Content and Format of a Request for Discussion (RFD)

From Big-8.org

Contents

Newsgroup Creation RFDS -- General Concepts

1. Newsgroup Name

  • The name must begin with one of the branches of the big-8: comp, rec, humanities, sci, talk, soc, misc, news.
  • During the discussion period, the proposed name will be evaluated for how well the new group fits into the list of other newsgroups.
  • For a rather lengthy discussion of the rules for forming newsgroup names, with links to other naming documents, see this page. (Don't panic. We want your newsgroup to succeed, and we will help you to understand and apply all of the rules as you develop your proposal.) You may check your proposed name and newsgroup description line using validator.
  • See Checkgroups for a list of all Big-8 newsgroups. Something on that list may help you develop a good name for the topic you wish to discuss. Think about where your proposed newsgroup will fall in that list; it is sorted alphabetically, so it is easy to see where your newsgroup will be located in the hierarchy.

2. Newsgroups Line

  • This is a short, one-line description of the newsgroup. This line will be included in Checkgroups, a special text file that lists all of the groups in the Big-8.
  • The newsgroups line should not simply repeat elements from the name of the group; the description should use synonyms or terms that add more meaning than that already given in the name.
  • There is no need to use phrases like "Discussion of all aspects of..." That newsgroups are for discussion may be taken for granted.
  • The group name as a whole plus the required tab stop(s) plus the short description of the group must not exceed 79 columns.
  • In order to correctly calculate the number of columns occupied by the name, tab stop(s) and description, one must assume that tab stops fall every eight spaces in the line.
In this diagram, ^ represents the Tab stops and middots are used
to represent spaces.  When the Tab key is pressed, spaces are 
generated to move the cursor to the next Tab stop.

The vertical bar | represents the first Tab stop at which newsgroup
descriptions may begin.  "comp.ai" actually needs three Tabs to move 
the beginning of its description to the 25th column.  The first Tab 
generates a single space; the next two Tabs generate eight spaces each.

         1         2         3         4         5         6         7         8
12345678901234567890123456789012345678901234567890123456789012345678901234567890
^·······^·······^·······|·······^·······^·······^·······^·······^·······^·······
comp.ai·^·······^·······Artificial Intelligence. (Moderated)
comp.ai.jair.announce···Announcements & abstracts of the Journal of AI Research.
rec.arts.comics.info····Reviews, convention information and other comics news.
rec.arts.startrek.reviews·······Reviews of Star Trek books, episodes, films, &c.
rec.arts.comics.marvel.universe·Marvel Comics' shared universe and characters.
rec.collecting.villages·Collectible houses, cottages, villages, and accessories.
rec.outdoors.fishing.fly.tying··Issues relating to tying flies for flyfishing.
sci.op-research·········Research, teaching & application of operations research.
  • The longer the name of the group, the fewer columns available for the group description.
  • At the end of the line for all moderated groups, whether the word "moderated" is in their name or not, a space and (Moderated) follow the period at the end of the group description. The space taken up by " (Moderated)" is not part of the 79-column limit.
  • The period at the end of the description is not required, though it is customary to use a period if space allows.
  • Please don't panic. Group Mentors will help you to develop an RFD that meets these standards. You also may check your proposed name and newsgroup description line using validator.
  • These standards are conventional and arbitrary. Some day, perhaps, the conventions will change. Meanwhile, we encourage proponents to work within these historical limits for the time being.

