Archive-name: alt-sex/stories/moderated-faq
Last-modified: 2004/09/09
Posting-Frequency: bi-monthly

Frequently Asked Questions about Alt.Sex.Stories.Moderated (ASSM)


ASSM is short for, a Usenet newsgroup
specializing in erotic literature.  The primary difference between ASSM
and the newsgroup is that all articles posted to ASSM must
go through a moderation process before showing up in the newsgroup.  The
main purpose for this process is to filter out commercial advertising
(commonly referred to as SPAM).  In fact, the unfortunate reality is
that more SPAM shows up at the ASSM moderation center than legitimate

ASSM is moderated by ASSTR, a project of Internet Free Literature
Corporation, a nonprofit United States 501(c)(3) organization
supported entirely by donations from the public; further information is
available at
ASSM's previous moderator, Eli the Bearded, handed over the moderation of
the newsgroup to ASSTR in November 1999.
The ASSTR programming team added several enhancements to the existing
newsgroup, including the ability to post via attachments and the ability to
opt-out of the automatic archival of approved posts.

Another important change to the newsgroup following Eli's departure was
the creation of the ASSM Moderation Center, a web site for a team of
moderators to work in the newsgroup.  The key benefit of opening
moderation up to a team of volunteers is no longer does the smooth
operation of the newsgroup depend on just one person.  Today, the
ASSM moderation team consists of approximately one dozen volunteers,
both authors and readers, from the community.

This FAQ was developed in an effort to answer some questions common to
the Alt.Sex.Stories.Moderated newsgroup.  No doubt this FAQ is lacking
in some important details of the newsgroup.  Any assistance with missing
information would be greatly appreciated.

Important Note (added 2005-05-07)
When posting to ASSM, please take care to use an email address that will
neither reveal your real name nor can be tied to your real name.  Many
former ASSM posters email the ASSTR administration years after they
originally posted a story requesting the removal of their name or the
story in its entirety.  While ASSTR will always gladly comply with such
requests, it has no ability to get the story and associated poster's real
name removed from search engines' search results.  For this reason, ASSTR
highly recommends that posters use a pen/pseudoname when posting to ASSM.

The questions

 1. How can I participate in ASSM?

 2. What is acceptable in ASSM?

 3. List of Supported/Recognized User-Added Headers

 4. What happens to my story after I submit it?

 5. Where can I get an anonymous address?

 6. Where are the stories archived?

 7. I see a post on ASSM that doesn't belong there!

 8. (Advanced) What do you use to moderate the group?

 9. (Advanced) What are some problems that may keep me from reading ASSM?

The questions and answers

1. How can I participate in ASSM?

There are several ways to post a message to ASSM.  Before doing so,
however, please be sure to read this entire FAQ.  Doing so may alleviate
potential problems you might otherwise run into.

The following is an overview of the methods available:

 * Post directly to ASSM, either as a normal text post or as an attachment.
   (Accepted attachments are .txt, MS Word, or ZIPped text files. No HTML!)
    This is the "normal" way of posting and is probably the way you're
    familiar with posting messages to newsgroups.

    By sending the post as an attachment, the poster is almost certain
    his/her post will arrive at the moderation center in its original
    format.  Note that any message in the body of the post will be
    prepended to the attachment.

 * Email the story to (or to if archiving is not wanted),
   either as a normal plain-text email or as an attachment.

    By emailing the post instead of posting it to ASSM, the story arrives
    at the moderation center in its exact original format.  Additionally,
    the risk of the post getting lost in Usenet never-never land is also

    Note that, if the story is sent as an attachment, any message in the
    body of the email will be prepended to the attachment.

  You are encouraged to visit ASSTR's collection of*
  related FAQs to review the Story Codes for Authors FAQ before posting.

2. What is acceptable in ASSM?

 2.1. Stories with sexual content, and reviews of them.  No requests,
      no ads or web page announcements. (A link to a website at the end
      of the story is okay.  Comments and requests get forwarded to

 2.2. Text in the body of a post must be plain ASCII text. No HTML!
      Attachments must conform to one of the following: plain ASCII,
      MS Word, ASCII that is ZIPped.
      Posts in HTML, RTF, Wordperfect, or other formats will be
      automatically deleted.

