Telecom Digest FAQ [nfp]

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This is the list of frequently-asked questions for The Telecom
Digest. It is posted whenever the contents change, and once per
quarter even if the contents have not changed.

Q. What is The Telecom Digest?

A. The Telecom Digest is the oldest continuously published mailing
   list on the Internet. It was started before Usenet existed, but is
   now available via the Usenet group comp.dcom.telecom.

Q. Who's in charge?

A. The current Moderator is Bill Horne, and you may reach him by
   sending an email to

Q. How do I subscribe?

A. If you want to receive The Telecom Digest via email, Send an "plain
   text" email message to, with the
   command "subscribe telecom" in the BODY of the message.  (The
   subject line will be ignored.) You may choose to receive posts in a
   daily digest, with all the posts for the day included in a single
   email, or you may choose to have each post sent to your email
   address as soon as it is approved: digest mode is the default, but
   if you prefer individual email, use the command
   "subscribe-set telecom each" instead.

   If you want to subscribe an address OTHER THAN the one you are
   sending the subscription request from, then place the email address
   to be subscribed at the end of the command, e.g.,
   "subscribe telecom" or
   "subscribe-set telecom each"

   You may also receive and post to The Telecom Digest via the Usenet
   group comp.dcom.telecom, either using NNTP or through portals such
   as Google or Yahoo.

Q. What topics does The Telecom Digest cover?

A. The Telecom Digest is primarily, but not exclusively, focused on
   the world's telephone systems, networks, and companies. Our readers
   talk about regulations, technical matters, rates, numbering plans,
   tariffs, the prices changed for various services, alternatives to
   the traditional telephone network (such as VoIP), and related

Q. How do I get something published in The Telecom Digest?

A. There are three ways to contribute original posts or to reply to
   posts made by others. They are -

   1. Send an email to

   2. Use an NNTP client, such as pine, or a combined email/nntp
      program, such as Mozilla Thunderbird, to send posts to the
      Telecom Digest via a Usenet server. If your ISP doesn't have a
      Usenet server, there are free one available, such as the one at
   3. Use a commercial portal, such as Google or Yahoo, to access the
      Usenet group comp.dcom.telecom. You will have to have an account
      with the portal's owner in order to do this, but they're usually
      issued without charge.

   No matter which way you send a message to The Telecom Digest, each
   message's "Subject" line must contain one of the following glyphs
   in order to be excepted from our spam-prevention process. There is
   no guarantee that a message without one of these glyphs will ever
   be read. The brackets around each glyph must be included, but the
   quotes are not required.

   1. "[telecom]" if your post can be published verbatim.
   2. "[nfp]" (Not For Publication) if your email is only for the
      Moderator's eyes.
   3. "[obfuscate]" if you want the Moderator to modify your email
      address before publishing your post so that it cannot be used
      without being changed, i.e., so that it can't be copied by a
      spambot and used to send you spam. If you are a frequent Digest
      contributor, you may request that your email address be
      automatically obfuscated anytime you sent a post, so that you
      may send in contributions without the need for the "[obfuscate]"

   4. "[Anonymous]" if you want all traces of your identity removed
      from the post before it is published. (See rules about anonymous
      postings, shown below.)

   For example:

   Subject: Re: FCC refuses to take action on cramming [Anonymous]
   Subject: Eleven-digit phone numbers are coming [telecom]
   Subject: Cell phone SMS spam is getting worse [Obfuscate]
   Subject: I haven't seen my post yet [nfp]

   Please note the keywords in the glyphs are not case sensitive.

Q. How does the Moderator decide what to accept?

A. In general, the moderator makes decisions about what should be
   published after reading a submission, and approves posts which meet
   the guidelines shown here. The moderator's decisions are binding,
   but readers are always welcome to argue their case for an exception
   or for special treatment: in other words, if a post is rejected, a
   contributor may ask the moderator to reconsider. The moderator, in
   turn, may ask that potential posts be modified so as to make them
   acceptable, or may refuse to reconsider a decision to reject. The
   Moderator's decision is not subject to appeal, and The Telecom
   Digest does not allow "Meta" discussions about moderation policies
   or decisions.

Q. What are the rules about content?

A. There are very few rules. The most important are listed here:

   1. Basic Netiquette is both encouraged and enforced. The Telecom
      Digest does not allow ad hominem attacks, unwarranted sarcasm,
      foul language, undocumented allegations of illegal or improper
      conduct, or other kinds of viciousness. The moderator reserves
      the right to be completely arbitrary and capricious when making
      decisions about posts which, in the moderator's sole and
      exclusive judgement, are inappropriate for publication.

