Expires: Sun, 22 Aug 2010 07:03:07 GMT
Message-ID: <hpo-faq.20100711070307$4413@news.killfile.org>
From: tskirvin@killfile.org (Tim Skirvin)
Newsgroups: humanities.philosophy.objectivism,alt.philosophy.objectivism,humanities.answers,alt.answers,news.answers
Subject: humanities.philosophy.objectivism Administration FAQ, v1.37.01
Followup-To: humanities.philosophy.objectivism
X-Approved: news-answers-request@mit.edu
Summary: This is a list of frequently asked questions (and answers)
        regarding the administration of humanities.philosophy.objectivism.
        It is maintained by the moderator of the group, Tim Skirvin
        (tskirvin@killfile.org).  This FAQ is not meant to represent the 
        views of any user of the group.
Date: Sun, 11 Jul 2010 00:03:07 -0700

Archive-name: objectivism/newsgroup-admin
Posting-Frequency: weekly
Last-modified: 2005/04/26
Version: 1.37.01
URL: http://wiki.killfile.org/projects/usenet/faqs/hpo/

Administration FAQ, v1.37.01

(Disclaimers: The author of this document is in no way liable for misuse
of the information contained within, nor is he in any way responsible
for damages related to the use or accuracy of the information.)
Table of Contents                        * = updated since last minor version
I.  What is HPO?
 a.  What is humanities.philosophy.objectivism?                                 
 b.  How do I read and post to the group...
  1.  ...via Usenet?                                                
  2.  ...via E-Mail?                                                        
  3.  ...via the web?                                                        *
 c.  How is the group moderated?
  1.  What are moderation guidelines?                                        *
   i.  Can I get the source code?                                        *
  2.  How does the moderation work?                                          
  3.  What are the moderator's policies?                        
II.  So your post was rejected...
 a.  Why was my post rejected?                                                *
 b.  Why aren't my posts showing up on my system?                        
 c.  How do I turn off confirmation messages?                                
III.  What other resources are there?                                        
 a.  What other sources for information on Objectivism are there?          *
 b.  What is planned for the future of HPO?                                *

Appendix A: The official charter of humanities.philosophy.objectivism
Appendix B: Why ban Neo-Tech?
Appendix C: What is PGPMoose?                                                
Appendix D: Why is my news server broken, and how do I fix it?           
I.  What is HPO?
 a. What is humanities.philosophy.objectivism?

        humanities.philosophy.objectivism (hereby referred to as HPO)
is a moderated group for discussion of ideas related to Objectivism,
the philosophy created by Ayn Rand.  HPO was created on June 12, 1996, 
having won its vote for creation by a margin of 362:46.  

        The HPO Homepage at http://www.killfile.org/~tskirvin/hpo/, and
contains the newsgroup's charter, past logs of the group, and other
information regarding HPO.

 b.  How do I read and post to the group...
  1.  ...via Usenet?

        If your news server already carries HPO, simply add the group to
your list of active newsgroups.  If your news server doesn't carry HPO,
it might be a bit more of a challenge; just ask your news administrator
(politely!) to add it.  Include the following details:

     Moderation Address: humanities-philosophy-objectivism@moderators.isc.org
                         -or- tskirvin+hpo@killfile.org 
     Moderator Contact Address: tskirvin@killfile.org

        Once this is done, messages should automatically appear on your
system, and you can post as you would to any normal newsgroup; if you
have questions about how to do this, ask your news administrators.

        If your news server does not receive HPO, or if there are problems
with your local site, you can also read and post through HPO's main news
server.  Just point your newsreader at news.killfile.org - there should be
instructions in your newsreader's manual.  

  2.  ...via E-Mail?

        At this point, there is no mailing list for distribution of HPO;
however, such a list would not be difficult to create if there were
sufficient desire.  Email contributions to HPO are accepted, if mailed to
tskirvin+hpo@killfile.org .

  3.  ...via the web?

        Archive for the past many years can be read through Google Groups
(http://groups.google.com/).  The group can also be read seen using the 
news<->web gateway at http://news.killfile.org/ .

 c.  How is the group moderated?
  1.  What are moderation guidelines?

        HPO is controlled by a moderation bot, which is maintained
by an impartial operator.  Messages are automatically posted, based
on the following criteria:

     o The message is posted only to HPO, and is not crossposted to any
       other groups;
     o The message is not an encoded binary message;
     o The message is formatted to have 80 or less characters per line
        of text;
     o The message contains less than 80% quotes from previous messages; 
     o The message is not related to any subjects that have been deemed
        off-topic by the moderator, and;
     o The message is not authored by any that the operator feels have
       violated any of the above rules repeatedly or maliciously.
        Commercial advertising and discussion of Neo-Tech are specifically
off-topic for HPO.  Also, morphing (changing your 'From' line) to avoid
killfiles is a bannable offense.

        As most posting is automatic, there is a strong potential for
messages to be posted that violate the rules of the newsgroup.  To this
end, the operator of the moderation bot is authorized to issue cancel
messages that he deems inappropriate for the group.

        The operator of the moderator bot may change or ignore any and all
moderation policies as necessary to ensure the survival of the newsgroup.

        The current banlist:

    Name      Reason

  2.  How does the moderation work?

        The moderation bot, named Mackie, is based off of Verimod, a
moderation package written by Tim Skirvin, and procmail, a mail filtering
system.  Put simply, the robot moderator will process your message and
post it, unless you violate one of the basic rules:

   o  Your article must have a From: and Subject: line.
   o  Your article isn't crossposted to any other newsgroups.
   o  No line of the body of your message is more than 80 characters long
        (though lines will be wrapped if possible).
   o  Less than 80% of your message quotes another message.
   o  Your message doesn't look like a binary or off-topic message.
   o  Your message doesn't look like spam, based on a simple header and 
           body check (these guidelines are not published, as they change 
        near-constantly, but are pretty basic - don't put "XXX", "$$$",
        or anything similar in your headers and you'll be okay).
   o  You are not on the banlist.

        Messages that are approved are injected into the local news
server, and propagate standardly to the rest of Usenet. 

   i.  Can I get the source code?

        The source code for the moderation bot was never officially or
publicly released, in large part because I've grown kindof embarrassed of
it.  If you're interested in it, give me a mail.

  3.  What are the moderator's policies?
        Policies...hmm, how best to describe them...  Well, I'm not here
because I'm an Objectivist - I'm not, which is one of the reasons I was
requested to moderate this group in the first place.  My goal here is to
help keep Usenet (and specifically HPO) working, hopefully without taking
up all of my time.

        In general, I keep my hands as far away from the group as
possible.  I read very few of the messages that go through the group;
mostly I just scan the subject headers, or I occasionally read a thread
about some topic that looks interesting.  My main role is to cancel
blatantly off-topic messages that made it through the mod-bot, which
usually consist of MAKE.MONEY.FAST posts and other spams.  When it is
brought to my attention, I also have to enforce the rest of the charter
- specifically the ban on Neo-Tech and advertisements.  I don't enjoy
doing that kind of stuff, trust me, but I'm willing to do it to keep the
newsgroup alive.

        If you're having any technical problems with the group, mail me
personally (at tskirvin@killfile.org) - don't try to post about the problems, 
I probably won't read it.  If you see what appears to be a charter vio-
lation, mail me about it, and I'll take care of it.  If you have any sug-
gestions, feel free to mail them to me too.  Just leave me out of the 
personality clashes on the group and I'll be happy...

II.  Why wasn't my message posted?
 a.  Why was my post rejected?

        Well, step one is "check your rejection notice" - that's what
they're for, after all.  The most common violations:

     o Your message was crossposted to two or more groups.  If this is 
       the case, please resubmit your message to HPO alone.
     o Your address was identified as being on the banlist.  If this is
       the case, please, don't resubmit; if absolutely necessary, contact
       me, at tskirvin@killfile.org.
     o Your message contained excessive quoting.  If this is the case, 
       feel free to rewrite and resubmit your message according to the 
       group guidelines.
     o Your message looked like spam, from a simple pattern match.  If 
       your subject line is in all caps, or looks like a MAKE.MONEY.FAST 
       message, try changing that and resubmitting.

        Of course, it's also possible that the 'bot just screwed up, or
there was some minor problem with the submission; if in doubt, mail the

 b.  Why aren't my posts showing up on my system?

        As with all things, there are many possibilities.

     o If your post was rejected, you should have gotten a rejected notice 
       with the reasons for the rejection; feel free to fix the message up 
       and resubmit it.  
     o Even if your message was rejected, you may not have gotten a 
       rejection notice for your post if you use a "spam-block" email 
       address; all I can say to this is "stop using them".
     o My local news server might not be working right.  If this happens, 
       I'll do what I can to fix it, but give me some time - see Appendix D.
     o Your posts may not have propagated to your site yet.  The standard
       delay for messages to appear at your system may vary from several
       seconds to several days; if you are positive that your messages
       are not propagating, please contact me.
     o The moderator bot may never have received the message in the first
       place.  If this is the case, you will need to check your news
       system; please check the submissions address, or contact your news 
     o The moderator bot may have just screwed up.  Trust me, it happens;
       if you think this is the case, again, mail me.
 c.  How do I turn off confirmation messages?

