Killfiles FAQ for newsgroups.


URL Last modified 3 Nov 2002

1 Introduction and Intent

This FAQ explains how to make killfiles for use with various newsreaders. It is not specifically for use with any newsgroup.

Coordinated by Dave Fawthrop <> At the suggestion of Molly Mockford, and with the help of others too numerous to mention.

This FAQ is held at Feel free to incorporated the url into sig files, web pages etc.

Please do not ask me questions. I am not an expert on all these programs. First look at your Help files and documentation. If that does not answer you questions, there are often newsgroups devoted to a specific program or group of programs.

If I have missed a newsreader, you can submit a few paragraphs of information for inclusion. Please ensure that the information is for the latest version.

2 Table of contents

1. Introduction
2. Table of contents
3. What is a killfile?
4. Are there killfile facilities for email?
5. Why would I need a killfile?
6. What is a Bozo Bin?
7. Are there different methods for killfiling?

7.1 Killing from header information only
7.2 Killing after download
7.3 Hidden or marked killed files
7.4 Uploaded killfiles
7.5 8 bit killfiling (accented characters)

8. How do I create a killfile on my Newsreader?

8.1 Agent
8.2 Free Agent
8.3 Gnus
8.4 Gravity
8.5 MacSoup
8.6 Netscape
8.7 Nfilter
8.8 Opera
8.9 Outlook Express and Outlook Newsreader
8.10 Pine
8.11 Slrn
8.12 Tin
8.13 Turnpike
8.14 Xnews.
8.15 Hamster
8.16 AOL
8.17 MT Newsreader for the mac
8.18 RN & TRN
8.19 XRN
8.20 Web-based Newsreaders
8.21 StarOffice 5.1a (EN)
8.22 nn 
8.23 News Rover

9. Disclaimer

3. What is a killfile?

A killfile is a utility found in most newsreaders which allows one to avoid seeing, to move or to delete posts which fit certain rules, which you can set. Each newsreader does it in a different way. They also call killfiles by different names. They are often not even files.

 4. Are there killfile facilities for email?

Yes but we do not deal with them here. The News and Mail killfiles on a specific newsreader are however often very similar, on any particular software.

5. Why would I need a killfile?


Newsgroups can be very large - for example, gets about 900 posts per day at the time of writing. It is very difficult for most users to read all these posts. It is therefore very useful to have a method of sorting those posts which interest you from those which do not.

In some newsgroups Advertisments are indicated by ADVERT in the subject line. You may wish to see or not see Advertisements. Many other similar conventions exist.

If you do not wish to see posts on a particular subject, some killfiles allow you to kill any posts with specific words in the Subject: line. Others have an even more powerful facility, and allow you to kill a whole thread, which includes any follow ups even when the Subject: line has been changed.

But be aware of the possibility of Thread Drift, where the discussion ends up having nothing to do with the Subject: line, and a thread which may have held no interest for you suddenly becomes interesting - or vice versa."

If some poster's style or subject matter is not to your liking, you may wish to kill all posts from that person. Some posters have a habit of changing the name they use and/or the e-mail address they use so it is best to kill both, and some words from the sig file as well. This should be done with care, because some find it amusing to forge regular posters names, email addresses and sig files.

Some posters use a new email identity every day. With some killfile systems you can read their first post, and then kill the rest.

Some posters find "Cascades" of puns on single subject very amusing, others find them intensely irritating. This leads to extremely large posts with huge numbers of quoted posts. You may wish to kill Cascades by testing the text of a post for "> > > >".

Some object to crossposted posts, and believe that they are less interesting than those posted to a single newsgroup. The more powerful killfiles allow you to manipulate crossposted posts.

6. What is a Bozo Bin?

In some newsreaders it is possible to move posts to a specific place were they may be ignored, read, or followed up at your convenience, without spoiling your enjoyment of the newsgroup they were posted to.

7. Are there different methods for killfiling?

Yes. There are several different methods. A newsreader may use one or more of these methods.

