The ch.*-Newsgroups

(issued monthly)


(FAQ = Frequently asked questions)

Last modification: Sunday, 8 of May 2005. Adapted paragraph on free newsservers.

This FAQ is also accessible on the WWW under the URL:

The exponential growth of the Internet (and thus also of the Usenets) attracts a growing number of people to the Net, who are unfamiliar with this new medium. This text has been written to help such people through their initial period on the Net.

People new to Usenet, especially those new to the ch.* newsgroups, should read this document through in order to familiarize themselves with the structure and use of the individual newsgroups.

This text is protected by the "Berne Convention", with the exception, that permission is given herewith to copy it as part of a normal Usenet article, to store it with other "FAQ"s and to permit access to it by means of ftp or the WWW. All other copies are authorized, as long as no charge is made for accessing it, and as long as the text in its entirety is copied. This also applies to Internet providers who provide their customers with this text in any form, in order to give new users a starting aide, as long as no extra charge is made for it. The distribution and sale of this text on CD-ROM as part of another work is expressedly forbidden, unless a donation is made to a recognized charity or to the FSF GNU Project and I have been asked for permission in advance.

0. Contents

1. Introduction

A growing number of people are discovering the advantages of the Internets and arrange access with a local Internet Provider. However, unfortunately only very few Internet Providers provide their new customers with sufficient start-up and introductory support, so that many people new to the Internet feel lost and find themselves struggling to find the right information on the Net. Often, during this period, they discover the Usenet (which is NOT the Internet, although part of the data exchange is carried out over the Internet).

Unfortunately, as far as the Swiss Newsgroups go (Newsgroups are subdivisions of the Usenet and can be compared to notice boards), there is still no official introduction and still no guide as to which kind of postings ( = messages or articles) should be posted (sent) where. For this reason, a large number of postings are erroneously sent to the wrong Newsgroup, with the result that the posting does not have the desired effect, and which annoys regular users.

1.1 What is the aim of this text?

The aim of this text is to bring order to the Swiss Newsgroups and especially to help "Newbies" to find their way around the Swiss part of the Usenet better, so that they send their postings to the correct Newsgroup and are able to find the information they require, faster.

The text works on the presumption that the reader already has a small amount of Usenet experience. The aim here really is to present a short overview of the Swiss Newsgroups (all of which begin with the prefix ch.). References to other helpful articles can be found in paragraph 8.

1.2 What is not the aim of this text?

This text should not be viewed as a general instruction course for the Usenet. For this, we refer you to the articles mentioned in paragraph 8. We shall also not go into the Newsgroup in depth, because this is already provided with an excellent FAQ written by Marc Schaefer (, and whose subject is Swiss culture.

2. Overview of Newsgroups

Switzerland currently has the following Newsgroups:

If your Internet provider does not offer access to them all, then by all means send them a complaint. Swiss Internet providers should at least have the Swiss Newsgroups on their servers.

Furthermore, following a vote in June 1998 the following Newsgroups were deleted or replaced by others:

In April 1999 it was decided by vote to delete ch.general.

Because the deletion of a Newsgroup can take a while, it is possible that you can still find deleted Newsgroup on some News Servers. But the Newsgroups should no longer be used.

3. What can I find where, what should be posted to which Newsgroup?

This section will explain which kind of text belongs in which Newsgroup and where you can find what.

The descriptions are based on the Charters of the various Newsgroups. The Charter is the text which documents the founding of a new Newsgroup and in which the current rules for that Newsgroup are formulated. The Charter is accessible via the WWW at the address

3.1 All ch.*-Newsgroups

The first golden rule is to use ASCII Text only. One should *never* send postings in binary form, which means no pictures, no Word documents (.doc), no programs. Also forbidden on the Usenet are postings in HTML form. If you use Umlauts or other special characters, write your articles using a Newsreader which is set to use the ISO-8859-1 standard. (Note: Such special characters can cause problems if used in the header lines) We do not recommend the use of "Quoted-Printable" coding which results in things like CyberCaf=?iso-8859-1?Q?=E9?=.

In general, we also strongly advise against 'crossposting' (i.e. sending identical articles to several Newsgroups simultaneously.) Even worse is sending the same article to several Newsgroups individually - a practise that is strongly frowned upon in Usenet.

Articles and postings may be written in any of Switzerland's written languages. In addition, English is also permitted. Dialect should not be used, as these often cannot be understood by readers of other language regions. Short summaries in another language are welcome, if the subject of your posting is of interest to the whole country.

3.2 ch.admin

This Newsgroup is for questions and answers about the Swiss part of Usenet and about Usenet in Switzerland. The discussions can include the following subjects:

In general then, this Newsgroup deals with the administration and management of the Net. The name ch.admin has no connection with the website of the Swiss Governmental Departments (

3.3 ch.test

If you just wish to test whether your News configuration is set up correctly and whether your posting actually goes through, this is the place to send it to. Some tests can also be made in a local newsgroup. In this case please have consideration for the other people on the Net and test your system in the appropriate Newsgroup.


This Newsgroup is for small ads in which you can buy items, offer items for sale or for exchange. Examples are:

Note the word "notices" in the last example above. Endless pages of kilobyte-gobbling hype for a product do not belong in this Newsgroup.

Also unwanted in this Newsgroup are postings and offers from other countries unless they are from an area (not an entire country) which shares a common border with Switzerland, or for items which have a close connection to Switzerland.

It is important to note that, especially in this Newsgroup, it is generally viewed as bad manners to post the same article several times.

Commentless pointers to auctions on other platforms such as eBay or Ricardo are often not solicited. However, the topic is controversial. To make sure not to offend anyone, you should auction your items either on the auction platform or in the Usenet and refrain from cross references.


This Newsgroup is for the purchase of and offers for items from the computer world. These include software, literature, hardware and anything else (e.g. courses), which is of interest to computer users. The subject line should clearly refer to the subject of the posting; if a posting refers to a number of different items, then the subject line should at least mention the appropriate computer system. Traditionally the Swiss Newsgroups use the prefix "V:" for sale and "S:" for want ads. Commercial postings are not welcome here.

Unwanted are sale and want ads from other countries, unless they they are from an area (not an entire country) which shares a common border with Switzerland. Here too, we would like to point out that it is generally considered bad manners to post the same article several times.

Commentless pointers to auctions on other platforms such as eBay or Ricardo are often not solicited. However, the topic is controversial. To make sure not to offend anyone, you should auction your items either on the auction platform or in the Usenet and refrain from cross references.


Offers and want ads for work can be posted to this Newsgroup. Unwanted are sale and want ads from other countries, unless they they are from an area (not an entire country) which shares a common border with Switzerland or unless the posting has a close connection to Switzerland. Here too, it is generally considered bad manners to post the same article several times.

3.7 ch.comp

This Newsgroup deals with everything to do with computers, as long as the subject matter is not catered for in a different Newsgroup. Possible subjects are:

Please remember that not everyone on the Usenet has the same computer as yourself. If your article refers to a particular computer or problem, mention the type of computer in the subject line if possible. We strongly ask you not to crosspost your article to appear simulataneously in one of the other subgroups.

There are special subgroups for users of popular operating systems such as the Windows family and Linux (see below). Questions or comments about these operating systems should always be posted to the appropriate subgroup only.

3.8 ch.comp.os.linux

This Newsgroup is for discussions about the Linux system. Linux is a free operating system similar to the UNIX. Subjects can include:


This Newsgroup is for discussions concerning all operating systems of the Microsoft Windows family, independent of the basic hardware, as well as the utilities which run under this operating system.

3.10 ch.comp.networks

This Newsgroup is for discussions about networking technology and network security. Network breakdowns and the introduction of new networks are also announced here.

3.11 ch.rec

This Newsgroup concerns itself with anything to do with hobbies, recreation and recreational activities. Possible subjects are:

Questions and postings concerning the hobby "Computer" would be more suitable in either ch.comp or in one of the subgroups.


Anything that is not dealt with by another newsgroup can be posted here. Especially suitable here are postings about Switzerland's various language groups, Swiss politics, the Swiss Newsgroups etc. You may see discussions about the following subjects:

If you are unsure where to put your article, then is probably the right place!

3.13 ch.bulletin.avalanche

The Swiss Federal Institute for Snow and Avalanche Research in Davos post the national avalanche bulletins to this Newsgroup. This Newsgroup is principally for information only and therefore postings from private users should only be made in special circumstances.

3.14 ch.bulletin.chancelbot

This newsgroup contains current status reports from CHancelbot. This is a program which automatically and according to clearly defined technical criteria, deletes articles from ch.* Newsgroups which do not comply with the rules of usage. Because the Newsgroups have a informative purpose only, articles from private users are only accepted in special circumstances (e.g. following incorrect details or an incorrect action on the part of CHancelbot).

3.15 ch.comm

This Newsgroup deals with telecommunications in Switzerland and includes all those subjects not dealt with by a special, specific Newsgroup. These can include:

If the problem refers to a certain provider or a certain system, this should be noted in the subject line of your posting.

Please note that the Newsgroup ch.comp.networks is available for problem in relation to computers and computer networks. Please do not post your articles to several ch.* groups.


Discussions on justice and law, verdicts, administrative proceedings, and the like.

Due to legal reasons, no counseling is allowed in this group. General questions can be discussed on the base of specific cases, though.

The discussions may cover the following topics:

Advertisment (even from lawyers, counsellers etc.) are deemed not appropriate.

Anonymous and pseudonymous postings are considered appropriate as an exception from the rules, especially if the poster finds him/herself in ongoing legal proceedings or for privacy reasons on certain areas of law. Even in these cases, a valid mail address is required.


Although this Newsgroup is not prefixed by ch.*, we would like to mention it here. In contrast to the other Newsgroups described above, this Newsgroup is international and has as its main subject Swiss culture in general. For more information please refer to the detailed FAQ about written by Marc Schaefer (in English), which appears in that newsgroup once per month.