 2.3. Valid email address of submitters.  It can be through a anonymous
      remailer, so long as it can be replied to get to the submitter.
      Anti-spam munging of addresses is allowed.

 2.4. Readers of ASSM must not be required to visit any Internet site
      (web, FTP), free or otherwise, to read previous or subsequent parts
      of a work.  The exception to this rule is if the previous parts or
      chapters of a multipart post were recently posted to the newsgroup.

 2.5. If the poster is not the copyright owner of a post, it is the
      responsibility of the poster to ensure he or she has all necessary
      permission from the copyright owner to post the work to ASSM.  Any
      and all liability with respect to posting the work of another person
      or entity lies with the poster.

 2.6. Posts should be word-wrapped at 75 characters or less (standard
      Usenet posting convention).
      Posts not word-wrapped at 79 characters or less may get reformatted
      by the moderation team.

      It is highly recommended that paragraphs be separated with a blank
      line (i.e. two carriage returns at the end of every paragraph).

 2.7. Posting via attachments is allowed for both methods of posting
      (directly to ASSM or via email).  Attachments must be in MIME
      (Base 64) or uuencode format.  Most email clients and Usenet news
      readers support one or both of these posting formats.  Note: any
      text in the body of the message will be added to the top of the
      decoded attachment.  Multiple attachments per post is supported,
      but not encouraged, as it is generally better to post each part
      of a work separately if it is already divided as such.

 2.8. Regardless of the method of posting, any given post should not
      exceed 5000 lines or 250 kilobytes.  This includes the size of any
      and all attachments included with the post.  Any post over 300
      kilobytes will be flagged for hand processing by the ASSTR
      administration, resulting in a delay of posting for the
      submission.  It is possible that a post that is oversize will be
      rejected and the poster emailed requesting the long post be split

 2.9. Unless a no-archive header is used (see below), a posting will be
      considered free for non-commercial distribution, specifically
      archiving at  Any post that both prohibits
      redistribution on free sites and does not use a no-archive header
      may be rejected to avoid any possible legal problems.

 2.10. Multiple stories should be sent in multiple posts.  Do not send
       two or more stories in one post unless they are "flash" short

3. List of Supported/Recognized User-Added Headers

Note that any of the following headers can be used either by adding
them into the headers section of the post or by putting them at the
very top line(s) of the post.  Recognized headers put at the top of a
post will be moved into the headers section automatically by the
moderation system.  Regardless of whether you place your additional
headers at the top of the post or directly in its headers section, be
sure to put each header on its own line.  Be sure to not leave any
blank lines between headers.  If putting the headers at the top of a
post, be sure that the first header is the very first line of the post
followed by any additional headers.

Please note that placing any header(s) not discussed herein at the
top line(s) of the post (or misspelling any of the below) will NOT
get recognized or acted upon.

disposition-notification-to: <emailaddress>
disposition-notification-to: emailaddress

  This header will activate the return receipt system for the given
post.  Upon receipt into the system an email receipt will be sent to
the address contained within the optional brackets.  Please note that
it may take up to an hour for the receipt to be sent upon arrival of
the post as new posts are only introduced into the system once per

  Once the post is approved and posted to the newsgroups, another
receipt will be sent out indicating such.  Upon receiving the post
receipt, you can expect the post to be available on your news server
anywhere from 30 seconds to 24 hours depending upon propagation time.

  You can use the return receipt system without putting in the header
yourself by turning on the return receipt feature in your email
client, if available.  Most popular email clients have this feature,
including Microsoft's Outlook and Outlook Express as well as
Qualcomm's Eudora and Eudora Light.

  For privacy reasons, we remove this header if present prior to
posting to ASSM.  This allows posters to anti-spam munge their From
address (or use an alternate address entirely) but still provide a
valid/different email address for the return receipts. Please note
that most, if not all, email clients do NOT support specifying
different From and return-receipt addresses, so if you want to munge
your post's "From" address AND use the return receipt feature, you'll
likely need to add the return receipt header manually providing a
valid email address.

  Eventually we also will add support to the system to email you if
your post is flagged due to a problem (usually formatting).  This
system feature is not yet in place.

x-archive-expire: YYYY-MM-DD

  This header will cause the post to expire out of (be removed from)
ASSTR's archive on a given date in the specified format (four digit
year dash two-digit month dash two-digit day).  Please note that at
this time, this header is "ASSTR proprietary" and as such the use of
this header will have NO effect on the post expiring from any other
Usenet archives such as Google.

  Please note that if you do not adhere to the specified date format,
ASSTR can make no assurance that your post will expire on the date
intended.  Of course, we will still honor any/all emailed requests
from the author to remove individual posts.

  With respect to any headers permitting archival at ASSTR (i.e.
"x-no-archive: no" or "x-asstr-no-archive: no"), the expiration header
supersedes these headers and as such the post will still expire from
the ASSM archives on the date specified even if one or both of these
headers is/are used.

x-asstr-no-archive: yes
x-asstr-no-archive: no

  These headers explicitly control whether a post is to be archived at

  The "x-asstr-no-archive: yes" header supersedes the expiration header
(see above).  In other words, if the "x-asstr-no-archive: yes" header
is used, the post will not be archived at ASSTR regardless of any other
headers used.

x-no-archive: yes

  Used alone, this header will keep a post from being archived at
ASSTR and at other sites that observe the header, like Google.
This header can be used in combination with the x-archive-expire or
x-asstr-no-archive headers for even more control over a post's
archival.  See the examples section below for more information.

x-assm-no-berne-warning: yes

  This header will cause the moderation system to omit the "Pursuant
to the Berne Convention, this work is copyright with all rights
reserved by its author unless explicitly indicated." message appended
to the end of every ASSM post.  Please note that the system WILL still
append the standard ASSM footer (sans Berne warning) regardless of the
use of this header.


Example 1)
Post archived at neither ASSTR nor any other site that observes the
x-no-archive header:

  Example headers:
    x-no-archive: yes


Example 2)
Archival of post at ASSTR until a given date, no archival elsewhere:

  Example headers:
    x-no-archive: yes
    x-archive-expire: 2004-09-01

  As shown here, these headers used together cause the post to be
archived at ASSTR until September 1st, 2004, but not be archived at
any site that observes the x-no-archive header.  Those authors who
post their works only to a commercial site may find this combination
of headers useful as it allows them to take advantage of ASSTR's large
audience while still retaining a high degree of control of their
works. Compliance with the ASSM no-teaser policy is still required and
as such only complete works or "chapters with the intent to post the
remainder" will be approved.


Example 3)
Post archived at ASSTR forever, but archived nowhere else that support
the "x-no-archive: yes" header:

  Example headers:
    x-no-archive: yes
    x-asstr-no-archive: no


Example 4)
Post not archived at ASSTR at all, but archived elsewhere:

  Example headers:
    x-asstr-no-archive: yes

4. What happens to my story after I submit it?

If you've emailed your post to ASSM, you're all set.  Your post will
arrive in the same queue as messages posted directly to the newsgroup.

If you posted your work to ASSM, assuming all is working well at your
news server, then just posting normally will cause the news server to
forward the article to the ASSM moderation team for approval. If things
are not working well, any of several things could happen.

 * Your post appears on the group immediately

    Your site doesn't properly handle moderated newsgroups.  Contact
    your system or news administrator.  If you see your post appearing
    immediately, it means it wasn't forwarded to the ASSM moderation
    center and won't be officially posted (and thus won't show up on
    most other news servers).

 * You get a bounce from or qz.little-neck

    Your site has an out of date INN moderators file. Contact your
    system or news administrator.

 * You get a bounce from UUnet

    Something odd is wrong. Send the ASSM administration mail.

 * any other bounce

    Could be any number of problems.  Try again, and if problems persist,
    email the ASSM administration.

At this point let's assume that the article made it to the ASSM
moderation team. A moderator will do one of several things with it:

 4.1. Approve it for posting (requires two different moderators'
      approval for posting).  Approved articles get sorted alphabetically
      before posting.

 4.2. Reject it and send email saying why.  Note: It may take several
      days for email to be sent regarding rejected or other problematic
      posts (such as poorly formatted posts).  We are working on improving
      the feedback system to expedite notifications of problems.

 4.3. Flag the file for hand-processing by another moderator
      This is generally done when a post is poorly formatted but can be
      easily fixed by hand at the moderation center without the need for
      the poster to repost it.

