   A rmgroup message that lacks an Approved header MUST be ignored.

      NOTE: It would also be desirable to ignore a rmgroup message
      unless its Approved header names a person who is authorized (in
      some sense) to delete such a newsgroup.  A cooperating subnet with
      sufficiently strong coordination to maintain a correct and current
      list of authorized deleters might wish to do so for its internal
      newsgroups.  It also (or alternatively) might wish to ignore a
      rmgroup message for an internal newsgroup that was posted (or
      cross-posted) to a non-internal newsgroup.

   Unexpected deletion of a newsgroup being a disruptive action,
   implementations are strongly advised to refer rmgroup messages to an
   administrator by default, unless perhaps the message can be
   determined to have originated within a cooperating subnet whose
   members are considered trustworthy.  Abuses have occurred.

7.5.  sendsys, version, whogets

   The sendsys message requests that a description of the relayer's news
   feeds to other relayers be mailed to the article's reply address:

      sendsys-arguments  = [ relayer-name ]
      sendsys-body       = body

   If there is an argument, relayers other than the one named by the
   argument MUST NOT respond.  The body is a comment, which software
   MUST ignore; it SHOULD contain an explanation of the reason for the

Spencer                         Historic                       [Page 68]

RFC 1849                       Son of 1036                    March 2010

   The version message requests that the name and version of the relayer
   software be mailed to the reply address:

      version-arguments  =
      version-body       = body

   There are no arguments.  The body is a comment, which software MUST
   ignore; it SHOULD contain an explanation of the reason for the

   The whogets message requests that a description of the relayer and
   its news feeds to other relayers be mailed to the article's reply

      whogets-arguments  = newsgroup-name [ space relayer-name ]
      whogets-body       = body

   The first argument is the name of the "target newsgroup", specifying
   the newsgroup for which propagation information is desired.  This
   MUST be a complete newsgroup name, not the name of a hierarchy or a
   portion of a newsgroup name that is not itself the name of a
   newsgroup.  If there is a second argument, only the relayer named by
   that argument should respond.  The body is a comment, which software
   MUST ignore; it SHOULD contain an explanation of the reason for the

      NOTE: Whogets is intended as a replacement for sendsys (and
      version) with a precisely specified reply format.  Since the
      syntax for specifying what newsgroups get sent to what other
      relayers varies widely between different forms of relayer
      software, the only practical way to standardize the reply format
      is to indicate a specific newsgroup and ask where THAT newsgroup
      propagates.  The requirement that it be a complete newsgroup name
      is intended to (largely) avoid the problem of having to answer
      "yes and no" in cases where not all newsgroups in a hierarchy are

   Any of these messages lacking an Approved header MUST be ignored.
   Response to any of these messages SHOULD be delayed for at least
   24 hours, and no response should be attempted if the message has been
   cancelled in that time.  Also, no response SHOULD be attempted unless
   the local part of the destination address is "newsmap".  News
   administrators SHOULD arrange for mail to "newsmap" on their systems
   to be discarded (without reply) unless legitimate use is in progress.

      NOTE: Because these messages can cause many, many relayers to send
      mail to one person, such messages, specifying mailing to an
      innocent person's mailbox, have been forged as a half-witted

Spencer                         Historic                       [Page 69]

RFC 1849                       Son of 1036                    March 2010

      practical joke.  A delay gives administrators time to notice a
      fraudulent message and act (by cancelling the message, preparing
      to divert the flood of mail into the bit bucket, or both).
      Restriction of the destination address to "newsmap" reduces the
      appeal of fraud by making it impossible to use it to harass a
      normal user.  (A site that does NOT discard mail to "newsmap", but
      rather bounces it back, may incur higher communications costs than
      if the mail had been accepted into a user's mailbox, but a
      malicious forger could accomplish this anyway, by using an address
      whose local part is very unlikely to be a legitimate mailbox

      NOTE: [RFC1036] did not require the Approved header for these
      control messages.  This has been added because of the possibility
      that cryptographic authentication of Approved headers will become

   The body of the reply to a sendsys message SHOULD be of the form:

      sendsys-reply      = responder 1*sys-line
      responder          = "Responding-System:" space domain eol
      sys-line           = relayer-name ":" newsgroup-patterns
                                   [ ":" text ] eol
      newsgroup-patterns = newsgroup-name *( "," newsgroup-name )

   The first line identifies the responding system, using a syntax
   resembling a header (but note that it is part of the BODY).
   Remaining lines indicate what newsgroups are sent to what other
   systems.  The syntax of newsgroup patterns is not well standardized;
   the form described is common (often with newsgroup names only
   partially given, denoting all names starting with a particular set of
   components) but not universal.  The whogets message provides a
   better-defined alternative.

   The reply to a version message is of somewhat ill-defined form, with
   a body normally consisting of a single line of text that somehow
   describes the version of the relayer software.  The whogets message
   provides a better-defined alternative.

Spencer                         Historic                       [Page 70]

RFC 1849                       Son of 1036                    March 2010

   The body of the reply to a whogets message MUST be of the form:

      whogets-reply      = responder-domain responder-relayer
                           response-date responding-to arrived-via
                           responder-version whogets-delimiter
      responder-domain   = "Responding-System:" space domain eol
      responder-relayer  = "Responding-Relayer:" space relayer-name eol
      response-date      = "Response-Date:" space date eol
      responding-to      = "Responding-To:" space message-id eol
      arrived-via        = "Arrived-Via:" path-list eol
      responder-version  = "Responding-Version:" space nonblank-text eol
      whogets-delimiter  = eol
      pass-line          = relayer-name [ space domain ] eol

   The first six lines identify the responding relayer by its Internet
   domain name (use of the ".uucp" and ".bitnet" pseudo-domains is
   permissible, for registered hosts in them, but discouraged) and its
   relayer name; specify the date when the reply was generated and the
   message ID of the whogets message being replied to; give the path
   list (from the Path header) of the whogets message (which MAY, if
   absolutely necessary, be truncated to a convenient length, but MUST
   contain at least the leading three relayer names); and indicate the
   version of relayer software responding.  Note that these lines are
   part of the BODY even though their format resembles that of headers.
   Despite the apparently fixed order specified by the syntax above,
   they can appear in any order, but there must be exactly one of each.

   After those preliminaries, and an empty line to unambiguously define
   their end, the remaining lines are the relayer names (which MAY be
   accompanied by the corresponding domain names, if known) of systems
   to which the responding system passes the target newsgroup.  Only the
   names of news relayers are to be included.

      NOTE: It is desirable for a reply to identify its source by both
      domain name and relayer name because news propagation is governed
      by the latter but location in a broader context is best determined
      by the former.  The date and whogets message ID should, in
      principle, be present in the MAIL headers but are included in the
      body for robustness in the presence of uncooperative mail systems.
      The reason for the path list is discussed below.  Adding version
      information eliminates the need for a separate message to gather

Spencer                         Historic                       [Page 71]

RFC 1849                       Son of 1036                    March 2010

      NOTE: The limitation of pass lines to contain only names of news
      relayers is meant to exclude names used within a single host (as
      identifiers for mail gateways, portions of ihave/sendme
      implementations, etc.), which do not actually refer to other

   A relayer that is unaware of the existence of the target newsgroup
   MUST NOT reply to a whogets message at all, although this MUST NOT
   influence decisions on whether to pass the article on to other

      NOTE: While this may result in discontinuous maps in cases where
      some hosts have not honored requests for creation of a newsgroup,
      it will also prevent a flood of useless responses in the event
      that a whogets message intended to map a small region "leaks" out
      to a larger one.  The possibility of discontinuous recognition of
      a newsgroup does make it important that the whogets message itself
      continue to propagate (if other criteria permit).  This is also
      the reason for the inclusion of the whogets message's path list,
      or at least the leading portion of it, in the reply: to permit
      reconstruction of at least small gaps in maps.

   Different networks set different rules for the legitimacy of these
   messages, given that they may reveal details of organization-internal
   topology that are sometimes considered proprietary.

      NOTE: On Usenet, in particular, willingness to respond to these
      messages is held to be a condition of network membership: the
      topology of Usenet is public information.  Organizations wishing
      to belong to such networks while keeping their internal topology
      confidential might wish to organize their internal news software
      so that all articles reaching outsiders appear to be from a single
      "gatekeeper" system, with the details of internal topology hidden
      behind that system.

      UNRESOLVED ISSUE: It might be useful to have a way to set some
      sort of hop limit for these.

Spencer                         Historic                       [Page 72]

RFC 1849                       Son of 1036                    March 2010

7.6.  checkgroups

   The checkgroups control message contains a supposedly authoritative
   list of the valid newsgroups within some subset of the newsgroup name

      checkgroups-arguments  =
      checkgroups-body       = [ invalidation ] valid-groups
                             / invalidation
      invalidation           = "!" plain-component
                               *( "," plain-component ) eol
      valid-groups           = 1*( description-line eol )

   There are no arguments.  The body lines (except possibly for an
   initial invalidation) each contain a description line for a
   newsgroup, as defined under the newgroup message (Section 7.3).

      NOTE: Some other, ill-defined, forms of the checkgroups body were
      formerly used.  See Appendix A.

   The checkgroups message applies to all hierarchies containing any of
   the newsgroups listed in the body.  The checkgroups message asserts
   that the newsgroups it lists are the only newsgroups in those
   hierarchies.  If there is an invalidation, it asserts that the
   hierarchies it names no longer contain any newsgroups.

   Processing a checkgroups message MAY cause a local list of newsgroup
   descriptions to be updated.  It SHOULD also cause the local lists of
   newsgroups (and their moderation statuses) in the mentioned
   hierarchies to be checked against the message.  The results of the
   check MAY be used for automatic corrective action or MAY be reported
   to the news administrator in some way.

      NOTE: Automatically updating descriptions of existing newsgroups
      is relatively safe.  In the case of newsgroup additions or
      deletions, simply notifying the administrator is generally the
      wisest action, unless perhaps the message can be determined to
      have originated within a cooperating subnet whose members are
      considered trustworthy.

      NOTE: There is a problem with the checkgroups concept: not all
      newsgroups in a hierarchy necessarily propagate to the same set of
      machines.  (Notably, there is a set of newsgroups known as the
      "inet" newsgroups, which have relatively limited distribution but
      coexist in several hierarchies with more widely distributed
      newsgroups.)  The advice of checkgroups should always be taken
      with a grain of salt and should never be followed blindly.

Spencer                         Historic                       [Page 73]

RFC 1849                       Son of 1036                    March 2010

8.  Transmission Formats

   While this Draft does not specify transmission methods, except to
   place a few constraints on them, there are some data formats used
   only for transmission that are unique to news.

8.1.  Batches

   For efficient bulk transmission and processing of news articles, it
   is often desirable to transmit a number of them as a single block of
   data, i.e., a "batch".  The format of a batch is:

      batch         = 1*( batch-header article )
      batch-header  = "#! rnews " article-size eol
      article-size  = 1*digit

   A batch is a sequence of articles, each prefixed by a header line
   that includes its size.  The article size is a decimal count of the
   octets in the article, counting each EOL as one octet regardless of
   how it is actually represented.

      NOTE: A relayer might wish to accept either a single article or a
      batch as input.  Since "#" cannot appear in a header name,
      examination of the first octet of the input will reveal its

      NOTE: In the header line, there is exactly one blank before
      "rnews", there is exactly one blank after "rnews", and the EOL
      immediately follows the article size.  Beware that some software
      inserts non-standard trash after the size.

      NOTE: Despite the similarity of this format to the executable-
      script format used by some operating systems, it is EXTREMELY
      unwise to just feed incoming batches to a command interpreter in
      the anticipation that it will run a command named "rnews" to
      process the batch.  Unless arrangements are made to very tightly
      restrict the range of commands that can be executed by this means,
      the security implications are disastrous.

Spencer                         Historic                       [Page 74]

RFC 1849                       Son of 1036                    March 2010

8.2.  Encoded Batches

   When transmitting news, especially over communications links that are
   slow or are billed by the bit, it is often desirable to batch news
   and apply data compression to the batches.  Transmission links
   sending compressed batches SHOULD use out-of-band means of
   communication to specify the compression algorithm being used.  If
   there is no way to send out-of-band information along with a batch,
   the following encapsulation for a compressed batch MAY be used:

         ec-batch             = "#! " compression-keyword eol
         compression-keyword  = "cunbatch"

   A line containing a keyword indicating the type of compression is
   followed by the compressed batch.  The only truly widespread
   compression keyword at present is "cunbatch", indicating compression
   using the widely distributed "compress" program.  Other compression
   keywords MAY be used by mutual agreement between the hosts involved.

      NOTE: An encapsulated compressed batch is NOT, in general, a text
      file, despite having an initial text line.  This combination of
      text and non-text data is often awkward to handle; for example,
      standard decompression programs cannot be used without first
      stripping off the initial line, and that in turn is painful to do
      because many text-handling tools that are superficially suited to
      the job do not cope well with non-text data, hence the
      recommendation that out-of-band communication be used instead when

      NOTE: For UUCP transmission, where a batch is typically
      transmitted by invoking the remote command "rnews" with the batch
      as its input stream, a plausible out-of-band method for indicating
      a compression type would be to give a compression keyword in an
      option to "rnews", perhaps in the form:

      rnews -d decompressor

      where "decompressor" is the name of a decompression program (e.g.,
      "uncompress" for a batch compressed with "compress" or "gunzip"
      for a batch compressed with "gzip").  How this decompression
      program is located and invoked by the receiving relayer is

      NOTE: See the notes in Section 8.1 on the inadvisability of
      feeding batches directly to command interpreters.

Spencer                         Historic                       [Page 75]

RFC 1849                       Son of 1036                    March 2010

      NOTE: There is exactly one blank between "#!" and the compression
      keyword, and the EOL immediately follows the keyword.

8.3.  News within Mail

   It is often desirable to transmit news as mail, either for the
   convenience of a human recipient or because that is the only type of
   transmission available on a restrictive communication path.

   Given the similarity between the news format and the MAIL format, it
   is superficially attractive to just send the news article as a mail
   message.  This is typically a mistake: mail-handling software often
   feels free to manipulate various headers in undesirable ways (in some
   cases, such as Sender, such manipulation is actually mandatory), and
   mail transmission problems, etc. MUST be reported to the
   administrators responsible for the mail transmission rather than to
   the article's author.  In general, news sent as mail should be
   encapsulated to separate the MAIL headers and the news headers.

   When the intended recipient is a human, any convenient form of
   encapsulation may be used.  Recommended practice is to use MIME
   encapsulation with a content type of "message/news", given that news
   articles have additional semantics beyond what "message/rfc822"

      NOTE: "message/news" was registered as a standard subtype by IANA
      22 June 1993.

   When mail is being used as a transmission path between two relayers,
   however, a standard method is desirable.  Currently the standard
   method is to send the mail to an address whose local part is "rnews",
   with whatever MAIL headers are necessary for successful transmission.
   The news article (including its headers) is sent as the body of the
   mail message, with an "N" prepended to each line.

      NOTE: The "N" reduces the probability of an innocent line in a
      news article being taken as a magic command to mail software and
      makes it easy for receiving software to strip off any lines added
      by mail software (e.g., the trailing empty line added by some UUCP
      mail software).

   This method has its weaknesses.  In particular, it assumes that the
   mail transmission channel can transmit nearly arbitrary body text
   undamaged.  When mail is being used as a transmission path of last
   resort, however, the mail system often has inconvenient preconceived
   notions about the format of message bodies.  Various ad hoc encoding
   schemes have been used to avoid such problems.  The recommended
   method is to send a news article or batch as the body of a MIME mail

Spencer                         Historic                       [Page 76]

RFC 1849                       Son of 1036                    March 2010

   message, using content type "application/news-transmission" and
   MIME's "base64" encoding (which is specifically designed to survive
   all known major mail systems).

      NOTE: In the process, MIME conventions could be used to fragment
      and reassemble an article that is too large to be sent as a single
      mail message over a transmission path that restricts message
      length.  In addition, the "conversions" parameter to the content
      type could be used to indicate what (if any) compression method
      has been used.  Also, the Content-MD5 header [RFC1544] can be used
      as a "checksum" to provide high confidence of detecting accidental
      damage to the contents.

      UNRESOLVED ISSUE: The "conversions" parameter no longer exists.
      What should be done about this, if anything?

      NOTE: It might look tempting to use a content type such as
      "message/X-netnews", but MIME bans non-trivial encodings of the
      entire body of messages with content type "message".  The intent
      is to avoid obscuring nested structure underneath encodings.  For
      inter-relayer news transmission, there is no nested structure of
      interest, and it is important that the entire article (including
      its headers, not just its body) be protected against the vagaries
      of intervening mail software.  This situation appears to fit the
      MIME description of circumstances in which "application" is the
      proper content type.