3.18 Why do I have a different list of ch.*-Newsgroups?

If you find other ch.* Newsgroups on your provider's server which are not listed above, or when you cannot find the Newsgroup listed above on your provider's server, then it is the News server of your provider which is wrongly configured and/or which does not reflect the current status. Please advise your Provider about the error, or post a message to the ch.admin Newsgroup. The people there will probably be able to help you.

4. Where can I test sending a posting?

It is alright to test your configuration, but please, do not send test mails to unsuitable Newsgroups. Normal Newsgroups are not there for you to test your system. Apart from that, tests annoy the regular users of Newsgroups.

So where can you send a test message? Preferable to alt.test, ch.test, news.test, de.alt.test or to the local test Newsgroup of your provider (if available). Articles sent to these Newsgroups are accessible from all over the world, just like a regular posting. Apart from that there are special programs used in different areas of the world which wait for articles to be sent to alt.test and which then send the sender a short email of confirmation. In this way, you receive confirmation of whether it worked or not within a day or so, often within hours. If you do not wish to receive the automatic reply, include the word 'ignore' anywhere in the subject line of your test message.

After you have sent your test posting, wait a while. Depending on the News server, it can take up to an hour until your message is visible. So please, don't send dozens of tests within a short space of time. Just send one and be patient.

5. How can I form a new Newsgroup ?

It is not usual for anyone to form a new Newsgroup just like that. The decision on whether to form a new Newsgroup is made by all Usenet users in a democratic manner. There are no rules to do this in a legal sense, but this is the standard procedure and one which has proved itself over many years and which has successfully been applied when forming or changing Newsgroups. The procedure is generally accepted and when applied correctly, the chances are good that new Newsgroup will also be accepted by all News servers. But it is the Administrator of a News server who has the final word, as to whether that server accepts a certain Newsgroup or Newsgroup hierarchy or not. Here is a short summary of the procedure. For more details please see the "Forming Newsgroups" FAQ in the Newsgroup de.newusers.infos.

  1. An "RfD" (Request for Discussion) is published in ch.admin. The outline and idea behind the planned Newsgroup is described in the RfD. This is followed by a general discussion, as to whether the suggestion is sensible or not - e.g. is there a need for such a Newsgroup, is the name and description of the Newsgroup suitable, etc. This phase takes 30 days.

  2. If the discussion which follows the initial RfD results in agreement, then this is **followed** by a "CfV" (Call for Votes). This includes the final name, a short description as well as the charter (like the "Constitution" of a Newsgroup) and explains precisely to whom the votes the should be sent and which format the vote should take. Normally, the voting period lasts from three to four weeks.

  3. After the CfV phase, the votes received are published in ch.admin for control purposes. If, after 5 days, no-one has expressed valid doubt as to the validity of the vote, the new Newsgroup is formed, as long as:

In a relatively small hierarchy such as that of the ch.* Newsgroup, it is not particularly easy to win such a vote. One should therefore consider, whether one truly wishes to take the entire voting procedure upon oneself. Sometimes it is better just to set up a mailing list, which is usually much simpler. This is another method of exchanging views and ideas about a certain subject. Apart from that, most subjects are covered by and so, as long as this Newsgroup does not become too complex, it is hardly worth forming a splitter group.

Finally, one should remember that it is possible to form local Newsgroups. This is useful to know, when your Internet provider provides local *.test or *.announce Newsgroups on their servers. How this is set up depends on the News server in use.

6. How can I find an Internet Provider?

On the WWW there are a number of lists which simplify finding an Internet provider. We cannot include all the lists here, but the following links may be of use:

7. Are there any "free" News Servers ?

"Free News servers" (also named "open News servers") are computers on which News is accessible from anywhere. Because the providers of such servers dislike being misused, most of them permit only the reading, not the writing of articles. A list of such servers can be found on the following URL:

The News server of the University of Berlin is very popular. You need to register with them, and since April 1st, 2005, there is a annual fee of 10 EUR:

In addition there is also the (free) "Deja" service (formerly DejaNews). Deja allows you to search the entire Usenet, as well as to read and write articles. Deja was acquired by Google, but is still available under the following address:

8. Other articles, addresses, links

It is impossible for anyone to know all the best sources which could be of interest and use to Usenet beginners. For this reason, I welcome suggestions.

Several useful articles, for example, the rules of Netiquette can be found on the www page

We recommend that English-speaking readers read the Newsgroups news.announce.newusers and news.answers (these do not of course refer specifically to the Swiss Newsgroups, but to Usenet in general).

And of course you can always post a question in the appropriate Swiss Newsgroup.

9. Staff, Contributions

This article is based on the original charters for the newer ch.* Newsgroups, which were formulated by Stefano Unternaehrer (, Andreas Aemissegger (, Benjamin Weidmann (, Michael Bleichenbacher ( and Blaise Galland (

This page was hosted by NiCE - NeXT User Group Switzerland (NiCE) until april 2003 and is since then hosted by

The author of this article is Felix Rauch ( I would be happy to accept corrections, modifications and translations of this article.

Copyright (C) 2004 by Felix Rauch.

The HTML version was created by Dominique Stern (, who is also the copyright holder thereof.

This document is valid HTML 4.0 Transitional.