How you can share your information with public on UseNet news

"It's a damned if you do, damned if you don't situation," Preston said. When
messages are screened, someone will bring accusations of censorship, he said. When they
aren't screened, people grow sick of the noise and won't participate.

 To make sure information is useful, posting will be automated by a World Wide Web
indexing bot that searches government sites for new information, then places pointer
information in specific newsgroups.

 If your office maintains a UseNet news server but the gov.* directory does
not appear there, your Internet service provider probably does not yet offer this new news
feed. Ask your provider to update its server and include the gov.* hierarchy and
all of its newsgroups. You'll then need to refresh your news list to include the new
offering.

 To find out how to get the news hierarchy at your site, visit http://www.govnews.org/govnews/site-setup/faq/index.html


Creating your own government newsgroup is more complicated. In theory, any Internet
user can create a UseNet newsgroup, but it generally ends up in the alt.* hierarchy
with the free-for-all stuff. Internet news servers decide whether they want to pick up
newsgroups carried on other news servers.

 That's why you may see an alt.* topic on one news server but not on another.
With close to 20,000 groups available, virtually no server still offers them all.

 Hierarchies like comp.*, misc.*, news.*, rec.*, sci.*,
soc.* and talk.*, the most widely distributed parts of UseNet, have a more
formal process for setting up topic areas.

 In areas other than the government directory, a request for discussion about
creation of a new newsgroup is posted to news.announce.newgroups, news.groups, and
other groups or mailing lists related to the proposed topic. The post must contain the
name of the proposed newsgroup and whether it will be moderated or unmoderated. Other
details also are required.

 Visit http://www.landfield.com/faqs/usenet/creating-newsgroups/part1/ for more information on newsgroup creation and how to state a proposal. Just as in
the new gov.* area, volunteers will help you. Their address is group-mentors@acpub.duke.edu.
If you're a newsgroup expert and would like to help others, send a message to that
address.

 One of the neatest things about the new government UseNet groups is that they will
let people share ideas across agencies and across governments. This can only lead to
better governing, as long as the participants are willing to wade through the background
noise. 


Shawn P. McCarthy is a computer journalist, webmaster and Internet programmer for
GCN's parent, Cahners Publishing Co. E-mail him at smccarthy@cahners.com.
 


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