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1.4 New Groups

If you are satisfied that you really never want to see any new groups, you can set gnus-check-new-newsgroups to nil. This will also save you some time at startup. Even if this variable is nil, you can always subscribe to the new groups just by pressing U in the group buffer (see section Group Maintenance). This variable is ask-server by default. If you set this variable to always, then Gnus will query the back ends for new groups even when you do the g command (see section Scanning New Messages).

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1.4.1 Checking New Groups

Gnus normally determines whether a group is new or not by comparing the list of groups from the active file(s) with the lists of subscribed and dead groups. This isn’t a particularly fast method. If gnus-check-new-newsgroups is ask-server, Gnus will ask the server for new groups since the last time. This is both faster and cheaper. This also means that you can get rid of the list of killed groups (see section Group Levels) altogether, so you may set gnus-save-killed-list to nil, which will save time both at startup, at exit, and all over. Saves disk space, too. Why isn’t this the default, then? Unfortunately, not all servers support this command.

I bet I know what you’re thinking now: How do I find out whether my server supports ask-server? No? Good, because I don’t have a fail-safe answer. I would suggest just setting this variable to ask-server and see whether any new groups appear within the next few days. If any do, then it works. If none do, then it doesn’t work. I could write a function to make Gnus guess whether the server supports ask-server, but it would just be a guess. So I won’t. You could telnet to the server and say HELP and see whether it lists ‘NEWGROUPS’ among the commands it understands. If it does, then it might work. (But there are servers that lists ‘NEWGROUPS’ without supporting the function properly.)

This variable can also be a list of select methods. If so, Gnus will issue an ask-server command to each of the select methods, and subscribe them (or not) using the normal methods. This might be handy if you are monitoring a few servers for new groups. A side effect is that startup will take much longer, so you can meditate while waiting. Use the mantra “dingnusdingnusdingnus” to achieve permanent bliss.

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1.4.2 Subscription Methods

What Gnus does when it encounters a new group is determined by the gnus-subscribe-newsgroup-method variable.

This variable should contain a function. This function will be called with the name of the new group as the only parameter.

Some handy pre-fab functions are:


Make all new groups zombies (see section Group Levels). This is the default. You can browse the zombies later (with A z) and either kill them all off properly (with S z), or subscribe to them (with u).


Subscribe all new groups in arbitrary order. This really means that all new groups will be added at “the top” of the group buffer.


Subscribe all new groups in alphabetical order.


Subscribe all new groups hierarchically. The difference between this function and gnus-subscribe-alphabetically is slight. gnus-subscribe-alphabetically will subscribe new groups in a strictly alphabetical fashion, while this function will enter groups into its hierarchy. So if you want to have the ‘rec’ hierarchy before the ‘comp’ hierarchy, this function will not mess that configuration up. Or something like that.


Subscribe new groups interactively. This means that Gnus will ask you about all new groups. The groups you choose to subscribe to will be subscribed hierarchically.


Kill all new groups.


Put the groups into the topic that has a matching subscribe topic parameter (see section Topic Parameters). For instance, a subscribe topic parameter that looks like


will mean that all groups that match that regex will be subscribed under that topic.

If no topics match the groups, the groups will be subscribed in the top-level topic.

A closely related variable is gnus-subscribe-hierarchical-interactive. (That’s quite a mouthful.) If this variable is non-nil, Gnus will ask you in a hierarchical fashion whether to subscribe to new groups or not. Gnus will ask you for each sub-hierarchy whether you want to descend the hierarchy or not.

One common mistake is to set the variable a few paragraphs above (gnus-subscribe-newsgroup-method) to gnus-subscribe-hierarchical-interactive. This is an error. This will not work. This is ga-ga. So don’t do it.

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1.4.3 Filtering New Groups

A nice and portable way to control which new newsgroups should be subscribed (or ignored) is to put an options line at the start of the ‘.newsrc’ file. Here’s an example:

options -n !alt.all !rec.all sci.all

This line obviously belongs to a serious-minded intellectual scientific person (or she may just be plain old boring), because it says that all groups that have names beginning with ‘alt’ and ‘rec’ should be ignored, and all groups with names beginning with ‘sci’ should be subscribed. Gnus will not use the normal subscription method for subscribing these groups. gnus-subscribe-options-newsgroup-method is used instead. This variable defaults to gnus-subscribe-alphabetically.

The “options -n” format is very simplistic. The syntax above is all that is supports: you can force-subscribe hierarchies, or you can deny hierarchies, and that’s it.

If you don’t want to mess with your ‘.newsrc’ file, you can just set the two variables gnus-options-subscribe and gnus-options-not-subscribe. These two variables do exactly the same as the ‘.newsrc’ ‘options -n’ trick. Both are regexps, and if the new group matches the former, it will be unconditionally subscribed, and if it matches the latter, it will be ignored.

Yet another variable that meddles here is gnus-auto-subscribed-groups. It works exactly like gnus-options-subscribe, and is therefore really superfluous, but I thought it would be nice to have two of these. This variable is more meant for setting some ground rules, while the other variable is used more for user fiddling. By default this variable makes all new groups that come from mail back ends (nnml, nnbabyl, nnfolder, nnmbox, nnmh, nnimap, and nnmaildir) subscribed. If you don’t like that, just set this variable to nil.

As if that wasn’t enough, gnus-auto-subscribed-categories also allows you to specify that new groups should be subscribed based on the category their select methods belong to. The default is ‘(mail post-mail)’, meaning that all new groups from mail-like backends should be subscribed automatically.

New groups that match these variables are subscribed using gnus-subscribe-options-newsgroup-method.

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