CreateAn Alt Newsgroup

Anyone can create an “alt” newsgroup by following the right procedure. Unlike the Usenet 8 hierarchies, there are no votes that govern creation of an “alt” newsgroup. However, you can only create an “alt” newsgroup if your software enables you include the “Approved” header in a message.

You should write a description of your proposed new group, and include some numerical evidence that the group will be used by a significant number of people. Good numerical evidence could include the number of people using related mailing lists, or the number of threads of discussion on the group’s proposed topic that can be found in other newsgroups. Most sites then carry new “alt” newsgroups based on an evaluation of the value of group’s proposal, and on whether or not the proposal has first been discussed in the newsgroup alt.config. Many sites automatically approve the creation request for any “alt” newsgroup to avoid manually reviewing and approving every request.

Once you have incorporated any useful suggestions from the alt.config discussion, you can create the group by sending a control message to the group all.all.ctl. A control message should be all in lower case, and can be designated in one of three ways:

  • It has a “control” header
  • The first four letters of the subject are “cmsg”, in which case the rest of the subject is the control message.
  • It is sent to the newsgroup “all.all.ctl”, in which case the subject is the control message.

More information on control messages can be found in Section 3 of RFC 1036 and in the FAQ How To Write a Good Newgroup Message linked at the bottom of this page.

Creation of a new group is done with a “newgroup” control message. You can send it to the group name you are creating, and/or to alt.config. A newgroup command starts with the keyword “newgroup”, followed by the proposed newsgroup name. For example, the following command specifies creation of the newsgroup “”.


Each section of the newsgroup name between the periods can be up to 14 characters long, and can be made up of letters, digits, and the characters “+” and “-“, which may be used to separate words of a phrase to increase readability. You should avoid acronyms unless they are very well known, so that people who search a list of newsgroups will be able to find yours based on the name.

You should search the existing newsgroups to find an existing hierarchy that it can fit into, and you shouldn’t create extra levels of hierarchy unless absolutely necessary. Put groups for posting of binary files in the alt.binaries hierarchy. Don’t create local groups concerned with geographically local issues in alt where they will be distributed world wide. Because there are so many second-level “alt.keyword” groups, second-level groups should not be created except for very good reasons.

In the body of the message you should include a Comments section which describes the “alt.config” discussion and the stage of the proposal. Then include a “newsgroups file” message, a description of the Charter, and a Justification of Readership section. An example is shown below.

Discussed in alt.config 12 Jan 2000. This is revised proposal.

For your newsgroups file: great man, great actor, great alligator wrestler.

Discussion and appreciation and exchange of information and pictures and film data on a man who the New York Times called “definitive for the moment”.

Justification of Readership:
Discussions and threads on John are common and numerous on the following newsgroups…., and there are currently 58 web pages, as determined by the following search…

Finally, your newgroup posting must also include the “Approved” header, which can only be attached to a posting by certain types of software.

If you send your newgroup command more than once, put a sentence near the beginning explaining that it is a “booster” message. Don’t send too many booster messages.

Rmgroup. An administrator may remove a group with an rmgroup command, such as the following.


The most common reasons newgroup creations are rmgroup’d are:

  • Naming. Incorrect naming with respect to length, invalid characters, spelling or punctuation mistakes.
  • Copy. The group copies a more established group.
  • Format. The message does not contain a Charter, or Justification Of Readership section.
  • Binary exception. The group is for binary file attachments, but not in the alt.binaries hierarchy.
  • Forgery. The message is forged — not from who it says it is.

If your group has been removed, you should carefully read the reason given, consider the advice, and then propose the group in alt.configagain. All rmgroup commands have valid Approved email addresses like the following.


Resources. The resources listed on the Usenet 8 page provide general assistance with creating a new newsgroup. In addition, the following Internet sites provide information specifically on creation of “alt.” newsgroups: