What does HEADER LINE TO LONG mean?

Discussion in 'Computer Information' started by Jeff Strickland, Jul 18, 2012.

  1. I am posting in another newsgroup, and I get an error that the header line
    is too long. The upload aborts when this happens. I can still post to other
    conversations, but I cannot post to this particular discussion because the
    header line is too long.

    Why am I getting this, and is there anything I can do to make the error go
    Jeff Strickland, Jul 18, 2012
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  2. Jeff Strickland

    VanguardLH Guest

    So how deep in number of posts are you under a subthread? Every post
    (except the first one) contains a References header. It is used to
    trace the parent-child relationship between posts so they can be
    threaded into a hierarchy (i.e., a tree structure). That lets you see
    who replied to who and in what order. If you're in a subthread that has
    hundreds of replies in the chain then the References header can get
    rather huge. Plus the Message ID used to define each post in the chain
    is variable in length because the clients or servers define those
    strings and they contain variable lengthed domain domains and different
    lengthed tokens on the left side of the at-sign.

    The recommended maximum length for any line, including headers, is 998
    bytes. This is due to some servers or hosts truncating headers that
    exceed that length. Programs run in memory, memory is limited, so
    buffers to hold data in a message cannot be infinitely long. See
    http://tools.ietf.org/html/rfc5322, section 2.1.1.

    Continuation of a header is denoted by a space character in column 1
    (actually I believe it is indentation using any number of whitespace
    characters), so:

    Headername: headervalue ....
    morevalues ...
    somemorevalue ...

    is one header over 2 lines. However, I don't know that continuation
    permits a [header] line to exceed the 998 character limit. It appears
    mostly a readability feature, not a means of exceeding a length
    limitation. The program will have to still deal with the total value of
    the header (headerName + ": " + headerValue). While the header gets
    folded into multiple lines, it is still handled as one header line.

    One example of a header that too often violates the 998-character limit
    is the X-Face header. Users of that header don't even consider how long
    is that header but simply let their NNTP client figure out the value for
    that ego-stroking superfluous header. The length of the X-Face header
    could easily exceed the length of that poster's message. While my
    newsreader supports the X-Face header (although I wish it had an option
    to ignore it), it does support user-defined scripts which I may use to
    strip out this garbage header (but scripts take time to modify the
    content of received articles).

    Since you didn't bother to give the MID (message ID) of the post to
    which you are attempting to reply, no one will know how long are the
    headers in that post which your reply would make longer. If you want
    something less than vague answers regarding a vague situation, you need
    to provide a link (or other means of identifying the post to
    which you want to reply but which results in your NNTP client generating
    an excessively long header line.
    VanguardLH, Jul 19, 2012
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  3. You did a pretty good job. I think that somebody has one of those X-face
    headers that is mucking up the works. I have been in far deeper message
    threads than what I have encountered here that caused me to ask such a
    nebulous question -- sorry for that, by the way.

    I'm not really interested in fixing anything, I was just involved in a
    conversation that suddenly I can not participate in any longer because the
    message header is too long, and I wondered why. I like to think I know more
    than the average bear when it comes to my computer, but I had never seen
    this error before -- well, I have seen it but not for a long time -- and I
    thought I would vent my frustration that technology is so limited. ;-)

    The error message comes from my news server, and they also limit the number
    of crossposts that are allowed. The cross posting limit makes a little bit
    of sense when the poster (me) initiates a thread, and the server wants to
    limit the distribution for whatever reason. But when there is a thread that
    my server delivers to me that has too many crossposts, then it should allow
    me to reply with all of the participating crossposts remaining on the
    distribution list. I also find that some idiots -- bigger idiots than me --
    reply to a conversation and ADD NEW newsgroups to the distribution list,
    then I get the reply and make my own response with the newly added groups,
    and my servers will not deliver because there are too many crossposts.
    Jeff Strickland, Jul 19, 2012
  4. Jeff Strickland

    VanguardLH Guest

    <cross-posting complaint snipped - different issue>

    Adding the X-Face header would be why YOU cannot post (if it was too
    long). That someone else posted with an X-Face header won't affect your
    reply. You don't add their headers into your reply. You create your
    own headers (in addition to those added by the NNTP server you use).
    That their post exists means their X-Face header was not too long. Only
    if YOU are using the X-Face header and it is too long would that be the
    cause of the overly long header problem. You're using Outlook Express.
    it doesn't support inclusion of the X-Face header in your posts. Only
    if you are using some external proxy to modify your posts before
    submission could the X-Face header appear in your posts.