7.1 Killing from header information only

Download the headers only, and look at the information there: The basic information is in the lines: From: Newsgroups: Subject: Date: Lines: Other information in the header can be used in some systems. The message body can be downloaded or not dependent on the rules you have set. The advantage of this method is that it saves the online time taken to download message bodies.

7.2 Killing after download

Download the message headers and bodies. and then choose, depending on the rules, whether to show the user the message. The advantage of this method is that you can kill messages when the content is not to your liking. For instance if someone posts with different names and email addresses, but always uses the same name in a sig. Another advantage is that, the message is on your machine and can be examined without going back on line.

7.3 Hidden or marked killed files

Your newsreader may hide killed messages from you or show you the From: and Subject: lines while marking the killed messages in some way. The newsreader normally allows you to choose which method to use.

7.4 Uploaded killfiles

Your newsreader may give your killfile rules to the server which you use, which will not send killed message headers or bodies. The advantage is that nothing is uploaded. The disadvantage that you have no idea that a post exists. Blocked senders lists often use this system.

7.5 8 bit killfiling (accented characters)

At the time of writing, according to RFC 2822, 8 bit characters anywhere in the headers are totally illegal, though this may change. This is not enforced so they can occur in some non UK or non USA email addresses and/or names.

Killfiling posts using 8 bit characters is difficult, and the best advice I can give is experiment with your each function newsreader. Some newsreaders recognise 8 bit characters is some parts and not others.

Some newsreaders allow you to use regular expressions. Testing for the a-z characters while using wildcards for the accented characters often works.

If your killfile system allows regular expressions, you may be able to test for the 7 bit characters while using wildcards for the accented characters.

A question on a newsgroup. "how do I killfile ?John Doe? using ?????? newsreader?" will often produce an informative answer.

8. How do I create a killfile on my Newsreader?

Each newsreader does it differently and calls killfiles by a different name.

8.1 Agent

URL for more information:

Contributed by Geoff Berrow, and jezza

Agent's filtering commands are quite powerful but are confined to the *From:* and *Subject:* only for usenet posts. Filtering on message content is not possible.

Filters may be created by selecting the offending post in the window containing the list of posts. Right-click a post from the author you wish to ignore and then click on 'Filters', then 'Add Kill Filter'. A useful shortcut is <Ctrl-K>. This will allow you to kill-file by the author's name or e-mail address.

Alternatively you may kill-file by the subject line. This enables you to kill-file by specific words in the subject line e.g. *cheap cigarettes* or *make money* or *$$$* or *test*. Agent also allows you to use regular expressions.

To kill an entire thread, select any post in the thread and press "I".

Further and more detailed information is available in the help files and user groups.

The killfile system handles 8 bit characters.

8.2 Free Agent

URL for more information:

Contributed by Don Aitken and Pete The Gardener

Minimal killfile facilities are available, you must upgrade to Agent for more powerful facilities.

Free Agent does, however, allow you to download only messages up to a certain size:

Group | Properties | Retrieving

sets it for selected groups, and

Group | Default Properties | Retrieving

for all groups without their own setting.

Free Agent also allows you to "ignore" a thread. Press "I" while reading a message and all subsequent messages in that thread (even if retrieved in a later session) will be marked "read" automatically."

 8.3 Gnus

URL for more information:

Contributed by MJ Ray

Add the following lines to your .gnus.el file, or set the equivalent options in M-x customize RET gnus RET

(setq gnus-use-adaptive-scoring t)
(setq gnus-kill-files-directory "~/some/dir/of/yours/")
(setq gnus-decay-scores t)

Now pressing k or TK (for a thread) will reduce the likelihood of seeing that topic, poster, etc again until the bad karma times out or they redeem themselves with enough articles that you actually read.

When used with Gnus Agent and a suitable config, killed articles can be not downloaded.

For more information, look at Help -> Manuals -> Info -> Gnus -> Scoring.

8.4 Gravity

URL for more information:

Contributed by Stephen Toledo-Brown

To killfile a poster across all newsgroups:
Right-click on the mesage => Add author to bozo bin

To killfile to any other criteria:
Menu => Tools => Rules
Follow the prompts, fill in the fields; all fairly self-explanatory
Make sure you set Enabled on for the rule.

