options for the biofilm listserv

Robert Palmer rjpalmer at dir.nidcr.nih.gov
Mon Nov 27 09:12:02 EST 2000


Dear Biofilm Listserv Members -

As many of you know, the driving force in the establishment of this list,
Claus Sternberg, is no longer as heavily involved in biofilm research as he
once was.  Therefore, Claus would like to transfer moderation of the list
to another individual.  Bob McLean and I (the "vice-moderators" of the
list) have discussed this and we would like to propose some changes to how
the list is administered.  The proposed changes will eliminate the need for
active moderation (a tedious task when traffic is heavy) as well as
increasing the amount of traffic (we hope).

The first change would be to have the list administration switched from
moderated to unmoderated.  This would mean that all posts would go directly
to all subscribers without requiring them to be "previewed" and forwarded
by the moderator.  Thus, postings and replies would be as immediate as can
be handled by the internet.  However, this also opens the doors to "spam",
which is currently actively filtered out by the moderator.  To circumvent
problems with spam, the second change would be that the list becomes
"closed".  This means that posts will be accepted and distributed ONLY from
the registered subscribers of the list.  A necessary corollary of a closed
list is that an unsubscribed person (address) must subscribe prior to
posting.  Subscription will be handled by Bob and me.  To be more specific,
an unsubscribed address would have to send an e-mail to Bob or to me in
which the potential subscriber is described (name, "institution", reason
for interest in the list) before they would be added to the list.  This
approach circumvents 99.9% of spam artists because they cannot work in this
manner.  Please note that all currently active addresses would be
"grandfathered" into the system - no one who is currently subscribed would
have to resubscribe.  Also, this approach would allow Bob or me to
immediately remove any offending address from the list - a backup form of
"moderation" should any address become troublesome.   The final change
would be that all replies would go by default to the entire list rather
than to just the original sender (the current default setting is reply to
sender only).  This would mean that discussions would be "on list" unless
the individuals conduct them in private. Considering that the original post
was a public distribution, I feel that the replies should also be public. I
believe that the majority of  list subscribers will not object to this
approach - it still permits private communications, but it makes public
replies the norm rather than having private replies as the norm.  This
approach will result in an increase in the traffic and utility of the list
(for ALL members) while presenting only a minor inconvenience for those who
wish NOT to have their comments distributed to the entire list.

That is the entire proposal.  My understanding from the USENET
organization, who currently provide the infrastructure for the list, is
that the changes described above could not be carried out within their
system.  Therefore, if the changes were to be implemented, the list would
have to be moved.  This would mean that the address to which posts are sent
would change (once); the NIH has agreed to  provide the infrastructure for
the list.  All archival material would be transferred to the new supporting
organization.  The final step in transfer of the list would be to advertise
the list in a prominent and appropriate place - I have contacted the editor
of ASM News, who has indicated his agreement to placing a notification.
Not everyone who is interested in biofilms is a member of ASM, therefore I
would be happy to entertain suggestions of additional vehicles for
advertisement.  Additional benefits of these advertisements would be
increased traffic, increased list membership, and increased list visibility.

Because we live in a democratic society (the last few weeks have provided
stark evidence of that!), we list members should vote on the proposal.
However, the voting process should have clearly defined rules PRIOR to its
beginning (also painfully evident from the last few weeks!).  To avoid
voting on the rules, I will simply set them (please indulge this minor
dictatorial moment...).
First, there shall be a two-week period of discussion.  That period begins
immediately  and will end on 11 December 2000.  A four-week voting period
will begin on  12 December and end on 9 January 2001.  There are currently
227 addresses on the list.  I will consider 10% of those to be "inactive".
Given that "naysayers" are more vocal than "it's OK with me" types, I will
require NO votes to obtain a simple majority (103 votes).  That is, the
above described changes will be implemented (perhaps with modifications
resulting from the discussion) UNLESS 103 no votes are received from 103
separate, currently subscribed addresses by 9 January 2001.

I trust that all subscribers will use this opportunity to discuss the
proposed changes and to voice any concerns.  Please be open-minded, civil,
and serious in your posts.  I look forward to your responses!


Robert J. Palmer Jr., Ph.D.
Natl Inst Dental Craniofacial Res - Natl Insts Health
Oral Infection and Immunity Branch
Bldg 30, Room 308
30 Convent Drive
Bethesda MD 20892
ph 301-594-0025
fax 301-402-0396

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Remark from the current moderator, Claus Sternberg:
I fully support the changes suggested by Rob and Bob. It is my hope that 
along with the changes new life could be blown into the list which, to put 
it mildly, has been having a quiet existence lately.


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