        If you include the line "X-No-Confirm: yes" in either the headers 
or the first line of your posts, you won't get any confirmation messages.  
If you want to turn off the messages (semi-)permanently, give me a mail
and I'll take care of it.

III.  What other resources are there?
 a.  What other sources for information on Objectivism are there?

        In no particular order: 

   The Objectivism FAQ

Mailing Lists:
http://www.exit109.com/~integrity/osg/osg/home.html -or- integrity@exit109.com
   OSG - The Electronic Objectivism Study Group E-Mail List

   An unmoderated group for discussion of Objectivism
   The HPO Homepage - the charter, voting records, logs of HPO submissions

   The Ayn Rand Institute
   The Objectivist Trade Center
   Objectivism and Ayn Rand WWW Service 
   Lyceum References, a list of Objectivism-related resources
   #GeekSpeak Web Pages, an IRC channel for discussion of Objectivism
   Ayn Rand Links
   The Objectivist Center
   "Objectivist Books, Conferences, Courses, and More"
   "Full Context", an Objectivism essay and interview magazine
   Source for the works of Ayn Rand on CD-ROM
   Richard Lawrence's Objectivism Reference Center

        All of the above references were suggested via email, and were
verified to work before addition; I take no other responsibility for the
information contained within.  If you have any other resources to add to
the list, mail me personally with a reference and a one-line description.
 b.  What is planned for the future of HPO?

     o Possibly run all HPO submissions through Spamassassin before 
       they are posted, with clear spams being filtered.  

     o Post some of the old HPO archives, since I have several years
       of them available.  (This will come when I finish off some news
       archiving code I've been working on for a while).
     o Rewrite Verimod, and release it.  I'm better at this nowadays.

Appendix A: The official charter of humanities.philosophy.objectivism

Humanities.philosophy.objectivism shall exist for the purpose of fur-
thering discussion by Objectivists and those who admire Ayn Rand's
ideas.  Those who disagree with these ideas may of course also post to
h.p.o. for the purposes of civilized debate and discussion of Object-
ivism.  Any posters who persistently abuse their posting privileges
are subject to revocation of these privileges at the discretion of the
moderator (qv).

Discussion on h.p.o. may consist of attempts to support, elaborate,
apply, question, or refute the tenets of Objectivist philosophy on the
part of participants.  For example, discussion on h.p.o. may include
but is in no way limited to the topics of Anarchism in relation to
Objectivism and the dispute between David Kelley and Leonard Peikoff
as it relates to Objectivist philosophy.  Posts which request general
information about a particular topic of Objectivist philosophy or on
the availability of resources related to Objectivism are also welcome.

Every effort shall be made by the posters of h.p.o. to compile a thor-
ough text-only FAQ describing the moderation and posting policies of

Crossposting shall not be permitted, excepting administrative posts
such as further RFDs, CFVs, and the FAQ.  With the approval of the
administrator such material may be crossposted to news.announce.new-
groups, news.answers, news.groups, and other groups deemed necessary
by the moderator.  Because a philosophy such as Objectivism has ap-
plications in numerous areas of human action, the actors in many of
which are not themselves directly concerned with Objectivism, discus-
sions that are crossposted often become irrelevant to one or the
other of the groups.  This has been a major problem with a.p.o. in
the past.

Moderation Policy:

The newsgroup shall be automoderated; the automoderator shall be
overseen by a nonparticipant net administrator.

The automoderator shall automatically reject all articles that fall
into the following categories:

      A) Articles that contain more than 80 characters per line;
      B) Articles that are crossposted;
      C) Encoded binary messages;
      D) Messages containing more than 20 lines of text, 80% or
                more of which is quoted material;
      E) Articles authored by those that the moderator has
                expelled from the group (see below).

The submitters of rejected articles shall be sent a copy of the FAQ
to inform them of the reason why their submissions were rejected.

