Beginner's guide to the anime newsgroups

v1.5 - by Grauw - last updated 6/11/2003



A pretty good source to get anime from are the anime newsgroups on usenet. Since I didn't know a good site introducing and explaining the whole anime newsgroups concept and got a little tired of explaining it all over again and again to several people all the time myself, I decided to write this little article about it. First, I will explain a little what usenet is, and what you can get from it. Then I will go into more detail about how to use usenet, netiquette and how you can contribute to the anime newsgroups.

So, first of all, what is usenet? I think usenet can be explained best as being a huge worldwide forum, or a mailinglist. You can send email-like messages to certain groups on that forum, and people all over the world having access to usenet can then read those messages and discussions. Unlike mailinglists, they have an ordered forum-like structure, and you can select which messages you want to download based on the subject. There are so-called 'binaries' newsgroups too, and to those you can send emails with attachments, and that's exactly what happens in the anime binaries newsgroups, people post messages with anime attached to them on those groups.

Now what is so great about usenet compared to other places you can get anime from, like IRC, Direct Connect or FTP? Well...

  1. The newsgroup knows no queues, there has to be only one person to post a file and everyone else can get it at once,
  2. The newsgroup's server is local, so your download speed is not limited to another user's upload speed, and
  3. On the newsgroup new releases are posted only hours after their initial release on IRC, some fansub groups even have a member making sure the latest fansubs are posted on usenet immediately.

As you can see, the newsgroup is quite cool ^_^. And if you are looking for a specific anime or episode, you can always try and post a request on the newsgroup.

Usenet is not concentrated on one site, one server. In the contrary, it is a huge distributed network of servers all over the world. If you post a message to your server, it gets ditributed by the so-called 'newsfeed' to all the other servers. This means you download all messages and attachments from a local server. Big advantage of this is that the downloads will be fast. Disadvantage of this is that your ISP has to offer this service, and that's not always the case. Then you have to subscribe to a seperate paid service. There are also huge differences in quality, and which newsgroups are offered. Some newsservers don't carry the binaries groups at all because of the huge amount of datatraffic that those generate, and some newsservers do carry them, but there they are barely useful because the server space is limited and the messages get deleted within the hour after they are posted, or posts aren't received completely.

The usenet is a very broad network covering a huge amount of groups, and all those groups together make up for a huge amount of messages. My ISP for example has a usenet server, actually a couple of machines working together, which has 3.5 TB (yes, TERAbyte) of harddisk space for all newsgroups, and it is considered the best of Holland. Nevertheless, the so-called retention-time for binaries is only two weeks, meaning that it deletes messages older than that. Anyways, you can find newsgroups about the most varying amounts of subjects, and because this huge flow of data is extremely hard to be controlled by for example a government or big multimationals, you will also find lots of groups where software and movies, etcetera are illegally distributed. Bluntly spoken, usenet is for the most part anarchy. Fortunately, a lot of newsgroups have got some users which are trying their best to keep things at least a little organized, some newsgroups are even moderated (meaning a certain user must read and approve all messages before they get posted). The anime newsgroups are not, however there are some tight rules which can be read in The FAQ, and people consistantly not obeying those rules can count on comments from other users and end up being *PLONK*ed by most readers of the newsgroup (meaning being put on their ignore list).

How to get access to usenet

Well, now I think it's time to explain how you can get access to this 'usenet'. First of all, you should check if your provider provides access to newsgroups. Look at your provider's homepage, and see if they offer a newsgroup server (the address often starts with news. or nntp.). Providers tend to hide information like this a little, so often it can be found easiest by searching their website for 'usenet' or 'newsgroups'. If they do, you should try to find out if they also host binaries newsgroups, and if their retention-time is acceptable (if you can't find this out from your provider's homepage you can just continue and check it later on with Xnews). Also see if they have a so-called 'experimental usenet server', which would then still be in public beta stage but probably does carry the binaries groups when the 'official' news server does not. This is for example the case with the Dutch providers xs4all and Wanadoo. Be sure to look for them well enough, because providers often keep those experimental servers low-profile, so it might be a little hard to find. And finally, if the server appears to carry binaries groups, but not the anime ones, you can send an email to your provider and request them to add the main three anime newsgroups (see below). They'll probably do that for you if you ask nicely. If not, or if they don't have a news server at all, your only option is to sign up for a paid newsgroup account at a service like for example Easynews or Giganews... It costs a little, but it's surely worth it. Easynews for example has a retention time of about 30 days, which is extremely long, and also has a nice web interface if you don't want to go through all the trouble of setting up a news client.