3. Distribution List

  • The proponent should develop a list of newsgroups to whom the RFD will be circulated. We want all newsgroups that may be interested in or affected by the proposed newsgroup to be alerted to the discussions taking place in news.groups.proposals.
  • Such groups may be in the same branch of the Big-8 hierarchy or elsewhere in Usenet.
  • The distribution list always begins with news.announce.newgroups and news.groups.proposals. (It is important that news.announce.newgroups be listed first in the Newsgroups: header when the RFD is actually submitted; the submission is sent to the first moderated group in the list.). The RFD must be crossposted to all of the groups listed in the distribution list.
  • Do not put more than five newsgroups in the distribution list; many news servers discard messages crossposted to more than five newsgroups. If more than five newsgroups need to be contacted, a pointer to the RFD thread should be placed in those groups.
    • Put the newsgroups in the Newsgroups: header.
Newsgroups: news.announce.newgroups,news.groups.proposals, rec.outdoors.fishing.bass, rec.outdoors.fishing, uk.rec.fishing
    • List the same newsgroups in the Distribution List.
Distribution List:
        news.announce.newgroups
        news.groups.proposals
        rec.outdoors.fishing.bass
        rec.outdoors.fishing
        uk.rec.fishing

4. Proponent Information

  • Proponents must supply a name and a decipherable e-mail address.
  • More than one proponent may be listed in the RFD. So long as the RFD supplies the lead proponent's e-mail address, the other proponents may provide an address or not at their discretion.
  • The lead proponent and any other proponents should be prepared for questions in news.groups.proposals about their participation in Usenet, especially if they are proposing a moderated newsgroup.

5. Charter

  • The charter defines the scope of the newsgroup.
  • The charter should indicate what is considered acceptable or unacceptable in the group.
  • The charter of an unmoderated group should, as a general rule, be on the order of one or two paragraphs long--one paragraph on the nature of the group and perhaps another on all the no-binaries, no-advertising formalities and the like.
  • The original newsgroup charter will go on file in the ISC news.announce.newgroup archive and in the ISC Usenet control message archive. There is no method at present for changing the charters on file in the archives. We therefore encourage proponents to think carefully about this definition of the group's purposes and scope.
Charter: 

misc.handicap.vision-impaired is an unmoderated group for the 
discussion of problems of daily living for people who are visually-
impaired. Topics include learning how to get around in the dark, 
using your other senses to compensate for the vision loss, learning 
to utilize resources available to you in your community, learning to 
cook and do household tasks, etc.

Medical topics should be posted to sci.med.vision.

Posters are expected to abide by normal Usenet standards of decorum, 
and to ignore articles intended to disrupt the group.  The usual 
suspects are prohibited (spam, binaries, direct advertising, etc.)

6. Rationale

  • The rationale explains why the new group is desirable and how it fits into the preceding patterns of Big-8 newsgroups.
  • In some cases, the rationale and traffic analysis may overlap; a topic may have such heavy traffic in a pre-existing group that it may make sense to create a newsgroup just for that topic. The rationale might use this assertion as part of the explanation for making the proposal; the traffic analysis section might then provide data or links to data that would support the assertion in the rationale.
RATIONALE: misc.handicap.vision-impaired

I went looking for a Big-8 group where I could discuss the problems 
of being visually-impaired and found two related groups: 
sci.med.vision and misc.handicap.

Sci.med.vision is strictly for discussion of medical problems, has 
moderate traffic and more than 400 subscribers.  Misc.handicap 
covers disabilities of all sorts, including vision loss, has 
moderate traffic and more than 100 subscribers. I have subscribed to 
misc.handicap to get an idea of how often people discuss vision 
problems

Visually-impaired people aren't likely to use 'handicap' as a search 
term for a group about visual impairment.  I only knew about it from 
searching the archive on the word 'vision'.  Therefore, it seems to 
me that, if there is sufficient interest, there ought to be a 
separate group for the visually-impaired.

If created, this group would be a split of misc.handicap, and would, 
IMO, require the consent of users of misc.handicap. Users of 
sci.med.vision may also be interested in having a separate group to 
discuss problems of living with vision loss.  Both groups should, 
IMO, be included in any votes taken.

7. Moderation Policy

  • Those who are thinking of proposing a moderated group should read Pitfalls of Newsgroup Moderation.
  • If the group is to be moderated, there should be some indication of what the moderation policy will be.
  • We recommend that the moderation policy include some indication of how moderators will be added or changed in the future.
  • The moderation policy is, of course, closely linked to the Charter of the group itself.
  • How moderation works.

