Absolute Beginner's Frequently Asked Questions

4. What are Cancels?

Everyone who posts a message anywhere on Usenet then changes their mind has the right to cancel it. A cancel is a second message telling news admins to ignore the first one.

If your newsreader doesn't allow you to do this, then it is not up to the job and you would be well advised to stop using it and get a real one. Of course, if you read news using a web browser, you will not be able to cancel.

There are a few sites that do not honour cancels and so they'll ignore your cancel and the original will still be available there - but most admins honour cancels.

Most times these days 'cancels' is used to refer to 'spam cancelling'. Out there on the wild frontier that is Usenet, there are little pieces of software known as 'cancelbots'. When something is excessively posted to the point where it exceeds the Breidbart Index one of these cancelbots will issue a cancel message.

If you think this is unnecessary, think about this - these spamcancels run into several hundreds of thousands each day; without the spamcancels, Usenet would very quickly break down under a deluge of millions of multi-posted junk messages pushing illegal 'Make Money Fast' pyramid schemes and advertising sleazy pornographic websites.

Personally, I am exceedingly grateful to those unpaid hardworking volunteers who keep the cancelbots working. On Usenet, anyone has the right to say anything they want - but they don't have the right to break Usenet in order to do it.

To learn more about cancels, who's doing it, why they're doing it etc read the cancel messages FAQ.


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