Well, if you have the address of a news server ready, it's time to access it. For that, you need a newsreader. Outlook Express offers newsgroup access, but is very unsuitable for binary newsgroups. I strongly recommend you to use Xnews, NewsBin Pro or Forté Agent (the latter two are kind of shareware, while Xnews is free, and I also think Agent has poor queue management). Most people use more than one program for different tasks, as each program excels in different aspects. I personally use Xnews for reading the groups and marking which files I want to download, Newsbin Pro to download them, yEnc PowerPost A&A for posting files, and outlook Express to read the discussion group abma.d. However, Xnews or Agent alone can do all this aswell. Newsbin can not, as it is mainly targeted towards downloading binaries (and very good at that), and not suitable for reading messages and posting replies. I recommend you use Newsbin Pro for downloading, and another newsreader (doesn't really matter which) for reading and replying to the text messages. Parts of my explanation might be a little Xnews- and Newsbin-oriented.

Install the newsreader and start it up. First, you've got to create an account (server/identity in Xnews, and preferences/server options in Newsbin). Fill in the address of your usenet server at the appropriate place, and then fill in some (nick)name under which you want to post messages, and some bogus email address. Why that, you may ask? Well, a lot of spammers scan the newsgroups for email addresses, and you don't want to receive their shit in your mailbox, do you? You can actually do several things, you can use a bogus email address like I do, (poor domain owners -_-;;), you can also use an email address of a free email service like hotmail or something, and you can also use a maimed version of your real email address, like for example myemail_AT_h0t(remove_this)mail.c0m, which can be figured out by a human but which can't be understood by a spam bot which scans for email addresses. It's up to you.

Now you have to 'subscribe' yourself to some of the newsgroups, meaning you'll have to decide which newsgroups you want to read. Usually a client offers to download a list of all newsgroups from your server. This can take quite a while since there are an awful lot of newsgroups, but when that's done you can easily search through them and look for newsgroups which suit you. Good newsreaders (like Xnews and Newsbin ^_^) also offer the possibility to manually add newsgroups without downloading the whole list, this is useful if you already know the newsgroups you want to subscribe to. I have also heard of occasions when a group which didn't appear in the list could still be accessed when you added it manually, so that's perhaps also worth a try if you can't find the anime newsgroups. In Xnews, the group overview is shown when you select a server (right-click on it for options, amongst others manual add), and in Newsbin the group options dialog can be found in the preferences menu.

The names of newsgroups consists out of a few keywords, seperated by dots. They are typically ordered in a hiarchy... A few examples:

comp.sys.* - contains newsgroups about several computer systems (for example comp.sys.msx)
alt.* - contains newsgroups on the most varying number of subjects
alt.binaries.* - contains all newsgroups in which binaries can be posted

Take a look at for a good overview of all non-binaries newsgroups (and also a very good newsgroup search engine and archive).

Anyways, the newsgroups we are interested in are

And perhaps, although I only read a few of those occasionally, also

Please note that when people are talking about a certain newsgroup, their names are often shortened like this: abma, abma.repost (or abmar), abma.d, etc. And here abma is obviously short for alt.binaries.multimedia.anime.

The first two are more or less the same, a lot of messages posted to abma are also posted to aba, and vice versa, but there are always some messages which are posted to only one of those, so it's still wise to read both of them. Abma is the most active of the two. The repost group carries files which have already been posted before, and are reposted because some people didn't get them right, or for the new users who have joined the usenet anime community since then.

Once you've subscribed to a few newsgroups (I suggest you start out with abma only), you are ready to start downloading... Proceed to the next chapter!

Downloading files

First of all, please note: The FAQ makes a good read. In other words, don't even THINK about posting something to the anime newsgroups without having read the FAQ, and it also contains other very useful information.

