Re: Distribution of the list

Subject: Re: Distribution of the list
From: Lynn Ward <ward -at- UX1 -dot- CSO -dot- UIUC -dot- EDU>
Date: Fri, 12 Mar 1993 14:21:23 -0600

An alternative solution to distibuting digests is getting this list gated
to Netnews. I prefer reading lists via news rather than e-mail, and this
definitely cuts down on local disk storage demands as well as the numerous
interruptions of incoming mail. Of course it won't help folks who strictly
have access to BITNET, but I imagine that a lot of the subscribers to this
list have access to news as well. Below is the policy on getting Listservs
gated to Usenet and vice versa. This and other files about the
BITNET-Usenet gateway can be retrieved from "" in the
NETNEWS directory. Any reactions. Eric, if you don't have the facilities
to set up a Global gateway, perhaps I can talk somebody here into doing it.

Lynn Ward

*** General Information on Listserv/Netnews gateways ***

This document gives general information on bi-directional (or optionally
uni-directional) gateways between Listserv and Netnews as implemented in
Netnews version 2.4 by Linda Littleton at Penn State University. It
includes guidelines on how to establish a new Listserv/Netnews gateway.

*** What is Listserv?

Listserv, which stands for List Server, is a mail list server that runs
on VM/CMS. It provides "mail-exploding" capabilities so that people with
a common interest can communicate with each other by sending mail to a
particular address (one address per Listserv list), which then
redistributes the mail to each person "subscribed" to the list. Each
person subscribed to a particular list gets a copy of each piece of mail
in their mailbox.

*** What is Netnews?

Netnews is a bulletin board system in which articles on a variety of
topics are arranged in "newsgroups" and stored in a shared location from
which individual users can read them. These newsgroups can be local
newsgroups, available only at a user's site, or may be shared with other
sites to form a world-wide bulletin board system called Usenet.

*** What does the gateway do?

The gateway software (which is a built-in part of the VM/CMS Netnews
server from Penn State) puts each piece of Listserv mail for a particular
list into a corresponding Netnews newsgroup and also sends each
Netnews-originating posting to the newsgroup back to the Listserv list.
On a per-group basis, the gateway can be either bi-directional or can be
uni-directional in either direction. Generally Listserv groups on Netnews
are given the name bit.listserv.<listname>. When appropriate, the items
in a Listserv list might also be cross-posted to a "mainstream" Usenet

*** Why have a gateway?

The major reason sites decide to carry gatewayed Listserv lists is so
their users can read these lists via shared disks, rather than requiring
each user to receive each item to their mailbox. In addition, the gateway
gives greater exposure and wider readership to the list since the list
can be now be read by users at hundreds of Usenet sites.

*** The gateway can be LOCAL or GLOBAL

On a per-group basis, the gateway can be either LOCAL (only users on the
machine where Netnews is running will see the Listserv items) or GLOBAL
(the Listserv items will propagate to other Usenet sites).

To avoid problems that can be caused by multiple sites gatewaying the
same group, we request that only a handful of sites set up global
gateways and that other sites receive these groups through their normal
news feeds. If you feel it would be appropriate for your site to be an
additional global gateway site, then write to NEWS-ADM -at- AUVM -dot- BITNET or
news-admin -at- auvm -dot- american -dot- edu to explain the situation.


It is important that no more than one site per list set up a GLOBAL
gateway. If more than one site does a GLOBAL gateway for a particular
list, the list may get duplicates of some articles. It is the list
owner's responsibility to make sure there are not multiple global
gateways for the list and to "signoff" any suspect gateway site should
problems start to occur. No GLOBAL gateway should ever be established
without the express permission of the list owner.

In the event that two sites did set up a global gateway for the same
list, here is what might happen. If a user anywhere on the net posted an
article to the group via Netnews and the article found its way to both of
the global gateway sites, both of these sites would forward the article
back to the mailing list. The mailing list would therefore receive two
copies and although Listserv will usually detect the duplicate posting,
it will return one of the copies to the author with a message saying that
the post was a duplicate. Since the author only posted once, this will
cause them some confusion. Also, it is possible that both posts would be
distributed to the list if software other than Listserv is controlling
the mailing list. Netnews would not have a problem handling this (since
it checks message-id's for duplicates), but it is the people who get the
items in their mailboxes who would see two copies of the article.

*** Gateway registration

In order to avoid problems caused by multiple gateways, a "gateway
registration service" is maintained by news-admin -at- auvm -dot- american -dot- edu,
which keeps track of which site is doing global gateways for which which
groups. A list of these global gateways, their corresponding Listserv
lists and Usenet newsgroups, and the sites which are acting as global
gateways is available from listserv -at- auvm -dot- american -dot- edu -dot- Send the command
GET NETGATE GATELIST to get a copy of all registered gateways. This file
is also available via anonymous ftp from

*** Setting up the gateway.

The gateway is set up by having the Netnews service machine subscribe to
the Listserv list in the same way that a subscriber would, but with the
addition of setting Listserv options FULLHDR (so that message-ids are put
on messages) and NOFILES (so that non-mail files are not sent).

*** Guidelines for establishing a Listserv/Netnews gateway.

It is the responsibility of the person requesting the gateway to do the

1. Get the approval of the Listserv list owner(s) and the Listserv
administrator at the host node. (Send a "REVIEW listname" command
to the Listserv at the host node for the names and addresses of
the list owner(s), and a "RELEASE" command to the same address
for the Listserv administor's name and address.) Send them each a
copy of this document. If the list owner or Listserv host
administrator objects, the gateway is not done.

2. Get the approval of the Listserv list readers. This could be done
somewhat informally by posting to the list and asking if there
are objections. If the issue was controversial, a formal vote
should be held according to the same guidelines as for creating a
new Usenet group. If there was no major dissenting opinion a vote
will not be needed.

3. If there is a Usenet group where crossposting would be logical,
get the approval of the people who read that group (in the same
way as approval of the Listserv readers was gotten).

4. Post to bit.admin to see if there are any objections. The subject
of the posting should be "Gateway for <listname> under
discussion". Explain briefly what the list is for. If you are
proposing that the list be gated to something besides
"bit.listserv.<listname>", this should be stated. Again, if there
was no major dissenting opinion within seven days, a vote would
not be needed; otherwise a vote would be held.

Steps 2, 3, and 4 can all be done at the same time.

5. Write to news-admin -at- auvm -dot- american -dot- edu or NEWS-ADM -at- AUVM -dot- BITNET to
say that all of the criteria have been met. Indicate the gateway
site (if you wish some site besides to be the
gateway), Listserv list name, Listserv host node, list owner(s),
and a short (45 character maximum) description of the list.
News-admin will establish and/or register the gateway, and then
post to bit.admin to say that the gateway is operational. The
subject of the posting will be "Gateway for <listname>

If for some reason you cannot follow the steps outlined here (for
example, if you do not get the bit groups, so cannot post to bit.admin),
write to news-admin -at- auvm -dot- american -dot- edu to explain the situation.

*** Where to address questions

Questions about Listserv/Netnews gateways can be posted to bit.admin or
sent to news-admin -at- auvm -dot- american -dot- edu or NEWS-ADM -at- AUVM -dot- BITNET -dot-

Lynn Ward, Network Design Office
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
1541 DCL, 1304 West Springfield Ave., Urbana, IL 61801
(217)244-0681, ward -at- ux1 -dot- cso -dot- uiuc -dot- edu

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