rec.unicycling RFD

When was the RFD for rec.unicycling going to come out? I thought it was this
week but I haven’t seen it yet. Did I miss it?

Andy Arhelger andya5@aol.com

Re: rec.unicycling RFD

Any Arhelger wrote:

>When was the RFD for rec.unicycling going to come out? I thought it was this
>week but I haven’t seen it yet. Did I miss it?

No. The rec.unicycling RFD was submitted Friday evening (6 Jan 1995), but the
moderator of news.announce.newgroups, David Lawrence, asked that additional work
be put into it, so it will have the best possible chance of passing.

The following is some of what he had to say:

The proposal in its current form could use some work before it is a good RFD for
news.announce.newgroups. I have appended some information on the expected
substance of a formal RFD. Please read it and adapt your proposal appropriately.
I also strongly suggest that you check out the “What is Usenet?” and “Usenet
Newsgroup Creation Companion” that appear in news.announce.newusers.

I’m not too sure right now that it should be a second level group; new second
level groups are very much frowned upon. What do you think of
rec.sport.unicycling? That is the hierarchy for primarily athletic activities.
rec.skate is moving there now, where it should have been to begin with, and
something like gymnastics, also requiring balance, fitness and done often for
entertainment, would also go there. The rec.bicycles hierarchy is an historical
anomaly; it too should have been under rec.sport. I appreciate the kinship you
feel with rec.juggling, but it was created in an older day when the breadth of
the second level namespace was much less of a concern.

5 January 1995


               How to write a good RFD
               -----------------------

The most important function of group-mentors is to help you write a concise,
persuasive RFD, one that entices the reader to consider joining the proposed
group, without pushing anyone’s “bozo button”. Toward that goal, we offer the
following generally sound advice, based on decades of combined experience with
the Usenet newsgroup creation process and dozens of our own (usually)
successful RFDs.

Many early attempts at an RFD contain items that do not belong in an RFD. A good
RFD should contain only a charter for the group; the rationale for creating it;
a statement of moderation policy, if the group is to be moderated; and a
statement of any plans to gate the group to a mailing list. The history of the
topic that the group will address does not belong in the RFD; you can give an
outline in a separate article (one that would not appear in
news.announce.newgroups.)

The Charter

In addition to a brief sketch of the general topic of the group, the charter
should mention the types of articles that would be welcome in the group, and
perhaps a mention of types that might seem welcome, but would be inappropriate.
For example,

    people setting up a new group to discuss the design and construction of
    custom software drivers might not welcome random requests from computer
    owners in search of particular drivers specific to the NoName clone they
    bought at a yard sale. The charter for this group might specify "no
    requests for drivers".

The charter should not include value statements about how worthy the topic is or
why creation of the group would further a social or political goal in the “real
world”, outside of Usenet. Because the charter is a formal description of the
anticipated context and scope of the proposed group, an informal “contract”
between the proponent (you) and the future readers of the group, and a primary
reference source about the group (even more important than a group FAQ), the
charter should be written in a simple, self-contained manner that will still
convey the same meaning a decade from now.

A common problem seen with the charter is that newsgroups should be on topics of
generally global interest. Thus proposals for groups tied to specific national
sports teams, for example, don’t belong in the Usenet “big 7”. Not even a strong
rationale (see below) can rescue this type of proposal. There are two excellent
solutions, though: modify the charter to encompass the topic at a level of
abstraction that applies to all parts of the world (as in the sport in general)
or investigate how to create a newsgroup within your own national or regional
hierarchy (e.g., us.* for the United States, ca.* for Canada, or de.* for all
German-speaking nations).

The Rationale

The rationale is a brief, persuasive explanation of why the group should be
created. Statements about the worthiness of the topic itself, relative to the
topic of other Usenet groups or anything outside of Usenet, should be avoided.
Concentrate on noting the relationship of the proposed group to other existing
groups. If the proposed group would conflict or overlap with another group,
justify why the new group is necessary or desirable, and explain why the other
group(s) do(es) not serve the purpose. Be as tact- ful as you know how; if you
offend or antagonize the readers of those other groups, they may do their best
to prevent your group, by voting NO themselves and by turning other voters
against you. There is a good chance they could win, if they really wanted to.
Weak rationales that are sure to push the “bozo button” include:

denigrations of thy neighbor

    X group is dead, so you want to start over with Y X group is less
    socially redeeming than Y would be X group is less deserving than
    Y would be

appeals to political correctness

    Y is a minority and a newsgroup will enhance equality Y is a crank idea
    and a newsgroup will lend legitimacy Y people are special and need a
    place of their own

admission of outright laziness/theft

    Y2 group should be moderated to control inappropriate traffic, but
    that's work, so you want Y instead Y2 group covers extra stuff you don't
    care about, so you want to siphon the good stuff away into Y Y2 mailing
    list is too busy for you, but doesn't want to add a gated newsgroup, so
    you want to start Y group and pull readers away from the list Y2 mailing
    list is dead, so you want to attract readers to Y group separate from or
    gated to the list a mailing list is too much work for you to run a
    mailing list is too hard for readers to find

Your motives may fall into one or more of the above ignoble categories. Or your
motives may be pure and noble. Alas, admissions of bad motives will count
against you, while statements of good motives will be met with sympathy but not
much else.