   2. Posts must concern telecommunications using telephones, either
      wired or wireless, i.e., they should be about the ways,
      instruments, equipment, inventions, costs, history, and
      regulations that bear on spoken conversations between human
      beings who are out of earshot.

   3. Posts which bear on the history of telecommunications are
      allowed if they are germane to discussion about the worldwide
      telephone network in some way: e.g., a post about the Western
      Union company's TELEX network would be allowed if it served to
      illustrate the underpinnings of the PSTN and/or the regulatory
      framework within which Western Union and the Bell System
      competed with each other, and a post about the traffic loads
      caused by dial-up data users would also be appropriate.

   4. The moderator enjoys the privilege of modifying both spelling
      and grammar when, in the Moderator's judgement, a post is not
      clear enough to read without changes. Posts which require
      extensive rewriting are usually rejected and returned to their
      authors for rework, but in cases where the author cannot be
      contacted (e.g., when a poster does not use a valid email
      address), then the Moderator may choose to step in and modify a
      post rather than delete it.

Q. Does The Telecom Digest accept anonymous posts?

A. Sometimes, but reluctantly. Posters who request anonymity must add
   the "[anonymous]" glyph to the subject line of their posts, and the
   Moderator makes a judgement on a case-by-case basis. Posters whom
   request anonymity will please provide a brief reason for the
   request in a clearly-separated section of the email, e.g.,

   * Please publish this anonymously. My country is arresting those *
   * who discuss this subject publicly.                             *

Q. Can we write about things that came before telephones?

A. Posts about things like semaphore signalling, Morse Code, The Pony
   Express, and Carrier Pigeons are discouraged. Such subjects may,
   however, be mentioned by posters who choose to illustrate the
   history, technology, regulations, and social forces which formed
   the PSTN we use today, but posts may not focus exclusively on them.
Q. Can I post a story about things which might come after telephones?

A. Not unless you are speculating in a believable way about the future
   direction the PSTN will take. The Telecom Digest is not a venue for
   Science Fiction, so if you want to post about phones on other
   planets, or other ways of communication which haven't been
   discovered yet, then you'll need to find a more appropriate venue
   for your posts.
Q. Since the line between "Data" and "Telephone" gets more blurry
   every day, how do you draw the line between VoIP services such as
   Vonage and Skype, and the more traditional telephone network?

A. If it concerns people using the PSTN to talk to each other, it's
   fair game. When there is room for doubt, each post is judged on
   its own merits.
Q. If I can sign up to receive each post separately, why is it called
   "The Telecom Digest"?
A. The original Telecom Digest was a compilation of emails that were
   received by the Moderator each day. The Moderator assembled each
   day's digest by hand, and sent it out manually, so there was no
   other subscription option besides the "digest" version. When The
   Telecom Digest was made available to Usenet readers, that changed,
   but the original title of the publication remained, so it is still
   called "The Telecom Digest".

   Up until 2007, the email version of The Telecom Digest was still
   assembled by hand each day, and was thus available only in digest
   form, even though it was, by that time, sent out using an automated
   email robot located at John Levine's server in New York. The email
   robot in use is "Majordomo", which allows subscribers to choose
   either digest or individual emails, and since Usenet readers
   already enjoyed the option of seeing individual posts, Majordomo
   was reprogrammed to give email readers the same choice.

Q. What are the options available to subscribers using the Majordomo
A. There are too many to list here: to get started on them, send a
   "plain text" email to with the word
   "help" in the BODY of the message (the subject line is ignored).

Q. How do I unsubscribe?

A. Send an email to, with the command
   "unsubscribe telecom" in the BODY of the message. If you no longer
   have access to the email account from which you subscribed, but
   still know the password for it, use the command
   "approve <password> unsubscribe telecom <>".
   (The subject line will be ignored.)

   If you don't have the password for an old account, and no longer
   have access to it to send emails to the Majordomo robot, then you
   may ask the Moderator to intercede and unsubscribe an old address
   on your behalf. Such requests are *always* verified.

***** Moderator's Note *****

This is the first time I've published a FAQ for the
Digest. Suggestions for improvement, corrections, and clarifications
are welcome: you need only reply to this message. Your replies will
NOT be published.

Bill Horne

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