Cross-posting

Has anyone else noticed a large number of msgs cross-posted here and to rec.gardens.edible and to rec.food.cooking and heaven knows where else recently? I looked up some references and found this:
"...remember that excessive cross-posting is considered bad form without a good reason, because it multiplies the traffic on the Internet several times without adding any new content. In the extreme case, if everybody cross-posted every message to every group, then every group would look exactly the same!"
While 'gardening' is a pretty general category, there *are* rec.gardens.edible for food crops -- veg, fruit, herbs, etc.-- and rec.food.cooking for the *use* (not growing) of herbs and veg. I use (Free) Agent as a newsreader, and it's too easy to post one reply to multiple groups, which does exactly what the above paragraph describes. I'm getting tired of reading several of the groups I subscribe to and finding whole sets of duplicate posts.
Is there some way to gently steer cross-posters to relevent newsgroups? Like many here, I am interested in and read and post in .edibles and .food.cooking, but when I try to construct a follow-up post and see it's cross-posted in 5 groups, I keep quiet (and don't tell me that's a blessing!)
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My understanding is when a message is crossposted, it's only sent once and only stored once, althougth that might be implementation dependent. Where did you find the above quote?


hehe, I hit one today that was crossposted to five (snails). Yeah it's annoying ... back when I used 'trn' as a newsreader, I seem to remember it not being a problems (properly crossposted and read articles in one group would show up as read in the crossposted groups). I doesn't seem to be the case with Xnews (that I'm using now), I don't know about Forte Free Agent.
-- Salty
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Warning, completely non-garden technogobbleddy-goop forthcoming ... "because it multiplies the traffic on the Internet several times without adding any new content."
I would guess the person who wrote the article didn't have a clear understanding of how USENET functions. He/she probably meant to imply that crossposting unnecessarily increases the amount of articles in the newsgroups (more 'gridlock' than 'traffic', but still not entirely analogous) rather than the total number of bits flying across the wires.
When you post a message, your newsreader formats it to conform to a standard listed in RFC1036 Standard for Interchange of USENET Messages. The relevant section "2.1.3. Newsgroups" states:
*** If a message is received with a "Newsgroups" line listing some valid newsgroups and some invalid newsgroups, a host should not remove invalid newsgroups from the list. Instead, the invalid newsgroups should be ignored. For example, suppose host A subscribes to the classes btl.all and comp.all, and exchanges news messages with host B, which subscribes to comp.all but not btl.all. Suppose A receives a message with Newsgroups: comp.unix,btl.general. This message is passed on to B because B receives comp.unix, but B does not receive btl.general. A must leave the "Newsgroups" line unchanged. If it were to remove btl.general, the edited header could eventually re- enter the btl.all class, resulting in a message that is not shown to users subscribing to btl.general. Also, follow-ups from outside btl.all would not be shown to such users. ***
This would seem to imply that the message is sent only once (and not with multiple instances for each newsgroup listed).
On the receiving end, traditionally (well in the 90s at least), a program called 'inn' (or the daemon 'innd') receives the message. Apparently formerly, inn would call a a program named 'crosspost'. (search for crosspost(8) to read the 'man' page). This program is responsible for creating 'links' to the crossposted article. On a Unix system (which was traditionally used for serving USENET articles) files are stored as 'i- nodes', meaning each file is simply given a number, and the filename is associated with that number. Taking advantage of that, you can have one file (even with differing names) listed in multiple directories (and by extension, newsgroups) by simply recording multiple instances of the i- node. This is called 'hard-linking'. Alternatively, you can create 'soft' or 'symbolic' links (which are analogous to Windows 'shortcuts', but once you erase the file that the shortcut is pointing to, the link becomes invalid. (I say formerly because apparently 'crosspost' was obsoleted by a newer version of 'inn', but it would seem strange to change the functionality).
All this to say, a properly crossposted article (meaning one that lists all the newsgroups in the newsgroup line and not a message that is posted seperately to multiple newsgroups) does not take up any significant extra space on the server. Of course, people reading the groups still have to deal with the same headers in multiple groups which seems to be your main objection. I don't know of any newsreader that automatically marks read crossposted articles as 'read', unless 'trn' does. There is a port of 'trn' for Windows, but I forgot what the name is.
Finally, according to RFC1855 Netiquette Guidelines
*** If you feel an article will be of interest to more than one Newsgroup, be sure to CROSSPOST the article rather than individually post it to those groups. In general, probably only five-to-six groups will have similar enough interests to warrant this. ***
hehe, unfortunately, five seems to be the magic number. Not very helpful, am I? *sorry* The best solution would be to find a newsreader that manages read crossposts correctly.
Diclaimer: I haven't worked in the industry for years, so some of the info may be dated but should still be more or less correct.
-- Salty
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Thanks for the link. Great site.
Lee
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