We won’t care what your motives are, and neither will the readers of your RFD,
if you set them aside and instead persuade your readers of any strong, good
reasons to create the group you propose. Good reasons include evidence of a
large readership in Usenet or on one or more mailing lists, or an inference from
other trends:

    Y topic is discussed among A, B, and C groups, ergo readers exist and
    would probably use a newsgroup about Y Y group is so busy that its
    readers want to split Y group's traffic is of two or more separate types
    that clearly don't belong together Y mailing list is bursting at the
    seams and needs to add a gated newsgroup or readers will leave Y mailing
    list is bursting at the seams and a separate Y group will ease the
    traffic on the list Y mailing list has N thousand subscribers,
    suggesting a group on the same topic would be popular Y professional
    society/hobby group/community has N thousand members, many of whom have
    said they would participate in a newsgroup on the topic

If possible, point to a mailing list which directly deals with the topic, and
describe the number of subscribers to the list and the approximate number of
messages that appear daily on the list. This data is often available
automatically from the mailing list server, or the list owner may be willing to
provide it. If there exists a mailing list on more or less the same topic as
your proposal, it is important to include this objective information. Also, be
careful not to antagonize the owner or subscribers of the mailing list; they may
have their own plans for the mailing list, and see your RFD as interfering in
some way. It is good manners to obtain the permission of a mailing list’s owner
before initiating an RFD that would directly affect the mailing list.

As a rule of thumb, a newsgroup that is “too busy” has 200+ articles per day,
and a mailing list that is ripe for expansion as a Usenet newsgroup has 50+
articles per day or 1000+ subscribers. It will help your proposal a great deal
to provide fair, accurate data about usage of any relevant newsgroups and/or
mailing lists. Don’t guess, and be honest. If you can’t justify your proposal on
these grounds, explain why your proposal has merit despite neither high
readership or high volume on a related mailing list. For instance, you might be
able to argue convincingly that creation of a newsgroup on the topic you propose
will draw in a readership that does not now exist elsewhere in Usenet, by
inference from other trends in Usenet and in the larger world. Be creative and
very honest, and look at other proposals for good ideas.

The Moderator

If the group is to be moderated, you should briefly explain why. Also, give the
name and e-mail address, and briefly list the qualifications of the proposed
moderator, and outline the duties involved. Usually, the moderator’s duty is to
uphold the charter of the group by rejecting articles that do not conform to it.

Final words of advice

Remember, your goal is to (1) propose the best possible newsgroup, and (2)
convince others to support your proposal. Thus, writing the RFD could take you
many hours or days of careful thought and research. Even so, you may find that
other people have different ideas about how to achieve your desired goal, or
think they have a better goal in mind. The critics are often right, so take the
time to think carefully about the comments you receive and why they were given,
and (above all) be patient and stay calm.

The comments you may get from members of group-mentors (and from group-advice)
are not meant to block your proposal, but to ensure that your proposal is as
polished and strong as possible before it faces close public inspection in
news.groups. Try not to react defensively to the feedback you get from us: it is
meant to be helpful. If you don’t get the point or it seems that the only
possible meaning of our comments is a flat rejection of your whole proposal, ask
for clarification. Though we may reject specific arguments in your RFD as
factually untrue, logically flawed, or not sound arguments in favor of your
proposal (yes, this does happen), we will never reject your proposal per se.

Lastly, carefully edit your RFD for content, structure, clarity, grammar,
and spelling.

Good luck!


I’ll be posting a 3rd draft of the unicycling RFD very soon. Any one willing to
help revise it to agree with the above suggestions will be listed as a proponent
in the RFD. Just send me your suggested changes, even if it affects only a
sentence or two. We need to convince a lot of people that a unicycling group in
the rec newsgroups is a good idea!

Stay on Top,

Ken Fuchs <kfuchs@winternet.com

Re: rec.unicycling RFD

| As a rule of thumb, a newsgroup that is “too busy” has 200+ articles per day,
| and a mailing list that is ripe for expansion as a Usenet newsgroup has 50+
| articles per day or 1000+ subscribers.

We’d better all start writing more if we want a newsgroup. :wink:

ObUnicycle: I’m tempted to try riding on our icy streets in the same way that
I’m tempted to touch my tongue to a high voltage line just to see what it would
taste like.

I haven’t done either one yet. :slight_smile:

Re: rec.unicycling RFD

Seth Golub wrote:
> ObUnicycle: I’m tempted to try riding on our icy streets in the same way that
> I’m tempted to touch my tongue to a high voltage line just to see what it
> would taste like.
>
> I haven’t done either one yet. :slight_smile:

    Riding on icy streets is sort of fun. If you don't try to turn, speed
    up, slow down, or make any other sudden movements, it's pretty easy.
    Free mounting is made much more difficult. I used to think I was good at
    free mounting until I tried it a few times on ice covered with several
    inches of snow. A friend of mine took some rope and wrapped it around
    his tire, sort of like chains for car tires. I guess it worked ok, but I
    haven't tried it myself.

                                            - John Larkin