8.5 MacSoup

URL for more information:

Can (optionally) fetch only article headers in a first pass; lets you select which articles you actually want to download. This option can be set separately for every group you read.

True References-based threading, with a graphical display of the thread tree. This lets you see at a glance which articles are replies to which.

Powerful kill file (with regular expressions). Useful if you want to read every article from a certain author, or if you never want to see any articles whose subject contains a certain word.

8.6 Netscape

URL for more information:

Contributed by Iain and Stephen Toledo-Brown

Netscape (at least for v4.0 and earlier) doesn't have a killfile facility, unfortunately.

There is an "ignore thread" facility which will stop new posts appearing on an unwanted thread. On version 4.7 you select a message in the thread and then select Message- >Ignore Thread from the menu bar at the top. Another way is to type "K".

For Netscape 4.76 on WinNT: Would someone check for other flavours?

To killfile a poster in one newsgroup, follow the following sequence:
Click on the "From: " field as if to reply to the poster
Select enough text from the address to be sure you'll identify
the posts from that poster alone.
Copy (Ctrl-c)
Menu => Edit => Message filters
Click New or Edit for a filter list as appropriate
If Edit, click More to add a new idiot to the list
(you can only have up to 5 idiots in one list in Netscape,
then you have to create more lists - I don't know of any
limit to the number of lists)
Paste (Ctrl-v) into the box to the right of the "contains" box
Select Sender instead of "Subject" in the left-hand box
Click OK

To killfile a poster across multiple newsgroups, or to apply fancier rules such as all-caps, number-of-newsgroups-crossposted, or route:
You'll need to write some JavaScript, apparently (any
pointers, anyone?), or switch newsreaders.

To kill a thread, use one of:
Right-click => Ignore thread
Menu => Message => Ignore thread

Nfilter will provides extra facilities if you are using Netscape with any version of Windows,

8.7 Nfilter

URL for more information:

Infomation from nfilter web site.

Nfilter, now called News Proxy, is a free downloadable supplemental filtering program to your existing newsreader. It is designed to run transparently alongside any client for Windows such as Outlook Express, Agent, Netscape, etc.

It is a 32-bit windows console application which will run on Windows '95, '98 or NT. It is especially useful if your newsreader doesn't have any filtering capabilities (eg. Netscape). Even if your news reader has filtering capabilities (eg. Agent), the filter can perform more advanced filtering on fields that are not normally available to your newsreader.

Nfilter is capable of filtering on any fields that appear in the header of a news article, not just fields in the overview (normally news clients can only filter on author, subject, etc). For example, it can filter on path (eg. all posts from, newsgroups (eg. all posts cross- posted to, nntp-posting-host, etc, etc.

Nfilter does this by acting as a local news proxy. It takes commands from your news client and passes them on to your news server. It analyses the list of message headers returned by your news server and, based on the filter rules that you write, either drops the headers so that you don't see them or marks them with a flag to let you know they are filtered.

<kill thread> The best ways is to killfile on the references line too. that deletes the followups. Not much except Nfilter can do this.

8.8 Opera

URL for more information:

8.9 Outlook Express and Outlook Newsreader

At the time of writing shipped with all versions of M$
Windows No URL available.

Contributed by Dave Fawthrop with help from Geoff Berrow, Andrew Hartley and martinp

Outlook Express killfiles are accessed from:

Menus -> Tools -> Message Rules -> News

This section does not kill senders using 8 bit characters.

Click on New and you will see four boxes

Select conditions for your rule
The ones of most use for killfiles are:
Where the From: line contains people
Where the Subject: line contains specific words
Where the number of lines is more than lines

Select Actions for your rule
The ones useful for killfiles are:
Delete it See section 5.2
Mark it as read see section 5.2

Mark the message as ignored See section 5.1

May be applied to specific newsgroups.

Tick the boxes you wish to use

Rule description
Fill it the details of the rule here

Name of Rule
Choose a suitable name here.

