Filtering Out Spam, Flame Wars, and Unwelcome Trolls
Unfortunately, spam, trolls, and similar online obnoxiousness are also a problem on Usenet. (Indeed, Usenet, along with email, is where the problem of spam first became widespread in the early-to-mid-1990s.) Fortunately, like many newsreaders, Pan comes with powerful filtering mechanisms, which offer a means of filtering out unwanted messages. On the other hand, the filters also allow other useful functions, such as highlighting posts on a favorite topic, posts written by a favorite newsgroup poster, and so forth.
Pan’s filtering system, similar to the filters available for email programs, can sort articles based on various criteria. To create a filter, either select Articles > Add a Scoring Rule or right-click on the desired article and select “Add a Scoring Rule.” A popup box like the one in Figure 7 will display, showing the various filtering choices. The choices include filters for: newsgroup name; the article’s subject/author/etc.; setting a particular score for the article; and whether the filter should be temporary (including what length of time) or permanent.
Related filtering options under the Article menu (also available by right-clicking on an article) include: Watch Thread (automatically sets the thread to be watched via a colored highlight, plus sets the article’s score to 9999); Ignore Thread (automatically sets the thread to a score of -9999 and prevents it from displaying); Ignore Author (similar to Ignore Thread, except it ignores/prevents displaying posts by a specific poster); and Edit Article’s Watch/Ignore/Score (to edit an article’s pre-existing filter). To display ignored articles or threads, go to View > Header Pane and select “Match Scores of -9999 (Ignored)”.
Pan’s filters also support the use of regular expressions.
Subscribing to Favorite Newsgroups
Pan’s subscribing feature makes bookmarking a list of your favorite newsgroups simple. To subscribe to a favorite newsgroup, select the desired newsgroup from the groups pane, then either select Groups > Subscribe or right-click and select “Subscribe.” The newsgroup will then be added to the “Subscribed Groups” list in the groups pane.
Similarly, to unsubscribe from a group, select the desired newsgroup and then either select Groups > Unsubscribe or right-click and select “Unsubscribe.” The newsgroup will be removed from the “Subscribed Groups” list, but will still be available in the general newsgroups list.
Marking Articles Read/Unread or Deleting Articles
Obviously, not all articles within a newsgroup will be of interest. To mark unread articles as read, select the article, then either choose Articles > Mark Article as Read, or right-click and select “Mark Article as Read.” To mark an entire newsgroup as read, select the newsgroup in the groups pane, then select either Groups > Mark Select Groups Read or right-click and select “Mark Select Groups Read.”
To mark an article as unread, the procedure is similar: select the article, then either select Groups > Mark Article as Unread or right-click and select “Mark Article as Unread.”
Finally, to delete all posts from a newsgroup, select the newsgroup and choose either Groups > Delete Selected Groups’ Articles or right-click and select “Delete Selected Groups’ Articles.” To delete an individual article, highlight the article, and select either Article > Delete Article or right-click and select “Delete Article.”
Overall, Pan is a versatile, powerful newsreader that makes it easy to use Usenet. While Usenet is no longer the dominant means of holding online conversations, its still-active user base and unique features continue to make it one of many online social options.