8. Initial Moderator(s)

  • The person or persons planning to open the group should be listed in the RFD.
  • The lead moderator must have a human-decipherable e-mail address.
  • All of the proposed initial moderators should participate in the [news.groups.proposals] discussions and anticipate questions about their background, qualifications, and philosophy of moderation. The decision to create a moderated group depends, in part, on the conviction that the proposed moderators will adhere to the charter and moderation policy proposed in the RFD. The judgment of whether a moderator or group of moderators can be trusted depends, in turn, on their Usenet history and their conduct in the discussion of the RFD.

9. Technical Details about Moderation

  • A moderated group must have a submission address and some method of approving or rejecting posts submitted to the group. Many software packages exist to help automate this process. Moderators must convince the Board that they understand the technical issues and are ready to deal with them.
  • Moderators must supply a submission address for the group to be created. This address will be filed with the ISC and used to route incoming posts to the moderator(s) via SMTP (e-mail).
  • The submission address need not be specified in early versions of the RFD; the proponent must show that a workable plan exists in order for the Board to vote on the proposal.
  • See the Moderation FAQ for more information on how moderation works.

10. Traffic Analysis

One of the goals of the Big-8 Management Board is to create groups that are well-used. Proponents may look at other newsgroups, web sites, mailing lists, or forums to present evidence that many people are interested in the topic. "Traffic Analysis" is a catch-all title for evidence that supports the conclusion that the topic is popular and that there is therefore some likelihood that the group will be well-used.

It is in the best interests of the proposed group to get as many people as possible interested in the proposal during the discussion of the RFD. The requirement that prospective supporters show themselves to be familiar with Usenet means that the new group may have a good nucleus of posters if and when it is created. A newsgroup with no news is no fun. The more people whom proponents persuade to show support for the proposal by making Usenet posts during the discussion, the better it is for the newsgroup itself if and when it is created. A proponent may not simply assume that the creation of a newsgroup will attract traffic from existing alternatives to Usenet.

Interest polls

A proponent may wish to conduct an interest poll, the goal of which would be to show that there are a significant number of people who would like to use the new group and/or that there is not significant opposition to it. While the proponent can collect and collate the results of the poll, it is preferable for the poll to be run by an impartial third party.

Proponents who are interested in conducting a poll may wish to contact the Usenet Volunteer Polltakers (UVP) for assistance determining the structure of the poll and/or finding someone to run it. However, the proponent may seek the assistance of any third-party vote-taking organization willing to run the proponent's poll; there is no requirement for the proponent to utilize the services of the UVP. Of course, the importance placed on the results of the poll by the Board will depend, in part, on the reputation and trustworthiness of the organization which ran it.

Polls may be conducted either during the informal or formal discussion phase of the proposal process. The results of a poll may be summarized in a revised RFD or posted in a separate thread to news.groups.proposals. If the proponent is conducting a poll and wishes to ensure that the Board will take the results of the poll into account before rendering a decision, the proponent should provide to the Board by email the date when the poll results will be submitted. The Board will defer its decision on the proposal until after that date.

The results of a poll will be taken into account by the Board when reaching a decision on a proposal. However, the Board will not necessarily side with the majority of respondents to the poll, as other factors may be considered to have greater weight.

Feedback in news.groups.proposals

The Board urges those who would like to read or post in the proposed newsgroup to make a comment to that effect in the RFD thread in news.groups.proposals; we ask proponents to keep a list of such positive posts with the relevant message ID:


Feedback in Usenet posts:

A. Will read and post to the group if created:

Jonathan Kamens [e42v15$gru$3@jik2.kamens.brookline.ma.us]
James Farrar [58pc62t7cfjrdbt3epgdmkp2dk09f4k29d@4ax.com]
...

