December 17, 2003

Help us write the (Usenet scorefile) rules

Author: Lee Schlesinger

Usenet, once a popular and diverse community of special-interest message groups, has become almost irrelevant. Since the Web is easier to browse, and email is more direct, the Information Superhighway has bypassed Usenet and turned it into a road to nowhere. But perhaps the most pernicious factor working against Usenet is the prevalence of spam in newsgroups.

KNode and Pan are two excellent open source Usenet newsreader programs. They, along with many other newsreader programs, have built-in facilities for eliminating Usenet spam. They use a method of scoring Usenet posts, giving points to postings that meet some good criteria and taking points from others that use certain words or cross-post to multiple groups. You can then filter out postings that fall below a given score. KNode's scoring uses rules you enter via a scoring rules editor. Pan's system relies on the scoring format of the slrn newsreader, in which rules are stated in an external scorefile.

There's some documentation on the Web about how to use slrn and KNode scoring, but it's barely enough to give new users a clue where to start.

When I code (and creating a scorefile is a form of coding) I like to start with an example and modify it to suit my needs. It's always easier to stand on someone else's shoulders than to climb a wall on your own. But I have been frustrated in visiting project sites and searching Google and Google Groups in search of a good, basic, vanilla scorefile to use. There are several places that explain what to do to block this or that kind of message, but no set of time-tested rules that cut down on cross-postings and spam.

Perhaps some of you fine readers can help rectify the lack of good scorefile examples. Surely those of you who have been using Pan and KNode since Hector was a pup have amassed truly impressive sets of rules. If your scorefile or rule set rivals the Codex Justinianus in scope and vision, share it with the world. Please post it below, or better yet email it to me. I'll munge all the examples I get into one truly awe-inspiring rule set and include it in a follow-up article.

Despite its dimished role, there's still plenty of good stuff on Usenet, including a ton of Linux support information. A scorefile that winnows the wheat from the chaff would make using that resource much easier.

Click Here!