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Killfiles -- The cure for all that ails you

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 the newsgroups 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" 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):

Looks through an entire message

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:


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:


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

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