Now, how to download stuff... In XNews, if you double-click on one of the subscribed groups, a big window opens up, and the reader will probably ask you if you want to download all message headers (read: the subject lines). It does that because the number of messages in binary newsgroups is usually extremely large. Just download them all, which may take a few minutes, and in the meantime read the next part of this guide. Next time, if a window pops up asking you which headers to retrieve (it's the same as 'open special' in the right-click menu), put the start position a small bit before where the retrieved bar ends, the end position at the end, and select the Retrieve but EXclude read articles option.

In Newsbin it's a fair lot easier, first go to preferences/options and set the first time records option to some high number, for example 500000 (unless you don't want to download all headers the first time you visit a group, as more headers means a longer download time), and then just double-click on the group you want to download. Note that you can also mix a number of groups (I usually take aba, abma and abmar in one go) by selecting more than one, and selecting download latest from the right-click menu.

Before we continue I will have to explain some things about binary messages on usenet. Because of several reasons (amongst others the fact that usenet was originally only designed for text messages, and that those can't become too long in usenet's current design) files are converted to text, and split into several smaller segments. You can recognize a segment because it has (x/y) somewhere in its subject line, where x is the number of the current segment, and y is the total number of segments. Fortunately, as a end user, you don't have to deal with those segment numbers because your news reader already does (except for Outlook Express, and that's why it sucks so much for binaries).

These segments can be 'encoded' in three different ways. First, uuencode and base64, which convert the files to all characters (and vice versa), which unfortunately adds 40% overhead (meaning they transmit 40% more bytes than the files actually are). If you see a lot of garbage text it's probably a segment of an uuencoded binary. Second, there is the new yEnc encoding system, which is now supported in all major newsreaders (except for Outlook Express). yEnc uses the fewer limitations today's usenet has, and barely adds any overhead, and in addition to that also adds an error check and a sequence number. So if there is a file which was posted both in uuencode and yEnc, it's best that you download the yEnc one because that one will be downloaded about 40% faster (for example in about 45 minutes instead of an hour).

Before you go on, you have to select a directory where you want to download the files to. In Xnews, choose Special/Setup Xnews from the menu, and then go to the Files tab. There, set the save directories to the desired value. In Newsbin, go to Preferences/Options/Download Path. Personally, I use the directory C:\Multimedia\Download\Usenet\.

When the downloading of the message headers finishes, you'll see a huge list of subjects. Make your window's size as large as possible, because some subjects tend to become a little long, and order them by subject (click on the "subject" bar). In Xnews you can remove the text field at the bottom by pressing F12, and if a subject line is too long you can either hover over it or press F11 once to widen the subject area, and F11 again to go back to the original width. In Newsbin you can also hover over the subject.

Now, in Xnews, every message has an icon beside it. Note that if all icons are images of notepads, and you see only a huge lot of resembling messages, then probably the threaded view is off. In that case click on the "T" in the toolbar at the bottom, next to the search box. A notepad means it's just a single message, a folder icon means that it's a thread of messages (a message with replies), and some small blue boxes mean that it's a 'multipart' message, where the binary is, as said before, divided in multiple segments. If these boxes are bright blue, all segments are available on the server. If they are dark blue and incomplete, then not all parts are available yet. In that case, maybe the post is still in progress, or maybe a few parts just got 'lost'. Unfortunately that is one of the downsides of usenet, it's quite unreliable. However there are ways to recover those files, I will talk about that later. You can see how many of the segments are available in the lines column.

In Newsbin all messages also have icons. An open box means that it's just a regular part, a yellow box with an I in it means it's an incomplete file meaning it is missing one or more segments (only shows up if 'show incomplete posts' is enabled, which you should), a green notepad means you have already downloaded the file, and a blue R means the message is ignored by the filter (the latter two only show up if you enable 'ignore filters'). Newsbin's default filters (they probably need a little tweaking) try to filter out all messages which are not files and some more, so that's why so many messages are filtered out. If the background of a message is green that means that it has newly arrived during the last header download. In the size column you can see the size of a part, and the number of segments it is made of.

Now, look at the subject lines and choose a post you want to download. Please note that almost all posts are divided in smaller RAR parts to make it easier to recover/repost them if they're damaged. Also in most cases .PAR2 or .PAR/.P01/.P02/etc. files are posted with the RAR files, those can be used to recover them. More on this later, for now you just want to download the RAR files. If there are PAR2 files available, download the .par2 file and the .vol01+02.par2 file, and if any of the RAR files is incomplete, force it to download anyway. If there are only the older PAR files available, download the .PAR file, and if any of the RAR files is incomplete, don't download it at all.

