Re: Proposal: WIT over USENET or Mail

Michael A. Dolan (miked@CERF.NET)
Mon, 13 Jun 1994 07:21:58 -0700

At 01:14 PM 6/13/94 +0200, Tim Berners-Lee wrote:
>> > From: Tim Berners-Lee <>
>> > > From: Ehud Shapiro <>
>> > > - A general news URL which allows access to any news server on the
>> > > Internet, in the form of "news://nntpserver_address/article".
>> > > Owners of the news group may decide whether to flood it
>> > > through Usenet (i.e. make it global), and whether to allow
>> > > remote browser access and posting, through standard NNTP/INN
>> > > mechanisms.
>I feel that the point of the NNTP
>protocol is that it is a global flooding protocol. It has certain
>properties. If an NNTP server says to you "IHAVE xxxx" you can check
>to see whether you have xxxx from any other site, you can pass it on,
>you can refer to it just as xxxx. Either people have that message
>or they don't. Looking at the Message-ID is all you need.
>By contast, in a system with private news servers, you would have to
>use the full URI of style nntp://host/message-id as a reference
>instead. NNTP doesn't use those URLs. Not in the "References:", not
>in the protocol.

[Tim - I didn't put him up to this, but as long as the topic is on the
table.....] NNTP was invented specifically to reduce the proliferation of
email lists of general interest. Thus it is preferable to have mail
articles independent of the actual machine where they may reside. However,
it is still unclear (to me) why the URI syntax must be constrained to prohibit
this knowledge. In practice, the [host.domain] may be left out 99.99% of the
time, but why artificially contrain it ?

>On the other hand, you are just using NNTP to give HTTP
>functionality, so why not use HTTP? That does use URIs,
>and has the model of retieval directly or indirectly from a
>home server.

This is certainly a reasonable solution in some places, but there may be
several situations where this is inconvenient or not possible. This scenario
presumes full-time Internet access, real multi-tasking operating systems,
and httpd-knowledgable users. For example, this scenario does not work on
a dialup connection under Windows (little hope of httpd proliferation).
For example, I have multiple dialup connections, with multiple news feeds
and near zero control over what daemons execute on the connected host. There
have been several times I wish I didn't have to restart my browser after
changing its configured news host.

It would seem that it is beyond the scope of HTTP/HTML/URI to enforce
the use of local news feeds. Perhaps DNS should be extended to resolve
"news" or some other mechanism use for this purpose ?

Michael A. Dolan -
TerraByte Technology (619) 445-9070