Table Of

Previously known as

The FAQs for

by robin-of-lox


The Hows and Whys
of alt.discuss Newsgroup Naming

How does one go about picking a name for a newsgroup? A number of things come into consideration here. On this page we will look at some of the reasons why choosing the right name can make or break a newsgroup proposal.

(any groups mentioned here are for example only, and no positives or negatives about the Content of the groups is inferred).

What Is The Group About?

People need to know immediately what the group is about. A name like "alt.discuss.bobzero" does not give much of a description. You would never know that it was a group about IRC Chat information. On the other hand, the name "" is very clear cut.

So, you want to make sure that the Content of the group is easily recognizable by the name.

Placement In The Hierarchy

As of this writing (updated July '99) there are 220 Topics on the Table of Contents List , and about 450 groups overall.

The more Top Level names there are, the larger the List will be. The larger the list, the more difficult it will become for people to find a group. Therefore, considerate namng of the group will be an asset, rather than a hinderance, as more people will be able to find the group.

Here are some examples of poorly named groups that could have fit within the existing hierarchy:

alt.discuss.titanic could have been
alt.discuss.history.titanic or
alt.discuss.entertainment.movies.titanic or
alt.discuss.movies.titanic (the "movies" topic was not in existance at the time of the naming of this group)

alt.discuss.advanced.html should have been proposed as

alt.discuss.autoperformanceIt was requested that this be placed under the "car" section, but the proposer was adamant that it was necessary that it stand alone. It is empty at this time. It should have been named Without the hyphen and with a period, this would have fit well within the health section. There is no need for this group to be Top Level.

I could go on and on, as there are a huge number of mis-named groups on the list. Suffice it to say that each one of these could have been more properly named.

Choosing The Name

First, think about what the group is about and where you would look for such a group.

Second, see if the Topic you would look under is in the list. If it is, then it's easy to figure out what the name should be. If it isn't in the list, consider whether the Topic would be one others will be able to use in the future.


alt.discuss.wicca.serious was proposed and failed.
alt.discuss.religion.wicca passed. It was the first group to start the "religion" category, which has since been expanded upon.

What was the difference here? There were neither a Wicca nor a Religion Topic on the List. But Religion was a necessary Topic that had been sorely missing. It is a Topic that many other people will be able to use in the future. (The Christian groups all seem to be under the "god-talk" category, though some have been poposed and passed in the Religion category now.)

Example 2:
alt.discuss.menofwebtv was poorly named. With one single period it could have opened up a Topic that would have been useful for the full life of the alt.discuss groups. If it had been proposed as numerous men's groups could have grown from that single Topic.

So, naming a group responsibly is of great benefit for the groups to come. Another reason to name a group with the hierarchy in mind is that poorly named groups get a large number of NO votes, based on the naming of it, and not on the proposed content of the group. It is much easier to pass a group that has been named with the hierarchy and the Topic List taken into consideration than one that has not.

Periods and Hyphens

A PERIOD is a seperator. Each time a period is used it creates another sub-category.

alt.discuss.entertainent (15 groups under this heading) (5 groups) (1 group)

Even the last one, can, with another period, supply a whole section for more groups (ie: .simpsons, .spiderman, .king-of-the-hill, .southpark, .rug-rats, etc.).

A HYPHEN on the other hand, is a connector. It should only be used when there is a specefic reason to connect the words together.

Examples where it makes sense: and

An Example where it does not make sense:
alt.discuss.webtv-tricks.and-help thus creating the Top Level webtv-tricks when there was already in existance a
webtv.tricks section.

Here is an even worse Example of the mis-use of the hyphen
Yes, this is a real alt.discuss group. I couldn't make up anything this bizarre.

#1 This group should have been placed within the category. Any sexually related group is highly recommended to be proposed within the sex or sexy Main Topics.
#2 This has created a new Top Level Main Topic that will never be expanded upon.

The Order Of The Words

The name of a group should NOT be a sentence. Sentence structure is very wrong here. The order of the words should be from broadest topic in the beginning, to the most specific at the end.

Example of a well named group:
Games: a broad category
Cards: more specific, but still broad
Magic: the name of the specific role playing card game.

Examples of poorly ordered groups:
Musical: this is the more specific of the two words, it belongs at the end
Theater: this could have opened up a whole new Main Topic of which could have been used for .theater.acting, ,, etc.
Beaniebabies: should have been at the end, it is very specific
Buy.Sell: This could have gone under "forsale" which is an existing Topic
Trade: This also could have gone under "collecting" which was another existing Topic at the time.

So the beaniebabies group could have been placed under a few different topics, if the words had been rearranged or re-thought through.

Well, that's it for this page. There is another page by another "regular" from alt.discuss.config that is on this same subject that you might want to look at also. It's laid out in a question and answer format and worth taking a look at. A Naming FAQ

If you have already proposed a group and would like to change the name on the proposal, go to Cancelling and ReProposing

For information on soliciting for votes, go to Soliciting For Votes

Table Of Contents o Intro o Naming
Charter Creation o Proposing
Group Maintenance o Usenet o Tidbits
History o Archive