      NOTE: "application/news-transmission", with a "conversions"
      parameter, was registered as a standard subtype by IANA
      22 June 1993.

      UNRESOLVED ISSUE: The "conversions" parameter no longer exists in
      MIME.  What should we do about this?

8.4.  Partial Batches

      UNRESOLVED ISSUE: The existing batch conventions assemble
      (potentially) many articles into one batch.  Handling very large
      articles would be substantially less troublesome if there was also
      a fragmentation convention for splitting a large article into
      several batches.  Is this worth defining at this time?

9.  Propagation and Processing

   Most aspects of news propagation and processing are implementation-
   specific.  The basic propagation algorithms, and certain details of
   how they are implemented, nevertheless need to be standard.

Spencer                         Historic                       [Page 77]

RFC 1849                       Son of 1036                    March 2010

   There are two important principles that news implementors (and
   administrators) need to keep in mind.  The first is the well-known
   Internet Robustness Principle:

      Be liberal in what you accept, and conservative in what you send.

   However, in the case of news there is an even more important
   principle, derived from a much older code of practice, the
   Hippocratic Oath (we will thus call this the Hippocratic Principle):

      First, do no harm.

   It is VITAL to realize that decisions that might be merely suboptimal
   in a smaller context can become devastating mistakes when amplified
   by the actions of thousands of hosts within a few hours.

9.1.  Relayer General Issues

   Relayers MUST NOT alter the content of articles unnecessarily.  Well-
   intentioned attempts to "improve" headers, in particular, typically
   do more harm than good.  It is necessary for a relayer to prepend its
   own name to the Path content (see Section 5.6) and permissible for it
   to rewrite or delete the Xref header (see Section 6.12).  Relayers
   MAY delete the thoroughly obsolete headers described in Appendix A.3,
   although this behavior no longer seems useful enough to encourage.
   Other alterations SHOULD be avoided at all costs, as per the
   Hippocratic Principle.

      NOTE: As discussed in Section 2.3, tidying up the headers of a
      user-prepared article is the job of the posting agent, not the
      relayer.  The relayer's purpose is to move already-compliant
      articles around efficiently without damaging them.  Note that in
      existing implementations, specific programs may contain both
      posting-agent functions and relayer functions.  The distinction is
      that posting-agent functions are invoked only on articles posted
      by local posters, never on articles received from other relayers.

      NOTE: A particular corollary of this rule is that relayers should
      not add headers unless truly necessary.  In particular, this is
      not SMTP; do not add Received headers.

   Relayers MUST NOT pass non-conforming articles on to other relayers,
   except perhaps in a cooperating subnet that has agreed to permit
   certain kinds of non-conforming behavior.  This is a direct
   consequence of the Internet Robustness Principle.

Spencer                         Historic                       [Page 78]

RFC 1849                       Son of 1036                    March 2010

   The two preceding paragraphs may appear to be in conflict.  What is
   to be done when a non-conforming article is received?  The Robustness
   Principle argues that it should be accepted but must not be passed on
   to other relayers while still non-conforming, and the Hippocratic
   Principle strongly discourages attempts at repair.  The conclusion
   that this appears to lead to is correct: a non-conforming article MAY
   be accepted for local filing and processing, or it MAY be discarded
   entirely, but it MUST NOT be passed on to other relayers.

   A relayer MUST NOT respond to the arrival of an article by sending
   mail to any destination, other than a local administrator, except by
   explicit prearrangement with the recipient.  Neither posting an
   article (other than certain types of control messages; see
   Section 7.5) nor being the moderator of a moderated newsgroup
   constitutes such prearrangement.  UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES WHATSOEVER
   may a relayer attempt to send mail to either an article's originator
   or a moderator.

      NOTE: Reporting apparent errors in message composition is the job
      of a posting agent, not a relayer.  The same is true of mailing
      moderated-newsgroup postings to moderators.  In networks of
      thousands of cooperating relayers, it is simply unacceptable for
      there to be any circumstance whatsoever that causes any
      significant fraction of them to simultaneously send mail to the
      same destination.  (Some control messages are exceptions, although
      perhaps ill-advised ones.)  What might, in a smaller network, be a
      useful notification or forwarding becomes a deluge of nearly
      identical messages that can bring mail software to its knees and
      severely inconvenience recipients.  Moderators, in particular,
      historically have suffered grievously from this.

   Notification of problems in incoming articles MAY go to local
   administrators, or at most (by prearrangement!)  to the
   administrators of the neighboring relayer(s) that passed on the
   problematic articles.

      NOTE: It would be desirable to notify the author that his posting
      is not propagating as he expects.  However, there is no known
      method for doing this that will scale up gracefully.  (In
      particular, "notify only if within N relayers of the originator"
      falls down in the presence of commercial news services like UUNET:
      there may be hundreds or thousands of relayers within a couple of
      hops of the originator.)  The best that can be done right now is
      to notify neighbors, in hopes that the word will eventually
      propagate up the line, or organize regional monitoring at major

Spencer                         Historic                       [Page 79]

RFC 1849                       Son of 1036                    March 2010

   If it is necessary to alter an article, e.g., translate it to another
   character set or alter its EOL representation, strenuous efforts
   should be made to ensure that such transformations are reversible,
   and that relayers or other software that might wish to reverse them
   know exactly how to do so.

      NOTE: For example, a cooperating subnet that exchanges articles
      using a non-ASCII character set like EBCDIC should define a
      standard, reversible ASCII-EBCDIC mapping and take pains to see
      that it is used at all points where the subnet meets the outside.
      If the only reason for using EBCDIC is that the readers typically
      employ EBCDIC devices, it would be more robust to employ ASCII as
      the interchange format and do the transformation in the reading
      and posting agents.

9.2.  Article Acceptance and Propagation

   When a relayer first receives an article, it must decide whether to
   accept it.  (This applies regardless of whether the article arrived
   by itself or as part of a batch, and in principle regardless of
   whether it originated as a local posting or as traffic from another
   relayer.)  In a cooperating subnet with well-controlled propagation
   paths, some of the tests specified here MAY be delegated to centrally
   located relayers; that is, relayers that can receive news ONLY via
   one of the central relayers might simplify acceptance testing based
   on the assumption that incoming traffic has already passed the full
   set of tests at a central relayer.

   The wording that follows is based on a model in which articles arrive
   on a relayer's host before acceptance tests are done.  However,
   depending on the degree of integration of the transport mechanisms
   and the relayer, some or all of these tests MAY be done before the
   article is actually transmitted, so that articles that definitely
   will not be accepted need not be transmitted at all.

   The wording that follows also specifies a particular order for the
   acceptance tests.  While this order is the obvious one, the tests MAY
   be done in any order.

   First, the relayer MUST verify that the article is a legal news
   article, with all mandatory headers present with legal contents.

      NOTE: This check in principle is done by the first relayer to see
      an article, so an article received from another relayer should
      always be legal, but there is enough old software still
      operational that this cannot be taken for granted; see the
      discussion of the Internet Robustness Principle in Section 9.1.

Spencer                         Historic                       [Page 80]

RFC 1849                       Son of 1036                    March 2010

   Second, the relayer MUST determine whether it has already seen this
   article (identified by its message ID).  This is normally done by
   retaining a history of all article message IDs seen in the last
   N days, where the value of N is decided by the relayer's
   administrator but SHOULD be at least 7.  Since N cannot practically
   be infinite, articles whose Date content indicates that they are
   older than N days are declared "stale" and are deemed to have been
   seen already.

      NOTE: This check is important because news propagation topology is
      typically redundant, often highly so, and it is not at all
      uncommon for a relayer to receive the same article from several
      neighbors.  The history of already-seen message IDs can get quite
      large, hence, the desire to limit its length, but it is important
      that it be long enough that slowly propagating articles are not
      classed as stale.  News propagation within the Internet is
      normally very rapid, but when UUCP links are involved, end-to-end
      delays of several days are not rare, so a week is not a
      particularly generous minimum.

      NOTE: Despite generally more rapid propagation in recent times, it
      is still not unheard of for some propagation paths to be very
      slow.  This can introduce the possibility of old articles arriving
      again after they are gone from the history, hence the "stale"

   Third, the relayer MUST determine whether any of the article's
   newsgroups are "subscribed to" by the host, i.e., fit a description
   of what hierarchies or newsgroups the site wants to receive.

