This article is based on material authored by members of the news.newusers.questions Moderation Board and nnq-workers mailing list, particularly by Dennis D. Calhoun (until 2005) and Thor Kottelin (since 2007)
Binary encoding is a way to send a picture, sound, or other non-text file across newsgroups, email or some other text-based medium. This is done by converting the message data into text characters. The encoded file usually looks like gibberish to the human eye, but a recipient armed with suitable software can decode it into the original content.
Such encoded messages may not be posted to the news.newusers.questions newsgroup. They are often huge; the file may have been large to start with, and encoding it as text will make it even larger. The latter occurs because there a fewer characters to choose from, and so a longer file is necessary in order to convey the same information.
Such files can take forever to download. They may even crash some people's newsreaders. In addition, an unsuspecting newsgroup reader who pays for his or her Internet access by the minute or by the megabyte may have to pay a lot of money to download a binary message he or she does not even want. Finally, binary files tend to clutter up even the message overview, especially since they are often split up across several messages.
Please post binary files to the most appropriate binaries newsgroup only. Here are a few places to get you started, but be warned — the files may take a long time to download due to their size!
You can post a note in a group that you have sent a binary file to another newsgroup, but please do not post (or crosspost) the file in news.newusers.questions. If you post pointers to the groups where readers might be interested, and only post the binaries in binaries newsgroups, everything works out fine!
For more information, please read Decoding Internet Attachments by Michael Santovec.
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