Usenet II

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Usenet II was a proposed alternative to the classic Usenet hierarchy, started in 1998. Unlike the original Usenet, it was peered only between "sound sites" and employs a system of rules to keep out spam. The network still exists, but has carried almost no posts apart from FAQs for many years.

The newsgroup hierarchy revived the old naming system used by Usenet before the Great Renaming. All groups had names starting "net.", which serve to distinguish them from the "Big 8" (misc., sci., news., rec., soc., talk., comp., humanities.). A separate checkgroup system, using the same technical mechanism as the one produced by David C. Lawrence for the Big 8, enforced the Usenet II hierarchy and prevents the creation of unauthorized newsgroups within it.

The basic principles of operation were controlled by a Steering Committee, which appointed "hierarchy czars" who were responsible for the content of specific portions of the namespace, or hierarchies.

Usenet II had strictly enforced rules. Readers of messages in Usenet II must be fully compliant with the RFC 1036 (Usenet) standard plus some additional format compliance rules specific to Usenet II. A message header must contain a valid email address in the From field. It must have an NNTP-Posting-Host header field containing a sound site. The distribution field must be set to "4gh" (a reference to Shockwave Rider by John Brunner). If the Subject field starts "Re:", indicating a follow-up, there must be a valid References field containing the Message-ID of a previous message. Crossposts to groups outside the net.* hierarchy are cancelled automatically.

No message may spawn a discussion in more than three newsgroups. This applies both to the "newsgroups" field and the "followups-to" field. It is permissible to post the same message three times. Posting the same message every day or every week is not permitted.

There are a number of Usenet II hosts still operating, but traffic is largely limited to FAQ postings. The effort to extend Usenet II was abandoned as technical means to fight spam and other abuse on traditional Usenet became more effective and spammers migrated from Usenet to email.

Usenet II policies have been adopted by private and restricted-distribution Usenet hierarchies.

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