      NOTE: This check is significant because information on what
      newsgroups a relayer wishes to receive is often stored at its
      neighbors, who may not have up-to-date information or may simplify
      the rules for implementation reasons.  As a hedge against the
      possibility of missed or delayed newgroup control messages,
      relayers may wish to observe a notion of a newsgroup subscription
      that is independent of the list of newsgroups actually known to
      the relayer.  This would permit reception and relaying of articles
      in newsgroups that the relayer is not (yet) aware of, subject to
      more general criteria indicating that they are likely to be of

   Once an article has been accepted, it may be passed on to other
   relayers.  The fundamental news propagation rule is a flooding
   algorithm: on receiving and accepting an article, send it to all
   neighboring relayers not already in its path list that are sent its
   newsgroup(s) and distribution(s).

Spencer                         Historic                       [Page 81]

RFC 1849                       Son of 1036                    March 2010

      NOTE: The path list's role in loop prevention may appear
      relatively unimportant, given that looping articles would
      typically be rejected as duplicates anyway.  However, the path
      list's role in preventing superfluous transmissions is not
      trivial.  In particular, the path list is the only thing that
      prevents relayer X, on receiving an article from relayer Y, from
      sending it back to Y again.  (Indeed, the usual symptom of
      confusion about relayer names is that incoming news loops back in
      this manner.)  The looping articles would be rejected as
      duplicates, but doubling the communications load on every news
      transmission path is not to be taken lightly!

   In general, relayers SHOULD NOT make propagation decisions by
   "anticipation": relayer X, noting that the article's path list
   already contains relayer Y, decides not to send it to relayer Z
   because X anticipates that Z will get the article by a better path.
   If that is generally true, then why is there a news feed from X to Z
   at all?  In fact, the "better path" may be running slowly or may be
   down.  News propagation is very robust precisely because some
   redundant transmission is done "just in case".  If it is imperative
   to limit unnecessary traffic on a path, use of NNTP [RFC977] or
   ihave/sendme (see Section 7.2) to pass articles only when necessary
   is better than arbitrary decisions not to pass articles at all.

   Anticipation is occasionally justified in special cases.  Such cases
   should involve both (1) a cooperating subnet whose propagation paths
   are well-understood and well-monitored, with failures and slowdowns
   noticed and dealt with promptly, and (2) a persistent pattern of
   heavy unnecessary traffic on a path that is either slow or costly.
   In addition, there should be some reason why neither NNTP nor
   ihave/sendme is suitable as a solution to the problem.

9.3.  Administrator Contact

   It is desirable to have a standardized contact address for a
   relayer's administrators, in the spirit of the "postmaster" address
   for mail administrators.  Mail addressed to "newsmaster" on a
   relayer's host MUST go to the administrator(s) of that relayer.  Mail
   addressed to "usenet" on the relayer's host SHOULD be handled
   likewise.  Mail addressed to either address on other hosts using the
   same news database SHOULD be handled likewise.

      NOTE: These addresses are case-sensitive, although it would be
      desirable for sequences equivalent to them using case-insensitive
      comparison to be handled likewise.  While "newsmaster" seems the
      preferred network-independent address, by analogy to "postmaster",
      there is an existing practice of using "usenet" for this purpose,

Spencer                         Historic                       [Page 82]

RFC 1849                       Son of 1036                    March 2010

      and so "usenet" should be supported if at all possible (especially
      on hosts belonging to Usenet!).  The address "news" is also
      sometimes used for purposes like this, but less consistently.

10.  Gatewaying

   Gatewaying of traffic between news networks using this Draft and
   those using other exchange mechanisms can be useful but must be done
   cautiously.  Gateway administrators are taking on significant
   responsibilities and must recognize that the consequences of error
   can be quite serious.

10.1.  General Gatewaying Issues

   This section will primarily address the problems of gatewaying
   traffic INTO news networks.  Little can be said about the other
   direction without some specific knowledge of the network(s) involved.
   However, the two issues are not entirely independent: if a non-news
   network is gatewayed into a news network at more than one point,
   traffic injected into the non-news network by one gateway may appear
   at another as a candidate for injection back into the news network.

   This raises a more general principle, the single most important issue
   for gatewaying:

      Above all, prevent loops.

   The normal loop prevention of news transmission is vitally dependent
   on the Message-ID header.  Any gateway that finds it necessary to
   remove this header, alter it, or supersede it (by moving it into the
   body) MUST take equally effective precautions against looping.

      NOTE: There are few things more effective at turning news readers
      into a lynch mob than a malfunctioning gateway, or pair of
      gateways, that takes in news articles, mangles them just enough to
      prevent news relayers from recognizing them as duplicates, and
      regurgitates them back into the news stream.  This happens rather
      too often.

   Gateway implementors should realize that gateways have all of the
   responsibilities of relayers, plus the added complications introduced
   by transformations between different information formats.  Much of
   the discussion in Section 9 about relayer issues is relevant to
   gateways as well.  In particular, gateways SHOULD keep a history of
   recently seen articles, as described in Section 9.2, and not assume
   that articles will never reappear.  This is particularly important
   for networks that have their own concept analogous to message IDs: a
   gateway should keep a history of traffic seen from BOTH directions.

Spencer                         Historic                       [Page 83]

RFC 1849                       Son of 1036                    March 2010

   If at all possible, articles entering the non-news network SHOULD be
   marked in some way so that they will NOT be re-gatewayed back into
   news.  Multiple gateways obviously must agree on the marking method
   used; if it is done by having them know each others' names, name
   changes MUST be coordinated with great care.  If marking cannot be
   done, all transformations MUST be reversible so that a re-gatewayed
   article is identical to the original (except perhaps for a longer
   Path header).

   Gateways MUST NOT pass control messages (articles containing Control,
   Also-Control, or Supersedes headers) without removing the headers
   that make them control messages, unless there are compelling reasons
   to believe that they are relevant to both sides and that conventions
   are compatible.  If it is truly desirable to pass them unaltered,
   suitable precautions MUST be taken to ensure that there is NO
   POSSIBILITY of a looping control message.

      NOTE: The damage done by looping articles is multiplied a
      thousandfold if one of the affected articles is something like a
      sendsys message (see Section 7.5) that requests multiple automatic
      replies.  Most gateways simply should not pass control messages at
      all.  If some unusual reason dictates doing so, gateway
      implementors and administrators are urged to consider bulletproof
      rate-limiting measures for the more destructive ones like sendsys,
      e.g., passing only one per hour no matter how many are offered.

   Gateways, like relayers, SHOULD make determined efforts to avoid
   mangling articles unnecessarily.  In the case of gateways, some
   transformations may be inevitable, but keeping them to a minimum and
   ensuring that they are reversible is still highly desirable.

   Gateways MUST avoid destroying information.  In particular, the
   restrictions of Section 4.2.2 are best taken with a grain of salt in
   the context of gateways.  Information that does not translate
   directly into news headers SHOULD be retained, perhaps in "X-"
   headers, both because it may be of interest to sophisticated readers
   and because it may be crucial to tracing propagation problems.

   Gateway implementors should take particular note of the discussion of
   mailed replies, or more precisely the ban on same, in Section 9.1.
   Gateway problems MUST be reported to the local administration, not to
   the innocent originator of traffic.  "Gateway problems" here includes
   all forms of propagation anomaly on the non-news side of the gateway,
   e.g., unreachable addresses on a mailing list.  Note that this
   requires consideration of possible misbehavior of "downstream" hosts,
   not just the gateway host.

Spencer                         Historic                       [Page 84]

RFC 1849                       Son of 1036                    March 2010

10.2.  Header Synthesis

   News articles prepared by gateways MUST be legal news articles.  In
   particular, they MUST include all of the mandatory headers (see
   Section 5) and MUST fully conform to the restrictions on said
   headers.  This often requires that a gateway function not only as a
   relayer but also partly as a posting agent, aiding in the synthesis
   of a conforming article from non-conforming input.

      NOTE: The full-conformance requirement needs particularly careful
      attention when gatewaying mailing lists to news, because a number
      of constructs that are legal in MAIL headers are NOT permissible
      in news headers.  (Note also that not all mail traffic fully
      conforms to even the MAIL specification.)  The rest of this
      section will be phrased in terms of mail-to-news gatewaying, but
      most of it is more generally applicable.

   The mandatory headers generally present few problems.

   If no date information is available, the gateway should supply a Date
   header with the gateway's current date.  If only partial information
   is available (e.g., date but not time), this should be fleshed out to
   a full Date header by adding default values, not by mixing in parts
   of the gateway's current date.  (Defaults should be chosen so that
   fleshed-out dates will not be in the future!)  It may be necessary to
   map time zone information to the restricted forms permitted in the
   news Date header.  See Section 5.1.