In Xnews, by clicking on the author's name you select that particular message. Don't click on the subject itself, because then you will either read the post if its icon is a notepad, or open the thread if its icon is a folder or a stack of boxes, and at this time you don't want to do either of those. Then use space and the cursor keys to put all messages you want on the queue (note the queue numbers in the Q column). Press space to queue an item, and press space again on the same item to un-queue it. Press shift-space to queue an item at the top of the list.

In Newsbin, select all the parts you want to download and press CTRL-E to put them in the download list (another tab). Press CTRL-D to remove them from the download list. You can also click on the box picture in front of the subject to do this. If you want to download an incomplete file, right-click, then choose Download Special/Download Incompletes. In the download list, you can rearrange the order in which it should download the files by selecting the files and dragging them elsewhere.

Oh, and by the way, as I said, all parts are made by combining several segments, and all files are made by combining several RAR parts. In the end, that means that when you download a single file you're actually downloading hundreds of seperate smaller segments. So don't let that surprise you :). In Xnews you you can start downloading the attachments of the queued items to the download directory by pressing F4, and you can abort the downloading by pressing ESC. In Newsbin (as you might have noticed already) the downloading starts while you queue the files, and you can pause/resume the downloading by pressing the pause button in the tool bar. And then all you've got to do is wait until they're all downloaded to your computer. In the meantime, I suggest you read the next chapter.

Oh, a few notes before that, some more on how to use Xnews. You can select the messages you are not interested in with shift while pressing the cursor keys, and then you can mark them as read with the [ key (and the other way around with the ] key). Press the U key to filter out all read messages, or type a search string in the box at the bottom, and press CTRL-F9 to clear all filters. Press F5 to get new headers. In Newsbin, type your search string in the find box at the top.

Unpacking and recovering

First of all, and this is quite important, ALWAYS, I repeat ALWAYS check if the files came in without errors. This is because usenet is quite unreliable, and aside from losing some segments it sometimes also destroys parts of segments. This checking can be done in three ways, and is often done automatically, using the three tools I will describe next. The RAR files have their own crc-check built-in, it will never let you extract a file if the archive is damaged, so unRARing a file is a good way to check the files's integrity. Second, there are the so-called PAR2/PAR and SFV files which are dedicated especially to that job... Anyways, more about those in a minute.

Well, let's do the easy part first, after you've downloaded the RAR parts, you need WinRAR, the archiving program by RarLabs, to extract the actual file from them. But if I may say so, if you didn't already have this installed on your computer, you should be ashamed of yourself! WinRAR can archive files to the (more efficient) RAR aswell as the ZIP format, and can extract files from about any other type of archive, ranging from ACE and LZH to even ISO files. Anyhow, end of the commercial break, let's continue with the important matters. With WinRAR you can extract the files in the RAR archives you are downloading right now. This RAR archive is probably divided into multiple parts with extensions like .rar/.r00/.r01 or part01.rar/part03.rar/part03.rar. Just right-click on any of those parts and choose extract to... to extract them to a directory. You can also drag-n-drop with the right mouse button, etc.

Now, about recovering missing or damaged files... If a file is damaged or missing (parts), you can still recover it to its original state. The easiest way to do this is by using the PAR2 or PAR files, of which a couple usually get posted along with the RAR files. PAR2 files are (as you might already have guessed) the files with the extensions .par2/.vol00+01.par2/etc, and PAR files use .par/.p01/.p02/etc. The first of these, the .par2 or .par file, is a very small file which I recommend you download always, even before the RAR files if it's available. With the .par2 or .par file and the tool QuickPAR you can check the set of files you just downloaded (or are downloading), and it will tell you if a file is ok, damaged or incomplete. If all files are ok, just proceed with what you were planning to do with them (unrar, copy, whatever). However, if one or more of the files are damaged or not downloaded at all, you will have to recover those. Note that PAR2 can also repair partially downloaded files, so if a file is incomplete, just download it anyway! PAR(1) can not, so in that case it is pointless to download incomplete files.

Now, as for the repairing, when QuickPAR is done checking it tells you how many recovery blocks it has, and how many it still needs to repair the files. In the case of PAR2, every file with the .volYY+XX.par2 extension contains a couple of blocks, where XX is the number you need to look at. If you need 5 more blocks, you should download the +4.par2 and the +1.par2 file. In the case of PAR1, you need to download a whole .P??. file for each missing or damaged file. Note that you do not need to download all of the PAR2 or PAR files, as soon as you have enough of them they will be able to repair. When you have them, press the repair button, and when it's done the missing parts will be on your harddisk. Great, huh? ;)

Some more about downloading those files, when you are queueing your RAR files and you can already see some of them are incomplete, you can try to determine on beforehand how many PAR2 or PAR files you need. In the case of PAR it is easiest, just look at the amount of incomplete files and download a .P?? file for each of them instead. In the case of PAR2, look at how many segments it is missing, and download the same amount of PAR2 blocks and some more to be on the safe side. Unfortunately this only works properly when the poster has adjusted the size of each PAR2 block to the size of each segment of the post, so this won't always work. If you want to make sure, see if the PAR2 block sizes correspond to the segment sizes. This is the case if the number of segments in each PAR2 volume is equal to the number of blocks + 1. Anyways, enough about PAR2, if you want to read more about PAR2 I recommend you to read the very good and practical information on the QuickPAR site, it's worth a read!

Then there's also the SFV files, which you can check with QuickSFV. A .SFV file is quite similar to the .PAR file, with it you can check if they are correct. However, they can't do anything else than that, so they're not really sophisticated. I personally prefer PAR files if they're available, but I still use SFV files if there is no PAR set posted (this happens for example when someone posts an MP3 or something). Also, you can edit SFV files in a text-editor if you changed the filenames, which might in some cases come in handy.

Another way of recovering is to use the RAR recovery record. If a RAR file is complete, but damaged (either a crc error or missing a few hundreds of bytes), and you're running out of PAR files, or don't want to download those, then you can check if the RAR files have a so-called recovery record. You can do that by right-clicking on one of the RAR files and choosing the archive tab. If it tells you a recovery record is present, then lucky you, because there is another way to recover those files using RAR. Note that (quite similar to PAR2), you can not repair more damage than the size of the recovery record permits. In any case, the method to repair is to open WinRAR, select the damaged file, and click on Repair or press CTRL-R. If it is succesful then you're go, and all you have left to do is to rename the resulting file to the file which was damaged.

And last and also least, if all those options have failed, you can request a repost. Before you do that, check if the poster has posted a (00/x) message, or a .nfo or .txt file. If so, read it, because they often contain information about how and when to request reposts. In general, it is done like this. You either reply to one of the files in the post, or you send a new message with the subject "ATTN: <name of poster> - Please repost files for <filename> - read inside" to the newsgroup. In the message body, write which files you need, and then take a look at every individual part by clicking on the subject to see which segments exactly are missing (if they're not too much), and also write those down. The poster can then choose to either repost entire files or only segments of them. Be nice, and you end your request with something like thanks, thanks in advance, or TIA (also thanks in advance). If the description of the files you want reposted is rather short, then you can also put the entire message in the subject, like "ATTN: (...) - Please repost PAR files for (...) - TIA".

When your repost request is filled (sometimes people repost in abmar by the way), there are two options. Either the entire files are reposted, or the seperate segments are posted. In the first case, the process is simple - just download them. In case of the second, there are again two possibilities, the poster can either repost the segments with the same subject, in which case Xnews will be able to combine them together by itself, or he can repost the segments under a different subject, in which case you will have to manually tell Xnews or Newsbin to add up those segments into a file. This isn't too complex, in Xnews just unfold the segments and queue them one by one - the first segment, then the second, etc, and insert the missing segments where they belong, and Newsbin involves something similar... Can't be that hard I guess, unless you did something horribly wrong at elementary school. When you're done, you can download the newly combined file...

Posting messages or anime to the newsgroups

As for posting, I'd gladly refer you to the aba/abma FAQ. All nessecary information concerning posting files aswell as messages is written down in this FAQ. I repeat again, don't even THINK about posting to the anime newsgroups without having read this FAQ. Furthermore, I recommend posting using yEnc PowerPost A&A, which is a very easy utility to use. However you can ofcourse also use Xnews or Agent to post. A very important rule is, do not V-spam, meaning posting a single message to a newsgroup multiple times. Apparantly this is a very common misjudgement, it is thought it gives the post more attention, but it actually only annoys people and will for sure result in a couple of flames, and no response to your actual request or question.

