This FAQ is Copyright 1995 by David Barr and The Pennsylvania State University. This document may be reproduced, so long as it is kept in its entirety and in its original format.

There are no Guidelines or Rules for creating alt groups. There is no one "in charge" of the alt hierarchy. The key to creating a successful alt newsgroup depends only on convincing the thousands of news administrators across the globe to carry your newsgroup. Here are some tips that will help you achieve this.

This article is based on common-sense and real-life experience. This is not an attempt to codify rules or guidelines for alt, but merely a guide to help people get the most out of alt, as well as a reflection of some established procedures.

This guide is split onto three parts. The first part covers some technical background as to why alt is the way it is, and how it fits into the larger Usenet.

The second section lists many common reasons proposed alt groups are rejected. Some are technical, and some are philosophical.

The third section includes some miscellaneous suggestions on making your alt group achieve the widest audience possible.

This guide is also available on the World Wide Web at: Note new address!!

You can use use the e-mail server at to request the FAQ if you do not have access to the web. Send an email message to, with the following text in the body of the message:

send usenet/alt.config/So_You_Want_to_Create_an_Alt_Newsgroup

1. Technical background

2. Common Reasons Proposed Groups are Rejected

3. Some Positive Suggestions

Epilogue by Mark Weber:

Here ends the lesson.

This may sound like a lot of rigamarole, and it is. The purpose is to discourage creation of alt groups that might be better off as mainstream groups, or that might be better off left uncreated.

Don't take this all too seriously, though. The "alt" net is the last remaining refuge away from the control freaks, namespace purists and net.cops (like myself) that maintain and enforce the mainstream newsgroup guidelines.

There is still some room for spontaneity out here on the "alt" frontier. Successful groups have been created without following these suggestions. Almost any non-forged, serious newgroup message will at least be considered by most news admins. Some groups have been created just on a whim. The concept behind the group better be good (or a least entertaining), though!

For Further Reading:

Not directly related but also helpful:


Based on previous work by: With submissions from: