The primary consideration in choosing an article format is that it fit in with existing tools as well as possible. Existing tools include both implementations of mail and news. (The notesfiles system from the University of Illinois is considered a news implementation.) A standard format for mail messages has existed for many years on the ARPANET, and this format meets most of the needs of USENET. Since the ARPANET format is extensible, extensions to meet the additional needs of USENET are easily made within the ARPANET standard. Therefore, the rule is adopted that all USENET news articles must be formatted as valid ARPANET mail messages, according to the ARPANET standard RFC 822. This standard is more restrictive than the ARPANET standard, placing additional requirements on each article and forbidding use of certain ARPANET features. However, it should always be possible to use a tool expecting an ARPANET message to process a news article. In any situation where this standard conflicts with the ARPANET standard, RFC 822 should be considered correct and this standard in error.
An example message is included to illustrate the fields.
Relay-Version: version B 2.10 2/13/83; site cbosgd.UUCP Posting-Version: version B 2.10 2/13/83; site eagle.UUCP Path: cbosgd!mhuxj!mhuxt!eagle!jerry From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Jerry Schwarz) Newsgroups: net.general Subject: Usenet Etiquette -- Please Read Message-ID: <642@eagle.UUCP> Date: Friday, 19-Nov-82 16:14:55 EST Followup-To: net.news Expires: Saturday, 1-Jan-83 00:00:00 EST Date-Received: Friday, 19-Nov-82 16:59:30 EST Organization: Bell Labs, Murray Hill The body of the article comes here, after a blank line.
Here is an example of a message in the old format (before the existence of this standard). It is recommended that implementations also accept articles in this format to ease upward conversion.
From: cbosgd!mhuxj!mhuxt!eagle!jerry (Jerry Schwarz) Newsgroups: net.general Title: Usenet Etiquette -- Please Read Article-I.D.: eagle.642 Posted: Fri Nov 19 16:14:55 1982 Received: Fri Nov 19 16:59:30 1982 Expires: Mon Jan 1 00:00:00 1990 The body of the article comes here, after a blank line.
Some news systems transmit news in the "A" format, which looks like this:
Aeagle.642 net.general cbosgd!mhuxj!mhuxt!eagle!jerry Fri Nov 19 16:14:55 1982 Usenet Etiquette - Please Read The body of the article comes here, with no blank line.
An article consists of several header lines, followed by a blank line, followed by the body of the message. The header lines consist of a keyword, a colon, a blank, and some additional information. This is a subset of the ARPANET standard, simplified to allow simpler software to handle it. The "from" line may optionally include a full name, in the format above, or use the ARPANET angle bracket syntax. To keep the implementations simple, other formats (for example, with part of the machine address after the close parenthesis) are not allowed. The ARPANET convention of continuation header lines (beginning with a blank or tab) is allowed.
Certain headers are required, certain headers are optional. Any unrecognized headers are allowed, and will be passed through unchanged. The required headers are Relay-Version, Posting-Version, From, Date, Newsgroups, Subject, Message-ID, Path. The optional headers are Followup-To, Date-Received, Expires, Reply-To, Sender, References, Control, Distribution, Organization.