Chapter 4: Usenet customs & myths (6 of 7) -- KILLFILES


     As you keep reading Usenet, you are going to run across things or
people that really drive you nuts -- or that you just get tired of seeing.
     Killfiles are just the thing for you. When you start your
newsreader, it checks to see if you have any lists of words, phrases or
names you don't want to see.  If you do, then it blanks out any messages
containing those words.
     Such as cascades.
     As you saw earlier, when you post a reply to a message and include
parts of that message, the original lines show up with a > in front of
them.  Well, what if you reply to a reply?  Then you get a >> in front of
the line.  And if you reply to that reply? You get >>>. Keep this up, and
soon you get a triangle of >'s building up in your message.
     There are people who like building up these triangles, or cascades.
They'll "respond" to your message by deleting everything you've said,
leaving only the "In message 123435, you said:" part and the last line of
your message, to which they add a nonsensical retort.  On and on they go
until the triangle has reached the right end of the page. Then they try
to expand the triangle by deleting one > with each new line. Whoever gets
to finish this mega-triangle wins.
     There is even a newsgroup just for such folks: alt.cascade.
Unfortunately, cascaders would generally rather cascade in other
newsgroups. Because it takes a lot of messages to build up a completed
cascade, the targeted newsgroup soon fills up with these messages. Of
course, if you complain, you'll be bombarded with messages about the
First Amendment and artistic expression -- or worse, with another
cascade. The only thing you can do is ignore them, by setting up a
killfile.
     There are also certain newsgroups where killfiles will come in handy
because of the way they are organized.  For example, readers of
rec.arts.tv.soaps always use an acronym in their subject: line for the
show they're writing about (AMC, for example, for "All My Children").
This way, people who only want to read about "One Life to Live" can blank
out all the messages about "The Young and the Restless" and all the
others (to keep people from accidentally screening out messages that
might contain the letters "gh" in them, "General Hospital" viewers always
use "gh:" in their subject lines).
      Both nn and rn let you create killfiles, but in different ways.
     To create a killfile in nn, go into the newsgroup with the offending
messages and type a capital K.  You'll see this at the bottom of your
screen:

               AUTO (k)ill or (s)elect (CR => Kill subject 30 days)

If you hit return, nn will ask you which article's subject you're tired
of. Chose one and the article and any follow-ups will disappear, and you
won't see them again for 30 days.
     If you type a lower-case k instead, you'll get this:

               AUTO KILL on (s)ubject or (n)ame  (s)

If you hit your S key or just enter,  you'll see this:

               KILL Subject: (=/)

Type in the name of the offending word or phrase and hit enter. You'll
then be prompted:

               KILL in (g)roup 'eff.test' or in (a)ll groups  (g)

except that the name of the group you see will be the one you're actually
in at the moment.  Because cascaders and other annoying people often
cross-post their messages to a wide range of newsgroups, you might
consider hitting a instead of g.  Next comes:

               Lifetime of entry in days (p)ermanent  (30)

The P key will screen out the offending articles forever, while hitting
enter will do it for 30 days.  You can also type in a number of days for
the blocking.
     Creating killfiles in rn works differently -- its default killfile
generator only works for messages in specific groups, rather than
globally for your entire newsgroup list.  To create a global killfile,
you'll have to write one yourself.
     To create a killfile in rn, go into the newsgroup where the
offending messages are and type in its number so you get it on your
screen. Type a capital K.  From now on, any message with that subject
line will disappear before you read the group. You should probably choose
a reply, rather than the original message, so that you will get all of
the followups (the original message won't have a "Re: " in its subject
line). The next time you call up that newsgroup, rn will tell you it's
killing messages. When it's done, hit the space bar to go back into
reading mode.
     To create a "global" kill file that will automatically wipe out
articles in all groups you read, start rn and type control-K.  This will
start your whatever text editor you have as your default on your host
system and create a file (called KILL, in your News subdirectory).
     On the first line, you'll type in the word, phrase or name you don't
want to see, followed by commands that tell rn whether to search an
entire message for the word or name and then what to do when it finds it.
     Each line must be in this form

               /pattern/modifier:j

     "Pattern" is the word or phrase you want rn to look for.  It's
case-insensitive: both "test" and "Test" will be knocked out.  The
modifier tells rn whether to limit its search to message headers (which
can be useful when the object is to never see messages from a particular
person):

               a:    Looks through an entire message
               h:    Looks just at the header

     You can leave out the modifier command, in which case rn will only
look at the subject line of messages. The "j" at the end tells rn to
screen out all articles with the offending word.
     So if you never want to see the word "foo" in any header, ever
again, type this:

                /foo/h:j

     This is particularly useful for getting rid of articles from people
who post in more than one newsgroup, such as cascaders, since an
article's newsgroup name is always in the header.
     If you just want to block messages with a subject line about
cascades, you could try:

                 /foo/:j

  To kill anything that is a followup to any article, use this pattern:

                 /Subject: *Re:/:j

When done writing lines for each phrase to screen, exit the text editor
as you normally would, and you'll be put back in rn.
     One word of caution: go easy on the global killfile.  An extensive
global killfile, or one that makes frequent use of the a: modifier can
dramatically slow down rn, since the system will now have to look at
every single word in every single message in all the newsgroups you want
to read.
    If there's a particular person whose posts you never want to see
again, first find his or address (which will be in the "from:" line of
his postings) and then write a line in your killfile like this:

                  /From: *name@address\.all/h:j