Also available is a rather brutal method found at:
message -> Block sender, which works with 8 bit characters

Nfilter provide extra facilities if you are using Outlook
Express with any version of Windows,

8.10 Pine 

URL for more information:

With thanks to Avocado Avenger who posted this:
Select "SETUP - Configure Pine Options" from the main menu.  Type
"R" for Rules, then
"F" for Filter, then
"A" for Add Rule.

Once there, set the folder type to News or whatever else, for the
conditions, use "From Pattern" and enter the sender e-mail address/name,
and set "delete" for FILTER ACTION.

8.11 Slrn

URL for more information:

Contributed by hannah d

When reading an article by a moron, press k.

You can kill on Subject: From: or References:.

You can specify the date you want the score to expire, unless you want it to keep going forever - in which case leave the date section blank.

You can then choose a score: the default is -9999 (killed) but you can also give things positive scores if you want to bring them to the top of your ng article list. If you're only interested in killing posts then -9999 is the score you need to apply.

The scorefile in slrn is a plain text file usually called Score in the directory News (in your home space, in unix - not sure where it is on windoze systems). An example of a score is:

%Score created by slrn on Thu Aug 10 10:32:14 2000

Score: -9999
% Subject: Re: Munchausens Syndrome by proxy\.
From: Allen <Allen@mcmail\.com>
% References: <398DE629\.C2164C04@mcmail\.com>
% leeds\.ac\.uk uk\.local\.yorkshire:111835
% Newsgroup: uk\.local\.yorkshire

The % character is a comment identifier, and as you can see
all lines are commented out apart from the From: line -
meaning the score is applied to all articles From that email

Scorefiles are much more powerful than killfiles, and there is actually a specific slrn scorefile faq - at

8.12 Tin

URL for more information:

Contributed by Darren Wyn Rees

To create a basic tin 'kill' filter, open an article with the author or topic you want to 'kill', and press <CONTROL> + K

Following the on-screen menu use <RETURN> to move forward, <SPACE> to change an option. You can limit the 'kill' filter to one group OR all groups, and determine the length of time you want the filter to last.

Finally, use <q>=quit <e>=edit, or <s>=save 'kill' filter.

For more advanced filtering (eg. scoring) refer to 'man tin' (tin manual), and especially the 'filtering' document which is part of the tin tarball.

8.13 Turnpike

URL for more information:

Contributed by John-Henry Collinson and Kristine Reeves

Putting someone on a killfile is very easy with Turnpike.

The help file puts it very succinctly.


Killing articles in a newsgroup you have open on the screen

Select the articles or threads you want to kill.

Right-click, select Kill and then choose from the sub menu.
The same options are available in the Article menu.

If you choose article the article will be marked as killed.

If you choose thread all items in the thread will be marked as killed.

If you choose Subject: an alert message will advise you that a new kill rule will be added to prevent any article with that Subject: from being retrieved.

Similarly if you choose author an alert messages will advise you that a new kill rule will be added to prevent any article by that author from being retrieved.

If you open a killed article only the header will be displayed. Buttons in the message text enable you to request the article or thread in full if available.

The alert messages for subject and author are optional. The first time they appear you can set an option for them not to appear again. If you cancel them inadvertently you can reselect them on the Alerts tab of the Options menu.

You many need to choose Refresh from the View menu to update your display.
Quotation is Copyright (C) 1995-2001 Thus plc.


If this is not enough for the average user then they should download the user manual (in pdf format) from which explains with the use of pretty pictures how to do it. They can look at the Official Turnpike FAQ at An unofficial (but probably superior) FAQ can be found at If they still cannot figure it out they should post a question (using the normal rules of netiquette) to

8.14 Xnews.

URL for more information:

Contributed by Graham Drabble

Two ways to kill file. One is to hit "k" and then set the amount of days the person is killed for. This deletes all future posts from that address. The other, more flexible, method is to use the score file. This allows you to score on Subject: References or From as follows:

Score: -9999
From: an.address@example
Referecnes: <>
Subject: Trolls

This would take 5 points from a post if all conditions are met. To use OR add a second colon after Score. To make the scoring absolute use =- 5.

