From Usenet Big-8 Management Board
From: The Big-8 Management Board <>
Subject: 2nd RFD: create a ninth newsgroup hierarchy (LAST CALL FOR COMMENTS)
Newsgroups: news.announce.newgroups, news.groups, news.groups.proposals
Followup-To: news.groups.proposals
Date: Wed, 24 Oct 2007 15:03:17 -0500

                      REQUEST FOR DISCUSSION (RFD)
                   create a ninth newsgroup hierarchy

This is a formal Request For Discussion (RFD) to discuss a policy change 
in the Big-8 Usenet newsgroups.  For more information, see the proposed 
policy, listed below.


The B8MB plans to begin voting on this proposal after five days.  Please
offer any final discussion or comments before the end of this waiting
period.  Voting may take up to one week (7 days); a result will be posted
following the end of the voting period.

All discussion of this proposal should be posted to news.groups.proposals.

(More information to come!)


The name of the hierarchy was discussed.  Nobody really liked 9th.*
which was used in some of the examples.

Some wondered whether an existing hierarchy such as talk.* or misc.*
could be used.  But these already have groups in them, but longtime
users of those groups may object to being in a hierarchy that is
designated as being more experimental, and may have more automated
group removal procedures.  misc.* has quite a few moderated groups,
and the hierarchy was intended for unmoderated groups.  Persons who
have a well thought out plan for moderation can get their group
created in the existing 8 hierarchies.  There are also many
advertising groups (*) and others that attract much
advertising (*, misc.invest.*, and the unmoderated groups in
misc.entrepreneurs.* and*).  talk.* has a reputation as
place for endless political discussion and extreme levels of
cross-posting diatribes.

The ninth hierarchy is intended as being a greenfield hierarchy, and
misc.* and talk.* are definitely brownfield hierarchies.

Others wondered whether I was seeking trial.* or perhaps temp.*. But
the intent is not to give groups a chance to prove themselves before
being allowed to move to the real Big 8, but rather to allow
experimentation with new group creation processes AND different types
of groups that may not even belong in the old Big 8.  So trial.* or
temp.* are not the correct names.

Others proposed use of net.*, but that could be confused with net.*
used for Usenet or the original net.* that was transformed into the
Big 7 and later Big 8 by the Great Renaming.

Others suggested that a ninth hierarchy such as tech.* be created for
groups that didn't really fit the existing 8 hierarchies, and where
naming arguments were often over where the group least doesn't belong.
That is, the intent would be to create something analogous to
humanities.*.  But the purpose of this proposal isn't to augment the
topic space of the current 8 hierarchies, but to provide a universal
topic space, that could have dozens of second level hierarchies to
organize discussion.

Since no name for the hierarchy was determined, that decision will be
left up to the hierarchy administrator subject to approval by the

The other concerns were whether a ninth hierarchy is necessary or

I believe it would be useful in that experiments in both types of
groups, and group creation processes could be used.  There would be
less worry about trying to fit groups into a hierarchy structure that
wasn't designed for holding discussion on many topics.  When the Great
Renaming occured, they took the existing groups and grouped them
together.  The grouping was not based solely on topicality, but also
as a way to control propagation (eg. the rec.* hierarchy wasn't only
about recreational topics, but also newsgroups that people wouldn't
want to pay to transport to Europe).  The limited scope of the topics
is illustrated by the placement of groups such as,, and, in a hierarchy for things that didn't fit
the classification scheme.

And there would be less concern about possible harm in creating dozens
of groups, for example one group for each network television show.  I
would expect that most computer and science groups would continue to
be placed in comp.* and sci.* as well as many other groups where there
is already similar groups in the 8 hierarchies, and moderated groups
would be created in the existing 8 hierarchies as well.

RATIONALE: create a ninth newsgroup hierarchy

Tim Skirvin has recently proposed a set of groups that he believes
would "obviously" pass through the B8MB creation procedure if there
was an actual proponent.  But it is not clear how this would actually
increase creation of new groups.

Does a would-be proponent propose an RFD, and wait for Skirvin's
assessment?  If Skirvin simply approves the RFD, the proposal already
has a stigma of not being something that the B8MB would obviously
approve, or perhaps even be obvious that they would not approve it.

Skirvin's proposal includes a few groups for TV shows.  But there is
no real basis for those included and those not included, other than
this is intended as an experiment.  But we simply don't know which
newsgroups for TV shows will be successful.  So if the groups for the
TV shows he has selected fail, does it mean that his creation
experiment failed, or simply that people weren't attracted to
discussing those particular shows.

In the past, people have been discouraged from creating a newsgroup
for a topic that may not be long lasting.  If effect, they were asked
to prove that people would still be discussing the topic in a
newsgroup in three years.  The way to prove this is to create a
newsgroup somewhere else, and if it was still being used three years
later, then a Big 8 newsgroup might be created.

Many potential proponents may not be aware that creation policies have
been changed (for example the elimination of the public vote), or feel
that the whole process is too burdensome or painful.  Or they might
believe that that their idea of a group won't be approved.

The solution to these problemss is not to patch the current creation
system and naming structure, but to create a whole new hierarchy where
lightweight methods of group creation can be experimented with; where
new groups can be tried even with the possibility or even expectation
that they might not succeed, and where groups that fail can be


A new ninth hierarchy, will be created under the auspices of the Big 8
Management Board (B8MB).  The B8MB will ensure that proper control
messages are issued and that the hierarchy receives appropriate
publicity on its web site and elsewhere.

Oversight Policy

The B8MB will appoint a hierarchy manager to oversee day-to-day
management of the ninth hierarchy.  The B8MB may remove the hierarchy
manager at their discretion.

The hierarchy manager will decide the name of the hierarchy in
consultation with the B8MB.

The hierarchy manager may propose new groups, or removal of groups
that have failed.  The B8MB will have 7 days to veto any proposed
changes.  If they do not veto the proposed changes, the B8MB will
ensure that the control messages to effect the changes are sent, and
shall announce the changes in news.announce.newgroups.

Any member of the B8MB may place a hold on a proposed change during
the 7 day period, which will cause a single 7-day extension to the
period in which the proposed change is considered.  Only one extension
is permitted.

The B8MB may change any part of the oversight policy, or the policy
for the ninth hierarchy.  They are encouraged to hold public
discussion in news.groups.proposals prior to making any changes.

Policy For Ninth Hierarchy

Discussion of potential new groups, and other matters affecting the
ninth hierarchy should occur in <ninth>.config.

The hierarchy manager shall encourage simple methods for ordinary
users to propose potential groups.

No moderated newsgroups.

Group Names shall consist of 3 elements: (1) The hierarchy name; (2) A
broad topic area; (3) A topic name.  Longer names (not additional
elements) can be used if more definition is required.  The 3rd element
may be omitted if the group is intended as a general group for a broad
topic area.

No cross-posting.

No advertising, including no personal advertising.

No binaries.

Groups may have charters in the traditional sense that simply explain
what the topic of the newsgroup is.  They should not attempt to
establish "rules" for participation in the newsgroup.  Interested
persons may provide a charter of 250 words or less that can be placed
in newgroup control messages, web sites, etc.

Groups that do not have a reasonable amount of traffic after a
reasonable amount of time shall be removed.

Jump Start for Ninth Hierarchy

The hierarchy manager for the ninth hierarchy shall propose an initial
set of newsgroups that consists of at least 20 groups in addition to


This document has been posted to the following newsgroups:

  news.announce.newgroups (moderated)
  news.groups.proposals (moderated)


Jim Riley <>


2007-09-20     1st RFD
2007-10-24     2nd RFD/LCC