Make Usenet pan out: the Pan newsgroup reader, part 2

MacBook, coffee mug, and cactus

Figure 4
Figure 4: A Usenet article, as displayed by Pan.
For part 1 of my article about Pan, click here.

Reading and Posting to Usenet

To read a desired article, go to the headers pane and select a desired article to read. The article will then display in the body pane, as shown in Figure 2.

As shown in Figure 4, Pan will display the article writer’s name, email address (if one is entered), the subject of the article, and the text of the article itself. Note that often on Usenet, an email address will be spoofed (example, “”) in order to prevent spammers from harvesting addresses. Similar to web-based forums, the user name one posts under may be any name desired.

Of course, Usenet’s strength is in the user’s ability to participate in discussions. To respond to an article, make sure your own profile is set up first. Go to Edit > Edit Posting Profiles; a box will pop up, allowing you to either create a new profile or edit an existing one. After making your choice, another box will appear, allowing you to create a posting name, email address for responses, and a signature file (Pan relies on an external text file for a signature). As noted above, out of spam concerns, spoofing the email address is a common tactic. However, a phony email address or a secondary/throwaway email address is also an option. After all this is completed, select “Apply,” and close the remaining profile box.

Figure 5
Figure 5: Responding to an article.

To post a response to an article, select Post > Followup to Newsgroup (or the “Followup to Newsgroup” button on the toolbar). A box like the one shown in Figure 5 will appear, allowing you to write a response. When finished, select “Send Article.” Please note that, like email messages (and unlike web forums), Usenet doesn’t offer a means to edit or correct what you wrote after sending the article. Thus, it’s a good idea to be careful not to post something one will later regret, such as inflammatory or embarrassing remarks, etc.

Figure 6
Figure 6: Posting an original article.

Posting an original article is another option, of course. To post your own article, select Post > Post to Newsgroup, or the “Post to Newsgroup” button on the toolbar. A box as shown in Figure 6 will appear, allowing you to write your own message. The same recommendations for responding to articles (avoid inflammatory remarks, etc.) also apply here. Additionally, be sure your post is on-topic for the newsgroup. Thus, “What’re your top five TV shows of all time?” is a legitimate topic for, but not “Favorite Cookie Recipes,” unless it ties into television in some manner (such as, “What type of cookies would the characters on ‘The Office’ like?”).

Cross-posting, or posting an article simultaneously to more than one newsgroup, is offered by Pan, but be sure the article’s topic actually applies to all included groups. For example, “Favorite character on ‘The Simpsons’” would be on-topic for and Limiting cross-posting to no more than two or three groups is recommended, to avoid appearing as a spammer. To cross-post, enter the desired newsgroups into the “Newsgroups” box in your post (as shown in Figure 6), separated by commas.

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