8.15 Hamster

URL for more information:

Contributed by Phil Todd

Hamster Classic v1.3 (Build

What is Hamster?

Hamster is a free news and mail server for personal or small network use. It will collect news and mail from one or more servers and distribute the same to users on a private network or local machine. Originally written in German, Hamster has been translated into English. It is not a news or mail reader.

But does it have a kill file?

Hamster can filter incoming mail and news. The filters are listed in a plain text score file. Each header filtered can be given a score, negative or positive. In most cases, the following fields are available for scoring: Subject, From, Date, Age, Message-ID, References, Bytes, Lines, Xref, Xpost:

How does that work then?

All articles have a score of zero before filtering. If after filtering an article has a score less than zero it is not retrieved, but the article headers are stored in the kill log for a specified period of time before being purged. If an article has a score of zero or above after filtering it is retrieved as normal. By allocating high scores to filters it is possible to download preferred articles first.

How do you write the score file?
An example score file is given below.

#these filters apply to all groups
-100 Xpost %>3
-100 subject {(fuck|cock|weiner|genital|penis|boner|dick|cunt|clitoris|sex)}
-100 from "Phil Todd"
-100 from "john"
+9999 from "me"

[* -""]
#this filter applies to all groups except those in the hierarchy
-100 Lines %>250

The # character indicates a comment.

And what does all that mean? Items in [] are groups where the filter applies. In the first instance, all groups. In the second instance, all groups except the hierarchy, as indicated by the - symbol.

Each line is an individual filter. The -100 indicates the score given if the post matches the filter. The next word is the header that is to be checked by the filter. The final part of the expression is the property or phrase to be checked.

What do the filters mean?

The first filter reads, In any group, where the number of groups posted to is greater than 3, allocate a score of minus 100.

The second filter is a 'regular expression', (These are Perl Compatible expressions used to filter on multiple words or phrases or parts of phrases), which is indicated by {}. By using regular expressions the filters can be made even more precise. This type of expression is covered on many Perl sites and some are included in the Hamster helpful. The filter reads, in any group, where the subject header contains any of the words in this list allocate a score of - 100.

The third filter will filter any group for the author "Phil Todd".

The whole phrase must match. Removing the quotes will allow the filter to work on either Phil or Todd

The third filter will filter any group for the author "john". It will remove any post with the word "john" in the headers. John Smith, john brown, jHon the dog, all would be removed.

The final filter in this section would allocate a very high score o any article written by me. Hamster will then get these articles first.

Where is the Score file kept?

The score file is accessed via file, killfile-log/settings. Click on the score file tab. Entries can be made by hand here. The Entries tab will show a list of any files killed by your filters.

A few general notes.

If you have read so far you could be interested in using a Hamster to manage your mail and news accounts. So, a few words of warning. Hamster is not a program you can install and forget about. It takes time to set up and configure. Many of the more advanced functions are accessed by scripts. You will have to write the scripts by hand. Help is available, both on the web and via English speaking newsgroups.

When you finally get the Hamster up and running and collecting your mail automatically in the middle of the night, sorting it and filtering it, and all using your hand- written scripts, you will be well chuffed. You may well tear your hair out getting to this stage, but it's worth it!

Hamster is a free news and mailserver for personal, family and workgroup use. Copyright (c) 1999, Juergen Haible (<>).

"Hamster-Classic" is based on "Hamster Vr.", which was released as Open Source in July 2000. The addition "- Classic" was used to distinguish it from other successors of Hamster.

The authors of "Hamster-Classic" are:
Juergen Haible, <>
Thomas G. Liesner, <>
Joern Weber <>
Heiko Studt <>
Philipp Kern <>
and many more...