B. Will read the group if created:

Tim Skirvin [tskirvin.20060515233940$7432@cairo.ks.uiuc.edu]
...

C. Favor the creation of the group but will not use it:

Martin X. Moleski, SJ [38di629d6pbv8opeiv514fvin9lao9ln8f@4ax.com]
...

Such lists of positive feedback taken from Usenet may constitute good evidence that the group will be well-used if it is created.

Proponents may wish to post the list to its own thread and include a Message ID in the RFD to show where the list can be found. See this post as an example of such a synopsis: RFD: news.groups.proposals moderated Straw Poll} <453ea64a$0$9442$c3e8da3@news.astraweb.com>.

For further ideas about how information can be collated, see this discussion of feedback from usenet.

11. Boilerplate Describing the Big-8 Creation Process

  • The RFD is meant to be circulated to many newsgroups in which participants may be unfamiliar with the newsgroup creation process. It is important for proponents to help such users understand and participate in the discussion.
  • At the end of the RFD, prior to any version information, please include the following text:
For more information on the newsgroup creation process, please see:

  http://www.tokak.us/big8/articles/g/r/o/Category:Group_Creation.html

Those who wish to influence the development of this RFD and its 
final resolution should subscribe to news.groups.proposals and 
participate in the relevant threads in that newsgroup.  This is both 
a courtesy to groups in which discussion of creating a new group is 
off-topic as well as the best method of making sure that one's 
comments or criticisms are heard.

All discussion of active proposals should be posted to 
news.groups.proposals

To this end, the followup header of this RFD has been set to 
news.groups.proposals

If desired by the readership of closely affected groups, the 
discussion may be crossposted to those groups, but care must be 
taken to ensure that all discussion appears in news.groups.proposals 
as well.

12. History: Version Information

  • If more than one RFD is required, the proponent should append a short changelog at the end of the RFD.
  • We recommend blog order for the information--most recent changes at the top of the list.
  • We recommend using yyyy-mm-dd for dates.
  • Proponents may wish to use the history section to summarize discussion of the RFD and show how the changes are responsive to the discussion in news.groups.proposals. This is a matter of taste and discretion. It is up to the proponents to decide how much information to include in the History section.
Version information:

2006-03-15    Reformatted by Tim Skirvin for posting as an RFD.
2006-03-14    Submitted by Himanshu Singh Chauhan.

13. Archive-Name header

  • Archive-Name is a custom Usenet header field. Some newsreaders do not allow you to add custom headers; if that is the case, omit the Archive-Name and the news.announce.newgroups moderators will add it manually. If your newsreader does permit you to add custom headers, the name of the header field is "Archive-Name: " in exactly that format and with the space but without the quotation marks, followed by the archive name. An example would be:
Archive-Name: news.announce.newgroups

A Newsgroup Creation RFD Template

Part 1: Header fields for the post

  • Each newsreader has its own methods for filling in the standard header fields or for adding a custom field.
  • As noted above, "Archive-Name: " is a custom header field. If you are unable to add this to the headers, it is OK.
Newsgroups: news.announce.newgroups,news.groups.proposals {insert other interested/affected newsgroups}
Subject: RFD: {insert proposed newsgroup name}
From: {insert lead proponent's Usenet identity and decipherable address}
Followup-To: news.groups.proposals
Archive-Name: {insert proposed newsgroup name}

Part 2: The body of the post

  • Cut and paste the following into a text editor.
  • Fill in the {blanks} marked by the {} braces.
  • This is not a test! If you need any help filling out the form, you may contact the Group Mentors.
  • You may submit a partially-completed RFD, indicating that some areas are under discussion or are being researched.
  • RFDs for unmoderated groups do not include any information about moderation policy, moderators, or moderation techniques.
  • Please rewrap your text as needed for easy comprehension in newsgroup format
                      REQUEST FOR DISCUSSION (RFD)
             {un}moderated group {proposed newsgroup name}

This is a formal Request for Discussion (RFD) for the creation of the 
{un}moderated newsgroup {newsgroup name}.

