Abuse of Usenet: What to do about it

    So you've found a spammer or a forgery. Now what do you do?

  • If it is a forgery, and you know how to contact the user who is being victimized, do so.
  • If you can tell from the header who the Internet Service Provider (ISP) of the culprit is, send them an e-mail, containing the full text of the posting, including all headers and explaining why you think this is a problem. Most ISPs have terms of service (TOS) that prohibit their users from abusing the net and will cooperate. Such ISPs usually have email addresses such as abuse@(the isp name).com or postmaster@(the isp name).com. Unfortunately, in some cases, you are simply letting the culprit know you are aware of their crimes.
  • Let the people who police the net know. There is a newsgroup hierarchy, based in news.admin.net-abuse dedicated to tracking down and ending this sort of abuse. You can post to news.admin.net-abuse.usenet or news.admin.net-abuse.announce to request help.
  • If the act appears to be criminal, inform the police. It is best if this is done by the victim of the act, and probably is only valuable in forgery cases, as spam is not illegal (yet); it is just not allowed.
  • This suggestion is controversial Post a follow-up (or reply), explaining the problem. If you do this, trim the list of groups you are following up in, so that you won't be guilty of spam, and don't quote the text of the message. Doing that only further propagates the problem. Posting a follow-up has the advantage of getting information out fast. It has the disadvantage of making it more difficult for the people who police the net, since your follow-up is now part of the problem. Use this as a last resort, or in extreme cases.
  • This suggestion is controversial If you can't get a response from the ISP, and know how to tell who is the next ISP upstream, then send them the full text of the message, including the headers, with an explanation that you are approaching them because the main ISP is not being responsive. This should be used as a last resort.
  • If the message is a forgery you may also want to inform the ISP who owns the internet domain that the news appears to be coming from. Again, include the entire message, especially the headers, an explanation of why you think it is a forgery, and an indication that you have tried to contact the original ISP of the offender.

    Some of the advice offered here requires a deeper knowledge of the workings of the net than is needed to be an ordinary user. If you don't understand this advice, don't try to follow it. If you want a problem addressed but don't know how, go to the adminstrator of your ISP and ask for their help.

  • Currently maintained by The HELP Fund


    Page expanded from an original compiled and written by Marty Fouts