The "regular expression" routines used in Hamster use a Win 32 port of "Perl Compatible Regular Expression (PCRE)" written by Philip Hazel (<>), Copyright (c) 1997-2000 by University of Cambridge

8.16 AOL

URL for more information:

Contributed by nancy

AOL 5.0 (note: versions prior to 5.0 lack killfiles) From the newsgroups window, choose preferences and a window will open that says, "Global newsgroup preferences." Click on the filtering tab (there should be filtering, viewing, and posting tabs). Select filter type from the pulldown menu. Enter the filter in the text field below the pulldown menu. Then click on the "add filter" button below the text field. Then click "save" at the bottom of the page, and you're done.


URL for more information:

Contributed by nancy

Lets you killfile in a large number of ways. When a window showing one article is foremost (and when an article is highlighted in a window showing the list of articles for a group), a couple of entries on the 'Filter' submenu of the Edit menu are enabled. These are 'Kill this author...' and 'Kill this subject...', which create author or subject filters for the active articles respectively. When you choose one of these, another window opens up and, in advanced options, you may choose to filter just one group, or choose the asterisk option, which will killfile whom or whatever you want in all newsgroups.

8.18 RN & TRN

URL for more information:

Contributed by nancy

RN & TRN To create a global killfile in either of these newsreaders, create a file in your News directory called KILL (this must be in all capital letters). Use any text editor to enter the header line into it, for example: /

This killfile will junk any posts from to any newsgroup you read.

8.19 XRN

URL for more information:

Contributed by nancy

XRN (At least, version 9.02. Don't know about earlier versions) With an article from the troll in question selected, hold shift while clicking the "Author Kill" button to kill for the current group. To kill for ALL groups, use the Control key instead of the shift key.


Contributed by nancy

There are many web-based news services out there, including Google <>, NewsRanger <>, and so forth. For a complete listing, visit <>. These are usually free services, and have the advantage of being complete and timely. They are searchable, and many people prefer to use them instead of a regular news service and separate reader, especially if the newsfeed offered by their ISP is slow or incomplete. The drawback is that they don't have filtering capabilities.

From what I can see, there is no method for filtering out the posts you do not wish to see in web-based newsreaders. You can use the advanced search options to retrieve, say, all posts made to a specific group, but *without* specific words in them, such as "ninnyboy".

If you use Google groups because your news server isn't very good, you may want to try contacting your ISP and telling them you're unhappy with their news service and that they need to beef it up ... or get a different ISP ... or sign up for a good service such as NewsGuy (relatively cheap).

Otherwise, you're stuck without filtering, and have to do it "manually" by just skipping past the posts you don't wish to see.

8.21 StarOffice 5.1a (EN)

StarOffice is much used in Germany

a. rechtermuisklik op (rightclick on) thread -> hide thread
b. rechtermuisklik op (rightclick on) bericht -> hide author

8.22 nn 

For more information on Unix type "man nn"

With thanks to brigid who posted this on alt.obituaries

Type the command K don't hit return but hit k and you should get this

AUTO (k)ill or (s)elect (CR => Kill subject 30 days)k
AUTO KILL on (s)ubject or (n)ame (s) n
KILL Name: (/) R.
KILL in (g)roup 'alt.obituaries' or in (a)ll groups (g) I'd pick a here
but it's up to you.
Lifetime of entry in days (p)ermanent (30)p
CONFIRM KILL Name perm: R. y


8.23 News Rover

URL for more information:

Contributed by Scott L

1) you find a message from somebody desperately in need of killfiling.
2) right click the message title
3) select "Sender" in the popup menu
4) select either "Block messages from sender" or "Block messages from site"

9. Disclaimer

This article is provided as is without any express or implied warranties. While every effort has been taken to ensure the accuracy of the information contained in this article, the author/maintainer/contributors <take your pick> assume(s) no responsibility for errors or omissions, or for damages resulting from the use of the information contained herein.


Dave Fawthrop <> <> Computer Hyphenation Ltd, Hyphen House, 8 Cooper Grove, Halifax HX3 7RF, UK, Tel/F/A +44(0)1274 691092. M: +44(0)7720455248, 16 years of Word Splitting Hyphenologist is sold as C source code and splits 50 languages.