How can I cancel my Usenet news posting?
Common Turbo Pascal Questions and Timo's answers
I am having problems with canceling my
Usenet news posting. What to do?
How one cancels one's own posting is naturally dependent on the
newsreader program that
one uses. For example, in Unix rn you can cancel your posting by
pressing C (that is shift-c) when reading your own posting. In other
newsreaders check their help function for the cancel command. For
example in Unix tin the cancel command is D. If you are using
Netscape (Collabra Discussion Groups) choose "Edit" from the main
menu and then select "Cancel Message". Anyway, whichever your
newsreader program first try to see its help for the information.
Confusingly, it may happen that you are unable to cancel your own
posting but get a "You can't cancel someone else's posting" message
instead. That implies that the newssystem at your side has been
configured badly. The sender and your own id do not match. It is not
your fault. There is nothing you can do about that yourself. It is
up to your local newsmanager to set the system right. Contact
him/her in case of this problem.
For further information on canceling your postings see Jon Bell's
fine "TIP" HOW TO CANCEL AN ARTICLE THAT YOU'VE POSTED which is
regularly posted to the newsgroup Questions & Answers for users
new to the Usenet news.newusers.questions.
A related issue is the following. Are there special cases when one
should cancel one's posting (besides when the purpose is to cancel a
posting made or mislaid by mistake, or to cancel an inappropriate
This very much depends on the practices of the newsgroup and the
particulars. One obvious case comes to mind, though. If you have
posted a sales announcement of an item to a legitimate sales or
barter newsgroup, when the item has been sold, it is advisable
both to post a followup telling that the sale has already
been made and to cancel one's original offer posting. Why
both? Because not all the ISPs allow canceling. The older your
posting, the more likely it is that it will stay at some services
even if you send out the cancel. In other words, cancels can't be
fully trusted. On the other hand it is proper to send out the cancel
since many if not most services will honor it.
To better understand canceling, consider what it technically means.
When you post something your posting propagates as a file throughout
the net. Copies of your file are carried by the news server services
all around the world on the hard disks of the service providers
(ISPs). When you "cancel" your posting with your newsprogram what
really happens is this. Your program sends out another,
special-format posting from you. It is called a cancel-message. In
fact it is nothing more than another file sent to propagate all
through the system. The file is in a special format. It contains
among other things the message identification of your original
message, which you want erased from the servers carrying your
original posting. Whether your original message is actually deleted
from a server (canceled in that sense) depends on whether the
service in question honors cancel-message files or not. There are a
lot of servers on Internet which ignore such cancel files. Thus
there is no guarantee that your original message will actually
disappear. What is certain though, is that the longer you take to
cancel (i.e. tell your newsprogram to send out the cancel file), the
more certain it is that your original message has reached sites
which do not put your cancel-message suggestion into effect. In sum,
if you want to cancel, do it right away. After a few days, even
hours, your cancel will be much less effective.
the modern net most text-only postings end up on newsgroup
repositories like Google unless you mark your posting with the
"X-No-Archive: yes" header. And even if you do, others might
quote your posting ending it, or parts of it on the repositories.
Therefore, a cancel issued after the posting has already had the
time to leave your ISP (Internet Service Provider), quickly
diminishes in effectiveness.
A related question is how one removes one's posting from Google. For
that purpose see the relevant instructions at that service (as
pointed to below in the links section of the current page).
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