      NOTE: The prohibition of mixing dates is on the theory that it is
      better to admit ignorance than to lie.

   If the author's address as supplied in the original message is not
   suitable for inclusion in a From header, the gateway MUST transform
   it so it is (for example, by use of the "% hack" and the domain
   address of the gateway).  The desire to preserve information is NOT
   an excuse for violating the rules.  If the transformation is drastic
   enough that there is reason to suspect loss of information, it may be
   desirable to include the original form in an "X-" header, but the
   From header's contents MUST be as specified in Section 5.2.

   If the message contains a Message-ID header, the contents should be
   dealt with as discussed in Section 10.3.  If there is no message ID
   present, it will be necessary to synthesize one, following the news
   rules (see Section 5.3).

   Every effort should be made to produce a meaningful Subject header;
   see Section 5.4.  Many news readers select articles to read based on
   Subject headers, and inserting a placeholder like "<no subject

Spencer                         Historic                       [Page 85]

RFC 1849                       Son of 1036                    March 2010

   available>" is considered highly objectionable.  Even synthesizing a
   Subject header by picking out the first half-dozen nouns and
   adjectives in the article body is better than using a placeholder,
   since it offers SOME indication of what the article might contain.

   The contents of the Newsgroups header (Section 5.5) are usually
   predetermined by gateway configuration, but a gateway to a network
   that has its own concept of newsgroups or discussions might have to
   make transformations.  Such transformations should be reversible;
   otherwise, confusion is likely on both sides.

   It will rarely be possible for gateways to provide a Path header that
   is both an accurate history of the relayers the article has passed
   through AS NEWS and a usable reply address.  The history function
   MUST be given priority; see the discussion in Section 5.6.  It will
   usually be necessary for a gateway to supply an empty path list,
   abandoning the reply function.

   It is desirable for gatewayed articles to convey as much useful
   information as possible, e.g., by use of optional news headers (see
   Section 6) when the relevant information is available.  Synthesis of
   optional headers can generally follow similar rules.

   Software synthesizing References headers should note the discussion
   in Section 6.5 concerning the incompatibility between MAIL and news.
   Also of interest is the possibility of incorporating information from
   In-Reply-To headers and from attribution lines in the body; an
   incomplete or somewhat conjectural References header is much better
   than none at all, and reading agents already have to cope with
   incomplete or slightly erroneous References lists.

10.3.  Message ID Mapping

   This section, like the previous one, is phrased in terms of mail
   being gatewayed into news, but most of the discussion should be more
   generally applicable.

   A particularly sticky problem of gatewaying mail into news is
   supplying legal news message IDs.  Note, in particular, that not all
   MAIL message IDs are legal in news; the news syntax (specified in
   Section 5.3, with related material in Section 5.2) is more
   restrictive.  Generating a fully conforming news article from a mail
   message may require transforming the message ID somewhat.

   Generation and transformation of message IDs assumes particular
   importance if a given mailing list (or whatever) is being handled by
   more than one gateway.  It is highly desirable that the same article
   contents not appear twice in the same newsgroup, which requires that

Spencer                         Historic                       [Page 86]

RFC 1849                       Son of 1036                    March 2010

   they receive the same message ID from all gateways.  Gateways SHOULD
   use the following algorithm (possibly modified by the later
   discussion of gatewaying into more than one newsgroup) unless local
   considerations dictate another:

      1. Separate message ID from surroundings, if necessary.  A
         plausible method for this is to start at the first "<", end at
         the next ">", and reject the message if no ">" is found or a
         second "<" is seen before the ">".  Also reject the message if
         the message ID contains no "@" or more than one "@", or if it
         contains no ".".  Also reject the message if the message ID
         contains non-ASCII characters, ASCII control characters, or
         white space.

            NOTE: Any legitimate domain will include at least one ".".
            [RFC822], Section 6.2.2, forbids white space in this context
            when passing mail on to non-MAIL software.

      2. Delete the leading "<" and trailing ">".  Separate message ID
         into local part and domain at the "@".

      3. In both components, transliterate leading dots (".", ASCII 46),
         trailing dots, and dots after the first in sequences of two or
         more consecutive dots, into underscores (ASCII 95).

      4. In both components, transliterate disallowed characters other
         than dots (see the definition of <unquoted-char> in
         Section 5.2) to underscores (ASCII 95).

      5. Form the message ID as

            "<" local-part "@" domain ">"

      NOTE: This algorithm is approximately that of Rich Salz's
      successful gatewaying package.

   Despite the desire to keep message IDs consistent across multiple
   gateways, there is also a more subtle issue that can require a
   different approach.  If the same articles are being gatewayed into
   more than one newsgroup, and it is not possible to arrange that all
   gateways gateway them to the same cross-posted set of newsgroups,
   then the message IDs in the different newsgroups MUST be DIFFERENT.

      NOTE: Otherwise, arrival of an article in one newsgroup will
      prevent it from appearing in another, and which newsgroup a
      particular article appears in will be an accident of which
      direction it arrives from first.  It is very difficult to maintain
      a coherent discussion when each participant sees a randomly

Spencer                         Historic                       [Page 87]

RFC 1849                       Son of 1036                    March 2010

      selected 50% of the traffic.  The fundamental problem here is that
      the basic assumption behind message IDs is being violated: the
      gateways are assigning the same message ID to articles that differ
      in an important respect (Newsgroups header).

   In such cases, it is suggested that the newsgroup name, or an agreed-
   on abbreviation thereof, be prepended to the local part of the
   message ID (with a separating ".") by the gateway.  This will ensure
   that multiple gateways generate the same message ID, while also
   ensuring that different newsgroups can be read independently.

      NOTE: It is preferable to have the gateway(s) cross-post the
      article, avoiding the issue altogether, but this may not be
      feasible, especially if one newsgroup is widespread and the other
      is purely local.

10.4.  Mail to and from News

   Gatewaying mail to news, and vice versa, is the most obvious form of
   news gatewaying.  It is common to set up gateways between news and
   mail rather too casually.

   It is hard to go very wrong in gatewaying news into a mailing list,
   except for the non-trivial matter of making sure that error reports
   go to the local administration rather than to the authors of news
   articles.  (This requires attention to the "envelope address" as well
   as to the message headers.)  Doing the reverse connection correctly
   is much harder than it looks.

      NOTE: In particular, just feeding the mail message to "inews -h"
      or the equivalent is NOT, repeat NOT, adequate to gateway mail to
      news.  Significant gatewaying software is necessary to do it
      right.  Not all headers of mail messages conform to even the MAIL
      specifications, never mind the stricter rules for news.

   It is useful to distinguish between two different forms of
   mail-to-news gatewaying: gatewaying a mailing list into a newsgroup,
   and operating a "post-by-mail" service in which individual articles
   can be posted to a newsgroup by mailing them to a specific address.
   In the first case, the message is already being "broadcast", and the
   situation can be viewed as gatewaying one form of news into another.
   The second case is closer to that of a moderator posting submissions
   to a moderated newsgroup.

   In either case, the discussions in the preceding two sections are
   relevant, as is the Hippocratic Principle of Section 9.  However,
   some additional considerations are specific to mail-to-news

Spencer                         Historic                       [Page 88]

RFC 1849                       Son of 1036                    March 2010

   As mentioned in Section 6, point-to-point headers like To and Cc
   SHOULD NOT appear as such in news, although it is suggested that they
   be transformed to "X-" headers, e.g., X-To and X-Cc, to preserve
   their information content for possible use by readers or
   troubleshooters.  The Received header is entirely specific to MAIL
   and SHOULD be deleted completely during gatewaying, except perhaps
   for the Received header supplied by the gateway host itself.

   The Sender header is a tricky case, one where mailing-list and post-
   by-mail practice should differ.  For gatewaying mailing lists, the
   mailing-list host should be considered a relayer, and the From and
   Sender headers supplied in its transmissions left strictly untouched.
   For post-by-mail, as for a moderator posting a mailed submission, the
   Sender header should reflect the poster rather than the author.  If a
   post-by-mail gateway receives a message with its own Sender header,
   it might wish to preserve the content in an X-Sender header.

   It will generally be necessary to transform between mail's
   In-Reply-To/References convention and news's References/See-Also
   convention, to preserve correct semantics of cross references.  This
   also requires attention when going the other way, from news to mail.
   See the discussion of the difference in Section 6.5.

10.5.  Gateway Administration

   Any news system will benefit from an attentive administrator,
   preferably assisted by automated monitoring for anomalies.  This is
   particularly true of gateways.  Gateway software SHOULD be
   instrumented so that unusual occurrences, such as sudden massive
   surges in traffic, are reported promptly.  It is desirable, in fact,
   to go further: gateway software SHOULD endeavor to limit damage in
   the event that the administrator does not respond promptly.

      NOTE: For example, software might limit the gatewaying rate by
      queueing incoming traffic and emptying the queue at a finite
      maximum rate (well below the maximum that the host is capable of!)
      that is set by the administrator and is not raised automatically.

   Traffic gatewayed into a news network SHOULD include a suitable
   header, perhaps X-Gateway-Administrator, giving an electronic address
   that can be used to report problems.  This SHOULD be an address that
   goes directly to a human, and not to a "routine administrative
   issues" mailbox that is examined only occasionally, since the point
   is to be able to reach the administrator quickly in an emergency.
   Gateway administrators SHOULD arrange substitutes to cover gateway
   operation (with suitable redirection of mail) when they are on
   vacation, etc.

Spencer                         Historic                       [Page 89]

RFC 1849                       Son of 1036                    March 2010

11.  Security and Related Issues

   Although the interchange format itself raises no significant security
   issues, the wider context does.

11.1.  Leakage

   The most obvious form of security problem with news is "leakage" of
   articles that are intended to have only restricted circulation.  The
   flooding algorithm is EXTREMELY good at finding any path by which
   articles can leave a subnet with supposedly restrictive boundaries.
   Substantial administrative effort is required to ensure that local
   newsgroups remain local, unless connections to the outside world are
   tightly restricted.

   A related problem is that the sendme control message can be used to
   ask for any article by its message ID.  The usefulness of this has
   declined as message-ID generation algorithms have become less
   predictable, but it remains a potential problem for "secure"
   newsgroups.  Hosts with such newsgroups may wish to disable the
   sendme control message entirely.

   The sendsys, version, and whogets control messages also allow
   "outsiders" to request information from "inside", which may reveal
   details of internal topology (etc.)  that are considered
   confidential.  (Note that at least limited openness about such
   matters may be a condition of membership in such networks, e.g.,

   Organizations wishing to control these forms of leakage are strongly
   advised to designate a small number of "official gateway" hosts to
   handle all news exchange with the outside world, so that a bounded
   amount of administrative effort is needed to control propagation and
   eliminate problems.  Attempts to keep news out entirely, by refusing
   to support an official gateway, typically result in large numbers of
   unofficial partial gateways appearing over time.  Such a
   configuration is much more difficult to troubleshoot.

   A somewhat related problem is the possibility of proprietary material
   being disclosed unintentionally by a poster who does not realize how
   far his words will propagate, either from sheer misunderstanding or
   because of errors made (by human or software) in followup
   preparation.  There is little that can be done about this except

Spencer                         Historic                       [Page 90]

RFC 1849                       Son of 1036                    March 2010

11.2.  Attacks

   Although the limitations of the medium restrict what can be done to
   attack a host via news, some possibilities exist, most of them
   problems news shares with mail.

   If reading agents are careless about transmitting non-printable
   characters to output devices, malicious posters may post articles
   containing control sequences ("letterbombs") meant to have various
   destructive effects on output devices.  Possible effects depend on
   the device, but they can include hardware damage (e.g., by repeated
   writing of values into configuration memories that can tolerate only
   a limited number of write cycles) and security violation (e.g., by
   reprogramming function keys potentially used by privileged readers).

   A more sophisticated variation on the letterbomb is inclusion of
   "Trojan horses" in programs.  Obviously, readers must be cautious
   about using software found in news, but more subtly, reading agents
   must also exercise care.  MIME messages can include material that is
   executable in some sense, such as PostScript documents (which are
   programs!), and letterbombs may be introduced into such material.

   Given the presence of finite resources and other software
   limitations, some degree of system disruption can be achieved by
   posting otherwise-innocent material in great volume, either in single
   huge articles (see Section 4.6) or in a stream of modest-sized
   articles.  (Some would say that the steady growth of Usenet volume
   constitutes a subtle and unintentional attack of the latter type;
   certainly it can have disruptive effects if administrators are
   inattentive.)  Systems need some ability to cope with surges, because
   single huge articles occur occasionally as the result of software
   error, innocent misunderstanding, or deliberate malice; and downtime
   at upstream hosts can cause droughts, followed by floods, of
   legitimate articles.  (There is also a certain amount of normal
   variation; for example, Usenet traffic is noticeably lighter on
   weekends and during Christmas holidays, and rises noticeably at the
   start of the school term of North American universities.)  However, a
   site that normally receives little traffic may be quite vulnerable to
   "swamping" attack if its software is insufficiently careful.

   In general, careless implementation may open doors that are not
   intrinsic to news.  In particular, implementation of control messages
   (see Sections 6.6 and 7) and unbatchers (see Sections 8.1 and 8.2)
   via a command interpreter requires substantial precautions to ensure
   that only the intended capabilities are available.  Care must also be
   taken that article-supplied text is not fed to programs that have
   escapes to command interpreters.

Spencer                         Historic                       [Page 91]

RFC 1849                       Son of 1036                    March 2010

   Finally, there is considerable potential for malice in the sendsys,
   version, and whogets control messages.  They are not harmful to the
   hosts receiving them as news, but they can be used to enlist those
   hosts (by the thousands) as unwitting allies in a mail-swamping
   attack on a victim who may not even receive news.  The precautions
   discussed in Section 7.5 can reduce the potential for such attacks
   considerably, but the hazard cannot be eliminated as long as these
   control messages exist.

11.3.  Anarchy

   The highly distributed nature of news propagation, and the lack of
   adequate authentication protocols (especially for use over the less-
   interactive transport mechanisms such as UUCP), make article forgery
   relatively straightforward.  It may be possible to at least track a
   forgery to its source, once it is recognized as such, but clever
   forgers can make even that relatively difficult.  The assumption that
   forgeries will be recognized as such is also not to be taken for
   granted; readers are notoriously prone to blindly assuming
   authenticity.  If a forged article's initial path list includes the
   relayer name of the supposed poster's host, the article will never be
   sent to that host, and the alleged author may learn about the forgery
   secondhand or not at all.

   A particularly noxious form of forgery is the forged "cancel" control
   message.  Notably, it is relatively straightforward to write software
   that will automatically send out a (forged) cancel message for any
   article meeting some criterion, e.g., written by a specific author.
   The authentication problems discussed in Section 7.1 make it
   difficult to solve this without crippling cancel's important

   A related problem is the possibility of disagreements over newsgroup
   creation, on networks where such things are not decided by central
   authorities.  There have been cases of "rmgroup wars", where one
   poster persistently sends out newgroup messages to create a newsgroup
   and another, equally persistently, sends out rmgroup messages asking
   that it be removed.  This is not particularly damaging, if relayers
   are configured to be cautious, but it can cause serious confusion
   among innocent third parties who just want to know whether or not
   they can use the newsgroup for communication.

11.4.  Liability

   News shares the legal uncertainty surrounding other forms of
   electronic communication: what rules apply to this new medium of
   information exchange?  News is a particularly problematic case

Spencer                         Historic                       [Page 92]

RFC 1849                       Son of 1036                    March 2010

   because it is a broadcast medium rather than a point-to-point one
   like mail, and analogies to older forms of communication are
   particularly weak.

   Are news-carrying hosts common carriers, like the phone companies,
   providing communications paths without having either authority over
   or responsibility for content?  Or are they publishers, responsible
   for the content regardless of whether they are aware of it or not?
   Or something in between?  Such questions are particularly significant
   when the content is technically criminal, e.g., some types of
   sexually oriented material in some jurisdictions, in which case
   ignorance of its presence may not be an adequate defense.

   Even in milder situations such as libel or copyright violation, the
   responsibilities of the poster, his host, and other hosts carrying
   the traffic are unclear.  Note, in particular, the problems arising
   when the article is a forgery, or when the alleged author claims it
   is a forgery but cannot prove this.

12.  References

   [ISO/IEC9899]  "Information technology - Programming Language C",
                  ISO/IEC 9899:1990 {more recently 9899:1999}, 1990.

   [Metamail]     Borenstein, N.,
                  February 1994.

   [RFC821]       Postel, J., "Simple Mail Transfer Protocol", STD 10,
                  RFC 821, August 1982.

                  TEXT MESSAGES", STD 11, RFC 822, August 1982.

   [RFC850]       Horton, M., "Standard for interchange of Usenet
                  messages", RFC 850, June 1983.

   [RFC977]       Kantor, B. and P. Lapsley, "Network News Transfer
                  Protocol - A Proposed Standard for the Stream-Based
                  Transmission of News", RFC 977, February 1986.

   [RFC1036]      Horton, M. and R. Adams, "Standard for interchange of
                  USENET Messages", RFC 1036, December 1987.

   [RFC1123]      Braden, R., Ed., "Requirements for Internet Hosts -
                  Application and Support", STD 3, RFC 1123,
                  October 1989.

Spencer                         Historic                       [Page 93]

RFC 1849                       Son of 1036                    March 2010

   [RFC1341]      Borenstein, N. and N. Freed, "MIME (Multipurpose
                  Internet Mail Extensions): Mechanisms for Specifying
                  and Describing the Format of Internet Message Bodies",
                  RFC 1341, June 1992.

   [RFC1342]      Moore, K., "Representation of Non-ASCII Text in
                  Internet Message Headers", RFC 1342, June 1992.

   [RFC1345]      Simonsen, K., "Character Mnemonics and Character
                  Sets", RFC 1345, June 1992.

   [RFC1413]      St. Johns, M., "Identification Protocol", RFC 1413,
                  February 1993.

   [RFC1456]      Vietnamese Standardization Working Group, "Conventions
                  for Encoding the Vietnamese Language", RFC 1456,
                  May 1993.

   [RFC1544]      Rose, M., "The Content-MD5 Header Field", RFC 1544,
                  November 1993.

   [RFC1896]      Resnick, P. and A. Walker, "The text/enriched MIME
                  Content-type", RFC 1896, February 1996.

   [RFC2045]      Freed, N. and N. Borenstein, "Multipurpose Internet
                  Mail Extensions (MIME) Part One: Format of Internet
                  Message Bodies", RFC 2045, November 1996.

   [RFC2046]      Freed, N. and N. Borenstein, "Multipurpose Internet
                  Mail Extensions (MIME) Part Two: Media Types",
                  RFC 2046, November 1996.

   [RFC2047]      Moore, K., "MIME (Multipurpose Internet Mail
                  Extensions) Part Three: Message Header Extensions for
                  Non-ASCII Text", RFC 2047, November 1996.

   [RFC2049]      Freed, N. and N. Borenstein, "Multipurpose Internet
                  Mail Extensions (MIME) Part Five: Conformance Criteria
                  and Examples", RFC 2049, November 1996.

   [RFC2822]      Resnick, P., Ed., "Internet Message Format", RFC 2822,
                  April 2001.

   [RFC3977]      Feather, C., "Network News Transfer Protocol (NNTP)",
                  RFC 3977, October 2006.

Spencer                         Historic                       [Page 94]

RFC 1849                       Son of 1036                    March 2010

   [RFC5322]      Resnick, P., Ed., "Internet Message Format", RFC 5322,
                  October 2008.

   [RFC5536]      Murchison, K., Ed., Lindsey, C., and D. Kohn, "Netnews
                  Article Format", RFC 5536, November 2009.

   [RFC5537]      Allbery, R., Ed., and C. Lindsey, "Netnews
                  Architecture and Protocols", RFC 5537, November 2009.

   [Sanderson]    David Sanderson, Smileys, O'Reilly & Associates Ltd.,

   [UUCP]         Tim O'Reilly and Grace Todino, Managing UUCP and
                  Usenet, O'Reilly & Associates Ltd., January 1992.

   [X3.4]         "American National Standard for Information Systems -
                  Coded Character Sets - 7-Bit American National
                  Standard Code for Information Interchange (7-Bit
                  ASCII)", ANSI X3.4, March 1986.

Spencer                         Historic                       [Page 95]

RFC 1849                       Son of 1036                    March 2010

Appendix A.  Archaeological Notes

A.1.  "A News" Article Format

   The obsolete "A News" article format consisted of exactly five lines
   of header information, followed by the body.  For example:

      Fri Nov 19 16:14:55 1982
      Usenet Etiquette - Please Read

   The first line consisted of an "A" followed by an article ID
   (analogous to a message ID and used for similar purposes).  The
   second line was the list of newsgroups.  The third line was the path.
   The fourth was the date, in the format above (all fields fixed
   width), resembling an Internet date but not quite the same.  The
   fifth was the subject.

   This format is documented for archaeological purposes only.  Do not
   generate articles in this format.

A.2.  Early "B News" Article Format

   This obsolete pseudo-Internet article format, used briefly during the
   transition between the A News format and the modern format, followed
   the general outline of a MAIL message but with some non-standard
   headers.  For example:

      From: cbosgd!mhuxj!mhuxt!eagle!jerry (Jerry Schwarz)
      Newsgroups: news.misc
      Title: Usenet Etiquette -- Please Read
      Article-I.D.: eagle.642
      Posted: Fri Nov 19 16:14:55 1982
      Received: Fri Nov 19 16:59:30 1982
      Expires: Mon Jan 1 00:00:00 1990


   The From header contained the information now found in the Path
   header, plus possibly the full name now typically found in the From
   header.  The Title header contained what is now the Subject content.

Spencer                         Historic                       [Page 96]

RFC 1849                       Son of 1036                    March 2010

   The Posted header contained what is now the Date content.  The
   Article-I.D. header contained an article ID, analogous to a message
   ID and used for similar purposes.  The Newsgroups and Expires headers
   were approximately as they are now.  The Received header contained
   the date when the latest relayer to process the article first saw it.
   All dates were in the above format, with all fields fixed width,
   resembling an Internet date but not quite the same.

   This format is documented for archaeological purposes only.  Do not
   generate articles in this format.

A.3.  Obsolete Headers

   Early versions of news software following the modern format sometimes
   generated headers like the following:

      Relay-Version: version B 2.10 2/13/83; site cbosgd.UUCP
      Posting-Version: version B 2.10 2/13/83; site eagle.UUCP
      Date-Received: Friday, 19-Nov-82 16:59:30 EST

   Relay-Version contained version information about the relayer that
   last processed the article.  Posting-Version contained version
   information about the posting agent that posted the article.  Date-
   Received contained the date when the last relayer to process the
   article first saw it (in a slightly nonstandard format).

   These headers are documented for archaeological purposes only.  Do
   not generate articles using them.

A.4.  Obsolete Control Messages

   There once was a senduuname control message, resembling sendsys but
   requesting transmission of the list of hosts to which the receiving
   host had UUCP connections.  This rapidly ceased to be of much use,
   and many organizations consider information about their internal
   connectivity to be confidential.

   Historically, a checkgroups body consisting of one or two lines, the
   first of the form "-n newsgroup", caused checkgroups to apply to only
   that single newsgroup.  This form is documented for archaeological
   purposes only; do not use it.

   Historically, an article posted to a newsgroup whose name had exactly
   three components of which the third was "ctl" signified that article
   was to be taken as a control message.  The Subject header specified
   the actions in the same way the Control header does now.  This form
   is documented for archaeological purposes only; do not use it; do not
   implement it.

Spencer                         Historic                       [Page 97]

RFC 1849                       Son of 1036                    March 2010

Appendix B.  A Quick Tour of MIME

   (The editor wishes to thank Luc Rooijakkers; most of this appendix is
   a lightly edited version of a summary he kindly supplied.)

   MIME (Multipurpose Internet Mail Extensions) is an upward-compatible
   set of extensions to [RFC822], currently documented in [RFC2045],
   [RFC2046], and [RFC2047].  This appendix summarizes these documents.
   See the MIME RFCs for more information; they are very readable.

      UNRESOLVED ISSUE: These RFC numbers (here and elsewhere in this
      Draft) need updating when the new MIME RFCs come out {now

   MIME defines the following new headers:


   The MIME-Version header is mandatory for all messages conforming to
   the MIME specification and carries the version number of the MIME
   specification.  Example:

      MIME-Version: 1.0

   The Content-Type header indicates the content type of the message.
   Content types are split into a top-level type and a subtype,
   separated by a slash.  Auxiliary information can also be supplied,
   using an attribute-value notation.  Example:

      Content-Type: text/plain; charset=us-ascii

   (In the absence of a Content-Type header this is in fact the default
   content type.)