    No matter how long are the headers in their post, that they exist means
    they were not exceeding the maximum length. Note that peering of
    articles does not necessarily require cohering to any NNTP server's
    limitations. Articles that are banned at one NNTP server may be allowed
    at another. The other NNTP server then peers its allowed article which
    eventually reaches the first NNTP server that will accept it, too. It's
    one *submission* that restrictions at a particular NNTP server are
    enforced. Of course, there are exceptions. I forget which troll it is
    in my filter that I found my NNTP server will not allow to peer from
    other NNTP servers. That is, the troll's posts will show up at his NNTP
    server and to some to which it peers but they get filtered out before
    getting to my NNTP server. If I use a different NNTP server then I can
    see this troll's posts. So you could be hitting a limitation imposed by
    the NNTP server that you are using that is not imposed at other NNTP
    servers. You might see posts peered to your NNTP server that exceed the
    maximum header length imposed by your NNTP server. The same goes for
    cross-posting (your other complaint that I snipped out): one NNTP server
    may not impose any restriction on the number of groups included in a
    cross posted article while another won't permit on *submission* to it a
    cross-post to more than 3 groups. Likewise, some NNTP servers don't
    care if you use the FollowUp-To header (vastly abused to rudely yank
    away a discussion from a group to which the article was posted) and some
    mandate you must use it if you cross-post. There is no RFC standard
    (which is merely a suggestion, not a law) that requires all NNTP servers
    to impose the same set of restrictions.

    It's your post that is exceeding the maximum length (permitted by that
    particular NNTP server). Doesn't matter how long are the headers in the
    post to which you reply. I mentioned the 998 character maximum since
    that is an RFC standard. The NNTP server might impose a different
    limit. It is when YOU add to an existing header that it could get too
    long. With an immensely deep thread, there could be so many MIDs
    (message IDs) in the References header that you appending another MID
    onto YOUR References header could exceed the NNTP server's limit for
    header length. However, when you start to get into a thread path that
    has that many articles within it then it is probably arguing about
    fluff, arguing just to argue, or has gone way off-topic. When they get
    really deep, they're usually of no value or should've started their own
    new thread.
    VanguardLH, Jul 20, 2012
  5. Jeff Strickland

    Julie Bove Guest

    I get that too and nobody that I know of has been able to figure out why.
    It does seem to occur when a lot of replies have happened to a particular
    post. But snipping the post doesn't help at all. I hope someone has an
    Julie Bove, Jul 20, 2012
  6. Jeff Strickland

    Paul Guest

    Install Wireshark and log the attempt to upload ?

    Maybe that will show what you've sent, just before the
    error comes back and stops it cold.

    I use port 119 on Thunderbird, and if you use Wireshark, the
    entire session is in plaintext for easy examination. You can
    examine the packets one at a time, and see what was sent.


    Alternately, use a USENET client program, which displays
    the header contents before transmission. I could do that
    years ago, with a Unix client, but don't know enough about
    current client programs to know the right one to use for the

    Once you know which line it is, whether its "References:"
    or an XFace:, it's quite another matter how you fix it.
    The client software should be designed to both worry about
    standards, and also keep the stuff running. Dropping an XFace
    line would seem perfectly acceptable. I don't know how you'd
    deal with References, without there being side effects.

    Paul, Jul 20, 2012
  7. Jeff Strickland

    VanguardLH Guest

    Jeff didn't provide an example parent post for when his reply to it
    caused the "header too long" error. Do you have an example post to
    which you get this error when you try to reply?

    Snipping the body of the post doesn't address the length of *headers* in
    your reply.
    VanguardLH, Jul 20, 2012
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