 4.4. Determine it to have an invalid return address and reject it
      without an email explanation. Spam falls into this category.

Once two moderators have approved the post and the ASSM moderation system
has injected it into the news system, it will take some time to propagate
back to your host and other hosts. If you don't see the post at your
site or at either of Google or AltaVista within a few days, email the ASSM

5. Where can I get an anonymous address?

There are all kinds of email services on the net, with different levels
of privacy. Try for a start.

Further information about 'really anonymous' email is available at

6. Where are the stories archived?

You can get them at The archive is free,
but donations are appreciated (and necessary for the continued existence
of both the archive and the moderation of the newsgroup).

7. I see a post on ASSM that doesn't belong there!

That post may have been forged by a spammer, using a 'fake approval'.
ASSM moderators have the right to cancel such posts and notify
the spammer's ISP.

Please do not hit 'reply' on such posts.  If you do, your reply will
go to a newsgroup where it isn't wanted.
If you want to report such posts, or inquire about them, either email
the ASSM administration  <> or email to the
moderation center <> or post an inquiry in

Unfortunately, Usenet was set up when security wasn't the kind of
issue it is today.  There's not much we can do about this.

8. (Advanced) What do you use to moderate the group?

ASSTR's software engineering team has developed an extensive amount of
custom software to facilitate and automate moderation of the newsgroup.

After posts arrive at ASSTR servers, a hacked version of JMDigest
( written by ASSM's old
moderator (Eli the Bearded) is used to rate the post in an attempt to
detect SPAM.  Next, the moderators use a custom web-based interface to
approve or reject submissions.  When a moderator rejects a post, he/she
has the option of forwarding it to ASSD or replying to it via an email
interface.  Finally, more custom software is used to maintain the
archive site.

9. (Advanced) What are some problems that may keep me from reading ASSM?

The simple fact is that there are at least tens of thousands of Usenet
news servers around the world.  Normally when you post it appears first
on your local server, and then it distributes it to its neighbors and
they continue the distribution.  The path header records the path it
took.  The result is that you can post and see something immediately,
but it might not be seen by others for hours or days.

With a moderated group everything happens at the news server the
moderator uses, not your local server.  This delay can be quite
noticeable.  If there is a poor connection between your server and
the moderator's server you can miss articles altogether.

There are four things required for an article to move between two
"peering" (directly sharing) news servers.  Let's say an article is
trying to go from X Industries' anvil news server to Waterbuffalo
Breeding Inc's bnafh news-server.

 9.1. "bnafh" must not appear in the Path: header
 9.2. bnafh must carry at least one group the article is crossposted to
 9.3. bnafh must not have seen any article with that article's message
      ID in the past month
 9.4. if the Distribution header is being used, anvil must think bnafh
      is part of one of the listed distributions and bnafh must think
      that anvil is allowed to give it articles with that distribution

      Distribution is rarely used. Some news servers add additional
      checks like counting the number of crossposts or making sure the
      file is not too large, but those are fairly uncommon.

Rule 2 from above can seriously hamper an article's distribution. Let's
say you have a map like this.  Boxes denote news servers, lines denote

+-------+  +-------+  +-------+  +-------+
| bnafh |--| vodka |--| books |--| boing |
+---+---+  +-------+  +-------+  +---+---+
    |                                |
+---+---+  +-------+  +-------+  +---+---+
| anvil |--| green |--| money |--| fibre |
+-------+  +-------+  +-------+  +-------+

Say anvil gets an article for alt.swedish.chef.bork.bork.bork, it will
try to give it to green and bnafh. Let's say every machine but bnafh in
the map carries a.s.c.b.b.b.  Green will accept the article, but bnafh
will not. So to reach vodka, which is pretty close for some groups, that
article will have to go through green, money, fibre, boing, and books
before it will be even offered to vodka. On a much bigger map or on one
where some of those connections are small/slow it is possible the
article will never reach vodka due to news expiring.

It also may be pertinent to point out once your news reader has marked
an article as read, it may hide it from you even if it is there. So
"catching up" / "punting" / "marking all as read" (different terms
in different news readers for the same thing) on a group with a lot of
noise, eg a.s.s, will result in another group 100% cross posted to
a.s.s, eg a.s.s.m, to appear empty.

Still have questions?
Email the ASSM Administration at