   Important type/subtype combinations are:

   text/plain              Plain text, possibly in a non-ASCII character

   text/enriched           A very simple wordprocessor-like language
                           supporting character attributes (e.g.,
                           underlining), justification control, and
                           multiple character sets.  (This proposal has

Spencer                         Historic                       [Page 98]

RFC 1849                       Son of 1036                    March 2010

                           gone through several iterations and has
                           recently split off from the main MIME RFCs
                           into a separate document [RFC1896].)

   message/rfc822          A mail message conforming to a slightly
                           relaxed version of [RFC822].

   message/partial         Part of a message (supporting the transparent
                           splitting and joining of messages when they
                           are too large to be handled by some transport

   message/external-body   A message whose body is external.  Possible
                           access methods include via mail, FTP, local
                           file, etc.

   multipart/mixed         A message whose body consists of multiple
                           parts, possibly of different types, intended
                           to be viewed in serial order.  Each part
                           looks like an [RFC822] message, consisting of
                           headers and a body.  Most of the [RFC822]
                           headers have no defined semantics for body

   multipart/parallel      Likewise, except that the parts are intended
                           to be viewed in parallel (on user agents that
                           support it).

   multipart/alternative   Likewise, except that the parts are intended
                           to be semantically equivalent such that the
                           part that best matches the capabilities of
                           the environment should be displayed.  For
                           example, a message may include plain-text,
                           enriched-text, and postscript versions of
                           some document.

   multipart/digest        A variant of multipart/mixed especially
                           intended for message digests (the default
                           type of the parts is message/rfc822 instead
                           of text/plain, saving on the number of
                           headers for the parts).

   application/postscript  A PostScript document.  (PostScript is a
                           trademark of Adobe.)

   Other top-level types exist for still images, audio, and video

Spencer                         Historic                       [Page 99]

RFC 1849                       Son of 1036                    March 2010

   Some of the above types require the ability to transport binary data.
   Since the existing message systems usually do not support this, MIME
   provides a Content-Transfer-Encoding header to indicate the kind of
   encoding used.  The possible encodings are:

   7bit              No encoding; the data consists of short (less than
                     1000 characters) lines of 7-bit ASCII data,
                     delimited by EOL sequences.  This is the default

   8bit              Like 7bit, except that bytes with the high-order
                     bit set may be present.  Many transmission paths
                     are incapable of carrying messages that use this

   binary            No encoding; any sequence of bytes may be present.
                     Many transmission paths are incapable of carrying
                     messages that use this encoding.

   base64            The data is encoded by representing every group of
                     3 bytes as 4 characters from the alphabet
                     "A-Za-z0-9+/", which was chosen for its high
                     robustness through mail gateways (the alphabet used
                     by uuencode does not survive ASCII-EBCDIC-ASCII
                     translations).  In the final group of 4 characters,
                     "=" is used for those characters not representing
                     data bytes.  Line length is limited, and EOLs in
                     the encoded form are ignored.

   quoted-printable  Any byte can be represented by a three-character
                     "=XX" sequence where the X's are uppercase
                     hexadecimal digits.  Bytes representing printable
                     7-bit US-ASCII characters except "=" may be
                     represented literally.  Tabs and blanks may be
                     represented literally if not at the end of a line.
                     Line length is limited, and an EOL preceded by "="
                     was inserted for this purpose and is not present in
                     the original.

   The base64 and quoted-printable encodings are applied to data in
   Internet canonical form, which means that any EOL encoded as anything
   but EOL must be an Internet canonical EOL: CR followed by LF.

   The Content-Description header allows further description of a body
   part, analogous to the use of Subject for messages.

Spencer                         Historic                      [Page 100]

RFC 1849                       Son of 1036                    March 2010

   Finally, the Content-ID header can be used to assign an
   identification to body parts, analogous to the assignment of
   identifications to messages by Message-ID.

   Note that most of these headers are structured header fields, as
   defined in [RFC822].  Consequently, comments are allowed in their
   values.  The following is a legal MIME header:

      Content-Type: (a comment) text (yeah)   /
              plain    (and now some params:) ; charset= (guess what)
         iso-8859-1 (we don't have iso-10646 yet, pity)

      NOTE: Although the MIME specification was developed for mail,
      there is nothing precluding its use for news as well.  While it
      might simplify implementation to restrict the MIME headers
      somewhat, in the same way that other news headers (e.g., From) are
      restricted subsets of the [RFC822] originals, this would add yet
      another divergence between two formats that ought to be as
      compatible as possible.  In the case of the MIME headers, there is
      no body of existing code posing compatibility concerns.  A full-
      featured MIME reading agent needs a full [RFC822] parser anyway,
      to properly handle body parts of types like message/rfc822, so
      there is little gain from restricting MIME headers.  Adopting the
      MIME specification unchanged seems best.  However, article-level
      MIME headers must still comply with the overall news header syntax
      given in Section 4, so that news software that is NOT interested
      in MIME need not contain a full [RFC822] parser.

   "MIME (Multipurpose Internet Mail Extensions) Part Three: Message
   Header Extensions for Non-ASCII Text" [RFC2047] addresses the problem
   of non-ASCII characters in headers.  An example of a header using the
   [RFC2047] mechanism is

      From: =?ISO-8859-1?Q?Andr=E9_?= Pirard <>

   Such encodings are allowed in selected headers, subject to the
   restrictions listed in [RFC2047].

   The MIME effort has also produced an RFC defining a Content-MD5
   header [RFC1544] containing an MD5-based "checksum" of the contents
   of an article or body part, giving high confidence of detecting
   accidental modifications to the contents.

   The "metamail" software package [Metamail] helps provide MIME support
   with minimal changes to mailers and may also be relevant to news
   reading agents.

Spencer                         Historic                      [Page 101]

RFC 1849                       Son of 1036                    March 2010

   The PEM (Privacy Enhanced Mail) effort is pursuing analogous
   facilities to offer stronger guarantees against malicious
   modifications, unauthorized eavesdropping, and forgery.  This work
   too may be applicable to news, once it is reconciled with MIME (by
   efforts now underway).

Spencer                         Historic                      [Page 102]

RFC 1849                       Son of 1036                    March 2010

Appendix C.  Summary of Changes Since RFC 1036

   This Draft is much longer than [RFC1036], so there is obviously much
   change in content.  Much of this is just increased precision and
   rigor.  Noteworthy changes and additions include:

      + restrictions on article bodies (Section 4.3)

      + all references to MIME facilities

      + size limits on articles

      + precise specification of Date-content syntax

      + message IDs must never be re-used, ever

      + "!" is the only Path delimiter

      + multiple moderators in the Approved header

      + rules on References trimming, and the _-_ mechanism

      + generalization of the Xref rules

      + multiple message IDs in Cancel and Supersedes

      + Also-Control

      + See-Also

      + Article-Names

      + Article-Updates

      + more precise rules for cancellation

      + cancellation authorization based on From, not Sender

      + "unmoderated" and descriptors in newgroup messages

      + restrictive rules on handling of sendsys and version messages

      + the whogets control message

      + precise specification of checkgroups messages

      + compression type preferably specified out-of-band

Spencer                         Historic                      [Page 103]

RFC 1849                       Son of 1036                    March 2010

      + rules for encapsulating news in MIME mail

      + tighter specification of relayer functioning (Section 9.1)

      + the "newsmaster" contact address

      + rules for gatewaying (Section 10)

      + discussion of security issues (Section 11)

Spencer                         Historic                      [Page 104]

RFC 1849                       Son of 1036                    March 2010

Appendix D.  Summary of Completely New Features

   Most of this Draft merely documents existing practice, preferred
   versions thereof, or straightforward generalizations of it, but there
   are a few outright inventions.  These are:

      + the _-_ mechanism for References trimming

      + Also-Control

      + See-Also

      + Article-Names

      + Article-Updates

      + the whogets control message

Spencer                         Historic                      [Page 105]

RFC 1849                       Son of 1036                    March 2010

Appendix E.  Summary of Differences from RFCs 822 and 1123

   The following are noteworthy differences between this Draft's
   articles and MAIL messages:

      + generally less-permissive header syntax

      + notably, limited From syntax

      + MAIL header comments allowed in only a few contexts

      + slightly more restricted message-ID syntax

      + several more mandatory headers

      + duplicate headers forbidden

      + References/See-Also versus In-Reply-To/References (Section 6.5)

      + case sensitivity in some contexts

      + point-to-point headers, e.g., To and Cc, forbidden (Section 6)

      + several new headers

Author's Address

   Henry Spencer
   SP Systems
   Box 280 Stn. A
   Toronto, Ontario M5W1B2


Spencer                         Historic                      [Page 106]