The moderator of h.p.o. shall be Tim Skirvin <tskirvin@uiuc.edu>.
The alternate moderator of h.p.o. shall be Richard E. Depew
<red@redpoll.mrfs.oh.us>.  The moderators shall not post to
humanities.philosophy.objectivism except as administrative duties

Commercial postings shall not be permitted; repeated posting of a
commercial nature shall be grounds for the banning of the submitter
from humanities.philosophy.objectivism at the discretion of the mod-
erator.  The moderator is further authorized to cancel said postings
if and when they appear, forwarding a copy of the FAQ to the poster.
If a FAQ is not yet available, a copy of this charter shall be sent

Postings commonly acknowledged by the Usenet community to be "spam"
or similar forms of net-abuse shall not be permitted; the moderator
is authorized to cancel all such posts, inform the submitter of his
decision, and, if the abuse persists after an initial warning, ban
the submitter of the posts from the newsgroup.

The moderator may also cancel posts which are offtopic for the group.
For example, humanities.philosophy.objectivism excludes the discus-
sion of Neo-Tech, Zon Power and the publications and activities of
the Neo-Tech Publishing Company.  Such material is off-topic for
humanities.philosophy.objectivism and repeated posts of this nature
shall result in the expulsion of the poster.  The Automoderator may
also be programmed and reprogrammed as necessary to return the ex-
cluded postings to the sender, attaching a copy of the FAQ for h.p.o.

No specific individuals shall be excluded from h.p.o., save as their
behavior on the forum itself warrants.

The alternate shall succeed the moderator upon retirement.  Should
the alternate be unwilling to do so, the moderator may choose an-
other impartial nonparticipant individual to fill his place.

Appendix B: Why ban Neo-Tech?

        Before HPO was created, the only major Objectivism-related 
newsgroup was alt.philosophy.objectivism.  An unmoderated newsgroup in a
volatile hierarchy, this group was long the target of large, crossposted 
threads.  The amount of effort required to create a new group, however,
was enough inertia that, for years, nothing ever came of the need.

        Neo-Tech changed that.  Neo-Tech, a self-proclaimed offshoot of 
Objectivism, one day began to crosspost its articles into APO; soon, the 
traffic was significantly higher, much of it over NT.  Several flamewars
started, spreading into other newsgroups and hierarchies; the Neo-Tech
mailing list was gated to APO, long essays were posted daily, and
finally several NT'ers posted messages officially "declaring war" on
Objectivism and APO.

        These incidents provided the catalyst for the creation of a new
group, humanities.philosophy.objectivism.  Under the charter, Neo-Tech/
Zonpower was officially banned from the newsgroup, in order for the rest 
of the regulars to have a forum where they could discuss all other aspects 
of Objectivism without interruption.  This ban has been extremely
controversial, but it is absolute: no discussion of Neo-Tech or Zonpower
is permitted on humanities.philosophy.objectivism.
        If you wish to discuss this topic any further, please take it
to either alt.philosophy.objectivism or alt.neo-tech.  Thank you.

Appendix C: What is PGPMoose?
        PGPMoose is a post-authentication system, allowing anybody to
verify that messages to moderated newsgroups were accepted by the moderators 
involved.  It was added to the HPO moderator bot after a minor rush of
forged approvals, and should be effective at stopping similar attacks in
the future.

        The public key required for verification and links to all required
PGPMoose software is available on the HPO homepage.

Appendix D: Why is my news server broken, and how do I fix it?

        (I've been getting a lot of questions about this lately; while
this is all essentially repeating what's said above, I might as well say
it again).

        Just because you can read HPO from your local news server doesn't
mean that you can post to it.  Many news servers are misconfigured, and
do not properly forward posts to the moderator for approval; some just
post the message locally, and other send them to the incorrect addresses.
Either way is probably going to require you to talk with your local news
admins to get it straightened out.

        So, what should you do if you've posted something to HPO and it
didn't make it through?  First of all, make sure you've read through
section II.b. carefully!  Most problems are caused by spamblock addresses
and the like, and are only the fault of the poster.  If you're still
convinced that there may be a problem with your news server, send a copy
of one of your recent posts to:

        (Note that you shouldn't just send "test" posts; they're off-topic
and annoying.  Just send posts that you would otherwise have posted.)

        If the message is posted, then your problem is probably with your
local news server.  You'll want to contact your local news admins (call
your local help desk for information) and ensure that their servers are
configured with a) the group set as moderated and b) submissions sent to 

        If your message still isn't posted, then go ahead and give me a
mail.  I'm not going to help you debug your mail problems too carefully,
but it's good to know that there's something going on.
Copyright 1996-2009, Tim Skirvin.  All rights reserved.