Make Usenet pan out: the Pan newsgroup reader, part 3

MacBook, coffee mug, and cactus

Figure 7
Figure 7: Pan’s filters.

Here’s the final part of my article about the Pan newsgroup reader. See parts one and two.

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.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *