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What is cross-posting? How do I do it?

Originally from
Questions from Usenet and Timo's answers

As we all know, Usenet news have the newsgroups divided by the topic areas. If you want your message to appear in more than one newsgroup you can achieve this by cross-posting. If you look at the header in the news you will notice the item Newsgroups:. Put the names of the newsgroups in there separated by commas. Scan the headers of almost any newsgroup, and you are bound to see how it is done.

The number one rule of cross-posting is that cross-posting should never be used indiscriminately. If you feel that it is necessary to cross-post, consider carefully your selection, and keep it down. Avoid cross-posting to groups that are branches of the same sub-hierarchy, that is don't cross-post to adjacent newsgroups.

What goes for newsgroup selection in general, also applies to cross-posting. Never cross-post to newsgroups which do not coincide with your subject.

There is one very important DON'T in cross-posting. Do not send the same message separately to different newsgroups, i.e. do not multi-post. If your posting indeed is necessary and relevant in more than one newsgroup, always use the cross-posting facility of the news (Newsgroups:). If you repeat a message separately in different newsgroups, the readers will have to see your posting many times over, and will get annoyed. Furthermore, the potential followups will fragment all over the different newsgroups and much of the cohesiveness and usefulness of the discussion will be lost. Thus, if you multi-post you have a good chance of justifiably ending up flamed or at least considered a nuisance that is best avoided in the future. Even worse, your site's administrators might get complaints about your multiple postings, if you persist.

I have heard that there are some newsreader programs that do not allow editing the headers. I can only suggest contacting your system manager or some other local guru about it. I have no further information on this unusual dilemma since on most news programs editing the headers is not a problem. Be careful, however, if you edit the headers. Learn their exact requirements. If you make mistakes, the posting may fail, and/or the followups to it by other users may fail because of your editing errors. For example

Newsgroups: comp.lang.pascal.borland,comp.os.msdos.programmer,

would result in an error in following up because of the trailing comma.

Here are a couple of further tips when you have got the hang of cross posting. As you can see there is a "Followup-To:" field in the news header (if not, you usually will be able to supply it). Sometimes you might want to direct the replies to only a single newsgroup even if you have cross posted the original. The rationale here is to prevent the discussion from scattering to several newsgroups. Please consider using this option whenever you cross post.

At the end of this page there are true examples of the full headers of crosspostings with followups redirected. The first one is what is seen in the sending phase of a message when using (this time) Pnews for posting a message. The second one is what is seen when reading a posting (this time) with the rn newsreader. What exactly is given and shown naturally depends on the programs used.

If you set the followups to a newsgroup that is not included in the original distribution, you may wish to consider including that newsgroup in your "Newsgroups:" header. That way the readers will better know what the posting is about. Of course, this also depends on the specific situation.

Some users put the word poster in there to redirect the potential replies directly to them by email. The problem with this method is that even if it should work, it is not guaranteed to do so. Some system configurations and newsreaders do not handle this correctly. For example I usually get a bounce if I reply to such a posting.

When you reply to a posting on a Usenet newsgroup, you are well-advised to first check the message's "Newsgroups:" header for the newsgroups selection. Ask yourself if it really is the one also you wish to use? There can be special reasons why you might wish to be wary and tone down the crossposting before posting your own reply:
  1. The original message has been excessively crossposted out of sheer ignorance of the newsgroups' relevant topics. If you need to find out more about what the individual newsgroups are about, take a look at the list of newsgroups  and/or on rare occasions even the FAQs or the charters  of the suspect newsgroups in the distribution.
  2. The crossposting is a trolling bait. One of the many forms of Usenet abuse by individuals with a twisted sense of humor is to contaminate a thread in a newsgroup by surreptitiously including additional newsgroups that are known for excessive heat. When this ploy furthermore is combined with calculated provocations ("flamebaiting"), the careless responder may suddenly find him/herself in the middle of a flame war, to the abusers' utter glee.
  3. Be particularly reticent about the danger of the inclusion of test newsgroups. If the test newsgroup has an autoresponder along the feed, the replies will activate the autoresponder. The careless poster will be getting superfluous email from because of the test newsgroups. If you are using killfiles to filter the newsgroup messages, it is advisable to routinely single out postings that have test newsgroups included in the crossposting. The exact syntax will vary between newsreader programs, but the basic idea in terms of a Unix rn-type notation is


  4. Spam (unsolicited commercial postings) often is extensively crossposted. This has consequences that can affect the more ordinary crossposting as well. Not all the IPSs (internet service providers) will allow or relay excessively crossposted Usenet news posting. Furthermore, there are spam cancelbots in operation on the net, searching for excessively crossposted messages. Thus, crossposting excessively or responding to excessively crossposted postings may lead to much less exposure than sought after by the crossposting, if the "spam thresholds" become exceeded. Often measured by the IPSs using the so-called Breidbart Index.


Newsgroups: misc.test,alt.test,test
Subject: Testing, what else
Followup-To: test
Organization: University of Vaasa


alt.msdos.batch #29973 (16 more)
Path: news.uwasa.fi!majakka.uwasa.fi!not-for-mail
From: ts(ät)uwasa.fi (Timo Salmi)
Newsgroups: alt.msdos.batch,comp.os.msdos.misc
Subject: ">>> READ FIRST: Frequently Asked Questions about MS-DOS batches <<<"
Followup-To: alt.msdos.batch
Date: 20 Apr 2000 11:59:01 +0300
Organization: University of Vaasa, Finland
Lines: 150
Expires: Fri, 28 Apr 2000 08:59:00 GMT
Message-ID: <ts0004200859.19117@majakka.uwasa.fi>
NNTP-Posting-Host: majakka.uwasa.fi
Mime-Version: 1.0
Content-Type: text/plain
Content-Transfer-Encoding: 8bit
X-Trace: haavi.uwasa.fi 956221182 20336 (20 Apr 2000 08:59:42 GMT)
X-Complaints-To: abuse(ät)uwasa.fi
NNTP-Posting-Date: 20 Apr 2000 08:59:42 GMT
Summary: An automatically posted, regular pointer
X-No-Archive: yes
X-Warning: Junk / bulk email will be auto-filtered, traced and reported
X-Password: Spam foiling, elm filter will first return a required email password
Xref: news.uwasa.fi alt.msdos.batch:29973 comp.os.msdos.misc:84203

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