NEWSGROUPS LINE: 
{name, tab(s), description.  Add " Moderated" after the period 
if the group is to be moderated.}

RATIONALE: 

{multiple lines; may include traffic analysis and other fields}


CHARTER:

{multiple lines}


{MODERATION POLICY:}  {followed by multiple lines, only if necessary}

{MODERATOR INFO:}  {only if necessary, includes moderator names/addresses 
and contact/submission addresses}

PROCEDURE:

For more information on the newsgroup creation process, please see:

  http://www.tokak.us/big8/articles/g/r/o/Category:Group_Creation.html

Those who wish to influence the development of this RFD and its 
final resolution should subscribe to news.groups.proposals and 
participate in the relevant threads in that newsgroup.  This is both 
a courtesy to groups in which discussion of creating a new group is 
off-topic as well as the best method of making sure that one's 
comments or criticisms are heard.

All discussion of active proposals should be posted to 
news.groups.proposals

To this end, the followup header of this RFD has been set to
news.groups.proposals.

If desired by the readership of closely affected groups, the 
discussion may be crossposted to those groups, but care must be 
taken to ensure that all discussion appears in news.groups.proposals 
as well.

We urge those who would like to read or post in the proposed 
newsgroup to make a comment to that effect in this thread; we ask 
proponents to keep a list of such positive posts with the relevant 
message ID: 

Barney Fife, <4jgdnb60fsmzha7znz2dnuvz_rwdnz2d@sysmatrix.net>) 

Such lists of positive feedback for the proposal may constitute good 
evidence that the group will be well-used if it is created.

DISTRIBUTION:

This document has been posted to the following newsgroups:

  news.announce.newgroups
  news.groups.proposals
  {insert list of other interested/affected newsgroups}

{The proponent will also post pointers to: }

  {list of other newsgroups, mailing lists, web fora, etc} 

PROPONENT: 

{name plus valid e-mail address}
{list of other proponents, if any}


CHANGE HISTORY:
{2006-11-29  1st RFD. Put in the correct YYYY-MM-DD for your submission.}
{2006-12-06  2nd RFD. Give some hints about the changes made in the RFD.}
{2006-12-09  Final RFD/LCC. And of course you won't use braces around the real 
             change history. The braces are here to remind you that the
             material inside the braces is not part of the boilerplate.}


Other Considerations

RFDs for Multiple Proposals

  • The form given above must be modified when a number of proposals are submitted as a group.
  • Each element of the form must be marked with the name of the group to which it applies. So, for example, whereas an RFD for a single group only uses the word "Charter:" for that part of the form, each proposed charter in the multiple rfd must be marked "Charter: {insert appropriate group name}". Where elements of the form are meant to be taken as applying to all the proposals they should be so marked as "Common to all proposed groups."

Submitting the RFD Form

  • The proposal (and any subsequent proposals) should be posted to news.announce.newgroups with appropriate crossposts as detailed in the RFD itself.

Submitting Subsequent Versions

  • Please do not use Google Groups to obtain a previous version of your RFD; the Google format suppresses e-mail addresses and may truncate other references or headers.

Submitting the Final RFD

  • The proponent initiates the last phase of the process by submitting the final RFD by email to board@big-8.org (as discussed above).
  • All of the material in the RFD is the same as in earlier versions with the exceptions noted on this page.

Other Types of RFDs

  • RFDs may be circulated to propose changes in Big-8 management policies, change of moderation status of newsgroups, group removals, etc. There is no special format at this time for these other kinds of RFDs. Proponents may borrow elements of the template for newsgroup creation as needed to clarify their proposal. The board will, in all likelihood, approach such RFDs using the same kind of process outlined for newsgroup proposals: development of the formal RFD, publication in n.a.n., discussion in news.groups.proposals, last call for comments, decision, and implementation (as needed).
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