How to find a charter

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This is a brief guide on how to find a newsgroup's charter using control files found at

Control files

The Internet Systems Consortium maintains a historical collection of control files for all newsgroups and non-newsgroups. For example, it contains control files for news.groups news.groups on Google Groups, which is a real newsgroup, but also for news.groups.handicap, which isn't a real newsgroup.

A control file is a special Usenet article that creates, deletes, or otherwise modifies a newsgroup. A newgroup control file for a Big-8 newsgroup will almost always contain a charter for that group.

The control file collection can be found at

The files are compressed with gzip. In Windows, you can use an application like 7-Zip to decompress them; on GNU/Linux or Mac, you can decompress them from the command line as follows:

gzip -d

The decompressed file (in this case can then be opened with a text editor.

In every file, you will see one or more control messages. Towards the beginning of the file, you will see an article containing the charter if the newsgroup is legitimate. If it is not, you will probably see a message saying that this is not a legitimate newsgroup.

Examples (legitimate newsgroup)

From usenet Thu Feb 22 21:00:11 2007
Subject: cmsg newgroup moderated
Control: newgroup moderated
Date: Thu, 22 Feb 2007 13:00:02 -0800
Message-ID: <cmsg-20070222210002$>
X-PGP-Sig: 2.6.3a Subject,Control,Message-ID,Date,From,Sender
Xref: control.newgroup:227464

The Last Call for Comments on 12 Feb 2007 initiated a five-day period for
final comments.  Following this comment period, the Big-8 Management Board
has decided by consensus to create the newsgroup

For your newsgroups file:	Amateur radio practices, rules, etc. (Moderated) is for the discussion of amateur ("ham")
radio, also known as the Amateur Radio Service, as defined in Federal
Communications Commission Regulations and U.S. Law (47 CFR Part 97), and
in similar laws and regulations in other countries, based on
international treaty.  It is not limited to the rules of any one country
or time period.  Possible topics include past, present, and future
operating practices; events; contests; past, present, and
potential-future rules; power limitations; authorized frequencies;
allowed modes and band plans (or other gentlemen's agreements) that
govern how we are to operate; what constitutes the acceptable operation
of amateur stations.

The newsgroup is intended to be international in scope, not just for
amateurs in the United States.  It is, however, intended as an
English-language forum, by custom and practice.  As with General
Aviation and other internationally-scoped endeavors, the Amateur Radio
Service has a strong custom of the use of English and the Latin
alphabet.  Discussion of amateur radio in languages other than English
also occurs in many country- and region-specific hierarchies, many of
which have specific amateur radio newsgroups, including:

de.* (Germany)
dk.* (Denmark)
es.* (Spain)
fr.* (France)
nl.* (Netherlands)
pl.* (Poland)
pt.* (Portugal)
relcom.* (Russia)

This newsgroup is only intended to supplement, not supersede, any other
amateur radio newsgroups.

General communications law or government policy of various government
agencies is also on-topic, as long as the discussion relates to amateur
radio.  Examples would be emergency communications, local antenna
restrictions, and property deed restrictions applying to operation of
amateur radio stations.

Discussion of other types of radio, such as Citizens Band, Broadcast,
other Personal Radio Services, Commercial or Private Land Mobile, and
Marine or Aviation services are off-topic, except when *directly*
related to amateur radio.  Similarly, discussion of methods violating
applicable communications law and regulations concerning radio equipment
or operations are off-topic.

The following are prohibited:

  * Personal advertisements (submitters of such articles will be
    referred to, instead).
  * Commercial advertisements and money-making schemes.
  * Chain letters.
  * Posts in HTML.
  * EMP spam.
  * Binaries, apart from PGP signatures, X-Face headers, and other
    ancillary article meta-data.
  * Forgery of valid e-mail addresses.
  * Excessive morphing/nym-shifting.
  * Copyright violations.  Pointers to news articles, blogs, etc. on
    this topic are welcome but are required to comply with fair use
  * Personal attacks and flames, as defined by the moderation team.
  * Advertising items and/or services for sale (also will be referred to
  * Links to "objectionable" web content, including pornographic sites,
    sites encouraging illegal activities, or sites deemed unacceptable
    by the moderation team.  The moderation team will cursorily check
    the contents of specific links to confirm on-topic content, but
    acceptance for posting does not imply endorsement or approval of
    the entire present or future contents of that web site.
  * Discussion of moderation decisions.  See below for information on
    appealing moderator action.


Amateur Radio Newsgroups in Total Meltdown (QRZ);act=ST;f=7;t=119282

Amateur Radio Newsgroups: Total Meltdown (eHam)

Secure, Team-Based Usenet Moderation Program (STUMP)

news.groups.handicap (illegitimate newsgroup)

From Sun Nov 22 16:24:15 1998
From: (David C Lawrence)
Newsgroups: news.groups.handicap
Subject: cmsg rmgroup news.groups.handicap
Control: rmgroup news.groups.handicap
Message-ID: <>
Date: Sun, 22 Nov 1998 08:50:23 -0000
Lines: 5
X-PGP-Sig: 2.6.2 Subject,Control,Message-ID,Date,From,Sender
Xref: control.rmgroup:78088

news.groups.handicap is widely considered a bogus newsgroup given that it
has not been approved by accepted USENET group creation procedures.  Please
remove the group from your active file.

misc.handicap should be used instead.


Using this guide you should be able to find, decompress, and read control files from and then identify a legitimate charter from that file.