If you want to discuss a certain post or related topic, you can either post a follow-up to the original post, or put your message in the abma.d group. Before you do so, be sure to have read the 0 file, which may already have the answer, tell you to wait a little before asking questions, and might also contain information on where to post (I for example always include a referral to abma.d, as I seldom check abma for text messages). If your post is not related to a certain post, I'd say post to abma.d as it is for discussion only and may give your message a better chance of being noticed, but that is also a matter of somewhat personal preference. Some people only read abma.d, and some people don't read it at all.

And I guess this is the end of my guide. Please remember the three following basic rules:

Fiddle around with everything a little, read the Xnews manual, and enjoy your new source of anime! And erm, if you liked the guide, let me know on the abma.d ^_^.

[ ]
I quote: "This site unofficially supports the users and activities of alt.binaries.anime and alt.binaries.multimedia.anime by hosting content created by members of the newsgroups". In other words, the unofficial official aba/abma/abmar site, hosting the unofficial official aba/abma/abmar FAQ, with an interesting forum.

[ ]
This site carries a history of all anime posted on the aba, abma and abmar newsgroups on usenet. If you think you might have missed something, or want to see if something's been posted recently, or ever, go to this page.

[ Xnews ]
Xnews is in my humble opinion the best news reader for binary groups and the text messages within. It is free, up-to-date, has nice queue control if you want to use it for downloading binaries, is easy to use once you've gotten to know it, and has lots of useful options and possibilities. Not to mention X-Face support ^_^.

[ Newsbin Pro ]
Newsbin Pro is imo the best program to download binaries from usenet. It supports downloading files from multiple servers at once, and from multiple groups at the same time. It has a powerful queue control, and you can easily mix multiple newsgroups to get them all in reach at once. Its search function is also very fast. One of the downsides is that it is not entirely free, however I have gladly paid for my copy (something which I usually don't bother to ;p).

[ Forté Home Page ]
Here you can download Forté Agent and Forté Free Agent, Forté's news reader clients.

[ Official RarLab site ]
Home of the WinRAR archiving utility, which is in my humble opinion the ultimate one and only super-best archiver in existance (I think I made myself clear now ^_^). There are also versions available for other operating systems.

[ QuickPAR for Windows ]
This is the client you need to use the PAR2 files. It also supports the old PAR files. It is just as fast as FSRaid but the PAR2 file format has ofcourse much more potential.

[ par2cmdline ]
The opensource commandline client for PAR2 files. Has many ports to several systems. Additional l337-ness factor involved compared to QuickPAR ;p.

[ Home of SmartPAR ]
This is where you can find SmartPAR, a simple but efficient tool with which you can check and recover files using PAR files, aswell as create PAR file sets.

[ Fluid Studios FSRaid ]
At Fluid Studios' site you can download FSRaid, a nice alternative to SmartPAR with has more possibilities and is very fast. It shows a graphical representation of the correct/missing/corrupt files, and it can monitor how the download of a certain PAR archive is progressing, and give a signal when it's done. Also, it can check for misnamed files, and it doesn't create an annoying temporary file.

[ Official QuickSFV Homepage ]
Home of QuickSFV, a fast and easy utility to check and create SFV files.

Revision History

v1.0 - Initial release

v1.1 - Some minor rewrites and additions, added index.

v1.2 - Major revision of large parts of the document, including an almost full rewrite of the Unpacking and Recovering chapter.

v1.3 - Prepared HTML for XHTML, added revision history

v1.4 - Got hosted on, added FSRaid as an alternative to SmartPAR, updated some things concerning Agent, changed the list of newsgroups a little.

v1.5 - Updated to the latest practices on usenet, including the new anime groups (abma.d, abma.raw and abma.aus), PAR2 recovery and the updates in the WinRAR recovery engine. Also added a lot more info about Newsbin, which I nowadays use very regularly. All this has made life a lot easier ^_^.


To prevent spam, I won't put my email address online. If you really need to contact me, you can drop me a note in abma.d, try to catch me online on IRC or Direct Connect anime servers, or ask xo (the maintainer of for it.